Fall is fast approaching and our first garden at the restaurant is coming to an end. Boy did we learn a lot! At first we thought it would be fun to grow our garden as a tasting garden to share new vegetables and garden pleasures with our customers. And in fact, most of our customers enjoyed picking different greens and lettuces to sample. But guess what, our kitchen staff got so into the garden concept and delighted in trying new things to pick that next year we have decided to turn our garden into a kitchen garden and actually working towards growing more vegetables for specialty dishes offered in the restaurant. Geoff Gunn, our Chef, is extremely creative and he and our Sous Chef, Jake Martin, found that going out into the garden, sampling and planning for creative new dishes added a real benefit to their menu offerings. Might mentioned that all of the staff showed an active interest in the garden and it added an increased interest in creative food preparation and the question, “where does our food come from?” But that’s an answer for another blog posting.
Back to the garden….. Another thing we learned is that it is hard to keep a garden looking nice while harvesting on a regular basis. In particular, our zucchini “blossomed” consuming much of our space so it’s important to have plenty of room when growing all variety of zucchini plants. We realized pretty early on that we will definitely move the zucchini next year to their own containers outside of the large raised garden beds.
We planted a new variety of zucchini called Tromboncino or Zucchetta Rampicante and while it was not as productive as we hoped, we will definitely try growing it again but move it to another area next summer. Remember that it takes the whole growing season for zucchini plants to mature and produce their vegetables and that they require a great deal of space. The Tromboncino squash (pictured above) did climb in the small space we grew it in (still growing as we write this) but had a difficult time establishing itself in the container we chose. Hopefully we will have better luck next year.
Pine Tree, a seed company out of Maine, offers a terrific “Asian Lettuce mix” that was extremely popular with both customers and kitchen staff and we will have a large section of greens in the garden next summer. Also loved by the kitchen staff was the lemon cucumbers which make a nice side presentation to seafood dishes. We hope that those of you who stopped by the garden this summer enjoyed it as we are now preparing to plant a few things for winter and see how well the garden will do living down by the river in the rain,wind,and storms in the months to come. Check it out and stay tuned as some of our next blogs will be on cover crops, which we will be planting soon in the two raised beds, drying herbs, and saving the seeds of edible flowers.
—written by Pat Burness, our gardener and co-owner of Moody Rose Farms in Astoria