On a recent visit to Oregon, I spent three days harvesting produce from our friends’ garden before temperatures could kill cold-sensitive crops. We harvested bushels of tomatoes, four kinds of peppers — including ‘Jimmy Nardellos’ and jalapeños, lemon cucumbers, ‘Malibu’ green beans, artichokes, golden raspberries, basil and figs. Each morning, when we saw that more leaves of the plants had frozen — we were glad we had brought all that lovely edible bounty indoors.
I would have thought the green pole beans were too big and too old for eating. However, Laura insisted they were still good, so I picked every bean in sight and searched for all the hidden ones too. When we cooked up a batch later, she was right. Even the largest beans were delicious with a little butter, salt and pepper. She said she plants this variety on purpose, because they last a long time. She cuts them down after the first beans are harvested, puts composted manure on them and gets a nice second harvest.
The ‘San Marzano’ tomatoes are long, thin sauce tomatoes. You can leave the skins on because they cook beautifully, and you can’t tell you’re eating the skin. They cooked up huge pots of plain tomato paste and herbed tomato sauce. They freeze the paste in ice cube trays for use all winter. The frozen sauce, being already seasoned with fresh herbs from the garden, tastes better when thawed, than if they use dry herbs after thawing. Pete made a delicious lasagna with the fresh tomatoes and ground beef from the family’s ranch in Auburn.
I’m a huge fan of their golden raspberries. They were pretty tired of all the raspberries by the end of the season. They had already frozen bags of them. That left all the rest to me! At first, I thought I would only find a couple, but in the end with thorough searching, I ended up with about two cups of berries, not counting the ones I ate as I picked. Blackberry season was already over, or I would have harvested those too.
We dried pears, figs and apples in the dehydrator and came home with a full bag. At a dinner party they had while we were there, all eight of us even carved pumpkins from the garden.
Farm fresh food, picked that day, can’t be beat! Oregon weather sure helps grow abundant crops. And, Laura’s homemade compost and know-how assures success.
JoAnne Skelly is associate professor and Extension educator emerita at University of Nevada Cooperative Extension. Email email@example.com.