This and That… part two!

A great summer kale

The last two years I have been growing a Portuguese kale from Territorial Seed Co. called  Beira Tronchuda. You can find it called Tronchuda Beira at Renee’s and other names from other companies I’m sure. It’s a tall plant with big paddle shaped leaves and white ribs that looks more like Collard greens than the usual kale. The leaves are thick and tender and mild flavored and stay that way all summer long! When all the other kales get tough and strong flavored in the heat of summer this one stays lovely and tender. It’s very easy to grow and in my garden it has not been attacked by aphids at the end of summer like all my other brassica plants, so that makes it even more appealing.

Beira Tronchuda Kale – lovely fat tender leaves

It’s the main ingredient in Caldo Verde – the Portuguese National Soup – along with potatoes and sausage! I have not found much talk of this kale and it’s ability to be sweet and tender in mid-summer as well as mid-winter! So I thought I would mention it for those of you who are looking for tasty greens for summer eating! It’s fast becoming my favorite kale!

Favorite Beans

Fortex beans starting to climb the greenhouse wall in spring.

Green beans are a favorite food of mine and the only veggie that I successfully freeze for winter eating. The last few years I have narrowed the beans I grow down to two really tasty ones, Fortex – a pole bean that can grow nearly a foot long and stay sweet and tender, and Dragon Tongue, a multi-colored fat flat meaty bush bean. I don’t usually bother with bush beans because their growing season is so short, but Dragon Tongue is so prolific that I manage to get enough to eat as well as freeze. And I like it so much I have made an exception and give it a bed each year now.  Fortex is also wonderfully prolific and just keeps producing until frost. It’s a stringless gourmet French filet bean and I grow it for the flavor!

Dragon Tongue Bush Beans in spring
Fat meaty and tender Dragon Tongue beans…

Sungold Tomatoes

Sungold Tomatoes from the Territorial Seed Catalog

I’m sure everyone has favorite tomatoes that they grow. Here in southern Oregon we have had a couple summers in a row that were not really tomato-friendly. I try new tomatoes every year trying to find varieties that are tasty as well as reliable in our often un-reliable summers. Tomato plants dislike heat as much as cold and just stop producing if we get too many hot days in a row!

First Sungolds ripening July 1st

One tomato that I have grown for many years now, seems not to care if I grow it in too much shade (I grow them in a new place each year), or too much competition or if the summer is not tomato-friendly! They are an amazing breed! Sungold tomatoes just keep pumping out those sweet little gold nuggets all summer long! I truly can’t find anything negative to say about these wonderful little tomatoes – except I suppose it would be nice if some were slicing size! I have taken to planting them in different parts of the garden so as folks wander around there is always a Sungold nearby to graze on!

Italian Prunes

I have to put in a good word for one of my favorite fruits, because it is so carefree to grow and so truly yummy to eat fresh and dried. Italian Prunes are a plum variety that are great to eat fresh because they are sweet all the way to the pit, free-stone (not STUCK to the pit) and not super juicy so you don’t end up with a sticky hand and chin when eating one out in the garden.

Italian Prunes

This year we finally got enough to dry a few quarts! It’s really easy to dry. You just slice it in half and pop the pit out and dry it for a few hours – turning it over mid way!

I had to work to find a way to keep the critters (raccoons, possums and rats) from eating them first (which they did last year – all in one night!!). I tied a big piece of deer netting to the tree’s trunk and fanned the netting out in a big funnel shape attached to the lowest branches all around! It worked!

We like this fruit so much that I planted a second one last winter. I mention this prune because I think it’s not very well known and rarely seen in the markets. People likely have a prejudice against “prunes” as well. It’s really high in nutrients so it makes a great healthy snack all winter. I just love the taste!

A few pictures from this years garden

The folks we get honey from loaned us a couple bee hives when the apples were blooming because our wild honeybees were killed by all the snow and cold we got this year!
We had the best crop of Honeycrisps we have ever gotten!! Yea bees! and Yea bee people! Thank you so much!
I have a hard time getting enough squash each year (it’s a bee problem) – so I plant Cavili Squash – a parthenocarpic summer squash that doesn’t require bees for pollination. It’s a really yummy pale green squash.
This Campanula bloomed repeatedly all summer long! I kept going to cut it back – but each time it would have a new set of buds on it! It still had some when the cold got it this month!
These utterly carefree wax begonias bloomed from May through November (It’s the 29th and they are still blooming away on my deck!) without requiring anything but water! Wonderful little plants – neither heat nor cold nor smoke – we had a lot of smoke from wildfires in August -nor insects or disease get these guys down!

Enjoy the holidays wherever you are and whatever they are for you!


    • Writing it and going through the pictures from last spring and summer had the same effect on me… It’s gloomy and chilly and grey here, so it was nice reliving summer for a while.


      • Your post is very inspiring.
        I went through my garden afterwards walking slowly and telling every blade of grass how you created paradise and how I wish the same here.


  1. I’ve enjoyed strolling through your garden Barb. We’re just drying onion for the first time. Looks to be going ok and should be a useful addition.


    • You are my most faithful reader, Frank! I’m glad you enjoyed this! Drying onions? Huh… I use a lot of garlic granules in my cooking. I wonder if I could dry garlic and make my own somehow… Thanks for the inspiration. That’s what I love about blogs… we get a chance to share ideas with each other. And poetry! I enjoy yours very much!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you as well. Barb.

        We’ll be trying some garlic, as well. Probably crush it down to powder and perhaps make a salt mix.

        Bought some separate teflon sheets for the dryer for the aromatics. Very very onion smell for the first few hours so away from the dining room is probably the way to go.


  2. Oh – good suggestion about having special dryer sheets for the “smelly” stuff… I would hate to have my prunes tasting like garlic or onion! I keep my dryer in the laundry room so that will help. Thanks!


  3. Italian prunes and even more French prunes used to be one of the main crops in the Santa Clara Valley. The Prune blossom is the City Flower of Campbell. Yet, not many people in the Valley now know what a prune is!


  4. French prunes… I have never heard of them before. It would have been nice to have one of them instead of a second Italian prune. I’m about out of space for more trees at this point. Interesting bit of history. I just read that prunes were as precious as salt at one point in European history! Thanks! I enjoyed wandering your site…


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