Sunday was a beautiful day and we are running out of summer, so we decided to take advantage and take a short trip to Strawberry Banke Museum in Portsmouth, NH. The Museum contains an area of historic houses in the Puddle Dock area of Portsmouth along the Piscataqua River, one dating back to 1690. The entire area was blighted and scheduled to be torn down in the late 1950s as part of the urban renewal craze that spread across the country. Some citizens of the town realized the historic value of the area and were able to preserve a section which became the museum. The houses have been carefully restored and furnished with period furniture. What I found particularly interesting were the gardens surrounding each house. Besides decorative gardens, everyone had a kitchen garden and an herb bed.
Late August isn’t the prime time to be viewing a kitchen garden around here, but I found a few things interesting. First there were okra plants everywhere and it looked like they were just starting to flower. The first ones I encountered were in a vegetable bed alongside the Goodwin mansion. They had spikes of large, pale yellow flowers with dark red centers, very striking. I have read complaints that okra only produces a pod at a time but this one looked like it had set fruit all along the spike below the open flowers.
Okra was also used frequently as an ornamental. Here is a cluster of okra plants that anchored the center of a circular flower bed in the public gardens across the street from the museum.
Bees and butterflies were everywhere, including a large flock of Monarchs.
An interesting item we found in one of the herb gardens was this watering jug. This brown earthenware is of the type that was manufactured in Portsmouth, so I assume this is a reproduction of an original. It has a small opening on top, with the handle positioned so you can easily cover the opening. The bottom is covered with small holes. You use it by setting it in a bucket of water and allow it to fill. By placing your thumb over the top opening, you can lift it out of the bucket and easily carry it to the garden bed for watering.
Getting back to the purpose of this post, the harvest from the garden was mostly cucumbers and zucchini, with a few volunteer tomatoes and my first red onion. I should be pulling more onions this week or next. I also picked some Fortex pole beans and harvested a head of escarole and one of endive.
That’s what I was doing last week. If you want to see what other gardeners around the world are harvesting from their gardens, head over to Daphne’s Dandelions, our host for Harvest Monday.