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In my preparations for Nerd Prom
, I have been neglecting posting about the veggie garden, though I have not been neglecting the garden itself.
I'm mostly growing roma tomatoes this year, since last year I bought tons of them at the farmers market. And we ran out of the pasta sauce I made from them far too early. This variety seems to be quite susceptible to blossom end rot, but I think I've got it mostly managed now.
I've never grown cucumbers before. The one you can see there
is about the size of my pinkie fingernail. It'll only get to be the size of quarter. Adorable!
I kept seeds from a mystery variety of winter squash that I got at the end of last year's farmers market. They're incredibly happy. If we can't find Kaylee one of these days, I'll be sure to check to make sure they haven't dragged her in.
Squash flowers at the end of the day.
Dill! I've made two quarts of refrigerator pickles with this dill and cucumbers from the farmers market. It reseeded itself from last year quite happily.
I had an issue with peppers this year. The ones I grew from seed all died. But I got some from Oakland
that are doing very well. I like the two little baby ones still in their flowers at the top.
This is Ohio, so I grew soybeans. These are fancy-schmancy black soybeans
, though. They're fuzzy-stemmed. I didn't know they'd be like that. Nifty.
Crossing my fingers that it will keep going so well!
Labels: flowers, food, garden
Jessica's universal refrigerator pickle juice
This can be used to make refrigerator pickles of just about any sort: cucumbers, cauliflower (shown), green beans, peppers ... Just add a tablespoon of pickling spices of your choice to the bottom of the jar, pack in the veggies, and ...Ingredients
(makes enough for one quart of pickles)
1.5 cups water
3/4 cups white vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons kosher or pickling salt
Combine ingredients in small saucepan. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Uncover, stir to dissolve sugar and salt and boil for two minutes. Pour over vegetables and pickling spice in canning jar.
Let cool, then close jar and store in refrigerator for at least one week before eating. Eat within two months, if you can manage to keep them that long. This recipe can be doubled or tripled or quadrupled. If you make too much, just keep it in the fridge until you want to make more pickles.
You can vary the the type of vinegar, as long as it's at least 5% acidity. You can up the amount of sugar if you like sweeter pickles. Vary the pickling spices*, either by buying a commercial blend or making your own (both Penzey's and McCormick's are both good).
For dill pickles, put one tablespoon of pickling spice and one dill flowerhead (or one teaspoon dill seed) to a quart jar, then pack jar with either whole canning cucumbers or cucumber slices. Pour pickle juice in and then try to wait a week before eating!
* for a very simple version, try...
4 allspice berries
1 tsp whole yellow mustard seeds
1/4 cinnamon stick
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
for dill pickles, add a dill flowerhead or one teaspoon dill seed
Labels: canning, food, garden, recipes
Garden planning time!
It's late February, and that means it's time to get out the seed starting supplies and believe that one day, it will be warm again.
My garden planning started in December, but I didn't make my seed order until January. I order most of my seeds from Territorial Seed
, and last year they had sold out of a few things before I ordered, and I didn't want that to happen again this year.
For this year, I decided to focus our planting on things that we eat a lot of and/or I canned a lot of last year. Yeah, that sounds obvious, but it's kind of fun to plant something new. Luckily, my brother Chris and his family got me some yacon
to plant, so that will be my fun new thing this year. While I couldn't justify it, I'm glad they provided me with an excuse! :)
We'll be planting:(I didn't link everything because it's a long list... :)
I also saved some seeds from a winter squash that I got at the market last year. I really liked it, but by the time we ate it, I couldn't remember what it was. We'll see how it goes!
We also have walking onions and strawberries in the garden from last year. I'm not holding out too much hope for the strawberries, but we'll see. If they don't produce, I'll rip them out and plant something else there.
I'm also planning on doing a few experiments with the way I plant. I've been interested in those upside-down tomato planters, but I've heard bad things about the manufactured plastic ones (the roots and stem rot). However, I saw somewhere online where someone made one out of a coir-fiber lined hanging planter. I picked up a couple of those, and I'll plant a couple slicing tomatoes in those to see how it works (I'll be trading tomato seedlings with a co-worker to get those).
Since we cut down the tree in the backyard last fall, we'll actually be able to plant in the backyard, too! This will be totally new for us, so we're going to just have to see how that goes. We've got a long, empty planting bed that we're planning to use for sunflowers, with the mystery winter squash underneath.
All in all, I'm excited about what'll happen! Now I can't wait until it warms up so I can get to work!
Scarlet runner beans
I spent months looking for scarlet runner beans this spring. I finally found them near the end of June. The late start didn't seem to deter them.
This year I grew them on the front railing for ornamentation and to collect the beans to plant next year. Next year, eating!
One evening's harvest from the garden
The peppers are all sweet and the eggplant are babies. Yum!
The garden's starting to peter out, but we got a couple pounds of onions at least!
And the peppers a pepping along, so I'll have to fins something to do with them soon.
Momotaro tomatoes seem to jump off the vine if you so much as look at them. They're suicidal, so I guess it's not the best to have them on the kitchen window ledge, but it's the easiest place, really...
Eggplant & onion pasta
Eggplant and onion pasta, made with eggplant and onion from the garden. :)
With faux chicken, makes a tasty lunch!
Labels: food, garden, lunchtime
To go along with yesterday's baby eggplant, here's a baby pepper.
This is an Alma paprika
pepper. I bought lots at the Clintonville farmer's market
last year, so I thought I should probably grow them myself this year.
They're very thick-walled, so great for stuffing. I may even dry one or two and make my own paprika, though that's not why I got them.
They're also wonderfully sweet and great raw. With any luck, there'll be enough to eat them any way I want!
Look! A baby eggplant!
Isn't it cute? I planted a different variety from last year, so these will actually be purple (last year's were mostly white). These are Fairytale
eggplants, and they only get to be about four inches long, so it's a quarter of the way there.
Soon, my pretty, I will eat you up!
One good thing about the record rain we've had is what it's done for the vegetable garden.
As you can see, it's just gone wild. Climbing up the back fence are invading morning glories that I'll have to yank down soon before they grab the tomatoes. The bed smack in the middle of the photo is full of golden beets. I've already gotten one big harvest from them:
I've still probably got at least that many in this next batch to dig up. Yum! Roasted beets, here I come!
Another garden corner
A couple weeks ago, I showed you a corner of the vegetable garden. Here's a little corner of the flower garden in the back yard.
Labels: flowers, garden
Sweet pea flowers
Yay! My sweet peas are beginning to flower!
So pretty. They're all this delicate purple and cream. Mom asked me to save some seeds for her, so try to remind me, OK?
Labels: flowers, garden
Egyptian walking onions
One of the plants in the vegetable garden that we've not yet gotten to enjoy are the Egyptian walking onions
. They're a perennial, and we've finally gotten them going well enough that we can harvest them rather then just let them "walk" over the garden bed. I'll let you know how they taste!
Solar-powered drip irrigation system
I've installed a solar-powered drip irrigation system in a part of the vegetable garden.
I got it from Gardener's Supply
. It's really very kit-like - just a solar pump and a small drip irrigation kit that's meant to be used with an outdoor faucet. It's not hard to set up, but it's not completely obvious either.
The pump seems to be prone to getting clogged, but over all, it seems to be a good little kit. I'm sure I'll let you know later in the summer if it fails!
I always know when our peonies bloom: the last week of May and the first week of June.
How do I know? On our first spring in the house, six years ago, they bloomed exactly then, when Jeff and I were on our honeymoon. We got to see nothing but the dregs when we got back. Every year since then, I've always looked forward to seeing them, since I didn't get to see them the first time.
Labels: flowers, garden
Just to taunt Fiona
I'm not having much luck with getting actual beets from these greens, so I may just be sending them to you yet, Fi
I'm hoping to finally get these seedlings in the ground this week sometime. If not, then over the weekend.
There are three tomato plants, three pepper plants, and three eggplants. Three other tomato plants didn't make it, but Territorial Seed
is sending replacements. Hopefully, they just didn't like sitting inside and will do fine once in the ground.
Tomorrow, I'll be moving them out to the garden proper, where they'll get more sun and get used to the location.
Mint and cilantro
As you can see, the mint and cilantro are very happy. That's putting it mildly, actually. Before I planted the cilantro, I had to rip out half of the mint, and it's still invading the cilantro. You can see why it's so important not to plant it in the ground if you ever want anything other than mint!
This cilantro will probably go to seed pretty soon, and I'll get a few more plants and plant them in the shade where some radishes were. That should give me another month or so before it just gets too hot to grow any cilantro at all.
Jeff uses the mint for Mai Tais and other tropical drinks, and I've been using them both to make spring rolls and in other dishes.
A garden corner
The garden is coming along nicely, even with the weird weather we've been having. In April it was May-like, and in May, it's been April-like.
I've had to hold off on some spring tasks, but that's OK. We've been so busy the past few weekends that we haven't had the time to work in the yard anyway.
It's hard to believe that next weekend's Memorial Day already. At least the long weekend will help us catch up on all the yardwork that still needs to be done.
The tall things to the right of the photo are our Egyptian Walking Onions
. They're a perennial, and I think we'll finally have enough to pick and use this year. They're easy to tend and fun to watch, so I can't wait to see how they taste!
There are few things as good as radishes straight from the garden. The ones you get in the store are so dried out and bland in comparison. These have a wonderful bite and crunch.
The ones on the left are a basic Easter Egg blend. The ones on the right are Zlata radishes
, and this is the first time I've grown them. I'm going out to sow a second seeding today, though - they're so wonderful! I've still got that many of both kinds still in the ground, just waiting to plump up a bit more.
For Orlando & Fiona
Spinach still in the garden, but it's time for picking! Sorry, Lando & Fi
, but I don't think it would survive the trip to you. But I'll think of you while I eat it! :)
I can almost believe it's spring
Look! Buds on my dwarf nectarine!
It's a container variety, so very small. But with all those buds, it seems very happy! I really don't think I'll get that many nectarines, but it sure is pretty.
Of course, those buds are getting covered up tonight because it's going to be below freezing. That's why these radish sprouts are covered up, too.
They were covered up last night, too, and I just left it on today since it wasn't too warm. They seem happy.
Garden assessment time
It's that time of the year when I start getting desperate for spring, but I know it won't be here too soon. We usually have at least one good snowstorm in March, and sometimes even in April.
However, it is time to start planning the garden!
It's a nice, sunny day, so I went out back to see what has made it though the winter.
The parsley made it, and I didn't even know it was hardy here. Apparenltly so. The rosemary looks like it survived too, and I know it's not hardy here.
All the other perennials in the garden look like they're doing well. I've even got a few volunteer Vidalia onions coming up that I must have missed last year.
I've already got my seeds and plants ordered for this year. I can't wait!
Compare & contrast
What I was looking at a little over a week ago:
What I'm looking at now:
Feel free to discuss.
Labels: flowers, garden, nature, travel, weather
First snow of the year
And he doesn't look to happy about it.
It was probably only about 3-4 inches, but you would think it was a blizzard the way people were acting. Yeesh. It's just a little snow!
Labels: garden, weather
Well, that was exciting
We had a tornado warning this afternoon.
Jeff's out of town, so when the sirens went off, and I confirmed it on the radar, I highed myself and the pets down into the basement. Spike had to be carried in his little travel cage, and Kaylee had to be carried because the stairs were scary. We sat away from the windows and watched the clock waiting for the storm to pass.
There was a possible touchdown less than a half a mile from us, but we got nothing more than rain. Still a little scary, though.
But we're fine. And I learned that we need to clean the basement. That will be Jeff's job when he gets back from his trip. :)
Labels: dogs, garden, nature, weather
It's been a while since I posted photos of the garden, and I just got a new camera (thanks, honey!), so I thought I'd use the opportunity to play with my new camera and get some shots of the plants.
As usual, the Swiss chard is going bonkers.
The fall crops have started to go in. Beets, turnips, and here are the radishes:
More radishes will go in when I pull up the non-producing cucumbers this weekend.
And here's a little corner of the garden.
Peppers, some nasturtiums, and you can see the ruby Swiss chard in the background.
And I'm really enjoying the camera, a Fuji FinePix F40fd. It's a little pocket digital camera, but it takes nice photos.
It's been a while since I posted pictures of the garden, so I thought I would.
This little bed along the fence used to have our lettuce and spinach and kale in it. Once the weather got warm, however, it was given over to Swiss chard and some "leftover" pepper plants from a coworker. You can also see the nasturtiums that are keeping the fig tree company.
I need to harvest some of the Swiss chard before it starts to shade the peppers again. Good thing we like it, since it grows like crazy!
This is the first year that I'm growing eggplant, but I seem to be doing well. One of the plants has five eggplants on it. This one has two, but they're starting to turn purple.
In addition to the peppers my coworker gave me, I've got another container with ones that I raised from seed. These were a mix, so I've got some green bell peppers, as well as some purple and red ones, too.
My tomatoes are producing, but they look like crap. These are the Mr. Stripey heirlooms, which are doing OK.
I used to have tomatillos in the same bed as these tomatoes, but they were doing horribly, so I yanked them up. I'll probably plant a fall harvest of kale in their place in a month or two.
My tomatoes may not be look nice, but my basil looks fantastic.
I'll be making pesto this weekend.
Labels: food, garden, nature
I don't often show you the front garden. It's nice, but for some strange reason, I tend to think it's boring, even though it's not.
There was a big sale at Oakland Nursery this weekend, and we loaded up on stuff for the holes in the front, including some hydrangea.
We also picked up a small spirea.
I don't know if I mentioned last year that we replaced our smaller water feature with a 100 gallon water trough (purchased at a farmer supply store for about $50). It makes a wonderful water feature that's deep enough for our water lily to live through the winter. Jacques and Petrolina just went to work in there last week, and we got a new solar fountain, too.
And one patch of Jeff's bananas lived through the winter.
And, of course, we have snapdragons and portulaca, Jeff's and my favorite garden flowers, respectively.
So that's the front garden. Maybe another picture when the lilies bloom.PS: Hi, Uncle Chuck! (My Uncle Chuck just let me know that he subscribed to my blog. He's my mother's older brother and he lives out in San Diego with my Aunt Terry.)
Labels: flowers, garden, misc
The eggplants are doing wonderfully in the garden. Hopefully, all the happy purple flowers presage happy little eggplants down the road!
Labels: flowers, garden