Dec 31, 2008


I hope that the coming year sees you, your family, and your Veggie Garden, Happy and Healthy!!

Dec 24, 2008

Dec 23, 2008

What's Under the Grow Lights

Several entries back I mentioned that I would be trying to grow something experimental in my grow room/junk room (yeah I know,most people limit their junk to a drawer...but that problem is for another day). I haven't forgotten my promise to explain,and update...I really haven't. It is just the non-gardening part of my life that reared it's ugly head and kept me from my veggie-ing. Naturally once Christmas is over, and the days start lengthening,I will be dedicating more of my time to preparing for the Spring and Summer, and the wonderful bounty that those months bring For now though, the Holidays have me held hostage.

But back to my new sprout,drum roll please..... the new baby in the room is a Taro Plant...I don't have any pictures yet, but I am so excited by my limited success to date, that I absolutely had to share already.

I received the corm in an Edible Root Round Robin(round robins are a type of plant/seed swap)From what I have read about this plant, they area fairly easy to grow. Well,easy to grow if you live in a place like Hawaii that is, and you are someone other than me. Not exactly hard , but not so easy either if you live in a place like Connecticut(and you are me). All that aside I am giving it my best shot. The root sprouted,and continues to live. Big leap in the right direction already. I have to keep this guy alive long enough to get it outside when the last threat of frost becomes a memory. Then I am almost sure I will be able to get a nice plump usable corm out of it...and hopefully an oha(a pup corm and plant that grows from the main corm).I am definitely looking forward to taro chips...I love them almost as much as I love Kettle Cooked Potato chips.Yum!

Pictures and more info coming any day now....I promise.

Dec 20, 2008

Winter Sowing -or- Fun in the Snow

Just a quick update on my Winter Sowing.

Yesterday,two days shy of the official start of Winter and the Winter Solstice,we had our first real snowstorm of the Winter season. It started sometime around 11:00am and by 6:pm it was just about done laying down a 6-7 inch layer of the fluffy white stuff. For me this is a fabulous sign that Christmas is truly here and a humbling reminder for me to be grateful for my warm home and happy healthy family.

But I digress...

After the snow was shoveled and I was sufficiently bundled, I ventured outside and got this lovely shot of Spring in a Jug. This is also known as my Winter Sowing.
Keep the faith folks...Spring will come around again!!

Dec 8, 2008

Wonderful World of Winter Sowing

Forever has come and gone since the last time I had dirt under my nails. Reality dictates that I picked the last of my vegetables from my garden only a month and a half ago....but where does reality fit when it comes to vegetable gardening. My life in the backyard is an abstract thought at best.

So it was with absolute pleasure, and the wonders of Winter Sowing, that I planted a few different types of perennial seeds this morning. It was a glorious start to the day , with the fabulously soft soil under my nails and the heady fragrance of new life swirling in my nose. All of this green-ness despite the bone chilling cold right outside my door. This was amazingly up-lifting. I guess I have been missing my garden more than I let on.

Now for those of you who are wondering what in the heck Winter Sowing is, it is a method of planting seeds in enclosed containers, recycled from around the house, and placing outside. Thus allowing nature to do its nature-ly thing with our seeds. This year is my first tenuous step into this method of planting, but I have heard from so many that it is a fool-proof and completely economical way to start so many plants at home. I must say it has perked up my otherwise winter weary spirits, and I want to share it with everyone.

I think it is best for all if I print the actual instructions straight from the site.

So without further ado, the steps:

How to Winter Sow
Several years ago, Trudi Davidoff, a Long Island housewife, began thinking about how plants reseed: seeds fall in late Summer or in Fall, endure Winter without any human assistance, and reemerge the following Spring or Summer. She began experimenting with giving certain seeds a little help, and before long, winter sowing caught on fire: first on the GardenWeb and later also on the Winter Sown Organization site . Trudi didn't invent the concept of sowing in the Winter for flowers the following Spring, but she created a system and organization that's cheap and simple. And it works. This will be my 5th year wintersowing; I've never successfully grown plants from seed any other way.When I bake, I like to make sure I have all the ingredients first. Here are what you'll need to get started with winter sowing:
Box cutter
Ice pick or soldering iron
Duct tape
Clear packing tape
Saran wrap
Potting soil
Milk jugs, ½ gallon or gallon size, soda pop bottles, margarine tubs, the deep meat trays used by Wal-Mart, and the Styrofoam boxes sometimes used for shipping meat from Omaha Steaks (a generous Christmas gift we received one year from hubby's sons) are some of the containers I like using. Last year I picked up some 99¢ plastic boxes from Wal-Mart and used them, too. Soak the containers in a 1:10 Clorox solution and allow to air dry.I discovered that Sharpies don't last outdoors as well as Deco Art paint pens, which I get from Michaels. Mark one line 4" from the bottom of the container and another line 3" from the bottom.After warming the box cutter's blade, slice along the 4"-from-the-bottom line, but don't cut the container in two; instead, leave untouched about 2" to create a kind of hinge. Using a soldering iron or ice pick (or whatever you prefer), poke drainage holes in the bottom of the container. For milk jugs, I poke 5 holes. Not as large as the holes on plastic plant pots, I'd guess the holes I make are about the size a pencil point might make, about ⅛” . If you’re using plastic containers with lids, solder some holes in the lid, too.Write the name of the seeds you're about to sow on the duct tape and place the duct tape label on the bottom half of the container, a few inches beneath the severed part. Some people prefer using a numbering system, such as 3J -- rather than using the plant's name.I fill a large, very cheap, mixing bowl with potting soil (I had a bad experience with Miracle-Gro potting soil so I use Fafard; be sure not to use seed starting mix) and then I wet the soil completely. Fill the container up to the 3" line and (finally!) sprinkle the seeds. Tamp lightly to ensure there is good soil-to-seed contact, close the top to the bottom of the container, and seal with clear packing tape, and the containers are ready for the outdoors. Choose a full sun location where runoff from the roof won't drown the seeds. If the location becomes windy or is likely to be nudged by curious animals, you'll want to prop your containers so they don't fall over.Sometimes, as I'm placing my finished containers on the tray I use to carry the containers outdoors condensation inside the containers begins, but usually the condensation forms soon after the containers are put outdoors. It is critical that you see condensation inside the containers because that means there's sufficient moisture for the seeds. Usually, containers won't need supplemental water until the temperatures begin to warm. When condensation stops showing, tilt the container on the side very gently and let water trickle slowly down, being careful not to dislodge the seeds or place the containers on a shallow tray filled with water and let the containers soak up the water. Even in my Southeastern Zone 8 garden, condensation forms best when the containers are placed in full sun, although I do move the slow-to-germinate containers to a shadier spot when temperatures warm up.
Okay, I hear a question: why use clear tape on the containers? No matter how nasty Winter weather becomes, the moment you see signs of germination, you’ll be doing the happy dance. I hear another question: how many seeds per container? No doubt you'll do some experimenting and fine-tuning of your own way of winter sowing, but with tiny seeds like Shirley poppies, I probably use a whole packet per gallon-size jug. Larger seeds, like those of Blackberry lilies, I space more generously in the container -- maybe 16 per container.There’s no need to pot seedlings up to larger pots: the seedlings can be planted directly in the ground. Trudi calls it the "hunk o'seedlings" method: grab a piece and plant. No pricking out and no acclimating the seedlings to the outdoors since they've been growing outdoors all winter. Of course, for larger seedlings, you'll be able to break off individual seedlings, but the hunk-o' works. Although I felt like a meanie doing it, last year I planted out Clarkia seedlings the last of January, and they thrived. Winter sown seedlings are very sturdy little guys!Why is Saran wrap on the list? If you use margarine containers, for instance, you'll want to cover them with Saran wrap, but be sure to poke a few holes on the top. It may be necessary to place hoops made from hangers to create a structure for the Saran wrap so that it doesn't touch the tops of the seedlings. Using a notebook will help you know which seeds you've winter sowed and when. I also like to note when I see germination, when I've planted the seedlings, and when flowers first appear. But of course all that is optional.Okay, which seeds can you winter sow? Hardy annuals, perennials, biennials, shrubs, and trees. If an annual reseeds in your area, then it's hardy for you. Trudi's list of hardy annuals in the FAQ's is so helpful I kept a printed copy handy for reference when I began winter sowing.

Winter Sowing begins.....

The seeds are all nestled down snug in their milk jug beds, while visions of Summer sun dance in their heads.....sorry about that .....

All closed up for the Winter.

Don't forget to check back to see how the Winter Sowing goes. I am looking forward to seeing the plant babies come Spring.

Dec 1, 2008

Let's Say Thanks to our Troops

I recieved the following in an e-mail today, and found it worthy of passing along.

If you go to this web site,
you can pick out a thank you card and Xerox will print it
and it will be sent to a soldier that is currently serving
in Iraq . You can't pick out who gets it, but it will go
to a member of the armed services.

How AMAZING it would be if we could get everyone
we know to send one!!! It is FREE and it only takes a

Wouldn't it be wonderful if the soldiers
received a bunch of these? Whether you are for or against
the war, our soldiers over there need to know we are behind them

This takes just 10 seconds and it's a
wonderful way to say thank you. Please take the time and
please take the time to pass it on for others to do. We can
never say enough thank you.

I have been to the site, and there are plent of wonderful postcards that were hand created by different children. My card is on it's way.

Nov 10, 2008

Horseradish Harvest

What a lovely tangle of fiery roots my darling Horseradish patch gave this season. I was surprised at how large and gnarly the roots had become. It took me quite a while just to wash and separate them. Of course that was the easy part. The hard part is the peeling and processing. I have learned my lesson though....DO NOT try to enjoy the aroma of the freshly grated root...and I definitely learned that one the hard way. Once grated down, and vinegar drenched,it becomes a snow white thing of beauty. I absolutely adore it along side a dinner of Ham and Mashed Potatoes. This will always be one of my fondest memories of Autumn...a chill in the air and the smell of a smokey ham and pungent horseradish....ahhhhh it is good to be alive!

For anyone trying fresh horseradish for the first time, a few things to keep in mind.

Once it is ground you need to add 2-3 Tablespoons of white vinegar and 1/2 teaspoon salt per cup, pack it into clean jars and store it in the refrigerator.

The time when you add the vinegar is important. Vinegar stops the enzymatic action in the ground product and stabilizes the degree of hotness. If you prefer milder horseradish, add the vinegar immediately. If you like horseradish as hot as it can be, wait 3 minutes before adding vinegar.

Horseradish that is processed loses it's potency with time, so if possible only grate what you need and store the rest of the root in a food grade plastic bag. It should keep for 4-6 weeks.

Nov 4, 2008

New Things a' Growing

I haven't forgotten this place. It is just been pretty hectic lately , what with putting the veggie garden to bed for the Winter....and getting newer portions of the yard ready for next seasons veggie growing. I will be planting some stuff I have had trouble growing in the past....just cross your fingers for me that the new areas for growing will do the trick.

For the time being....I am experimenting with a new Indoor for the Winter/Outdoor for the Summer plant, and I will tell you more and post some pictures in a bit. For now I still need to get the dining room empty of the last ripening tomatoes, finish pulling up the Pepper plants and drying the chilis.

Oct 20, 2008

Deep Fried Garlic!!

My family and I went to the Garlic and Harvest Festival in Bethlehem Connecticut last Sunday.

What a good time we had.

The festival is only in it's forth season so the size was extremely manageable. There were I think 60 or 70 vendors, several food tents. We were able to do the whole festival , eating included in around 2 hours. Now don't let that small size fool you, there was everything there a garlic lover could possibly want, and just about every other tent had some type of mini-mouthful of garlic-y goodness to sample. It all started off with a small cup of garlic Vinegar, and I believe the last sample I tried was a Garlic, Spinach, and Artichoke dip on a salt cracker. In between there was dips and oils, breads and garlic mayos, and a fabulous Garlic salt and a nasal clearing Beet-Horseradish relish. Some of the most lovely booths had nothing more for sale than whole heads of various varieties of garlic with tiny chunks of each of those varieties to sample. The biggest eye opener was the difference between the different garlics , some were fiery hot while some were so subtle and sweet it was almost humbling.

Now once the booths were all perused we made our way to the food court.....

There we tasted ,Sausage and Peppers with Garlic, a Pulled Pork sandwich, Deep Fried pickles , Hamburgers smothered in roasted garlic, and Garlic Ice Cream ( which is much tastier than it
sounds...of course by that time I had sampled so much raw garlic, everything was glazed in a haze of the wonderful and fragrant clove).....and finally and the reason for this posting, the Deep Fried Garlic. OH MY GARDEN, having it prepared this way must be the absolute most sinful and wonderful ways to eat garlic. The flavor is sublime, sweet and mild,but so savory from the carmelization that this method of cooking provides. The color is out of this world as well, a beautiful gold-bronze hue that was the perfect compliment to the Autumn leaves all around. This was a treat that I am glad I didn't pass up.
So next year, if you are up this way, treat yourself to some garlic!!

Oct 17, 2008

'Olena Ukrainian' Tomato Update

Back a few weeks ago, I posted my, Tomatoes on Parade, tomato tasting review for the 2008 growing season. In it, I stated a little disappointment in the variety Olena Ukrainian. Since that time I have changed opinion of this beauty of a tomato. Seems as if she needs cooler weather in order to really shine. Granted Olena Ukrainian is still a mild tomato, but the sweetness and complexity of flavor really come forward in the tomatoes that have ripened late in the season. I still believe that this is an especially good cooking variety, with the large size and dense flesh that makes it a given. However circumstance has led me to favor this as a fresh eating tomato as well. Let me tell you....this tomato covered in a little Garlic Sea Salt is phenomenal!

How did your tomatoes do this season, what will you never grow again and what made it to your Tomato Hall of fame????

As a footnote...the season is drawing to an end. I pulled the last of the tomatoes out of the bigger garden and only have a few left in pots. Granted there is a mountain of greenies on my dining room table and I will be eating and cooking tomatoes for some time to come, but still a certain melancholy from the shortening of days and the loss of my plants is to be expected. Of course I will try to think of green and homey things of interest to post about thru the Winter months but my posts will be fewer and farther between until seed season rolls around again come late Winter. But do not despair , as tomato seed planting time will be here quicker than you think!!

Oct 1, 2008

When life gives you Tomatoes.....

Make marinara!!

Last week the Northeast was a gray drizzle mess....but the fun news on Wednesday was that we were expected to receive anywhere between 3-6 inches of rain from Thursday evening thru to Sunday morning. So me , always thinking, decided that instead of taking the chance that all of my ripening tomatoes splitting from the excess rain , I would pick anything with a hint of color. Okay...that was easy. Inside, safe and sound sat 2 large mixing bowls of semi ripe tomatoes, and one very large soup bowl of cherry tomatoes ....just waiting for their time to shine when finally fully ripened.

Fast forward a week, now I have 2 large mixing bowls of fully ripe tomatoes, a large soup bowl of fully ripened cherry toms, plus several more semi ripe tomatoes and another bowl of cherry ones and a huge load more greenies just waiting in the wings. I cant get my kids or my hubby to show the same enthusiasm to these beauties as they did in early what is a tomato growing addict to do.......


So here is my beautiful Roasted Tomato Marinara in full and fabulous technicolor. Spread out on this page like the ripe luscious tomato pornography that it truly is!!

Alright, well, maybe not truly porn, but it did make my sons eyes get wide and his mouth you tell me !!

I have started filling my largest turkey roaster with my tomatoes

Still there is a whole bunch of preparation to go before we get sauce

The pan is full to the brim with a few sprigs of fresh herbs added and 2 tsps of Kosher salt sprinkled on they are now ready to go into a 400° degrees preheated oven.

While the tomatoes cook, I get the food mill ready to go.

Ahhh...can't you just smell the heady aroma.....the tomatoes are finally done after about an hour and a half in the oven.

The tomatoes are processed in the food mill to remove the skin and seeds.

I add enough tomato paste to thicken, and about 1/2 cup of lovely red wine called Carmenere(that is what I like to drink, if you make this sauce use the red wine you like...or omit it and add a TBS or so more Balsamic) and a couple of TBS of Balsamic vinegar to bring out the roundness of the sauce. I also now salt and pepper to taste and simmer for an hour.My exquisite sauce is ready for its 30 minute boiling water bath....but you can always eat what you want and freeze the rest :)

The tomatoes aren't long for this earth as the days get cooler and the nights get longer....let's enjoy them while we can......

Sep 24, 2008

Cantaloupe at last...or...the Mighty Muskmelon!!

I have tried for years to grow melons, with no luck . This year I put a few seeds in the ground near my living room wall just because the space was there and some new mulch-y compost was there. I didn't even water regularly. I just let the vines grow and was thrilled that the seeds I had saved from last seasons Farmers Market Muskmelon germinated. What a kick I got when I spied my very first melon out there about a month ago!! Even better was when I realised there were actually 3 melons growing strong. Then I was tickled pink when I found 3 more baseball sized babies hiding in the vines under the un-mown grass . Now it is late for melons so I picked the last 3 little guys and made sweet pickle chunks from them(I will put up a recipe for them if they turn out to be any good) and the oldest of the remaining melons was picked today I was totally surprised by the flavor. I was not expecting it to have fully ripened....but it did!! Sweet, but not too sweet , and so juicy it was almost like drinking and eating all at once. I can not wait to try again next year. Of course if I actually put effort into it, I probably wont get any melons....go figure.

Sep 9, 2008

Tomatoes on Parade 2008

Here are the long awaited tomato reviews for the 2008 season.

It was one of 'those' years for tomatoes in my yard. While my plants stayed pretty healthy for the most part, my production was a little sporadic. I guess in retrospect , if I take into consideration the cool weather in August,and the frigid month of May,it was an okay to good year. Not all years can be as productive as last year was.

So, without further ado, the Tomatoes of 2008!

Top row from left: Campari F2, X pollination result saladette type, Mr. Stripey.

Bottom row from left: Olena Ukrainian, Aunt Ruby's German Green, small Cherokee Purple.

The following is taken from my notes which are jotted down as I go through the season.

Mr. Stripey- A tiny tad better than store bought,but that's about it. I would normally give a second season to a dud but not this one. Out of all my plants this one just flopped,health and taste wise. The fruits were misshaped and bland. The ones pictured were on the small side, some had grown larger.

Golden Girl- Was a better last year, but still tasty in a sandwich.

Cherokee Purple- Good sized purple beefsteak shaped tomatoes. I was not impressed with the first tomato of the season, but after that I became a Cherokee Purple fan. They were juicy and sweet with velvety smooth meat. Just thinking about it and I want a tomato sandwich!

Campari F2- Red round golf ball sized fruits. Prolific plant. The skin on this one is a bit thick, but the juicy sweetness of the fruit makes up for it. Excellent for store saved seeds.

Aunt Ruby's German Green- Large Green beefsteaks in the 3/4 pound to
1 +1/2 pound range. When it is ripe it is a beautiful gold hued green with a star burst blush of pink radiating from the blossom end . Some of that pink is visible inside as well, which makes this tomato as visually appealing as it is flavorful. The flavor is outstanding! It is tomatoe-y and sweet very complex and the meat is dense and juicy. This is a definite keeper.

Olena Ukrainian- Visually stunning. However too mild for my taste. It is very dense though,and makes good sauce. So while I was disappointed in it as a fresh variety, it makes a good cooking tomato.

Sun Sugar- Extremely productive cherry. The plant grows like a monster. Fruits are sweet as sugar and a great snacker. Mine cracked after even a little rain. But there is so much fruit on it that it really didn't bother me.

?- This was a volunteer and a cross as well. A saladette type, dark brick red with dark green almost black shoulders. The flavor is a good mix of full bodied salty, smokiness of a full sized black and the tangy sweetness of a cherry. I will be growing this one out and will keep you updated.

Sep 1, 2008

Melon Madness

Korean Melon NOID

Still trying to determine if this baby is ripe. I can not wait to pluck it from its vine and savor its melon-y goodness. It is a shame it is so small, but since this is my very first ever melon I am totally excited!!

Cantaloupe/Muskmelon NOID

Here is what will ultimately be my second ever melon...wooohooo....this is the best year for me melon wise! I have never gotten a melon to produce...ever. So this is going to be a treat for certain. I saved these seeds from a ginormous melon I bought at the Farmer's Market. Now I am unsure what I really have, as of the 3 fruits that are growing on the vine, one looks nothing like a Cantaloupe/Muskmelon. Oh well, no worries, I love it anyways!

Aug 25, 2008

Pumpkin Update

August 13 2008

This is what the pumpkin looked like on August 13th. A beautiful deep dark green and the size and shape of a small squat or oblate cantaloupe.

August 20 2008

Only 1 week later and Pumpkin is now the size of a large cantaloupe , still squat in shape but now starting to come into color.

I am absolutely certain that the color is even more pronounced and orange today. I would have taken another picture to show the difference, but as soon as I was on my way out, the sky opened up for a nice rain shower. I am not complaining though, no way, because even though some parts of my area are complaining of too much rain, I have not been getting rain where near enough for my garden, so I am a happy gardener today :)!

Aug 19, 2008

Tomatoes...They're Whats for Dinner

I was trying to think of something new to do with our fresh tomatoes. I know I can be canning the excess...even though we dont have any where the amount it will take to feel overwhelming...that will come in a few more weeks....but in the meantime....

What to do for dinner.

We have had our Fresh Tomato Pizza ...a big favorite here...and we have stewed them up with our fresh zucchini...we have even added them into our Qeusadillas. But I can never get enough of my love apples , and I like them to shine on the dinner table, and I think tonights dish will do just that!

Pasta and Tomatoes alla Donna

Italian Sausage -use your favorite type
2 large cloves Garlic Minced
3 TBS Extra Virgin Olive Oil
5-6 Ripe Tomatoes Peeled and Seeded, use a combination of your favorite garden beauties!I used Golden Girl, Cherokee Purple, Olena Ukrainian , Better Boy and a NOID Red.
1 TBS Red Wine
Parmesan or Romano Cheese, Freshly Grated
Salt and Pepper to taste
Red Pepper Flakes (optional)

You can use any pasta you like, I used Ravioli...but even spaghetti will work.

Start by heating a few Tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil is a skillet.
Cut your favorite Italian Sausage into bite size pieces and cook until done.
Add in the Minced Garlic and saute til just cooked....about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes at most. Then add your coursely chopped garden tomatoes and Red Wine,bring to a bubble and cook a few minutes . Now add salt, pepper and optional red pepper flakes.Cook until heated thru , but not too much longer. Remove from heat and gently stir in a few tablespoons of the grated cheese. Pour over your favorite macaroni and sprinkle with a little more cheese and whatever garden herbs you might like.....Enjoy!!

Tomatoes just waiting to be Dinner!

Seed Saving

Inquiring minds want to know my "secret" to successful seed saving.

I like that. :)

Well, there is no real secret. I follow the same method for seed fermenting as I have found many others online follow. Fermenting is for saving of tomato seeds only, as I just harvest and dry all my other seed types, and call it a day.

Firstly,I only do Open Pollinated, so there is always a small chance of cross pollinating. I have tried bagging blossoms but have experienced awful blossom drop that way. Plus I figure there is only like a 5% chance of cross pollinating this way, and I don't sell my seeds on to fermenting....

First pick the best of your favorite tomatoes,Squeeze the seeds and their surrounding juices into a plastic or Styrofoam cup...I save yogurt and sour cream containers for this, the old renew reuse theory . Make sure you label the cup with the name of the seed being saved.
Then add enough water to ensure that after sitting around for a few days the liquid will not have all evaporated...usually I add maybe a teaspoon or two.

Now either you need to cover this with one of those 'Favor Bags' like you see at weddings. You can find them at at craft stores...they are made out of Organza material, and they do a good job of keeping the fruit flies at bay. Or you need to keep these in a room where you wont mind swarms of fruit flies. Then simply let the mixture sit until a nice fungal mat forms on the top...this will look kind of mottled and goopy. 

Now it is time for seed cleaning. Take your fermented mess and gently remove the fungal mat by tipping the cup and helping the mat slide off with the aid of a toothpick, pick any seeds that are stuck in the goop out and add back to the liquid in the cup. Fill the cup with fresh water and swirl a bit, being careful not to slosh out the seeds. pour off the excess liquid , again being mindful of your seeds. Any bad seed should float to the top of the water and be poured away. Repeat this process three or more times until you are left with just clean seeds.
Pour seeds out into one layer onto a clean paper plate or paper towel and leave in a dry spot for as long as it takes for them to be dry. Loosening them from the plate or paper and giving them a stir is a good idea 1 or 2 days into their drying.
Make sure to label with the correct name and date and store out of the light in a cool dry place.

Enjoy :)

Aug 17, 2008

Green Thumb Sunday

Seed Saving time again! Okay,so it's not like I don't have enough tomato seeds, of enough different varieties, to supply most of my home town with plants....but I am compelled to save seeds from almost every variety I have growing.
I mean... Who knows who might want some, or when I may have the yen to grow a variety again. I just cant afford to take those types of chances.

Aug 13, 2008

Home Invasion

I was sitting in my living room this afternoon, just minding my own business...maybe even dozing off a bit...when I hear this odd plinking sound coming from my kitchen. I got up , thinking maybe my husband had come in from work and was doing something weird in the sink. I go to the door and look to see if his car is home. Nope, he was not home yet. I slowly creep into the kitchen, leary of the eerie and oddsound emananting from within ....and HOLY CRAP....there is a squirrel, biting his way thru my window screen. Blatantly trying to get into my house, and at the bread I had cooling on the counter. I immediately yelp and yell 'no way' ...there is no way I am having this!! So with the bread relocated to a less tempting area, I call my son into the room and ask him to look for something to patch the screen with. I go out into the hall to the front door so I can look up the street to see if hubby is coming yet. Since I don't see hubby anywhere up the street , I go back into the kitchen to assess the damage, and what do I find...that dang squirrel is halfway thru the now riped screen, and into my kitchen!!! This time I not only yelp, but I flail my self around at the offender, threatening extermination.....but of course my dearest daughter takes umbrage to the idea of me killing her squirrel. Knowing, of course, that this could be the same deaf squirrel we have been coddling all Summer(and it turns out,to which hubby has been feeding Pringles), and she loves dearly. I say, lovey squirrel or not, I will not have squirrels traipsing into my kitchen whenever the mood strikes them. Still invader squirrel lives on, and screen is in need of repair.

Besides I dont think it was our deaf squirrel....he heard me yelping, I just know it.

I Haven't Forgotten the Tomatoes

I know I am usually gushing on and on about my tomatoes. I also know that once upon a time this blog was primarily about those luscious love apples. This year though, the tomatoes are having a slow go of it(maybe because they are putting their effort into size rather than quantity it seems), so my primary focus has been to enjoy each of the veggies as they present themselves to me. So far the ones to do that in any type of abundance would be the zucchini and the edamame. Oh that is not to say that I haven't been enjoying my tomatoes, because I have. Just not in the over flowing piles of tomatoes way that most Summers present.

So , no worries, in another month I will have compiled my tasty tomato facts for this season and I promise to share it all with you!!

Leaving you with a hint of this Summer's Bounty

Pictured Clockwise from top: Aunt Ruby's German Green, Better Boy, Cherokee Purple, Mr. Stripey.

Aug 10, 2008

Green Thumb Sunday

Out of all of the Rose of Sharon that I enjoy blooming in my small yard, this is my favorite. It is another of my volunteer bushes, and the color on it is so much fun. It really is hard to resist taking pictures of her. Of course the photos do nothing to do this flower justice. In real life, the candy cane like effect of the white and rose-red pink are more striking....but I think you get the idea from this shot, as you can see some of the color on the edges of each petal. Mother Nature is one pretty lady

Have a Happy Green Thumb Sunday!

Aug 8, 2008

The Pumpkin Saga

I have been feeling a tad bit guilty here as I haven't updated my pumpkin pictures in a week. Then just when I thought I couldnt feel any worse about neglecting my little pumpkpin gal, Mother Nature decides to teach me a lesson. Last night we had a ginormous storm complete with marble sized hail....I havent seen hail since I was a kid!!!
So needless to say, I was a nervous wreck regarding my many fruit and veggie plants. During the height of the storm when the weather center was warning us of possible tornados, I was at the window closest to my tomatoes swearing out loud that if need be I would go out there and protect them with my body ....of course I know better, but anyone who has watched their beloved 'maters bending in the wind knows my pain.

So here are last weeks pumpkin shots. I dont have anything next to them for size comparison as they are fenced in now(for safety reasons).

In this shot , she is around baseball sized ^

Here you can see how the pumpkin is dangling in the bushes.

Now it is around softball sized.

I know that it is even bigger today, and if dinner(pizza) hadnt just arrived I would be posting more, but got to run ....More pumpkin coming soon!!!

Aug 4, 2008

We had an interesting visitor to the front yard yesterday. In the Shot above, he is drying out and hardening up after shedding his exoskeleton....Ain't he a beauty!!

And here is his Exo....

Oddly enough, his shell is on one side of a garden sign, and he was directly on the opposite side of the sign.

Ahhhh the wonders of nature!

Jul 28, 2008

The Mystery Squash

I was so inspired by some blogs featuring Giant Pumpkins last year, that I had decided this year to try and grow my own Jack-o-lantern. Not a Giant one mind you, as that is a bit too ambitious for my tastes, but a nice pumpkin-y sized pumpkin.

Well, I did plant the seeds....twice.

And the seeds they did finally emerge from the soil.

However the vines from those seeds are pretty pathetic.

The vines from my Mystery Compost Curcurbit are absolutely gorgeous though! Plus, in the past few days we have been watching a tiny female blob take shape.

July 25th 2008

Wonders never cease it seems, because as of this morning, I am pretty sure she is a Pumpkin ...woooohoooo....and I am also pretty sure she was pollinated sometime in the wee morning hours this morning!!

July 28th 2008

So it looks like we will be following in the footsteps of many of my favorite bloggers and charting my pumpkin Progress from now until October , when if all goes well I will have my own glorious Pumpkin to enjoy during my favorite holiday time of year.So let's all keep our fingers crossed for this little gal.

More pictures to come as the days pass.

Jul 27, 2008

Soy To The World!!

I am so proud.

I just harvested my first ever crop of Edamame. This is the soy bean in its green stage. The word Edamame means "Beans on Branches," and it grows in clusters on bushy branches. They are a remarkably easy vegetable to grow.I planted them in extra-large pots , planting the seeds about an inch and a half deep, and spaced about 6 inches apart. I watered them in, and then watered when needed. Piece of Cake. They are a pretty compact plant, and the flowers are tiny...but they get covered in pods. Once the pods were nice and plump, but still green. I picked them.

They are also extremely easy to prepare as a side dish or vegetable dish once they are grown. Edamame are best eaten steamed or boiled in lightly salted water and popped out of the shell straight into your mouth... Yum.

You can also let the beans completely mature, and then shell them and use them like other dried beans. The nice thing about using them as a dry bean is they don't require any pre-soaking, as a matter of fact, pre-soaking would be a bad thing for them as they spoil quickly that way . So they are quick and easy in the dry stage as well!

Come on People ....enjoy the Soy!!

Green Thumb Sunday

Oh, the lovely surprises that the Compost Pile puts forth. This guy was just discovered this week, there was a bunch of debris to the side of my compost pile, and my hubby noticed something tomato-like poking out. Lo and behold....a beautiful rogue tomato plant. He may be a tad bit behind his brethren, but if it comes down to it, I will be making pickled green tomatoes come late Autumn. it wont bother me any since the cucumbers aren't doing so well in the spot I chose for them this season.

Jul 17, 2008

Zucchini Invasion

It appears that I am coming to the point in the growing season, where I am going to have to find homes for my excess zucchini. At this stage of the game, I still have neighbors and family who will let me onto their property, and who welcome the squash with open arms.

In a week or so , that will all change. People will get tired of waking to a porch load of squash, and I just never got the knack of stealth squashing. I don't relish the idea of being run out of my neighborhood by an angry mob carrying pitchforks ,shouting angry slogans ....but that will definitely loom on the horizon if I don't come up with something to do with my zucchini.

So I am open for yummy recipes. If I get enough, I may even dedicate an entire post to your recipes. For now I offer the one my daughter loves the most.

Zucchini Fries

3 Medium Sized Zucchini
2-3 cups Fresh Bread Crumbs
1/2 tsp fresh Ground Black Pepper
1/2 tsp Kosher Salt
1/4 tsp Garlic Powder
1/4 cup Freshly Grated Parmesan Cheese
2 Eggs
1/4 to 1/2 cup water
1/2 to 1 cup Flour

Preheat oil to 375°

In a pie pan or similar dish, mix together bread crumbs, salt, pepper , garlic powder and Parmesan cheese. Put aside. In a similar dish, beat together eggs and water, put that aside as well.

Wash Zucchini, then remove stem and blossom ends. Cut in half thru the middle, then cut into strips lengthwise, cutting each strip into fries.

Next , put flour into a gallon sized ziplock style bag, add strips of zucchini close bag, then shake to coat. Place flour coated strips , a few at a time into the eggs and turn to coat. Transfer to bread crumb mix and coat well. Shake off excess crumbs and gently place into oil
( I use an electric deep fryer with a basket, and I fill the basket a little shy of the half way mark...if you have a fryer, use yours according to the manufacturers instructions. If you are using a pan, use one with high sides and only put in a few inches of oil, and don't put in too many strips at a time as you don't want the oil to bubble over. Always use caution when working with boiling oil)

These only take a few minutes to be done, so no walking away :).
Once they are golden brown they are done. Remove from oil and drain.

Enjoy them any way you would enjoy traditional Fries!!

More recipes to come ...

Jul 13, 2008

Green Thumb Sunday

Did you spot the Bumble Bee??

It is so nice watching the bees do their thing!!It has become one of my more favorite past times this summer.

Yesterday, while I was out surveying my land...all 1/6 th of an acre of it, I watched two enormous bumbling Bumble Bees trying to enjoy the pollen on my Tomatillos . The plants were swaying gently in the absolutely Divine breeze that was wafting thru my back yard, and the bees were having one hell of a time trying to land. I could have watched them for hours.
Bees, they are the Kings and Queens of my life!!

Jul 7, 2008

Holy Horseradish Batman!!

So here is my stunning horseradish....and along side of my horseradish is my equally stunning, one and only, son. My horseradish this year is huge. Which for perspective sake is why my son, under protest, is in the shot. Now he is no giant himself, but he is in no way diminutive. So that gives you an idea about the height on this vegetable, as you can see it comes up to his waist.

Horseradish happens to be one of my favorite things from the garden so I am thrilled with it's size. I love it ground up along with ham and mashed potatoes. It is also a great in ketchup, not just as cocktail sauce for shrimp, but for anything you that you would use ketchup. I especially love to use it when it is fresh. I am not knocking store bought grated radish, but as with many veggies, fresh horseradish is best.

That being said, I would like to offer a cautionary tale regarding freshly ground horseradish for all you newcomers to the experience. It goes a little something like this...........

About 15 years ago I grew and then dug my very first crop of Horseradish. I then carried my dirty yet lovely roots tenderly into my kitchen where all the items that I needed to successfully preserve my precious harvest were carefully laid out. I lovingly washed my roots, peeled them down to their snow white flesh, and cut them into manageable chunks. After a quick ride in the food processor the ground radish was ready for it's vinegar and a trip to the refrigerator. Man was I excited.Eagerly I removed the lid from my machine, excited to finally view the freshly grated roots I adore. How gorgeous I thought.....and before the smarted half of my brain could kick into gear, I stuck my head over the bowl and took a great deep breath......





And thought I was going to die.....




My eyes blurred, the wind was knocked out of me, I couldn't draw a breath for the life of me. I became a spluttering fool, running my face under the cold faucet at full force. Which of course my kids found to be highly entertaining.

Luckily for me the effects only lasted a few minutes so I was never in any real danger. Once the vinegar was mixed in, the fumes subsided, and boy was I ever happy!

All in all I was left with my pride wounded...but a fantastic batch of horseradish.

So my word of wisdom to all who will grind their own Horseradish in the days, weeks, or years to come. Remember my tale, and just step back form the bowl. Thats right...step back from the bowl.

There will be no Horseradish Huffing on my watch......

*If you have any type of breathing problems like asthma, you should take precaution when working with fresh horseradish*

Jul 6, 2008

Going Green...a little bit at a time...

Well yesterday you got to see the dark underbelly of my garden.....
AKA- My Compost Pile !!!

Today I would like to show you my tiny effort in being responsible for my life here.
My Rain Barrel.

I know, I know...there are many Rain Barrels a sight prettier than this one. But in my eyes, he is a beaut! What was once a poor decision for a garbage can....(hubby didn't realise we have a size restriction, and once you write on 'em in Permanent marker the stores don't take 'em back) now my wonderful water saver!!

I am now hoping to find a mate for this guy to put in my front yard....hopefully a real barrel from the winery in the next town over. I mean, heck, it couldn't hurt to ask if they are going to be discarding any.... crossing my fingers, but not holding my breath.

Green Thumb Sunday

Look what decided the compost pile was THE place to bring up a family.

Let's Welcome the Cucurbitaceae Family to the neighbourhood!! We don't know yet what to expect from this lovely little viner, but I imagine it will be great!!

So I guess the old adage is true...the three most important things to consider when looking to put down roots are Location, Location, Location!!

Jun 29, 2008

Green Thumb Sunday

Here are some of my luscious, juicy, sun-ripened Black Raspberries.
I wish I had enough to share with everyone, as this is what Summer is all about.

Picking these from my small Raspberry Bramble out in the noon sun, with my son by my side,took me right back to my childhood and brought back fond memories of picking wild blackberries at the end of our street with my Granma.
Oh those long hot days of purple stained faces and fingers. The scratches that I never even felt, acquired while reaching in for those big, black,sweet beauties that always seemed to grow in the middle of the jungle of canes...well not felt until much later in the day.... . Oh...and the jelly that my Granma would make with whatever we didn't manage to eat ....Mmmmmmm what a sweet memory...Ahhhh Summer.

Jun 27, 2008

Beautiful Black Raspberries

I went out back today to shoot some photos of my Open Pollinated/OP tomato varieties for Tatiana's TOMATObase - Heritage Tomatoes , a site on which I love to spend hours browsing. You should check it out, it's a fabulous site for tomato lovers...heck it's a great site for other veggie lovers as well.

But I digress.

While out back I went over to check on my Black Beauties, and well.....the title of this post says it all.....

Jun 10, 2008

You Have Now What?!?

I was recently asked how I cook my Garlic Scapes. Good Question!!

This is my first ever season growing hardneck Garlic, therefore it is my first ever season enjoying their precious, and oh so very tasty Scapes. So I have really been winging it thus far.

We have picked a few batches of Scapes here and there since the first harvest. I have used them chopped in place of Scallions in Quesadillas and Egg dishes and anywhere else that scallions fit . I have also used them, in a closer to whole state, in a recipe that resembles Shrimp Scampi...but instead of shrimp I used Bay , let me post an off the cuff version of my recipe, as it will be easier than just trying to explain . Although I do admit that there is not a whole lot of accurate measurements happening in my kitchen, so this is going to be as close to what I used as I can get .

Donna's Scape and Scallop Scampi

1 pound Linguine cooked to al dente using package directions
1-2 pounds Bay Scallops
2 TBS Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 TBS Butter
2 tsp crushed and finely chopped garlic
7-8 Garlic Scapes cut into halves or thirds
1/4 cup White Wine
2-3 TBS chopped Parsley
salt and pepper to taste
Grated Pecorino Romano (or what ever hard grating cheese you prefer)

Heat Olive Oil in large saute pan. Toss in Bay Scallops and cook til just shy of being done. Quickly add in garlic and scapes, saute just til scapes are tender and scallops are done. Add in white wine, parsley salt and pepper bring back to bubbling and remove from heat. Serve over the linguine and dress with the grated cheese. Yum!

If I sound a bit jagged in this posting , it is because it is now 12 hours later and the following morning. While I was typing the above, a wicked storm came out of nowhere and blew out the power. I really thought for sure we were going to see a tornado, but lucky for me we didn't . I am sure though, that I was quite a sight out in my garden at 11pm in my nightgown checking to make sure my tomatoes and peppers made it thru.

So back to the Scapes. The way I am preparing today's scapes is to stir fry them up with a little Crushed Garlic, Broccoli, some of the Snow pea Pods I finally harvested and maybe a little Carrot for color. Since I am serving this along side another pasta dish, I probably will pass on the soy sauce and just use plain salt and a little crushed Red Pepper.

I have read online that people make Garlic Scape Pesto with their harvests. I may try that someday, and if I do I will let you know how it comes out :)

So you see, the sky is the limit...imagination rules when it comes to the lovely Garlic Scape. Grow some, try some, and let me know what you think and the recipes in which you used them . Maybe I will put up a whole post dedicated to readers Scape Recipes!!

Jun 3, 2008

So The Harvest Begins!!

It's not much of a haul. Truth be told it's not the first, as micro greens and herbs beat them out by a few weeks. However it does feel like the first real harvest of the season, and these are my first ever Gorgeous Garlic Scapes. If you don't already grow these, you should. They are remarkably simple to grow. Start your garlic patch in September or October. First get a few heads of garlic that hasn't been treated...preferably from a good friend who grows a variety suitable for your area...or your local Farmers Market. If you want scapes , you have to grow hardneck types, as garlic comes in many varieties, but of those varieties there will be both hardneck and softneck...a little more on that.
Once you have your bulbs, choose a sunny spot in your veggie garden that has good drainage , poke holes into the soil about 2 inches deep, break apart the bulb into the individual cloves and then plant the largest and nicest of the cloves. If you got your garlic from a friend or from the farmers market as opposed to a seed catalogue, you can use the tiny cloves for cooking as they aren't the best ones to use when starting garlic, if you got them from a seed catalogue plant them anyways , but expect less from them :). Water them in ...and wait til late Spring for the scapes, and mid to late July for the actual garlic...and now not only do you have your garlic, but if you planted a few too many to eat, you have your starting cloves for the following season . Once my Garlic is up out of the ground we will talk more about methods of preparing the bulbs for storage.

My Garlic Scapes

Now let's hope that the 34 plants I have growing are doing as fabulously under the ground as they are above.....Only time will tell.