Saturday, May 28, 2011


Green multiplier onions are one of the easiest things to grow and you can get them in the ground in early spring, just as soon as the soil is workable.



Harvest when the green tops are full.  Pull onions from the middle of each bunch to let the outer onions continue to grow and spread.  

Once you've harvested an entire bunch, add a bit of nourishing compost or manure to the soil and replant a new bulb immediately to keep a steady flow of green onions going throughout the season. They are great in salads, pasta dishes and delicious simply grilled on the BBQ, which I do all the time (brush with a little oil first - grill on top shelf - they caramelize - yum!).

Scallions add color and a delicate flavor to any dish. Here's my linguine recipe using green onions. I usually just wing the measurements, so adjust as you see fit.


2-3 servings dried linguine 
3 Tbspn. extra virgin olive oil (more as needed)
3 large fresh garlic cloves
3/4 cup sliced mushrooms
5-6 slices chopped pancetta (substitute bacon, ham or prosciutto)
3 green onions chopped (greens & white tips)
1/3 - 1/2 cup Feta cheese (to taste)
1 Tbspn finely chopped fresh parsley garnish

(Note to Vegetarians: substitute asparagus for pancetta.)

Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a hard boil.

Heat a sauté pan. Add olive oil. Sauté 3 cloves of freshly shaved (thinly sliced) garlic.  Remove to a bowl after it turns translucent so it doesn't burn. 

Get your linguine in the boiling water and cook per package (usually 7-11 minutes for dried) while you continue to sauté the remaining items. 

In the garlicy olive oil, sauté sliced mushrooms and pancetta (do not crowd pan). A minute or two before the pasta is ready, sauté the green onions and return garlic to the hot pan. Crumble in feta cheese. Strain the linguine and add to the pan, mix together. Serve in pasta bowls with a sprinkling of fresh parsley.


Friday, May 20, 2011


Every gardener should do themselves a favor and set aside an area for an asparagus bed. The rewards of this delicious perennial is without measure. It tastes nothing like the variety you pick up at your grocers. It's crunchy but not woody, sweet, without that acrid flavor found in store bought, and totally addictive. 

Asparagus beds take a while to get going, so if you plant some crowns this season (not seeds, but crowns - the little clumps with roots) you'll have to wait a year before the harvest. 

Mature Asparagus Crown
Some growers suggest waiting two years or even three. But the patience is so worth it. In the spring you'll see their little heads poking out of the ground and you just have to snap them off and toss them in a hot dry pan for a couple minutes to enjoy the best early vegetable of the season. The asparagus will be there again next season and the season after that and the season after that, for possibly up to 20 years or even more.

Homegrown asparagus is so mild in flavor that I add a very small amount of butter at the end of a two minute heat to caramelize the sweet sugars loaded inside the spears. This way, all you taste is asparagus, not a smothering sauce.  Simply delicious.

I noticed yesterday that Home Depot is currently offering small bags of perennial foods for under $10 in their gardening section. Each bag contained three items: rhubarb, asparagus and strawberries combined, or onions, garlic and horseradish. The grow-your-own food revolution is gathering steam and retailers are catching up. For under ten bucks now anyone can jump onto this bandwagon and take the first baby steps toward self-sufficiency. Perennial foods are really a great introduction to the fun.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

The Fast and the Furious

When the garden finally kicks in, it seems to come on with a vengeance. Everyday is an explosion of new eye candy.

Irises in the rock garden opened all at once this week.

New perennials planted last season came back strong to thrill us.

I'm racing now to get all the vegetables in. Peppers, tomatoes, celery, carrots, lettuce, onions, peas, cabbage, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, beans and squash are all in. 

White carrots are ferning out.

Strawberries and black currants are forming fruit.

Rhubarb is ready for a second picking.

And now we have the first asparagus of the season in all shapes and sizes. Everyday is truly a new delight. 

The field supervisor makes the rounds to survey my progress.

Temporary beds in the back garden were required to accommodate the over-enthusiastic potato seed order.

Planting potatoes requires far more exertion than one would think. The ground must be loose and potatoes planted deep enough (trenched is best) so you can hill them up as they grow. Hilling up means more tubers for the table.

Unfortunately, the new beds were dug into hard clay. Not the best for potatoes. I amended with sand and plenty of compost and was happy to see greenery has already broken through the topsoil. 

Also, to my surprise, several volunteers (must be TPS - true potato seeds - from last year's harvest) planted themselves amongst my onion and carrot beds.

I'm not removing them because I want to see how they'll do.

We're going to be in for quite the potato-o-rama this season. In the ground now are Purple Caribe, Russian Blues (pictured here with their intriguing purplish leaves)...

Red Pontiacs, Red Norland, Yukon Golds and Russets. In fact, I ran out of planting space and only managed to get everything in this weekend because one of my good neighbors offered up his unused beds. At the end of the season I can repay him with a share of the harvest and well-amended soil.

I always make sure that some goodies are out there for the critters too. Everyone is welcome, except maybe.... yellow jackets and mosquitos. 

There's a micro patch of corn planted for the squirrels. If they stop digging it up they'll get a wealth of corn later. 

Finch seeders are bringing gorgeous beauties to the yard daily.

And catnip meant for the field supervisor has apparently called out to some neighboring kitty interlopers. Really, the best thing about having a garden is spreading the joy around.

Monday, May 2, 2011