Friday, July 29, 2011

Tomatillos At Last

Tomatillos will grow along the ground, but like tomatoes, they love to be staked and will reach for the sky, given the chance. 

The enchanting little yellow flowers eventually will be plentiful but tomatillos take a very long time to fruit. You need patience for this plant. Don't worry, the end result is worth the wait. 

What you harvest will be vinegary-flavored little tomato-like fruits that are scrumptious in a salsa, sauce or as a side dish. Don't harvest until the fruit is bursting out of its papery husk.  The tiny one here is harvested too early and will be more bitter than the full-sized one on the right. Once you peel back the husks, wash the tomatillo well to remove the sticky coating. Then finely chop and enjoy. 

Tomatillos are the chief ingredient in Salsa Verde. Whip up your own recipe of Salsa Verde using tomatillos, finely chopped onions, a chopped seeded serrano or jalapeno pepper, garlic, cilantro, pinch of salt and lime juice. Experiment with proportions to suit your particular taste.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Around The Garden

So much has been happening around the garden and I've been too busy to post, so I snapped a few quickie pics for an update. There was a lot of drama on the veggie front until I realized that the soil amendment I added in all the beds was about 100% nutrient free. My tomatoes were starving. The peppers were gasping for breath, zucchini dropping like flies and everything looked just plain sad. I lost a lot of good food to cheap dirt. Lesson learned. Once rectified, things instantly perked up.


There was a terrible spate of blossom end rot on the zucchini and my research uncovered numerous opinions on the cause. Pollination issues, the vine bore and calcium deficiency were the prime suspects. I found no bores. Started pollinating by hand, then simply went into the vitamin cupboard, grabbed some calcium, pulverized it in a mortar and pestle, added it to the soil and I literally had a zucchini the next morning. Literally. The next morning. So I buried some pills in the soil and there have been zucchini ever since. I continue to hand pollinate, even though there are bumble bees a plenty all around the garden.

This is about the eighth purple beauty pepper on the vine and the first to survive the ravenous, rampaging opossum, raccoon and skunk that have made my yard their buffet.

Purple beauty pepper

I find the remains of veggies strewn hither and yon daily. I'm very happy this one pepper has survived... so far. Why won't they eat the lettuce?


There are numerous varieties of delicious lettuce growing in every bed. Please eat the lettuce critters, we have so much to spare.

I've finally started harvesting brussel sprouts now.

I pick a single serving each meal (since I'm the only one who likes them) and leave the rest on the stalk until needed. I'll be sad when the stalk is empty. They are so cheerful looking.

Brussel sprouts on the vine
Little gems of goodness that they are. They may be my favorite vegetable.

Cucumbers, in both pickle size and table size are steady producers now. 

Front of cucumber bush climbing trellis

I have several bushes around the garden. Two in pots, the rest in the ground.

Back of cucumber bush on trellis
Sweet onions are plumping up and will soon be ready for harvest.

Sweet onions
And I dig up a few potatoes every day, leaving the rest in the ground to keep fresh.

Purple Caribe, Yukon Gold, Pontiac Red and All Red Potatoes
There's a lot more going on, but this is just a snapshot of what a suburban garden can provide to the table. How much fun is that?

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Backyard Garden Harvest

Here is July 20th's harvest from my relatively modest backyard vegetable garden. Fresh rhubarb for 2 ramekins of rhubarb crumble. A lovely cucumber for slicing. Black currents for a jam.

Two Zucchini for tonight's dinner (yes, I am eating them now...waste not, want not); a bowl of purple beans for a dilly bean pickle I will be canning using dill from the herb garden and garlic from the garlic patch.

Two more pickling cucumbers for yet another jar of dill pickles. Fast to make, those. (I already have one in the fridge, last year's dill pickles were so awesome.) Small tender red and yellow beets, one turnip and two Russian blue potatoes for roasting. Four Pontiac Red potatoes for a vichyssoise soup, and some random teardrop yellow tomatoes to top the salad greens I will pick later for dinner. 

Not a bad haul for a suburban backyard. Things to eat fresh, roasted, in a dessert, soup, a pickle and a breakfast jam. It all just plain makes me happy.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Broccoli Regrowth

On June 28th I harvested a broccoli and cut it down low on the stalk. Here's the original plant (if you scrowl down to the June 28th posting you'll find a low-cal soup recipe I made from this vegetable.)

This is how far I cut it down on the stalk.

And less than a month later, this is what I have now.

It's a good example of broccoli regrowth and the prime reason to never yank a broccoli plant after the first harvest. Bon appetit.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Simple Snacks at the Ready When You Preserve Ahead

This is one of my favorite snacks. It takes moments to make and never disappoints. Homemade pesto on a pan-heated flour tortilla.

Warm a tortilla on both sides on a cast iron griddle, then spread on a layer of pesto. Done.

Happily, I always have pesto in the freezer for these quickie snacks.  I make batches ahead, freeze it in ice cube trays and store the cubes in a Ziplock. 

Whenever anyone wants a quick snack, or a pasta dish, there is homemade pesto at the ready. It's the little things.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Recognizing Tomato Problems

I'm researching the yellowing leaf issues that some of my tomato plants are experiencing and came across this handy guide to tomato plant afflictions, prepared by Colorado State. They have a quick chart that is easy to scan. A system that always works for me. Thought I would pass it on. Here's the link:

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The Harvest Begins

First Zucchini of the season.

New Potatoes.


First Raspberry of the season.

And so it begins. Still waiting on the gooseberry to ripen.

It does look like there could be trouble on the tomato front though and I'm not the only one reporting this. I've read other blogs with similar issues.

There is fruit on the vines, but also yellowing and curling leaves on practically every plant. Worried that white fly might have visited. Haven't seen any.

I've always had great luck with tomatoes, so this is concerning. Wet weather, overwatering or the burst of cold we had could be a contributing factor. Been trimming off the yellow leaves and letting the plants dry out completely between waterings. They are happier with that.

Saturday, July 2, 2011