Sunday, July 28, 2013

Vegetable Decor

The thing about harvesting from three different gardens, which I am doing at present, is that sometimes produce tends to get waylaid in the process. Frequently I find snap peas in my purse, beans in my pockets and occasionally, a turnip in my car's console, like today. Wayward produce is usually a little limp and often mocked by my friends. Like this turnip which ended up getting a face, the name "Herbie" and was strung up on my rearview mirror by my passenger while I was driving.

Poor Herbie. After a day swinging back and forth on the road he ended up in a salad. And I felt kinda bad about that.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

First Russet Potato Harvest

I've started digging up some russets from my community garden. Harvesting about two months earlier than I planned, but I noticed some spade marks on potatoes I had hand dug out, which means some pilfering has begun. This is expected in a garden that resides in a public park and is not fenced. I seem considerably less annoyed about the food theft than the other gardeners, maybe because I counted on it from the start. Plus, I generally share some of my bounty with others, so I'm thinking my produce brought joy to a few households in the neighborhood.

These russets are smaller than I wanted, but I'd rather get a harvest of small potatoes than none at all. I've left half of the bush to continue on. I'm planning on preserving these in bottles.

I'll be using a pressure cooker to bottle them because of the low acidity of potatoes. You need higher temperatures for proper preservation.

You know, it's really sad how the words "pressure cooker" now bring up horrible images after the Boston bombing. I used to always think of my aunt and uncle's farm when I heard those two words. Now, the pot has a negative connotation. I hope to help transform that experience today, as the kitchen steams up.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Cherry Plums

I've been trimming a rather rangy bush located right off my deck. Its long thorns have been tearing at my market umbrella. While hacking it down, I suddenly noticed tiny yellow cherry-sized fruits dangling from the branches. After looking the unfamiliar bush up online I discovered it was a cherry plum.

This explains why the birds keep visiting the tree. I plucked a few cherries and yum! They taste exactly like a delicious yellow plum. A lovely discovery. Apparently cherry plum is an ingredient in Bach's Rescue Remedy. Hm, I'll be trimming more carefully now.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Gardeners start your ovens!

One day you're planting and before you know it you're in full on harvest mode and the produce starts backing up on you. This morning I kicked into gear with more cooking/baking/grilling action. 

Fresh beets. Saute the leaves in oil and garlic or add fresh to a salad.
Baked beets - Prick & sprinkle with coarse salt.
425 degrees for 50 minutes in foil. 
After baking, slide skins off. Slice and drizzle with Balsamic.

Fresh picked rhubarb
Rhubarb crumble - recipe here.

Fresh basil. Great for pizza toppings, tomato sauce
and of course, pesto! Recipe here.

The eggplants are coming. The eggplants are coming!
I'm currently gathering new Indian recipes for bharta.
Love bharta! I welcome your recipes.
A fairytale pumpkin is born.
Hoping this will be big enough to display come Halloween.
Don't know how my tomatoes will fare this season. A fierce wind flattened the whole tomato hedge, as I've been calling it. They are propped up now, but don't know if the bent stalks have done permanent damage.

Need to hit the community garden today to see how those bushes did.

Sunday, July 7, 2013


It's that time of the season when you're making decisions about what to plant more of next year. Kohlrabi is on my list.


I've been eating it raw mostly. Delicious! I have a wicked sweet tooth and find that eating veggies moments after picking is like eating healthy green candy. Home grown veggies are actually sweeter than store bought because the vegetables' natural sugars turn to starch over time, and time is exactly what it takes to get veggies to market.

In the hope of getting another crop in this season, I picked up more Kohlrabi seeds yesterday. Taking a quick glance at the planting instructions (which honestly, I seldom do) I was surprised by the stern warning to not plant Kohlrabi next to tomatoes.

Look where I planted the Kohlrabi in my kitchen garden. See that tomato leaf caressing the kohlrabi? They may be strange bedfellows, but thankfully everyone survived unscathed.

I admit to being quite undisciplined about planting instructions. I ignore depth, spacing, companion planting, etc. Instead I just cram everything in wherever it'll fit and hope for the best.

The Kitchen Garden on the 4th of July
I'm sure I could do better, but it's worked for me so far. (The exception, potatoes are never planted in the same bed successively.)

For me, getting too anal about gardening complicates the simplicity of growing food. I also enjoy learning lessons organically from Mother Nature.  I know, it doesn't make sense, but frankly I've had few failures and a lot of great food has graced my table. Here are a few pics of the action in my little plot of earth.

Pinot Noir Peppers
Home-grown Romaine and Garlic
Tomatillos Reaching for the Sun
Brussels Sprouts Preparing to Grow a Stalk
Red Cabbage Starting to Heart Up
Buttercup Squash Full of Blossoms
San Marzano Tomatoes Tiny and Green
The microclimate in my community garden plot is a whole other thing. Even though the garden is a mere mile from my house, the veggies are far more advanced. The garden field is quite open and has no shade whatsoever. I've harvested numerous cabbages, beets, broccoli, cauliflower, snap peas, spinach, carrots and Russet potatoes from that garden, but all the lettuces bolted. Here is a pic taken a month ago. (It is far more lush today.)

Russet Potato Plants
Green Cabbage
Made some tasty coleslaw from those cabbages. Sweet!

This community garden is in its pilot stage. We hope to have raised beds next season, and some of us are lobbying for bark chipped paths.

The Community Garden in Early June