Wednesday, July 28, 2010

This post contains large quantities of butter and flour. You have been warned.

Thanks to the nine pounds of freshly picked blueberries on hand I was perusing the net for a new 'blueberry something-or-other' recipe to try, and came accross this one for Blueberry Crumb Bars over at Smitten Kitchen.  DON'T LOOK!  Seriously.  Cause when I did I was back in my hot kitchen (more on that later) whipping up a batch immediatly.  Luckily it went rather quickly.  I am going to do you all a favor and only show you what the bars look like before they go in the oven.  The finished product would have you drooling on your keyboard.

Seriously.  Did I mention the tantalizing aroma of lemon zest?  Mmmm.

(P.S.- I had just finished up a day of blanching and canning vegetables, and was relieved to *finally*  leave the hot messy kitchen behind for a bit......or so I thought.)

Life is Good

The day started off with this delicious Summertime breakfast:

I couldn't help myself from digging in the fingerling bed last night to see how things were coming along:

The remaining Cipollini Onions and were pulled and set aside to dry:

Tomatoes are cracked from the heavy rains, but providing a nice harvest each day:

Today we went blueberry picking:

The farmer was as sweet as could be.  I must return again for more berries, and a Christmas Tree!

And speaking of sweet, the honeybees were all abuzz:

We left when our basket was full, the 9 pounds of berries will stock the freezer well:

The ride home included stops for lunch, ice cream (for the kiddos), 
blackberries, raspberries, green beans, and corn.

What a great day we had.  Life is good.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Garden Goings

We have been busy enjoying the Summer, and I hope you all have been too!  All attempts at seed starting for the Fall garden are ending in misery.  I continue to neglect seedlings sprouting in flats, and the bunnies eat the pea and bean sowings.  Since I never ordered more seeds after emptying my packets it looks as though there will be no Late Summer/Fall peas (or beans) for us.  Very sad.  Don't tell my kids.  Oh, and speaking of kids, meet our new pet:  "Fatty".....

I wanted to call this beast "Bubba", but the kids kept saying "but he is so fat"!  They win.

We harvested lots of tomatoes, and some more early red potatoes this past week, most of my potato plants are dying back at this point, including the late maturing fingerlings.  Ivy my Labrador volunteered to keep an eye on the potatoes for me.  She has taken to hanging around just outside the garden fence in hopes of catching a cherry tomato or green bean being flung from the garden.  (She is after all the strawberry, raspberry, blueberry, and apple eater.  I think I may have to add cilantro to her list of culinary preferences.  I used to have plants out there.  Just last week.  Hmmm.)

This garden fresh salsa was delicious, and it went fast!  What a great way to use up all that garden bounty.

Garden Flowers


The Making of Caramelized Tomatoes

Last year I did some oven drying with my tomatoes (pictured here).  They were delicious all winter in quiches and on pizza.  This time around I am trying a new technique, one that appears to be a marriage of oven-roasting, and oven-drying with a sprinkling of sugar thrown in.  After googling "caramelized tomatoes" I settled on the instructions found here.  Below are the Sungold and Juliet tomatoes halved, salted, and drizzled with oil, now ready for their heat treatment:

After 30 minutes @ 350˚ the Sungolds burned a bit, but I did a taste taste test 
and they still have nice flavor.  
I lowered the oven down to 325˚ for the remainder of the Juliet's cooking time.

After another 30 minutes or so they looked like this:

Now into the freezer!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

When are they done?

To all you experienced heirloom gardeners out there, how do I know when my Green Zebra, Black Krim, and Amazon Chocolate tomatoes are done?  Is it a squeeze test, like testing that steak on the grill for firmness?  The greens are green.  The black/purple/brown tomatoes are turning and deepening.  Should they have any green left at the crown when ripe?

The Costoluto Genevese tomatoes are such eye candy, I really don't want to cut into them.  Also, a plant I have labeled as "Green Zebra" now has red tomatoes- that whole dog incident we had way back when really put a hurting on my ability to keep track of the varieties....good news is one of my unmarked plants appears to be a Green Zebra...or a stripey that hasn't shown it's true colors yet.  (Me rolling my eyes.)

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Observations of Organic Gardening

I have never grown peppers that develop in this fashion.  They are getting to be good sized, and seem as though they may succumb to gravity any day now.  This last photograph gets a big EEEUUWWW!!!  factor, something has been eating my greens.  In my fridge.  After the lettuce has been soaked, spun, and put in the storage container.  EEEUUWWW!!!  We never did find it, but I probably don't need to tell you that salad is no longer on the menu this evening, or for the rest of the week.   EEEUUWWW!!!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

I have nothing to write about. Besides gahhh-lic.

See those 2 bulbs sitting on that railing?  The one on the left is what you don't want.  Luckily I didn't wait for all the green leaves to turn brown before digging up my bulbs because I already had a couple of these split wrappers brewing underground.....which means they are overdue for digging.  Intact wrappers like the one on the right are best for preserving the storage life of the garlic.

Bulbils coming up the stalk.  These little jewels can be planted for an eventual garlic harvest.  For more information on propagating bulbils read here.  It is not immediate gratification, but the end result should be garlic adapted to growing in your soil which is always a good thing!

After collecting and all those dried garlic leaves, trimmed roots, and accompanying dirt for the compost pile, don't forget to set aside the best bulbs for Fall planting.  It is the large clove size (vs. bulb size) that influences your future harvest- which is pretty inconvenient if you ask me, as the cloves are all hidden under those layers of paper.  Hmph.  Oh yeah, and if you plan on ordering any garlic seed be sure to do it in the next month or so before it is all stamped with that SOLD OUT FOR 2010 bit.  Best planting time varies some depending on the source, but a month before your average first frost date is a good window to aim for.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Today's harvest is *finally* a plate-full, this is an amount I can be satisfied with!  (I was all pleased with the day's picking until I showed the bountiful plate to my husband, and he made a 'thats all?' comment or something to that effect and immediately crushed my momentary garden high.)  Sheesh.

The potato bandit struck again..... 1 lb., 2 oz. of Red Gold and a single Keuka Gold spud,
 just because I couldn't resist.

This here allium is a Bianca Di Maggio, which is a cipollini variety, i.e. SMALL.  It clearly never got the memo at 3 inches in diameter.


Thursday, July 8, 2010

Braiding Garlic

I love garlic.

Luckily I am not going for perfect.....just a casual braid, or two or three, to hang from a beam  until needed.
This morning I sowed some peas and beans.  These along with the bed of greens & beets sown after the garlic was harvested will hopefully keep us munching on garden goodies right through Fall.  I am thinking of sowing eggplant in the morning, in theory I should get a harvest if we have a decent late Summer/Early Fall.

I pulled carrots over the last couple of days.....the end result was so-so.  I will show you the best, and then the worst.  The scarlet variety (bottom photo) will not be sown again in my garden (thank goodness the seeds were free!!).

The beds were a bit too fertile, and not deep enough for a good crop, but they are home grown carrots, even when hairy and misshapen.  I have had the best results growing these roots in deep, sand rich sections of raised bed.....but one must rotate the crops, right?

When looking back through the garden posts of early July 2009  tonight a few differences really stood out.....the first is that my asparagus patch is much taller and fuller this year.  Tomatoes seem to be running about the same; peas were still providing this time last year, but all the warm weather quickly put an end to this year's patch in late June.  I was getting cukes and zucchini steadily by mid-month in 2009, I don't see that being the case this year.

I am really looking forward to tomato & cucumber salads, and fresh sweet peppers from the garden this year.  The little Sungold toms have been ripening nicely, and the Juliet plums are much bigger this year, in fact, I may have one or two ripe for the picking any day now.   It is all good!


(Speaking of veggies, here are some yummy veggies roasted on the grill over the weekend, too bad they were not from the kitchen garden.  We ate most of them and the rest went into the freezer for future pizza toppings.  Can't you just smell them?)

I just made a small batch of Gooseberry Jam tonight, the cool night air gave me the motivation to do so.  Ouch, the clock is about to strike midnight, I better head off to bed already and quit this blogging stuff.  Happy Gardening!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Garden Rant

We are experiencing a heat wave here in Massachusetts....luckily the humidity is not wicked yet.  I have been very frustrated by the garden of late.  Once again I feel as though I have this newly expanded garden, with lots of time and money invested- yet I am harvesting nothing.  Well, something... but not much:

Some things have not made it out of the garden, so imagine 1 carrot, 1 strawberry, 3 beans, 5 blueberries, and a few more  tomatoes being added in for the past week.  Pathetic right?  (I have greens growing, but the tomatoes have grown so thick I can't reach in to cut any.)

No cukes or squash yet for me, they are so behind.  I seriously need to figure out what I am doing wrong.  I didn't sow enough beans again this year either.  Harvesting 4 beans a day is such a waste.  I did 3 succession sowings, filling a 4 x 4 bed.  I had thought it would provide a nice harvest....WRONG.

I spent waaaay too much money at the farmer's market this week.  Should not have had to buy peas, green beans, onions, tomatoes etc..... half this stuff is growing or was growing in my front yard.

Alright, enough of my ranting.  I have planted lots of strawberry cuttings in my kitchen garden.  I hope they root so that I may have a shot in he$% of harvesting more than 3 strawberries next year.  Planting one hundred strawberry plants everywhere else in my yard has been quite disastrous.  I think the space would be better suited to bushes and vines that won't be completely wiped out by critters.   (These cuttings were trying to root before they were pinched off by me, I am told they will survive it planted in dirt, but the first batch I stuck in the dirt has browned and withered.  Anyone have any experience with this type of propagation?  I always thought they needed roots before being cut from the mother plant.)

**P.S. - Those lowbush blueberries are wonderfully flavored, I wish I had room for more bushes.  Anyone considering adding blueberries to their repertoire should not pass them over without consideration.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

New Potatoes

I wanted to try out a new "new potato" salad recipe, so I emptied a grow bag yesterday.  This is the bag I had done most of my robbing from a couple of weeks ago, so I wasn't sure what to expect for yields.

Here is one plant pulled, not bad right?  In total I ended up with  2 pounds, 4.2 ounces of spuds......

My wee one was excited to pull potatoes and box them, that is until she spotted a worm in the dirt.....and then she was worm collecting instead of potato collecting.  My 6 year old had zero interest what so ever.

Some of the potatoes were quite small, but they taste good anyway.  If I had left this bag be I probably would have gotten another 15-20 potatoes out of it...there were way too many potato buds, and small spuds to count.  For fun I cut the stems back and stuck some root masses back into a grow bag with fresh compost.  Not sure if anything will grow, but I couldn't resist!

(Look at all those Red Cloud babies in there!!)

I am content with the yields out of this grow bag.  I put in 4 or 5 seed potatoes and took out well over  2 pounds of new potatoes.  A mature harvest would have yielded even more......not bad for a bag full of dirt right?!?  (I don't think I will see a ten-fold yield of these babies, but things are already going better than they did last year.  And really- do I need 70 pounds of potatoes?)

The Final Product:

Garlic Potato Salad from Simply in Season

6 C new potatoes, cubed
(Boil until tender, about 5 minutes.  Drain and set aside.)

6 garlic scapes, or 3 cloves garlic* (minced)
 *( I used green garlic)
1 C green onions (minced)
1/4 C olive oil
2 T Balsamic Vinegar
2 tsp fresh rosemary (chopped)
S & P to taste

-Combine dressing ingredients in a large bowl and mix.  Add potatoes and toss to coat; Chill about 3 hours before serving.

This salad is different, a welcomed change from the usual mayonnaise based potato salad.  It has that garlicky-onion tang going.....Mmmm.  Best part is all but the oil and vinegar came from the garden.