Thursday, July 2, 2009

Garilc Scape Pesto

Last week at the Farmers Market the surly Slavic woman had garlic scapes. Being that my own garlic doesn't have them yet this year I inquired to the price as they were off to the side.

I guess hardly anyone was buying them because when I asked she said she would give me a bunch for $1. Well for $1 I could hardly refuse. I didn't know what a bunch meant.

Boy Howdy!!! She FILLED a plastic grocery bag with these. I seem to have an unending supply of these babies! I've given some away but mostly I made pesto. I used The scapes, olive oil, Parmesan, and walnuts (because that is what I had.) Yummy! I froze a lot of it for the winter. You can also saute them as you do garlic and they are a little milder. Kind of how a green onion is to an onion. I also took the pesto and spread it on bread with some mozzarella for an appetizer and smeared it on chicken and grilled it. Next my husband suggested making a dip out of it.

I have a lot of the scapes left so I think I may make a bunch more pesto tomorrow. They scapes also last a long time in the fridge so I will keep some for grilling with veggies.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Putting Up Strawberries

Right now strawberries are in full swing in my neck of the woods.

This past week, my mother-in-law and I took my girl strawberry picking! We picked 10 quarts of berries which ended up being $2 per quart. It was a beautiful day and the plants were full of berries which made picking not such a chore.

I ended up cleaning and freezing a lot of berries for the depths of winter. Along with that I made 2 batches of strawberry jam which came out to be 16 1/2 jars of jam. It's so very good! I used the low sugar recipe but it's still sweet!

This year I planted Rhubarb. It's nowhere near ready to be picked, perhaps next year I can make a strawberry/rhubarb jam.

I have about 1 1/2 quarts left and we've been eating those. I wanted to try drying some for oatmeal or granola but the ones I have are past their prime. If I feel ambitious next week I may go and pick 5 more quarts.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Growing Malaria Right In My Own Backyard

This past spring I planted some lettuce in a large container. It never did well. It didn't drain well, I seemed to have a problem with squirrels in it and the lettuce didn't do squat really. The lettuce I direct sowed into the garden did much better.

I've been meaning to dump the whole thing in the compost pile but last week and this weekend were so rainy and it filled up with water and I didn't want to be bothered until things were drier. I've also just been peering out the window at my garden over the last few days rather than walk out to it in the rain.

This morning dawned and it was finally nice and sunny. Upon peering into my lettuce planter I noticed it was just teeming with new life-LOTS OF NEW LIFE. In the form of about 10,000 mosquito larvae swimming around in it. They were small but large enough for me to see they were nibbling around the lettuce.


I dispensed my husband to take care of it as it was completely grossing me out! (Yes, I realize I made him do this on Father's Day!)

Anyway, this is a pretty gross story but it's really a cautionary tale. Anything can be a breeding ground for these things as long as there is some standing water. This planter has only a few inches of water above the soil. (upon emptying the container I noticed I never took the stoppers out of the bottom so of course there was no drainage.) I was always good with the birdbath last year because it was a really obvious place for "standing water" This planter, no so much.

In our old house I had a small garden fountain. It was mostly on, but sometimes off. Our dog would drink out of it when we were not looking. She swallowed water infested with larvae and was sick the likes of which you NEVER want to see or have your pet experience. I thought she was going to die and I imagine she thought so as well. Please don't yell at me over this, I felt bad enough. I'm just sharing to scare you enough that this never happens to you.

I also cannot imagine my yard with 10,000 mosquitoes flying around and what this would mean for my daughter playing outside!

Lesson Learned! (For some reason as I write this I feel so darn itchy all over, I'm probably going to have bug nightmares)

Sunday, June 14, 2009

My Brother's Radishes!!!

This past winter I convinced my brother he should grow a garden. He's a landscaper and great with plants and last year grew two enormous tomato plants. Why not, I urged, try and grow more of your own food.

We've chatted on and on about what he should grown, when he should sow seeds, etc.... A lot of this he was unfamiliar with. I planted my own radishes & spinach and then gave him some seeds for himself and told him what to do.

I've been looking at my garden lately, for some reason the spinach just didn't want to grow. They got to about 3 inches tall and literally stopped growing. Tomorrow I'm harvesting them all into one little green smoothie. The radishes are growing and the other day I picked a little one. Alas, it had already been chewed on by some critter or another. The other ones are slowly developing.

I got a call the other day from my brother wondering when he can pick his spinach. Because his, he says ARE 12 INCHES TALL......A FREAKING FOOT TALL!!!....... Oh and do I want some radishes because he has a bunch. Today when my husband was over there he sent me 3 beautiful LARGE radishes for my salad. I think he was showing off.

I guess you can teach a man to fish!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Some Thoughts On Starting Seeds

I'm a gardener of average skill and knowledge. I have grown many things successfully from seed that I have directly sown into the ground. (peas, radish, turnips, sunflowers, beans, morning glory, lettuce, spinach).

Most years I just buy plants at the nursery when it's time for Tomatos, peppers, etc.... This year I decided to try and grow some veggies from seed by starting seeds inside. I choose broccoli, 2 kinds of tomato and onions. I read up a little on seed starting, ordered my seeds and then I was in business. I also ordered seeds that I sowed directly into the ground (Arugula, Spinach, Peas)

I have mixed feelings about this whole thing. Not only did this become a daily chore for me to have to remember but I only grew 2 kinds of tomato. (I'm giving a bunch away but they look nothing like the robust transplants at the nursery this time of year.) This year, many of the nurseries that I frequent got in on the heirloom vegetable resurgence and have offered so many different varities. You can buy one of each for about $1.69 and I ended up purchasing a bunch of tomatos as well. (purple, striped, dwarf, yellow) of course a seed grown tomato costs a lot less than $1.69 but a plant produces enough fruit that I can be satisfied with that return on investment. Also, I'm only growing 9 tomato plants. If I was growing 30, then starting seeds might be a better option for me.

The onions were so scrawny that they didnt transplant well at all. I finally put 2 clumps in and figure the clumps will be big enough in the fall for me to transplant for next year.

The broccoli. Well Im excited because Im growing a kind I can't find in transplants. However, something in my garden has snapped the stem of a few already so I filled the spaces with brussles sprouts from a nursery. It's much less frustrating replanting something you just bought rather than something you've been growing since February!

The heirloom spinach had a VERY low germination rate and I imagine that is why people stopped planting it. I had to supplement with a local brand of seeds-The cost was less and seeds acclimated to my area.

The jury is still out on the peas. I saw flowers today so peas are in my future.

Friday, May 22, 2009

First Harvest!

Today, May 22nd, I harvested the first thing from this year's garden.

Broccoli Rabe (Rappi) that, with the July-like temps of the last few days, flowered yesterday, way earlier than I expected. The stalks really didn't have enough time to get very big around and they were a little tough at the bottom. Certainly not the best veggie that I've ever harvested from my yard, but as the first this year, it was still pretty darn great.

I sauteed these up with some olive and sesame oils and then added some of the Chineese Green Onion Sauce that my husband whipped up for the Chineese wings he grilled tonight.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

My Girl Gets In On The Act

After making some mixed flower planters for Mother's Day gifts, my girl asked me if she could have the leftover flowers for her tree house not in a tree (that's what she calls the tent platform on her swing set.) She proceeded to get out some pots and planted them herself. She then put on her finishing touches (as she called them) by putting all the plastic plant markers she could find in the 2 pots. Then she placed them in her "tree house" and watered them. Along with that she has marigolds and peas that she started in preschool. I'm thinking of a way I can make a small trellis in the platform so we can grow them in pots for her as they are actually pretty healthy plants!