Monday, November 19, 2012

November Garden Tour

Saying goodbye to the summer garden was hard to do...

Now, well into fall we have adjusted to the treats that a fall garden aka season extension brings.
Here is a big picture view
We have 3 beds protected with plastic over PVC hoops.  2 of the beds have additional row cover inside a la Eliot Coleman.  Far right is what is left of a chard bed with row cover only and the straw covers up our garlic, which will come up in the spring.

I've got carrots, parsley, some small lettuces, and Kale in the right hand corner.

Here is savoy cabbage, more parsley, and some small spinach and arugula.  Restrained clippings from these beds provides for 1-2 salads/week through the fall and early winter for our family of 3.

This is my warmest bed because of sun exposure so I'm hoping to squeak out radishes and turnips if not early winter, then spring.  We've already had a pretty stellar micro green salad with the thinnings.

I pulled 5 lbs of beets out of here yesterday and cleaned up the remnants of green beans.  We'll let this bed lie fallow until late spring.  Its in out front side yard so we try to keep it pretty.

Will out Rosemary survive another winter?  We hope so.  We'll give it a little straw mulch soon and it it gets really cold, Ill wrap it a little with an old sheet for protection.

That's it.  The November Garden.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Fall colors

Fall is my favorite season.  Things slow down a little at home.  We clean up the summer garden, tuck in the fall and winter plants, and enjoy the beautiful short days.

I'll use row cover only for at least the next week over the winter beds in order to avoid wilting the plants in the daytime sun.  Then, I'll add a layer of plastic over my PVC hoops.

Our Chard is beautiful as always in the fall and we have enough right now that I've called in my back up for help with the heavy lifting.

Our carrots are extra sweet now and we are lucky if we can hold off on snacking long enough to get the into our salads.

We're only having a little bit of fun raking up the leaves, some of which we will use to mulch beds before the cold winter.  

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Homemade sweets

While we are serious veggie consumers in this household, I will not lie, we love a little sweet.
Above are 2 homemade syrups.
Left is mint simple syrup.  I am overrun in mint right now, but in a month I will be mourning the loss of the fresh stuff. I will take the leaves out after 24 hours and then store in the fridge.  This is a really nice addition to herbal tea during the cold of winter.
Right is homemade chocolate syrup.  We've been off the Hershey's for a year and never looked back because the homemade version is so tasty.  Thanks to Annie's Eats for the recipe.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

After the Frost

I know what you're thinking...Drat, everything is dead.  Yes, some of the summer garden is finished after 2 nights in the mid 30 degree range, but not all is lost.

For example, this tomatillo patch was hit pretty hard by the frost and yes, the plants themselves are finished.  However, there's about 6 lbs of harvestable fruit here.  Give it the squeeze test.  Firm fruit that is normally colored is good to pick and eat.  Mushy fruit is frost damaged and should be headed to the compost pile.

I think about the first frost every year as a learning experience in regards to what's frost tolerant and even hardy.

The swiss chard is looking terrific and my progressive planting is coming right along.

All of the Brasicas including this Collard Green, are starting to perk up in the cooler weather.

This week, we will seed spinach, lettuces, parsnips, and radishes under row cover for fall and spring munching.  And so while I'm a little sad to see the peppers, eggplants, tomatoes, and zucchini go, I can't help but be happy for the change of seasons.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Cherry tomato tart.

Do you ever grow so many cherry tomatoes that you start to wonder what you're going to do with all of them?  Here's a simple and beautiful recipe.

1.  Take a 9x10 prepared puff pastry and roll to fit 9x13 quarter sheet pan.  Prick with fork all along bottom and cover with parchment then weight with dry beans or pie weights and cook in 375 degree F oven for about 15 min.

2.  Remove beans and parchment and sprinkle par cooked pastry with 1/4 cup grated parmesan and bake for another 5-10 min until cheese melted and just golden.  Take this out of the oven and let it start to cool.

3.  Then take 1.5 lbs of cherry tomatoes and add about 1 TBSP olive oil, salt, and pepper to taste on a sheet pan and put into the oven on broil for about 10 minutes, until tomatoes start to blister.  Shake pan and rotate as needed.

4.  While the tomatoes are working mix fresh herbs to amount to about 1/2 cup finely chopped green herbs.  I used 2 parts parsley, 1 part basil, 1/2 part chives 1/2 part fresh oregano.  Add 1 clove finely chopped garlic and a pinch of nutmeg and mix.

5.  When the tomatoes are soft and blistered, remove from pan with slotted spoon and place on pastry.  Then sprinkle herb mixture on top. Please back into 425 degree oven for about 5 min, just until everything is hot.

Remove from heat, let cool slightly.  Slice up and serve.  Delicious.
I'd recommend eating all of it on the day prepared because the pastry loses that nice crisp texture after the tomatoes sit on top for a day or 2.

Recipe adapted from Saveur.com

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Garden Driven Eating

There is a lot of produce coming out of the garden right now.  Here is what we are growing and how we are cooking it up.

 Swiss Chard makes a great quesadilla filling when cooked down with onions and garlic.

 We have ample makings for salsa accompaniments.  And the grapes, we're pretty much snacking on these throughout the day.

Snowy eggplants are great for grilling.

Green beans.  We like to cook them simply with butter and garlic.

Pretty much all of our summer veg is in fill swing right now which is very satisfying.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Late July 2012

July has been a hot and overall a very dry month here.  My tomatoes, peppers, and melon family plants are growing like gang busters.  Here is an overview of the growth to date.

I've got mixed beds, as usual.
Cucumbers on left, Zucchinis on right.  I'm working pretty hard to tie the cucumber vines to the trellis.  So far, both seem pretty happy with this arrangement.
Here are peppers, basils, and Eggplants.  I've used this mix a few times before, but this is the best that it has looked.  I think that the heat has been helpful.
This bed was all lettuce 6 weeks ago but those have all bolted to seed and the Kales are going to town.  This is the first time that I have grown red Kale and I'm pretty happy about it as it is very tasty and super heat tolerant.  I'm leaving a few lettuces in place with the hope of spontaneous reseeding but plan to replant with fall greens in a month as well.
Celery.  This is a first for me.  Its in a bed that gets a little more shade and seems pretty happy.  I have 6 healthy looking plants intermixed with carrots and they seem to be growing well in close quarters.
Kohlrabi - tasty, heat tolerant, funky looking.  This is really the only of my brasicas that look remotely healthy.  I think that hot dry weather has taken its toll on the others.

Hopefully we'll have baskets of tomatoes soon...

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Garlic Harvest

Our garlic harvest happened early this year.  I've been growing the same varieties for several years so I attribute this to the mild winter and early onset of summer weather.  Fortunately, All hands are on deck.

It turns out this is a pretty great garden activity for an almost 3 year old since it involves some brute force and not too much delicacy in handling.
 We'll let the soft neck garlic dry out a little today and braid them tonight.  I let my garlic cure hanging in my basement with a fan on.  This works here because the relative humidity in Utah is very low.
 We picked about 75 nicely sized heads of garlic with about 20 shallots and the last dozen leeks.  Give or take, this is about how much garlic we eat, replant, and gift during the year.

Also this weekend, more lettuce. Below is red oak leaf, Kweik butter, and Pirat butter on right with the last of the Arugula on the left.
 We're still eating lots of salads.
And we are quickly eating out way through a bed of French Breakfast radishes.  As usual, the French had it right.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Great greens!

We are currently eating a lot of salads and greens.  I purchased some new seed varieties this year that have been a great success, so I thought I'd share the goods.

Rouge de Grenoblouse, Nevada, Kweik, Pirat, Merlot Batavian, Arianna Batavian

We have harvested all of our Rapini, which in my opinion is one of the best things to add to a shaped pasta with goat cheese and garlic.

The rest of the garden is moving right along and as much as I love green, I'm looking forward to some other bright colors in the coming months.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Tip of the day May 6th

Not to state the obvious, but don't forget to label your crops as you plant them.  I have lots of help with signage and spelling.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

One Potato, two potato...

Its potato planting time here in the Mountain West.  Here's how we do it.
About 3 weeks ago, I cut my seed potatoes up into 2-3 pieces each.  I've been taught to aim for 2 eyes per piece.
After a few weeks, the potatoes will seal up as to prevent rotting in the ground and they look like this
Next, you need to prepare your garden bed.  We like to grow a cover crop in ours during fall and winter which we cut in the spring, then turn the soil over.  Then we dig holes about 1 foot deep for each seed potato.
Next you place your seed potatoes 1 to each hole, I like to pick the best looking specimens and discard any that look like they might be a little rotten.  It turns out that 2.5 year olds are excellent potato planting assistants.
We cover our seed potatoes with a light layer of soil then keep adding, eventually mounding up as our plants grow.
After a few months, out potato plants will look like this
Happy spring garden season friends.
-J, T, &C

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Feb harvest

Who would have thought that we'd be harvesting salad greens here in February?  To be honest, I've been trying to work out the conditions to achieve this for several years.
This arugula has been growing under a cover of row cover only that is propped up with some wire fencing.  Its gorgeous and nice and peppery.
These lettuces which include Nevada, Frisee, and Merlot are very protected under row cover with a plastic hoop structure 2 feet above.  If balmy in here.
These plants are Lacinato Kale, which I thought were petering out, but which are now growing a new generation of baby leaves below the upper leaves.  The baby leaves taste mild and a little broccoli like.  I'll probably let these continue to do their thing until I get a new crop of Kale started.

Since its going to snow almost all week here, not much else to do outside in the garden.  So, we'll do a little more of this...
However we will be supplementing our itching for the spring garden by eating some of this ...

Winter, finally (and seriously)

I planned to start this blog last spring as my garden flew into action, but then got into the actual work of gardening and abandoned the task. However, today its winter, really winter. I'm wearing long underwear and sitting under a blanket and I'm still cold.
Today is the shortest day of the year so from here on in it gets better. I look forward to longer days, that's for sure. But I'll also tuck in and enjoy winter's freeze and snow, it does mean skiing after all. Maybe more importantly is the snow pack - without snow there isn't water for the West.
The end of the year and the solstice are a good time to think back on the last 365. I have no reason to complain and feel really lucky about the last year and really hopeful about the year to come.