Thursday, November 3, 2011

We're still here.... just LAZY

Well, we are still here, even if we haven't posted anything in what feels like forever!  Life just somehow gets away from me and time is so precious.

Since our last post I ran my marathon. It was a pretty good race. I trained and ran with a good friend who I finally convinced to leave me at mile 20 (I tried to get him to scram and make his goal time at mile 15, but he stayed around).  I missed my ideal goal by 12  minutes, but still had a personal best by 5 minutes. Oh yeah... and we found out I was expecting a new addition to the family 2 weeks before the race.... I promised the hubby that I would take it easy and not push myself. And as the expected temperatures started creeping up for race day, I let my goal time slide because I definitely did not want to get over heated. So all in all, I think that it was a pretty good race!

The fools before the race - from left to right- Marvin, me, Gaby and Simon.

Well, we are still standing after!

So now I figure out what race I want to do in 2013 and start sweet talking the hubby into letting me go and leaving him at home with 3 little ones!

In the garden not too much happening, we are trying to get things out so that when we have company for Thanksgiving and Christmas we will be able to enjoy some of the lovely produce from our garden.

I ordered some Spanish Rosa and Korean Red garlic from Burpee Seeds and planted that out last week. Of the bulbs we received, the Korean Red was much smaller and had far fewer cloves per bulb.  So I concentrated on finding mostly space for the Spanish Rosa. 

On left Korean Red and on right Spanish Rosa

We are still getting about half a pound of cherry tomatoes from our single Super Sweet 100 plant.

And whenever we need some aromatics, I poach the garden for some lemon grass and lemon leaf.  It is really nice to be able to step outside and grab the herbs you need for dinner. Now if I could only remember that they are actually there.

And finally the peas are starting to do something. How come no matter how thickly I think I have planted the peas, when they finally come up they look so sparse? The ones in the container are doing much better than the ones in the ground.  We planted out 3 different areas of peas, since the kids love to eat them in the garden and this way we can have some for dinner and try out some pea shoots and tips.

After staring at the pea flowers for a week, I am finally starting to see some actual peas!

Look at all those flowers!

My side garden is a jungle. The big mess is the Yellow Brandywine, so far we have had 5 tomatoes from this one plant, and they were yummy.  I haven't ripped it out to give the other plants some sunlight because we have one more growing so far and I hope to share it with my in-laws for Christmas.... dreams.  And on the left next to the Brandywine jungle are 3 eggplants. They seem to be getting huge and have really been enjoying the hot temps we have had here lately.  Tucked under the Brandywine are my jalapenos. Steadily producing enough for the family and staying out of trouble, that's my kind of plant.

Side garden

Well, since we planted out the garlic last weekend, they have shot up! One of the blogs I enjoy reading is by Willi Galloway. A few weeks ago she wrote about planting garlic in containers, and since space is a precious commodity in my garden, I decided this was the way to go this year. We had 2 smart pots and a couple of other misc pots available, so I prepped them and planted the garlic. I can't wait to see how they do.  I even over crowded one of the pots so that I could have green garlic in the spring. Whoohoo!

Garlic shoots emerging

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Blueberry scones - courtesy of A Growing Tradition

I don't know why I have this insane desire to bake lately.  It isn't particularly cold or grey here.  I just feel like having some baked goods around.

I read about Thomas's blueberry scones earlier this summer, and immediately threw some blueberries in the freezer in anticipation of the day we would bake this.

Finished scones cooling - before I was forced to break off a piece

The recipe was simple, easy to follow and the smell is heavenly.  I just took the scones out the oven and I can hardly wait for them to cool. My almost 2 year old couldn't wait ,  I had to break off a piece for him. (Ok, I snuck a bite since I had to get him a sample). Even without the lemon glaze.... delicious. And the glaze with the scone ---- to die for.  I will definitely be making this again! The texture is light and crumbly and the outside has a satisfying crunch without being at all tough or hard. Slightly sweet and perfect with a hot cup of tea.

Now the question is, do I have enough self restraint to stop at one piece?

Monday, September 26, 2011

Harvest Monday, September 26, 2011

Happy Monday!  Fall is in the air and I can't wait to bake our first batch of pumpkin muffins. Unfortunately they will not be from our home grown pumpkins, since we have absolutely none set..... But the vine is still out there for my oldest, just in case something happens. You never know.

This week we had a nice harvest, not a lot of variety, but the fall garden is too immature for much and the summer garden is winding down.  We had our first Yellow Brandywine tomato harvest!

We have a total of 6 on our plant and 3 were amazingly ready this past weekend. All together we had 1 pound 15 1/2 oz of Brandywine goodness.  My mother-in-law was impressed when we showed her our bounty via skype.

We had one very simply with dinner in a tomato and heart of palm salad. It was very yummy.

And pretty!

There are some jalapenos and habeneros out there I need to pick, but I got side tracked with other garden chores.  I'm pretty sure I went out to pick the peppers and ended up cutting back my neighbors encroaching shrubbery, the gladiolas that have started to die back, the roses, and pulled plants that have needed to go for a while.  I ended up with 4 containers ready to plant and my yard looks much more trim now. Maybe today the scraggly cucumber vines will be cleared away and the spot made ready for some seed starts.

Harvest Monday is a chance to see what gardeners around the world are growing. Pop on over to our host's site, and see everyone's gardens!

Happy gardening all.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Harvest Monday, Sept 19, 2011

It's hard to believe that gardens around the US are wrapping up for the season. The boys and I are extremely fortunate to live in SoCal, earthquakes and all. Our harvest this week? Basil, Super Sweet 100 tomatoes, Jalapenos and Black Beauty Eggplants.

We have been neglectful in photographing our harvests, but here are the  ones we have.

We had 2 come from the garden the past 2 weeks. One was 13 oz and the other was 1 pound 3 1/2 oz. Not to shabby. And no pictures of tomatoes, jalapenos or basil. Ah well.

We also found some tomato hornworms.....

I will admit, I screamed like a frightened girl when I found this one, and I wasn't much better with the rest (my camera is acting up and I can't download the pictures of the rest). They creep me out when they are this big, they remind me of the aliens from the movie... well.... "Alien"....     I really need to be more diligent about checking the plants.  I glanced at the Yellow Brandywine plant that has toppled over it's 5 foot tall tower.... and I am afraid of what I might find in there.... I look, and we get the little guys.... but some always escape... and I always scream like a girl....

I'll think good gardening thoughts, but I really need to go take a peek at the Brandywine. And I'm nervous....

Pop on over to Daphne's site and see what others are getting from their gardens.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Oh what a night!

Well, I don't know if anyone heard about this, but SoCal, parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Mexico lost power yesterday.  It was surprising to say the least. And amazingly enough, most of my info came from friends on Facebook in other parts of the country who were updating to let us SoCal folks know what was going on.

We had a grand time. The portable blue-ray player wasn't charged, which was unfortunate, because entertaining two boys in the dark is hard.  But the IPOD had just enough charge for the boys to watch a show while I ate dinner, by candle light.  It would have been romantic, except the hubs was still at the office. Our seldom used camping equipment came in handy though!  I went digging in the garage storage bins and unearthed our camping lantern.  They boys thought it was fantastic. And showering by lantern was a novel experience for them.  Ryle kept getting confused when he would walk into a dark room and try to turn on a light though.

The lights came on in our neighborhood right before bedtime. Everything that needed charging was quickly plugged in incase it didn't last. Most places did not get electricity restored until the wee hours of the morning. So we were extremely fortunate.

It is finally a cool day again, so I will venture out to the garden and see what's been going on. Happy gardening!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Hot and humid

I had forgotten how yucky humid weather can be. We have lived in California for 8 years and I avoid traveling to the East coast during spring and summer months because I have become thoroughly wussified about the heat. Yesterday was rainy and hot, never a favorite of mine.

Phew, the East Coast came to Cali! We have A/C, but I try to avoid using it, I may relent today as it is supposed to be hotter than yesterday. I went out to the garden to check up on the garden, pick what was ready and plant out a few things that were outgrowing their starter pots. Within 10 minutes I had sweat dripping off of me.

Let's hope the plants love it though! We planted out the Tatsoi and Kale for our fall garden and more peas and fava beans. I am pleased to announce that as of today, no peas or favas were consumed by any rodents. Maybe it was a one-off incident....

Monday, September 5, 2011

Harvest Monday, September 5, 2011 and rodent update

Happy Monday!

We've been a little MIA on Harvest Mondays lately, but we had intended to post.... I swear. (And I actually think I'm using the Royal we here.... since I'm the only one in the family to post... ah well.).

Harvest Monday is hosted by Daphne and is a wonderful chance to see what home gardeners are growing around the world. Or attempting to grow.

We had a few harvests that did not get photographed or weighed, but we've been munching on garden cucumbers and beans for a bit, and of course, cherry tomatoes. We are still waiting on our Yellow Brandywines to plump up and change color.

2 pounds 3 1/2 oz of tomatoes

Some very ugly corn.
That's it for the harvests.


We've been having some gardening woes lately. We have been "enjoying" a nocturnal visitor to the garden. He's been snacking on newly planted pea seeds, Fava beans, and corn.

Rat chewed corn

Disappearing peas

A hole that used to contain a Fava bean that had just started unfurling

Leftover Fava shoots after the beans were consumed

Well, what's a city gardener to do? We hustled over to Lowes, bought some rat traps and hustled over to the nursery to purchase some seeds to replant. Grrr.... Just when I thought I had a good timeline for planting.

So the first day I put out a trap next to the planter with the peas, with his second favorite garden food, cherry tomatoes (I've been picking them as they start to change color just the slightest so the rat doesn't eat them). The next morning I ventured out to find the peas eaten and the trap still set with the tomato. Arg.... But laziness prevailed and day 2 was trap with tomato again.... but IN the planter... Morning brought more missing peas and a missing tomato with an unsprung trap. Darn it!  Day 3, trip to Lowes for a more sensitive trap... And peanut butter as a lure. Day 4.... new traps that I worried about getting my fingers smashed into were still unsprung and the peanut butter was gone. Old trap, next to our Fava bed, was moved.

Gotcha you big rat! (I'll admit it, it scared the crud out of me when I walked outside and actually saw the darn thing.) I know, I know, I bought a trap, I should be prepared for it to actually work, especially when I was mad when they didn't work. But Ugh, that's harsh. I made the hubby toss this poor smooshed rodent in the trash. Gross.... and now I actually have to dodge some rain to try and replant today.

Happy wet gardening. And sorry for grossing you out.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Ngo Om aka Rice Paddy Herb

Have you ever heard of Ngo Om?  I discovered this through my Mom, of course.... most of my cooking is based on what I grew up with.  But I have never been able to grow this herb.  And it has a ridiculously short shelf life in the fridge.  So every time I wanted to cook with it I would have to make a special trip to the Asian market. And while there is a new one approx 8 miles away, the good one is 17 miles away (I know because it is pretty near the hubs office). So each and every trip to the Asian grocery is a "special" trip.

So I am trying one more time to try and grow this herb.  My Mom looked at me like I was wacky when I told her I had trouble growing it.  She said she just sticks it in the ground and viola... growing. So I hopped on the Internet and figured out why it's voila for her and grumble for me.... humidity.  We have heat out the wazoo here, but dry, dry, dry.....

After reading the article, I emulated the author and potted up my ngo om  I had been rooting.  Ngo om is commonly called Rice Paddy herb, since I guess it grows best in the moist soil of a rice paddy. The fragrance is a mix of citrus/cilantro and just something I cannot describe. I have heard that some describe it as a sweet cumin in taste.

So I had purchased some right before our trip to SF a  couple of weeks ago and plonked some of the hardier looking stems in a full cup of water before leaving. A leap of faith that it would be OK during the week we were away and wouldn't attract bugs. And as you can see, it rooted well.  This part of the growing process usually goes pretty well. It's the part when I put it in soil that they just give up.

So I selected a few of the better rooted ones and put two in each container of soil. Bagged it all up, poked holes for ventilation and now I'm hoping for the best.

My finished product.  I hope this works! According to the author of the website above, you never have to water the plant again. I hope I have to re-pot to bigger pots in a few weeks!

Happy gardening!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

What in the world?

Yesterday I finally managed to get off my duff and start some fall (or second summer) seeds.  I diligently planted out some tatsoi, bok choy, beets, swiss chard, Thai basil, cilantro, and even some cucumbers and winter melon - hey, you never know, we don't get frost until December or January.... if at all.  Then I started the Fava seeds soaking and planted those out today.  It's hard to start a fall or second summer garden when I am still waiting for most of my summer crops.

But when I went to go and check on the seeds started yesterday, I noticed that there were a lot of winter melon seeds on top of the soil.  I at first thought I was a really sloppy planter. Then I noticed that the cucumber seeds were also on top of the soil. A closer inspection showed this:

What pest ate the insides of the seeds and left the rest there?  Grrrrr..... I'm ticked.

They also ate the one Fava seed I popped in the soil before I remembered I wanted to soak them and add the inoculate when planting out. Now I am concerned for my tender Fava seeds I planted out today.

Not so happy gardening today....

Monday, August 22, 2011

Harvest Monday(s)

 Welcome to Harvest Monday, a lovely idea hosted by Daphne.  Head on over and see what others are growing.

We've been a little hodge-podge on recording our harvests lately.  This past week we were out of town  exploring wonderful San Francisco. One of my absolute favorite places to visit.  The hubs needed to be there all week for work, and the rest of the family decided it was a good time for a little vacation.  But living in a hotel room for a week with two rambunctious boys, no matter how luxurious, is TOUGH!

Last Sunday morning was a flurry of activity as I put away things I had been planning on using during the week.  We had 2 small bell peppers that I julienned and tossed in the fridge.

 Some beans and cukes were made into fridge pickles.

Some nearly ripe cherry tomatoes were picked and left for my friend who would come by to feed the fishies.

2 enormous zucchini were shredded and tossed in the freezer.

And of course we had to pick more stuff... some Cherokee Purples, a Green Zebra, more cherry tomatoes, cukes and some beans.

A week of garden neglect produced some figs (so delicious!), some Roma and yellow wax beans,  a jalapeno, a big cuke.....and...

2 pounds 9 oz of tomatoes.

We also finally had some fruit set on our Yellow Brandywine tomato.  It has been shooting up to the sky, but we have had all blossom drop. And I came home to find 5 little green tomatoes.

And that's all for now, but stay tuned to see what we managed to do in San Francisco last week!  Happy Gardening.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Harvest Monday August 8, 2011

Well, we missed Harvest Monday last week again, but we have been utilizing the garden! And of course I have no recollection of where I recorded the weights.  We had a nice variety of things from the garden.

Scarlett Runner Beans
 Favas were a last minute addition to our al fresco dinner one night, it is so nice to be able to step out the door and pick what I need to get some vegetables for dinner.
Fava Beans - I can't believe they are still going strong.

 I think I did a bad, bad thing.  I enjoyed our stuffed zucchini dinner last month, but the giant zucchini was from my girl friend's garden, so i decided to try my hand at growing a "big boy". We have 2, from 2 plants, but now the plants are pretty sad looking. And we haven't had a single additional zucchini from either plant in a while. Good thing we have 1 more plant!  One came in at 4 pounds 15 oz and the other at 3 pounds 13 oz.

Pickles, Japanese eggplant, Super Sweet 100's, Cherokee Purple tomatoes, and 2 mammoth zucchinis

We also harvested some pickle fixings.  All from the garden. Now I have to try and get a recipe that I like. Trial and error period starts.

Home grown cukes, grape leaves (pilfered from neighbor, but growing on my
side of the fence!), dill, jalapeno, and garlic = YUM.

Finished product.
 And some more yummy yummy goodness.
More Scarlett Runner Beans, SS 100's, cukes, and my first Yellow Pear tomatoes.... and my first FIG of the year!

So visit Daphne's Dandelions to see what people are harvesting!  Happy gardening all!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Happenings in my garden in July

Somehow I seem to miss harvest Mondays in July.  We are usually visited by family during the month, my oldest son and my husband are both July babies and we have family in to celebrate both birthdays. And even though you would think I would have more time to blog with someone to help wrangle the kids, I have less time than normal! So this is to play catch-up.

The first Japanese eggplant is nearly ready.  The ones we planted out first were chewed down to the nubs and haven't bounced back very well. This one was planted in our raised bed filled with city compost.  And if you were wondering, city compost sucks.  The plants we put in the raised bed kind of stalled out and I had to heavily trench fertilize everything to get growth jump started.

First Japanese Eggplant

The cucumbers we started from seeds are almost ready to give us some snackers, and maybe some pickles as well!  Our nursery bought cukes were heavily cut back due to powdery mildew. We will see if they survive.

Pickling cucumbers sizing up.

Our beans in the raised bed are also WAY behind schedule. But we have our first sightings of baby beans!  I have dreams of beans.... no, not really. But I can't wait to eat some home grown ones. We planted Roma beans, Yellow wax, Asparagus long, and Royal burgundy. Not to mention the Fava, Edamame and Scarlett Runner beans...

Roma Beans

Volunteer Runner beans need to be picked

The Little Gem lettuce is FINALLY sizing up.

Little Gem Lettuce

 My figs have been taunting me for weeks.  Still no ripe figs.  Our tree is heavily loaded this year and I can't wait!  I have prosciutto just waiting in the fridge for "go time."

Brown Turkish Figs

But wait, it isn't all taunting and teasing, we also ate good stuff from the garden this week too.   We had an unexpected night in for dinner and absolutely nothing planned. I think we were planning on going to "Wine Wednesday" at a local restaurant, but Ryle started acting up and we didn't want to have deal with him in public. So I had to punt for dinner. We had a pasta with shrimp, tomatoes, lemon juice, garlic, and fava greens. The greens were so good. It was my first time tasting them, and they did great in the pasta.

Oh, and we had some fresh basil for the pasta as well.

Another night we had black beans and rice.  And a lovely heirloom (Cherokee Purple) tomato salsa made with home grown tomato, jalapeno, onion, garlic, and pimiento de patron (since the jalapeno was not the slightest bit hot). And since there was just one tiny heirloom tomato, I made up a second batch with a store bought "vine ripened" tomato. The comparison was interesting.  The store bought tomato made a bland salsa, the Cherokee Purple was so sweet and complex simply amazing.  I cannot wait to make more.

Salsa fixings (sans Pimiento de patron - it was an after thought)

Rosemary - used to poach chicken

zucchini - that big one ended up being over 2 pounds

Zucchini and first crook neck squash

All in all it was a good week in the garden. I can't wait to start planning for my fall garden.  Well, today is a garden day for me, so I hope it will be productive!  Happy gardening all.