Thursday, June 30, 2011

What the what???

We have a tomato thief in the vicinity. In the last 3 days we have been stripped of all but one of my Striped Germans and at least 4 Cherokee Purples.  And one of those Cherokee purples was a big boy.  It is not the normal culprits in my garden. These are the ones I am normally on the look out for:

Ryle tasting the bok choy in last year's garden
And Gray acting innocent
However these thieves restrict themselves to the sorrel, radishes, and strawberries. After all, you plant extra for your invading varmits, right? Gray has been known to attempt thievery of tomatoes, but usually requires help because of height issues, so I don't think he is the varmit I am after today.  I think I may have to wrap the plants in mesh to protect them. We were unceremoniously stripped of lots of tomatoes also.... I guess it as just a matter of time. Off to the store to get more protective gear...

Grrrrrr..... If it's not one thing it's another!  Well, let's hope this leads to Happy Gardening!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Napoleon complex

I think my little tomato plant has a Napoleon complex. It obviously thinks it is much larger than it actually is!  It is 3 inches tall and has set 2 itty bitty tomatoes.

Cute. I hope they make it.

Happy gardening!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

A rather productive weekend.

How is it that here is never enough time to get tasks done, no matter how hard you try?  We managed to get a lot done in the yard/garden this weekend.  The hubby installed some drip lines and soaker hoses for me, yay!  And I pruned all the rose bushes of the dead-heads and managed to rip out all the brown leaves from the lemon grass.  They were looking rather shaggy.  These were tasks we had planned on getting done over the long weekend, but now they are done and we have probably more things we will think up for next weekend.

Lemon grass after a severe thinning.
My mom used lemon grass very liberally in most of our meals growing up, and I have always kept some handy in the freezer. But it was very nice to be able to plant some last year when we bought the house.  I really should have planned better about what to plant in the garden for my Mom's visit, the beans aren't producing yet (they are barely taller than my hand....), the bok choy is still tiny, no eggplant, the cilantro bolted.... the Thai chilis aren't hot... Man, what a wreck! At least we have plenty of onions and squash by next week.

Well, she can make due! Happy gardening all =)

Monday, June 27, 2011

Harvest Monday 6/27/11

Harvest Monday is a great chance to see what everyone around the globe is harvesting.   It is hosted by Daphne's Dandelions. Pop on over if you have a chance and see what is growing!

This week we had an assortment of things come from our garden. We started with something to put back in, seeds! Some of my scallions planted early had flowered and were so pretty we just left them. And now look, we have seeds for planting!

Scallion seeds

Also from the garden we harvested German Stripe tomatoes, Cherokee Purple tomatoes, Sorrel, lemon grass and our first cucumber!

German Stripe: 10 3/4 oz
Cherokee Purple: 1 pound, 5 oz
Sorrel: 10 1/8 oz
Cucumber: 1 3/4 oz
Favas: 3 - unweighed

Sorrel and a carrot

The leaves are huge

Lemon grass

Lemon grass sliced - I like the rings

Thai chilis, tomatoes, and first cucumber!

Stripe German and Cherokee Purple Tomatoes

Fava beans
We had the favas grilled with dinner last night, in addition to a super delicious salad of slice heirloom tomatoes, mozzarella and basil (from the garden). The sorrel we attempted to saute with some bok choy and serve with fish, I thought the tart lemony flavor would pair well with the fish. It was a disaster. The sorrel did not cook up well, turned brownish and the flavor was too strong. Oh well, now we know. The lemon grass was minced and mixed into a Thai chicken salad - delicious!

I was so excited to see that first cucumber. I love fresh cukes and the first was long awaited.  But I'm not sure how many this plant will produce, I had been battling some powdery mildew, I thought I had gotten rid of it... but then I looked on the underside of the leaves. Blast! Covered. So off they went. The poor plant looked nude afterwards. So if this plant goes to it's maker, I have 3 other kinds of cukes in the garden to wait for.

Happy Gardning all.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Any day now.....

I have been suffering from serious squash/zucchini envy lately.  But any day now I should have my first taste of home grown squash for the year!  (At least I think it is a straight yellow squash, darn kids and their thievery of plant markers......).  I just love the way the squash plants look.  I am contemplating putting some in the front yard next year in our "ornamental" bed and see if the hubby notices it.  They are so pretty!  I love the way the leave stand up so tall and how HUGE the leaves are. Just lovely to look at.

We have had a couple of male flowers open yesterday and today, and I've been busy with one thing or another and didn't pick them.  And frankly, it's too hot to fry squash blossoms and too many calories to consume them right now. I'm saving my calories for pasta, it's marathon training/weight loss time!

There are also two female flowers who should open up any day now.  Let's hope the male flowers keep up their end of the bargain or the plant next to this one starts opening up!  This is the more mature of the two female blossoms.  I think she will open up Sunday. I may wander out with a brush in case the bees slack off in their work.

And in case you were wondering about those radish pods.....We get most of them from a single flowering radish.  This is the one I just let go to see how big it could get.  This is a 12 inch pot. It's HUGE.

And here are all of the flowers left.  It's very hard to keep the boys away from that part of the yard because of the bees. I think they like to give me a heart attack, because I have to say multiple times a day "No, stay away from that side of the garden, there are lots and lots of bees."  Then the repeated reasons that bees would sting.... And the almost 4 year old explaining to the 19 month old not to go there because the bee will sting you on the butt "just like at the pool."  He sat on a bee and it stung him last week.  Poor kid.

Happy gardening and hope your weekend is fantastic!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Radishes - something new!

Do you ever wonder what to do when this:

Becomes this:

Well, we waited for the bees to do their work (they are still at work) and then we harvested these!

 This is our third harvest of the day... yes, the day. Apparently the kid who was burnt out on radishes in May, changed his mind and now wants radishes.  Well, we are planting some for a summer harvest, but in the meantime he is quite happy munching on radish seed pods. I am hoping to get some for planting, but I will be happy if he eats them all as well.  They are yummy with a light radish taste.  Not hot at all, if I ever get a chance to have some for myself, I think they would be good tossed in a salad.  These are from a French Breakfast radish. (The crazy radish is about a foot long!!!  I decided to just let it go and see what would happen, and we have a HUGE flowering "bush" that is producing a ton of seed pods.)  I fed these to him to make sure he stayed awake on the way to my Tuesday group run, his words "Mommy, thank you for my radishes, I love them. They are my favoritest thing ever." Take that with a grain of salt though, everything is his favoritest thing ever.

But he is eating his veggies, and his little brother even likes them. So it's a win win!  Happy gardening all!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Harvest Monday - a little variety!

Happy Monday!  Thank you Daphne for hosting Harvest Monday, a wonderful opportunity to see what gardeners are producing all around the world.

We had some variety from what we are able to use from the garden this week. Temps are warming up and the plants are loving it, well, some of them are. The tomatoes are plumping up nicely and we had a LOT this week. I'm trying to figure out canning recipes that highlight their yumminess. Have any?

Harvest for 6/13-6/20:
Cherokee Purple Tomatoes: 3 pounds 11 7/8 oz
Strip German Tomatoes: 13 oz
Broccoli: 7/8 oz
Fairy Tale Eggplant: 2 1/8 oz
Fava Beans: 1 3/4 oz
Strawberries: 1 3/4 oz

I managed to snap a picture of the strawberries before the boys gobbled them up.

The heirloom tomatoes are so delicious and yummy, but they do have a bad tendency to crack if they get too much water. But I think it's worth it for the flavor.

Our broccoli never got very large, and I should have picked it Saturday, but I forgot and it started to flower. Maybe it will be a better fall crop, because so far I am not in love with the space/output ratio.

We had our first home grown favas at dinner last night.  We each had 1 bean pod (I shared with Ryle who amazingly enough decided to try something! He didn't like it, but heck, he tried it!!!!) grilled with olive oil and salt and pepper. Delicious. The hubby said it was far better than the last time he had favas (store bought.... probably old and past their prime).  I can't wait for more to mature, and I will definitely try this out as a fall/winter plant.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Stroll in the yard... erm.... Garden....

One of the first things Gray and I do every morning is to check out the yard/garden. He can usually wait until after breakfast, but some mornings he just wants to be outside.  This morning he decided it was time to pick tomatoes. He alerts me that it's picking time by shouting "ea' ea'" before heading towards whatever has caught his eye at that moment.  It is usually the strawberries or the sorrel. This morning it became apparent he was hungry for tomatoes. Cherokee Purples in fact.

So I went and started groping tomatoes. After giving a lot of them the touch test (and only smooshing 1 too much), we picked 2 pounds 7 3/4 oz of Cherokee Purples and 13 oz of the German Stripes!

We purchased a couple of cucumber seedlings from a local nursery because ours were getting nibbled by the bunny.  They are recovering ok now, so now we are growing 4 kinds of cucumbers... I am excited by this!

Purchased seedling of "Bush Champion"

Look at that cute gerkin!

And we started some Super Sweet 100 seeds this spring, planted the best, gave away one and had one as a back-up. Well, it is 2-3 inches tall and obviously thinks it is a lot bigger than it is, because it started flowering. So we gave her a bigger home and decided we would see how she does.

The yellow pear tomato plants doubled in height in 2 weeks, so they are now 6-7 inches tall. And no flowers. So maybe we get some this year and maybe not.

Our bean bed is finally starting to break ground.  We planted edamame, yellow wax, Roma, and asparagus.
The seeds for the edamame, yellow wax and Roma were planted directly into the bed, and the asparagus were started earlier.
Edamame bean breaking ground. Look how lush the bean pod looks.

The asparagus beans aren't much farther along than the yellow wax or Roma's.
 For fun Ryle was allowed to plant some pumpkins, mammoth sun flowers and watermelon.
Ryle's pumpkin

And yet another bean in the garden.... The volunteer Scarlett Runner already flowering.

That's all the fun stuff going on. The rest is every day stuff. Happy gardening all!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Yes I can?

Robin recently posted a wonderful recipe for Rose Petal Jelly that I saw and immediately loved!  It looks so unusual and beautiful, and the hue of hers was fabulous.  I have never canned a single thing in my entire life. NEVER. But I wanted to do this.  My husband's grandmother loves unusual jellies, and this sounded like a great Christmas present idea.

So off I went to buy things associated with canning.

Canning for newbies

 And my favorite rose has lots and lots of buds just waiting to open.

I hope this goes well.... and maybe I can make Mimi's Dilly beans too! Happy Gardening!

Crop rotaion, volunteers and container gardening

Being new to gardening I always have lots of questions.  My first question today deals with crop rotation - it makes sense, but if I have a volunteer plant, should I move it or just let it be?

Container gardening - do you really have to wash out the containers every year?  Do you re-use the soil or start from scratch every year?  Does it really matter or can I treat just do crop rotation with the containers too?

Volunteer Runner Beans

I wasn't planning on growing Scarlett Runner beans this year, we are branching out and trying some other true bean varieties.  So far we are doing asparagus beans, yellow wax, Roma, fava, and edamame. We did edamame last year, but had a horrible crop, so we are trying it again since it is Ryle's favorite food (well, today at least). But as I was around the location I am growing some cucumbers, I noticed some volunteer runner beans. What's a girl to do? I planted some seeds I had saved and turned the 5 foot trellis I had been planning on training the cucumbers up on it's side and shared it with the beans. I hope they share nicely!

What do you do with your volunteers?

Happy gardening.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Well what do you know... garlic!

My gardening space used to be super tiny, now it's just small. Before the addition of our 4x8 raised bed, I gardened in mostly containers and 3 strips of our backyard border that ranged from 2x2 to 2x4. And being new (and frankly a procrastinator) didn't help matters.  So during the late summer/early fall when I should have been ordering garlic from seed companies, I didn't.  Instead in the late fall I found some "garlic" started for me and purchased a 4 cellpack. And then started sticking in cloves as they were found randomly sprouting in my kitchen.  Lesson learned.... get off my butt this year and order the darn garlic!

I've been embarrassed to show any of the garlic planted in my garden because they looked to be in bad shape. So yesterday, as I was reading through blogs, I realized what was going on!  My garlic had flopped over because it was time to pull it!  So off I went with my handy dandy spade.

A garlic that was... um... helped out in standing up tall....
(pay no attention to our rusty fence, it's on our  to do list)

And dug up some garlic heads!  I left a few in the ground that hadn't sized up yet. I came away with 1 monster head and about 6 normal sized ones. Apparently the "garlic" I purchased was a softneck variety, so next year I buy hardneck and keep a lookout for scapes!

Pulled garlic "curing" in our shed
 He he he, you learn something new everyday everywhere as long as you keep your eyes and ears open!

Happy gardening all!  Now I go see what kind of trouble I can get into today.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Harvest Monday June 13, 2011

Harvest Monday is a great opportunity to see what gardeners around the world are producing in their large or small gardens. It is hosted by Daphne's Dandelions. Hop over to see what is going on!

Lots and lots of random things going on in the garden this week. But the most yummy part were the tomatoes!  We had some ripe mystery tomatoes and Cherokee Purples. I think that the mystery ones may be Striped German.  Some of my windowsill Cherokee Purples riped up as well and we noshed on those too.

Mystery (Striped German?) - 3 1/2 oz
Cherokee Purple - 1 oz
Windowsill Riped CP - 14 1/2 oz

3 1/2 oz of mystery tomatoes

1 oz Cherokee Purple Tomatoes
 The Striped German were sooooo delicious. Yummy, sweet and firm. Not mealy at all. We had these simply sliced and unadorned.  As well as having fabulous taste and texture, they were beautiful inside.

Striped German

The color contrast between the German Stripe and the Cherokee Purples was stunning. We did notice that the windowsill riped tomatoes were slightly mealy and mushy compared to the vine riped ones. The flavor was the same, maybe they will make good sauce?

There are many more tomatoes ripening up and some more flowers. So I hope that there will be lots of fresh tomatoes to share with the family when they come visiting in July! Our recent warm weather will help with that as well.

Lots more to share with you all on the misc gardening front, but I will save that for another day. Happy Gardening all!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Stepping back to have a quick laugh

We were gifted with this cute (and loud) ball popper for my son's first birthday.  Both boys LOVE it. None of the balls are ever where they are supposed to be, so any attempt to play with this toy starts with a house wide ball hunt.  Other balls the same size are too heavy for to blow out.  To date I only know where 3 of the correct balls are.

Playskool Explore and Grow Busy Ball Popper Assortment

The little one and I were playing this morning, and he got distracted and started playing with something else, so I took the opprtunity to read a little of my book. When I looked up at him he was back to playing with the ball popper again. But he did it his way.  He had 2 balls in his hands and his face over the part of the toy that the balls shoots out of. He also had a huge grin on his face and was enjoying the wind blowing on him. I know how it operates, but I never thought of playing with it in this way. I tried it out, and wouldn't you know it? It was kind of fun!  Silly, but fun.

Kids are wonderful sometimes =)

Thursday, June 9, 2011

What gives? And something new.

I always wonder why two plants grow so differently.  These two plants were started on the same day and kept in relatively same conditions (watering schedule, size of pots, fertilizer, etc). Yet the Super Sweet 100 plant is 11 inches tall and starting to produce. The Yellow Pear is still 3 inches tall and not a flower in sight.

My SS 100 plant, she even has a teeny tiny baby tomato on her

My teeny tiny Yellow Pear plant

I am pretty excited by the SS 100's first little teeny tiny tomato.  It will be the first tomato that we have produced from seeds we planted. We have done other plants, just never tomatoes. I've always been too impatient and just buy from a nursery

And now for something new.

Every visit my mom makes to California she shows me something new and wonderful at our local Asian market. Last time it was Chinese Okra aka Luffa.  It does seem weird that you can eat a luffa, I mean, you use it to exfoliate, right? You shouldn't be able to eat it. But if you pick it young it is sweet, tender and delicious.  I am hoping that this:

Chinese Okra seedling

 Will produce lots of these:
Store bought Chinese Okra

One of the ways I prepare the okra is peeled (you don't have to, the skin adds a crunchy texture that I like) as  much or as little as you want. Then chop it into bite size pieces.

Inside of the okra

All chopped and ready to be cooked

And stir fry it with some pork or chicken and garlic


I would have taken an after picture, but we were too hungry. The little one likes the okra, the big one doesn't like to try anything new so he never tasted it.

I hope this works!!!  Happy gardening all =)