Summer’s Surprise

Surprise lily

When I stopped by the Branson Candy Kitchen to visit Grandmother and Aunt Macy, it was a hot, clear Ozarks summer day threatening to reach 100 degrees again. Summer is the grand-daughter of Macy and the great-grand daughter of my grandmother.

Summer

Summer

Aunt Macy said “Summer, you remember your cousin, don’t you? This here is Patsy Kay, your cousin.”

“Hello Cousin”, Summer said. And then my cutest little cousin ran out the back door.

Grandmother and Auntie kept making pecan pralines while I sat in the company chair watching and talking. Every now and then, I was the beneficiary of an imperfect handmade praline.

You can’t sell the ugly ones. Everyone wants a beautiful praline. Yes, I ate the ugly pralines, the things you do for family…

surprise liliesSummer ran in the door with a hand full of Nekked Ladies and thrust them at me. “Surprise! Here cousin. Flowers for you!”

Oh! Thank you, Summer.

What are they cousin?

I’m sitting right in front of MY grandmother and I am not about to tell this cute little three year old that those flowers are called Naked Ladies.

You know the answer to that, Summer. You told me when you walked in the door: Surprise! They are Surprise Lilies.

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Surprise lilies easily multiply creating more bulbs to share.

You mean Nekked Ladies?, said Grandma. We all burst into little girl giggles.

And so, sweet Summer, every year when these bold lilies pop up, I’ll always think of you. One more thing, Thank you for the Surprise Lilies.

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day 8/2015

GBBD August 2015

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Moonflower Ipomoea alba just before bloom

Moonflower Ipomoea alba just before bloom.

Moon flowers are blooming wildly on these hot August nights.

A harsh winter and long rainy spring took its toll on spring blooms and my roses. But now, in the peak of production and seed making, many flowers are blooming with endless enthusiasm.

zinnia and nicotimia

zinnia and nicotinia

 

 

 

My zinnias have been the show off flowers this summer. Using galvanized watering cans, I’ve fill bucket of the back with zinnia arrangements. All the flowers are from a few packets of seed from Renee’s Garden.

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The Neked Ladies or Surprise lilies have multiplied every year, becoming thicker and more beautiful.Surprise Lily

Since I am the only southerner in our home, okra seldom makes it into the garden. My husband, Mr TD&H, helpfully weeded all the okra seedlings out of the garden every year.

I love okra’s big, soft yellow flowers, so, I planted a few seed in the flower beds. The variety is over 8′ tall and steadily producing. Picked small, okra makes the best refrigerator pickles.

Make an extraordinary dish like authentic New Orleans Gumbo and even my California Dreamer will eat okra. Occasionally. Try my version of fried okra.

White Gladioli and purple Zinnias

White Gladioli and purple Zinnias

I was fortunate to meet Elizabeth Lawrence. In her book, she wrote: “We can have flowers nearly every month of the year.”
As she signed my much used copy of the book, she said she was pleased that someone was actually putting the book to good use.

 

 

 

Carol of May Dreams Gardens started Garden Bloggers Bloom Day. On the 15th of every month, garden bloggers from all over the world publish what is currently blooming in their gardens, and leave a link in Mr. Linky and the comments of May Dreams Gardens.

It’s fun. GBBD ends up being a journal of your garden’s year round floral display.

Nicotiana alata

Little white trumpet flowers, Nicotiana alata are popping up where they please. They have volunteered from last years plants.

The old faithful geraniums, marigolds and nasturtium just keep on blooming nonstop. Rose of Sharon’s, Hydrangea and hibiscus are all in full bloom.

There is more, but you have other blogs to read and I need to water my flowers.

Thank you for stopping by. My garden is in southeast Missouri, zone 6b. There are porch chairs on every side of the house. The sun tea is brewing on the patio.

Stop by anytime to sit in the shade and have a cool drink. Should you be so inclined, there is also a pruner, a weeder and a watering can o each side of the house.

Gazpacho is a garden celebration in a bowl

The taste of summer

When the vegetable garden goes into full production, it’s time for gazpacho. The best gazpacho is made with garden fresh produce at the peek of the season.

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Add pureed vegetables to the chopped vegetables.

Gazpacho is a cold vegetable soup. It’s a southern Spanish dish of blended fresh raw vegetables in a tomato base.

Use up a lot of vegetables. Tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers, onions, herbs.

 

When the garden explodes and the kitchen counter is covered with fresh produce, make gazpacho.

 

Don’t like  bell peppers? Leave them out. Add zucchini, roasted garlic, a few shakes of hot pepper sauce. The point is to make this recipe your own by adding the vegetables and herbs that you grow and love. Or, pick the best and most abundant produce at the farmers market.

Use any variety of sun ripened tomatoes.

Use any variety of sun ripened tomatoes.

Some gazpacho is served puréed until smooth. I prefer a chunkier version that includes chopped vegetables. Choose vine-ripened tomatoes and the freshest vegetables.

Use any variety of sweet peppers.

Use any variety of sweet peppers.

Use what you have and what you like. I will use extra cukes in midsummer. Later, when all the pepper varieties are producing, I’ll use more peppers and less cucumbers.

 

 

 

Basic recipe.

Start with the basic recipe, then make it your own.

Ingredients

2 pounds tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
tomato juice
1 or two cucumbers, peeled, seeded and chopped
1 medium red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 medium yellow bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 medium chopped red onion
1 small hot pepper, seeded and minced (your choice, jalapeño, poblano, banana)
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar (herb vinegar)
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
mixed herbs 2 tablespoons of your choice
2 tablespoons fresh basil for garnish

tomatoes and  cucumbers

Chop vegetables, puree in small batches with the blender or food processor.

Combine half of the chopped tomatoes, cucumbers, red and yellow bell peppers, onion. Mince small hot pepper and 2 garlic cloves. Add 2 cups of tomato juice, half the salt and purée. I use a stick blender.

Add the rest of the chopped vegetables to the purée. Stir in oil, vinegar, salt pepper, mixed herbs. Taste and adjust seasoning. Cover and refrigerate.

The important thing is to chill the soup. Refrigerating the gazpacho allows the vegetable flavors to meld. The most flavorful a gazpacho will chill overnight.

SERVE – in chilled bowls with chilled soup spoons, with a chiffonade of basil to garnish. Pass around extra chopped herbs or grated Parmesan cheese.

tomatoes peeling in waterPEEL Tomatoes:  To remove the skins, mark a small “X” on the bottom with a sharp knife. Slowly lower tomatoes into boiling water for 30 seconds, then shock in ice water. The skins will slip off, and you can proceed with the gazpacho recipe.

chiffronadeCHIFFONADE basil:  Create ribbons of basil by stacking the basil leaves and roll them into a cigar shape. Carefully cut across the rolled basil with a sharp knife.

The taste of summer.

Your garden in a bowl. Even better the next day. For thicker soup, add a bit of tomato paste as you adjust the seasoning.

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Gazpacho and garlic cheese toast.

FINISH soup: add a splash of red wine vinegar, herb or balsamic vinegar, olive oil or extra chopped herbs.

ADD Herbs: parsley, basil, cilantro, oregano, thyme. Use roasted garlic instead of fresh raw minced garlic. Top with a dollop of pesto.

Wordless Wednesday

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For more:

A rainbow of Zinnias

It’s a good zinnia growing year.

Zinnias, Zinnia elegans are the star of the summer flower show. For filler and contrast, try adding herbs, or coleus. It doesn’t always have to be leather leaf ferns or baby’s breath.

Red and gold zinnias with coleus in an antique watering can.

Red and gold zinnias with coleus in an antique watering can.

Summer-long blooms bring butterflies and pollinators to the garden. Zinnias meant “thoughts of an absent friend.” in the Victorian language of flowers.

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Zinnias and Russian sage. Cutting Zinnia, “Hot Crayon Colors” ↑ 

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Zinnias and mini marigolds. ↑ →

“Signet Starfire” marigolds. grown from seed. Little yellow and orange dwarf single marigolds keeps blooming until frost.

Shades of red:

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Red and white zinnias with coleus make a simple bouquet.

Zinnias and coleus.↑

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Zinnias and Nicotiana. ↑

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Zinnia and Coleus. ↑

Zinnias were named 1763 by Linnaeus in honor of Johann Zinn, a German professor of botany and medicine.

Pinks and lavender:

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Zinnias and coleus. ↑ Cutting Zinnia, “Berry Basket”

These crayon colored flowers are long-stemmed cutting flowers with long-lasting blooms.

To extend the life of cut flower blooms by trimming off the bottom of the stem, every few days. Replace the water with fresh every 4 days.

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Zinnias and basil. Cutting Zinnia, “Berry Basket” ↑

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Zinnias with oregano and basil. Cutting Zinnia, “Bling Bling.” These lovely cut flowers are bigger and brighter every year. Disease resistance has much improved through the years.

Pink zinnias and Queen Ann's lace.

Pink zinnias and Queen Ann’s lace.

If it’s been awhile since you’ve included zinnias in your garden, take another look. Zinnias are disease resistant rebloomers that will keep you in flowers until frost.

You might also like:

IMG_3335I got all the zinnias in this post from Renee’s Garden.

Wordless Wednesday

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Todays harvest basket 7/9/15

Todays harvest basket

July 9, 2015

zucchini, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, green beans

zucchini, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, green beans

Zucchini is coming on daily. So far, picking squash when it is 6 or 7″ long, is working. I see a chocolate zucchini cake in our future…

Green beans  are in a small patch we must collect a few pickings for a meal. In a couple of days, cucumber production will explode. For now, there are enough cucumbers for fresh eating.

There are plenty of Sun Gold cherry tomatoes for salad every day. The few red slicer tomatoes from My Garden Post were used for the first BLT of the season.

Summer harvest of onions and garlic.

Summer harvest of onions and garlic.

Read about the garlic and onions curing in the shade on the porch. Its garlic season

Best tomato plants for containers

is all about the first juicy red tomatoes of the season. Those early  full-sized tomatoes were grown on two foot tall plants!

Bush 506. First full size tomato to ripen, 5-oz.

Bush 506. First full size tomato to ripen, 5-oz.

 

 

A first look at ‘Perfect Storm’ hibiscus

New introduction: ‘Perfect Storm’ hardy hibiscus

Summerific® 'Perfect Storm' - Rose Mallow – Hibiscus

Summerific® ‘Perfect Storm’ – Rose Mallow – Hibiscus

I’m excited about a new container perennial on my deck. ‘Perfect Storm’ is a hardy hibiscus with giant white flowers and a bright red center. These big, bright blooms are the star of the show.

Summerific® hibiscus has huge, 7-8” wide, white flowers with a bright red eye that radiates out the veins, with the petals edged with pink.

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Summer Storm looks like a bigger version of the new ‘Perfect Storm.’

I’m also growing the dark foliage of ‘Summer Storm’ Hibiscus, but it gets too big for a small garden space (decks, patios). So, ‘Perfect Storm’ keeps the dark foliage and shrinks it down. ‘Perfect Storm’ makes a great container plant or fits in a small garden space.

Only 3 feet tall, ‘Perfect Storm’ has huge, 7-8” wide, white flowers with a bright red eye that radiates out the veins, and petals edged with pink. Expect blooms from late summer into early fall. 

This is a trial plant, sent to me by Proven Winners. It will be available in garden centers next spring. I’ll be talking more about Summerific® ‘Perfect Storm’ – Rose Mallow – Hibiscus after it has had a longer trial in my zone 6, Southeast Missouri, USA garden.

It’s fresh garlic season

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Isn’t this pretty? Chesnok Red Garlic spread out to dry, or cure before trimming stalks.

Garlic bulbs just lifted from the garden.

The garlic bulbs are dug up, but there is much more to do to preserve the harvest. Handle freshly dug garlic gently. Bulbs can easily bruise.

Cure Garlic

Spread out bulbs away from direct sun with good air circulation. Allow the roots and entire stalk to dry, turning brown. The bulbs are ready to clean up and store.

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After a week, braid bulbs while stalks are still flexible. Braid garlic before the stems are too dry and brittle.

Cut the stalks about an inch above the garlic bulb. Clip off the roots. Carefully wipe off the dirt with a soft brush or cloth.  Try not to remove many layers of skin.

This year I grew two kinds of garlic, Chesnok Red Garlic and California Early Garlic.

With long, warm fall at planting time, I could have waited until November, instead of planting cloves in October.

The long, cold rainy spring is also part of the reason I had a smaller harvest of garlic.

  • Herb bouquet with garlic scapes.

    Herb bouquet with garlic scapes.

    Learn more about growing organic garlic, onions and shallots.

 

 

 

 

  • Summer harvest of onions and garlic.

    Summer harvest of onions and garlic.

    Herb Bouquets include garlic scapes.

 

 

 

 

 

Try these garlic varieties

Chesnok Red Garlic

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The purple-striped hardneck has large and easy-to-peel cloves. I’m growing it because Chesnok Red is a good baking and a good storing garlic. (4 – 6 weeks.)

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Garlic scape pesto.

The garlic scapes of the hardneck garlic makes for a secondary harvest. Use scapes for vinegar, stir fry, pesto. Expect about 15 garlic bulbs per pound and approximately 9 or 10 cloves per bulb.

These garlic bulbs grew smaller than the California Early Garlic. Chesnok wins awards as an excellent baker. I’ll be using those smaller bulbs to make creamy roasted garlic.

 

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Cut these artful garlic scapes to grow bigger garlic bulbs.

 

California Early Garlic

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California garlic is one of the earliest to harvest in my region 6, Southeast Missouri garden.

The California Early Garlic was harvested two weeks earlier. The bulbs are big and white. For the past three years, I have success growing this popular American garlic.

These California Early Garlic bulbs are mild enough to be used raw in recipes or fresh pickles. This is not a hot garlic. It’s a good choice for mild garlic flavor, not heat.

Known as a long keeper, California Early Garlic is a softneck garlic, good for braiding. I like the mild flavor and large cloves. There are about 12 garlic bulbs per pound and 10-16 cloves per bulb.

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Bake whole garlic bulbs wrapped in foil with a few drop of olive oil.

Best tomato plants for containers

Perfect for My Garden Post

Choose dwarf tomato plants

I am having big juicy tomato success on My Garden Post. These are the tomatoes that I am growing.

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The best choice for My Garden Post are plants that are less than 2 feet tall.

Determinate tomato varieties grow to a limited hight and usually do not  need staking and caging.

Choose dwarf or bush type tomato plants. Look for plants bred for containers.

Extended release or slow release fertilizer applied when potting the plant will be one less thing to worry about.

Two foot tall tomato plants

Bush 506. First full size tomato to ripen, 5-oz.

Bush 506. First full size tomato to ripen, 5-oz.

  • Bush 506 Container Tomato plants are less than 24″ tall. The thick stemmed plants easily support the 8 ounce fruits. These container grown tomatoes are early producers. The Tasteful Garden advertises tomatoes in only 62 days. It was the first regular sized tomato to ripen in my zone 6 garden.

I bought Bush 506 as a plant from The Tasteful Garden

 

New Big Dwarf heirloom tomato. The heaviest producer of full size tomatoes so far.

New Big Dwarf heirloom tomato. The heaviest producer of full size tomatoes so far.

  • New Big Dwarf Heirloom tomato is not really new. An heirloom first introduced in 1915, tastes like the old-fashioned beefsteak. The plant is only 2 feet tall but the fruits are full-sized 8-12 oz. Expect early tomatoes in about 60 days.

I bought the New Big Dwarf tomato as a plant from The Tasteful Garden

 

 Oliver’s choice:

  • Bush Steak Tomato is an easy-to-find small tomato plant or grow it from seed.

“I often recommend the Bush Steak tomato and suggests planting in the large planters. The Bush Steak Tomato matures at 20 inches in height, and produce a medium size tomato in large numbers,” says Oliver J Gardner, Director of Sales and Marketing, My Garden Post.

 

Endless sweet cherry tomatoes

Cherry tomatoes nonstop until frost

Cherry tomatoes nonstop until frost

  • Litt’l Bites Container Cherry Tomato – keep this early producer well watered and fed for tons of sweet cherry tomatoes all summer long. A compact, lush plant that is perfect for My Garden Post or hanging baskets. Litt’l Bites grows 20 inches wide and 12 inches tall.

Grown from seed. Exclusive. Renee’s Garden

photo by Renee's Garden

Litt’l Bites Container Cherry Tomato photo by Renee’s Garden

 

Learn more about My Garden Post here.

double_drip_with_caption__64178.1409012731.1280.1280My container grown tomatoes benefit from the easy-to-set-up and use My Garden Post irrigation system. It’s the best system I’ve used on the deck or patio. Adjust the timer to accommodate the season; longer daily watering when it is the hottest.

 

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