Today’s Harvest Basket 7/19

The July garden is bursting with produce and in need of water every day.

Orange and yellow carrots, Anaheim peppers, purple bell peppers, Padron peppers, green beans.

Carrots, peppers, beans

Where are the tomatoes?

The missing tomatoes in this picture were stolen by a ruthless gang of squirrels. Those thugs absconded with my big heirloom tomatoes. But, I picked a few before they were completely ripe. I’ll show you in a day or two.

I am buying tomatoes at the farmers market. But, the cherry tomatoes are starting to ripen faster than the squirrels can eat them. So, I pick a few cherry tomatoes everyday.

Trellised red and yellow cherry tomatoes overlooked by the tomato cartel.

The heirloom tomato cartel, is the squirrely gang involved in tomato trafficking. These well fed rodents can move fast and manage to disappear on site. I can imagine that the neighbors just see me yelling and waving my fists in the gardens.

A peck of peppers picked:
Padrón, Anaheim, Chocolate-brown bell peppers

Padrón or shishito peppers are new to my garden this year. Easy to prepare, grilled or flash fried and sprinkled with salt. Mild and very flavorful, about 1 in 10 of these tiny peppers is fiery hot.

The Anaheim peppers are about 6″ long and mildly hot. Every few days, while the peppers are firm and shiny, I roast, chop and freeze them. I’ll use some of these in homemade salsa.

The earliest bell pepper to ripen are the chocolate peppers. So named for their color, this bell pepper is sweet, juicy and thick-walled. The smooth, medium-small, tapered blunt end bells are chocolate-brown peppers that ripen early and are heavy producers.

The carrots will be served fresh or roasted. To store the carrots, seal unwashed carrots in a plastic bag in the refrigerator crisper. I’ll also sow more carrots that will be harvested in the cool fall weather.

 

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Garlic

Harvesting and storing garlic

We might not eat this much garlic in a year, but when we have plenty of good fresh garlic, we eat more of it.

Harvested garlic needs to be cured to help it last longer.

Harvested garlic needs to be cured to help it last longer.

Back in the day when we bought it one head at a time, we used garlic less and it wasn’t as good.

When tomatoes and zucchini are exploding in the garden, we eat fresh tomatoes and zucchini almost every day, in one way or another.  Look at all the zucchini tips and recipes on my Pinterest: Courgette (zucchini) Everything Squash

If you want to try your hand at growing garlic read my Hub Pages:   How to grow and harvest garlic  Look for garlic now to get the best choice. Order it now and it is mailed to you at planting time.

Don’t plant grocery store garlic. It may be to discourage sprouting. Purchase bulbs from mail order or online suppliers, garden center, or locally at farmers market.

Gently lift garlic and move to the shade.

Gently lift garlic and move to the shade.

Harvest garlic in summer

Watch for the yellowing of the plant leaves. When about half of the leaves have turned yellow/brown, stop watering two days before harvesting. Do not pull garlic. Carefully lift garlic out of the soil.

Garlic can bruise if not handled carefully. Move to the shade as soon as possible. Spread out in an airy spot for drying.

If the weather is wet, dry garlic indoors or in a garage. I used the shaded, screened porch and the garage.

Dirt will dry quickly. Gently brush off  the dry dirt. It is important for garlic to cure or dry in a cool, shaded space.

The curing process takes between one and two weeks. Don’t rush, more time is better than less. Proper curing will extend the life of

Drying garlic needs good air circulation. Do not remove the leaves and roots while the garlic cures. The bulb draws energy from the leaves and roots until they are completely dry.

The bulbs are ready to store when the skins are papery and the tops and roots are dry. Remove any dirt and trim off any roots and tops. Look for any damaged or bruised bulbs and discard them.

Garlic bulbs may be stored individually with the tops removed, or the dried tops may be braided together to hang in the kitchen or pantry. Trim roots to within 1/4” of the base.

If braiding the garlic, do this while the leaves are pliable. If  you wait until the leaves are completely dry they will be too brittle to braid.

Snip roots, leaving ¼".

Snip roots, leaving ¼”.

When these little bulblets form, use them for a milder garlic taste.

When these little bulblets form, use them for a milder garlic taste.

I plant garlic in late October or  early November. Work plenty of compost into soil. Start with good soil and fertilizer isn’t needed.

Don’t worry about planted garlic cloves freezing. They are a ok. This garlic was harvested  late June. Last year it was harvested in mid July.

Most of the garlic heads are plump, unblemished and about 2″ in diameter. I will make pickled garlic and add some fresh cloves the the herb flavored white wine vinegar. But please, please do not store raw garlic in olive oil. It can kill you.

Storing your abundant garlic harvest

If raw garlic is stored in oil at room temperature, botulism (clostridium botulinum) develops quickly. It can be deadly. Even if raw garlic in olive oil is in the fridge for an extended period, it can kill you. Just don’t do it. Ever.

Today’s Harvest Basket 7/14

This is a small garden with a bit of many different vegetables.

green beans, red okra, a pepper variety show, two kinds of cucumbers, red onions,  scallions, Chinese cabbage.

Chinese cabbage  will become sesame slaw and veggie spring rolls.

Beans, okra, peppers, cucumbers, onions, cabbage

A  bit of a an overgrown garden. I pulled enough red onions to make a jar of two of pickled red onions.

There are a few pods of red okra, not enough to cook or add to a recipe. Maybe in a day or two I’ll have enough peppers and okra for a pot of gumbo.

Two kinds of cucumbers are growing in the garden. I like the long skinny English cucumbers* that grow about 12″ long. It’s thin-skinned, never bitter, very mild and crisp.

The smaller, more prolific pickling cucumbers** are also good eating. These are the ones used for bread and butter pickles. If I don’t have enough from my garden for a small batch of pickles, I’ll buy more at the farmers market.

The bells and Anaheim peppers are almost ready for picking. But the ones I’ve started picking are those little Padrón peppers. These small bright green peppers. Padrón peppers are from Padrón in the province of A Coruña, Galicia, in northwestern Spain.

Only about one out of ten of the small green peppers from Spain are wildly hot, L :Padrón and R: Red Okra

Padrón peppers are usually served as tapas and a bit like playing Russian roulette. Most are mild, but occasionally you’ll bite into a fiery hot one.

Tapas

Blistered Padrón Peppers

1/2 pound peppers, washed and dried

1 Tablespoon of good olive oil

Flaky sea salt

Try these peppers cooked on a grill pan or big hot skillet.  Once the peppers are clean and dry and the grill pan is hot.

Add oil and peppers to a bowl and toss together. Grill of flash fry until the peppers a softened and blistered. Pour cooked peppers back into the bowl and toss with a course or flaky salt.

Serve warm. Good luck,

Napa or Nappa cabbage is a type of Chinese cabbage

Cole slaw at our house means using this cabbage with a mild sesame and vinaigrette  dressing, It’s good and it’s tasty the second day so, make extra. Try Martha’s recipe Napa Cabbage Slaw – Martha Stewart or, use your own favorite dressing.

Any kind of cabbage makes a great slaw with this rice vinegar and toasted sesame oil dressing. It’s good to make ahead and just let it marinate in the fridge.

Seed Source

* English Cucumber, Chelsea Prize and ** Pickling Cucumber, Endeavor from Renee’s Garden Seeds

 

 

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Today’s Harvest Basket 7/9

Green beans, cucumbers and, kale.

July 9, 2017. Plenty of heat, rain, weeds and green vegetables.

A couple of days of rain and the garden exploded into high production. The garden, patio and deck are thriving, herbs, veggies, weeds and all. The basket has cucumbers, green beans and kale.

Green Beans

Green beans (snap beans) are classed as being pole beans, growing 5′ or 6′ tall, or bush beans which only grow a foot or two. The bush beans do well as container plants and you can see the continuous blooms. I grow beans in the raised bed gardens and in planters on the deck.

Tonight’s dinner included those green beans with ham, onions and new potatoes.Snap beans are more productive for a longer time with regular picking. Use mulch to suppress weeds, preserve soil moisture and keep the beans cleaner.

As you harvest garden produce, immediately plant beans in empty rows to improve the soil.

Because beans fix nitrogen in the soil, they are great companion plants for kale, potatoes, carrots and, chard. Bush beans in my garden are growing  side by side with chard and carrots. As  I harvest the chard and carrots,  I’ll plant more green beans.

Cucumbers

After waiting  and waiting for homegrown cucumbers, I discovered four on the vine. Because the vines grow on a trellis, these vertical climbers don’t take up much space. When we’ve had our fill of fresh cucumbers, I’ll make a few jars of Bread and Butter Pickles.

Find recipes for pickles on my Pinterest page: Canning, preserving, pickling, smoking . Refrigerator pickles, canning recipes for Bread & Butter Pickles, and dill pickles are on the page.

Kale

Purple tinged kale is growing from self-sown seed. The leaves are mild and excellent in fresh salads. This is Red Russian, an heirloom kale.

Leaves are frilled, purple-veined and, deeply lobed like oak leaves. Tender, mild and sweet even in summer, but more colorful and sweeter after frost. Gives repeated harvests through a long season.  Ready in 55 days.

We are eating the kale fresh in a salad. My favorite way to use kale as a cooked vegetable is in green rice. Use kale and chard interchangeably in any spinach recipe.

I pulled a few Cipollini onions this morning. (Pronounced chip-oh-LEE-nee) They are curing with the other onions and garlic on the covered porch. As the stems fall over, I pull the onions and let them dry in the shade.

Our garden is mainly for fresh eating. But if we suddenly have too many green beans and kale to eat fresh, it’s easy to blanch and freeze a package or two.

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Mint Happens

Control this aggressive herb by planting it in a controlled space or between paving stones.

I just watched a friends YouTube “how to propagate mint plants.” A better story is how to control mint plants before they take over your garden.

Years ago I asked a friend for a start of his mint plant. Phil said no.

“Because we won’t be friends any more. When it takes over your garden and then your yard, you will hate me.

So, no. I won’t give you mint because I like you.”

I have 5 kinds of mint in my gardens these days. Each mint plant is in an assigned garden spot.

Mint In The Garden

These two mint plants are competing for sunshine and space with the near by lavender plants.

I plant  starter mint plants in long chimney tiles buried deep in the ground. The terracotta tubes help to control the rambling roots. Everyday, I snip off a sprig of mint from one of the plants to add to my tea.

Because I have plenty of mint, I generously use it in my cooking. Once you have a generous supply of mint, you will find ways to use it in your cooking. Plus, my bar tending skills  legendary since I mastered the mojito.

 

Growing and Caring For Mint Plants

Mint will do just fine on its own. No need to feed or water it. That would only encourage the plant to take over your world.

After overwintering in my zone 6, Southeast Missouri garden, the mint starts to come back in the spring.

Plant mint in containers with drainage holes. Sink the container in the ground. Leave the top of the container a few inches above ground level. Prune plants to keep stems in upright position. Stems that touch the ground will quickly root.

Winters and planting in containers control the spreading root systems. Its rhizomes, or roots, run underground and can send up shoots several feet from the mother plant.

To create more plants, place a sprig of mint in a glass of water until roots form.

Mint In The Kitchen

Mint is loaded with nutrients such as vitamin A, vitamin C, and some vitamin B2. It also has essential minerals such as manganese, copper, iron, potassium and calcium.Mint tea is said to aid in digestion and heartburn relief.

Mint Recipes

Tabbouleh

Dressed in good quality extra virgin olive oil and fresh lemon juice, chopped fresh parsley and mint combined with tomato, cucumber and bulgur. to show off summer’s best vegetables and herbs.

Mint pesto

Lemon mint pesto

4 cups lightly packed mint leaves,rinsed and spun dry
1/3 cup sunflower seeds or pepitas
2 medium cloves garlic minced
grated zest of one lemon
salt and black pepper to taste
1/3 cup olive oil, more if needed

Blend all ingredients except olive oil in a food processor until finely chopped. Slowly add the olive oil while the machine is running until the mint is a loose paste.

Include mint in any pesto recipe. Using mint leaves in addition to basil is exclusively to serve over marinated tomatoes, gazpacho, or in a salad dressing. Try mint pesto with garlic scapes or pea shoots.

 

The largest choice of mint is at RICHTERS HERBS   in Goodwood, ON, Canada  Tel. +1.905.640.6677  Fax. +1.905.640.6641 My favorites from them are Hillary’s Sweet Lemon Mint, Mojito Mint and, Peppermint Mint.

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Today’s Double Harvest Basket 6/20 & 6/26

2017  Garlic Harvest in a zone 6, southeast Missouri garden. The bulbs are ready to lift mid to late June every year.  A week later, the garlic harvest has doubled.

Garlic 6/20

Freshly dug garlic needs to dry and cure before storage. The scapes go into white wine vinegar.

Perhaps the smallest garlic harvest I’ve had in years. There is one more little late patch to harvest, but this is the bulk of the 2017 garlic crop.

Pickled garlic mellows to a very mild flavor with time.

The garlic heads are smaller this year. After the garlic cries on the covered porch for a couple of days, I braid the bigger heads. The rest is roasted or pickled.

While cloves of garlic are bound for jars of kosher dills, Small cloves of pickled garlic are ideal for antipasta plates and veggie/pickles dishes.

More Garlic 6/26

Late harvest garlic was much bigger. This harvest weighed about 50% more

There are now 50 to 60 good-sized heads, That’s about a years worth because we use about a head every week of the year. Sometimes less, sometimes more, plus a lot goes into sauces, pickles, and roasted then frozen.

1 week later we’ve doubled the garlic harvest.

Garlic Scapes

Garlic scapes are the spring bonus for growing your own garlic.

The first garlic related harvest of the season is clipping the scapes, or flower heads, from the plants.

Garlic scapes were plentiful because I planted mostly hard neck garlic. One week, I found garlic scapes at the farmers market for $2 a bunch. One of my favorite seasonal meals garlic scape pesto.

I add a few scapes into a bottle of good white wine vinegar. By this winter, it will become a premium herb vinegar. It’s mellowed garlic vinegar is almost sweet.

Sexy Food

Make pesto using garlic scapes instead of, or in addition to, basil. Serve with Pappardelle, broad, flat pasta noodles, similar to wide fettuccine. (The name derives from the verb “pappare”, to gobble up.) This really is OMG food.

If I was served a dish like fresh garlic scape pesto over homemade Pappardelle, it would be unforgettable gold star dish. It’s adult rated food. Once you put it in your mouth, you will know how an Italian dish can be 4 Star And x rated at the same time.

To Make Pesto: Puree the garlic scapes, sunflower seeds, Parmesan, salt, and pepper in a food processor until finely chopped. With the motor running, drizzle the olive oil through the opening.

How to Grow and Harvest Organic Garlic

Gently lift garlic and move to the shade.

Growing your own garlic is easy and takes very little space.

Your also get to select the type of garlic you grow, very mild or hot and pungent.

Save your biggest and best garlic head to replant in the fall. Never buy garlic again.

These smaller heads of garlic are roasted. Then, the softened bulbs squeezed into teaspoonful portions and frozen for later use.

Mild, roasted garlic is not over powering or hot to the taste. It easily blends into any recipe. Perfect for pasta sauces or garlic toast. Try it. You will never be with out fresh, local garlic.

I purchased my garlic from Southern Exposure Seed Exchange. They have a variety of hard and soft neck garlic. While I keep the best variety that I grow, It’s fun to try other types of garlic. I tend select the milder varieties and long keepers.

This fall, plant a variety of garlic. That imported no-name variety purchased at the grocery store will be your last choice.

 

 

 

 

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Today’s Harvest Basket 6 /12, 6/16

Squash blossoms and herbs

No more complaining about too many zucchini. Pick the flowers to prevent zucchini squash overload.

Pick zucchini blossoms in the morning.

Today’s harvest basket is loaded with big yellow flowers, blooms from the zucchini plant.

Fragile and short-lived squash blossoms are pricey, if you can find them at the farmers market. Any kind of squash can be used in this gourmet dish.

Add the flowers to pasta primavera, salads or omelets. Fried squash blossoms are a big restaurant hit. My favorite is baked, stuffed squash blossoms.

There is a monster squash plant in my garden.

By monster I mean, it has completely taken over the 4 ft. x 4 ft. raised bed and is creeping out several feet on all sides of the bed. It is a squash blossom factory.

The monster sized squash plant is a volunteer plant that I don’t recognize from any seed catalog. The new 4×4 raised bed is filled with lots of compost, garden waste and kitchen scraps that I’ve added since last fall. This spring, the monster squash plant appeared.

I have well-behaved zucchini plants growing in containers on the deck. The monster squash plant’s only purpose is to produce flowers. I don’t want more zucchini squash, for heaven’s sake.

Pick flowers in the morning. Rinse and hold in cool water until time to prepare. Freshly picked flowers will stay fresh for a couple of days when wrapped in damp paper towels stored in the refrigerator.

The only purpose of this squash plant is to produce blossoms. I did not grow this zucchini for squash. Collect blooms every day or two.

Oven Roasted Stuffed Zucchini Flowers

Remove the stamen from the flower.

Yield: Serves 4

Ingredients:
  • 12 zucchini blossoms, center pistil or stamens removed
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh herbs (such as parsley, basil, thyme, mint)
  • 2 tablespoons pepitas and/or sunflower seeds
  • ½ cup ricotta
  • 1 egg
  • salt and pepper (optional)
  • olive oil, for drizzling

 

Add 1 or 2 teaspoons of cheese mixture.

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly oil a baking sheet or line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
  2. Gently remove the stamen from the center of the flowers.
  3. Combine the ricotta, herbs, pepitas, sunflower seeds and egg together. Season with salt and pepper (optional).
  4. Carefully open the blossoms and stuff with the 1-2 teaspoons of ricotta mixture per flower depending on the size of the flower. Gently twist the flower at the end to enclose the filling.Lay stuffed zucchini flowers on prepared sheet pan or baking dish and drizzle with olive oil.
  5. Bake for 25 or 30 minutes, or until the baby squash is tender-crisp and blossom starts to brown on bottom.

Suggestions. Add 1 Tablespoon garlic pesto or any pesto to ricotta mixture instead of chopped herbs. Serve warm squash blossoms with pasta sauce on the side for dipping.

I grow zucchini from seed in containers. Container Zucchini Astia  from Renee’s Garden. Serve roasted, sautéed, grilled or baked.

Pick squash when about 5″ or 6″long.

 

Too many zucchini? Go To: my Pinterest board Zucchini Everything

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Today’s Harvest Basket 6/12

It’s all green

All three of these vegetables were started from Renee’s Garden Seed.

Pak Choi, Green Beans, Chinese cabbage.

We are mostly eating out of the garden this month, because I set my own personal challenge. I’m cooking everything we eat this month, no eating out. It’s my choice because we have some amazing fresh, organic food.

This week we also have chard, onions, kale, squash blossoms and baby zucchini. I have all these good foods growing just a few feet away from the kitchen door. It tastes like every meal is a special occasion.

Tonight’s dinner includes Glazed Shiitakes With Bok Choy. The recipe is from the NYTimes Cooking section. From my Pinterest page, Zucchinni Everything you will find squash blossom recipes that are baked, not fried.

Trying to keep a head of the zucchini tsunami, we are picking plenty of squash blossoms for stuffing.

Rabbits love these long, thin green beans, so pole beans are ideal. The rabbits can’t get to the beans! As the bush beans come on, I’ll surround them with chicken wire.

One of my favorite green bean recipes is the dry stir fry method in Chinese restaurants. These are Pole Filet Beans, French Emerite. If I keep these very productive vines picked every day or two, it will be an extended season.

Beside the kitchen door are pots of herbs. You will be surprised how often you add fresh herbs if they are handy.

There are four kinds of mint near the patio. I keep them under control by cutting a generous spring from one plant every day for my tea.

You can still find herb starter plants at most garden centers. Buy a few herbs. It will turn an everyday meal into gourmet fare.

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Chervil – You Can GrowThat!

If you don’t grow your own, you probably will not have the privilege of  enjoying this fresh herb in the spring and fall. Chervil’s delicate anise flavor and dainty appearance make this a must grow herb for herb gardeners and foodies.

Chervil Anthriscus cerefolium, is a mild flavored, delicate cool season annual.

Direct seed chervil in early spring. Plant in filtered sun or light shade if climate is hot areas. Sow seeds an inch apart in well worked soil. Barely cover and keep soil moist. Germinates in 10 to 14 days.

Chervil grows to 10 -12 inches tall.  Once seeds germinate and grow 1 inch tall,   thin seedlings to one plant every 6 inches or so. Chervil has a delicate tap root and does not transplant well.

Plant chervil in partial shade or, in the spotty shade under other plants. It grows best in moist soil and cool spring weather.

I use chervil (pronounced SHER-vil) in delicate dishes, like tomorrows breakfast omelet. Sprigs of chervil will top the deviled eggs and, in a nonmayonnaise based potato salad.

As soon as the weather heats up, chervil plants bolt (flower and set seed) By June, my plants have set seed. After seeds are brown and dry, I’ll collect them to reseed in the fall and  next spring.

Although you probably aren’t going to eat enough chervil to make a nutritional impact, it is a flavorful source of calcium and potassium.

Chervil is a delicate annual, growing only in cool weather. It’s a great herb for succession planting. Add a few seed to the garden every week in the spring to extend the season as long as possible.

Fines Herbes

Add fresh chopped chervil at the last-minute to enhance to bright flavor in any dish.

The famous French herb blend uses chervil. The combo includes chervil,  parsley, chives and French tarragon. Fines herbes (pronounced feens-erb) is best used fresh because the herbs lose a lot of flavor when dried.

 

 

 

Remember, anything you grow as an early spring crop can be grown  fall crop. Sometimes veggies are even more successful since the soil is already warm.

Chervil Herb Butter

One of the best ways to preserve chervil is in butter.

  • 1 stick of butter
  • 1 Tablespoon finely chopped chervil
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice

Blend lemon juice, and chervil into softened butter. shape butter into a log and chill. Refrigerate or freeze butter log.

Chervil is sometimes used as a tarragon substitute. When cooking with chervil, add to dishes at the ending of cooking to preserve the delicate flavor.

Use chervil or chervil butter in omelets and scrambled eggs.

Companion plant chervil near cabbages and kale. Chervil is said to help repel slugs. It is easy to grow as a container plant.

Chervil is a delicate herb with a short season. It’s rare that you will find it in the market. If you want to enjoy this herb, it’s best to grow it from seed. Make sure to save some seed so you can grow it again in the fall.

adding mixed herbs to the pot outside the kitchen door. Fresh Fines Herbs are always at the ready.

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Today’s Harvest Basket 6/4

Last of the lettuce.

Salad and stir fry ingredients

Picked the last of the lettuce today. The lettuce, radish and green onion will make a salad topped with strawberry poppy-seed salad dressing. Sweet local strawberries make the bright pink dressing.

Today’s harvest: kale, mustard, lettuce, peas, green onions, radish.

Fresh, red ripe local berries make this dressing bright pink. It looks like food coloring is added. There is no onion, usually found in poppy-seed dressing.

Strawberry Lime Poppy-seed salad dressing

1/4 cup chopped strawberries
1/4 cup lime juice (about 2 limes)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 Tablespoon honey
1 Tablespoon poppy seeds

salt and pepper to taste

Combine all the ingredients except poppy seeds and blend till pureed and emulsified. Stir in poppy seeds.

Heads Up

Zucchini plants are loaded with golden blossoms. Zucchini Everything is my collection of zucchini recipes.

Zucchini is on the way.

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