Archive for the ‘Oh Grow Up!’ Category

Today’s Harvest Basket 8/22/23


2014
08.24

Eggplant, chard, green beans – Today’s Harvest Basket August 22, 2014

Pinks and purples make  this outstanding plant ideal for containers,  and any where you need a vibrant splash of color.

Pinks and purples make this outstanding chard and eggplant ideal for containers, and any where you need a vibrant splash of color.

Tomatoes and peppers sometimes seem to reign supreme over August. All those reds, oranges, yellows seem to take over. These are the container grown vegetables  the deck.

Peppermint stick

Peppermint stick chard has beautiful, vibrant green leaves, with bold peppermint stick colored stalks. It is pretty enough to be seen in the flower gardens and in container plantings. Peppermint stick chard is a new offering and an Exclusive from Renee’s Garden.

Peppermint stick chard is as good in the peppermint stick chard is as good in the ornamental garden as it is in the vegetable garden.

Peppermint stick chard is as good in the peppermint stick chard is as good in the ornamental garden as it is in the vegetable garden.

This variety is bolt resistant and has been growing in containers all summer.

Baby leaves have served as a substitute for lettuce in a sandwich and salad. It is best combined with other greens to make a mixed greens salad bowl. Add some of these leaves to a spinach salad.

Any dish that calls for cooked spinach will work with chard. The full size leaves make an excellent green rice casserole. Saute the chopped stems and add them to the dish.

Some variety of chard is growing in my garden most of the year. In the hottest part of summer, chard does well in the shade of taller plants. When container grown flowers are gone for the summer, poke a few chard seed in the pots for color.

Over the years, I’ve grown all seven of the varieties that Renee’s Garden offers. I like to combos in the Neon Glow and Bright Lights chard. But the one that really stands out and seems to do best in my garden is the Pot of Gold.

Those yellow stems are the color of gold finches. Plant just a few seed in the shade of caged tomato plants or trellised vines. When a little chard is handy, it’s easy to incorporate into a lot of dishes.

Green beans

I grow green beans differently than my grandmother. Her goal was to process a lot of food for winter eating. My goal is to have fresh green beans for as long as possible. Plant a few feet of the row every two weeks.

green beans are always best fresh.

green beans are always best fresh.

Here, at the end of August, I am still harvesting and planting beans. I’ll plant a few beans the first couple of weeks in September. I might even end up with fresh green beans for your Thanksgiving table.

Those late beans could freeze. That’s OK. The frost-killed plants are still good for the soil. I may have wasted a few pennies worth of seed.

The big payoff is that I’ll be picking fresh green beans, long after most folks have quit gardening for the year.

 

 

 

Today’s Harvest Basket 8/11/14


2014
08.12

Today’s Harvest Basket August 11, 2014

Squash and tomatoes, plus a fruit jar full of herb cuttings. Mint and parsley will go into tabouleh.

Today's Harvest Basket 8: 11: 14

Mint in upper right, Italian flat leafed parsley in lower left.

Baby zucchini

The monster zucchini are now under control. I’m picking them at 7″ or so. Sliced lengthways and brushed with a hint of roasted garlic olive oil, these little tender squash and so, so good on the grill (or roasted in the oven)

In August, when the garden is in high production, I can easily be a vegetarian. That big yellow tomato weighs about a pound and a half.

Late blight has taken over most of the garden.

Late blight has taken over most of the tomatoes in the garden.

Yellow tomatoes

I hope to get one last flush of tomatoes before the plants succumb to late blight. Each of the tomatoes in this photo weigh well over a pound.

Heirloom tomatoes do not have the disease resistance that many hybrids do. But I challenge you to find a sweeter or prettier tomato than Gold Medal.

They are susceptible to late blight. I had the same problem a couple of years a go when I planted them.

But wait till I slice one open for you. Lovely meaty, yellow flesh with a splash of red radiating from the center.

Gold Medal Seedling

Gold Medal Seedling.

Generally speaking, it is not true that yellow tomatoes are less acid than red tomatoes. However, this big yellow tomato is less acid than most tomatoes.

Supertunia® Black Cherry Petunia hybrid


2014
08.09

Look for this plant

Coming spring 2015

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Proven Winners Supertunia® Black Cherry Petunia photo PBH

This dark and rich red petunia is a hummingbird magnet. Look for this new Black Cherry bloomer next spring.

Supertunia® Black Cherry Petunia

Supertunia® Black Cherry Petunia photo Proven Winners

Black Cherry is self-cleaning, meaning no deadheading. All hanging baskets require regular watering to thrive. Plan on watering daily during the hottest part of the summer. Or, consider setting up a simple irrigation system.

Start with a slow release fertilizer when you build your baskets. Give the new roots plenty of moisture holding soiless potting mix.

Black Cherry makes a beautiful in a hanging basket. It slightly mounds in the basket and then tumbles over the edges, spilling nonstop blooms  over the basket Spring to first frost.

Proven Winners sent Supertunia® Black Cherry Petunia and several other plants for trial. I love the rich colored flowers that draw butterflies and hummers all summer. Once these petunias are available locally, I can imagine a row of these hanging baskets bringing birds and butterflies to the patio.

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Indigo Charm photo Proven Winner

Black Cherry Petunia hybrid is one of the newest Proven Winners Supertunias®. Make a note to look for Black Cherry in the spring. I am also looking forward to seeing the new Supertunia Indigo Charm. Here is a preview.

Last year I had a trial sample of a Torenia hybrid that was meant for shade. Once I found a shady place for it, I kind of forgot about it.

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Grape-O-Licious Wishbone Flower PBH

New this year

is a plant Catalina® Grape-O-Licious Wishbone Flower (Torenia hybrid) I learned just what a valuable landscape plant this is when I visited the Overland Park Arboretum & Botanical Gardens.

This plant is so much more versatile than I imagined. It was planted in shade, but also part shade and part sun. This low growing annual spreads out along the sidewalk, as a beautiful groundcover and splash of color that could compliment an endless variety of gardenscapes.

 

 

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Overland Park Arboretum & Botanical Gardens. PBH

Overland Park Arboretum & Botanical Gardens

Catalina® Grape-O-Licious Wishbone Flower Torenia hybrid

Look for new Wishbone Flowers this spring

Today’s Harvest Basket 8/4/14


2014
08.06

Today’s Harvest Basket

August 4, 2014

Leeks, peppers, Roma tomatoes, white cucumber.

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Just dived into the garden to grab leeks.

These are Lancelot Leeks. I just go out and pick the leeks as I need them. Leek starts were planted the same time as onion starts. Onions were harvested in July, but leeks can just stay in the ground. I like not having to store the leeks in the refrigerator taking up space for months.

The leeks I harvested today will be used in a herb vinegar.  Using a well seasoned herb vinegar will bring back a taste of the garden flavors at the peek of garden season.

Leeks bring a suttle onion flavor to any dish.

Leeks bring a subtle onion flavor to any dish.

 

Leeks

Lancelot Leeks. They get 12 – 16 inches tall with blue-green foliage. My leeks have not had any disease or pest problems. They are always tender. While they are small, they can be used as scallions.

Leeks are the earliest crops in my garden and they are the last to be harvested. Plant leek and onion starts in February or March. Starts are small transplants. Poke a pencil or chop stick in the ground, then drop the little leek plants in the hole. Leave the top just barely showing above  the ground. Gently firm the soil and water.

Leeks are related to onions, chives garlic and shallots. If onions are just too strong for you, leeks may be a good replacement in recipes. I’ll dig up the leeks this winter as we get into cold weather and soup season.

You can keep them in the garden, just heavily mulch after it gets cold. They are long keepers and can stay in your crisper for a month or two. If you don’t thin you will use them up by then, Just freeze them for later use.

Freezing leeks is easy.  Cut off the tough green leaves. Trim and save only an inch or two of the green part. Trim off the roots, wash, slice  lengthwise or chop and blanch for 1 minute in boiling water to set the color. Drain and plunge into ice water to stop the cooking. Drain and dry leeks on cotton flour sack or paper towels.

When the leeks are dry, put them in plastic zip bags. Dried leeks will freeze in loose pieces.  They will be much easier to use when frozen.

Use leeks, still frozen. Add the leeks to soups, stews, roasting vegetables. The best known recipe is potato leek soup, which is wonderful using frozen leeks.

Beautiful Italian Tomatoes

"Italian Pompeii"

“Italian Pompeii”

These paste tomatoes are from Renee’s Garden.  I grow them almost every year. Pompeii grow well in my big containers. I’ve been growing these for years. This season was the first time I’ve ever had a problem. Early on, this plant got blossom end rot.

It rained so much this spring, I was thinking of building and ark. Once things got back to normal, no more BER. As you can see. they are beautiful. All of the tomatoes are over 4 ounces, some are over 5 ounces. They are meaty paste tomatoes that I freeze. This winter I’ll have time to slow cook them into a rich tomato sauce. There are more ideas like this on Renee’s Garden site.

Plum Tomato “Italian Pompeii”

Today’s Harvest Basket 8/3/14


2014
08.04

Today’s Harvest Basket August 3, 2014

squash, cherry tomatoes, peppers

spaghetti squash, peppers, cherry tomato

spaghetti squash, peppers, cherry tomato

The new torpedo shaped peppers look a lot like big ol’ jalapeno. The fun thing is the peppers look like they would be hot but they are not. The walls are thinner than a bell pepper but every bit as sweet.

They start out as shiny, clover green peppers. They gradually turn dark and finally turn red when fully ripe. There is not a hint of heat in the Felicity pepper.

Raspberries

Sweet red raspberries are coming on. They are so fragile, so easily crushed, that the raspberries never made it to the harvest basket. I hand carried the berries inside, gave them a quick rinse and put them in a ramekin in the refrigerator.

Chilled raspberries were served to the chief hole digger and raspberry bed builder tonight. And, OK. I admit it, I may have had one or two.

We planted 5 raspberry plants last year. This year, I am reaping the rewards. These delicate and sweet berries are the first, and it looks like more are coming.

first harvest raspberries

First few Heritage raspberries.

Today’s Harvest Basket 8/3/14 v2


2014
08.04

August 3, 2014
Zucchini

The big zucchini best used as an ingredient in compost.

The big zucchini best used as an ingredient in compost.

Just Kidding.

This is the zucchini that got away. It’s so big it stretches from end to end of the harvest basket. These monster squash  are seedy, not good and almost impossible to cut. Pick these giant squash as soon as you discover them. Otherwise, the plant will have accomplished its job and stop producing little zucchini.

Get rid of this squash. Bury it in your garden, chuck it in the compost, or, if your neighbor leaves his car unlocked, put it in his backseat, on the floorboard. It could be weeks before he discovers it and by then, you will have forgotten about it. That perplexing look on your face will help convince him you did not do it.

There are more and better zucchini (and eggplant) ideas on my Pinterest Courgette and Aubergine (zucchini & eggplant)

FYI

Zucchini Heaven tells about the best zucchini cake on the planet.

This salsa recipe uses a lot of grated zucchini: Enchilada salsa with zucchini

Homegrown and homemade Ratatouille

eggplant, zucchini, tomatoes, peppers

Ratatouille home-grown and homemade  – my version of Julia Child’s classic vegetable stew. You can grow every ingredient in this French classic. Double the recipe and freeze half for a cold and snowy day.

Todays Harvest Basket 8/1/2014


2014
08.02

August 1, 2014

Tomatoes, zucchini, cucumbers, bell peppers.

Todays Harvest Basket 8:1:2014II

Loads of cherry tomatoes will be used to make tabouleh.

 Cherry Tomato

Cherry tomatoes are the first to ripen, sometimes a month ahead of the big tomatoes. By the time plenty of beef steaks are producing, Cherry tomatoes can go right into the food dehydrater, becoming sun-dried tomatoes.

I planted a sun gold cherry tomato. A friend sent seed for the white cherry and, the red tomato is a volunteer.

The Sun Gold is sweet and prolific. It would have been all the little cherry tomatoes we could eat with plenty to dehydrate as sun-dried tomatoes. But, they are so good that a lot of them never make it to the kitchen. We eat some of them as we pick them.

Where the Sun Gold grew last year, a volunteer came up this spring. Curiosity is the only reason this little guy was allowed to grow. It may be just like one of sun gold’s parents, but who knows? The volunteer did not grow up to be a Sun Gold.

No surprise there. Sun Gold F1 means this is a tomato hybrid. Don’t save the seed, because there’s no guarantee the plant will produce true Sun Gold tomatoes.

That volunteer tomato is producing loads of 1″ red cherry tomatoes. They are not very sweet but there sure are lots of them.

The white one is a sweet, ivory colored cherry tomato. Not a heavy producer, but it is pretty in a pint of mixed color cherry tomatoes. My best guess is that this white cherry tomato is Snow White.

Traditionally tabouleh uses full-sized tomatoes, finely chopped parsley, mint, and onion, and seasoned with olive oil, lemon juice, and salt. I make it my own by using cherry tomatoes.

Zucchini bread is in the oven.

Zucchini bread is in the oven. Can you smell it?

That dark zucchini hiding under all the other produce, is Raven. Usually I pick them when they are 6 or 7 inches long. This one got away from me while I was away for the weekend.

These dark green, smooth-skinned summer squash are a Renee’s Exclusive. I will use this hefty zucchini grated into zucchini cake and chocolate zucchini bread.

There a dozens of suggestions for using zucchini on my Pinterest page
zucchini & eggplant

Carrots


2014
07.24
Grow a variety of carrots to discover which grow best in your garden.

Grow a variety of carrots to discover which grow best in your garden.

Carrots

Grow carrots in the spring garden and again as a fall crop.

If you ever wanted to grow carrots, fall carrots are planted in August or early September in my neck of the woods. (Zone 6A, Southern Missouri, USA.)  I get carrot seed at Nichols Garden Nursery. 

Nichols Garden Nursery has a big selection of carrot seed. The seed is very affordable. That bargain price tempts me to try an assortment of carrots. Check out their online catalog, if you are tempted to grow fall carrots. July and August are the time to order seed and get carrots growing for a fall harvest. If stored properly, carrot seed can be used for up to three years.

Nichols even has few carrot selections that are under $2. Carrot seed under two bucks and it’s enough seed for at least two and probably three years. (Unless you are raising rabbits in the same garden.)

Some days it looks like my back yard is a nature sanctuary for rabbits. They eat and sleep in my garden when I am not vigilant. When I do remember to turn on the Scarecrow motion-activated sprinkler, the rabbits stay away.

ScareCrow

ScareCrow

The Contech Electronics scarecrow motion-activated sprinkler is a humane animal deterrent. The scarecrow detects and sprays any animal movement within a 1000-square-foot area day and night.

When I do not remember to turn off  that little water blast, I suddenly get hit with a refreshing spray. It’s more fun than some of the carnival rides at the state fair. Especially when it is a surprise.

Find the scarecrow locally or online just type “scarecrow motion-activated sprinkler.”

Read more about carrotsHow to troubleshoot problems growing carrots and cabbages and University of Missouri Extension, Frequently Asked Vegetable Questions is very helpful. Extension recommends planting a 5 to 10 feet per person for fresh eating. Plan to grow 10 to 15 feet per person, if you are going to process carrots for year round eating.

Bright orange Baltimore Carrots picked 6", but would continue to grow to 12"

Bright orange Baltimore Carrots picked 6″.

Baltimore carrots are beautiful, bright orange carrots. They are sweet  and crunchy. These carrots are about 6″ long.

Harvest Carrots: any time their color is bright. This is when their flavor and texture are optimum. Carrots can tolerate a light frost. Irrigate well the day before harvest to ensure the roots have absorbed their maximum capacity of water. Store at 34°F and 95% relative humidity.

All of these carrots were pulled up at one time. They ranged in size from 2-inches to 8-inches. I’ll toss the baby carrots into a mixed vegetable refrigerator pickle jar.

I like raw carrots. Homegrown and picked after only a couple of frosts, carrots are sweeter than any grocery store carrot you have eaten.

Cooked carrots have their advantages. Some of the nutrients in lightly cooked carrots are more available to the body than the raw carrots. Cooking carrots will break down the tough cellular walls of carrots, making some nutrients more useable to the body.

The first batch of full-sized homegrown carrots, are a celebration of carrot growing success. That means carrot cake or morning-glory muffins. If there are more fall carrots, they will go into  beef stew, vegetable soup, pot roast.

So, come grow carrots with me this fall. If you grew up with a clay soil garden, You’ve probably never had much success with carrots. But building a raised bed for your raised bed, well that is a carrot’s dream come true.

Carrot Boxes – The Raised Bed for Raised Beds

In this Missouri Gardener Magazine story, I write about carrot boxes. That is the secret to long straight carrots.

Build a raised bed fast!

Yaya carrots had the widest size range. All the seed was sown at the same time.

Yaya carrots had the widest size range. All the seed was sown at the same time.

If I could have left these Yaya carrots in the garden, it would have been great to stretch out the carrot harvest over a few more weeks.

Learn more: Grow 2 crops of carrots this season

 

 

 

 

 

Today’s Harvest Basket 6/4/14


2014
07.05

July 4, 2014

Zukes, cukes, and carrots

Enough cucumbers for a small batch of pickles.

Enough cucumbers for a small batch of pickles.

Cucumbers are in full production and these will become a small batch of pickles tomorrow. I pulled a few “test” carrots. Summer carrots are sizing up and the little cherry tomatoes are starting to come on.

Once the Sun Gold cherry tomatoes start to over take our ability to eat them fresh, they will be dehydrated for winter use.

Pickles

Mean while, one these two varieties of cucumbers are going into garlic dill pickles, and the other for refrigerator pickles.

About refrigerator pickles: Every year I make Jacques Pepin’s pickled vegetables recipe from Jacques Pepin’s Simple and Healthy Cooking by Jacques Pepin  (1994) It is an old cookbook, but I still use it, especially when I have a garden full of fresh produce.

From the garden, I’ll add the baby carrots, green beans, garlic, bell peppers, dill and onions.

This old cookbook has been used and reused until it is falling apart. The book is held together with rubber bands at this stage. I still prefer paper cookbooks over ebooks. I do have a couple of cookbooks on the Kindle, but most are good ol hard cover cookbooks.

Home grown cucumbers are the best way to avoid the slick, waxy coating on grocery store cucumbers.

Home grown cucumbers are the best way to avoid the slick, waxy coating on grocery store cucumbers.

 

White Wonder heirloom cucumber and those foot long organic Chinese cucumbers, “Suyo Long” aren’t the only cucumbers growing in my garden.

Those short little Kirby-like picklers are getting a late start, since I was trying to stretch out the production times.

Most of the white cucumbers weigh in close to a pound. Since they are just 6″ to 6 1/2″ long, that is a pretty solid cuke. They are firm and crisp, good for fresh eating and pickling. Pick them promptly right at 6″ of smaller and there is no need to peel. Wait, and the peel becomes tough and bitter.

 

 

Trellis these long cucumbers to get the straightest cukes.

Trellis these long cucumbers to get the straightest cukes.

Do you know this crisp pickle tip?

There’s an enzyme in the blossom that can make the pickle soft and unsafe to eat. Cut at least a 1/16-inch slice off the blossom end and discard.

and

Avoid waxed cucumbers for pickling. The brine or pickling solution can not penetrate the waxy coating.

I get the heirloom White Wonder cucumber seed from Nichols Garden Nursery.

Renee’s Garden has the organic Chinese cucumbers, “Suyo Long.”

Daffodils and Tulips


2014
04.19

Daffodils

this is infront of the porch. You can see these when you walking  on the next street over..

This is in front of the porch. You can see these when you walking on the next street over.  Photo by Patsy Bell Hobson

Not all daffodils are jonquils but all jonquils are daffodils.

Daffodil, narcissus or Jonquil?

  • “daffodil” refers to the large-flowered varieties,

  • “narcissus” to small-flowered and early blooming types bearing clusters of blossoms,

  • “Jonquil” denotes N. jonquils, often with fragrant, yellow flowers

What is the difference between daffodils and narcissus? They are the same. Narcissus is the Latin or botanical name for all daffodils. Daffodil is the common name for the genus Narcissus.

Old House Gardens has heirloom bulbs and will consume hours of your time reading and learning about these rare beauties.

One of my favorite bulb buying sites because daffodils and tulips just need to be planted in mass Color Blends.

Tulips

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Sunrise shines on these big Darwin tulips, especially beautiful in the early morning sun. photo by Patsy Bell Hobson

 In the catalog, blue tulips are advertised but the tulip that arrives on you front porch will be lavender.

There is no such thing as a blue tulip. Some look blue and are described as blue, but they are lilac or violet.

You won’t find truly black tulips either. Some tulips are very dark, like eggplants. They can look black in certain light, but black tulips do not exist.

Tulipa is a genus of bulbous flowering plants in the family Liliaceae.

Plant tulips anytime October through December – any time before the ground freezes. Feed tulips in the early spring, before they bloom.

 Stroll GardenIMG_6814: Grape hyacinth, some wild tulips, late daffodils.

 

Yellow tulips and daffodils, front porch.

Morning tulips2

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Spring flowering bulb collection named Aladdin’s Carpet, The wild tulips blend of six of these beauties with three muscari and a dwarf daffodil. Tulips from Colorblends.

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