Wednesday April 13, 2016
Peaches, blueberries and strawberries are blooming and beautiful this year. The raspberries and blackberries are not blooming yet.
You don’t need acres of land to enjoy home-grown fruit. My peach orchard is one dwarf tree. The blueberry patch is four containers on the steps of the deck. The strawberry field is a 4′ square raised bed.
The donut peach is a white fleshed freestone, just 2¼-2¾” in diameter. Sweet fruit and heavy producer the years we survive long, harsh winters and late frosts. Even without a peach crop, this beautiful peach blossom floral display every spring is reason enough to own this tree.
I got my peach tree from Stark Brothers. The tree is about 8′ tall. Because it is a self-pollinating tree, Stark® Saturn Peach is a great choice for small space gardens.
Ozarks Beauty Strawberry plants are loaded with white flowers
Scarlet red Ozarks Beauty is ever-bearing with a heavy, first wave of fruit. It should continue with a light production of berries through frost. After that early flush of fruit, strawberry production in my garden becomes occasional. Usually the wildlife score these occasional berry before I discover them.
I started with 25 plants in a 4′ x 4′ raised bed with one 3′ x 3′ tier. Plants were sparse. In this third year, the beds are lush and full of plants covered with blooms. It can take 2-3 years to really produce a good crop. So, this is the year! Maybe, in addition to strawberry shortcake, there will be enough for a small batch of strawberry freezer jam.
Four containers of dwarf Tophat Blueberry plants are growing on the steps of the deck. In the second year on the deck, we had a mild winter and the blue berry bushes are all blooming this spring. If I don’t cover them, I’m sure the berries will be bird food.
I’m looking forward to picking a few full size ripe berries while sitting on the deck. The plants will get no more than 2′ tall. I the fall, I’ll prune my spindly plants to encourage them to get bushy.
These plants are from Gurney’s . You can usually get the dwarf bushes, from Jung or Stark Bro’s.
Picking a perfectly ripe, sun-warmed peach from the tree, gathering a hand full of the juicy raspberries, or popping a whole, sweet strawberry in your mouth is the essence of summer.
Home grown fruit is the best fruit you ever tasted. If you are fortunate to have extra fruit, make a jar of two of homemade jam. That jar of summer jam will need little or no sugar.
Home grown fruit is grown for flavor. It’s fragile, and meant to be eaten soon after harvest. Fresh fruit is the most nutritious and tender produce you can eat.
Stark Bro’s has been around since 1816. I’ve bought several fruit trees from Stark over the years. It’s a reliable company that stands behind their products. The confidence-building growing guides will get you started with home-grown fruit.
During the Stark Brothers 200th Anniversary, you can get some very good fruit trees and berries for under $20.
A slow cooked pork stew on a snowy day tastes even better loaded with foods from last summer’s garden. One tasty stew addition to the stew pot is sweet potatoes. Loaded with root vegetables potatoes and sweet potatoes, plus garlic, onions and carrots. Mild and sweet yellow sweet potatoes and homegrown garlic are from the garden.
From the summer farmers market: locally grown shiitake mushrooms – dried in the dehydrator and stored in plastic ziplock bags.
Home made tomato soup, several versions of stew and chili are wintertime mainstays here at the Hobson Estate.
As we wrap up winter, it’s inventory time for the deep freezer and pantry. We ran out of salsa around the first of the year. So, I need to grow more tomatoes (plus, onions, garlic, peppers, herbs)
Today, I think, “I can never have too many tomatoes.” In August, that will be a different story.
So amazing. It’s been a late, long garden season. I have many flowers this year that would have normally succumbed to frost by mid November. Not that I am complaining.
Anyway, The are three or four kinds of marigolds still blooming nonstop. Who has the heart to pull up such hardy colorful blooms? I want tell you what kind they are, I collect seed year after year. Be happy to share, if you want some seed.
I planted this hot little annual in a hanging basket this year, not the best choice. Next spring, I’ll grow this new Bidens in a mixed container of orange and yellow flowers.
David Austin’s Crown Princess Margareta ® is often the first bloomer and the last bloom among the full size roses. So, again, “Last rose of the season”
I love that I am still eating garden tomatoes and basil in mid November.
The beautiful plant is container chard, “Pot of Gold” from Renee’s Garden There are no flowers, but the colorful stalks make this plant pretty enough to be in the front porch bed.
It’s a non stop producer, never bitter, always beautiful. I won’t pull it up until a hard freeze kills the plants. Use chard just as you would spinach.
First frost in fall is as nerve-racking as the last frost date of spring. It’s no surprise to a gardener that the first frost is impending. But dang, one more warm week and I would have had a dozen more one-pound golden-yellow tomatoes.
Gathering herbs before frost. I’ll pick all tomatoes with any hint of color, decent size peppers, and eggplant.
A week or two more for fresh herbs and vegetables. Plus, I’ll make some casseroles to freeze. (Like the Court of Two Sisters eggplant casserole, Chunky vegetable soup, Ratatouille)
Then, this fall/winter, some home canned and frozen food we’ve accumulated all summer, will serve as comfort food on the coldest days.
Bring in basil cuttings, even if is a possibility it might reach.
Learn more about Hardy Fall Vegetables – Big beautiful leeks, leafy chard, sweet baby carrots are still in the garden.
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.
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…
Summer 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.
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.
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.
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.
The Neked Ladies or Surprise lilies have multiplied every year, becoming thicker and more beautiful.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Gazpacho is a cold vegetable soup. It’s a southern Spanish dish of blended fresh raw vegetables in a tomato base.
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.
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 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.
2 pounds tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
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
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.
PEEL 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.
CHIFFONADE 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.
Your garden in a bowl. Even better the next day. For thicker soup, add a bit of tomato paste as you adjust the seasoning.
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.