Category Archives: Plants From Seed

Today’s Harvest Basket 7/20

A rainbow of peppers both sweet, mild bells and mildly hot Anaheim and poblanos.

Yellow eggplants, chocolate, red and black bell peppers, butternut squash and Anaheim peppers

Today’s harvest basket is full of colorful peppers and eggplant. That means it’s time for ratatouille, a French vegetable dish  hardy enough to serve as an entrée.

I now have all the herbs and vegetables for ratatouille. There are faster but not better ways to make this French peasant stew, but Julia Child’s recipe is simply the best. Find the Ratatouille recipe in her cookbook Mastering The Art of French Cooking.

Try this vegetable dish that has summer squash, eggplant, and bell pepper tied together by a fresh tomato sauce. I add a few more herbs than Julia does but her classic recipe can be a springboard for your own version.

Green, red and black peppers all on the same plant.

All the pretty bell peppers are meant to be eaten fresh or chopped and frozen for winter cooking. I make lots of stuffed peppers and freeze some for quick comfort food this fall. Depending on the degree of ripeness, bell three peppers start out green and color as they ripen.

We always grow more than we can eat fresh so there will be plenty for freezing. Most peppers are chopped and can be added frozen to any cooked recipe. Also, some are cut in strips to use in fajitas and wraps.

Roasted peppers are quickly blistered on the grill, outside.

I’m roasting and peeling the hot peppers, Anaheim and poblanos. What we don’t use fresh, will be frozen in cubes for winter use. Many are going into pint jars of salsa.

Each ice-cube square in the plastic tray holds about the equivalent  of 1 or 2 roasted and chopped chili peppers. The frozen pepper cubes can be added to soups, chili, casseroles.

If you are growing heirloom peppers, it’s easy to save seed. Be sure to let one stay on the plant until big and fully ripe.

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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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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 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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Todays’s Harvest Basket 5/24

I gathered our dinner directly from the garden today.

Still gathering cool season crops. Peas, radishes, green onions, kale, chervil and cilantro.

The egg basket is over flowing, so we will have a picnic favorite, herb deviled egg with dinner tonight. I have lots to lacy-leaved chervil and picked extra for my morning omelet. Delicate chervil is only in the garden for another week or so. It is my favorite fair weather herb.

What’s for Dinner?

  • Kale salad with green onions, home-made herb vinaigrette, topped with hemp seeds and currants.
  • Deviled farm fresh eggs sprinkled with chervil and chives.
  • Open-faced radish sandwiches, a springtime-only special: Simply fresh thin-sliced sourdough or baguette, fresh butter, salt, thin sliced radishes.

Chervil Anthriscus cerefolium, mild flavored, delicate lacy leaves. If you don’t grow your own, you probably will not have the privilege of  enjoying this fresh herb in the spring and fall.

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

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, the 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.

Sweet and tender spring peas will be tossed into a stir-fry or used as dippers on a veggie tray.

2 Cool Seasons
Remember, anything you grow as an early spring crop can be grown a a fall crop. Sometimes veggies are even more successful since the soil is already warm. This fall, give peas a chance.

 

Spring kitchen bonus.

Pick chervil, chives and cilantro often, to encourage plant growth. Keep the cut stems in a glass of water on the kitchen counter, making it easy to add fresh herbs to any dish.

The peas, radish and herbs are grown from seed purchased at Renee’s Garden Seed.

When fresh herbs are not available, get Fines Herbes at Penzeys Spices .

My handy husband, Jeff, made the harvest basket.

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Today’s Harvest Basket 5/11/17

Spring greens

First basket of the season!

Baby turnips, green onions, cilantro and mustard greens. PBH

Baby turnips, green onions, cilantro and mustard greens, These little turnips will change your mind if you don’t like turnips. They are small, radish-sized Japanese turnips. Sweet and good raw, eaten like a radish, grated into a slaw or served on a tray of roasted root vegetables.

The seeds are from Renee’s Garden. Always order enough seed so you can grow a spring crop and a fall crop. It’s the only turnip I grow. They don’t take up much space and are ideal for succession planting. Great for filling in any blank spots in the garden.

(FYI, Savor The Luxury Of Growing Your Own. Aromatic Herbs 20% Off Through 5/31. Order cool season crops and the herbs to freeze or dry in the fall.)

The rest of the basket was mostly thinnings.

I thinned the mustard greens. This early in the season, they are mild, but still a little spicy.These  greens are tender for a quick stir-fry addition to any mix of leafy greens or add a couple of leaves into the salad bowl mix. Mustard greens are too hot for me, but a little in a mix of greens or salad greens will add a bit of sparkle.

I always plant onions too close, planning on thinning the green onions until they are 6 inches apart.  My thought, you can never have too many onions.

Red Torpedo Onions A favorite. Makes beautiful pickled onions.

Keep a few green onions chopped in the fridge when green onions are abundant. If the are ready to use, I use more onions in salads, loaded baked potatoes, potato salad, topping enchiladas.

Alliums, in my garden a red, white, Cipolini onions, leeks, garlic and chives. The fall-planted garlic looks like we will have a good crop this summer. Thinned baby leeks made the best onion soup this spring.

Cilantro is popping up every where from volunteer seed that made it through the winter. It is really growing like weeds between the beds and showing up in surrounding  raised beds.

Plant this herb a few seed every two weeks so you always have it for canning and recipes. Usually cilantro is long gone from the garden when tomato salsa making season happens in August.

Thy hand hath provided.com has a genius recipe  for Cilantro sauce, a condiment frozen in tiny portions, ready when ever you need. Gather up this fresh herb now and you will have all you need for you tomato and salsa recipes.  I faithfully return to this site when it is tomato soup canning time.

You will get better production and higher yields per plant with properly spaced plants.

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Radish Report

The vegetable garden update. See What’s Growing Now, Including Today’s Harvest Basket and Plant Tips

The first garden harvests every year will fill the salad bowl. By May,  there will be a steady source of radish, green onion and lettuce. I’m growing a lot of Sanguine Ameliore lettuce. Greens are on their way.

Lettuces, radish and onion are waiting to be thinned out in My Garden Post*.

Keep thinning chard, mustard and, kale. Those baby leaves will also go into the salad bowl.

Try growing Watermelon or “Beauty Heart” radish from China. Since they do best in cool weather, I may have to wait and replant in the fall. I’ll wait to see if I have any left.

When you order radish seed, order extra. They are always a good spring salad accent and I will always plant them in a fall garden. Red globe radishes have plenty of potassium, vitamin C and folate.

Because they come up so quickly, use radishes as row markers as you plant other vegetables in the garden. Mix them and plant in with lettuce and spinach greens. Peppery radish sprouts are great on salad or sandwiches.

Watermelon radishes go bigger than the traditional spring radish.

Other pink, red, purple radishes are coming up sparsely. A squirrel is digging them up fast than I plant them. But I continue to reseed and have covered the radish seed with chicken wire.

We have had a few prized crunchy radishes for salads. I’m waiting for the day there are enough radishes to serve with butter and bread.

Radish Sandwiches With Butter And Salt

Heavenly spring flavor, simply a baguette, butter, salt, radish and a few herbs. It’s a very French picnic recipe. Add chives or chervil and maybe a leaf or two of arugula for a sandwich.

First baguette, butter, salt, radish and chives sandwiches of the spring. PBH.

Nobody can do Radishes with Butter and Salt any better than Ina Garten. Her version is a lovely way to show off your beautiful whole radishes.

I’ll continue to plant radish seed until it gets too hot to grow them. Then, I’ll plant them again in September and October. Fall radishes are mild and crisp.

My beautiful radishes are from

Renee’s Garden SeedsThe finest heirloom, certified organic seeds for the home garden.

Mary’s Heirloom SeedsHeirloom, open-pollinated, non-gmo untreated & organic seeds

  • My Garden Post will be replanted with dwarf tomatoes and herbs for the summer. You can buy My Garden Post from this Oh! Grow Up Blog. We both benefit. You save money and I get credit for your order. Use this code: 50offMGP at checkout to save $50 for My Garden Post with Drip Irrigation.

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Pruning Time: Red Heart Rose Of Sharon

Big soft pink snow-ball buds bloom into giant white discs.

The last to come back, you may think it failed to survive the winter. But wait. Be patient. It will blooming in its own good time.

Before the branches begin to green up, prune them heavily, February is the ideal time.

 (Hibiscus syriacus ‘Red Heart’)

Summer long saucer-sized blooms

Red Heart Hibiscus, Hibiscus syriacus ‘Red Heart’, is an upright-growing shrub with large, single, saucer-shaped flowers of pure white with a scarlet center.

  • Mature size: 6-10′ wide, 8-12′ tall.
  • Flowers bloom from July until frost.
  • USDA Hardiness Zone: 5 – 8
  • Few serious insect or disease problems.
  • Medium to Dark Green foliage
  • called both Rose of Sharons or Altheas.
  • Widely adaptable to many soil conditions.

 

Red Heart Hibiscus can also be used as a hedge or screen. Hummingbirds love the flowers.

Those tight green buds produce hundreds of seeds. Seedlings randomly appear near the 8′ tall shrub in my from yard. In the fall, I collected a lot of the seed pods.

Care: Prune back heavily in the early spring.  Annual pruning creates increased shoot vigor and larger flowers.

 

Insect damage when the bud was rolled tight, created a natural pattern.

Even growing on the same plant, bloom oddities are a regular occurrence.

The Bible calls You by many names
each one giving a glimpse of Your glory.
Like a cut diamond radiating in the sun
with every facet depicting a glorious
aspect of Your Divine Nature.
Today I have thought of You as
‘The Rose of Sharon’

 

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Julia’s Ratatouille

The Ratatouille harvest basket.

Ratatouille makings. Tomato, eggplant, peppers, squash.

An old fashioned vegetable dish, ratatouille is a combination of all the things I grow in my garden. Julia’s Ratatouille is garden gold in your freezer.

Once you master a great dish like ratatouille, you become confident enough to try variations.

I can hear Julia Child talking about this dish. The full name of the stewed vegetable dish is Ratatouille Niçoise. Her recipe is the classic, start there and then adapt it to your taste.

It’s time to make ratatouille when there is an abundance of eggplant in the garden. Usually the last main crop vegetable to produce in my vegetable patch, eggplant is the star of my version. If your don’t like eggplant then leave it out of the recipe. 

This dish very quickly uses up the seasonal glut of produce that happens in August. By now, I have all the zucchini, tomatoes and eggplant that I can eat. I grow every vegetable that goes into this simple French peasant dish.

This dish is a celebration of my garden bounty. It’s a thanksgiving meal at the peak of the growing season.

Cabin fever cure

Make a double batch because this stew reheats well for the next day or hoard it for your lunches. Make this dish and freeze it. This winter, when the snow is falling,  a reheated ratatouille meal will taste like a garden party in your mouth.

Reading seed catalogs while eating a steamy bowl of home-grown and homemade ratatouille is a ritual guaranteed to cure cabin fever. That vegetable casserole inspires my wintertime seed order.

Julia’s Ratatouille is garden gold in your freezer, A true example of your garden prowess.This versital vegetable casserole can be a featured entre, a side dish, lunch for many cold winter days.

I freeze it in portions for one or two.Serve it over noodles or rice for a heartier meal. Add a slice of crusty bread. Make plans to go to Paris some day.

Here is my version:

Ratatouille home-grown and homemade  IMG_2132

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Today’s Harvest Basket

Wrapping up the summer garden.

Celery, baby leeks, carrots, red onion, white potatoes, mild little red peppers.

img_2557

You never know what you will get with carrots. This curvy carrot grew right next to the straight 10″ carrot in the basket.

As I clean up the vegetable beds, I discovered a few veggies that were overlooked during the earlier harvest. I found a few potatoes, a couple of carrots, a red onion and two tiny sweet peppers. While this may sound like the beginning of a stone soup story, it’s just end-of-summer garden clean up.

I planted a few celery plants but forgot about them hiding behind the hearty and fern like asparagus. Celery would have done much better if it had received fertilizer and mulch. You can see the many skinny little stalks.

That curvy carrot was a surprise, all the other carrots were long and straight. But they all taste the same.

What to do with leeks

Use the tender reen and white parts.

Use the tender green and white parts.

I gathered a few leeks while young and tender to clean, chop and freeze. These little leeks will go into soups, and a 3 onion pie. There are more leeks still in the garden. They will stay in the garden until I want to use them for soup or stuffing.

 

Leeks, chopped

Leeks can be frozen and later added directly to soups or casseroles.

You can continue to harvest leeks from the garden up until the soil freezes. Those few leeks will overwinter. Their giant globe shaped flowers will be amazing next summer. They attract pollinators and are a novel addition to a wildflower bouquet.

 

A little later into fall, I’ll plant garlic. I have a few tiny broccoli plants in the raised beds and pots. A window box of green beans are just coming up. So the pending rain is much-needed and I am grateful.

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