Category Archives: Plants From Seed

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.

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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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You can Grow that: Beans!

Try one last crop: beans.

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Plant a few beans every two weeks for a steady supply of green beans this summer. photo: PBH

Plant a few beans and see what happens. photo: PBH

Gardening is always a gamble. This late in the year, you may or may not have time to get in another crop or two. One gamble I’m willing to make it is beans.

A few cents worth of bean seed might or might not have time to produce a crop. You may have some seed left over. Take a chance on the seed in the clearance rack. Or just grab a hand full of dried pinto beans from the kitchen cabinet.

green beans

Mascotte French Filet Bean plants are small enough for hanging baskets.

I’m gambling that if I water and weed my little bean patch, I’ll end up with a bonus crop of fresh green beans. If an early freeze hits the area, that’s OK too. Just turn those bean plants into the soil.

Either way, you get fresh green beans or you get improved soil ready and waiting for spring planting.

Beans are nitrogen-fixing plants. They draw nitrogen from the air and make it available to the soil. By adding nitrogen to the soil, the N of NPK in fertilizer, you are enriching the soil for the next crop you plant.

Purple Hyacinth Bean Flowering Vine Seeds

Purple Hyacinth Bean Flowering Vine looks like a pole snap beans with scarlet flowers.

Some plants that fix nitrogen into the soil are legumes, like peanuts, clover, beans, alfalfa. Beans are fasting growing legumes. It will cost you little or nothing to poke a few seed in the ground.

French Green Beans Almondine

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Today’s Harvest Basket

Today's Harvest Basket

Three squash: light green Clarimore, Golden Dawn yellow and dark green, almost black, Raven zucchini.

“Pot of Gold” Chard, 3 kinds of zucchini, Chinese cabbage.

 

Soon to be Green Rice, Zucchini cake, and Chinese chicken salad.

 

  • Chard, sweet, mild

This deep green chard with golden stems, is tender and never bitter. Plus, it is beautiful. I’m a chard fan and prefer it to kale. A favorite chard recipe is green rice. It is easy to double the recipe, make two casseroles and freeze one for fall.

Substitute chard for spinach in any recipe. Many versions of this old classic are on the internet. I’ve made many versions of what I call Green Rice Casserole.

Spinach-Rice Casserole inspired by the Moosewood Cookbook by Mollie Katzen. Serves 4 – 6

4 cups cooked rice (white or brown)
2 cups raw, chopped chard
1 or 2 cloves minced garlic
3 tablespoons butter (or, coconut oil)
4 beaten eggs
1 cup milk (or almond milk or, soy milk)
1 1/2 cups grated cheddar
1/4 cup chopped mixed fresh herbs like parsley, chervil, basil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 cup chopped walnuts

Saute’ onions and garlic, in butter (or oil). When onions are soft, add spinach or chard or kale and salt. Cook 2 minutes. (Or use drained, frozen chopped spinach, thawed)

Combine the onion mixture with the  rice, eggs, milk, cheese, herbs, nutmeg,  and chopped nuts. Spread into a sprayed casserole.

Bake, covered, 25 minutes at 350 degrees F. Uncover and bake 10 more minutes.

This is Container Chard, “Pot of Gold,” an exclusive from Renee’s Garden Seed. Chard is packed with vitamins A, C, and K, as well as magnesium, potassium, and iron.

  • Ah, Zucchini!

Zucchini, I’ve discovered, is much easy to keep at reasonable sizes if you growIMG_1357 container varieties. Look for specially bred zucchini plants designed container growing. Tender, small squash are perfect for lightly grilling or roasting.

Thin skinned, baby zucchini are tasty eaten raw. Perfect to include in a fresh Pasta Primavera.

  • Chinese Cabbage

Nappa Chinese CabbageChinese Cabbage will be a main ingredient in Chinese chicken salad, Kim Chee, cole slaw. Thanks to the milder summer weather and plenty of rain, I still have a couple for cabbages to harvest. It’s very unusual to have these plants so late in the season.

7/13

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Today’s Harvest Basket

Zucchini and cucumbers, plus fresh dill

The July zucchini explosion is here

Three kinds of zucchini - I know - what was I thinking?

Three kinds of zucchini – I know – what was I thinking?

At last, I picked cucumbers today, three long, thin-skinned English cucumbers. They are my favorites English Cucumber, “Chelsea Prize”, which is an exclusive from Renee’s Garden Seed.

Cucumber season is never long enough. When the little cucumbers finally arrive in a couple of weeks, I’ll make a few pickles. But, these slender, sweet fleshed Chelsea Prize cukes are best for fresh eating.

Visit Zucchini Everything on Pinterest or try this simple cake to use up a big zucchini.

One recipe makes three cakes zucchini, carrot or apple  Yes,  the recipe really calls for 4 cups of zucchini (!), carrots, or apples. It is a beautiful cake with flecks of both zucchini and carrots.

While I have plenty of zucchini and carrots, I’ll make a couple of these cakes to freeze.

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Today’s Harvest Basket

Early summer harvest

Red and white onions, hard neck garlic, two varieties of zucchini, Chinese cabbage.
6/22

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Napa or Nappa cabbage (Brassica rapa subsp. pekinensis or Brassica rapa Pekinensis Group) is a type of Chinese cabbage. In the kitchen, cabbage becomes Kim Chi, slaw, stir-fries and Chinese chicken salad.

I pulled up the garlic today. It is probably half the harvest of last year and the bulbs are a lot smaller. My guess is that the garlic bulbs just didn’t get enough water. It is Chesnok Red Hardneck Garlic.IMG_0717

How to grow and harvest organic garlic

Chesnok Red is the best baking garlic. Not a hot garlic, Chesnok is easy peel and will keep for about 6 months.  To stretch the harvest, I roast garlic and freeze it in little cubes. Also, I pickle small jars of peeled bulbs to use later in the year.

The big bonus to growing your own garlic, is that I have plenty of garlic on hand for salsa, spaghetti sauce, dill pickles, soup and pesto.

pickled garlic

How to store and use homegrown garlic and onions

And so it begins

Zucchini season

It's Zucchini season

It’s Zucchini season

Be prepared for the summer squash explosion. My Pinterest has amazing zucchini recipes.

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Zucchini, courgette, summer squash

Find the best zucchini cake recipe on Zucchini Everything at Pinterest. And you have to try the Zuni Cafe zucchini pickles.

If you make just one zucchini recipe, Zucchini Cake with Crunchy Lemon Glaze by David Lebovitz is a must. Can you believe, this guy has to BUY zucchini to make this cake?  See Zucchini Everything

lemon glazed zucchini cake

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Today’s Harvest Basket

Early garden harvests

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Green beans, baby carrots, garlic scapes. lettuce, radishes and radish flowers.

Garlic scapes are used in pesto and pickled.

Garlic scapes are green stems and unopened flower buds of hard-neck garlic varieties.

Scapes have a mild garlic flavor and a slight sweetness, which makes them a prized addition in the kitchen. You can find them in the early summer at farmers’ markets. If you grow your own garlic, trim the scapes off before their flowers open.

This forces the plant to focus on bulb.

6/6

A gardeners final day of winter.

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.

White and sweet potatoes make this rich pork stew an even hardier winter fare.

White and sweet potatoes make this rich pork stew an even hardier winter fare.

 

 

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.

Home grown tomatoes, garlic and peppers enhance the flavors of pork chili.

Home grown tomatoes, garlic and peppers enhance the flavors of pork chili. photo PBH

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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)

We need more salsa, crushed tomatoes, spaghetti sauce, sun dried tomatoes, even more tomato soup.

We need more salsa, crushed tomatoes, spaghetti sauce, sun dried tomatoes, even more tomato soup.

Today, I think, “I can never have too many tomatoes.” In August, that will be a different story.

Paste tomatoes, Arkansas traveler, Giant Martian, Gold Medal

Paste tomatoes, Arkansas traveler, Giant Martian, Gold Medal

August:

“What was I thinking!?”

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day November 2015

GBBD 11/2015

Velvety red Zinnia

Velvety red Zinnia

One more bloom before the winter.

Encore azaleas. I know. In November.

Encore azaleas. I know. In November.

 

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.

 

 

 

 

A few more last blooms of the season:

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Dozens of the little butterflies visit daily. I worry that they should be gone by now…

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.

And then maybe just one more…

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Campfire™ Fireburst Bidens hybrid

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A trial plant, Campfire™ Fireburst Bidens hybrid from Proven Winners.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

Last Rose…

I posted one of theroses acouple of weeks ago and said "last rose of the year" but then the precious, fragrant rose quickly followed.

I posted one of these roses a couple of weeks ago and said “last rose of the year” but then this precious, fragrant rose quickly followed.

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”

Vegetables Too

I love that I am still eating garden tomatoes and basil in mid November.

The last big one.

The last big one. It’s not pretty, but it was tasty tonight. Yellow Brandywine.

This basket full of chard will become my version of spinach lasagne. The seed was from Renee's Garden.

This basket full of chard will become my version of lasagne. The seed was from Renee’s Garden.

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.

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day with this post. For more Bloom Day posts from gardens around the world, visit May Dreams Gardens

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