Tag Archives: onions

Grow your own leeks, garlic and onions

A Little Leek Love

Known best in French cooking, leeks are often overlooked in our home gardens. Leek Potato Soup, or vichyssoise, is a cold soup that every French chef has mastered. I use leeks in potato leek soup, three onion pie, and vegetable soup.

Leeks are expensive at the grocery store but you can grow them for pennies. They take up little space, have very few pest or disease problems and can be grown in containers.

Plant leeks deeper than onions. Continue to mulch plants as they grow to increase the tender white part.

Plant leeks deeper than onions. Continue to mulch plants as they grow to increase the tender white part.

Grow leeks from seed or starts. It will probably be your first late-winter or early spring crop. Onions, leeks, garlic can take a late snow or freeze.

Tender young leeks can be used as scallions or green onions.

Plant starts deep er than onions. The deeper, the better able to retain moisture. Select well worked soil with plenty of organic matter.

As leeks grow, continue to mound soil over the stems to blanch them, creating more of the white, tender part of leek. Consistent moisture will encourage tender leeks. Thin leeks to grow six inches apart.

Use only the tender green and white parts.

Use only the tender green and white parts.

Grow vegetables – Make Soup

Grow your own soup. Garden fresh vegetables are loaded with nutrients and cost very little to make. If you don’t think you have time to make soup, make a double batch and freeze half for a busy day. Make soup in the crock pot. Soup usually tastes even better the next day. What could be faster than that?

Chili, chicken and noodle soup, vegetable soup and stews of any kind are better and usually have less salt when made from scratch. I love soup and will be sharing some soup gardening and soup making tips from time to time.

Potato Leek Soup

Jazz up your favorite potato  or cauliflower soup recipe by adding leeks.

Potato soup is a winter time favorite of mine. The leeks in the garden will continue to grow and I will pull them as I need them for Potato Leek soup. Simply add leeks or replace the onions in your favorite potato soup recipe.

I make this big batch because this soup is even better the next day. You can make half this recipe, but I bet you will wish you made more.

Basic Potato Soup

Makes about 8 servings (about 2 quarts).

  • 6 medium potatoes, peeled and sliced
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • water to cover
  • 6 celery ribs, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped OR, chop 2 or 3 leeks
  • 6 tablespoons butter, cubed
  • 6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1-1/2 cups milk
  • nutmeg to garnish

Directions:

In a large sauce pot, cover chopped potatoes and carrots with water. Cook in water until fork tender.

Drain and set aside carrots and potatoes, reserving cooking water.

In a Dutch oven, while potatoes are cooking, saute onion and celery in butter until tender. Sprinkle in flour.

Slowly add milk. Bring to gentle boil, stirring until thickened. Add carrots and potatoes, salt and pepper. Gradually add cooking water until the soup in the desired thickness. Taste and adjust seasonings. For smoother soup, use a potato masher or stick blender. This will thicken the soup and create a smoother texture. Add additional cooking water or milk to taste.

Grate a little nutmeg to garnish soup.

potato leek soup with sausage

Potato and Leek soup with kielbasa.

Go Gourmet:

Top your soup as you would a loaded baked potato, crispy bacon, grated cheddar cheese, green onions, a dollop of sour cream or a pat of butter.

Bake: Use baked potatoes instead of boiling potatoes.

Veggies: Add a cup of frozen or fresh vegetables in the last few minutes of cooking to thoroughly heat through all ingredients. Try green peas, chopped kale, corn

Meat: Plan on adding a half a strip of crumbled bacon on top of soup. Use crumbled chorizo or Italian sausage

Herbs: Stir in chopped parsley, celery leaves, chives or thyme.

Enrich: texture and flavor with 4 ounces of sour cream, plain Greek yogurt, cream, butter. Add a little at a time.

Leeks, chopped

Chop tender young leeks to freeze for soups and casseroles.

If you do not like onions, try leeks. They are  milder and easier to digest. These mild alliums are beneficial for cardiovascular and digestive health. Research points to leek’s  potential to fight cancer.

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Garden beer bread

Made from scratch and better than the mix. Add Cheddar, onions, peppers for color and flavor.

While you have a garden bounty, make two loaves and freeze one for later.

beer bread

I make this beer bread using the peppers and onions from my garden.

charred peppers

Make this recipe your own. Use your favorite cheese, whatever beer you like and any pepper combo that suites your palette.

Garden Beer Bread

by Patsy Bell Hobson

Makes one loaf.
Preheat oven to 375-degrees.

beer bread3 cups flour
1 Tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1/3 cup sugar
½ cup shredded cheese
½ cup chopped peppers
½ cup chopped onion
1 (12 ounce) bottle of beer, minus one swig
3 Tablespoons butter, melted

Whisk together in a large bowl, flour , baking powder, salt and sugar. Add cheese peppers and onion. Pour in the bottle of beer.
Using a wooden spoon, mix until the dough forms. Don’t over mix. Dough will have lumps.

Pour dough into a heavily buttered large loaf pan. The dough will be wet.

Melt butter, pour over loaf.

Bake for 50 – 60 minutes, until top is golden brown. Or, until toothpick comes out clean from center.

Let it cool 10 minutes and then turn the bread out on a wire rack. Try to let it cool before devouring.

garlic and onionsChefs notes

  • cheese – Choose your favorite cheese or combination of cheese to make ½ cup.
  • peppers – Combine chopped mild and hot peppers to suit your taste. (Bell peppers and a jalapeno for example.)
  • onions – Your choice of sweet or hot onions. I include a green onion or chives for color and flavor.

You will want to eat this bread still hot from the oven. It’s good that way, but it will crumble and fall apart. To slice and serve, wait for 30 minutes (or, until completely cool).

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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

IMG_0642

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

Today’s Harvest Basket 7/23/14

July 23, 2014

zucchini, tomatoes, mixed carrots, red onion

Tomatoes, squash, carrots, onions

Tomatoes, squash, carrots, onions.

Tomatoes and zucchini are picked every day. This is the secret to keeping the zucchini crop under control.

Pick zucchini every day or every other day.

Pick zucchini every day or every other day. The small ones are tender, no need to peel.

Onions are the first thing planted in the garden every year. Planting time is 4-6 weeks before the last average frost date. The garlic was planted last fall. So, onions are the first and last thing planted in my garden.

Most of the onions were lifted a couple of weeks ago. I found a few more of the sweet red onions today. These few onions were planted near cabbage and carrot companion plants.

The only alium remaining in the garden are leeks. I’ll just pull them up, as needed. Leeks can be harvested anytime.

 

Onions

Red Torpedo Tropea: Sweet, red, and mild flavored.

Torpedo shaped onions from Italy.

Torpedo shaped onions originally from Italy.

These open pollinated torpedo shaped sweet onions have a keeping potential of about three months.

This sweet onion comes from Tropea, Italy. Tropea is known for exquisite cooking and locally grown red onions. In Italy, 5 or 6 onions are braided together and tied on a nail for display.

Tropea don’t last long because they are so sweet. We use a lot more onions when we have plenty on hand. These are good cooked in recipes or raw in salad dishes.  To stretch out the Red Torpedo Onion season, make a jar of pickled onions to keep in the fridge.

Pickle these red onions in good white wine vinegar and end up with a jar of pink pickled onions. A perfect side served with sandwiches.

The pink onion flavored wine vinegar is the best thing to happen to homemade salad dressings. Add it to potato salads and coleslaw as well as topping cooked greens like spinach and collards.

Find pickled onion and pickled garlic recipes on my Pinterest page: canning, preserving, smoking.

Today’s Harvest Basket 6/29/14

June 29, 2014

cucumbers, squash, onions, tomato

Good thing we like cucumbers. We are picking them everyday.

Good thing we like cucumbers. We are picking them everyday. Five picked today.

The little 2″ diameter tomatoes are “stupice”. They produced the first tomatoes of the season, a month ahead of my usual tomatoes.

Yes, eventually we will have too many cucumbers. Soon I will make refrigerator pickles and keep a bowl of cucumbers and onion slices in herb vinegar all the time while we have them.

  • Organic Cucumber, Chinese Suyo Long
  • White Wonder heirloom Cucumber

There are two more kinds of cukes I am growing this year. One is the little Kerby-type, which got planted late. My all-time favorites, an English cucumber, which I am just wondering about and will go looking for tomorrow.

Eventually, I’ll can a few garlicy dill sandwich slices and peppery spears. Plus, if I could only make one pickle, it would be the famous bread and butter pickle.

Uncle Ebb got a few white cucumbers on a sales trip, he shared them with his mom, my grandmother.

She grew the white cukes and saved seed for some years. White wonder are very crisp. don’t let them get big because they get bitter and need to be peeled.

Nichols Garden Nursery offers seed for white wonder cucumbers and stupice tomatoes.

A packet of 25 White Wonder seed from Burpee is $3.95.  Nichols offers White Wonder cucumber seed about 45 Seeds for $1.85.

Stupice heirloom tomato will be your first tomato of the year.

Stupice heirloom tomato will be your first tomato of the year.

Stupice tomato

Bred in the former Czechoslovakia, stupice is lunchbox size.

Cold-tolerant tomatoes ripen red slightly oval. They get better and sweeter as the weather gets warmer.

Today’s Harvest Basket 6/12/14

June 12, 2014

Cabbage, lettuces, onions

We are still getting lots of rain and spring temperatures.

We are still getting lots of rain and spring temperatures. Photo by PBH

It is a joy to still have a variety of lettuces and beautiful salads from the garden. I just step out the kitchen door, and across the drive to my kitchen garden.

We call the vegetable garden the circle garden because it is the interior of a circle drive. The space was originally full of rocks and trash. With a lot of time and work, the garden had become very productive. You can find plenty of earthworms in each of the raised beds.

Bug proof cabbage

I planted four little cabbage plant stars in four different places in the garden this spring. My hope was to raise a head or two of cabbage before the worms and slugs moved in. Because I don’t spray, cabbages and broccoli are always a disappointment.

But this year, one of the cabbages just seemed to be bug proof. It amazed me so that I took a photo of the big uneaten cabbage leaves.

Big uneaten cabbage leaves.

Big uneaten cabbage leaves. photo PBH

The cabbage in Today’s Harvest Basket will become cole slaw. I make it with a vinegar dressing and not the one with mayonnaise.

Dressing: whisk together

  • 1/4 cup white wine herb vinegar
  • 2 pkts stevia (or 2 Tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon each, celery seeds, ground black pepper

Shred veggies, toss in large bowl with dressing.

  • 3 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 small head of cabbage, finely sliced.
  • 1 carrot, grated

If you have fresh cilantro or dill and parsley, chop and toss in a few fresh herbs

Make it your own by adding shredded rainbow carrots, bell pepper, red pepper flakes

 

 Lettuces

“Garden Ferns” leaf lettuce is juicy and still producing. This tender lance shaped leaf lettuce is an excellent addition to any salad.

“Redina” organic, French Red Leaf lettuce.  Very large rosettes of frilled & ruffled deep red leaves.

I get these beautiful leaf lettuce seeds at Renee’s Garden.

 

 

 

Todays Harvest Basket

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Onions, tomatoes, celery

celery, onions, tomatoes

First time to grow celery and it is a heavy feeder and needs lots of water. It should be blanched. The celery was very green (because I did not blanch it.) It is not bitter, but it should be, because I really forgot about it. These plants were in the shade of other plants (roses, tomatoes.)

The celery should have been picked weeks ago before the big heat wave. But even the bugs and disease ignored the celery. So sometimes, even when you do everything wrong, garden plants will thrive anyway.

This was the last of the onions in the garden.  A few saladette tomatoes, the Indigo Rose tomatoes are ripe every day.

 

Todays Harvest June 27, 2012

Todays harvest included onions, carrots, chard and Chinese cabbage

 

I’ll make cole slaw out of the cabbage. It is a lighter version of slaw. I never make that mayo based dressing any more.

The chard will go into green rice.

Todays Harvest Basket

June 16, 2012

carrots, chard, wasabi arugula, red onions

My gartden harvest June 16, 2012 photo by PBH

 

It’s a small garden, after all there are only two of us. Plus, I am lucky enough to share with neighbor Patty and Neighbor Dorothy. We are all looking forward to tomatoes.

We can usually eat everything fresh. If not, there is a vegetable pickle crock in the fridge. Or, occasionally, I will freeze or dehydrate the surplus.

Green Beans, bugs and bunnies

Garden Report 2012

Green Beans are a summer favorite I seldom eat in winter. Because as you know, everything tastes better home grown and garden fresh.

This recipe is made from last summers dried tomatoes and pesto. This summers green beans and onions. photo: PBH

Green Beans

Green beans are grown from Renee’s Garden seed. I pulled the onions from my garden the last week of June. At first the beans were being eaten up by bugs and bunnies.

The bunnies came and went. Bigger gardens next door or a neighborhood full of cats and dogs sent the bunnies on their way. Repeated Safer’s Soap sprays slowed down the bugs.

I’m growing “Tricolor Bush” and “Tricolor Pole”. Why bush and pole? because the pole beans are ready about a week after the bush beans. I’ll keep replanting beans and hopefully get another crop or two here in Missouri.

We love pickled green beans. These long straight beans are meant to be stuffed into tall skinny jars and pickled. They are refrigerator pickles, meant to be eaten fresh out of the jar. My crisp pickled beans are not cooked by the long process of canning.

Maybe we will have enough to freeze a few of these three colors of long straight green beans. The multi colored beans are beautiful in winter time vegetable soup.

Earlier this summer I grew a great crop of French, “Rolande” bush beans. Extra-slim,

“Roland” is a “haricot vert” of filet bean. Pick them and cook them. These straight, skinny beans are tender and need very little cooking.

long and deep green filet or “haricot vert” snap beans. These are a long, skinny French bean that does very well in my zone 6A home garden.

They grew in a square 4′ x 4′ garden. Every week for four weeks I planted another quarter of the garden. It kept us in fresh beans and a bit more to share with Neighbor Patty.

They are extra-crispy, making it possible for Jules and I to come to a middle ground in the kitchen. One of us likes Southern style “cooked to death” green beans and the other likes the California style “crispy and full of vitamins” version.

Green Beans are meant for sucession planting. Planting one patch and a little later planting a few more beans will stretch out fresh green bean season spring to fall. The best way is to plant a few beans, or part of a row every week.

When the first plants are finished producing beans, cut them down, mow them or, snip off the plants. Replant that spot again with more green beans.  If you want to freeze or can a lot of beans at once, this method is not for you.

If I have a few too many green beans, I can share them with the neighbor. Or, it is quick to blanch and freeze a quart size plastic zipper lock bag of green beans. Next, I’ll plant cow peas.

Onions

Had to do a little research on how to harvest and store onions because I’ve never had much luck growing them before. It was not a great crop. But the variety of onions were so much more successful than ever before.

Red onions are still in the ground. As are the leeks and shallots. Garlic was lifted mid June.

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