Monthly Archives: May 2009

Friday PhotoEssay

Family of 4 Late MayThe Family of 4 Garden is looking green, lush, and absolutely scrumptious! The beets have perked back up after being thinned out, and lots of them have dime-sized beets developing!

Snake in Tomato TwineThe snake is hanging out (literally!) in the tomato twine this week. The tomatoes have more than doubled their size in the last week. I think I should sit out there and watch them grow!

Tomato RowThe row of cherry tomatoes is looking great! I get excited about tomatoes just looking at them.

BeansThe beans are starting to look better. I gave them some fertilizer, since they were looking a bit yellow, and then I sprayed them yesterday morning. The beans had been besieged by Bean Leaf Beetles and Flea Beetles. I was hoping the plants would “outgrow” the damage – in other words, grow faster than the munching insects – but they haven’t. I sprayed them with Permethrin, which is the synthetic form of pyrethrin (an extract of chrysanthemum leaves). I chose the synthetic route over neem oil or pyrethrin because I felt the population of insects was too high to get satisfactory control using the organic products.

Red CabbageRed cabbage in jail?

No, this is the cabbage behind the tomato trellis. I hope the cabbage grows fast so we can pull it out to give the tomatoes room to grow.

Have a great weekend!

Plant a Row for the Hungry

logo_parOur plethora of lettuce and salad greens this week reminded me that I haven’t pushed our Plant a Row for the Hungry program on the blog.

Plant a Row for the Hungry is a program all over the U.S. sponsored by the Garden Writers Association that encourages gardeners to plant an extra row in the garden and donate their extra produce to local food banks.

This is the 10th year we have been supporting this program here in Sedgwick County. Last year 47,801 pounds of produce was donated to the Kansas Food Bank. We hope to have another record breaking year this year!

You can drop off produce donations at any of the following locations around Wichita:

Kansas Food Bank

1919 E. Douglas

Augusta Ace Home Center

316 W 7th Ave, Augusta

Brady Nursery

11200 W. Kellogg

Hillside Nursery

2200 S. Hillside

Hillside Feed and Seed

1805 S. Hillside

Johnson’s Garden Centers

802 N. Ridge Rd.

21st & Woodlawn

2707 W. 13th

Valley Feed & Seed

1903 S. Meridian

When you donate, please keep in mind that it does take a day or two for the Food Bank to get the produce distributed, so don’t bring something that is already rotting!

Eating Your Weeds?

Maybe it was my upbringing on a Wisconsin dairy farm with a father who loved nature or maybe it was working for a farm that regularly sold unusual edibles to restaurants, but this article from the Wall Street Journal is not shocking to me. Maybe it is to some of you? I will say that my experience eating weeds is that they are not nearly as delicious as normal domesticated vegetables.

Cooking with Swiss Chard

Swiss ChardOne of the vegetables in the Family of 4 Garden that I mentioned yesterday is Swiss Chard. One of the reasons we included Swiss Chard in the Family of 4 Garden is because it is a leafy green vegetable that will grow all spring, summer, fall, and has the ability to be over-wintered. However, few people are familiar with it and have some good recipes for it.

I personally have never cooked Swiss Chard, although I have used the young leaves in salads. Swiss Chard can be used in a manner similar to spinach when the leaves are younger, but it has a earthier flavor (similar to beets or beet greens).

However, I have found some recipes that sound very delicious for cooking with Swiss Chard. Keep in mind when looking for recipes that there are recipes that focus more on using the stalks and some that focus more on using the leaves. Some recipes use both. The Swiss Chard we harvested yesterday is still fairly young, so it only has small stalks.

Here are some recipes that I look forward to trying with Swiss Chard:

Sauteed Swiss Chard

Very Simple Sauteed Swiss Chard (Food Network)

Spicy Swiss Chard (or Spinach)

Bacon and Swiss Chard Pasta (What isn’t good with bacon and pasta?!?)

These recipes are all fairly simple and straight-forward. If you go searching (and really love cooking), you can find tons of more complex recipes including rack of lamb, tarts, gratins, stews, and sauteed dishes with lots of gourmet ingredients.

Going Salad Crazy!

The garden is yielding more salad every week. The Salad Garden is producing a lot and the Family of 4 garden isn’t far behind.

This week we did a final harvest on the two rows of mesclun in the Family of 4 Garden, since they are starting to bolt. We also harvested a couple rows of lettuce and almost all the remaining radishes.

Bags of Salad These bags are full of lettuce, mesclun, radishes, Swiss Chard, and beet greens from the Salad Garden and the Family of 4 Garden.

From the Family of 4 Garden, we harvested about 1.5 pounds of lettuces and mesclun. We also harvested 1 bunch of radishes.

Something new from the Family of 4 Garden this week is the Swiss Chard and beet greens. The Swiss Chard was planted in mid-April, and this week was big enough to harvest some of the largest leaves. The beets we planted at the Baby Beet Greenssame time needed to be thinned, so we thinned them to 1 plant every 1-2 inches. Some of the plants were starting to develop tiny beets about the size of peas. Beet greens are also great for salads, so nothing got thrown away! We harvested 1 bunch of Swiss Chard leaves and about a 1.25 pounds of baby beet greens.

Swiss Chard and beet greens can be used for cooking in much the same way you use spinach. Just be aware to expect an “earthier” flavor!

Today’s Family of 4 Garden Totals:

1.5 lbs lettuce and salad mix = $15.31

1 bunch of radishes = $1.40

1 bunch of Swiss Chard = $2.50

1.25 pounds of baby beet greens (with some tiny beets) = $12.75  Most grocery stores only carry baby beet greens as part of salad mixes, not individually. I’ll price them at the same rate as I price the salad mix, unless I find something more comparable.

Today’s tentative harvest total comes out to $31.96. That brings our running total to about $71.50!