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July Saturday Sampler on the 13th

Our next Saturday Sampler will be this coming Saturday, July 13th. We will begin at 9 a.m. in the classroom area of the Demonstration Garden. The topic for this month is Basil. We have several different varieties of basil in the garden this year, so we are going to be looking at those different types and how they could be used for healthful cooking in your kitchen.

Remember, the farmers market is going on, so you should plan a little extra time to park and walk to the garden area, if you aren’t going to come early and shop!

No registration is required and the class is free, so come on out!

Friday PhotoEssay

Whew! It was a pretty hot week here. I’m looking forward to temperatures in the 80s next week. Let’s start out with our weekly overview of the garden.

The front bed still looks pretty bare, but I bet that by a month from now the sweet potatoes will have completely covered the soil. Just for fun, let’s see what the garden looked like at the end of May.

This is one of the pictures I took on May 31st. For one thing, the sky is sure a different color! In a month’s time, the garlic has gone from being the dominant feature of the landscape to being a faded remnant, while the tomatoes have turned into quite a jungle! It’s hard to see from this angle, but the eggplant are also quite a jungle.

Speaking of Eggplant, this is the ‘Orient Charm’ eggplant. I apologize for the horrid sun and shadows in the picture. It was giving me fits this morning. this is the long, Chinese type that has a pink/lavender blush.

The ‘Millionaire’ eggplant is already reaching the stage that I would term “quite prolific.” We harvested one on Tuesday and there’s another one ready today. I think by next Tuesday there will probably be several ready. We are going to need those eggplant recipes! Once we get a few more plants producing, I’ll have a post about harvesting eggplant.

Speaking of harvesting, I picked this small handful of green beans earlier in the week and found about twice this many today. By Tuesday it looks like there will be lots of green beans to pick! The purple ones don’t seem to have started producing yet.

The parsnips have  been looking a little bit strange, and on closer inspection yesterday it appears that they’ve got spider mites. Who knew that parsnips get spider mites? This is why we try new things! Anyway, when I was watering yesterday (we are currently handwatering the parsnips because the garlic in the rest of the bed is in dry-down phase), I turned the water up all the way and blasted them good with a hard stream of water. That is one way to combat spider mites, and the undersides of the leaves look much cleaner today. We’ll probably have to either do that or spray with neem oil for the duration, since they will be growing until fall.

This truss of Golden Honey Bunch tomatoes just keeps growing! (You should compare to the picture in last week’s photoessay!) How many tomatoes do you count on it now? I’m wondering if they are going to ripen as a whole truss or if they will ripen one or two at a time. If the catalog pictures are to be believed, they should ripen as a group.

This is one of our two beds of basil. I love the perfect mounds and the pyramid shape of the plants. The only thing that would make it better is if the Red Large Lettuce Leaf Basils (the one in the middle tier) were as red as they are advertised to be. Oh well, we can’t have everything!

Have a great weekend!

Friday PhotoEssay

Have you survived the first bout of heat this week? It is definitely a change for this year!

Here’s the view of the whole garden for the week. I took the picture Thursday afternoon, hence the full sun! Plants are getting bigger, especially the tomatoes, which seem to have doubled in size over the week. You can also see that the garlic and shallots are getting progressively more grey in color as they get closer to harvest. I am still taking the “whole garden” pictures from the other angles too, I just don’t want to spend the space looking at them here. I created a set on Flickr for them, and I’ll get them all added to the set eventually. That set is here.

Our sweet potato slips are here! I’ll have more about those next week, so stay tuned!

This Red Large Lettuce Leaf Basil is living up to its name in that it is purple/red and the leaves are getting huge. Whether it looks like lettuce leaves I will leave up to you. It does have a very funky appearance though, especially compared to your typical basils.

I cooked up something tasty this week using garlic scapes, fresh Maiskij garlic, shallot scapes, and some of the lemongrass I froze last fall. You’ll have to check back next week to see what I made! (Sorry, I know…so many future blog posts, so little time this week.)

As per usual, a couple weeks after putting out the wheat straw mulch, we have wheat seedlings growing! This really isn’t a big concern. It is easy to pull out and either let it dry on top of the mulch or add it to your compost bins. If you are more on top of things than we are, you would have watered your straw bale a couple weeks before mulching, let it sprout, then spread the mulch afterwards.

These are the tomatoes from the ‘Taxi’ plant. They sized up quickly over the weekend, although they still aren’t at full size. Unless one of the grape or cherry tomatoes comes on strong (a real possibility), my money is on this plant for having the first ripe tomato of the year.

Have a great weekend!

Grean Beans with Bread Crumbles

1 pound fresh green beans, washed and trimmed
½ cup water
¼ cup Italian-style seasoned bread crumbs
¼ cup olive oil Salt and pepper to taste
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon dried oregano
¼ teaspoon dried basil
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese

Combine green beans and ½ cup water in a medium sauce pan. Cover, and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium, and let beans cook for 10 minutes, or until tender. Drain well. Place beans in a medium serving bowl, and mix in bread crumbs, olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic powder, oregano and basil. Toss mixture until the beans are coated. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, and serve. Makes 4 servings.

Friday PhotoEssay

Another week, another cold snap. It looks like we may be in for that same weather pattern next week. UGH!

Here’s a little bit of spring cheer for you though:

I found this mini iris blooming and couldn’t resist picking one. When I went looking in response center cabinet for a small vase to use, I found this big martini glass. I have no idea what it was doing there, but I couldn’t resist using it for the vase!

Hmm…can you tell it’s been a while since we weeded last? Can you tell which is the shallot and which is the grass? I’ll give you a hint – wide and flat bright green leaves are one and the tubular blue-green leaves are the other!

There, that’s better! Now you can see the new growth coming from the center of the plant. It looks like some of the shoots are going to divide at least one more time.

Yes, this is the same lettuce from last week. It hasn’t grown a lot, but the new leaves are definitely another shade darker. There is a benefit to those random blasts of cold weather!

We are starting some of our basil varieties from seed this year rather than just buying the plants. I was supposed to plant them last week, but with our crazy weather I knew we weren’t going to be ready to put them outside until mid-May. Basil doesn’t grow quite as fast as tomatoes, but almost.

The radishes in the Root Vegetables garden are looking great, but these that we planted in the Kids’ Snack Garden look like they’ve been scorched. Not sure if it was sun or cold or wind, but the seed leaves are goners. Luckily it looks like the true leaves are going to be fine.

This is the third time I’ve tried to show you this picture. I was having trouble getting the bud in focus. This is a flower bud on one of the Red Beard Onions that we planted last fall. I keep expecting the flowers to burst forth, but I think the weather is holding things back.

Have a great weekend!