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Friday PhotoEssay

I almost forgot to put together a post today! I don’t know if I forgot it was Friday or just had too many other things going on.

The crazy tomato trellis, the sweet potatoes, and the sunflowers continue to hog the foreground of this view of the garden, although there’s a lot going on from the other side too. From a distance, everything is still looking great, although as you get closer things look a little more tired. I suspect that by a month from now, things will have changed drastically.

As you can see, the broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage are growing really well, as are the parsnips. The tomatoes and eggplant still look crazy, but they are definitely slowing down.

The turnips and fall radishes that we planted on Tuesday are already coming up! That’s a good sign. The beets, carrots, and spinach we should expect to be a little bit slower, but hopefully there will be some seedlings by next Friday.

After a couple weeks of only a few ripe tomatoes here and there, we suddenly have a whole bunch of ripe tomatoes again. I’m very impressed with the ‘Limmony’ heirloom. It had several ripe tomatoes on it this week, and there are virtually no cracks on them.

In contrast, the ‘Bella Rosa’ tomato has a lot of fruit set, nice large fruit, but such ghastly cracks that the tomatoes are virtually rotten before you pick them. As bad as some of those cracks are, even if we picked the fruit at the pink stage it would still be rotten by the time we wanted to use it.

The thyme garden is looking stupendous at this point. There are some very interesting differences in color, height/growth habit, and size of leaves. I just hope that the taller ones don’t completely choke out the shorter ones. The bright green variety in the front is the ‘Lime’ thyme. The thyme is so nice, we’ve been contemplating adding it to the docket for Saturday Sampler next month.

I was trying to get a picture of one of the cabbageworm moths flitting around, but ended up just getting this picture of the ‘Deadon’ cabbage. I know it’s not a very inspiring name, but the plants look great! This is the cabbage that is supposed to be red-green with savoy leaves. You can just see the faint hint of red right now. With the moths already flying around, we will be trying to be very proactive to keep the munching caterpillar hordes at bay.

The ‘Aztec Sun’ Tithonia in the Kids’ Snack Garden (this one isn’t a true sunflower) is blooming and looking great right now, although the plants are tall enough that we don’t see the flowers quite as well.

Have a great weekend!

Planting Fall Vegetables, Part 1

We planted the broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage into Bed 2 this week, as well as a couple plants of purple cauliflower and broccoli that are in the Kids’ Snack Garden. It may be a bit of a challenge to have a successful harvest from this group, although the long-range forecast looks excellent for a fall garden! The unfortunate thing is that there seem to be lots of insects around, including some of the Imported Cabbageworm moths. Between caterpillars and the “drought” in my office a couple weeks ago, some of the plants were a little sad. Luckily, we found enough good looking ones of almost all the varieties. The only variety that was a problem was the ‘Purple of Sicily’ heirloom cauliflower, which apparently had poor germination that I didn’t notice.

We planted the transplants 3 across in the bed, roughly lined up with emitters in the drip line (although we haven’t turned on the water in weeks!), and spaced more or less evenly across the bed. This gives each plant about 16″ of space, which is a little bit tight, but we are making up for it the other direction, allowing 24″ between varieties.

Here’s the entire bed after planting. We did add a little bit of fertilizer to the soil, because these are crops that really like a lot of nitrogen. We should be okay on that, but in this case I would rather be over than under. I’m also assuming that the rain may be leaching some of the nutrients out. We did not water everything, since the soil was moist and the plants had all been out in the rain overnight.

We also put a coating of Dipel Dust (Bacillus thuringiensis) on all the seedlings, since we’ve already had caterpillars. I really don’t want to lose the seedlings.

Here’s the corner we planted in the Kids’ Snack Garden. We planted a white cauliflower, a purple cauliflower, and a purple sprouting broccoli. Yes, I did have to pull out a couple of the cantaloupe plants to make a little more space. Yes, there were cantaloupes on them. Oops.

So, the varieties.

Broccoli

‘Santee’ Purple Sprouting Broccoli – This is a type of broccoli that puts out lots of smaller side shoots rather than a big head. The broccoli also has a darker purple tinge to it.

‘Apollo’ Sprouting Broccoli – Same as the ‘Santee’ but green. The sprouting broccoli is supposed to mature and produce sooner than the regular heads.

‘Arcadia’ Broccoli – Mid-season variety that is supposed to have good cold tolerance and produce nice side shoots as well as the main head.

‘Imperial’ Broccoli – This variety is more heat tolerant and grows slowly in cold weather. It will be interesting to compare the two varieties!

‘Purple Peacock’ Sprouting Broccoli (Kids’ Garden) – This is a broccoli-kale cross that already has neat leaves. You can eat the leaves or the loose heads.

Cauliflower

‘Veronica’ – This is a green, romanesco type cauliflower. The head is bright green, and instead of having the rounded heads it has very angular curds.

‘Amazing’ – This is your classic white cauliflower that has self-blanching wrapper leaves. (Often you have to tie up the leaves to get a nice white head.) It is supposed to have both heat and cold tolerance.

‘Cheddar’ – This is an orange cauliflower. We’ve grown it before, but in the spring.

‘Purple of Sicily’ – This is an heirloom variety that has purple heads. Because it is an heirloom, I’m expecting the heads to be more mottled purple and white rather than solidly purple.

‘Denali’ (Kids’ Garden) – Another white variety that has good heat and humidity tolerance. We’ll give the humidity part a test, that’s for sure!

‘Graffiti’ (Kids’ Garden) – This is a hybrid purple variety that is much more uniformly purple.

Cabbage

‘Famosa’ – This is a green, savoy cabbage. (Savoy basically means crinkly leaves.)

‘Ruby Perfection’ – A red, smooth leaf cabbage. It has round heads and is typically 4-6 pounds.

‘Tendersweet’ – A green cabbage that has flattened heads. It typically has thinner leaves and a very sweet flavor.

‘Deadon’ – This is a red-green savoy cabbage that gets more red with the cold and has very good cold tolerance. The recommendation is to harvest them in early winter after several frosts or freezes!

When we selected varieties, we tried to get a range of different varieties, while looking for those with characteristics that would help them be successful here in the fall. The challenge was if we should choose cold tolerance for the later part of the season or heat tolerance for the first part of the season!

Thinking about all these beautiful cabbages has me almost ready for fall!

Friday PhotoEssay

Are we tired of rain yet? I’ll be honest that I’ve rather lost track of our rainfall totals…they just keep adding up. It just adds up to “wet” and “very wet.”


I think the garden is starting to look a little bit lush and rainforest-y, don’t you? The sweet potatoes are growing so fast.

I’m afraid this is a portent of things to come with our fall brassicas planting… We have cabbageworms on the plants while they are still seedlings in my office! (We had them outside for ONE day a week ago and managed to get eggs laid and hatched out. Yikes.

We harvested the first of the Yellow Stuffer tomatoes this week and cut it open for a look and tasting during our work time on Tuesday. The cavity isn’t as big as most large bell peppers, but it has a very different interior look than most tomatoes. It wouldn’t be hard to get the seeds out, or just add more stuffing around them.

Denise came and got a huge bowl of eggplant from me on Monday and then tried several recipes in preparation for our next Saturday Sampler on the 17th. I sampled the dishes for lunch on Tuesday. Two of the recipes were okay, but not my favorite and the other three were very yummy. They were almost good enough that I didn’t know I was eating eggplant! You’ll have to stay tuned for some of those recipes.

The ‘Snow Leopard’ Honeydew Melon are appearing quite productive, although we haven’t picked one yet. It is a little bit challenging to tell for sure when they are ripe, and we picked a couple honeydews last year that weren’t quite ripe. This one looks like it is getting close, but I don’t want to pick it too soon. The keys with honeydew is that the rind should be creamy colored instead of greenish, and it should feel waxy to the touch rather than hairy. We may have to try picking this one next week and giving it a try.

You know you’ve had a lot of rain when even the grape tomatoes are cracking this badly!

You also know that it’s been raining a lot when the melons are cracking! Granted, this is an Asian melon that has a thinner rind/skin. It has cracked pretty badly. We had several of these melons ripe this week, including one that was completely eaten hollow by the sowbugs taking advantage of the cracks. We tried this one. It was nice and crunchy and sweet. We decided that if you tell everyone it is a sweet cucumber, it gets better reviews than if you bill it as a melon, because it isn’t as sweet as most of the melons we are used to. It does have a very floral taste as well.

The ‘Super Sweet 100s’ cherry tomato that is on the trellis/arbor is going crazy! It is very much living up to its name. The tomatoes also are getting smaller and smaller as the numbers increase. We discussed this week that this is a good example of why more pruning may have been beneficial on this plant in particular. Fewer, but larger fruit!

Have a great weekend! Stay dry!

2013 Garden Plans: Shallots, Beans & Brassicas

These next couple bed plans are going to seem a little bit random, I think. That’s because Beds 2 & 3 are mostly full of shallots, garlic, etc at the moment. That has inspired a little bit different garden planning for this year. Let’s just say that we’re going to be a lot busier in late June, late July, and early August than some years!

Fall Brassicas

So the majority of the bed is full of shallots, multiplier onions, and elephant garlic at the moment. There is about 5 feet at one end where we had some lettuce last fall. In that open space, we will be planting two types of bush beans: Amethyst (purple) and Jade (green). Everything in this garden should be ready to harvest/remove by sometime in July.

For the fall, we are going to plant 4 varieties each of broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage. We will start the plants from seed indoors in late June with the plan to plant them out in the garden in late July or early August (weather dependent). Here’s a little more information about each variety.

Broccoli

Both ‘Santee’ and Apollo’ are sprouting broccolis, meaning that they do not produce one large head, but rather a lot of smaller side shoots. ‘Santee’ is a purple variety.

‘Arcadia’ and ‘Imperial’ are both regular broccoli varieties, but varieties that are supposed to be very cold tolerant and do well in fall plantings.

Cauliflower

‘Amazing’ is our white cauliflower selection. We chose it because it is supposed to do well in the fall and is fairly short days to maturity.

‘Veronica’ is a green, romanesco type cauliflower. ‘Cheddar’ is an orange cauliflower. ‘Purple of Sicily’ is…you guessed it! A purple cauliflower!

Cabbage

We have two savoy cabbage and two regular cabbage. ‘Famosa’ is a savoy (crinkly leaved) green cabbage and ‘Deadon’ is a savoy with red and green leaves. ‘Tendersweet’ is a regular green cabbage and ‘Red Perfection’ is a regular red cabbage.

Fiesta Fish Tacos!

Fish Tacos

When it is cold outside, I often crave foods that are spicy.  USDA’s MyPlate  recommends that we replace some of our protein 2-3 times a week with seafood, especially fish that is high in omega-3’s  like salmon, tuna and mackerel.  Eating baked fish can get boring, so this week, lets spice it up with some fresh vegetables and herbs.  Add a fresh fruit salad and you have a delicious meal.  Did Someone Say Fiesta?

Serves: 5 –

Serving size: 2 tacos
Cost per serving: $1.45

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup light ranch-style dressing
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and chopped fine (optional)
  • 4 cups coleslaw mix or broccoli slaw
  • 10 6-inch corn tortilla
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil
  • 2 tablespoons cornmeal
  • 1 pound firm white fish (tilapia, swai, domestic mahi-mahi, or halibut), cut in 1-inch pieces or in 10 strips
  • 1 tomato, chopped (optional)

Instructions:

  1. Stir together the dressing, lime juice, chili powder, pepper, and jalapeno (if desired). Pour over coleslaw mix and stir to mix well. Cover and place in refrigerator until serving time.
  2. Warm the corn tortillas according to package directions.
  3. Heat the oil in a small non-stick skillet over medium heat until hot, but not smoking. While the oil heats, spread the cornmeal on a plate. Pat the fish pieces in the cornmeal to coat on all sides. Fry the fish in hot oil until the cornmeal is lightly browned, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Remove and drain on paper towels.
  4. Top each tortilla with some of the fish and some of the coleslaw mix. Fold in half and serve with the chopped tomato, if desired.