This was a fun garden, largely because of the crazy vegetable arbor that spanned the walkway between this garden and the vertical garden! We also had some really nice plants.
‘Super Sweet 100’ Cherry Tomato – Prolific and sweet, the only real complaint about this variety is that the tomatoes tend to get smaller toward the end of the season. Other than that, a great variety!
‘Lunchbox Red’ Snack Pepper – For the first time, one of the snack peppers actually did well! The red variety started producing in mid-summer and kept going steadily until about a month ago when it went crazy! The plants are healthy and the peppers are a nice size.
‘Easter Egg’ Radishes – These colorful mixed radishes are always a reliable winner.
‘Sugar Ann’ Sugar Snap Peas – These are the peas we had in a container at the beginning of the year. They did well…we just wanted more of them!
‘Breen’ and ‘TinTin’ Baby Romaine Lettuces – Both of these did well. I can’t really think of anything spectacular or problematic about either of them. The ‘Breen’ lettuce had that beautiful dark red color earlier this spring.
‘Mokum’ Carrots – This orange variety is a reliable producer and was this year. It was perhaps a little more variable in size than I would like to see, but I’ll blame that on the spring weather.
All the sunflowers – you either like them or you don’t. They all did what sunflowers do!
‘Kaleidoscope Mix’ Carrots – Sometimes the carrot mixes do well and other times not so much. This mix didn’t ever size up very well, but that may have been the early season drought more than anything. They were tucked in the corner and may not have gotten enough water.
‘Emerite’ Pole Bean – The bean grew and didn’t do much of anything until the cool, rainy part of the summer. Then we did get some nice beans, but that stopped once it was hot and dry again. It did better than we sometimes experience with pole beans, but not a lot.
‘Lunchbox Yellow’ Snack Pepper – Unlike the red variety, this one has tiny little peppers and was not nearly as prolific, especially earlier in the summer.
‘Honey Bun’ Cantaloupe – We added this melon on a whim after the lettuce was done, and it performed about like I remembered it from a couple years ago. It didn’t like the wet weather and was constantly under attack from insects. Still, in most years you will get one or two good melons from it.
To Be Determined
All the fall vegetables are still growing, so no definitive answers on those yet!
This garden should be a fun one!
So the idea behind this garden is actually a combination of two ideas. I had the idea of planting a “snacking” garden, planted exclusively to vegetables that can be used for eating raw as a “snack.” One of our Master Gardeners wanted to plant a garden geared towards kids. So…we combined the two ideas! I think it will be a lot of fun!
We have been doing the cattle panel trellises in the raised beds for 3 years now, but for this garden we will be trying something different again. We are going to try putting a trellis over the walkway between beds 4 and 5. It will be quite an experiment! I hope it turns out!
Sunflowers: We will be planting 3 varieties, ‘Teddy Bear,’ ‘Aztec Sun,’ and ‘Valentine.’ These are a variety of heights and colors.
Tomatoes: We will have two cherry tomatoes, one red and one gold. The varieties are ‘Super Sweet 100’ and ‘Golden Honey Bunch.’ We will probably be doing some heavy pruning to keep them controlled on the trellis, so that will also be a new experience.
Beans: A lot of people do not have success with pole beans here, but one of our Master Gardeners has had good luck with ‘Emerite’ filet pole beans, so we will be giving those a try.
Cucumbers: We will be revisiting the white ‘Salt and Pepper’ cucumbers that we had in the Vertical Garden last year.
Peppers: Our pepper plants will be the red and yellow ‘Lunchbox’ peppers.
In the spring, we are planning to have some baby romaine lettuces and mixed color carrots and radishes. In the fall we will revisit the lettuces as well as try out some purple and white cauliflower varieties and the ‘Purple Peacock’ Sprouting Broccoli.
We are also going to try some fun containers near the garden, one with sugar snap peas and the other with perhaps a tomato or a bush pumpkin or melon.
This should be a fun garden to photograph this summer!
After the holidays it seems like I crave sweets more than normal. My resolution for 2013 is to try to make better food choices. So one way to do that is to eat fruits and vegetables are in season. This is the list of produce that is in season during the month of January.
- blood oranges and other citrus fruit
The following recipe is one of my favorites treats. It is a fruit pocket. It reminds me of pie and cobbler, but with a healthier twist. It is easy enough for kids of all ages to make a simple snack that’s full of fruit and flavor!
Pocket Fruit Pies
Level: Easy Serves 4
4 (8-inch) flour tortillas
1 large apple or 2 medium peaches
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 tablespoons milk
Remember to wash your hands!
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Warm tortillas in microwave or oven to make them easier to handle.
3. Peel and chop fruit into small pieces.
4. Place 1/4 the fruit on each tortilla.
5. In a small bowl stir together brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg.
sprinkle over fruit.
6. Roll up the tortillas with the fruit.
7. Place on an ungreased baking sheet and make small slashes to allow
steam to escape. Brush with milk and sprinkle with additional sugar,
8. Bake for 8 to 12 minutes or until lightly brown.
9. Serve warm or cold.
Helpful Hints: This easy snack helps work fruit into a daily diet. Tortillas,
with a variety of toppings, make great snack builders!
Safety Tip: Allow pie to cool slightly before tasting – the steam and sugar
Serving Size 1 fruit pocket (140g)
Servings per Container 4
Amount Per Serving
Calories 300 Calories from Fat 50
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 5 g||8 %|
|– Saturated Fat 1.50 g||7 %|
|Cholesterol 0 mg||0 %|
|Sodium 350 mg||15 %|
|Total Carbohydrate 55 g||18 %|
|– Dietary Fiber 4 g||16 %|
|– Sugars 14 g|
|Protein 7 g|
|Vitamin A 0 %||Vitamin C 6 %|
|Calcium 10 %||Iron 15 %|
*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher of lower depending on your calorie needs:
Calories per gram:
Fat 9 – Carbohydrate 4 – Protein 4
Last week, we spent a few days up in Wisconsin at my parents’ farm. My husband, not having grown up on a farm, wanted to try his hand at a little tractor driving and hay baling.
This is a wild, unfarmed area to one side of the part that was being baled. It isn’t really the “edge” of the field, but more of an island that has never really been cleared or tilled, probably because there is either a low spot that isn’t worth the hassle of disturbing or because there was no desire to clear all off those trees. Maybe if I asked, my parents would know why. At any rate, it gave me something to photograph! You can see all the different kinds of grasses and lots of goldenrod in this area.
This is actually a picture of part of the field that hasn’t been cut for hay yet. This field has a pretty nice stand of grass, clover, and alfalfa, and hopefully has some good protein for my parents’ cows. Unfortunately, even though the alfalfa and clover flowers make for pretty pictures, it is best if the hay is cut before full bloom. Unlike here, my parents have had too much rain, and so it was too wet to get into the fields without damaging the crop or the soil.
I eventually wandered all the way along the field to the fence row on the west side of the field. There was quite a diversity of plants! I had to take this picture, because it illustrates a horticultural concept that we talk about, but isn’t always fully grasped. In this case, we have a larger maple tree (the lighter green leaves at the top) and underneath it, growing as a large shrub, is a dogwood tree. Dogwood do prefer some shade, and are more of an understory tree (like Japanese Maples). They don’t do very well planted in full, scorching sun. This is a great example of how these trees would grow on their own, without intervention, so we should keep that in mind when planting things.
There were also some nice healthy vines of wild cucumbers growing over various trees and shrubs in the fence row. I remember playing with these prickly fruits as a kid, and tearing them open to look for seeds and whatever there was to see. I actually saw a cucumber beetle on these vines, but didn’t quite manage to get it in the picture. Interestingly, I’ve never seen a cucumber beetle in my parents’ garden, so it was interesting to see that they do actually exist that far north. Maybe the cold winters keep the population low enough that they are content to subsist on wild cucumbers?
I was a little surprised to find milkweed in the fence row, although I don’t know why I should have been. I guess I always associated it with the swampy area on the farm more than the edge of the fields (although sometimes they are one and the same!). These pods are not quite ready to burst yet, and they were about the biggest I saw. There were several plants with smaller pods and even a few plants that still had some flowers on them. I was hoping to find some monarch caterpillars, but no such luck. I did find some kind of tussock caterpillar and a spider, but not monarchs.
There was also a kind of ugly, short little tree that had these fun shaped clusters on them. I’m pretty sure that I’m correct in identifying it as a filbert (aka Hazelnut); this is probably just a wild one growing here. It’s still very green, and not at all close to being ripe, but I think there are going to be some happy animals later this fall, thanks to this tree.
Now, I’ve just been showing pictures here, and certainly photography is a great way to interact with nature and make observations. But…I’m also a compulsive feeler, “dissector”, leaf shredder, and flower stripper. I like to pick a clover flower and pull it apart, pull off a milkweed pod and break it open, tear leaves along the veins, strip seeds off of grass, pick a green filbert and tear it open, etc. I’ve always done this, and I remember a lot of “play” as a child that involved pulling seed pods off of weeds and tearing them open or pulling the seed heads off of grasses. On one hand, this seems kind of destructive. I would argue though, that this sort of thing is important for kids in getting to understand the natural world.
It’s one thing to see something or take a picture of it and learn about it. It’s completely different to feel it and take it apart, getting your fingers sticky in the process. I think there’s a lot of learning that happens through something that might seem very destructive. Certainly, kids should learn that you don’t want to disturb natural areas or be unnecessarily destructive without reason, but sometimes I think we go too far the other way, and don’t let kids really immerse themselves in what’s around them. It isn’t their job to save the planet. It IS their job to learn to look on the natural world with wonder and find “cool” things to touch and experience.
Think about it this way. How much more will a child who has spent time experiencing plants this way understand when they get to a science class that talks about plant identification, pollination, seed formation, vascular systems, parts of the seed, etc? They may not have known all the scientific terms when they were out playing, but they know what they saw, touched, smelled, and even tasted. They can now assign those terms to things they already know.
I remember some of the biology and horticulture labs I had to do in high school and college, and I always thought that the lab exercises where we dissected flowers, seeds, etc were incredibly lame! After all, I had torn apart many a flower and already knew what I would find. It never occurred to me that some of the other students may have never seen those things in real life.
Where am I going with this? Well, I would argue that sometimes we get a little too up tight about having everything perfectly manicured and tamed (How dare there be weeds in the ditches!) or too protective of every blade of grass (Don’t pick the flowers!) that we prevent kids, especially those in an urban environment, from really gaining a very tactile experience of nature that will give them great benefits in the future. Of course, I’m not advocating for taking hordes of kids out to trample a wetland or tear into endangered wildflowers. But is there really anything wrong with letting some places be a little overgrown where no one cares if kids act like kids in that space?
Okay, that’s the end of my rant for today! If you want to see more pictures from Wisconsin, you can check them out at Flickr.