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Friday PhotoEssay

Here we are on what is purported to be the last hot/warm day of the year, with a precipitous temperature drop coming this afternoon/evening as the front moves through. I’m ready for fall! I know that some people are even ready for a hard freeze to kill off some of their tomato vines.

There were some big changes in the Demo Garden this week. Can you tell? All the vines are gone from the vertical garden area as are all of the eggplant. I think we are probably going to pull out the tomatoes next week. No, they won’t be completely done and dead, but most of the tomatoes will be harvested and the remaining green ones probably won’t ripen quickly. Of course, all the things in the two fall garden beds are looking great and will probably appreciate the cooler weather!

The Swiss Chard and Arugula in the Pizza Garden are ready to start harvesting…I guess we’ll have to get on that and make some fancy pizza, huh?

In the category of “what a difference a month makes,” the spinach that we replanted a couple weeks ago is growing well, next to the sole plant that survived from the August planting.

Some of the root vegetables are starting to size up nicely. This is one of the Scarlet Red Stems turnips. You can see that some of the surrounding plants are still small, but this one looks nice. There are several that have started getting close to harvest size.

The ‘Nero Tondo’ radishes are also developing some nice roots. These still have a ways to go as far as reaching full size (think baseball sized), but it’s nice to see that they are starting to size up. It just occurred to me that some people might find the rather scaly-looking, grey-black skin off-putting. I wonder what it says about me that I just think it is cool and not the least bit distasteful? (It probably also helps that I’ve eaten them before.)

Ah, my friends the Watermelon Radishes. I’ll admit, this one is looking a bit like a purple top turnip at the moment. I’m sure it will turn out to be a nice pink radish though. I think the ones with pinker outer skins often have better interior color.

The ‘Rattail’ Radishes are getting some nice roots on them, but no “rattails” yet. I realized a couple days ago that planting a cool season vegetable that you harvest the seed pods from was probably not the right choice for a fall garden. I’ll be surprised if these actually develop the edible seed pods at this time of year, unless we get a hot week after a couple weeks of cold. (I’m thinking that’s not likely, but I guess I could be wrong.)

Have a great weekend!

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!

Something Different with Radishes – Butter Braised Radishes

Radishes are one of those vegetables that most people either like or don’t like. However, most of the time they just get eaten whole as a snack (usually with dip) or on a salad. For whatever reason, cooking radishes isn’t something most people even consider. It is more common in Asian cooking with the daikon radishes.

A few weeks ago, when I was thinning out the radishes from the radish-parsnip planting experiment, I decided I needed to try a recipe that I saw in a magazine earlier this spring. The recipe is Butter Braised Radishes from Fine Cooking. I didn’t have quite that many radishes, and they had been in the refrigerator for over a week by the time I got around to them, so I didn’t save the tops to put in at the end.

I sliced up the radishes. The French Breakfast radishes I sliced in half the long way. These were the first thinning, so a lot of the radishes were pretty small. Into the pan with a little bit of butter! I suppose you could use olive oil or some other fat if you want to.

After they were partially cooked, I added the chicken broth. They simmered away nicely, giving everything that nice pink hue. Then the vinegar and seasonings are added and cooked down until everything is glazed up nicely.

Here they are after all the liquid was cooked down. They got some nice color on them.

Here is one portion dished up in a bowl. I wanted to make it look “spiffy” and so I “garnished” it with a spinach leaf from our salad to take the picture. It needed a little green, since I didn’t save the radish tops to put in.

The flavor was interesting…maybe a little bit like turnips? I know that isn’t necessarily a selling point. But they are cousins, so it would make sense. The chicken broth overpowered the flavors a little bit, but the vinegar helped cut it somewhat. I don’t know that it really needed the little bit of sugar.

Anyway, if you are bored with raw radishes, this is something to try! It is a pretty simple recipe and fairly quick. Once you’ve got the hang of it, I would try adding some different flavors or trying different vinegars or braising liquids to give it a different twist.


Friday PhotoEssay

I guess we had a week of spring and now we’ve moved on to summer! It’s okay…the weather is more normal for this time of year and our newly planted eggplant will appreciate it.

The whole garden as of today, May 17th. The main visible difference from last week are the trellises. Oh yeah, and the signs. The signs were a ton of work, but I’m glad we got them done and they look good.

Since the Demo Garden is on Garden Tour this weekend, I decided to pull one of each of the garlic and shallot varieties to show the differences at this time of year. I took pictures of each one because there are some very startling differences. Watch for that post next week. This is the ‘Maiskij’ variety, which is getting relatively close to harvest, especially compared to the others. It is a really pretty color too. I know that’s an important factor for an underground vegetable!

The variegated Ginger Mint was really small when we planted it. It’s still really small, but it has about tripled in size in the last 10 days. The variegation is really pretty.

The sugar snap peas in the container near the Kids’ Snack Garden all of a sudden started blooming. I don’t know if they just came on quickly or if I just wasn’t paying attention.

The Easter Egg radishes have also doubled in size this week. The chewed on spots are bigger too. Ugh.

This is the ‘Tiny Tim’ tomato that the Hort Therapy group planted in the accessible garden. It is our first blooming tomato plant! The plant is still really small, but it is supposed to stay only about 12-15″ tall. It’s got a lot of blooms for a small plant.

Have a great weekend! Come on out to the Garden Tour if you are looking for garden inspiration!

Friday PhotoEssay

Let’s see if I can actually get this post published this week, rather than have it get stuck in blog limbo!

With some warmer weather and some rain, the garden is starting to look more like a garden this week. I decided that I wanted to try to capture the overall view of the garden each week this year to watch things grow and change. I scoped out two locations where I think I will be able to get a good view every week all summer long.

Version A. I have to say that I’m partial to this shot, at least for the moment.

Version B. The problem with this angle is that the gardens are so far away. I know I could solve that problem by zooming in, but then I would have the issue of trying to zoom in the same amount every week. Maybe I should try to find an engraved brick in the middle to try a shot from there instead? Read the rest of this entry