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Squash Blossom Frittata with Garden Vegetables

SBlossom Fritta
Serves 6
2 small zucchini diced
1 large onion diced
1 green pepper, diced
1 large tomato, diced
2-3 stalks of Swiss chard or other greens
6 eggs
¼ cup low-fat 1% milk
1 ½ teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper
2 teaspoons garlic, minced
4 squash blossoms
1 cherry tomato for garnish
Cooking spray
In a deep dish 9” pie pan, layer the zucchini, onion, green pepper and tomato. In a bowl, add the eggs, milk, salt, pepper and garlic. Blend until everything is mixed well. Pour egg mixture over the vegetables. Carefully cut the squash blossoms on one side without cutting through the entire flower. Open flowers and arrange on top of dish in a circular pattern. Add cherry tomato in the center for garnish. Bake at 350˚F, for 50-60 minutes, or until center is set. Let rest for 5 minutes before cutting into it. Serve with fresh fruit and crusty whole grain bread.

2013 Garden Plans: Pizza Garden (and a Chard Recipe!)

Yes, I know the chard recipe is random. We’ll get to that. First things first!

The first group that did their detailed plans for the year was the Pizza Garden group. It worked out well, because Bed 6, where the Pizza Garden will be, is currently half planted to leeks and garlic. We won’t be short of garlic for our pizza sauce!

Pizza Garden SpringAs you can see, the better part of the garden is taken up with the garlic that was planted last fall. We are going to harvest one row of leeks early and replace it with onions. (I know, poor rotational practices, I know.) Then we have picked out a roma and a cherry tomato, a bell and an Italian roasting pepper, and whatever herbs we can fit in. (Basil, oregano, thyme, parsley)

We are tentatively planning to use either ‘Mariana’ or ‘Plum Dandy’ for the roma variety and probably ‘Chocolate Cherry’ for the cherry tomato. The bell pepper will probably be ‘Big Bertha,’ because I think I still have extra seeds. ‘Planet’ is the variety we’ll be trying for the Italian Roasting peppers.

Pizza Garden FallThen in the second half of the season we had to get a little creative. After we harvest the garlic, we need something semi-pizza-ish to plant. We are going to do a row of green onions (I know, poor rotation again), a couple of zucchini plants, and some greens. I know the zucchini and greens are maybe a bit of a stretch for some of you to put on pizzas, but they shouldn’t be! Hopefully we can showcase some pizzas this fall using those greens.

You might notice that we’ve got some different varieties of greens planned from what we usually plant. We are going with the ‘Lacinato’ kale rather than the ‘Redbor’ we’ve planted a lot in the last few years. ‘Lacinato’ is supposed to be more tender and flavorful. We are also planning to use ‘Fordhook’ Chard, which is completely white stems, instead of the multi-colored ‘Bright Lights.’

Speaking of Swiss Chard…I tried another recipe last night that was delicious! (See, I told you there was a connection!) I’ve got enough garden plans coming up that I don’t want to spend a whole post on it, but for those of you still looking for a delicious way to eat Swiss Chard, I give you:

Bacon, White Bean, and Swiss Chard Pot Pie!

The recipe came from Smitten Kitchen, (both from her new cookbook and the blog), and we followed her directions with the exception of the pancetta. We used bacon, because we had bacon. We also used some Swiss Chard from our community garden plot 2 years ago that was still kicking around in the freezer. I just realized that virtually every Swiss Chard recipe that I really like came from Smitten Kitchen. If you don’t like chard, you’ve clearly just been using the wrong recipe source! I also noticed that the recipe she posted today also features chard: Lentil Soup with Sausage, Chard, and Garlic. Now I have a recipe to try for the last bag of chard in our freezer.

So anyway, if you are growing a pizza garden this year, don’t leave out the kale and chard!

Hail Damage & Recovery

The hailstorm last Wednesday evening didn’t appear to cause much, if any, damage in the Demo Garden. (Thank goodness! We didn’t need more challenges this year!) My community garden plot, on the other hand, took quite a bit of damage. I thought I would share some of the pictures with you all, as well as how we chose to clean up afterwards.

(I promise that eventually, someday, we will be back to posting pictures of beautiful plants and succulent harvests. For the time being, it would seem that we are stuck with more death and destruction.)

About half of our tomato plants came through pretty well. the other half are in pretty bad shape. Of course, the one that looks the worst is our Chocolate Cherry plant. You can see the battered appearance in the picture, but let’s take a closer look.

You can see here that the stems have some severe injury and are almost shredded. The wounds were severe enough that I chose to cut these branches off, even though I could see some new growth coming out. The stems were slightly squishy where wounded, and this type of damage is just asking for strange diseases to take over.

By the time I was done pruning out the damage on our poor Chocolate Cherry tomato, I think all the possible new growth sites were gone. No leaf axils for potential buds even. (I had pruned out the lower suckers before leaving town 2 weeks ago, so even those were gone!) We found a plant at the Farmers Market on Saturday and stuck it in next to the remaining stub to start growing.

The other thing I had to do was go through and pick off all the tomatoes that were damaged. The open wounds, like the one above are another great place for diseases to enter and rot the fruit. No thank you! We lost a lot of tomatoes (either knocked off by hail or badly damaged), but not as many as I was afraid we might. That said, on a plant that is severely damaged, you should probably pick off all the fruit to give the plant a chance to recover some growth. Our roma tomato plants were relatively unscathed, luckily.

Our kale & Swiss Chard were both pretty well flattened. My husband cut everything back to about 1-2″ off the ground and picked up all the leaves. Again, we’re just trying to avoid collecting any diseases or insects that would take advantage of a weakened plant.

As bad as the tomatoes, kale, and chard looked, the cucumbers by far took the brunt of the damage. We were pretty much left with cucumber sticks.

The squash…well, it was pretty well squashed. I picked off all the baby squash and then cut back all the damaged stalks and leaves. Oh yeah, and while I was doing that I found Squash Vine Borer eggs on the base of the plant. ARGH! I picked them off, but we’ll probably go out and spray with spinosad if we remember.

Here’s my Chocolate Cherry after pruning. I think you can see why I chose to get another plant to put in. Not much hope for regrowth there. Still, I’m going to leave it for a couple weeks just to see if the plant will generate any buds. Sometimes they will.

You can see signs of growth on the cucumber vine sticks. I think most of the cucumbers will make it, but just to be safe, we put a few more seeds in. If necessary, we’ll prune out some of the extra plants later.

The Swiss Chard & kale are both putting on some nice new growth. I expect that in a couple of weeks, we won’t be able to tell the difference! (Well, the planting might be thinner, but we were going to have to thin the plants out soon anyway.)

The squash plant put on new growth pretty quickly. Now if we can only beat out those vine borers…

We don’t have any root crops in our garden, so if you have beets, carrots, or onions that were severely damaged you should assess the size of the roots. The thing with root crops is that they’ve been storing energy in the roots, which we eat. If they were already sizing up and get hailed on, the plant will steal energy from the roots to put on new leaves. You could end up with a situation where you end up with small, poor quality root crops if you let them go. If you have decent size on the roots already, you may be better off harvesting them now.

Wednesday PhotoEssay & Miscellany

Sorry about not posting for a while. If you’ve been following my Flickr stream, you’ll see that I’ve been posting pictures, but just haven’t gotten around to writing any posts.

The leaves on the Sweetgum trees were beautiful a couple weeks ago. They are still nice, but not quite as bright as they were.

This Shumard Oak was showing this great red color this fall. It will fade to brown over time.

With the leaves off the trees, it is easy to see what has been going on in those trees all summer. This gingko tree was home to a large squirrel nest in the top. It is kind of funny to see a squirrel nest made entirely of gingko leaves! I wonder if those squirrels have really good memory?

Since the overnight temperatures were getting cold last week, we decided to pick the rest of our Swiss Chard and Kale from our community garden plot. Do you think we have enough chard? It weighed in at 4 lbs 11 oz!

The first step in dealing with all that chard was to strip the leaves off the stems. You can see the mountain of stems and the cascade of leaves in this picture. The water glass is there for a little bit of scale…

I chopped the stems up and shredded the leaves. Then I sauteed them in batches with a little oil, salt, and pepper.

We ended up with a 4 quart freezer bags full of Swiss Chard to use during the winter. I’m sensing some of that yummy Swiss Chard & Sweet Potato Gratin in our future!

Just don’t ask. Really. Don’t ask.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday PhotoEssay

Today it’s time for our regular photoessay – I apologize if the pictures seem to be getting redundant, since we’re not doing a fall garden this year.

Our okra seems to be dropping its leaves suddenly. We have rather bare okra plants. Honestly – I have no idea what’s up. I haven’t been paying much attention to it, and I’ve never grown okra before. I don’t know if it’s been too wet or dry or if something has attacked it. Any ideas?

These are the Big Bertha peppers, and they have been quite productive this year! Very impressive.

Hmm…I think we may have forgotten to fertilize this pepper. A little bit nitrogen deficient, don’t you think? I’m surprised it has any peppers on it!

Some of the tomatoes from our Heat Set plants are starting to ripen, but this one seems to be ripening in stages. Part of it is ripe and part is still quite unripe. Could be some damage caused one section to ripen faster or it could be genetic. Okay, this is getting a little depressing.

This should cheer you up! C’mon, I’ve barely posted ANY Swiss Chard pictures this year. You have to admit that it brightens the place up a bit.

The volunteer hyacinth beans brighten things up nicely too, don’t they?

Have a great weekend!