Sunday, July 26, 2009

The Harvest Must Go On

I'm sad to say that we're out of town again (indefinitely), and we're going to miss out on the beginning of our harvest. We've left our neighbor in charge of keeping everything picked in our extended absence. I'm glad I staggered the corn when I planted it, because it's my favorite! It was especially hard to leave the tomatoes. I've been salivating after them for two months now, and they were just starting to turn pink and would be soft and juicy in a couple days. I'm sure our neighbors will enjoy the bounty though...

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

TLC for the Perennials

I have spent so much time sprucing up the front yard that my back yard perennial bed became jealous! There were weeds popping up among the plants, and no definitive line showing where the lawn ended and the perennial bed began. Poor guys! They probably thought I didn't love them any more.

Check out the weeds intermingling with the veronica, coneflower and baptisia. What a disgrace!

perennial garden

Let's get that cleaned up a bit. There - that's better.

perennial view

The fruit of my Sunday labor ...

norman with perennials

I cleaned up the edge and pulled all the weeds. I had planned to just lay down some fresh mulch, but I knew it would end up blending back in with the grass, so I laid down some professional edging. Now I won't ever have to "clean up" the edge again!

Fresh mulch does a lot to improve the look of a garden bed. This circular area was the most overrun with weeds and in need of a good edging.

perennial garden

This is my favorite view from the back deck.

perennial garden

I sit out here every morning with a cup of coffee and my feet propped up, listening to the birds chirp.

coffee with a view

The hydrangeas are finally taller than the catmint! They aren't blooming all that profusely, but I expect them to put on a better show in the next coming weeks.

perennial view

It feels good to have accomplished something so instantly gratifying. It took about 2 1/2 hours and $65 in case you're interested. The edging we use is produced from all recycled materials and costs about $1.50 a foot. There are less expensive options out there if you're on a tighter budget. We like the black mulch sold at Lowe's. It doesn't fade as quickly as other "colored" mulches we have found. It costs around $4 a bag. I used three bags to clean the bed up, but all in all, we probably have ten bags total in this bed.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Squash Parmesan

It's that time of year when we have squash covering every flat surface of the house! OK, maybe that's an exaggeration, but we do have a lot of squash! We love to grill it with a little olive oil and salt, sautee it with butter and onions, and slice it up in a rich casserole.

We're always on the look out for creative things to do with it, and this weekend I came up with a new plan - squash parmesan. I sliced it up, dipped each slice in egg, rolled it in finely crushed cracker crumbs, and fried it up in some olive oil. I then placed it in a loaf pan and covered it with tomato sauce (canned up from last year's tomato haul) and baked for 20 minutes at 350. I think it turned out quite yummy! It would have been better with some mozzarella cheese, but we didn't have any.

squash parmesan

Summer squash is an excellent choice for any diet. It's rich in many essential vitamins and fiber and is low in all the bad stuff; fat, cholesterol, etc. I guess "frying" it doesn't really add to the nutritional value, but olive oil is a good choice when you do decide to make it sizzle.

When you select squash from the farmer's market or grocer, don't be put off by the "scratches" in the rind. Squash are really delicate and easily scratched by sticks, soil and even the stalks of the plant itself. Just because it's scarred a bit doesn't mean it's been abused. Look for firm fruit with no signs of bruising. Soft, limp fruit has started to go bad and will not be all that tasty.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Garden Sitters

We returned from our 10 day excursion to find the garden in beautiful order. Our friend Lauren did a great job keeping the crops watered and harvested, and mother nature pitched in a little rain to assist.

garden view mid-july

We also had the helpful assistance of a surprise garden sitter! When a herd of aphids found their way onto the newly developed corn tassles, ladybugs moved in to help take care of the problem.

aphids on corn tassle

Thanks ladybugs. I'm glad they're not shy about procreating in public - their babies eat even more than the adults!

ladybugs in action

Monday, July 06, 2009

Growing Onions in Clay

I tried to grow onions two years ago from seed. It didn't go well. Onion seedlings are very tiny and pretty much impossible to keep weeded, so they died. Sorry little fellows.

I decided this year to try onions from sets - small onion bulbs that mature into larger edible onion bulbs. I purchased a healthy row's worth from Jesse Israel in March and planted them in the garden.

The thing about onions is that the bulbs need to have room to grow, and they need to be able to penetrate the soil in order to grow. With heavy clay like ours, that is quite a task for them, as I found out a couple weeks ago when I dug around a plant to see if it was ready for harvest. It's been three months and their foliage is starting to yellow, so they should be ready soon.

You can see that the bulb of this yellow onion has not grown to the size you would expect to find in a store, but looks more like one of those little "green onions" that my grandpa always dipped into salt and munched on at dinnertime.

onions ripening

At the farmer's market this weekend, I paid close attention to the local onions being sold. They were all shaped just like mine - no bulbous onions to be found.

I presented this quandry to Ian's grand-dad who has been farming for 60+ years, and he said you have to dig out around the bulb, leaving just the roots planted in the soil to encourage the bulb to ripen. He lives in Florida and grows in sandy soil, so if his onions won't mature on their own, my clay-bound onions have no chance. So, I grabbed my spade and dug those suckers out.

digging out around onions to help bulbs grow fatter

Time will tell if it works. I hope so, because I need some onions to go with my squash!

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

First Garden Dinner

We enjoyed our first Summer harvest of the year this past weekend.

first dinner from the garden

All from the garden; green beans, squash and lettuce on the burgers. We don't have any ripe tomatoes yet, but when they do start to ripen, we're going to have a ton of them!

Oooh, it's so good!

We will be out of town all next week, and a neighbor has agreed to tend the garden while we're away. I'm always excited to get back home to my garden! I'll miss you garden! Stay safe. Don't let the squash beetles bite!

garden view early july