Category Archives: Food From the Garden

Hot Color In The August Garden

Ooohh, there is hot color in the garden right now! Both blooms and bounty are shades of red, orange and yellow with a measure of plum and violet thrown into the mix.

My garden has been a delight (for the most part) this year. I’ve enjoyed much of the ornamental garden and have a smaller “change order” list than usual for this fall. Of course, I garnered new inspirations over the summer, especially during the Portland Garden Blogger’s Fling, and will be adding and subtracting plants but overall, I like what I see!

Certain insects such as earwigs, aphids and cabbage loopers have been more of a nuisance than usual but I’m thinking this is because there hasn’t been a freeze since March and there’s been a bit more moisture than usual. My suspicion is what makes for a good growing season makes for a good bug season too!

I’ve been away much of the summer so haven’t captured as much of the garden as I would like, but being away and coming back to see the change has been a pleasure. I’ve learned that some areas can get along beautifully without me, while others are in true need of my daily puttering to keep things in order. And, there’s always that batch of summer sprouting weeds that tries to claim King over the land, but I was home just enough to win that war!

The edible garden is booming right now with lots of tomatoes and raspberries to harvest every few days. Pole beans are coming on and all of the red potatoes, carrots and garlic have been harvested. Lots of food pics and maybe some recipes to come…. But for now, enjoy some color during these dog days of summer.

 

The Bounty

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The Blooms

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Kniphofia ‘Ember Glow’

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Hudson Valley Zinnias

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Color in new front garden…

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Gaillardia

 

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Hips of Rosa pomifera

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Unknown Orienpet lily. Not as hot but I still find a warmth in it!

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And, a bit of violet to mix up the palette! This is phlox paniculata ‘Nicky’ paired with some ornamental stakes that I finally placed.

How about you? How has your garden grown this summer? Do you have a favorite plant blooming this August?

The May Garden Means Bodacious Blooms, Tasty Greens And So Much More…

I really can’t figure out which is my favorite month of the garden.   I Iove April because of all the wonderful plant awakenings (beautiful foliage everywhere) and the TULIPS! But now that it is May, I love the BIG blooms of peonies and irises, the constant supply of greens and the happy promises of so much more to come…

I have a few Peonies (Paeonia) in my garden.  The two that bloom first are coral-colored.   I think the name of this one is ‘Coral Charm’ but the tag was not completely readable when I purchased it, so it is a bit of a guess. (Pretty sure I am right though.)

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The big blooms are gorgeous although a bit fleeting.  However, this year it has produced well over 25 blooms and it was just planted four years ago!  A few of these are being cut to enjoy in the house, most definitely!

Here is a shot of the other coral peony.  It is called ‘Coral Sunset’ and is getting ready to bloom.  There are just two blooms, but it was only planted last fall, so pretty good…

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Another boozy bloom that I enjoy in May is the bearded iris (I. germanica).  This deep purple iris occupies a few spots in my main perennial border. Unfortunately, I don’t know it’s name either.  It was a start from my Mom’s garden, but I love the deep, rich, purpley/blue color so that is enough for me. :)

May37 Last year I planted Salvia ‘Madeline’ behind the purple iris to  see what the effect would be.  I like it!

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A full-sun shot of the main perennial border…darn that light is bright!

The greens have been fabulous this year as we have had a truly “moderate” Spring in our area.    Spring is a bit of a wild ride here in the Intermountain West  with temps all over the place, lots of wind and many years very little moisture.  Fortunately, all of those things have been downplayed this year and we’ve enjoyed rains and many days in the 60′s.

The greens have responded and there have been many leafy dinners over the last few weeks!  Here’s a few shots of what I’ve been growing and my family has been eating.

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Flashy trout back lettuce – purchased as a small plant start and planted in early April.

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‘Paris Island’ lettuce – purchased as a small plant start.

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Rows of Hudson Valley Seed Library’s ‘Ultimate Salad Bowl’ – planted as seed in early April.

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SeedBallz Lettuce (Red & Green) – planted in late March

I went a little crazy with greens this Spring since we are on our 6th night of ‘salad night’ at our house.  ‘Salad night’ means our main course is some type of salad that is considered a full meal – taco salad, caesar salad, chicken mediterranean salad, etc..  My family is a little over the fresh greens thing, so tonight we will just have a small side salad with a completely different entrée.  I don’t want to completely burn them out!

Here’s a few more fun shots of what is happening in the May garden and the promise of more nutritious food to come…

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Deliciously fresh and fragrant self-seeded cilantro!

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Apple trees look like they will be offering up a tasty crop!

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Pretty Verbascum that does so well in the Boise Valley…

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Many, many blooms on the Boysenberry!  Yum!

How about you?  What big blooms do you enjoy in May and are you stuffing home-grown greens in your body every day?  What sorts of promises is the garden making to you in May? :)

 

 

 

 

Gardener ‘Shape Up’, Yummy Recipes That Take Advantage of The Garden

Courtesy of Mr. Andrea, the doodler, http://www.abeautifulrevolution.com/blog/2010/09/wee.html

Courtesy of Mr. Andre, the doodler, http://www.abeautifulrevolution.com

The 30 day ‘Gardener Shape Up, Being Mindful of Health’ is about to end.  I hope these posts have inspired you in some small way as you prepare to return to the garden in the next few weeks.

To wrap up this series, I’ve decided to post several good nutrition recipes I’ve been enjoying over the last weeks.  These recipes were sourced from blogs, magazines and websites and all include a crop or two or three you can grow in your YARDEN!

First up, is a delicious entrée from Karen at Backroads Journal.  (Click the link to see full recipe.) I’ve made these stuffed peppers twice now, once with lamb and once with beef.  I went very light on the cinnamon and all-spice flavors as I thought it may be too sophisticated for my children. I used Sriracha instead of Harissa and my husband and I enjoyed the bit of heat. Any color of bell pepper can be used, I chose green.

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As for the meats, my family preferred beef.  However, if new to eating lamb, I think this is a great recipe to try for a representation of its flavor.  Easy to find in grocery stores as well.

Although many herbs and spices are incorporated, the stuffing is mild, comforting and very flavorful.  I love how the peppers turned out by blanching them just barely 1 minute instead of microwaving them before filling. The texture of the stuffing and the soft, yet firm (if that makes any sense) texture of the pepper go together nicely.

Another plus…my kids were eating an entire green pepper for dinner!  How often do you get an entire bell pepper worked into an individual portion?!  Thanks for sharing this recipe Karen!

Bell Peppers in the Garden

Keep this recipe in mind because bell peppers could be a part of your garden this season! They like a lot of sun and soil temperatures of at least 55+ degrees consistently. Similar to tomatoes.

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I usually purchase starter pepper plants in May (USDA Hardiness Zone 6) and then directly plant them in raised beds as the soil is a bit warmer than the ground.  My 150 day growing season is adequate to get good color and ripening when purchasing starter pepper plants.  However, if you want to grow peppers from seed, and have a 150-180 day growing season, start the seeds indoors around 8 weeks before conditions are right for planting outside.  (Last frost has passed and soil has warmed above 55°)

There are several other ingredients in this recipe you can grow in the garden.  Onions, garlic, mint, oregano, and parsley are all easy to grow.  If you are fortunate enough to garden in zone 8-11 you can grow lemons too!  Sadly, my lemon tree succumbed to the cold of my garage last winter, so only if my CA friends ship me some, will I have homegrown lemons. Hint, hint! :)

How about you?  Have you been preparing physically to re-enter the garden?  Do you ever consider specific, favorite recipes when deciding what to grow in the garden?

October Gardening Under the Big, Bright Boise Sky

Oh my! If every month were like October, Boise would be a gardening mecca. With temps between 60-75° every day, no wind – just the occasional breeze, and a landscape so brilliantly colored that all kinds of people are snapping photos of trees, shrubs, flowers and the like…it would be inevitable.

Octab1You see, the loooong warm days and cool nights that turn plant foliage so many shades of autumn (way more than 50) trump dry, hot conditions that were top of most peoples’ minds just a few weeks back.  When October rolls around and incredible colors are set against a brilliant, blue sky day-in and day-out regular people (you know, non-garden types) start paying attention to plant life and becoming inspired.

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Octab4Octaber1You hear fragments of conversations like this…

Should we get a new tree? What kind of shrub do you think that is? What else flowers in fall besides mums?  There are fall raspberries?  Maybe we should plant some lettuce now?

I love hearing these musings and I too am usually caught up in the seasonal celebration planning way too many garden projects.  I have to remind myself that not every day will be like the month of October and that time is limited and therefore so must be my project list.

So this October I prioritized a new mediterranean-inspired garden bed in the front of my house.

To start the project, I had to finish moving the heaviest permabark ever.  If you don’t know what permabark is  - be happy.   Here is a photo of it and it is a gardener’s nemesis.

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It is heavy and hard to get on a shovel.  When you do get it in a wheelbarrow you have to be careful to not fill it (the wheelbarrow) more than half full or the load is so heavy you can’t move it. Aarrgh!

Once the rock was abolished, I pulled up the weed barrier (always comes with permabark, another ill landscaping technique) and finally the soil could breathe.  Next, some soil amendments.  For my heavy clay soil I used peat moss, my homemade compost and a bit of elemental sulphur.

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Generally speaking, the heavy clay soil in the Boise area is at the higher end of the pH scale making for soil conditions that tend towards alkalinity. If the pH gets too high many plants cannot access various micronutrients of the soil, especially iron, which leads to a decline in health and possibly chlorosis. Adding sulphur and peat moss adds organic matter to the soil and breaks up the heavy clay particles while helping to maintain or lower pH levels.  I’m careful not to go overboard with the sulphur but mix in 2-3 8 oz cups into to each wheelbarrow as an additional amendment.

Next comes the fun – planting in fresh “groomed” soil!

There were a few plants already growing in this area such as fothergilla gardenii and reed feather grass (calamagrostis x acutiflora) ‘Overdam’ so they were kept and I added a few more of each.

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My plan was to add mostly low water plants that can take really hot sun all day  (Zone 6 hardy) and offer interesting textures. For blooms the color palate is primarily blues, purples, reds, oranges and a little yellow.  This bed is pretty much three season interest, unless you count the grasses as the entire show for the fourth season – winter.  :)

Here are some of my selections. (Starting at top left and moving clockwise.)

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Hardy geranium ‘Johnson’s Blue’, muehlenbeckia axillaris ‘Nana’ (wire vine), Amsonia hubrichtii ‘Blue Star’, bearded iris (variety unknown), sedum ‘Blaze of Fulda’,  monarda didyama ‘Jacob Cline’, sedum ‘Xenox’, zauschneria garrettii ‘Orange Carpet’, kniphofia ‘Ember Glow’,  euphorbia polychroma ‘Bonfire’,  Partridge feather, and salvia argentea ‘Artemis’.

I really won’t know how happy I am with the results until things start percolating next Spring. But for now, I am happy to drive up to my home and see a garden in the front instead of a few plants held hostage in a prison of permabark!

And as for the rest of October, well I was outside a lot…closing down the garden…picking the season’s last tomatoes, harvesting fall lettuce, dividing and moving perennials, composting, digging tropicals…you know the drill.

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Octa2And in my free time away from the garden I was running (not like Forest Gump) just near the Boise River. It is so lovely this time of year, I found it very inspiring both physically and mentally.

Oct09 Oct10 Oct12Octab3Oh, if every month could be October under a big brilliant blue sky!

Garden Favorite: Spring Greens

Spring greens are the favorite in the garden at the moment. They have grown into a rich bounty of reds and greens offering up a delicious fresh, light flavor.

sg02Our current “greens” menu consists of butter lettuce, red romaine lettuce, gourmet salad mix from Johnny’s Select Seeds, arugula, kale, and broccoli rabe.  French Breakfast radishes are joining the greens with a sweet crunch!

sg08sg11So many salads – some new, some old, but all very tasty!

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SG1I’m also trying my hand at preparing the broccoli rabe as it’s own side. I grew a dense container of this cool season edible and although it was beautiful, it probably should have been thinned a bit to produce bigger florets. However, since the leaves are edible, I decided to go for density.

sg06sg07Mixed results in preparing it as a side means I have yet to perfect the cooking method and time. So far, I’ve blanched it for 1-2 minutes, dunked it an ice bath to stop the cooking and then warmed it again in a skillet with some toasty butter and garlic. The result is good flavor but an overcooked texture. I wonder if wilting over steam and then tossing with some warmed butter or olive oil and garlic would provide an enhanced experience? I hope to get another cutting to try again!

How about you? Are you enjoying greens from the garden? What is your favorite harvest so far? Are you an expert chef on brocolli rabe? If so, feel free to share a tip! :)

A Difficult Start, But Plants & Gardeners Don’t Give in Easily

April has come and gone and this means we are at mid-Spring. For a quick recap of early Spring I’ll write one word – ‘difficult‘. Difficult for gardeners anyway, (farmers too I’m betting) and who’s been waiting longer or more anxiously for its arrival!

The primary problem with this early Spring (around Boise, ID ) has been the wind, the drought and the freezing. Oh, I said problem?  I meant problems – in plural form!

Well sure, it’s not unusual to have some wind and intermittent freezing during early spring but combining these challengers with almost no moisture takes a toll on a garden and of course the garden keeper.

In this part of the Intermountain West we only get an average of 11.5-12 inches of rain per year. So when a month skips its normal rainfall, we notice! That month was March and we missed about an inch of precipitation leaving us with very dry conditions. Statistically, we are 1.66 inches below normal precipitation since the beginning of 2013. It might not sound like a lot, but remember we are talking about a maximum of 12 inches per year. Nothing like the 36 inches of rain our neighbors in the Pacific Northwest experience.

Enough of the stats, just think about this…if you were outside trying to grow beautiful it would be difficult with wind blowing you in every direction every other day. Then the night cold arrives and it is so deep that you are left with no resort but to bow down and try to make it thru till morning. And remember there’s no water as a refresher – just more wind.

Now, that is what it’s been like for all the plants in my garden. Difficult.

Thinking about it from another perspective, it is amazing how many plants don’t give in and survive the challenges day after day. (The same can be said for the motivation of die-hard gardeners I suppose.)  So even though the garden has gone through most unfavorable conditions this Spring I have a few highlights to share.

First, korean spice viburnum. A little shrub that I keep in a pot went from this to this in just a couple of days sharing its wonderful fragrance whenever I would pass by.

ES01ES02The one and only ‘Forest Pansy’ redbud (cercis canadensis) tree that survived the winter is surviving spring with its beautiful tiny blooms going from this to this.

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ES1The one shower we received in April did make for some very happy tulips! My bright ‘Orange Queens’ really loved the rain and seemed so happy that day!

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I was also impressed with tulip ‘Hakuun’, planted in February in a pot and the raised beds. ‘Hakuun’ turned out to be quite a sturdy performer even in difficult conditions. I cut some from the raised bed to enjoy them inside as well.

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Tulip ‘Purple Prince’ was happier under the crabapple tree rather than in pots. Here is a shot of its fleeting appearance.

A little wind burn around the edges but still pretty.

New lily flowering tulips ‘Purple Dream’ in the garden.  Too cold for them to fully open but I love their elegant shape.

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And for my final highlight – glorious greens! Every die-hard gardener knows a few tricks to deal with unfavorable elements and I was able to overcome my challengers and grow a gorgeous bin of greens.

ES14 ES13Arrugula and brocolli rabe went crazy in my steel planter while being protected by floating row cover. Mark one up for the gardenkeeper for not giving in to the difficult early Spring!

How about you? How has your Spring started? A favorable start with many highlights or some difficulties?

To see other gardens and what happened in April join Helen at The Patient Gardener’s Weblog

You Can Still Go For The Garlic!

I know it’s November and the leaves have fallen… Winter is so close that you can literally feel it getting closer each day. But you don’t have to let all of your planting aspirations disappear just yet, for you still have time to grow some garlic!  It’s o.k. to plant garlic up until the ground freezes and is actually good to wait until it is consistently cool.

Garlic is really easy to grow as I found out this past year.  I planted two varieties last fall in a small section of one of the raised beds.  In July, I harvested the garlic and we’ve been enjoying it in soups, salsa, pastas, pizzas, etc… ever since.  The flavor has been grand and it was so easy to grow that last week I was out getting ready to grow my own again.

This year I’m growing ‘Chesnok Red’ and ‘German Red’.  Both are hardneck which means I will get two harvests instead of just one.

You may be thinking, “Come again, TWO harvests?”

Hardneck varieties of garlic send up a round stalk (a.k.a. scape) mid-season and when this stalk curls you can snap it off and use it as your first garlic harvest.

Photo Courtesy of Island Vittles

The scapes can be used just like scallions.  Basically think of them as scallions that taste like garlic!  The scapes have all the health benefits garlic offers and by cutting them you are helping the plant put more energy into the garlic bulb that is forming below the ground.  It’s a win/win for garlic lovers!

Don’t sweat it if you didn’t already know this…I learned about it this last growing season and actually missed the window to harvest my scapes!  I gazed at the curly tips thinking they were “cool” but as I read other garden blogs mid-summer I realized the “pig tails” were more than interesting form.

So this year I’m reminding myself as much as any of you that are new to garlic growing – get two harvests out of hardneck garlic!

Thinking about one last act of planting and going for garlic?  If so, read on and then don’t dilly-dally for “Winter is a coming”…

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