Category Archives: Food From the Garden

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”…

Continue reading

R, S, T in the Garden

A clever acronym for enjoying the long wonderful days of Fall? Not really, it stands for Raspberries, Sunflowers and Tomatoes – these are the beauties that have been attracting my eye and demanding my attention.

My fall bearing raspberries are in high GDP mode.  It seems the more I pick, the more there are!  I don’t really think that’s true but they do seem to be ripening faster than in previous weeks. The flavor is definitely getting more and more dynamic as the nighttime temps drop into the 40s and 50s and more of the sugars produced during the day are packed into the little jewels at night.  I’m freezing some and we’re eating many fresh but I’d like to find a great raspberry dessert or cookie recipe to make where these berries can really shine.

Now in a class of its own, is the golden raspberry.

The flavor is amazing- so sweet and light that it hard to describe. You just have to try one. If you have space for a raspberry plant in your garden, I highly recommend a golden raspberry.  Ours is just 2 years old and was teeny, tiny when I planted the start from a friend.  This year we have quite a few more berries than last and usually just eat them right outside in the garden.

Occasionally, a few make it to the house!

The sunflowers ‘Chocolate’ and ‘Buttercream’ have been as delightful as any slice of wedding cake I’ve eaten!

I found these fancy name flowers in Johnny’s Selected Seeds after being inspired by some beautiful, yet different colors of sunflowers on Bumble Lush last year.  One of the most fun experiences I’ve had as a garden blogger is seeing what other people around the world are growing and discovering new plants and varieties to try. If you are looking for new-found motivation or inspiration for your outdoor space, check out some garden blogs. I know it always works for me!

But for now…for me…I need to lay low on new ideas and inspiration until I handle this year’s crop of San Marzano tomatoes. I have never (in fours years of growing this variety) had a crop like this year’s. (To learn more about the fascinating, exotic history of this tomato click here).

Look at the bowlfuls and baskets of tomatoes this one plant is producing! The other difference compared to previous years is each tomato is perfect – uniform color, no cracking, splitting or dark spots. This is striking to me because every other year I get many nice ones but also many that have the imperfections described.

I wonder, has it been the weather that has made for the perfect crop? Or the amount of water or the soil enhancements? Puzzling for sure.

With all of these beautiful tomatoes I’ve been busy in the kitchen.  Last week, I spent two mornings making marinara sauce that I can freeze and pull out in the cooler months.   Although, we did have a first seating of it with some Fusili pasta last week!

I have two favorite marinara recipes and if you grow a plum tomato you may want to try one.  Both are easy, classic and good!  Most of the ingredients for both recipes come straight from the garden.

The first is what I call a ‘friendly marinara.’  It offers up a classic marinara flavor but with an underlying comfort food flavor. This is probably because of the classic vegetable combinations in it.  This is definitely my children’s favorite.  Click here for the recipe.

The second marinara is a bit more complex in flavor and tangy.  It uses more herbs and some red wine. I like it a lot too so I had both of these “salse di pomodoro” going on the stove last week making me feel like I was Lidia of Lidias Italian-American Kitchen for a minute!

Here’s the recipe for the tangy sauce in case you are tempted to whirl some plum tomatoes.

Marinara with Fresh Tomatoes and Herbs:

3-4 lbs of fresh plum tomatoes, best if peeled but o.k. to use with peels

5 cloves of garlic

1 medium onion

1 bunch of fresh basil (about 1 cup)

3 sprigs of fresh oregano, remove leaves

4 fresh tarragon leaves

2 bay leaves

3 tablespoons of olive oil

1/2 cup of full-bodied red wine

Peel and mince onion and garlic.  In a medium saucepan or dutch oven, heat olive oil on medium.  In a food processor, place unseeded peeled or unpeeled tomatoes, basil, tarragon and oregano leaves.  Process until liquefied.

Add minced onions and garlic to olive oil.  Cook until sweating and translucent.  Add red wine, cook for 1 minute.  Add tomato puree and dried bay leaves.  Stir and cover.

Allow to simmer for 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally.  Remove cover and add salt and fresh ground pepper to taste.  Allow to cook for 20 minutes more at medium simmer, uncovered to reduce liquid.  Enjoy!

When I began making the sauces I was thinking that I should be outside enjoying the weather and getting some Fall garden tasks underway, but it turned out to be more fun spending some time inside utilizing so many fresh ingredients from the garden and making something I know we will enjoy once the garden has said goodbye.

That was just a week ago and ‘lo and behold’ look what I have in front of me after today’s picking.  Time to get the pots on again!

What about you?  How do you balance your time during the harvest season, when the weather is grand but there is a need to spend time inside preparing all of the food you’ve grown?  Also, if I may, do you have any favorite recipes using fresh raspberries that you’d like to share?  You can use the contact page if you’re willing to share. :)

August Heat Leads To Cool Treats

Oh my, August can be a hot one! And when the air as far as you can see is filled with smoke from wildfires, it makes you feel even warmer!

What to do, what to do?  Try to play it cool, of course!

One way to play it cool (mentally and physically) is to take a trip out to the garden, gather some fresh, simple items and mix up some refreshing treats that are sure to please during the last sultry days of summer.

Here’s a simple sweet the whole family can enjoy without a lot of guilt. In fact, if you have children that are interested in cooking this may be a perfect chef-d’oeuvre for them to try their hand in the kitchen.

Where raspberries meet strawberries!

Healthier Fruit Pizza

It all starts with the crust right? I found this great crust recipe from Blissfully Domestic that uses whole wheat flour and is very easy to make. Here’s the recipe and if you want to see more tap the link above to see how the crust comes together.

Crust:
3/4 cup softened butter (salted or unsalted, I’ve made it with both and overall the taste is similar)
1/4 cup of sugar
2 cups WHITE whole wheat flour  (This type of whole wheat flour is specifically recommended for baking. It is made from hard white spring wheat and contains all the benefits of whole wheat flour including more fiber, vitamins and minerals than all-purpose flours.)

Mix butter and sugar together until well blended.  Slowly add flour and mix by hand until it begins to stick together.  It will be crumbly for awhile, similar to shortbread, but as you continue to mix,it will begin to come together.

Once the mixture sticks together when you squeeze it, form all of the dough into a ball and place on buttered pizza pan.  Press out slowly to sides of pan.  (A cookie sheet or 9×13 glass baking dish will also work.)

Try to get an even thickness of about 1/4 inch throughout your pan.  Now pop into 350° oven and bake for 15 minutes, watching the edges in case they get too toasty.  When finished, remove from oven and cool.

Filling:
1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt or sour cream
1 8 oz package of cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup whipping cream

Fruit:
1 cup fresh strawberries
1 cup fresh raspberries

Put it together:  Beat Greek yogurt and next 5 ingredients in a large bowl.  Once smooth, spread evenly over cooled crust. Arrange selected fruit on top and chill for 30 minutes.  Enjoy!

Of course, you get to be creative with the fruit! Use whatever you have growing in your garden or is available at the farmer’s market and you can even add a bit of tropical flare with bananas, mango, pineapple, etc…  I used strawberries and raspberries because I have a good supply. :)

Here’s another way to cool down but this one is adult only.  We’ve named it Mr. Pimms R&B but the R&B stands for raspberry and basil instead of rhythm and blues.  Although, listening to a little rhythm and blues on a warm evening with a cold one of these in your hand would be rather nice.

 

Mr. Pimms R&B

2 shots of Mr. Pimms No. 1 liqueur
1/3 cup simple syrup  (Bring 1 cup of water and 1 cup of sugar to boil, stir until sugar is dissolved, cool)
Juice from 2 lemons
1/4 cup raspberries
4 large basil leaves
Sparkling water

Muddle raspberries, basil and 2 tblsp of lemon juice together in small bowl using back of spoon or mortar and pestle.  Once mashed well, pour into cocktail shaker with Mr. Pimms, the simple syrup and rest of lemon juice. Shake vigorously and strain over glasses half filled with ice.  Top off with sparkling water.  Serves 2. Enjoy!

If by chance you’re wondering about Mr. Pimms, it’s a British thing.  We discovered it in early summer and according to the New York Times it is growing in popularity in the U.S.  And of course, with the Olympics being in London this summer we thought it fun to bring a little British merrymaking to our house!

How about you?  What simple home-made treats do you enjoy during the sultry summer days?

With Bounty We Camp

The garden is brimming as cool season crops stage their finale! I’m harvesting all of the cool season edibles and then pulling them to make room for the warm season crops to take over. The timing is perfect because we are preparing for our annual “big” camp trip to Glacier National Park in Montana and I have devised a plan to use all of this fresh food.

My plan isnt’t anything new to my family as we have taken the cool season harvest with us on the camp trip for three years in a row now. I find it slightly amusing when you consider our camp meals vs. what you might think of as a typical camp dinner.

Are you thinking about hotdogs and baked beans? Well, how about Caesar salad with salmon, taco salad, grilled kale salad, gardeners choice chicken salad, and bratwurst with a side of homegrown broccoli…

After washing the harvest and carefully packing it in coolers, I use it during the first 5-6 nights of our trip. I laughingly say, “eat up more lettuce it’s the stuff that puts meat on your bones,” to the chagrin of the rest of my family. My children roll their eyes but I love eating a fresh, healthy meal in a beautiful natural setting after a full day of activity. It feels great!

Oh, we’re not completely diligent with eating healthy on our camp trip. As my harvest runs out we treat ourselves to some of the typical “fun” camp food like hamburgers, hotdogs, chips, s’mores, etc… It’s a good balance and I love being able to use all of the fresh food I’ve grown.

For the broccoli I cut all the primary heads (enough for one meal) and left the plants to see how the side stems do while I’m gone. Many times I get a lot of production from side shoots.

This year I grew both green and golden snap peas side by side.

Lots of lettuce ready to go!


Grilled kale makes a wonderful salad. I’ll share the Recipe in a future post.

How about you? How is your cool season harvest going? Have you had much bounty?

Garden Favorites in Early June

Much is happening very quickly in the garden this time of year.   Some of my favorite true blue flowers are in bloom.  This is Veronica austriaca teucrium ‘Crater Lake Blue’ and it is a real peach of a plant if you like perennials that bloom blue, grow at a moderate pace, need moderate water and are a perfect height for the front-mid border reaching about 12-14 inches in height.  The only drawback to this beaut is that it only blooms for a little more than two weeks and is then finished (meaning a nice mound of green) for the season.  Try as I might to get it to rebloom in the Fall by sheering it back right after bloom, I’ve never been successful. I have V. ‘Crater Lake Blue ‘ combined with some black foliage Antirrhinum (snapdragons) that bloom a deep wine color.  I am a little crazy for the combination of black foliage and blue flowering plants in the garden.  The flowers of the snapdragon are just a decadent topping (like vanilla-basil ice cream on a strawberry cobbler) when they arrive. Here is another shot of ‘black and blue’ in my June garden.  This is a Pacific Giant Delphinium and Ninebark Physocarpus opulifolious ‘Summer Wine’.   The foliage of this shrub can look black, brown and even a coppery deep wine color depending on the light of the day.

I really love delphiniums but have had a hard time growing them in previous gardens.  Maybe I have finally found the right spot with this east-facing bed that is semi-protected from wind?

Now a foliage favorite from the same east-facing bed.  The gray artemesia stelleriana ‘Silver Brocade’ at the back of this photo is a great front border perennial ground cover.   In early spring it is very pretty combined with the yellow/golden Sedum rupreste ‘Angelina’ that is seen peeking through the top left corner of the photo.

But I like it today combined with perennial Euphorbia ‘Tiny Tim’ and the foliage of echinacea ‘White Swan’ that will show large white blooms with yellow/orange centers in a few weeks. What’s funny is that I didn’t plan this combination, I just needed a place to put the euphorbia and decided to stick it here.  It’s very happy  and I like it with these companions.

An unplanned success!  A  gardener needs those now and again to balance out the planned uh…shall we say mishaps!

And now a few shots of the Edible Alley. This is the name I’ve chosen for  my raised bed food garden area.  This space is long and narrow sorta like an alley…

This is the smallest bed and it contains strawberries, onions, lettuce, herbs and an artichoke. I’ve  harvested a few strawberries so far and cut some lettuce and rosemary.  Oh, I also have a cauliflower planted and this is my first try growing this veggie.

Here is a photo showing the entire alley and the closest bed is the first one I planted this Spring.  It holds beets, arrugula, kale, lettuces, peas, carrots,  garlic, onions, broccoli, a cabbage and calendula flowers.  I’ve been harvesting lettuce, arugula and beet foliage for a few weeks.

The last bed I planted (just after the 15th of May) contains tomatoes ‘Juliet’, ‘San Marzano’, and ‘Navidad’ along with basil, peppers, lettuce, carrots, onions, kale, cabbage, and a new-to-me variety of snapdragon from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds that has black foliage.

The Edible Alley may look a little sparse now but in a few weeks it will be brimming with food to harvest.  I actually like it at this stage where everything is easily managed because come July / August it can be a force to be reckoned with! (daily)

My last favorite to show is a new clematis, ‘Romantika’ that is blooming on the trellis the ‘wonder builder’, a.k.a. my husband, built last fall.  The blooms are very dark plum reminding me of a yummy Port wine somehow.  Maybe this is a sign I should plant some grapes!

How about you?  How is your June garden starting off and what are your favorites?  Do you have color or foliage combinations you get a little ‘crazy’ over?  Do share!