Tuesday, July 29, 2008

What's for Lunch?

Need a quick fix to get rid of some veggies sitting in the fridge?

Slice up some cucumber, zucchini and tomatoes.

Boil your pasta of choice. Top with pesto, olive oil, salt, pepper and lime.

Mmmmm Dip some bread into the pesto and have yourself a snack.

Blanch the zucchini, add the ingredients together and lemon juice for a citrus-y punch.

Snack on some cucumbers.

Chill for 20 minutes and serve!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Bell Peppers

I have these little guys hidden amongst the leaves yesterday.

Bell peppers don't seem to do well in our soil. My neighbors have said the same thing. My friends in other areas have no problems with their peppers. I'll have to study up for next year to see why they are so slow.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

I Have Readers!

Dude, I had no idea I had readers! If I had known that I would have made my posts a little more humorous than "Ok, and now this is the dirt and this is the tomato."

Welcome! Looking forward to seeing all around here more often!

Lemon Cucumbers

What's a Lemon Cucumber?

It's a cucumber that looks like a lemon. They get their name due to it's lemon shape and yellow color when mature. For maximum sweetness, harvest them young. I've been picking them while they are still light green, just as they are turning yellow. You can just bite into the whole thing like an apple. It's a great snacker!
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The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

Sure, I've had many lovely pictures to share, but what you don't see is the 'behind the scenes'. The biggest part of gardening is maintenance. The heat really brings on the weeds and if you let it go too long, your plants are overrun with weeds, soaking up all their water, crowding them, and it's one big nasty mess. The longer you let them go, the more difficult it is to remove them.

Be prepared: Water the soil first to loosen the roots, get some good gloves on, stay hydrated, and be ready to put your back into it. I let them dry out a bit before bagging them up because they are too heavy right now.

I relocated the Cosmos to other areas around the house and cut down a lot of the Morning Glory. I still think that the plants don't have the proper spacing they need, so it looks like I may have to expand the garden a little in the Fall to prepare for next year.



In addition, I still need to create a map of all my plants, so I don't forget where they are and begin mulching in the Fall. I could do it now, but it's just too darn hot!
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As I thinned out the garden today, I snipped some delphinium to display in the kitchen. This has been a very rewarding plant. The plant tripled in size as soon as I planted it into the ground. The blooms are gorgeous violet to blue and come back regularly.

Go here to read more about delphinium.
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Friday, July 25, 2008

Pleeza No Squeeza

At the Farmer's Market at Pike Place in Seattle, there are delights for every heart's desire. I was like a kid in a candy store and I wanted to bring it all home with me.

Growing Eggplants

According to ehow, you should be fertilizing your eggplant plants monthly now and giving them 1" of water a week. I tend to disagree about using fertilizers. Although I can see that mine aren't the size of the ones in the market, they are plenty for 2-4 people.

Trying this recipe this weekend using eggplant instead of zucchini. I also found another blog with some great veggie recipes including this eggplant and lentils. I love lentils!

Today's Harvest

As of today, we have had:
  • 14 eggplants (2 white ones)
  • 3 tomatoes (cherry tomatoes don't count)
  • 26 English cucumbers (but I've lost count now)
  • 2 lemon cucumbers
  • 5 zucchinis
  • 2 ears of corn (more to come)
  • 6 very sad carrots
  • sugar snap peas, snow peas and edamame

The garden beds are way over grown. I never thought I would be able to say that! I spent the evening thinning out the garden and wripping out mint. Mint comes back 10 fold, so I'm not afraid to pull it "all" out. It still finds its way back in. I gave as much mint and basil as I already could to my neighbors.

The cleome, cosmos and morning glories are really taking over. I keep cutting the morning glories back, but they come in thicker this year than last. I don't know why this year's cosmos are different from last years. This year, the stalks are as thick as my dahlias. Last year, they were as flimsy as a thread.

I trimmed the bottom stalks of the perilla plant and it grew into a large umbrella shape. It provides the herbs with shade which is great. They too, are much larger than they were last year. I should make some korean pancakes with them soon.

Ehh, What's Up Doc?

I once watched an episode of Martha Stewart where she showed us how to harvest carrots. She went to her garden and yanked up carrots the length of her arm. She bundled them up and placed them in her wicker basket. So when I was ready to pull out my carrots, I imagined the same results and being able to carry my wicker basket with honor and parade them around the neighborhood.

Ehh, not so much, DOC!

I suspect the soil was just too "hard". Next year, I'll make up a special area for carrots and mix in a lot of peat moss and other things to keep the soil soft enough for the carrots to expand.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Got Basil?

There's more than I know what to do with.

I started by watering the basil and allowing it dry on it's own. This makes the cleaning process a lot easier. Snip the tops off the basil plant. Rinse and lay out to dry. Pick off the leaves and compost the stems.

If you place the stems in water, they will root and grow more basil leaves. I jarred all the leaves and submerged them in olive oil. Displace all the air in the jar will olive oil. Storing it this way will keep it for winter use.

To make pesto, blend fresh basil leaves, garlic, parmesan cheese, salt, pine nuts and olive oil until it's at a consistency that you like.


By the end of summer, I won't want to see another tomato, but right now I look forward to tasting my first heirloom tomato.

Heirloom Tomatoes - These are delicious with just a dash of s&p.

Grape Tomatoes - These are my favorite. They aren't tart like cherry tomatoes. They are the perfect size for snacking, salads and cooking. They also continue to develop over weeks, so there is a steady supply for the summer.

Plum Tomatoes - These are quite large. We won't be able to eat all of these, so I'll just make salsa and tomato sauce with them.

To make and learn how to store your own homemade salsa, go here. I found it really useful.

Record English Cucumber

We have a winner! 14" long

My usual sesame oil, soy sauce, red vinegar, basil, mint, s&p dressing over the cucumbers.

Pickled Cucumbers - 3 weeks ago, I bottled some cucumbers in brine. I tested some out last week and they were delicious! The ones that I pickled in soy sauce were so yummy that I made some jook (rice porridge, congee) to go with it.

The brine was soy sauce, vinegar, water, salt, garlic, red chili peppers.

Grilled Summer Veggies

I love the taste of eggplant and zucchini on the grill. Season generously with salt, pepper, garlic and olive oil. The white eggplant tastes much milder than the purple ones.

2 new zucchinis - I thought that the zucchini harvest was over, but we seem to be getting lots of new flowers on the plants. I put the flowers on the grill too and they taste no different from any other plant. Be sure to remove the stamen in the center of the flower.

I absolutely love these fingerling eggplants. They are so prolific and grow just as large as opposed to last year's eggplant.

Roasted Eggplant dip - When there are too many eggplants and you can't eat them in time, roast them in a baking pan with lots of olive oil, peppers, garlic cloves and onions. Allow to cool, then blend it up in a food processor or blender. Serve with pita chips.


Just today, a new poppy showed up in the garden and it's beautiful! It's so different and such a pretty pink.

These large "carnation" poppies are starting to grow on me. They are quite ornamental and fun!

These are the "peony" poppies which are much prettier, but very delicate.

The poppies were started from seed from Renee's Garden. They were rather difficult to start since the seeds are so small, you don't know if you're getting anywhere with them. Finally, in the early summer many of them germinated and had to be thinned out. Next year, I will relocate them against a fence where they can have more support.

Grey Water

Greywater is lightly used water and comprises 50-80% of residential waste water.

During the summer, keep a container near the sink. If you know you're going to rinse your hands or just rinse a glass out or wash produce, rather than dump it down the sink, dump it into a container. At the end of each night, use the water to water your plants.

Wouldn't you feel better that you're getting a second use out of it? You will save money and your plants will benefit from it. It's okay if it's a little soapy. It will keep the bugs away. Also, fix leaking faucets immediately and replace old fixtures with new ones. They are inexpensive, more efficient and will lower your usage. We replaced our sink faucet and shower head and our water bill went from $33 to $17 and we're just 2 people.

As an experiment, I cooked dinner and cleaned the kitchen afterwards and saved all the greywater. At the end of the evening, I already used 4-gallons of water. It really makes a difference when you look at it that way.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Highlights from the garden

"Carnation" or "Peony" Poppy

I'm sorry to say this, but for such an highly anticipated flower, this flower is just ugly. I started these poppies from seed and they were rather difficult to get started actually. It took weeks and only recently have they grown to size. The flowers aren't very "flowery" at all. I plan on relocating these to give them more support next year.

Corn - Harvested some corn for dinner tonight!

Sugar Snap Peas - I think we have a runner up compared to last year's largest pea.

English Cucumbers

We have had 21 successful English cucumbers to date. They are delicious and great to pickle or bring to work (they retain their water). I've shared many with my neighbors too. The cucumbers are beginning to winde down, but I hope more come back. I wonder if I should trim the lower leaves on the vine?


More basil than I know what to do with! With the rain and heat, the basil has really bolted. I harvested, washed, dried and submerged the leaves in olive oil to save for winter use. I made tons of pesto which I've been eating on everything! I'll post the recipe soon.


I was curious to see the progress on the carrots, so I dug a little bit just to see what it looks like. It's so cute! I don't know when it's time to harvest though???