Thursday, May 27, 2010

Memorial Day weekend

It's only been 5 days and my plants have really taken to the raised bed. Between the heat and rain, everything has really taken off.

My cucumber plants are so tall and so are the zinnias. I noticed some holes in the leaves today so I made a garlic mixture to spray the leaves. I also placed cardboard (toilet paper rolls) around the base of my squash which is suppose to prevent some kinda of worm.

The tomatoes look like they are a couple inches taller than last weekend when I first put them in. I'm thinking about buying a couple of longer stakes for some more support.

We're going away for a couple of days, so I watered everything thoroughly. I look forward to seeing how tall things are after we get back.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Arugula and Spinach

In the garden today: It's been raining off and on. I weeded and started some English cucumber and Lemon cucumber seeds. I also directly seeded some Hollyhock seeds in front of the Dahlias and some Cosmos seeds with the Kale.

Harvested some arugula for a salad.

Harvested the outer leaves off all my spinach plants as well. I will either make a salad or freeze it for future use. It's nice that it rained today because all my greens are mostly clean when I pick them.

In addition, I chopped and frooze my broccoli. I chopped and frooze some parsley along with celery to use as a soup starter.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Summer Garden Beds

It was a warm, overcast day today which made it perfect for some garden maintenance. It seems consistantly warm enough to put all the summer plants out.

In the right raised bed where I was growing escarole, I have from back to front: Persimmon (left) and Grape (right) tomato plant, a sunflower, 4 Pickling cucumber plants, Dill and Cilantro, purple and pink Zinnias, 2 Pattypan squash plants, and Nasturtium seeds tucked in the corners of the front.

I put a "trellis" between the cucumber and tomato plants. I thought they could both benefit from the use of the support. Obviously, I planted the dill near the cucumbers for ease in harvesting both for salads. The zinnias are for color and attracting beneficial insects for pollination. The pattpan squash are going to explode out of the area I planted them, but I just wanted them there anyway. Hopefully, the zinnias will get tall enough before the squash stalks crush them.

Here is the "middle" bed where I planted my broccoli. Broccoli are really heavy feeders, so I added more humus before I planted the tomatoes to make sure there would be enough nutrients for the tomatoes. From back to front: 2 Persimmon, 2 Grape, 1 Black Krim, 1 Roma tomato plant. In between the tomato plants are Genovese and Bush basil, Arugula, Parsley and Nasturtium seeds tucked in the corners again. On the other side are the Pole Beans, more Swiss Chard (trying to get a pink one), 1 Broccoli and 2 Celery.

When the broccoli and celery are done, I'm going to plant more herbs and lettuce in their place. the tomato plants will provide shade as they get taller.

This is our newest addition. I dug this space to plant a Dogwood tree, but since I didn't find one I liked yet I am using it to plant my Yellow squash (which need 36"), and 2 extra tomato plants (Black Krim and Roma). There is a bald spot on the right of this (not shown) that I was thinking of planting a cutting garden bed (flowers that are good for arrangements).

Against the wall, I planted all my Dahlias that I brought in for the winter. There are maybe 6 "plants" with tons of tubers. I forgot to put the tubers in a paper bag with peat moss, so who knows if they will come back. Also, I found a bag of bulbs. I can't remember what they are, but I planted them too. They probably won't bloom this year.

Since I ran out of room in the raised beds, I'm going to start some English Cucumbers and plant them here instead. I will put in a trellis that can support both the dahlias and the cucumbers. Since this is the south facing side of the house, I'm going to plant my nursery bought Biance eggplant here too. They are always so yummy on the grill.

I started some big Apricot Zinnias which are great for cutting. I will plant those here after they get started. I could direct seed, but I prefer starting them in pots first.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Garden Blooms

My First Harvest

After 3 days of rain and a spike in heat this weekend, it was time to harvest the cold weather crops. I didn't want the heat to cause the heads to flower.

Kale, 6 brocolli heads, parsley - You can harvest the outer pieces of parsley and as long as you leave the baby growth in the center of the parsley (the heart), it will keep producing. This is awesome because parsley takes weeks to germinate and then it grows all at once when the heat spikes up. Buying nursery started parsley allows me to use it in recipes for a longer period of time. Truthfully I don't use a lot of parsley in the summer because we're grilling. My mom freezes it, so I'll try that too and reserve my parsley for when I make our special Seafood Sauce.

I read that broccoli is harvested at 4-6". On the plant, the head didn't look that big but once I cut it from the plant, the head was quite large as you see in the supermarket. I took this same picture 5 days ago and you can see the difference in growth in as little as 5 days.

Celery - I'm going to make soup with this! I read that you can havest the outer stalks and leave the center for a longer harvest. I thought the celery was very leafy. I think I was suppose to "blanch" them by burying them in a trench as it grew.

One last look at the garden bed before I harvested my broccoli and kale. I moved things around and planted my tomatoes finally. Broccoli really sucks the nutrients out of the soil, so I'm going to pick up some more organic humus to side dress my tomatoes. I moved my Kale and Eggplant around, because the kale was blocking the sunlight and shadowing my eggplants.

Bright Lights swiss chard - I have gotten a bunch of yellow colored ones so far and 1 red one that didn't make it. I really want to get a pink or fuschia one in the mix to brighten up the garden bed. I'm going to sow some more seeds and see if I can get some pink ones.
Since we are now safely out of danger of frost or really bitter cold weather, I am going to transplant all my squashes, peppers, watermelon and sunflowers. I also need to harvest my spinach and other greens and replace them with my herbs. I'm going to plop some Nasturtium seeds and marigold seeds into the garden bed as well. I'm going to start some more Dill near my cucumbers. I hope they reseed for next year too. The zinnias are doing fantastic! I'm looking forward to this summer!

Monday, May 17, 2010


Each day I am amazed by the growth of these plants. They are huge. The cool rainy weather is helping them too by buying more time for them to develop. Now I know why people were at the nursery so early when the weather was only 45F or so. Next year, I'll start these even earlier. Fortunately, my tomatoes aren't complaining in their pots.

Broccoli head from below. Side shoots with smaller heads of broccoli are beginning to develop too. After I harvest the main head, the smaller heads will develop further for more broccoli goodness.

The heads are measuring 3-4" in diameter now. Some are bigger than others.

I hope we can harvest them soon.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Flower Arrangements

We had some friends over this weekend who were new to our house, so I got everything all spiffy looking. To brighten up the place, I took flowers from my garden and made arrangements that I placed in each room of our house. Here are just a few that I made.

This one was by far my favorite. Yellow roses, Lilac Siberian Irises, Lamb's ear and branches of mint leaves.

Knockout Roses in the main dining room.

Yellow roses and lavendar.

Spiderwort and Lamb's ear for the guest bath.
Also, I arranged a cup of Dianthus in the guest bedroom and red roses and irises for the master bedroom. They were so beautiful that my friends took them home. It's so nice to be able to use things from your garden and bring them into your home.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Escarole Soup

I tried for my first new recipe using Escarole.

  • tiny bit of chopped salt pork, 3 chicken drumsticks, 2 mild italian sausages
  • chopped parsley, oregano
  • chicken stock and water
  • 1 can of cannelinni beans
  • 3 cloves of garlic thickly sliced
  • 1-2 heads of escarole

Cook the salt pork down till the fat melts and the pieces are brown. In the fat, brown your chicken legs and sausages. When cooked, allow to cool and dice meat up. In the same pot, now cook the garlic, parsley and oregano. Do not let the garlic brown. Put the chopped meat back in. Let it all heat back up. Gently add chicken stock while stirring..I eyeball everything. If I had to guess I think it's about 1-2 cups. Add some water too because stock can be salty. Just enough so that the meat is covered. Simmer for a while. Add the chopped escarole and beans.

I cooked some tiny pasta to eat the soup over. Enjoy!

Broccoli Heads

I was wondering when the broccoli would start forming heads since I really need to make room for my tomatoes. I stumbled outside today and to my surprise, they have heads!

I have 8 plants. Once I harvest them, I'm going to thin them out to maybe just 1-2 plants. I'm going to keep the 1-2 plants for the side shoots which form more baby heads of broccoli. I'll freeze them for the winter.

Pickling type cucumbers. I thinned them out to 4 plants. I don't know where I'm going to plant the English cucumbers this year. I also have Armenian cucumber seeds too. Oh my!

Pole beans are really developing. I'm not sure if I'm suppose to cut the first two sets of leaves back to promote upper growth. I'll have to look into that.

Here are the Patty pan squash, yellow squash, watermelon and sunflower seedlings. When the squash get a real set of leaves, I'll plant them out into the garden. I'm not sure where yet either. They get so wide that there is never enough room.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Kale and Escarole Recipes

I have a whole lotta kale and escarole from the garden, so I'm looking up recipes to use it all up. It's a great way to really get me cooking different things and try new recipes.

Using, I looked up some recipes using Kale or Escarole. Below are a few that I would like to try.

Kale has a distinct flavor, but it soaks up whatever flavor it's cooked in. I tend to agree with cooking kale in chicken broth and some garlic. It holds up nicely too as a side dish. It's heartier than spinach, but not as tough as collards.

Portuguese Kale Soup
Kale and panchetta

The only way I know how to use escarole is to cook it down in soups. Escarole has the texture of lettuce, but is bitter tasting if you just sauteed it. I always make some variation of escarole-n-chicken soup or escarole-n-sausage soup.

Escarole and Lemon Sauce
Italian Minestra (soup)
Baked Escarole Parmigiana
Escarole Pie

Escarole before I harvested them today.

Basil likes escarole!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010


Here's an update on the raised bed along the side of the house. The lettuces and such are growing in nicely.

Wide shot of the bed

Bok choy

Radishes (top) and Lettuce (bottom)



Sunday, May 2, 2010

Fairytale Eggplant

It's been a really busy weekend. On Friday, I received 3 Fairytale eggplants that I ordered last year from Burpee. I kept them watered, but they were drying out quick in the little pots they came in. I debated whether I should plant them outside or not since low temperatures at night are still expected. Ultimately, I decided to plant them anyway. It's better than leaving them to dry out and die.

I pulled out the sugar snap pea plants and planted the eggplants there instead. I sacrificed the peas since I know I can plant more in the fall. I buried the pea plants into the soil since they provide nitrogen to the soil when they die. When I dug the hole for the eggplants, I filled it with extra compost. To the left is the kale which I have been harvesting for dinner to make room for the other plants.