• Last spring my garden is alive after along winter sleep. Plenty of work to be done. Planted many vegetable seedlings grown in the greenhouse. Lettuce, carrot (sowed direct into the ground), collard, kale, Swiss chard, corn, pumpkin, potato, beet, summer squash, tomato and leek. The garden is doing great. Just yesterday I harvested several zuccinni. Right away I made zuccinni chocolate cake. It is always a joy to be able to harvest from your own garden and cook with the vegetable that you grow yourself. Gardening is an excellent exercise for body and mind. Regardless how big or small your garden is.
    Thank you for coming by.

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Summer Gardening Tips

Mid-summer my garden still thriving in spite of the heat.  Usually in the month of August here in the McKenzie valley, Oregon warm not overly hot without humidity.  Since late spring when all seedlings are in the ground, I have been faithfully weeding, watering, and fertilizing to keep them healthy until harvest day.

Next summer, if you want to keep your garden growing and being able to harvest a bountiful vegetables from your garden, you might want to consider this.

In addition using well-known water wise techniques such as drip irrigation and mulching, try grouping your vegetables according to their water needs when you plant them.  That way you can vary their amount of water you give different plants of your garden.  In general try giving your crops no more water than they need, rather than as much as they can withstand.

Mulching the plants is also beneficial suppressing the weeds and keep the moisture in.  Use chemical free grass clippings this is important because you do not want toxic substance in your vegetables.  They also can kill your plants.    Compost as well as shredded leaves are good for mulching and an added benefit for the vegetables.

To fertilize  I use a combination or compost tea and 2 tablespoons of fish powder per gallon diluted with water.  I make my own compost tea, you can get them in the nursery, but, do ask how they make their compost.  You do not want to feed your plants with unknown ingredients.

Happy gardening………

Spring is almost here

The sound of tree frogs croaking in the distant meant spring is almost here.  Time to think of gardening.

As usual every morning I would visit the greenhouse to look if the seedlings need watering.  While busy looking around, I notice a tree frog not far from the peat moss container.  It unusual to see one so close.  I let the frog out into the garden.

Tree frogs are only about an inch long.  Which makes them hard to see even where they are plentiful.  Ponds and wetlands where they can be heard croaking on wet nights especially if temperature is above 40F.  Although they are excellent climbers they are rarely found in trees.

The frogs can be found at night with flashlight by quietly following the sound to the source, although they will quit calling when searches get close.  During the day they can often be found under boards or other corner in or near wetlands.  Just about any wetland habitat with shallow standing water that does not dry up before June is good place to hear and find these frogs.

 
                                       Photo courtesy Chris Carney stock.xchng

Grow Herbs Indoors For Fresh Flavors

Since there is less gardening to do outside at this time of year, there is more time for growing herbs inside.  Most herbs that grows outdoors can be grown indoors on the kitchen window sills where you can harvest as you need it.

In late fall fragrant herbs can be started from seed or by dividing a perennial from an outdoor garden.  As long as they get at least five hours of direct daylight per day in a room that stays at 60 to 70 degrees F. Many herbs will do fine indoors.

Annuals such as basil, coriander (cilantro), dill, summer savory, and perennials including catnip, chamomile, chives, lavender, marjoram, oregano, rosemary, sage and thyme, can started from seeds indoors in the fall or winter.

To start herbs from seed, plant seeds directly into containers in loose, well-drained soil.  A mixture of coarse sand, peat moss and loam works well.  Place seeds on soil surface and cover with soil about twice the depth of the diameter of the seeds.  Keep in a 65 to 70 degrees F.  room temperature.

Water each pot gently, daily, preferably with a spray bottle of water.  Cover with a wet paper towel until the seeds germinate, to prevent mold or fungus infections.  Remove the wet paper for a couple of hours and expose them to fresh air.

Once herb seeds sprout, put them in a cooler area  with indirect light.  Turn the containers daily to keep them growing straight.  When the seedlings have two sets of leaves, thin them to about one and one-half inches apart or transplant them into their final home.  Dill with a taproot, does not transplant well.  Fertilize lightly with a well balance fertilizer.

 

TOMATO SOUP WITH FRESH HERBS

Delicious soup bursting with flavor.

1 tablespoon olive oil

3/4 cup chopped onion

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano or basil

1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme or 1/4 teaspoon dried

5 cups diced fresh tomatoes (2 pounds)

1 1/2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth

2 1/4 tablespoons tomato paste

2 teaspoon sugar

Fresh herb sprigs for garnish

In large saucepan, heat oil over medium heat.  Add onion, garlic, oregano or basil and thyme and cook, stirring often, until onion begins to soften, about 5 minutes.  Add tomatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes.  Stir in broth, tomato paste and sugar.  Season to taste with salt and freshly ground pepper.

Bring soup to a boil.  Reduce heat, simmer uncovered, 15 minutes.  Process soup in food processor until smooth.

Ladle into serving bowls and garnish with fresh herbs.

4 servings

Calories 137

Enjoy !

Rosemary and Thyme

Happy Halloween

At this time of the month there are plenty of pumpkin to choose from.  Pumpkin is a member of the Cucurbita family, large trailing vine with heart-shaped leaves.  They are in reality a winter squash.

Pumpkin are high in vitamin A, B, and C, iron, phosphorous and potassium.

About 99 percent of the pumpkins sold in the grocery store are used as jack-o-lanterns.  These large, deep orange color pumpkin is a variety called Connecticut Field are stringy to eat and high water content.   They are not good  for eating, suitable for carving only.

Smaller size pumpkin called “pie” or sweet varieties have sweeter flesh that is less watery making these the best for eating. 

My favorite sweet pumpkin for eating are winter luxury and New England Pie.  Winter luxury will grow 5-7 pounds, it has a unique netted skin, dense and sweet tasting.  New England Pie, will grow 4- 6 pounds, dry, stringless and relatively starchy.

The best temperature range is 50F to 55F with relatively low humidity, storing in high humidity will rot the pumpkins.  Store away from light in area with good ventilation.

To keep your home-grown pumpkins or store-bought, cut them into slices pieces or large chunks and microwaved, boiled baked in oven or steamed.  Puree cooked pumpkin meat, freezes well, and can be kept frozen up to one year.    Place one cup portions in ridged freezer containers leaving 1/2 inch of head space, or use freezer bags.  With this method I am able to use in recipes until next pumpkin harvesting 

The most prominent Halloween symbol is of course the carved pumpkin with lit candle inside.  This is an Iris tradition of carving a lantern, which goes back centuries.  These lantern usually carved from a potatoes or turnips. The pumpkin carving was first associated with Halloween in North America, where pumpkin was more readily available, much larger and easier to carve. 

For delicious Halloween treat……

ROASTED PUMPKIN SEEDS

Roasted pumpkin seeds, also know as “pepitas” are wonderful nutritious snack.

Cut the pumpkin, scrape the seeds and put them in colander to rinse.  Remove any pulp, strings, (this can be tedious) and dry throughly.  Put seeds in a large bowl, add a few drops of live oil ( I like extra virgin).  Spread on cookie sheet line with parchment paper.  Roast in the oven at 375F until seeds are golden brown color.  Keep an eye on them, and move them around occasionally to ensure even roasting.  cool completely and store in air tight container.

Interesting Pumpkin Facts

Pumpkins are grown on six of the seven continents, and they range in size from less than a pound to over 1000 pounds

Pumpkins were once thought to be beneficial for treating snakebites and for removing freckles.  They are typically 90 percent water !

Morton, Illinois, USA, is the self-proclaimed “Pumpkin Capital of the World” where Nestle USA/Libby will process 2.4 million cases of pumpkin between August and October !

Happy Halloween and have a save one…….

Autumn Harvest and October Gardening Calendar

Autumn Harvest

Late August through October is my hectic time in  the garden.  Harvesting every other day before frost arrive.  From the garden, juicy tomatoes, carrot, pumpkins, digging the potatoes, kale, mustard, chard, etc.  The orchard, apples, pears, plums, strawberries, raspberries and last month blueberries.

So far this year has been excellent, over abundance of everything.  That is good for my hard work.  (smile broadly)

October is the month to start preparing the garden for winter and next year planting.

  • Spade or till available organic matter such as tree leaves, into the empty spaces in the vegetable garden.
  • Mass plantings of one type or color of spring bulbs masses a more effective display than mixing them.  I’ve place an order for next hear bulbs.  Waiting with excitement.
  • Scrape loose bark from trunks, forks and main limbs of apple trees to eliminate sites where insects could winter.
  • Save seeds from vegetable and flower garden.  I have gathered cosmos and marigold.
  • Plant evergreens now and winter rains will do the watering.
  • Dig and divide rhubab (should be done about every four years).
  • Rake and destroy disease infested leaves. apple, cherry and rose., etc.
  • Harvest squash and pumpkins.  Store in dry area 55F. to 60F.
  • Dig and store potatoes in a cool, dry and dark location so they don’t turn green,
  • Clean and oil gardening tools, coat with handles with raw linseed oil to prevent cracking.
  • Mulching around azaleas, rhododendrons and roses will keep weeds from invading and will protect the roots that are close to the surface from severe cold.
  • Correct any drainage problems in the yard before the winter rains begin.
  • Devide crowded perennials.
  • Harvest sunflower heads and hang them in a warm dry area to dry the seeds.
  • Shake off dead rose petals, allowing hips to form.  Plants will then wind down and go dormant.
  • Early October begin manipulating light to force Christmas cactus to bloom in late December,
  • Store garden supplies, fertilizers in safe, dry place out of reach of children.
  • Ripen green tomatoes indoor.
  • Clean and paint greenhouses and cold frames for plant storage and winter growth.

 Happy Ggardening……

 

For the compost and vegetable garden

 

 

Mustard Greens and a recipe

 

 

Mustard greens a botanical family from Brassicaceae, a staple in my garden.  Packed with vitamin A and C are very good source of folic acid.  Plus, they are rich in calcium.  This nutritious vegetable also contain chemicals called indoles that may protect against breast and colon cancers as well as heart healthy antioxidants.

Green Wave Mustard, (Brassica Juncea) is my favorite, with a hint of horseradish or wasabi.  Use tender leaves for salad, stir fries or steaming.  It may also be place into a blender and blended with fruit juices for a nutritious drink.  It makes excellent addition to soups.

Broad green leaves with ruffle edge.  Slow to bolt (seed).  The mustardy taste mellows when cooked.  It will come back when cut.   They survived winter under row cover here in Pacific Northwest.  In spring they will blossoms then go to seed.   Birds,  especially Chickadee enjoys their seeds.

Here is a  recipe using mustard greens.  shredded cooked chicken or canned beans make nice additions to this substantial soup.

ITALIAN GREENS, TOMATO & PASTA SOUP

2 tablespoons olive oil

1cup frozen chopped onions

1 teaspoon minced garlic

2  14 1/2-ounce cans fat-free chicken or vegetable broth

1  14 1/2-ounce can diced tomatoes with juice

2 cups fresh mustard greens, coarsely chopped or frozen, or one 10-ounce box frozen leaf or chopped spinach

1/2 cup small pasta shape, such as orzo, tiny bow ties or tiny shells

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

In a large pot, heat oil over medium high heat.  Add onions and garlic and stir until the onions begin to color, about 4 minutes.

  Add broth, tomatoes, mustard greens or spinach, pasta, red pepper flakes and black pepper.  Bring the soup to a simmer and cook until the pasta is tender, about 6 minutes.  Serve sprinkled with cheese.

Prep. time 8 minutes   Cooking time 15 minutes   Makes 4 servings

183 calories per serving

Enjoy !

Abundance Berries in Your Garden, Freeze it

If you have  an abundance berries from your garden here is a few good way to preserve for winter consumption. Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries and gooseberries the lesser known berries in America is suitable for freezing.

Such great tasting berries, blueberries and strawberries are rich in antioxidants.  Some berries, including raspberries and blackberries also contribute a good amount of fiber to your diet, which helps lower your risk of developing heart disease and certain cancer.  So adding berries to your diet is a wonderful idea.  Berries average about 25 calories and zero grams of fat.

Berries, when frozen properly, can be stored in the freezer for up to 9 months. Freezing your own berries is far less expensive than purchasing berries from the store every time you make a berry smoothie or berry treat.  

Frozen Strawberries

1. Gently was the fresh berries. If you are freezing blueberries, don’t wash them before hand because it will toughen the skins. Instead, wash the thawed blueberries before using.

2. Pat the berries dry with a paper towel.

3. Arrange the berries in a single layer on a baking sheet.

4. Place the baking sheet in the freezer until the berries are firm. This will help to prevent the berries from sticking together in a big clump.

5. Once the berries are firm, remove them from the freezer and transfer the frozen berries to a freezer-weight resealable plastic bag.

6. Place the bag of berries in the freezer and store for up to 9 months.

A delicious recipe perfect for lazy summer.

Strawberry Smoothie

3 cups milk

1 lb strawberries

4 generously piled tablespoons vanilla ice cream

1/4 cup sugar or more to taste

1 teaspoon vanilla

6 tablespoons whipped cream

Blend first five ingredients in blender.  Pour onto tall glass.  Top with generous whipped cream and one or two whole strawberries.

Serving 4

Note:  you can substitute milk for soy or coconut milk.

Enjoy !

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