• 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.
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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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Harvesting Peas

Several days ago, finally, harvesting day at the pea patch.  The pea plants are robust with lots of pea pods hanging on the vine ready to be harvested. 

Thanks to the cool, wet weather which peas thrive on made this summer a bumper crop.  Peas need to be harvested early, if not, it will be tough with bitter-tasting.  Especially when temperature start to reach in the 80’s and beyond.  Peas could not tolerate heat eventually they quit producing peas, then the plants began to  turn brown.   So  keep harvesting while they are at their best.

Green Arrow is my preference in shelling peas.  Sweet with pea taste,  just wonderful,  also easy to shell.  A prolific producer with 10 to 12 peas in the pod.  Green peas have been known to have nutrition value that is good for you.  Vitamins A, B, C, protein, carbohydrates, calcium, iron,  phosphorous, potassium.  Sprinkle fresh peas on salad, steamed, mashed or mix with other ingredients, anyway you use them they are good for you.

A recipe I have used for a long time.  Delicious with home-baked rolls.

 

CREAMY GREEN PEA SOUP

Remove the peas from the freezer just before starting the soup so that when you are ready to process them, as the stock simmers, they will be only partially thawed.  To preserve its delicate flavor and color, this soup is best served immediately.

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

8 medium shallots (about 5 ounces), minced

(about 1 cup) or 1 medium leek, white and light green parts chopped fine (about 1 1/3 cups)

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

3 1/2 cups canned low sodium chicken broth

1  1/2 pounds frozen peas (about 4  1/2 cups), partially thawed at room temperature for 10 minutes (see note above)

12 small leaves  lettuce,  (about 3 ounces) leaves washed and dried

1/2 cup heavy cream

salt and ground black pepper

Heat butter in large saucepan over low heat until foaming;  add shallots leeks and cook, covered until softened, 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add flour and cook, stirring constantly, until throughly combined, about 30 seconds.  Stirring constantly, gradually add chicken broth.  Increase heat to high and bring to boil, reduce heat to medium low and simmer 3 to 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, in workbowl of food processor fitted with steel blade, process partially thawed peas until coarsely chopped, about 20 seconds.  Add peas and lettuce to simmering broth.  Increase heat to medium high, cover and return to simmer, simmer 3 minutes.  Uncover, reduce heat to medium low, and continue to simmer 2 minutes longer.

Working in 2 batches, puree soup in food processor until smooth; strain into large bowl.  Rinse out and wipe saucepan;  return puree mixture to saucepan and stir in cream.  Heat mixture over low heat until hot, about 3 minutes.  Season to taste with salt and pepper, serve immediately.

Serving 4 to 6   Makes about 6  1/2 cups

Enjoy !

Recipe source:  The Cook Magazine

TOMATO SEEDS

These are tomato seeds I used every year.  Most are oganic.

 Cosmonaut Volkov – OG. Heirloom, 72-75 days.  Indeterminate, needs staking.  Mature early in the season.  Very tasty , round red fruit weigh up to 1 pound each.  A wonderful tomato.  Named after the famous Russian cosmonaut Vladislav Volkov.

 Brandywine OG.  Heirloom 85 to 90 days.  Indeterminate.  An old Amish dating back to 1885,  I have been growing these variety for many years.  It has never failed me.  Good flavor.  A potato leaf variety with large red slightly flatened fruit.

Heinz OG.  68 days.  Determinate, a bush type plant.  Heavy yealds, early, sweet taste not tart like some other paste tomatoes.  Ripens all 2 1/2 -3 oz fruits before frost.

SEED STARTING

 

Growing your own seeds is fun and easy.   I have been sowing my seeds in the greenhouse for many years.  Timing is critical for success.  Soon I will be sowing peas in a reusable polystyrene trays with  individualized pyramid-shaped cells which virtually  eliminate transplant shock.   I have been using this type of tray for several years.  You may find the trays here http://www.groworganic.com/ , those mushroom containers, milk carton, tofu containers, yogurt/pudding cups,  they are all perfect for seeds starting.  First you need to clean the containers with a solution of 9 parts of water and 1 part of  chlorine bleach, followed by thorough rinse with water.  The picture on the left is the polystyrene tray where I sow garden pea seeds.

Need to remember too, peppers, eggplants, tomatoes are slow germinating.  You want this to start early, especially when summer is short in your area.  I sowed tomato seeds in March, peppers a little bit early in January.   The peppers have germinated well,  I spray them with chamomile tea to prevent damping off a fungus type disease.  Broccoli and cauliflower sowed in the greenhouse as well as herb seeds later this month.  The rest such as summer squash, pumpkins, lettuce, collard, kale,  carrots all directly sowed in the garden.
Use sterile soiless seed starting mixes.  Either you make them yourself or store-bought. Do not use garden soil as this contains weed seed, harbor diseases and tend to be muddy, hard and reducing germination and root growth.  Seed-starting mix containing sphagnum, vermiculite, limestone, and gypsum.

Read the seed packet for instructions and carefully determine when you have to start sowing, and  tinning the seedlings.  Germination can vary from few days to several weeks.  This depending on what variety of seeds you are sowing.  With my experience, you need to sow the seed thinly, over crowding will produce weak seedlings.  Into medium barely cover seed with starting soil and gently press into mixture.

Label and date each variety as you work.  This is important, if not you will forget which variety of seed you sowed.  Water lightly with a spray bottle.  Keep the soil moist as this important for gemination.  Then cover flats with clear plastic and keep out of direct sunlight. 

Remember to remove cover for an hour or two everyday to provide air circulation.  Most seeds germinate well between 70-75F.  I used heating cable that is buried under soil and the containers or flats I rest on it.  It worked well as long as you keep the heating cable on all the time.  Don’t forget to remove covers once 50 to 70% germinated.  Remove flats or containers from heat to prevent seedlings grow thin and leggy.

Place seedlings in a bright, sunny window or if you are lucky a greenhouse.  If you do not have adequate light use artificial light 12 to 14 hours each day.  I used plant fluorescent light in the green house after dusk.  I keep checking the seedlings for fungus disease.  This is their crucial time.  Seedlings require little fertilizer.  As they mature apply your favorite fertilizer


It is so much easier to thin seedling when they are larger. generally 1-2″ tall.  Thinning is necessary to prevent crowding.

Before transplanting in the garden, acclimate the seedlings outdoors 1to 2 weeks,  this is called hardening off.  Select spot out of direct sunlight and away from wind.  If nights are still cold bring them inside.  After several days, provide 3 to 4 hours direct morning or afternoon sun.  Gradually increase daily exposure to sunlight.

Move young plants to garden for transplanting preferably on cloudy day or late afternoon to minimize transplanting shock.   Set out hardy plants after heavy frost has passed.  Set out sensitive plants once night-time above 58F.  I covered sensitive plants with a sheet when the forecast called for low temperature.

Happy Gardening