• 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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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 !

Backyard Harvest

Summer of 2010 was not a good gardening year here in McKenzie valley, Oregon.  Long wet spring weather, delayed planting, not enough warm temperature.  Tomatoes, pumpkins, peppers all suffered except those cool weather variety vegetables did well.  Such as carrot, lettuce, collard, beetroot, potatoes, leeks.   I harvested a basketful of each vegetables which was not bad at all.  Here are the list of vegetables variety that I grow in 2010.

Shelling peas – green arrow, so prolific with a good pea taste.  Excellent for freezing.

Carrot – Chantenay red color, good flavor with deep orange color.  Good for freezing.  Avoid sowing carrot in wet soil, it will not make straight smooth roots.  Use excess nitrogen will cause splits, forks and hairy roots.

Leeks – a staple in my garden.  Kilimia leek, a summer leek fast growing and tolerates light frost.

Broccoli –  a big disappointment.  The reason was the growing site did not get enough morning sunlight, hence small broccoli head.  Next time a different area with lots of sun.

Lettuce were the best, thrive in cool temperature.  My favorite are, Red Deer Tongue, slow to bolt, mild flavor, tender has red tinged leaves.  Tom Thumb small plants 3″-4″ ball.  A perfect single serving.  I grow this in the greenhouse slow to grow but at least fresh lettuce available through winter.

Collard – also a staple in my garden.  champion variety, dark green and large, have a cabbage like leaves.  Delicious flavor.  I left these growing in the garden through winter.  They survived snow, frost, cold and rain and still growing until spring where they will produce yellow dainty flower which will turn into seed when left alone.

Beetroot – like rich soil, moist and deep.  Use compost or well-rotted manure several days before planting.  Harvest them when reach their desired size.  Ruby Queen variety bought in gardening center, germinated well, good flavor.  I tried many other beetroot, this variety grow well in my garden.

I hope 2011 will be a succesful growing season.

Happy Gardening……

Cherry Plum Tree

Because of a long wet spring,  the cherry-plum trees did not produce as many fruit this year.  a disappointment for me, no jam and chutney to make.   

In the early part of spring the trees were covered with beautiful white blossoms.  So I assumed there will be plenty of fruit.  Well, not at all because lack of bees to pollinate the blossoms.  I discovered, the bees only come by when is warm and sunny.  Sometime, though,  cloudy days the bees will pollinate.  But is seldom happen.

The above image is a cherry-plum fruit.  Fruit size similar to cherry, appearance of a plum including the interior, pit similar to cherry.  The fruit has a plum taste.  Botanical name is Prunus Cerasifera also known as Myrobalan plum.  Latin name Rosaceae.

Cherry – Plum tree in full bloom, the flowers attract bees and when standing near the tree the sound of bees buzzing is awesome. Cerasifera in Latin name means “bearing cherry like fruits”

Happy Gardening…….

Garden Peas

Home grown peas always taste better than store-bought.  Growing your own is easy and you do not need a  large garden to grow this nutritious vegetable.

Pisum Saticum the botanical name for garden peas.  Loaded with vitamin A, B, C, Riboflavin, Protein, Carbohydrate, calcium, Iron, Phosphorous and Potassium.  Adding peas to your diet also has health benefit.  They are excellent nourishment and strength restoring.  Peas contain nicotinic acid reportedly recommended for reducing cholesterol in the blood.  Steam diced carrot and   peas,  mix with meat, or sprinkle on salad.  Anyway you use peas they are healthy and nutritious.  

Garden peas was discovered at all place in Burma (Myanmar) and Thailand by an archeological expedition at approximately 9750 B.C.  This is a much earlier finding than the peas found in bronze age (approximately 3000 B.C.) lake dwellings in Switzerland and Savoy.  The Greeks also cultivate peas and they were brought to Britain by the Romans.  Peas were the first vegetable to be canned and later deep frozen.

Peas are cold weather crop, so plant them early.  I started mine in the greenhouse in flats early February, then,  transplanted outdoors in early spring depending weather condition.  Green Arrow variety is my first choice shelling peas, they are prolific producer, long pods up to 10 peas per pod, excellent pea taste.  Pick them early when they are still tender.  You can find green arrow here  www.nicholsgardennursery.com or www.fedcoseeds.com.

Many diseases affect peas.  The most common is pea root rot (Fusarium or aphanomyces Euteiches), which causes browning and dying of the foliage from the ground up.  This is what happen to my pea crop last year.  Unfortunately not all peas were effected,  probably, in my opinion, some part of the growing area not well-drained.  This year the pea crop growing in a different site of the garden.  Another pea disease to watch is the powdery mildew, those white powdery mold on the leaves, stems and pods in hot weather.  Choose resistant variety. 

When done with harvesting,  pull the stalks and spread them on the ground in a sunny area of the property to dry.  When they all look brown and brittle use your gas driven mower and mow the stalks into shredded particles.  Dried pea stalks have nitrogen content that is beneficial for compost and the garden. 

Peas are good for freezing too.  Shell the peas, spread on a cookie sheet then put in the freezer for several hours or until peas are frozen.  Fill  one gallon plastic bag with the frozen peas, depending how often you use,  it will last until your next planting or longer.  

The recipe below use fresh peas and home-grown potatoes.  Serve this side dish with fish, meat or chicken.  Delicious.

CREAMED POTATOES AND PEAS

3 pound steamed or boiled potatoes, 1/2 cup cooked peas, 1/2 cup sautéed chopped mushrooms, 1 cup cream, 1 cup milk, 2 tablespoons flour, 1 tablespoon butter.

Thicken the milk and cream with flour, braided with a little milk saved out for the purpose, add the butter.  Cook fifteen minutes, put the peas, mushrooms in and pour over the steamed potatoes.  Enjoy !

Happy Gardening.

Cherry-Plum Tree in The Spring


Sunshine, blue sky, wispy white clouds here and there.  Robins chasing the worms and blue jay searching for twigs to build a nest in nearby tree.   Daffodils, crocuses have emerged from their winter slumber.  Spring is in the air.  I love spring everything is fresh and new. 

Another sign of spring is the cherry plum trees in my garden.  They are always the first to bloom showing their magnificent white flowers.  Bees attracted to their strong scent.  I stood one sunny day in front of the trees and listen the bees buzzing along feasting on the cherry plum blossoms it was an awesome sound.   Robins like to eat the fruit too, ripen in late July through August.  To cover trees with bird net it is impossible.  There are plenty of fruit to share around for human and birds. 

Latin  for cherry plum,  prunus cerasifera or the myrobalan cherry tree.  A deciduous tree belongs to the rose family,  (Rosaceae in Latin).  Will grow from 15 to 30 feet.  The cherry plum in my garden is about 25 feet with a spread of 30 feet.  These trees are good for screening neighborhood eyesores.  The flower is about 3/4 to 1 inch with 5 petals.  Fruit size similar to cherry with characteristic of a plum.  Cherry plum taste of a combination cherry and plum.  It has a pit like cherry.  Fruit color is deep red.  My cherry plum tree leaves are deep green, some say they are purple, this probably came from different cultivation.  In autumn the leaves turn reddish-purple.  

Grown in acidic soil, might also be able to grow in mild alkaline soil.   Cherry plum tree prefers full sun and moist soil which is suitable growing condition in Oregon.  The seeds dispersed by wild life.  Walking through my property occasionally I found cherry plum seedlings.  I would dig them out and transplanted in a different place.  A slow growing tree I should say. 

I like eating cherry plum picked fresh from the tree or make them into jam, chutneys, pies and cobblers.  Use recipe as you are making cherry pie.  Last year I made cherry plum jam and taste wonderful. 

  

Cherry-Plum blossoms at its peak.

 

  

Happy  Gardening  

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.