Wednesday, July 29, 2009

REALLY Tasty Green Beans

Tried a new recipe this weekend for green beans. Its really easy as well.

Boil (a rolling boil) the beans for five minutes.

While the beans are boiling make a dressing (roughly for a pound of beans):

two tbs coarse mustard
two tbs vinegar (I used red wine, but white or rice would work, maybe balsamic)
six tbs olive oil
one clove grated garlic
one small minced shallot

Drain the beans and dress while hot.

We ate every bean that could be reasonable picked with this recipe this weekend.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Some Garden Thoughts

I meant to do a big picture post today, but spent all day outside instead. So when I finally sat down to do a post, I am more overwhelmed with thoughts. I have started taking some decent amounts of food out of the garden now, and have developed some strong notions of what is working (in various ways) and what just isn't.

Raddichio - planted a good amount of it and it was basically inedible. It was so bitter that nobody who tried it could eat it, even after a good saute. And it never formed heads. As far as I am concerned, a total waste of time, space, money, and effort.

Lettuce - I planted a great blend from Freedom Seeds and some iceberg from Burpee. All of it that I harvested was great, but I didn't get too much. The rabbits have kept it trimmed. I finally decided to abandon it to the rabbits and they have pretty much left everything else alone. Not a bad trade altogether.

Cucumbers - I planted two varieties, Parisian Pickling from Seedsavers and Tasty Green from Burpee. Both are producing well and this weekend I had pounds of them. Both are productive, tasty, perfect. Last year I didn't plant any and the wife missed them. I am using the fence behind the raised beds as trellis for them and its working pretty well.

Swiss Chard - I didn't plant any and didn't really want to. But then I traded some turnips for some chard with a neighbor who gardens. What a mistake! I got some seed, threw them in the ground and they are doing well and are REALLY tasty when sauted with some garlic and olive oil.

Turnips - I got these from Freedom Seeds as well. I wasn't sure how they would work out because I rarely have good luck with root vegetables, but these were real champions. They matured quickly (I have already eaten all I planted), were sweet, juicy, crisp. Perfect. Now they are on my must have list.

Radishes - Another FS product. French Breakfast Radishes. Fast. Tasty. Fun. Good garden delineating crop.

Beans - I decided to try bush beans (Blue Lake) this year. And it was an inspired choice. I got a master recipe for beans and they are producing like crazy, tasty, tender, perfect.

Zuchinni - Really producing this year. More than last year. Switching beds to the ones near the deck really seems to be paying off.

Pattison Panache Squash - Got a blush of them, picked them small. Roasted them with some balsamic. Succulent.

Strawberries - They stopped blooming and producing a month or so ago (not that they produced much before that). Took a while to figure out what was going on. They are short on potassium (red leaves, good upper growth with no blooms, still sending runners.

Ground Cherries - Really tasty, hope to get enough at one time to add to a fruit salad. Of course I can't get enough because they make a great snack in the garden.

Cherry Tomatoes - Here they come. In spades, in triplicate, in copious amounts! Yay!

Tomatoes - Ripening. I am going to get them in a surge of tomatoes.

Herbs - I skimped on the potting soil. This means that watering has been and issue. As far as being prolific and tasty, no problem.

Anyways, will try to get some pictures up tomorrow and any more thoughts.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Strange Weather Creates Need To Pop

Wow, this unusually cool weather (50 degree lows at night in LATE JULY?) has built up a lot of pent up energy in the garden.

The Tomatoes won't ripen.
The Blackberries won't ripen.
The Zinnias won't bloom.
The Peppers won't grow.
Grapes that have stalled.

As soon as we get some sustained warm nights we will be up to our elbows in food. I was worried that I wouldn't have enough determinate tomato plants to generate enough tomatoes to make a worthy effort of canning, but I think Mother Nature has helped me out.

It makes me think of my favorite Squirrel Nut Zippers lyric "I feel like drivin but my car won't run, I feel like drivin but my mules won't come."

Hope to post some new pics tonite.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Suddenly, I Find Two Things Are Connected...

On July 3 I posted a picture of an unusual bee. Or so I thought. I submitted it to the Univ. of Illinois to identification (I had more pictures than the one here) and they identified it as a "Bee Mimic". It is actually a fly.

On July 7 I found a young dead rabbit in my yard. We have had a couple over the last few years, and two this year. We have been wondering if someone in the neighborhood has been poisoning them.

Now I find out that the fly that was identified is a Cuterebra Abdominalis. Which is a parasite of the Eastern Cottontail Rabbit. Young rabbits that get a large number of the Cuterebra Abdominalis larvae, which lodge in the throat, can be fatal to them.

I think I have a serious parasitic life cycle going on under my deck.

Serious Thanks to the folks at Bee Spotter.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Sometimes You Water The Garden...

...and sometimes you end up watering the kid.

Evidently water droplets gathered by mouth from the air is the best way to get a drink. If you have the time. :)

Good Days

Have some more produce coming from the garden. Here we have one of my favorites that I have never grown before. Bought the seed from These are the best tasting turnips I have ever had. Firm and crisp, but so finely grained as to almost be creamy. Amazing!
Also harvested a LOT of radishes, lettuces, strawberries, bok choi.

Here we have the daughters demonstrating their one of their dance routines. Always fun.
We took some time and constructed a tent/fort in the living room. Loads of fun!

Played with balloons for a good long time. A good time was had by all!

Living large.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Tomato Update

Had a lack of bees, and was worried so I did some hand pollination. Then the bees showed up. Was worried about getting tomatoes. Until this weekend when I took some time, had an epic pruning session and discovered Much Tomato Joy.

My friend Suzy may be far ahead of me, but I will catch up with here soon enough. :)

Here are the San Marzanos, in seemingly perfect little six and eight packs of tomatoes.

Here we have the Romas on an improvised stake. Nice clusters of great little tomatoes.

Here we have the Black From Tulas. Already they have a more dark coloration. Anticipation...

These are supposed to be Green Zebras. But they currently look flat and really light in color. I am not convinced I haven't had a seed mix up (or a prank from the wife!).

Here we have what, so far, are the most beautiful tomato I am growing. Costoluto Genovese. They are growing in these surprisingly tight clusters and look just magnificent. ChristyACB says these make great canning tomatoes, but its going to take an unusual act of mental strength to not eat them. :)
Aunt Ruby's German Green. The tomato my wife is most looking forward to. Supposedly they make the absolute best fried green tomatoes. Around here, thats the official start of garden eatting season.
These Cherokee Purple seemingly jumped popped off the vine. Gorgeous.

The cherry tomatoes (Super Sweet 100) went from zero to mouthfuls in just a day or two.

Here we have some Dr Wyches Yellow. I am amazed at how flat the young tomatoes are!

And the cornerstone of my cornerstone, the most prized tomato of my tomatoes, the Brandywine. Not to many of them, but I knew they were not all that prolific. They look great.

So far, no disease, no splits, no pests, good garden hygiene. Keeping those fingers crossed!

Herbs, Herbs, Herbs

Thought I would drop a quick note regarding my herbs. I have (in order front to back, disregarding flowers) Rosemary, Tarragon, Basil, Thyme, Basil, Oregano, and Sage.

Gotta love those herbs!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Bees!! Glorious Bees!!

So this morning I did my every other day morning bee check. Took Buddy out with me and I am down looking at the squash hoping to spot a squash bee and I hear the ubiquitous "Whassat Daddy", look up and my son is about to get ahold of this guy:

Not sure what kind of bee it is, but its about 2 inches long. Sent a photo off to U of I to get some help identifying it. Buddy was trying to pick it up, so I stopped him and grabbed the camera. Then I continued my tour out front and LO AND BEHOLD the BEES HAVE ARRIVED! Here is my first official spotting of a honey bee, they are all over my Delphiniums! Now I have to figure out how to get them to move to my tomatoes.

There are actually a whole bunch of different types of bees out there including some paper wasps, honey bees, a couple of different bumble bees, etc. Now I just need my beloved squash bees to come back!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Garden Update, and a Brief Diatribe Regarding Rabbits

Hello, its been too long without photos, so without further ado.... The Garden Update...

Here we have the left two beds. The pumpkins, raddichio, tomatoes, etc are doing fine. The peppers (all 5 or 6 kinds) are not doing so hot. Oscar from who lives just north of here is having the exact same problem with his. Also, some of the bok choi went to seed and I was going to cut them, but when I saw the gorgeous little flowers, I decided that I would let them seed and collect some. Hope they breed true!

Below, near to far we have potatoes, sweet potatoes, tomatoes all doing well. Next bed we have turnips, beans, radishes, tomatoes, all doing well and carrots (that bald patch) not doing so well. Furthest bed are melons, ground cherries, onions, shallots and more tomatoes all doing well.

My favorite view.

Lettuce recovering on the right, squash, zuchs, etc on the right.

The raspberries (which I foolishly transplanted in late spring) seem to be taking, but just enough to survive, which if they survive the summer, I am all about it!

The strawberries are doing pretty well, but THE EVIL SUBURBAN RATS ARE EATTING THEM ALL. I thought something (hawk, cat, neighborhood kids?) had gotten the baby bunnies, but, in fact they had only gone to visit and are back. And bigger. And hungrier.

Blackberries a year ahead of schedule. Need I say more?

Grapes. Yummy. Concord grapes. Like I had when I was a kid.

Anyways, thats an update on where its at. Any questions or comments or suggestions appreciated!