10 06 2013


Last fall I tried again with the allium family. We eat onions and shallots and garlic and leeks all year long; they are a staple I can always use more of. Previous attempts to plant them, though, had not met with success. Until this year! The leeks didn’t survive, we got a couple small onions, and the garlic isn’t heading up the way I’d like, but the shallots! Quite the bounty.

After pulling, I “cured” them by letting them sit, with greens on, in the turned off oven for a week. Then I clipped the tops and roots off and hope to keep them in a cool dry place for a few months. Assuming we don’t eat them all before that time. 🙂



Postal Delivery

9 05 2013


Look what came in the mail today! Tomatoes, zucchini, oregano, thyme, and basil.


A fava primer

15 07 2012

This blog could also be titled, “Try not to be depressed with how long it takes to end up with so few favas.”

I like fava beans. But they don’t have a big ROI when it comes to effort. I have grown them once before and decided to plant them again this spring as soil fixers. Here’s the bunch I picked about an hour ago:

Here they are again with a ramekin for reference (I plan on putting all of them in the ramekin once they are blanched and peeled):

Now – to get to the point where you can eat them, you’ll need to shell, blanch, and peel them. Here we go…

They shell kind of like peas, but you have to really man-handle the squishy fluff filled pods:

Put them all in a pile, or you can be crazy like me and sort them into similar sized piles; they can really vary in size!

Bring some water to a boil, and toss your favas in to blanch. I do the large ones for a count of 90, the medium for a count of 60, and the small for a count of 30, starting with the large in the water and adding each smaller size as 30 counts has gone by. You really don’t have to worry too much about this; you’ll just end up with favas with different levels of cooked-ness if you don’t separate. Not a big deal. We’re talking less than 90 seconds here.

Strain out of the water with a slotted spoon and set in a bowl for the next step:

To peel, some people say you can squeeze and they pop right out. I do not find this to be the truth. I use my thumbnail to help the process along:

And once you get through all those little suckers, viola! 1/2 cup of favas.

I think I’ll make a salad with these, lettuce, hard-boiled eggs, and some parmesan shavings.


The first tomatoes of the year

11 07 2012

It’s veggie CSA day and we got our first tomatoes! Cherry tomatoes, some romas, strawberries, basil, parsley, lettuce, plums, zucchini, cabbage, spring onions, potatoes, and eggs. I swapped some cucumbers for more onions because they were too huge, and also because I’ve been pickling and just can’t handle cucumbers in the fridge right now (the hubby was not a big fan of this decision).

And not only have I been pickling, I’ve been making jam, mustard, ginger beer (haven’t tasted it yet) and my own mayo. Out of control? I might have busted the blender…

Those carrots are from our backyard! Best harvest we’ve had. Last year was an arugula year; this one was a carrot year. We enjoyed a few at a time from the garden for a month or two and then one decided to flower so I pulled ’em!

One was gi-NORM-us!

It’s not exactly State Fair worthy, but pretty darn good for a humble back yard garden, if I do say so myself.

Here they are all washed up and ready for pickling. Oh, how I love pickled carrots with hummus. Or plain. Or in a bloody mary.

Today is special for another reason – it’s my friend Alison’s birthday. Happy Birthday, Alison! I blogged just for you.

Fall Gardening

2 10 2011

I’ve been puttering quite a bit this weekend and one of the big things I accomplished was doing the last of my fall planting before the rains start (tomorrow – deadlines are GOLD I tell you).

This year we have lots going on: peas (72!!), arugula, carrots, 4 kinds of beets, turnips, radishes, cauliflower, onion, endive, chives, radicchio, and celeriac. In addition to our annuals, mostly on their 2nd or 3rd year: lemon, lime, olive, strawberry, rosemary, mint, thyme, lemongrass, and the newest addition, bay. We re-potted Justin’s olive trees, and planted the new bay tree, and put them in a corner of the yard that gets good sun and usually is mostly dead grass anyway.

I’ve learned a lot about gardening at this point (although, I’m pretty sure I’m still gardening at a kindergarten level, but I have plenty of time to learn). Things like, we may never have a true lawn because our sun is spotty and our drainage sucks. Maybe we’ll investigate Heavenly Greens? Could we stand it? Can I just slowly take over the dog’s running space with plants? Anyway. I’ve also learned to be liberal with the sluggo and to shake it over the plants every other week at least. And to spray the citrus trees with garlic oil right after watering them to scare off the “rodents” that like to nibble on the new nubs of the tree. I’ve learned that somewhere in this city there is a squirrel (weird!) that likes to hide walnuts in my planting beds, and that if I water at night I stand a better chance of not finding my seedlings dug up the next day by a neighborhood cat attracted to my fluffy soil. I’ve also learned some seed saving techniques, including how to ferment the seeds of my best tomatoes so that I can work towards actually having more than a handful harvest next year. Here is one of the jars I have set out for next year:

A beautiful little yellow tomato that did really well in our yard this year. You have to let the seeds sit in water in the sun for a few days until scum develops on the top, get rid of the scum and the water, and then dry out your seeds on paper towels or coffee filters.

I have also discovered some great tools online, including the Mother Earth News Vegetable Garden Planner (which you can try out for free for a month) that helps with succession planting, frost dates, etc. Here’s my map for what I just planted: GardenPlan

Completely unrelated to gardening, I also ordered a new stove/oven today! I’m so excited I can hardly contain myself, clearly. Ours has started varying the oven temp by +/- 100 degrees randomly, and heating the entire stove top when using the eyes. Not good. Especially not with Thanksgiving on the way.

Speaking of poultry. I have a chicken post to share soon. Alison – do not read it. : )

The point of gardening

19 03 2011

In addition to the stress relieving activities of weeding, digging, planting, and watering, and sometimes getting some food out of the deal, one of the best fruits of a gardener’s labor are flowers:

Tulips and freesias are two of my favorite flowers. The daffodils and purple crocuses look great together in the yard.  And of course I love the calas too.

Our fall planting is doing relatively well. Being new at this, I figure if we get to eat half of what we plant it’s worth it. The beets are refusing to grow, even after 2 rounds of planting. I blame the slugs and snails. But the kohlrabi and arugula are doing fantastic:

At least…I think the kohlrabi is doing fantastic…I don’t really know, not having grown it before. It certainly looks happy in the foreground of the above picture.

The arugula has been incorporated into many a meal at this point (and I’m still at war with the neighborhood cat that will not stop digging up the carrots planted right behind):

How long does a cabbage take to grow? I have no idea but this one looks promising:

And we’ve had a few unexpected additions, thanks to the rain and a rotting stump hanging out in the border:

Now if only we could get our mud patch of a yard to be grass again…

What a difference a week makes

7 02 2011

I was nervous about the garden this last week. We were on vacation and I knew the weather would turn warm. Luckily, the plants seem to be A-OK in the water dept now that they’ve received a welcome back soaking. The calas are gorgeous of course:

And some of the tulips I planted right before we left are already inches above the ground (in front of the staghorn’s stump-stand)!

(Can anyone tell me why my artichokes keep laying down their outermost leaves?)

The rose is doing well, the daffodils up, the crocuses blooming, and the freesias and thyme looking great:

Also – the lemon tree is blooming at last:

I have lost another battle in the war I am in with the neighborhood cat that has decided my veggie bed is its new litter box. Carm has been chasing it out of the yard at night, I (drunkenly) sprayed it with a hose one time, and I thought we were making progress, but I had spread chili flakes all over the area it had been hanging out in before we left and it appears that it just moved to a different row of veggies. Now I’ve lost a bunch of carrots and some cabbage. Bastard cat. I read somewhere that orange oil discourages late night feline garden visits…any other advice?