Sunday, May 30, 2010

Harvest Memorial Day

We have been blessed with beautiful weather for the holiday weekend and a bountiful harvest. So far, we have had two picnics. On Saturday evening we had a picnic with my son and little garden helper. We enjoyed a great spinach salad with a wonderful bacon dressing that "The Italian" prepared. (spinach & and strawberry pictures were posted earlier this week) Yesterday we went to my in-laws for a picnic and enjoyed some of the fresh strawberries over vanilla ice cream. It's a simple, yet wonderful dessert!

A little mixed lettuce, parsley and basil.
Just enough lettuce for a nice salad. I am going to dry the parsley and basil today. They are the two most difficult herbs to dry and keep the color. I don't have a dehydrator. So, I am going to try to dry them in the oven on a low heat. I always wait too late in the season to start drying these two herbs. Hopefully this process will work better then drying them in bags. If not, I have a lot of time to dry some more.

2 of the 4 small heads of sprouting broccoli.
My broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower have bolted quite a bit due to the crazy weather we have been having. I am still hoping to get enough cabbage from this early crop for some nice sauerkraut.

8 oz. of fresh snow peas.
The snow peas are producing like crazy the past couple of day. Hopefully we will get enough for a few dinners and some to freeze.

How do you like that for a strawberry face!!
The little garden helper has been having a hard time staying out of the strawberry patch. I planted that bed for him last year. I think that we will have to make a sign for his strawberry bed.

Harvest total for the week: 8 lbs.

Broccoli - 12 oz.
Herbs (Parsley & Basil) - 4 oz.
Lettuce - 4 oz.
PakChoi - 2 lbs.
Scapes - 8 oz.
Snow Peas - 8 oz.
Spinach - 2 lbs. 5 oz.
Strawberries - 1 lb. 7 oz.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Garden update...most really good...some not so good

The garden really took off while we were gone. Most plants look great. I do have a couple of issues though. ("The Italian" agrees)

Snow Peas...looking good
The snow peas are over 3 1/2 feet high and the english peas are over 2 feet high. I will be able to pick some snow peas tomorrow. favorite lettuce....looking good
All of the lettuce is doing well. We will be having some nice salads this week.

Little tomato....looking good

Tomato plants and basil.....looking good

Celery....looking good
I haven't grown celery for a few years and so far I pleased with their progress

Seed Onions......looking a haircut
I didn't plant any sets this year just seed and potato onions

Some of the pepper plants....looking a little tattered
The bottom leaves on some of the pepper plants are a bit yellow and some of the leaves are a bit tattered from the hail and the weather. I think that I will remove the bottom leaves. That always seems to make them grow better.

Cabbage, Broccoli and Cauliflower.......giant....too big!!
All of them bolted a bit. We have been having some really hot days. I removed some of the outer leaves and now the cabbage does seem to be forming heads. Some of the broccoli was getting ready to flower. So, I picked it. The cauliflower is starting to head despite their size. I am keeping my fingers crossed. I will be planting another crop for the fall.

Some of the potatoes...not so good

I have no idea what is going on with some of the potato plants. At first I thought that they may have rotted, since I have never planted them in bags before. No, they are broken off way down. I have no idea what happened to them. There are no signs of an animal getting in to them. The only other thing I can think of is that when my son plays ball with my grandson. Maybe they kicked the ball onto or into them. I probably won't get any confessions. Please let me know if anyone has any ideas.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

What a difference a week makes!

What a difference a week makes! We got home early this morning and couldn't believe what I saw in the dark. The garden actually grew a foot! The tomatoes, peas and potatoes grew an entire foot while we were away. And guess what???? I have spinach and strawberries! Yes, I harvested 1 lb. 8 oz. of spinach this morning.

My first large spinach harvest ever!

There were only 8 oz. of ripe strawberries...that is, after I ate a few in the garden :)

Well, I think it is going to take me two days to get everything under control. The snow peas are 42" high, the english peas are 26" high, some of the tomato plants are 32" high!! The weeds grew too! I will post some more pictures soon.

Friday, May 21, 2010

A Little bit of New Orleans

So far we have been pretty much eating our way around town, as usual. We have been doing a lot of walking and listening to music. Yesterday we went on a Culinary tour and food tasting. It was very interesting and we were able to enjoy a vast variety of dishes at 7 different restaurants.

This weekend we will go to a couple of different parks and the botanical gardens. The gardens are always amazing.

Well, we are getting ready to go I have gotta go. I will post more details later

I thought that I would post a few typical New Orleans scenes.

This is a place that we like to sit to rest and have a cocktail. It's such a nice view.

A woman in posing in Jackson Square.

A look down the street.

Musicians performing on the street.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Harvest Monday...and Leaving on a Jet Plane!

This will be my last garden post for about a week. We are leaving for our favorite place, New Orleans at 5AM tomorrow! We go there about two times a year. The food, music and people are the best! I will be posting some food, gardens, favorite musicians and more while we are away. I don't think that our garden/house/cat/little helper sitter will be up to the task of posting garden pictures for me while we are away.

Harvest Monday

Some of the Pak Choi was getting ready to bolt. So I harvested it...boy, it was good!

The harvest total was 1 lb. 7 oz.

This was our dinner on Wednesday evening, Spiced Chicken with Pak Choi over rice. The recipe is posted below. The dish may be a little spicey for some....but not for "The Hot Italian" and I! If you don't like dishes that are too spicey....just forget about the hot chilli pepper.

Spiced Chicken with Pak Choi over Rice

20 oz. Skinless boneless chicken breasts
Salt & Pepper
4 Tbsp. Olive Oil
2 Cloves garlic, chopped or crushed
1/2 Large Onion, chopped or sliced
Small Red Chilli Pepper, finely diced
Pinch of Ground Tumeric
1 tsp. Ground Cumin
1 Pint of Tomatoes 
12 oz. Pak Choi
1/2 Cup Cream

1. Cut the chicken breasts into large chunks and season with salt & pepper. Heat the oil in a large skillet and quickly lightly brown the chicken. Remove chicken and set aside.

2. Reduce heat, stir in the onion, garlic and chilli. Fry until soft then add the spices and cook for another minute. Add the tomatoes and continue to fry for a minute or two.

3. Cut Pak Choi into strips, separating the stems from the leaves. Add the stems to the tomatoes, stir and cook for 2 minutes, then add the chicken pieces, cream and 1/4 - 1/3 Cup Water.

4. Return to a simmer, season to taste and cook on low for 5 minutes. Add the green leaves, return to a simmer and cook for 3 minutes.

5. Season to taste if needed and serve over rice.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

What the...

Yes, we had a whopper of a thunderstorm yesterday! We were sitting on the covered porch with my little helper during the storm and then it began to hail.

The largest pieces of hail were a little bigger then a dime.

There was some minor damage to a couple of the broccoli plants.

Only one eggplant was damaged.

All in all, the damage was not that bad and everything will survive! Last year we had two really severe hail storms which caused a lot of damage.

My little helper had a blast playing in the water and stones after the storm. He just got up from his nap so we let him play in his diaper and bare feet!

Friday, May 14, 2010

The Tale of the Decapitated Coleus

Once upon a time there was a beautiful coleus named Religious Rutabaga. One day she was purchased by a woman who brought her to her new home. Even though she was one of many coleus' the woman had. She was the woman's favorite. She was well provided for with love, sunshine and water. The first year at her new home, she grew big and tall. Her colors were magnificent! By the summer's end her colors began to fade and she was getting tired. The woman clipped off one of her branches, rooted her and placed her in a new pot with new soil. She was taken inside and spent the winter with "The Italian" in his office. When Spring arrived., her magnificent colors came alive once again. One day the woman took her outside to enjoy the nice spring weather.

She was so happy to be outside once again! Later that day the winds began to blow! The woman ran outside and moved her to a safe place in a corner on the porch. That evening the woman and "The Italian" went out for dinner. They enjoyed a simple dinner , a couple of cocktails and some quiet time together. When they arrived home, they walked up the stairs to the porch. To the woman's dismay, a rain jacket had blown off the bench and landed on top of her favorite coleus, Religious Rutabaga! She picked up the jacket. Oh no...she was broken at her base! The woman took her inside and clipped off her bottom leaves. She then put her in some rooting hormone and placed her back in the soil. As the days passed, "The Italian" told the woman "I don't think she is going to make it". The woman tended to her every day, hoping and praying she would make it. Then last night, she had perked up! Although she lost some of her leaves, it looks like she will soon be able to go outside and enjoy the sunshine once again!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

More Gifts from Italy!

My In-laws just gave us some more wonderful gifts from Italy! They had some of their purchases from the trip shipped home. There is some nice Balsamic Vinegar, Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Chestnut Honey! I will post some recipes when we use them.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Potatoes and Tomatoes

The potatoes seem to be doing well in the bags that I made. The little helper and I had to add straw two times this past week.

Many of the tomatoes are growing out of the top of their cloches. I covered the tops the past two nights due to the freeze warning. I certainly hope that this crazy weather is over!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Harvest Monday

This weeks harvest consisted of the last two heads of overwintered Romaine lettuce! Oh, and my little helper harvested another poppy!

I only have a picture of the last one...we ate the other one before I had a chance to take a picture.

Saturday, May 8, 2010


I have a collection of about 30 different coleus plants.  Here are pictures of just a few that have started to take on their summer colors. I plant the coleus' with other annuals in the many pots that we place on the deck and porch.

Fire Dragon

Religious Rutabaga

Kiwi Fern

Giant Fantasy


Lime Light

Trailing Red

Friday, May 7, 2010


All of the strawberry plants have little strawberries already!! Can't wait to eat them!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Working Wednesday

My little helper and I got a lot done today. We planted the peppers and eggplants this morning. Then I weeded and did some maintenance in the other beds.

Here is one of the peppers that we planted amongst the sorry looking spinach. I hope that the spinach improves. I planted it twice and the results are not that good. Maybe I should start some inside and overwinter some this fall for next year. I will keep trying though.

Sorry looking spinach

Peppers planted:
2 - Jalapeno
1 - Serrano - Tampiqueno
1 - Cayenne - Long Thick Type
1 - Hot Cherry - Red Cherry Bomb
1 - Paprika - Hungarian
2 - Orange Sweet Bell
2 - Yellow Sweet Bell - Corona
2 - Red Sweet Bell - World Beater (Ruby Giant)
2 - Corno Di Toro - Long Red Sweet Italian Bell

Here are the pepper plants we planted in pots for my in-laws. They are ready to go!

The eggplants are planted in between the cauliflower, broccoli and cabbage. Most of them have seemed to bolt a bit from this hot weather, especially the cabbage. I snipped off some of the lower leaves. I'm not sure if this will help though. I only need enough cabbage to make some sauerkraut.

2 - Early Black Egg
3 - Rosa Bianca
2 - Black Beauty

Sophia's Garden

After bathing the little helper, putting him up for a nap, I took a little break, fixed the lawn mower, then mowed the lawn! Later in the day we planted 4 tomatoes and  5 peppers in Sophia's first garden. This evening my sister in-law picked up her tomato plants, pepper plants and herbs that I grew for her. The greenhouse is finally empty of everyones plants except for mine! Now, I can focus on my coleus collection (my husband calls it the Coleus Calamity!) and annual flowers for the flower pots.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Harvest Monday

There wasn't much to harvest this past week. I am holding out on my last two heads of overwintered romaine lettuce. They will be the last fresh lettuce for a while. My helper and I did harvest enough dandelions for another batch of dandelion jelly...just in time before they went to seed.

We are harvesting and using fresh herbs from the herb garden: chives, oregano, sage and bay leaf. (the bay leaf tree is still inside) "The Italian" uses the canned and frozen vegetables I put up last year on a daily basis as well.

My little helper harvested the first poppy of the season!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Saturday's gardening work

Yesterday was spent on plants and plantings for others.

My husband and I set up four tomatoes in pots for my in-laws on their second floor porch. (Birthday present for my father in-law) The tomatoes are in large pots with tomato cages and Kozy Koats. They have too much shade in their yard for veggies to do well. Later this week we will plant some peppers in smaller pots and place them with the tomatoes. My sister in-law gave him a nice self-watering pot for growing some more veggies! They will have a balcony garden this year!

 Earlier in the morning, my little garden helper and I helped our neighbor Sophia plant some herbs in her first garden. She has always helped me in my garden and loves gardening. Her grandfather is a tomato farmer in Ghana Africa. Sophia came here 5 years ago and has been my buddy ever since she arrived. We are going to plant more herbs, tomatoes and peppers in her garden.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

This week in the garden

Happy Cabbage

This bed contains the broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and a few potato onions. They are doing great! This year I planted two varieties of broccoli, Walthan 29 and Calabrese (an Italian type) Early Snowball cauliflower and Chieftan Savoy cabbage. This is my first time planting potato onions. They look good. I hope that they are productive.

The pre-sprouting of some of the new seeds from Italy. Two tomatoes, San Marzano and Early Pack 7 and an eggplant variety Lunga Violetta Di Firenze. I have no idea where I am going to plant one of the two tomatoes. I am running out of room!

I started my squash and melons in pots. One pumpkin plant for my little garden helper, 4 Sweet Dumpling, 4 Spaghetti squash, 3 Cantaloupe - Muskmelon Kansas, 3 Cantaloupe - Organic Delicious and 2  Zucchini - Cocozelle Italian. I will direct sow my cucumbers and beans.

Two beautiful blooms on the clematis already!