Gardening in the Blind


Harvesting already!!
June 14, 2012, 7:48 am
Filed under: outdoor gardening

I can’t believe it.  I have over 75 garlic scapes and one jalapeno that I have harvested out of the garden.  I plan on using some arugula this weekend when Deron’s mother is visiting.  I love that it is already producing meals for Deron and I.  We are eating a more vegan lifestyle (except the eggs I get from my girls, I can’t justify not eating them!) currently and can’t wait for the veggies to be ready.  The farmer’s market near the YMCA is opening this weekend as well.  I plan to check it out.  I find that it gives me great ideas for what to grow next year!

I sautéed some garlic scapes in a little oil and added one jar of my canned tomatoes letting it boil down and boy was it DELICIOUS over some pasta.  Can not wait to add it to an egg!  I love the first of the produce.  It tastes so much sweeter as you have to wait for it.



Two Beds Down

Well I finally tilled two beds and fully planted it out last weekend.  I have been composting chicken poop on top of my beds for over three months.  I felt it was ready to be integrated in the soil.  Unlike rabbit poop, chicken poop is considered hot and needs to be fully composted before you plant in it as it will burn seedlings otherwise.

Onions, Shallots and Leeks oh my!

So after it was spread evenly on the bed, I tilled the first bed.  Last year this bed contained parsnips and arugula.  This year it is going to be the onion bed.  Leeks, shallots and onions are planted with a variety of carrots as the onions help to hide the smell and prevent the carrot fly.  I have 56 leeks, 13 shallots and 59 onions planted.  Hopefully this will be a start for us to use.  I am in hopes of a great crop of shallots this year – they were extra-large.

Moving to the next bed I tilled it in and decided it was going to be the lettuce bed.  Last year it was tomatoes so this will help keep the soil healthy by planting the greens.   It is housing brussels sprouts, 1/2 bed of arugula and many mixed greens.  I had so many mixed greens in packets that each row I planted was a different mix.  It should be interesting to see how it progresses.  The arugula was coming up after just three days.  If you have been a long-term reader you will already know that we are crazy for the arugula.  I usually plant out a complete bed, though this year I am trying to control myself a little more and plant only 1/2 a bed for right now.  I keep reminding myself that I need moderation.  I have to say, moderation is totally over rated so far.  I am going to be creative in my bucket planting for out front this year and don’t be surprised if arugula is included!

Stay tuned in for the first of the tomato beds.  I have a nice variety planted and will discuss them.  But until then enjoy the picture!



Surprise Plants
May 13, 2012, 5:23 pm
Filed under: Garden Planning, Herbs, outdoor gardening

Winter was mild.  Well that is a understatment.  It was bitter-sweet to find some of my plants that were not supposed to survive the winter growing back.  The first I found was tarragon.  This is true tarragon for all the skeptics out there.  It has not only come back, but more than doubled in size.  The picture shows one of three clumps I have growing.  The funny part about this is that I have a 6 pack of tarragon that I planted thinking I would need more.  So, this year I will not be short tarragon at all.  Matter of fact, if you have any delicious recipes that use this herb, please be kind enough to share with me.  I see a lot in my future.  Deron is in charge of finding some recipes to use tarragon, chives and the next unexpected plant growing in my garden….

Lovage is growing wild in one of my beds.  What started out as a cute little plant is now about 30-36″ high.  Again, I have one Lovage plant that I started as this plant was not supposed to over winter.  But it did with a vengeance!  I can’t even give my plant away that I started.  No one is interested as they have never heard of it.  I share a leaf or two with them so that they can see it tastes like celery, but they are put off by the texture.  Not sure why, it has the same texture as parsley and plenty of people eat that!  Nonetheless, Deron and I will find many different ways to use it besides soups.

Lastly, I am just happy as pie to see that the lavender that I planted down at the street survived not only the winter, but the repaving of our roads and sidewalks.  Really nice surprise!  I can’t wait for it to flower and have lavender in the house!



Spring has sprung
March 17, 2012, 7:55 pm
Filed under: Cooking/Canning/Drying, outdoor gardening

ImageI have been pacing, digging and throwing a fit for sometime now.  I left some parsnips in the ground for the winter and have been dying to get at them.  But today it happened.  The ground thawed enough that I could get them out.  I ran inside with an arm full of parsnips yelling at Deron to come quickly to see the find.

While I ran a few over to my neighbor, Deron lovingly washed them as he decided what we were going to do with them.  I told him no matter what I was going to have my parsnip/nut/syrup breakfast tomorrow!  Now, that is what I call as celebration.  Fresh produce in March.  Tomorrow I am having a heavy planting so I will take a lot of pictures to show you how I do it.  But until then, enjoy the picture of the mouth watering parsnips fresh from the garden.  I can’t wait for breakfast to come!



Random thoughts
October 18, 2011, 9:22 am
Filed under: local eating, outdoor gardening

image

I hate this time of year sometimes.  You spend glorious days outside digging up the garden and preparing it for winter.  Say good-bye to the tomatoes, hello fall feast of leeks and parsnips.  So much to do and so little time to do it in.  But more importantly, you realize all the projects that you wanted to accomplish that you did not.  Such things as dividing and transplanting the iris’ or building the window boxes.  Time flies and before you know it there is snow on the ground (Sorry it happened so early for you mom!)

This weekend I am taking pictures of projects that I want to accomplish.  I am going to create a sheet with each project.  A picture of what it looks like now and a sketch of what I want it to look like, along with description and approximate timeframe to do it in.  All the sheets are going into a binder, so I can grab a sheet and instruct Deron to help me on weekends creating the final sheets with a picture of the before and after on it.

I have decided to embrace the lack of employment and do stuff around the house.  I am going to find someone to teach me the table saw and router.  I am then going to do the pantry this winter.  I am going to create more and learn more.  I am so excited.

But most exciting is the fact that I am going to explore hydroponics this winter.  I don’t want to have a lack of greens through the winter.  It is important to keep on eating well.  This will be interesting for me as I have never explored it before.  I can’t wait to see it working.  Once I get it up and running, rest assured, you will be learning with me!



Planting Leeks
October 3, 2011, 9:24 am
Filed under: Cooking/Canning/Drying, outdoor gardening

image

This year was the best year for my leeks.  I finally learned how to plant them properly.  Funny it has taken me so long to learn how to get nice thick leeks and not the wimpy ones I settled for in years past.  So, as I slowly harvest leeks to use in cooking, I thought I would let everyone know just how to plant them! (And remind me for next year)

I use leeks a lot in winter cooking and am always eager to plant a lot for us.  Just one weekend, Deron and I used 3 parsnips and 8 leeks in cooking.  I will take about parsnips on my next post hopefully.

To plant the leek sets, you first need to dig a small trench about 6″ deep.  When you place the leek set in the trench it will have just a little sticking out.  Most of the plant will be in the trench.  You need to place the plants 1-2″ apart in the trench, then fill in the trench with the dirt, patting it down.  When you start the next row, try to keep them at least 12″ apart due to the hearty green stocks that fill in as they grow.  I planted about 100 leeks this year and all took.  It is quite exciting.  They are still growing in the dirt, but can be harvested as needed.

Because I live in the northeast where the winters are harsh, I will have to pick them before frost.  I have two options for storing my leeks – I can keep them at 32 degrees F with high humidity or more likely I will end up burying the leeks in cold wet sand (32 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit).  They should stay fresh for at least 2-3 months, although I am hoping even longer.  When I store the leeks in the refrigerator, I place them unwashed in a plastic back.  They will only keep for about a week this way though.

So, happy stews and soups and roasted leek dreams while enjoying what is in season.



Hot peppers
September 8, 2011, 8:40 pm
Filed under: Cooking/Canning/Drying, outdoor gardening

Just one of the bowls of hot peppers

I miss this guy I used to work with – Bond.  He was my hot pepper tester.  I also knew that when I had too many, he would be the guy to eat them.  But atlas, I have no Bond this year and the peppers are not stopping.  I can never figure out when a good year is versus a bad one.  I have been forced to be creative with it.  Besides watching my husband’s face when I encourage him to eat a hot pepper ( “They are so small, how bad could it be??”), I have embraced the dehydrator. 

I have made two batches (which is all I can use I think) of mixed hot peppers chopped.  I then put them in the coffee grinder and then put back in the dehydrator.  I now have a seasoning to add to soups during the winter to give it the kick it is often missing.  I think this is going to be my secret weapon for chili this year!  Now to figure out what to do with the two other bowls of hot peppers I have……