Sunday, September 27, 2009

Harvesting While Planning for Next Spring

Just into fall and we are still harvesting. Today we had spaghetti squash, miniature red bell peppers, and a cucumber with dinner.

I have three bowls of Roma tomatoes on the counter along with one of cherry tomatoes. I need to chop, seed and freeze the tomatoes.

I'm still harvesting handfuls of green beans. Every few days I'll have enough beans for two dinner servings. There are still a few green onions growing, but their tips are starting to yellow so I'm trying to use those up. There are two or three zucchini out on almost dead plants, so I think I'll pick them tomorrow. The alpine strawberries are producing several red berries daily, which toddler enjoys to forage.

Let's not forget the carrots, though it's easy to do since they are mostly underground. There are still several carrots growing. I've been harvesting them as needed or when toddler thinks it would be fun to dig in the garden.

The broccoli is producing, but the heads are so tiny that they just flower before they seem big enough to pick. I haven't had any, but it's another thing that I let toddler pick and eat as desired.

As far as herbs, there is still basil and oregano growing which I should probably harvest and dry before the cold gets to them. The chives and parsley should be fine left to grow through the winter.

In hopes of a later fall harvest, I have a set of radishes started. Some are ready to be picked and served to toddler, who loves them. Also started are three lettuce plants, more green onions, cilantro, dill and parsley. I'm not sure how much these late plantings will produce, but I had the seeds and the ground so it's worth a try.

Today we had a field trip to Furney's Nursery to find bulbs to plant for flowers next spring. Here is what I have to put in the ground:

  1. Narcissus "Tete-a-Tete"
  2. Blue Hyacinth orientalis
  3. Anemone Blanda Mix
  4. Crocus chrysantus
  5. Bearded Iris Raspberry Blush
  6. Dutch Iris Blue Ribbon
  7. Iris danfordiae
  8. Chionodoxa luciliae
  9. Puschkinia libanotica

Quite a list. I'm sure I'll get tired of digging! But the hardest part is planning, deciding where to put them.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

My New Favorite: Cosmos

I love Cosmos. As promised in an earlier post, I am sharing photos of them now that they are in full bloom. They pair so nicely, I think, with sunflowers in the garden. Here they are growing in a clump near a wood fence with sunflowers behind. Why do I love these? They are tall with beautiful, feathery foliage. They fill in previously empty spots in our back yard and front garden with bright green and shades of pink and white. I love how they grew so easily. I threw down some seeds, scratched them in, and watered once in a while. They are so pretty when they move with the wind. Oh do I have plans to put these in more places next spring! I can see them just lining the wood fence, mixed in with sunflowers for some bright color in the fall out the back window.

Sunflower from "Evening Sun Mix." I'm so glad that I did get around to planting some sunflowers, though a bit late. It's been a real joy to see them start to bloom. I had only one complaint. I told husband, "They are facing the wrong way!." "Which way do you want them to face?" "At the house. " They are looking away from the house, but that is the way with sunflowers. They know where the sun is but they don't care one bit where the gardener's window looks. It is nice to know they will help feed some birds this winter, as I don't plan to harvest any seeds.

Now you can see just how tiny the miniature bell peppers can be. I have been finding uses for these nearly every evening. It's fun to grab a bunch of them to slice up for dinner. One good use is with "gallo pinto", a dish I learned to make in Costa Rica. Here is a recipe for my version:

Gallo Pinto Costa Rican Breakfast
(A good way to use leftover rice)

1-2 cups cooked leftover rice, one day old taken from the fridge. It is very important that it is day old rice.
1 regular ~15 oz. can black beans, drained (or the equivalent of home cooked beans)
About ½ cup chopped onion or more
1-3 cloves garlic, chopped
About 2-4 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce, more or less for taste
1 chopped regular-sized red pepper, bell or other kind ok depending on how spicy you like. Green or other bell peppers work too. (Several miniature peppers)
1-3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro or parsley
3 tablespoons olive or peanut oil
Salt to taste (¼ tsp)
Pepper to taste

1. Heat the oil in a large cast iron skillet.
2. Add the rice, onion, pepper and garlic to the skillet and fry until the rice begins to turn a little brown. Stir regularly to keep rice from burning.
3. Add the beans, including some of the liquid but not all.
4. Add the Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper. Cook for about 3 minutes.
5. Add the chopped cilantro or parsley.
6. Cook until most of the liquid is evaporated.
7. Serve for any meal of the day.

When I made this last week, I didn't have any fresh cilantro in the garden. Luckily, I had saved some chopped cilantro in ice cube trays earlier this summer. In the last few minutes of cooking, I added a few to the pan and let them melt in.
Tip of the day: Save that cilantro for later! I put 1 Tbsp. chopped cilantro in each cube of an ice cube tray and added water to fill, then froze. Then I popped them out into freezer bags.
I have since planted more cilantro for, hopefully, a fall harvest.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

A Miracle in My Garden

I am almost in disbelief. Can it be? How could this have actually happened in my garden? Here, in northern Washington state. I spent all spring and summer planning, preparing, waiting for this very moment. And then one day, just like that, it happened.

One of my miniature bell peppers turned red. Out of quite possibly hundreds of tiny green peppers growing on my five pepper plants, one of them is red.

All of the time and care has paid off. Those days of dragging the plants outside in the morning, and back in at nightfall. Careful watering always at the base. Picking aphids off one by one. Moving them into the shade on our hottest days. Daily inspections for the tiniest sign of growth.

One of my miniature bell peppers has turned red.

I'm not sure now what to do with it. Should I just eat the tiny thing plain and raw? Should I stuff it? Roast it? Slice it to add to a dish? Shall I share it or keep it for myself? I'll have to share it. Spread the joy around. But it's so small. There must be others on the way.

The excitement of gardening. I've actually grown a miniature bell pepper that turned red. Here in the northern parts of Washington. It can be done.