Summer is finally here! It’s felt official since mid may, but now we are squarely into the 100 degree territory until late September. The dried bean plants have been ready for me to pull out of the ground for at least two weeks… but I’ve been lazy so I haven’t. What I have been doing is enjoying edamame. It’s finally ready to pick! Better yet, It’s even easier to prepare. Once a few green leaves turn yellow on the plant you know it is ready.
Although you can get frozen edamame at the store, I wanted to try growing it as an experiment. The plants don’t get as big as expected. It’s perhaps due to the weather here? But they seem to be troopers taking the heat better than most of the other bean varieties. I would plant every 6 inches apart rather than 1 foot in the future. Each plant appears to yield approximately one cup of edamame pods which is perfect for a light snack.
2 to 3 Tbsp salt
Coars salt for sprinkling
To prepare, yoink a whole plant out of the ground, Wash any debris off the outside fuzz on the pods.
Boil a half pot of water with 2 or 3 Tbsp salt. When the water is boiling throw in the pods.
Boil the beans for five minutes. Strain and rinse with cold water. Serve in a bowl sprinkled with coarse salt. Eat immediately. A tasty easy snack awaits.
I have learned a few things from doing this. Firstly, Pull the plant THE DAY that you want to make edamame. I waited one day to make my first batch and the beans started turning a little grainy texture which was not as good. Secondly, yellow pods are fine. They don’t taste bad or weird. Don’t be afraid of the yellow. Thirdly, don’t go thinking that you’ll make a huge batch of these and put them in the fridge and eat them over the week. It turns into a weird slimy mess. The husband and I decided to try that 12 years ago when we were still dating. It left such an impression on both of us we remember the horror vividly to this day.
It’s so much more fun and satisfying to eat the food you grow yourself. Happy Gardening!
This year my fresh tomato harvest has been small and meager thanks to a mouse family that has discovered my garden. I saw one running along the fence line into my neighbors property at dusk the other day, did some research and realized they are why I have exactly NO tomatoes and NO cucumbers. See the beginnings of mice damage here.
Since I only had five tomatoes counter-ripened that were saved a month ago I’ve been choosy as to how they are being used. There is nothing I love more than the taste of a fresh sweet home-grown tomato. My two simple and favorite ways of using fresh tomatoes that really let the tomato shine are below:
Santa Fe Scrambled Eggs:
This is a super simple breakfast the husband and I enjoy on Weekends. It wakes you up with a nice spicy kick and is a great way to start the day with some protein:
1 fresh tomato
1 hot pepper
(optional) 1 sweet pepper
Pinch of Salt to taste
(optional) a light sprinkling of garlic powder and onion powder.
Dice and pour over scrambled eggs. It almost ends up like pico de gallo just without the onions and cilantro, and it is less liquid. I usually dust the top with a little of the garlic and onion power and we both mix the fresh salsa into the eggs and eat them together. Filling and delicious.
I made these for work last week and it was delicious!
2 slices of your favorite bread
1 fresh tomato
small bunch basil
a dab of mustard
Make a sauce with equal parts mayo and cream cheese, and a dab of mustard to your liking. Chiffonade the basil and mix into the cream cheese/mayo mixture. Spread this mixture on your bread. Layer a generous helping of sprouts, avocado slices and then the tomato. Sprinkle the tomato with a light dusting of salt and enjoy! This open-faced sandwich is really something special with the home-grown tomato as the star. If you aren’t into the veggie thing I’m sure a layer of bacon would go quite well on top of the sprouts.
I’m counting my blessings that I still have some preserved sun-dried tomatoes in herbed olive oil and tomato butter from last year that I can still use this summer so I won’t be totally without. I also have amazing friends that have given me a load of their cherry tomatoes to enjoy.
I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed that we can take care of the pest problem and get some more tomatoes this fall.
It’s not yet official, but it is squarely summertime. In 11 days the title will match the weather. Austin gets lovely rainy breaks this time of year. Thunderstorms blow in and out and that is how we get the majority of our rain. We had a DOOZY on Monday. It pushed over the fig tree which has a trunk over 5 inches across completely over to the ground. It is a rather top-heavy tree. It blew over fences. It tossed pillows into neighbors yards. It blew trampolines onto roofs…
Out at the Garden Patch
It was a pleasant surprise to find that the garden patch weathered the storm fairly well. Instead of being destroyed, it got a big drink. No real damage was done at all. The pole tents with climbing beans were a little bent out of shape and wonky leaning to one side, but other than tossing the dill and sunchokes about which will now require staking, everything else looked great.
Peas and beans
The right side is dried beans. The majority of the bush black turtle beans planted around the bottom are done flowering. I’m mostly just waiting for the plants to finish developing their last pods then I’ll tear up the whole plants. It’s early enough that I can probably squeeze in another planting of tepary beans in their place. Tepary’s should be able to endure crazy hot summer climates since they are Arizona natives. The right side are mostly fresh eating beans. I’ve learned some things:
The middle row in the picture above contains the three fresh eating bush varieties.
Fresh eating Bush beans
Dragon Tongue (fastest earliest producer) are my favorite so far. They are NOT hot weather happy plants. They like 80 degree highs and stopped looking so happy on our first day of 90 degrees. well it’s been in the high 90’s for weeks now, they have suffered. The plants that were put in the ground after April 15th in the succession planting have not yet produced anything. I think it got too hot before the plant was fully developed and I doubt if I’ll see anything. So pro tip for these, plant them all early to give them the best chance before hot weather sets in and stresses them out. The sweet spot is to pick them when they are yellow and have dark purple splotches like the picture, if left on the plant too long they get tougher and the purple fades to just a butter yellow color. This happens in a matter of a day or two so check often.
Cantare (mid producer) are less tender than the dragon tongue. More of a typical store green-bean, but MAN they produce. The hot weather has not even phased them. I also only have about three plants producing anything planted after April 15th is not doing anything yet either, but I think they got shaded out from some of the pole bean varieties planted too closely, this one is a great hot weather producer.
Soybeans(late producer) are chugging along, they are the best suited to handle the heat of the three it appears. Even the latest planted are doing just fine with now signs of stress. Everything I have read says to wait until a few leaves turn yellow on a plant to start harvesting the pods. Every plant looks green and like it is still growing even though it is loaded with pods. I’m just playing the waiting game.
Fresh eating Pole beans:
Purple Thai yard long beans
Look at this Lovely plant:
Fresh they aren’t the absolute worst, but on the baker creek website they said they are best pan-fried. I put a handful in some Thai bun I made the other night for dinner. I pan fried in olive oil with some minced garlic until the garlic browned then took them off the heat and let them cool down in the pan. They were great. The key to these I believe is to pick them before they got too big and fat. They get a little weird the bigger they get. There is a few I have clearly missed the window on and I’m leaving them for seed. I think pencil thickness is probably the largest they should be. I have a few that look larger than fingers and I’m certain they won’t taste the same as the tender small ones. These guys absolutely love the hot weather and look like they will be a star producer.
Asian winged beans I haven’t seen anything on these plants. They honestly look like they are struggling and slow-growing. I’m not sure what they need to get them to kick off.
Beans greasy grits these are NOT fresh eating. I think it says that they can be eaten fresh at 2-3 inches long. A) good luck finding the beans when they are that small B) they are too tough in texture to bother with eating fresh compared to the other bush beans and Thai yard long beans. I’m re-purposing these as dried beans and we’ll see if they taste better that way.
Dried Bush Beans
Black turtle: Looks like it loved being planted at the end of march and has produced enough to make me thing they were really happy. I hope they taste good because i think we will have a decent amount of them.
Dried Pole Beans
Purple Cowpea looks pretty happy like it is producing a few pods. It doesn’t seem to be as prolific as I was hoping. Not sure If I shouldn’t be letting the beans mature on the plant to continue production??
Tepary beans look weak and pitiful but if I remember correctly they tend to pick up in fall so it’s ok that they aren’t doing much right now. I’ll replant to pulled up black turtles with more of these soon.
Rattle Snake Pole are the heaviest setting beans I have other than the thai yard long. The stakes are super heavy and positively covered in these pods.
Peppers and Eggplants
I think I might have to thin out the lower leaves of the eggplant to keep the peppers from getting too much shade. They all appear to be doing well still for the most part. Sweet peppers are on the right, hot peppers on the left. Other than Jalapeno’s I’ve decided to pick peppers only once they turn color. So I’ll get fewer per plant but they will taste better and be more vitamin rich. Also, I planted WAY more than two people need so It’s ok if I get fewer.
Jimmy Nardellos’ are the best producer by far. They are just starting to turn red. I’ll be looking forward to these roasted on grilled cheese sandwiches.
Red pepper cheese are maybe one or two per plant and that is it so far. They don’t even look like they are close to turning red yet. They are also a lot bigger than I thought they would be.
Coro Ditoro almost looks like it isn’t doing anything. I think there might be one pepper on one plant and that is it.
These guys are all doing great. chugging along, cranking out some fun things to play with in the kitchen. I have no complaints or observations worth noting. Here’s a pretty poblano.
Eggplants are going nuts. I Spent a few hours on pinterest to try to find recipes for them. These little dudes should continue to produce right through fall so there should be no shortage of eggplant experiments.
Dill and Carrots
The lovely dill that crowned the corner is reduced to a bowing heap after the storm. It’s partially shading out the carrots. Even though it looks worse for wear I’ve decided to keep it there. I’ll probably come up with a better staking solution so it stays more upright. I’ll be collecting the seeds from the flower heads when the mature.
Carrots are starting to bolt. I noticed every few days I go out to water there are one or two that look like flower stalks are forming I made the mistake of using one in the Thai bun dinner the other night. Bolted carrots turn woody. I think the temperature has proved too much for them. I decided to pick all of them this weekend. I’ll roast them with some beans and onions and bring it for work lunches. I’ve decided to replant the carrot bed with basil. The basil I had between the eggplants and peppers is getting shaded out. This new-found space will provide a perfect place for some new baby herbs.
The beets are still surviving though I don’t believe they appreciate the weather. I should really have picked the green top flat of egypt variety by now. The look like they are having the hardest time. I don’t think they will be nearly as good now that they have struggled through this hot weather. I see a lot of beet soup in my future. I’m surprised the bulls blood is doing as well as it is. That variety seems like it can handle the heat a little better. In the middle I’ve planted some squash and melons that are still pretty small.
Here’s what’s left after giving away half of the eggplants and peppers and some beans:
This year we are going to have a HOT summer. In fact we mostly skipped spring. We went from winter to full on 100 degree summer super quickly. This weather stinks for Carrots, parsnips, and beets. However, 100 degree temp days are great for eggplants and peppers.
The inspection of the Japanese eggplants revealed more eggplants than expected and required some plucking. Eggplants are among one of the most unpleasant foods to pick. If not properly armed with a knife, forget it. Evil little invisible spikes live all along the flower cap at the top of the fruit. Stabbed more than I cared to be, this was my trophy:
About 10 eggplants. What to do with this many? well… I had already made my work lunches for the week consisting of baked roasted carrots with herbs, onions, peppers and green beans. So baba ganoush it was! I made one fresh batch and the rest of the roasted eggplant was de-skinned and put into a zip lock bag in the freezer. That way next time I want to make it all that I need to do is defrost for less than 5 minutes instead of roast for 45.
The husband was watching me peel the eggplants and mentioned how he disliked knowing how the sausage was made. It truly doesn’t look appetizing. Especially for someone whom does not appreciate eggplant in its other forms.
In this picture the onions look a lot more full of life then they did when we got back from our trip on 5/27/2018. The majority of all the onion leaves had browned on most of the plants. I would have picked them a week before if I knew I could process them before our trip. We ended up with 27 lbs of onions after giving at least 1/3 away to friends and co-workers and steadily using them in the prior month and a half fresh from the garden. Next year I will try to figure out how to be able to either continually harvest onions by planting different varieties and/or plant storage onions so we don’t have a glut of fresh stuff that has to be used up within 20-30 days like we do right now.
Here the onions are spread out to dry for a day or two in the hot sun. This is supposedly supposed to help “cure” them so they keep longer. Honestly I don’t know if it helps or not for non-storage types. It may have shortened their life. At any rate, when the green tops had died back to brown they were all brought inside for processing. There is NO way that two people can eat that many onions in 20-30 days.
The majority of the onions are medium-ish in size, some are a little small, some are tiny and some are fairly large. They all got sorted into a few different piles with their different sizes for different uses.
Small onions: The super small ones will be pickled like pearl onions. I only had a few of these, less than 1 pint.
Small/medium onions: The smallish/medium ones will be dehydrated in an attempt to make onion powder. This seems like a good way of storing a non-storage onion.
Larger Onions: Stored in pantyhose to figure out how long they keep and to be used in fresh cooking
Quick Pickled Pearl Onions:
1/2 teaspoon peppercorns
1/2 tsp salt + extra for water
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp coriander seeds
3 sprigs fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup vinegar
Prepare the onions, peel and cut an x in the bottom. Boil in salted water for 2 minutes. Drain and cool under cold water then put the onions in a jar. Put the thyme in the jar with onions. Put all other ingredients except thyme in a pan and boil for 2 minutes then pour liquid over the onions and let cool. Store in refrigerator. Since the onions are in a brine they should be good for a year in the fridge. This whole process probably took 15 minutes including going outside to pick thyme and bay. I got to use my fresh coriander for the first time!!
Slice onions to 3/16ths of an inch and arranging them on the tray they dried at 125 degrees fahrenheit. Most sights say to dry between 4- 8 hours. This is going on 11 hours. They are still leathery and not crisp although they appear to be mostly dry. I’m not entire sure how long this part will actually take. Good thing it’s a passive activity and I’ve got all weekend.
Either store the dried onions in a jar whole and blitz them in a coffee grinder when needed, or make immediately into a powder after onions cool and store in a dry air tight container.
The Texas Sweet onions ground more readily into a powder. I found the Georgia sweet had a higher sugar content and would actually not grind. They are stored whole and I’ll use them in sauces and just sprinkled on top of dishes. They are SUPER tasty on their own. They already taste caramelized.
Whole Onions for Fresh Cooking:
Each nylon bag is knotted so you just cut off the bottom for a fresh onion. Pantyhose work perfectly for this (weird I know) but you can get a whole brand new carton for super cheap. A knot between onions keeps them from touching each other and they can be hung this way. I wrote a “T” or “G” on top of the sack so I know if it is a Texas onion or a Georgia onion and can keep track on the keeping qualities this way.
If they start going bad quickly I’ll make some sliced refrigerator onion pickles and we can use them up that way.
Tomatoes are a quintessential summer crop. Almost every home gardener seems to grow them. They taste SO MUCH different from what you can get in the store. They are very rewarding when they work out, and for me at least, so disappointing when they don’t. I had put bird netting over the tomato plants two days before our trip. Shortly after that I noticed some pest damage:
These were sort of close to the bird netting. I was pretty certain that a bird could perch on the surrounding fence and manage to peck in. Because of this I picked the largest / ripest but still all green tomatoes and left all the green ones that were only half-developed in size. We left and came back from our trip. EVERY SINGLE TOMATO is gone. There is literally no evidence the plant ever set fruit. The few green ones I brought in are all that I have.
My wonderful husband set up the trail cam, but we didn’t catch anything on it. We’ll try again to see if some prowler comes back to the scene of the crime so I have a better idea of how to fight them off.
Sometimes organic gardening feels more like a battle and war waging than a tranquil hobby.
This afternoon was a perfect day to take a cruise around the back yard to see what there was to see. It’s time to use bug spray. The effect of todays little adventure resulted in no less than 30 bug bites. But this is Texas, and things bite here. I’ve gotten used to it, or rather accepted it for what it is at least.
Today the plum received protective coverings on the 6 fruits that were visible.
One was a little too high up for me to put a cover on so I snagged it off the tree to test how ripe it was. Still a little tart, but getting close.
a few weeks ago I kept an eye out for the loquat fruit to ripen. Well… the loads of peaches were so distracting that I apparently forgot about them long enough the birds had their way and I didn’t get any.
Maybe next year… maybe next year. Until then I’ll just wonder how best to use you.
It’s starting to look as though we will actually be getting a few this year. I’m very excited by this prospect! I love pomegranates, and dreaming of pomegranate mint salads.
FlowersMonarda is making its first appearance of the year. I love these beauties. They’ve attracted resident humming birds in the past. And this tough little plant is one of my favorite easy growing spreaders for empty area.
The Echinacea patch is also just starting to bloom. I noticed it is naturalizing into the lawn. I’ll have to move clumps to other areas to keep them from getting moved over. Not a bad plant to have spread, it has such a gorgeous color.
Tomatoes and Squash
The first picture is 4/1/2018 the second picture is 4/22/2018
This is 5/20/2018. Yes. the tomatoes are now covered in bird net and taller than their supports. There’s also some surprise sunchokes in the foreground.
Cucumbers and Volunteer Tomatoes
Everything is starting to get big quickly. Most of the plants have a few flowers or immature buds.
I’m busily pulling beets and rutabagas from the ground.
The two fresh eating beans planted first are starting to make fresh beans now. I think the dragon tongue is my favorite of the two. Below is a picture of the dried beans that I will just continue to let produce and leave on the plant. They will be brown and leathery when the whole pant is pulled out of the ground.
Soy beans are getting bigger too. Lots of edamame in our future!
I’ve been picking hot peppers for a few weeks now. Last week I picked about 8 large Poblanos and a few Jalapeños to make a shredded chicken crock pot dish that we put into corn tortillas and poured some homemade salsa verde over.
The sweet peppers are finally starting to come on.
The right is a few Jimmy Nardelo’s that I’ll pick and roast when they start to turn red. The Right is red pepper cheese. A cute little turbine pepper reminiscent a Habanero but sweet and will also turn red. The Italian Yellow bells didn’t appear to have any impressive looking fruit that popped out at me yet.
My little Japanese long eggplants are starting to produce. It wont be long before we can start picking them now.
This is the haul for this week. I ran out to the garden patch this morning right before a thunderstorm hit so I didn’t have time to wash everything like I would normally do before I bring it into the house.
I’ve got about 10 poblano peppers we will stuff with chicken and cheese and cover in more salsa verde. I found the BEST recipe for salsa verde which I’ll use an onion and jalapeno for. I’m roasting the beets and other root vegetables for Lunches with some herbs sprinkled over the top and a drizzle of oil.
Things are starting to really pick up out at the garden. It has been a great feeling to be able to eat the things that are worked so hard and cared for.
Remember the peach tree bowing under the weight of all the fruit?
Well it’s back to normal now. We have had two baskets of peaches at a time sitting on the counter for the past few weeks now. Every few days I’d process the peaches into a pie, or some fresh peach salsa, (it’s great on chicken tacos) and freeze what we weren’t going to immediately use. Then we’d pick two more baskets of peaches and they would sit on the counter again. In total we picked at least 10 gallons of peaches which is more than enough for two people.
The freezer peaches are waiting to be used in smoothies, popsicles and pies later on. We have a new favorite peach pie this year that I’m excited to share.
Peaches and cream pie:
uncooked pie crust in a 9.5 inch deep pie dish
4 cups of peaches
1 cup of sugar
1/3 cup of flour
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup of plain greek yoghurt or sour cream
It’s super simple. (my favorite kind of recipe) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Make your favorite pie crust, put it in the pie dish. Place peaches on top. In another bowl mix the remaining ingredients and pour evenly into the pie dish. Bake for 60 minutes or until golden. Ta da !! Delicious! you could do a cross hatch pie crust on top if you so desired. I took the easy rout. It’s yummy. Husband was very happy, which makes me very happy 🙂
The Veggie patch is now in Full-swing. Every few days I get to come home with a batch of fresh produce. There’s enough beets in the fridge for me to eat for a few weeks. That will be turned into some sort of beet soup for work lunches since the husband isn’t a fan. There are unfortunately still turnips in the fridge. I’m going to just roast and eat to get over with. In the corner to the left of the picture below you see the first pulled Rutabaga which may or may not have been a mistake like the turnips. Unfortunately there are even more rutabagas than turnips…. That is an experiment for later. One that my dear husband and I are a little hesitant to try…
Onions are being plucked from the ground weekly. Only the Georgia Sweets are impressive in size. That is the impressive variety. Texas onions are still puny. The combination of a little later than recommended planting plus too much shade from the dill that has grown out of hand is likely the reason why they are suffering.
Carrots are ready! Much to my surprise the carrots are ready to be picked. Equally surprising; they taste good even though it’s been in the 90’s for a few weeks. We roasted them with an onion and some new potatoes last night and MAN was that delicious! Sprinkled a little avocado oil and some of the rosemary-sage salt. My favorite variety just based off looks alone were the black ones but they are equally delicious.
Peppers are starting to produce like crazy too. The hot peppers aren’t really totally ready they are still smaller than full size but I’ve been using the Jalapeno’s for peach salsa. I also picked some mystery peppers to try to figure out what they are. I’m guessing they are actually Hungarian yellow wax peppers.They are NOT Anaheim peppers. A few Anaheim peppers were picked too just because they were touching the ground since the plants were buried deeply and I didn’t want pest problems. The sweet peppers are still a little behind. Most are just starting to make flower buds, a few have baby peppers.
The beans are finally starting to gain some momentum. It is ridiculous how fast they are starting to grow now. The picture on the right was 15 days ago compared to the left which was today:
The climbing ones are starting to climb, some of the dried beans are starting to put on flowers and a few tiny beans. The first planted fresh eating bean is the french dragon which I got to try today for the first time.
Today I planted some squash (might be too late for that but I already have some at home.) And some melons. Here’s an overview of what the garden looks like right now:
I even found a frog:
I love going out there. It’s much less work and much more enjoyable. Happy gardening!
This morning I wandered outside with my morning coffee and had to rush back in to grab my phone so I could take pictures of the beautiful things that started to bloom.
The First green tomatoes of the season have arrived. It’s almost time to devise a bird net so I can keep them to myself. Maybe the birds are still too focused on the peach tree.
Bi-Colored Iris is showing its stuff.
My little yellow flowers cheering up a shady corner
The pineapple guava is busting out in full bloom. The mocking birds love eating their petals that taste sort of like tuti-fruity. They end up pollinating the flowers while doing this.The Beautiful Amaryllis is still going strong. I love how the red ones , then the pink ones, then the white ones come to bloom in order.The Echinacea are just starting to bloom. I love their color.
Swirly garlic scapes might make their way onto a plate soon.
The Johnny jump ups are one tough flower, still going strong.Figs are on the way. Looking forward to getting a handful or two in a few months.
The pomegranate tree is still going crazy. This is quite a show we’re getting!
My day lilies are finally blooming for the first time! It was a pleasant surprise.