End of the Terrible Turnips 5/7/2018

Turnips are not for us. I kept hoping we would stumble across a recipe that made them taste good that we both liked. I wanted to be excited about growing more turnips next fall. We kept an open mind. We really did.

We’ve tried them:

  • Mashed Bacon turnips – Blech! We both wanted to like it but couldn’t. What a waste of perfectly good bacon!
  • Broiled/home fries – Soggy tasted too much like mushrooms for the husband.
  • Soup Turnip, Carrot Onion & Beet – Honestly this was only made just for me. I froze it for when desperate times call for desperate measures (IE: husband is out-of-town and I need a meal). Maybe the second most palatable option but nothing you would request on purpose.
  • Fries with Garlic Aioli -This was the best by far but still not something either of us enjoyed enough to make again. They never were crispy.
  • Gratin – Basically turned out to be a dairy/cheese delivery system which still was soured by the turnip taste/texture. Husband saw my reaction to trying it and didn’t even want to give it a taste.

So it is not for lack of effort in trying. We have concluded they are horse food. I will not be growing these again for human consumption. Pity. They were fun to grow and fast to produce. But what’s the point if you don’t like to eat it? NEVER AGAIN.

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Today out at the garden the harlequin beetles eating the greens and they were starting to get powdery mildew so they have to be pulled out. The temperatures have gotten too high for them to be happy. I have a fridge full of turnips and NO good ideas on what to do with them. They might just end up in the compost bin.

3tlsmYy

 

 

 

Coriander 5/5/2018

The cilantro went to seed that was planted last winter. I like leaving flowering plants for the bees. It wasn’t helping the garlic which was completely shaded out by it in parts though. Here is the massively unruly plant below:

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It’s going to be used as coriander now. After 1/2 of the plant seeds on the plant have turned brown, The whole plant is pulled out of the ground and dried. I cut the stalks to a reasonable length, bound them together and stuck them upside down in a ventilated paper bag about a week or two ago.

Today I think it’s dry enough to shake all the seeds off. Once the seeds are bone dry, rub them off the stalks or shake them off. I found a big cardboard box and collected all the seeds there.

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Then the fastest way to separate all the seeds from the dried leaves and stems is to winnow the seed like wheat. Just pass the seeds back and forth between two containers and the wind will carry off the stuff that is lighter than the seeds. You have to do it a few times but end up with a decent product.

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Now we have fresh coriander for curries or stews. I’m going to let it air out for another week or so then put it in a mason jar. It took about 20 minutes to create more coriander than we will use in the next year. Worth it.

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Peaches 4/28/2018

Peaches, Peaches Everywhere:

IMG_0855The peach tree is literally bowing to the earth under the weight of all its fruit burden this year. I did not thin the peaches as I should have. The result appears to be much more, and smaller fruit. Although they are blushed with red, they are still under ripe. They are crunchy, but they are sweet. IMG_0866Today I’ll be making a batch of peach salsa to lighten the load for the tree a little. There’s so many recipes on pinterest. I just picked one that looked like my husband would like it the most. He’s a salsa fanatic so I’m sure this will be a good use. I told him to expect a LOT of peach things in the coming future. Even if I just end up freezing a bunch for smoothies. (Got to do at least one cobbler though right?)

This year is the first year I’ve noticed a pest in the peaches. There is a peach moth that lays eggs on the peaches that tunnel into the center where the pit is. Basically it’s a peach worm. I can look at a peach and tell if there is one in it from the tell tale dimple. It is hardly noticeable if you’re not looking for it. (excuse the dirty hands, I just finished planting bulbs).

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There really isn’t anything you can do about it except try to interrupt the cycle of the pest. The peaches will fall to the ground eventually, the worms will burrow into the soil to pupate. The pupa will mature and come out as moths and lay eggs on the fruit again. The moth can go through a few life cycles in one year. Meaning you can have a full tree of unusable peaches. So, you see a peach on the ground. Pick it up. throw it in the garbage. I’m going to lay a frost cover on the ground under the tree to try to prevent A) the worms from burrowing into the soil and B) any ground burrowers from getting out easily. Hopefully the birds will find them on the frost cover and eat them before they have a chance.

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This whole bucket of peaches did not even make a dent in the tree. It’s hard to believe that but I guess that means more peach salsa for us!!

Peach Salsa

  • 1/3 red bell pepper
  • 2 cups peaches
  • 1/4 bunch cilantro
  • 1/2 white onion
  • 1/2 jalapeno
  • Salt to taste

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It’s pretty yummy! got an approval from the husband. 🙂

I also made a peach custard pie to use up the majority of the rest of the peaches picked earlier. The verdict is still out if it is a good recipe or not though. We have to wait for it to cool down to try it. The strudel on top might end up being a little weird. But hey, it will end up being peach cobbler if it doesn’t work says the hubby. Not a bad way to look at it.

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Early to Mid Spring changes 4/22/2018

I woke up one day and it seemed like a pacific northwest summer. The days are 85 degrees and the nights are in the 60’s. The absolutely perfect weather to be outside enjoying the sunshine. The plants started recognizing it too. All the sudden the air is perfumed with Jasmine for our morning coffee, red is the predominate flower color at the moment. There’s some thing so tropical looking about all the blooms that are currently in season.

IMG_0838pomegranate

IMG_0834bottle brush

IMG_0832pineapple guava

IMG_0633amaryllis

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IMG_0843Jasmine

The garden beds might not be freshly mulched, and I might need to do a lot of weeding, but there is so much beauty that is abundant in the flowers that it’s not hard to sit back and enjoy the wonders of this world that you can capture in your own back yard.

Home Garden for Spring 2018

This year since I have the luxury of having a full sun plot away from the house I’m just focusing on the fun things here at home rather than the more industrial crops like beets.

Home is where my tomatoes and squash and melons and cucumbers live. Along with my salad greens (eventually) where they will be more easily picked and used.

Raised Bed #1 Planted 4/1/2018

The picture to the right is 4/1/2018 the picture to the left is 4/22/2018

There are three squash varieties on the left which were just seeds in the dirt on the first picture but you can see little seedlings now.

Squash (top to bottom):

  • Kogigu Winter Squash
  • Sucrine Du berry Winter Squash
  • Long Island Cheese Winter Squash

All are C. moschata types because of their supposed resistance to squash vine borer which is prevalent here.

Tomatoes:

There are four tomato plants total 3 are the tried and true early girl. The second from the top is better boy.

Basil:

  • Sweet basil
  • Purple basil
  • Thai Basil

Raised Bed #2 Planted 4/1/2018

The picture to the right is 4/1/2018 the picture to the left is 4/22/2018

There are five varieties of cucumbers on the left which were just seeds in the dirt on the first picture but you can see little seedlings now. The glob in the top center of the right hand picture is some kitchen waste I toss onto the garden It’s not beautiful but red worms love it.

Cucumbers (Lower left to upper right):

  • Patio Snacker
  • Picolino F1 (favorite variety last year)
  • Syrian Smooth
  • Armenian Cucumber
  • Melon Metki Dark Green Serpent

I stuck a Jimmy Nardello Sweet pepper plant and a Garden salsa hot pepper out there for quick access while cooking and to keep an eye out on the pepper progress at the plot for comparison purposes.

There are also a few volunteer tomato plants which will probably not amount too much. You’ll notice a whole bunch of empty space in this bed. This bed is mostly shaded and the empty spots are on the shady side of the bed that is reserved for what I hope to make a perennial salad garden. I purchased a whole bunch of varieties of perennial greens and after I start them from seeds this summer and transplant them this fall this will be their home.

Small bed planted 4/1/2018

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Is currently home to dill. Some volunteers popped up so I decided to transplant them here. It will be good to have dill at home too for all the cucumber plants that are planted!

Long bed

IMG_0556This is where I planned to plant some melons, but plans don’t always work. There doesn’t really look to be enough space for melon roots with the garlic. This bed is essentially untouched since the winter planting and looks quite unruly. The cilantro that was planted is going to seed and I decided to leave it there for the flowers that bees love and I’ll use the dried coriander seeds from this plant.

Honestly the garlic looks like it is struggling. I’m thinking the cilantro shaded it out a little too much and made it sort of spindly looking. Or perhaps it doesn’t like the soil or perhaps I should have watered it a little more.

So for now, the bed will stay planted with garlic along one side and coriander and dill and pansies dotted throughout. Perhaps I’ll stick in a watermelon a little later if it looks like there is room, but for now there definitely is not.

 

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Summer Fruit Promises 4/15/18

Out in the Yard:

This morning with my coffee I walked around the yard taking to see how the fruit trees were progressing. This year looks to be fairly promising. The most of the citrus and the fig don’t show any signs of putting forth effort for fruit quite yet but it is still too early for them. The pear again seems to be resting this year, but some of my steady work horses are showing their stuff along with a few surprises.

IMG_0725Olive tree buds. Maybe I’ll be able to make some olive bread with home-made olives this year.

IMG_0724The peaches on the peach tree continue to swell and grow, they are still too green but they are starting to get soft enough that they are sweet and crunchy rather than rock hard.

IMG_0723Persimmon buds

 

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The first pomegranate flower of the year. There are plenty of swollen buds this year for the first time. Maybe I’ll get a small batch of pomegranates.

IMG_0721The plum tree had a few plums on it which was a nice surprise. It did bloom sparsley this winter if We’ll see if I’m lucky enough to snag these from the birds.

IMG_0720About 5 loquats that I could find survived this winter on the tree. Note to self. This is an UNRIPE color. It is still very sour. Wait until deep yellow/orange to pick the next one??

IMG_0719Little grape buds out on the grape vines. Timing is everything with grape blooms. Right when the flower buds opened we had a rain storm last year. This basically washed all the pollen out of the flower and there was sparse pollination for the grape cluster. The grapes tend to flower right at the beginning of our storm season but it is possible we’ll get lucky.

Out at the Garden Patch:

IMG_0717And finally back at the garden patch I’m still busily harvesting turnips which are likely not my thing. I have yet to find a recipe in which I would want to make again.

 

 

Beautiful Spring 4/1/2018

The whole perimeter of the yard needs to be mulched and weeded but that doesn’t mean I can’t ignore the dandelions and enjoy the flowers.

IMG_0579Honeysuckle Native for the hummingbirdsIMG_0576Dianthus (Sweet William)IMG_0575Culinary Sage flowers IMG_0569Peaches!! Rock hard but growing quickly

IMG_0565Yellow Honeysuckle blooming with a wonderful fragrance

IMG_0570The beginnings of an echinacea flower that decided to self seed in the pathway

IMG_0568The beginnings of baby persimmons

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Last but not least a hardy amaryllis making its debut

 

Cold Snap and Turnips 4/8/2018

Cold Snap

Friday was 85 degrees and humid. Yesterday was 43 degrees during the day it dropped into the 30’s last night. Just as the warm season things were starting to flourish a cold snap blew through the area dropping temperatures in a matter of hours. It was so uncomfortable outside. All I was able to do at the garden patch yesterday was stake the remaining sweet peppers that were getting whipped around in the wind, put up an unwieldy frost blanket tent over the peppers and pick a few turnips that were loving the cold weather. I also had to cover my tomato plants that I just got in the ground last weekend at home.

Turnips

The first crop to produce for 2018!! Baby turnips are ready for the picking.

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Note to self: Nagasaki Akari Kabu Turnips were sowed on 2/17/2018 and last week and April 1st Baby turnips were ready for picking. 1.5 ish months of growing time before they are ready to start picking. Luckily they are all growing at different rates too which is making it so I can pick a few of the largest ones each week. The purple top white globe turnips have finally started bulbing also. Just not as reliably. They have a lot more foliage and the skin is tougher. They also have a much harsher peppery taste more like a radish.

IMG_0583After spritzing them down with a hose they’re ready to bring home.

Turnip recipe trial and error

Turnip Greens

Last weekend I tried making collard greens with their tops which was pretty good. I think I need to experiment with different recipes a little. This is a possibility for future experiments.

Mashed Turnips

I tried mashing the turnip bottoms with some bacon and chives following a recipe I found on Pinterest. This was TERRIBLE. NEVER AGAIN. Part of that might be my fault. I used turnips we got from a farmers market the week before. I boiled the turnips with their skins on which was probably most of the problem. The skins of the farmers market turnips were bitter and very harsh tasting like super spicy hot radishes and I think maybe that flavor boiled into the turnip even though I peeled the skins off after. Anyways, the results were Blech. That and.. Turnips don’t mash. I had to get out the stick blender. My husband and I both agree that was bad and not to be repeated.

Roasted Turnips

Today I lightly coated them in olive oil and broiled for 15 minutes until golden stuck them in a bowl and put a tiny pad of butter on top and sprinkled some fresh dill from the garden on it. Basically following another Pinterest recipe I had found. I was extra careful and taste tested the skins both varieties. Nagasaki Akari Kabu don’t even have a hint of that terrible bitter harsh flavor so I left the skins on for roasting. The purple top white globe turnips are less superior by far in their early maturing and in their taste. The skin had that gross hot-radishy flavor again so that one was peeled. Chris HATED this dish He said that it tasted like he just put a mushroom in his mouth (which he hates). I on the other hand did not think it was terrible, but it was kind of disappointing because its pretty tasteless. It seems like turnips are not meant to be the star of the show. Maybe I need to look at recipes where they play a support role to something more interesting.

Right now in my mind turnips are valuable as an early producer but not because they taste amazing… I need to hunt for more recipes.

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Fermented Carrots 4/1/2018

There’s a whole chunk of my garden at home that had carrots sown last fall. They have to come out to make froom for spring cucumbers.

IMG_0539These never actually were thinned so some carrots are large and some are suuuuper crowded so they are tiny.

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There was a lot more greenery than carrot but that’s ok.

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Fermented carrots are extremely easy to make. Scrub carrots with the skin on. Do not peel them. slice larger ones lengthwise in half or quarters and put them into a clean glass jar.  Make a solution of 4 cups water and 3 Tbsp of pickling/sea salt.

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Cut the carrots into sticks and pack them in a glass jar. I used a glass weight to make sure all the carrots stay under the solution. The containter will need to be burped if you are using a tight fitting lid. No special equipment is required though. You could even put a coffee filter over the lid with a rubber band.

IMG_0549Taste it every few days until you get the desired flavor. When you get something you like stick it in the fridge. My husband buys these from whole foods periodically so it’s nice to be able to make some for us without having to buy them. Hopefully they meet expectations.

*update, about a week later they were about ready. Next time I think they should have spices in there other than just the salt, like a hot pepper, some garlic etc. This needs more oomph. They aren’t bad but they could be more interesting.

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Staking peppers plot progress 3/31/2018

Pepper Beds

The hot pepper bed has really been taking off. I got some advise from my plot neighbors to stake the peppers because it gets extremely windy.

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They’ve already doubled in size since they were put in the ground. Most have little buds in their growing point and a few are already flowering.

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I planted them extra deep but now I’m wondering if that was a bad idea, The buds are fairly close to the ground. I might have to devise a way of keeping the peppers from growing down into the dirt.

The sweet pepper transplants are still dinky so maybe in a week or two they will get staked. There was not much change since last week.

Onions Carrots/Dill Beds

Look how wimpy the onions along the border to the left are compared to the right. The spacing is the same, They were purchased and planted at the same time. This is the difference between Texas Sweet (left) and Georgia Sweet (right). Both have the same watering schedule and have been supplemented with the same nutrients. I realized about two weeks ago I really messed up with the onions. These are all non-storage onions. Yeah. There’s about 200 of them total. My husband and I are not going to be able to use them all within 30 days…. I think I’ll be bringing them in to work and giving them away to friends if they actually produce. This prompted me to do research on short-day storing types. I was shocked at how limited the options were. I’ll be figuring out what to do about those here shortly to order seeds for fall.

the Carrots and Dill look like they are chugging away just fine. I’ll be starting to cut back the dill for salads here shortly.

Beets Turnips Rutabagas

This is the turnip and beet bed. These turnips have yet to produce a visible bulb but they are sure churning out the greenery. I’ll probably thin the greens and use some in a collard green recipe experiment here shortly. They are already shading out the marigolds! I’m not sure if they will bulb or not. It seems like they should have started by now.

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The Bulls Blood beets on the right had side have red leaves which was unexpected. They seem to grow slightly faster than the Flat of Egypt beets. Neither variety is bulbing yet.

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These are the turnip Nagasaki Akari Kabu which are giving me beautiful bulbs already. These are my favorite so far. They are surrounded by a most likely failed experiment of Rutabagas. The Rutabagas grow so slowly by comparison I doubt I’ll be able to keep them alive through the hot summer here. I’ll try planting them again in fall if they do not pull through to see if maybe they are a fall crop. Same thing with the really leafy turnip variety. Maybe I’m figuring out what will work in spring and possibly something different will work in fall.

Both of these beds were covered with shade cloth. The sun is getting so warm its 80 degrees and these plants like the 60’s.

Bean Beds

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The dry bean bed is doing great so far. The plants need to be thinned pretty soon but I saw some pricked out so I want to keep my numbers large until they are big enough to not be bothered by cutworms or birds.

IMG_0533The fresh bean bed is progressing nicely also. This is the first time I’ve done succession planting of the same crop. I don’t know if it works well for my situation yet but right now there are three fresh-eating beans in three different stages. full on little leafy plants, new sprouts and seeds just poked in the ground. The winged beans are planted in the middle row with the trellises in the center. They are the most sorry-looking of all the beans right now. I’m fairly certain they require more heat to really get moving than what we’ve had so far. They may have been planted a little bit early but I’m not familiar enough with the variety to know for sure.

Other beds

There’s some flower seeds that are starting to leaf out in their first true leaves, same with the parsnips. The hamburg parsley has yet to make an appearance. I don’t know if any of them germinated or ever will. Sunchokes have awoken from their slumber. I’m trying to decide if I want to plant flowers or a melon at the only unclaimed raised bed.

Things are really starting to take off. Its amazing how fast everything has grown this month!

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Crepe Myrtle