Patience is a Virtue (but a Challenge!)

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I finally was able to pick a BUNCH of veggies today. 15 pounds of summer squash, 5 pounds of green beans, alot of beets and greens, beautiful lettuce and a couple pounds of basil!

My hubby accused me of being an “impatient” gardener a couple of weeks ago. Honestly that is so true! And I am working on it… but fine tuning virtuous characteristics takes some time (there’s my impatience again!).

We planted late due to the rainy spring, one large garden was drown and killed and well… I still want to be harvesting like I did last year and on the same time frame.

So just like watching a pot of water and waiting for it to boil, I am watching and trying to hurry things along.

Today, I saw tomatoes turning red. The plants are gorgeous and have tons of tomatoes, green ones that is. But in the last couple of days red is appearing!

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My zucchini that was a goner (or so I thought) has made an amazing come back and is giving me lots of beautiful zucchini as a bumper crop!

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The squash that I planted very late in July, is thriving and has more yellow squash than I can eat! So freezing was the game today.

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Our garden that drown earlier in the year was the one with our beans. I had several varieties and none of them made it. I planted some bush beans in early August and I picked 5 pounds of them today!

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Lettuce and beets also filled my basket

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and we will be indulging in those tonight along with the pesto pizza which is courtesy of our basil that is happy and growing into bushes. I did have to fight our bees to get some today!

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I am so happy to be picking and eating from our gardens. It has been a wait this year! I am trying to be more patient and to be aware when my words and actions aren’t in line with that. The seasons have their own time frame. I need to enjoy and appreciate it.

I planted a cover crop on the washed out garden. It looks beautiful and is starting to come up.

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I think however that a winter cover crop is the ultimate in teaching me some patience as I won’t see the results of this until after the fall, after snow and after blooms in the spring begin. It will be some of our bee’s first food. We will all just wait until it is ready….

Happy Unleashing!

FGU

Indulging in the Harvest

After I shared my harvest with you last week, it was time to start indulging in it. Yes, I mean EATING it! One of the things I love about gardening is the harvest and the taste of freshly picked veggies. When you grow your own you can grow your favorites so everything you pick is your favorite! With 52 pounds of tomatoes, 20+ pounds of summer squash, green beans and more, we have been feasting.

The first thing I had to do was do something with all those lovely tomatoes. We were heading over to my mom’s in Ohio and I had promised dinner. It seemed a “no brainer” to do tomato something with pasta. I made a slow cooker sauce based on this recipe from Food Renegade.

Sauce in Crockpot

I took liberty and made a few tweaks of my own. I added a tsp. of fennel, deleted the tarragon and used a bunch of thyme tied up with string (that I discarded). The sauce was so lovely that I did not blend it with my immersion blender and instead left it in its final state. We tossed over pasta added fresh, ribbon cut basil from the garden and it was heaven! It was so great that when I came home and made some more.  I froze 4 pints in ziploc bags for future feasting in cooler days.

Next came the squash. I have lots of squash and I am thrilled about that. I love it and will keep on loving it.  This recipe is for yellow summer squash but you really could make it with whatever is your favorite.

Squash Quiche

For the crust, I asked hubby to make me a crust since he is the baker. He added fresh thyme to the crust since thyme is used in the filling.  You could also use a store bought crust (that is a crime in our house according to my hubby so I won’t) or make your own favorite crust to use. We pre-baked the crust about 15 minutes and let it cool.

The recipe is easy!

  • Melt 1 Tbl of butter and 1 Tbl of olive oil in a pan to medium heat
  • Add 1.5 lbs of squash cut into 1/4 in. rounds. Add fresh thyme (I added a lot; you can add to taste) and let everything saute until squash softens.
  • In the meantime, whisk 6 eggs, 1 C of 1/2 and 1/2 (or cream), 3/4 tsp. salt, 1/4 tsp. pepper and 1/4 tsp hot pepper sauce (of your choosing).
  • By now the squash should be done.  Remove from heat and cool a bit.  You don’t want it to cook the eggs on contact.
  • Arrange squash over the bottom of crust. Add sliced fresh mozzarella (about 6 oz) or grated mozzarella if you prefer.  I prefer sliced fresh, but that is a personal choice. Pour the egg mixture over (you may have a bit left). Put the quiche dish on a cookie sheeet (in case of run over) and bake until golden- about 35 minutes at 350. Let it cool for 15 minutes.

OK this is so good, that I am making it again this week.

Another over the top meal was our Heirloom Tomato Pie from Food Network and a side of Green Beans. We used slicers and freshly picked green beans (these were the first of the season and there are tons more to follow).

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When hubby made the crust for the quiche, it made two, so I did not follow the crust on this recipe, but used his instead. I also substituted the manchego cheese for asiago (only because that is what I had).  I also added fresh basil– one because we have ALOT of it and two because I love it.

It was fun to prepare and the bottom layer filling makes it stand out over any other tomato tart I have made.

Tomato Tart Prep

We simply steamed the green beans and oh it was great!

Tart and Beans

Tomato Tart

 

Now you probably have guessed that this did not use all of our first harvest, but it was a start and nightly we are cooking it. We stuffed the greens into a swordfish steak along with some tomatoes and feta and that was supreme. (I forgot to take a picture in my excitement).

Next up was a day of canning and drying.  That is another blog for another day.

Happy unleashing your harvest!

FGU

 

 

My Green Babies are BURSTING with Color!

It is so good to be “back.” I have been away from my personal computer and away from my garden 🙁 for a couple of weeks.  Travels to see the grandbaby were SO fun, but my garden was ignored during that time. When we returned our life was full of hustle and bustle since we are in the midst of a remodel. By 7 a.m. the crew is at the house, banging away and looking for direction from us so that keeps me up at the house rather than back in the gardens. AND rain has stopped me in my tracks when I have been able to carve a bit of time out.

Confession— I had not done anything in my gardens since 8/17.  Confession— I was in a panic over that! I KNEW that everything would be eaten (remember those army worms I discovered on my last outing?). If not eaten then strangled from the crab grass! If not eaten or strangled then slumped over from too much rain or not enough. My mind was a terrible place to visit. I was sad about my neglect, worried about what I would find and pretty much paralyzed to hop in Ms. Tupelo and have a discovery run up there.

BUT as I loaded up Ms. Tupelo yesterday morning I felt my spirit lifting.  AND yes the grass was out of control and super long. But as we made it up our hill to the gardens, a wonderful sight was before me. The gardens were BURSTING!

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There were beets, green beans, squash, tomatoes, peppers, pumpkins, cucumbers, peas, chard and basil. I could not believe it! WOW! They did just fine without me (lesson learned).

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The beans had broken the trellis from their weight. The squash had grown over my rope so I had to reset it.

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There were so many tomatoes, that even after I filled a homer bucket with 30 pounds of them it appeared that I had not picked anything!

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After I picked the goodness, I sat in the back of Ms. Tupelo and wrote my thoughts for a bit. One thought is that no matter how long it has been since I have been outside gardening, the joy of being out there and seeing the goodness that is happening, far outweighs the stuff that is negative. And yes, along with all the goodness, I discovered that my cucumbers have mosaic virus. I filled a homer bucket with that also!

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The grass may be long, but that is a sign of good things–we are still getting rain, the ground is fertile and I found myself thinking of all the nitrogen my plants must be getting with all that green between rows. I want to add an under cover crop in my gardens next spring, but nature has just done it for me this year. The beets, soybeans and green beans do not seem to mind at all to share their turf.

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So, what did I harvest yesterday you may ask? (Even if you are not asking, I am DYING to show you!)

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Isn’t that the best ever?????? All this I grew from seed.  Sorry to be busting with pride but this is my first time starting stuff from seed and not buying starter plants.  I am such the proud mama here! Look at the smile and blue skies…

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And my little flower bed gave me some love yesterday also.

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IMG_20140903_113502280When I came in, I made me a great big tomato and basil sandwich! Oh my goodness, can you just taste this? It was so good, I even skipped the cheese!

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Today, I am heading over to visit my mom and dad.  I will be sharing the goodness with them in the form of bags of produce and a crock pot of fresh tomato sauce that cooked overnight in the crock pot.

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 So my garden is bursting and so am I! I hope you simply burst with delight over something today too!

Happy Unleashing (and bursting!)

FGU

Roasted Veggie Bowl

We may be snowed in but we have lots of veggies and grains in the house so that means some good eating!

Real Simple magazine had an article on healthful bowls in their last issue. They listed ingredients to stock your pantry with and then select something from a variety of categories to come up with a delicious and nutritious meal. Our pantry just about looked like this list, so I thought it was perfect for me to try out.

I made a “Roasted Veggie Bowl with Farro and Greens” last night and I just have to brag here and say it was fantastic.  Real Simple gets much of the credit for certain.  I am so glad they inspired me with this (and a couple more that are coming up!)

Here we go:

First I roasted butternut squash (1/2 of a large one), 1/2 head of cauliflower, 1 zucchini and 1 purple onion.  They simply had a bit of olive oil , salt and pepper on them.  They roasted at 400 for about 35 minutes.

While they were roasting I put a handful of fresh spinach and sliced purple cabbage in a bowl.  Neither of these got cooked in any way.

I cooked some farro according to the bags instructions.  My bag was from Trader Joes and is 10 minute farro which makes eating this not only yummy, but quick and easy!

A handful of sliced almonds got scattered in a hot skillet to toast them a bit and I grated a bit of sharp cheddar cheese.

The last thing to do was make some Buttermilk Ranch dressing.  I am not a fan of bottled ranch but homemade is another story!

Buttermilk Ranch:

  • 1 C buttermilk
  • 1/4 C Mayo
  • 1 smashed garlic glove
  • a handful of parsley chopped up (you could really use any fresh herb on hand that you like)
  • S&P

Whisk that and you are set.

OK— assembly time!  Grab that bowl with the spinach and cabbage in it. Put a generous spoonful of farro on next. A couple good portions of the roasted veggies are next in line.  Top off with a little shredded cheese and some almonds.  A ladle of your Buttermilk Ranch Dressing tops it off.

You have heaven in a bowl.

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This was really good and was packed with the food groups and nutrition.  It was awesome!  More are coming in the next days as I combine some other things from my pantry in a one bowl meal.

Happy Unleashing (in your kitchen),

FG

 

 

More Gardening- Just Do It!

Me in the TruckOne gardening season is coming to a close and I really just wanted to keep it going.  Then after tapping into books by Elliot Coleman and others, I see that it doesn’t have to end. But being a novice, I am not even sure what all this means– seems I can extend the season or over winter garden or use cold frames or frost blankets or plant stuff now for spring.

Well, I don’t really know about all these things, but then again I knew nothing in the spring either when we started gardening either, so once again I am just going to for it!  And that means, I am reading as much as I can, calling people with questions but bottom line is I am JUST DOING IT and we will see what happens.

Two of the summer beds are almost completely cleaned up now.  But the peppers…oh the peppers.  Most are pulled up but there are 6 that are still producing.  Some of these will hit the dehydrator.

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The basil is beautiful.  One plant is pulled and dehydrator.  The others will continue to dress our meals until I pull them right before frost and make a bunch of pesto to freeze.DSCN3490

We picked our last tomatoes this weekend and ate the last yesterday (except for the canned ones). It was bittersweet eating the last of them.  They were still so so yummy.  I do not believe I will be able to do grocery store tomatoes during the winter.  I will just wait until I can pick them again next summer.  There was nothing like it!

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The little yellow pear tomatoes just kept on going even after pulled for compost!  So I sat on the ground for a bit and picked out the flawless little guys.  They are still so yummy.  Who knew they would just keep on going even after pulled and tossed aside.

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Bed 3 still has some carrots in it.  They are yellow and red and orange and so, so pretty.  I fixed them for my mom and dad this weekend and they were amazed at the colors.  They tasted incredible too!  Bed 3 also has some late summer things in it that I planted in August.  Lettuce, spinach, kale, collards.  Those are looking good right now and we have started to eat from this bed again.

The other bed (#2) still has pumpkins which are about ready to come off.  These two beds will get cover crop.  It is a mix of seeds that will help condition our soil which we are in need of since we are the first to work this land. I love that I did not even know what the term cover crop was 6 months ago and now I am buying it and planting it!

SO, we need more!  More garden beds!

We prepped 5 new beds for fall, winter, next spring… for whatever.  They are now prepped and ready to go. Beds 4 & 5 were planted about a month ago.  Spinach, Corn Salad and Kale  are in there.  They are smaller than the others as they are 7×12 but perfect for these greens. The little plants here are about 2 -3 inches now. They are looking happy growing in these brand new beds.

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We really want to expand our tomatoes next year and try corn and give the squash some more room.  So with that in mind we prepped 3 more beds.  One bed which is 25 x 33 is done and is planted with cover crop.  This will help prepped the soil for the tomatoes in the spring.  The bed is also in mostly sunshine and I think that will be good for the tomatoes as well.  I am also trying to rotate stuff since I understand that is good for the soil. The others are fairly large also and have arugula, onions, spinach,  and fava beans.

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I planted some garlic also, following MJF great instructions. We use so much garlic, I am excited to have our own next year.  I planted 40 cloves.  It is now covered with straw like a little hiding present.  I can’t wait to uncover it next year to see what I have in there!

I love, love, love Johnny’s Selected Seeds.  Their catalog is more than a means to purchase seeds.  There is so much info about the seeds, varieties and planting info.  There staff is great too and has spent some time with me in helping me decipher much of what I don’t understand! So I ordered my stuff based on things that were supposed to be cold tolerant. I was so thrilled when my box came!

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I also got frost blankets.  The maternal side of me is going to love tucking my babies in at night when frost is in the forecast. 🙂

So how long will I be able to eat from my gardens?  What will come up?  What will fail?  What will be a major success?  The answer is simply “I don’t know”.  It is the same answer I had in the spring.  But there really are not failures, only learnings. I am learning a lot from the successes and challenges.

I am really thrilled to have gone for it and continued planting.  I love it so much.  It is not all about the outcome but the journey.  And that is already a success!

Happy unleashing today!

 

Gardening Joys

tomato love When we moved to the country and got a bunch of land (almost 6 acres) from a sub division plot, we had (and still do have) lots of dreams.  Gardening was one of them.  Last year we dabbled with 2 square foot gardens that were each 4 x 4.  That got our hands dirty and I guess gave us courage to go bigger.

This year we broke ground on three 25×12 beds, one flower bed and two more beds are standing by for fall veggies that are started as seeds right now.  Our soil wasn’t conditioned, it is full of clay (although not as bad as Georgia clay) and where we wanted the flower bed was a junk pile that came with the house.  Lots of fun and lots of work are paying off.  It has not been without challenges; we are gardening organically so throwing miracle grow and round up on things is not an option.  We are learning about natural pest control, natural plant food and how to condition the soil—all of which will take time.  But it is exciting, we are eating what we are growing and we are going to continue on with a year around garden (yes even in Indiana) using plant blankets and covers.

This morning I was out in the gardens, spraying the squash plants with baking soda and water because they have powdery mildew.  My CSA coordinator says this is common in the Ohio Valley and the farmers deal with it too.  That made me feel like I was in good company, so I looked in Rodale and discovered the simple spray that will contain it and hopefully keep it from affecting the plants that don’t have it yet.

BUT JOYS and SUCCESSES!  There are many.  🙂 Here are some pictures I took this morning.  You will see a pollinator or two in my squash blossoms, my cucs, my tomato bed (that has peppers and basil too) and my squash bed (which also houses the sunflowers and green beans).

And my handsome hubby, (who is also a farmer in the making like me) on the tractor this morning scooping and moving compost.  We have started our own compost pile but this year are still relying on purchasing good compost.  We had a truck load to unload!

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So dreams are coming true, more are in the making.  And speaking of dreams coming true… that tomato at the beginning of the article is going to grace an awesome BLT later today. And yes, it is from our garden.

What will you unleash today?