Monday 27 July 2015

Harvest Monday: July 27, 2016

Whew ... it's hot and sticky here.  And more of it to come according to the forecast (30+ Celsius for the next few days).  Here's what I've been picking out of the garden when I manage to get myself outside in this heat - check out Daphne's Dandelions to see what other gardeners have going on at this time.

The Hungarian Hot Wax and Jalapeno peppers in the photo above were pickled.  It was too hot to go through the full canning process so I just pickled them and left them in the fridge.  On the left side of the picture are pimiento peppers (Stokes seeds).  I probably picked them a bit early but they are an odd shape and I'm not really sure I like them - they taste fine, but a low flesh to seed/core ratio.  Probably useful for a stuffed pepper dish.

My rhubarb is slow to grow for some reason - I've heard that you shouldn't harvest rhubarb after June but don't remember why; so I'm still picking some here and there. 

The Neem oil treatments have really helped with the cucumber beetles and I am finally seeing some squash production.  I spent a few days picking the adult beetles off the plants (using Daphne's advice, I had a bowl of soapy water to drop them into so they couldn't get away), then sprayed on some Neem oil once a week for the past three weeks.  Unfortunately, I was a bit late in doing this and have lost almost all of my pumpkin plants to the beetle damage, but at least I have some summer squash!  I had two separate harvests, shown here with the lot of beans I've been picking:

In total, I've harvested just under 3 pounds of beans this week alone!  As for more squash, I've had one yellow crookneck, shown here with some kohlrabi.

I've had a bit more kale, chard and lettuce (but not as much as I'd like!).

This lettuce is growing in a strange way.  It's Kindle lettuce and is supposed to be like a butterhead .... but most of it is growing like this.  I suppose it's bolting in its own way, not really sure.  The leaves are still nice and tender so OK for now, I guess.

And some more potatoes - fingerling and russian blue.

The potatoes were tossed with olive oil, thyme and oregano, and then roasted.  I added some of the beans in during the last 15 minutes.  Yummy!

Monday 20 July 2015

Harvest Monday: July 20, 2015

I'm a bit behind on gardening chores with a recent trip away (went to Grey Fox Bluegrass Music Festival in Oak Hill, NY !!).  I had a friend looking after watering but it's unfair to ask favours of weeding so I have some work to do.  I'm also behind on the blog.  I missed last week's Harvest Monday so this is a two week summary of what I've been pulling out of the garden.

This is all of the garlic harvest ... there might be a few stragglers that I've missed, but I pulled them last week as I wanted to use the space for the fall planting of brassicas.   These are all Red Russian - 3.7 pounds worth.  With previous harvests of Red Russian garlic and the smaller harvest of Music garlic, I ended up with a total garlic harvest of 6.4 pounds (includes scapes and heads).  Considering this is the first season that I had to deal with an infestation of leek moth, I'm pretty happy with the final tally.

I have actually harvested several batches of potatoes but keeping forgetting to take photos - here are some Russian Blue potatoes with another batch of basil that I've picked.

My first of several kohlrabi I've picked in the past couple of weeks.

The first of many hot peppers (jalapeno and hungarian hot wax) ... plus my first pick of chard and some arugula.

Beans have started coming in ... and fast.  I've harvested several batches for almost 2 pounds in the past week.  These are Royal Burgundy and Delinel.

And I've harvested over a pound of escarole, most of which went to friends.

This basket has more of both for my friend to take home when we arrived back from our trip.

And finally, some lettuce and a bit of broccoli from last week.  I'm wondering about how side shoots work??   I have harvested the main heads of broccoli over the past few weeks but there are no signs of side shoots.  Does it take some time for the side shoots to start forming?   Any help on this subject is appreciated!

Why not pop over to Daphne's Dandelions and see what other folks around the world are harvesting on this Harvest Monday?

Saturday 11 July 2015

Flatbread with Creamed Escarole, Smoked Gouda and Red Onion Marmalade

I love pizza, but I don't always want to make the pizza dough.  I had some naan bread in the freezer leftover from an Indian meal a while back so it is an easy substitute.  As for the topping, wow, the combinations are endless.  So this is just to share one version that I had recently.

I've been harvesting a lot of escarole early as it was planted close together and needing to be thinned out (still probably more to be pulled before I leave the rest to fully mature).  It has a slightly bitter taste (less so at this early stage) so combining it with the sweetness of my red onion and orange marmalade was a great match (or just use caramelized onions).  Goat cheese would also work well here, but I liked the idea of a smoked cheese.

After washing the escarole, saute it (with some water still on the leaves) in a small amount of olive oil.  Once the greens have wilted, add some sliced garlic.  Cook just another minute or two then add 2 Tbsp of heavy cream.   Turn off heat but leave on the stove and let cool while stirring occasionally.  The cream will partly evaporate but some will cling to the escarole.  This would make a fantastic side dish - in fact, I ate half of it before making the flatbread.

Toast the flatbread then top with your choice of ingredients.  Place under the broiler for 1-2 minutes or until toppings are heated through and cheese has melted.

Wednesday 8 July 2015

Advice on Ridding my Plants of Cucumber Beetles

Image result for cucumber beetle stock photo

This is a stock photo ... I can't work my camera well enough to take close-ups.  My squash plants (some near cukes, some not, doesn't seem relevant) are being mauled by cucumber beetles (yellow/black stripes).  In some cases, the plants are not growing well.  In other situations, the plants have managed to flourish, but the bugs are eating away at the fruit before it has time to mature (so just dropping off).

Image result for cucumber beetle stock

I've just gotten an order of Neem oil and applied one application last Friday and another one tonight (despite the instructions that it should be 7 days between treatments).  Any other suggestions!?!?  I've never encountered this bug before ... there are dozens of them on each plant.

Monday 6 July 2015

Harvest Monday: July 6, 2015

My french tarragon is still growing like crazy and overshadowing my still small swiss chard ... so I've chopped it again.  It makes a nice indoor arrangement, don't you think?  :)

I had some minor garden injuries this weekend - very minor, but a good reminder of wearing good garden gloves and proper footwear!  I managed to give myself a "paper" cut on the edge of a plastic planter - not a big deal, but you never know about infections.  Then Sunday morning, while mowing the grass around the garden, I had a nasty sudden pain around the ankle ... my guess is I was bitten by a spider.  Minor, thank goodness, but did you know there are Black Widow spiders in Ontario!?!  I watched the swelling and 3" diameter rash obsessively ... for two hours.  Then it went away.  OK, not a Black Widow bite.  But seriously, it's good to always have protective gear when gardening.  I usually wear rubber boots, but the weather is so warm ... ugh!

So on to my harvest of the past week.  I've been tracking the weight of harvests, but just haven't shared any yet.  Mostly it's been lightweight greens.  This week, I had my first couple of pound or near-pound harvests.

First up is one harvest of broccoli (pictured here with another big batch of escarole being thinned out) - these two heads were 405 grams, with another head around 150 grams later in the week.  These first two were used to make the recently posted soba noodles with ginger-peanut sauce.  Yummy.  I was pretty excited about these as I have a hard time growing most brassicas with the weather conditions in my area.

Another weighty harvest was the garlic.  I've harvested about a third of the Red Russian garlic early due to the infestation of leek moth.  I'm picking the larger ones for now, but I'm probably going to start with the smaller heads soon just to avoid further damage.  Here they are drying out in the basement - 729 grams so far.

I've also pulled more garlic scapes and harvested bits of kale, spinach, more sugar snap peas and pulled the rest of the radish out of the greenhouse (with no pics).

And more garlic scapes.  One of these days I will get around to pickling some .. they seem perfect for a good martini garnish!

And some rhubarb spears with I also didn't get a pic of but I used them to make these rhubarb & strawberry galettes.

Oh yeah, and these ... hmm, not much.

Check out Daphne's Dandelions to see what other gardening folks have going on this week.

Saturday 4 July 2015

Soba Noodles with Broccoli and Ginger-Peanut Sauce

I've recently harvested some broccoli and it looks really good!  I'm excited because, although I've grown broccoli before, it is usually tiny and sprouts before it is big enough to pick.  My favourite way to eat broccoli is in this dish so I thought I'd make and share the recipe.  The photos of the dish were taken in a brightly lit area so it doesn't show the true green of the veggie, but they really were the best specimens I've grown to date.

You can pretty much use any veggies you want but I like to include broccoli, red pepper, snow peas, carrots (neither of which I had today but I included the carrots in the recipe since I would normally have them), lots of options.  The sauce can be adjusted to suit your tastes ... this is a pretty standard version but you could add more hot sauce for a spicier version.  This should serve 4.  Leftover noodles can be changed up a bit to include ginger-sauteed shrimp or leftover chicken, etc.

Start with the sauce as it needs some time for the flavours to blend - I usually make it several hours or even a day ahead of time.

Ginger-Peanut Sauce

Mix all of the following ingredients together into a smooth sauce - if it's too stiff (like a paste), add 1-2 Tbsp of water or more lime juice to thin it out (it should be the consistency of thick ketchup).
  • 2 limes
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • 2 Tbsp toasted sesame oil
  • 1 Tbsp minced fresh ginger
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 5 Tbsp smooth or crunchy peanut butter
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp sriracha sauce

The Noodle Dish

10 ounces buckwheat (soba) noodles
2 limes
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp minced fresh ginger
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
1 red pepper, sliced
1 lb broccoli, cut into florets and slice the stalk if tender enough
1 carrot, julienned
Cilantro for garnish

Cook the noodles according to the package - it usually says 5-6 minutes but I find they are ready to my liking around 3 1/2 minutes.  When cooked, immediately drain and toss in cold water.  When fully drained, drizzle 1-2 tsp of sesame oil over the noodles and toss again.

Lightly saute the garlic, ginger, onion, pepper and carrots with a small amount of olive oil.  After 3-4 minutes, add the broccoli and the juice of 1 lime.  Turn the heat to low and cover with a lid to steam the broccoli.

While the broccoli steams, get back to the noodles.  Toss them in a large bowl with 2 Tbsp of the ginger-peanut sauce.  I prefer to mix the sauce with the noodles and the veggies separately to ensure I get the right balance of flavours throughout the dish.

When the veggies are tender, turn off the heat and stir in 2 heaping Tbsp of the ginger-peanut sauce - add more to taste.  This amount is enough for me which usually leaves another few Tbsp of sauce to use for dipping fresh veggies.

There are two options for serving:

1) If you are sure your noodles are not overcooked and they can take a bit more heat, just mix the veggies and noodles together at this point and toss to mix.  Squeeze on a bit more lime juice, garnish with cilantro (which I totally forgot for the pictures) and serve immediately.

2) If you want to make sure your noodles don't get too mushy, serve the noodles in bowls first, and spoon some of the veggies over top (or let guests do this themselves).  Serve with slices of lime (and fresh cilantro).