Saturday, April 30, 2011

Sowing More Summer Seeds

I also was able to finally sow more seeds today. This is my first time growing dried beans. I got some Borlotti Dwarf Beans seeds in a swap (top, lighter colored seeds). I bought some Dragon's Tongue Beans from Burpees (bottom, darker colored seeds). Anyone have any advice on what to do with them? Do I just let them grow and dry on the vine?

Green beans:
- Blue Lake Bush Beans
- Cantare Haricot Nain (seeds from France)

Asian greens:
- Baby Bok Choy
- Red Choi Pac Choi
- Waianae Strain Kai Choy

- Rouge D'Hiver Romaine
- Garnet Oakleaf
- Craquerelle du Midi or "Winter Density" (seeds from France)
- Merveille des 4 saisons or "Marvel of 4 Seasons" (seeds from France)

- Lemon
- Boston Pickling
- Tasty Green
- Parisian Pickling

Summer Squash:
- Black Beauty
- Patisson Golden Marbre Scallop
- Clarinette Lebanese

Winter Squash:
- Kabocha

- Tularosa Market
- Charentais
- Petit Gris De Rennes

Garden Chores

I had lots to do today. Luckily the weather cooperated. I pulled all the weeds in my old vegetable containers from last year. I hate to throw out the soil from the tomato containers. I always use fresh soil for my tomatoes.

I always recycle the soil in my pots. I usually ammend the soil and reuse it for flower containers. This time I was able to use the soil for my onions and herbs. I ammended the soil with chicken manure, some slow release fertilizer and some regular fertilizer.
I planted up another herb box with my thyme, orange thyme and parsley grown from seed.
I also bought a cilantro plant and another parsley plant (just in case I killed my seed sown parsley).
I hope my seedlings like their new home.
With more of the reused potting soil, I planted up more of my home sown onion plants. In total, I ended up with 2 1/2 pots of Copra onions and 1/2 pot of Walla Walla onions that survived from seed. Not too bad for my experiment. I hope they bulb up nicely. For the onions, I mixed in lots of chicken manure and added a little bit of blood meal and lots of bone meal. Since I forgot for the other onion and garlic pots, I side dressed them with fertilizer.

I composted and fertilized my fruits today (strawberries, raspberries, blueberries & plum). I used E.B. Stone Fruit, Berry & Vine Food. I also tied up my crazy raspberry branches.
One of my blueberry bushes looks like it's dead (the one in the foreground). But it still has some young shoots. I trimmed the really dead branches and fertilizer and composted anyway. Crossing my fingers that it survives! My second blueberry bush is at the left along the fence. I also trimmed the two weigela bushes next to it.
I also composted my peony plants and fertilized with bone meal. I also applied some bone meal to my lilac bushes.
My last outdoor chore for today. My snapdragons from last summer overwintered. At least these better be snapdragons and not some crazy snapdragon look-alike weed! All my containers from last year got de-weeded. The snapdragons got a haircut.

Ouch! I'm sore from bending over, squatting and working like crazy today!

Overwintered Herbs

It appears that my herb box has faired the winter well. Everything seems to be regrowing.

Here we have rosemary, oregano, curled parsley, pineapple sage and lots and lots and lots of mint. Here's a reason you shouldn't plant mint in the ground. They're notorious for spreading. Even in a container, the mint strives to take over.

Monday, April 25, 2011

What's Cookin?: (Meatless Monday) French Lentil & Vegetable Soup

I will preface this post by saying my Meatless Monday posts are not vegetarian dishes. My goal is to diminish my intake of red meats. Thus, today's recipe contains lentils and vegetables but uses chicken stock for flavor.

I was also able to thin and pinch back my thyme seedlings today. I decided to use them in my recipe. What a great aroma! Because they are just babies, they weren't as pungent as a full grown plant. I found myself using more than the recipe called for. I even sprinkled in some dried thyme to add another depth of flavor.

I used Ina Garten's recipe with a few minor tweaks. I also halved the recipe. The original makes 8-10 servings. This recipe also used my new favorite legume...the French lentil.
The recipe turned out great! It went perfectly for the crazy weather we had today (cold, occasional downpours, hail and wind)!

French Lentil & Vegetable Soup
Adapted from a recipe by Ina Garten
Servings: 4-6, Total Cook Time: 1 hr 45 min

1/2 lb. French green lentils, picked over and rinsed
boiling water
1/8 c. extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 medium cloves of garlic, minced
1 large leek, white & tender green parts only, chopped
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 Tbsp. fresh thyme
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
4 celery ribs, cut into 1/2 inch dice
3 medium carrots, peels and cut into 1/2 inch dice
1 (1 qt.) box + 1 (14.5 oz) can chicken stock (or about 1 & 1/2 qt)
1/8 c. + 1 extra tsp. tomato paste
1 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for serving

1) In a large heatproof bowl, cover the lentils with boiling water and let them stand for about 15 minutes. Drain and set aside.

2) While lentils are soaking, heat the olive oil in a large pot. Add the onions, garlic and leeks. Add salt and pepper, thyme and cumin and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are very tender, 10-15 minutes.

3) Add the celery and carrots and cook further until these begin to soften, about 10 minutes.
4) Add the chicken stock, tomato paste and lentils to the pot. Increase the heat to high, cover the pot and bring the soup to a boil. Uncover, reduce the heat to moderate and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the lentils are tender, about 45-60 minutes.

5) Turn off heat and stir in the red wine vinegar. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

6) Serve the soup hot with a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese.

The soup can be refrigerated for 2-3 days. Let soup return to room temperature and reheat gently. Add more stock to adjust the consistency if needed.

Planting Out the Garlic and Onions

My final garden chore for the day was to plant out my garlic and some onions. I had bought the garlic because I was curious to see if I could grow them. I had some Spanish Roja and Oregon Blue garlic
As you can see, I recycled my cat's kitty litter containers. I drilled holes in the bottom and reused some soil from my pots that had tomatoes in them last year. I added compost and chicken manure.

I finally am planting out my Copra onions! Some survived and look decent. Hopefully they'll do well.

The roots for these guys looked good.

I planted about 9 in a container. I kept some of the smaller plants in the hopes I can harvest them as green onions.

I got one bucket of Copra onions planted before the rains came. Whew! What a productive Monday!

**Edited: I was asked about the garlic I planted so I thought I would include a description for others and myself (as I refer back to my blog for references during the following growing season).

Spanish Roja Garlic
- an heirloom hardneck garlic that came to Portland, Oregon (yipee!!) over 100 years ago; originally known as Greek or Greek Blue Garlic
- generally a vigorous grower with large foliage that is dark green and results in a pretty good sized bulb.
- flavor is very strong, hot and spicy and sticks around for a long time; has an especially rich taste
- it grows well in cold winter areas but does poorly in warm winter areas
- usually grows healthy, fairly uniform sized bulbs (8-12 cloves) with a thin bulb wrapper that has a lot of purple and brown in them; bulbs are usually over 2 1/2 inches in diameter
- primarily grown for their rich flavor as it is not a very good storage garlic (only 5-6 months)
- harvest in mid-season

Oregon Blue Garlic
- Northwest heirloom softneck, artichoke-type garlic that is a great producer (8-10 cloves per bulb)
- mid-season garlic
- nice hot flavor, dark green leaves and a purple cast on the skins
- good storage variety

Trimming the Strawberries

I snuck outside during a break in the rain. This ugly thing has been staring at me every time I went outside. It's last year's Strawberry Topsy-Turvy. I didn't cut back my plants last year. I guess I need to research this more because I have no idea what to do with strawberries. BUT, I was shocked to see green with the brown dead branches.

I trimmed and trimmed and trimmed. Viola!! Fresh, green strawberry shoots! I wonder if they'll produce fruit this year?

Thinning the Thyme and Reviving the Parsley

Today was an icky day! It was cold (back to the 50's), windy with occasional downpours. It was the perfect stay inside weather. Unfortunately, I still have a lot of TO-DOs on my gardening chore checklist.

In between my indoor chores, I was able to get a few things checked off the TO-DO list. For one, I finally thinned and trimmed my thyme plants. The seedlings have been doing great. They're all crazy and long.

The were trimmed and pinched back to encourage fuller plants.

I have 2 thyme varieties this year. Regular thyme and an orange thyme. I'll probably transplant them to a permanent home this weekend if the weather is good.
Unfortunately, my parsley didn't survive my vacation. It was looking so good too! I'm kicking myself for not sending it over to my plant baby-sitter. I was able to trim and snip off the dead portions. This was what I was left with. Sad eh? Good news is that there are shoots still forming. Maybe I didn't totally kill it...just half?

Here's my harvest of thyme. To the left is the orange thyme and to the right is the regular thyme.

Harvest Monday 4/25/11

I came home from vacation to a windowsill lettuce box that was overflowing.
I snipped and trimmed and came up with a whole colander full of mixed greens. After I washed and dried the greens, I was able to fill 2 (5 oz) containers. Among the greens are mizuna, red trooper spinach, red sails lettuce and outredgeous lettuce. They'll make for excellent salads this week!
The greens were delicious as a filler in my tuna sandwich for lunch. The mizuna gave it a nice tang.
Happy Harvest!!

**Edited to add my thyme thinnings and the wonderful soup I made with them**

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter Peeps!!

Here's Peep Show 2011!! People can get very creative with Peeps!

April Warm Season Seedlings Update

My seedlings survived me being on vacation. Kudos to my plant babysitter. He managed to keep them all going. They've grown quite a bit while I was gone. I staked most of them because they were so big.

I'm excited to get these in pots outside but the weather here in Oregon is still not cooperating. I think I'll plant some outside with Wall-O-Waters soon. They're getting too big for these pots.

I also updated my grow list (right side bar). It's getting quite long!!

April Celery Update

My celery grown from seed are really doing well. They got some sun over the past few days. They look a little droopy but perked up after a drink of water. I'm excited to see this project to the end. It's been a long season babying these guys. I hope they make me proud!!

April 2011 Side Yard - Lilacs and Peonies

I guess the one good thing about Oregon rain is that my yard stays nice and green. My lilac bushes love Oregon rain. I learned the hard way that trimming them back just after their flowers die off produces very bushy, lush and heavy flowers the next season.

I have 3 Miss Kim Korean Lilac bushes in my side yard. I look forward to early spring when they bloom. They're an early bloomer and produce the more fragrant and intoxicating scent. They're so pretty and lovely that last year I cut some flowers and gave a bunch of them to my neighbor. She immediately went out to buy her own Miss Kim Lilac bush. LOL!
One of the bushes is already producing buds. I'm soooo excited!!

One of peony plants has reemerged after a long slumber. This one is the early bloomer of the two I have. I *heart* peonies!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

April Direct Sown Seeds

Today I took advantage of the nice weather to get a few more garden chores done. Since I had small spaces in my cold frame, I decided to plant some direct sown seeds. Today I planted:

- Radish, Easter Egg II
- Radish, French Breakfast
- Arugula
- Spinach, Tyee
- Mustard Greens, Osaka Purple

I also trimmed my plum tree back a little. Mind you I have no idea how or where you're supposed to trim.


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Travels: Borough Market (Part II-Everything Else) (London, England)

The seafood at Borough Market looked so yummy!!

I *heart* razor clams!!

I ended up buying some of the spicy Northern Spain chorizo at this stall. It was yummy!

Yep, those are bunny rabbit coats....awwww...

There were meats of all kinds. Here was the venison.

Wild boar sausage

This mushroom pate sounded interesting and worth a taste.

Goose fat in a can and cassoulet in a jar at this French stall.

One stall just sold ostrich meat.

Jamon serrano from Brindisa

The cheese selection was amazing! It was hard to decide what to buy.

Coffee at Monmouth

Okay, the girl even had a beer named after her.

For you gardeners, they even had seeds for sale!

The herbs smelled amazing!

I love olives!

Lots and lots of breads and all kinds too!

Look at these English muffins. Now that's a real muffin!!

There were also lots of precooked foods. It was very hard deciding what to have for brunch.

Notice the kate & willis pie. Everyone has royal wedding fever!

I bought me a cool Borough Market bag.

In the end, I ended up having a Wild Boar Sausage.

It was served on a soft roll and a bed of baby greens. They added some grilled onions and a spicy red pepper sauce that was delicious!! It was the best hotdog ever!! I really wanted to go back for seconds!!

I had a blast at the market! I highly recommend it if you're in London and like farmer's markets. It definitely has a very wide variety of items. Don't go full because there's lots to sample and eat here!!

Borough Market
39 Borough High Street
Camberwell, London, ENGLAND