Monday, September 8, 2014

Tomatoes: 2 out of 3

Out of the three varieties of tomatoes I grew this season, two will make a return appearance next summer: Sungold and Odoriko.

I don't have to say much for those who have grown Sungolds before. After several years' resistance for not growing them--in general I avoid jumping on the bandwagon-- I caved last year and will never look back. Sungolds will always have a spot in my garden. They easily ripen and continue ripening even while temperatures drop as fall approaches.

Tasty Sungold!

I generally stick with varieties with 65 days to maturity. I was skeptical of the Odoriko since they were quite large and very green. But then they turned a slight red-orange color and quickly ripened with a pink tinge. They are super flavorful and great for slicing on burgers or tossing into pasta dishes. I just made a eggplant dip that called for diced tomatoes and used the Odorikos. Their sweet yet tangy flavor were a great balance to the garlic and eggplant's earthiness.

Odoriko: technically a "pink-fleshed tomato"
 
The one tomato that I was super excited to grow and was such a bust was the Indigo Blueberry. I had the regular Indigo Blue which are deep purple to almost black with a true red underside that carries over inside the fruit. First disappointment was they take forever to ripen. The Sungolds were in full swing as the Indigos were just starting to redden. Second disappointment, it lacked the concentrated flavor that cherry tomatoes should have. Overall the flavor was "meh." The third disappointment was their texture. The fruits were watery and combined with a watered-down flavor; leaving a lot to be desired. I removed a robust plant, full of fruit, from my backyard because it just wasn't worth the space it was taking.
 
 Bummer...those fruits should be red!
 
 
Next season, I'm going to stick with the "tried-and-true-two": Sungold and Odoriko. And I'll add one more variety to mix it up and try something new.
 




 

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Persimmon update

My mom texted me a couple weeks ago asking me how my persimmon tree was doing.

After a month of trying to revive my persimmon tree, I faced the reality it wasn't going to make it. Disappointed, I gave it a proper burial in the yard waste bin.

I learned two lessons. One is to re-evaluate where I plant larger specimen trees. While I like the look of espalier, against the house isn't ideal. I still want to try growing persimmons. I think they have great looking foliage. And their orange fruit would brighten up the garden in the fall as it enters winter dormancy.

The second lesson is more of humbling truth. I have been able to salvage many plants over the years; rehabilitating them back to life. It's moments like this that show me I can't save everything, especially when I'm deliberately taking a chance moving it under the worst conditions: actively growing and on the first hottest day of the season.

When I told my mom the tree died. She said "Oh, too bad," but I admitted it was to be expected.

So I start again. Looking for a new persimmon this winter and scoping out the best place for it in my garden.
 

Zucchini


And so it begins...the great zucchini harvest!


 
Zucchini #1
 
 
 
 
Zucchini #2...and more on the way!
 
 
 
 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Cilantro

Cilantro is such an easy herb to grow. Within days of sowing it in a shallow pot in my garden, I had tiny little seedlings ready for thinning out.

Instead of tossing the seedlings into the compost heap, I used them--this time in my guacamole. I took about 10 seedlings, cut off the roots, and finely chopped the sprouts. They are super flavorful and the perfect size since I'm only using leaves The little stems at this point are so small it doesn't effect the texture of the guacamole. The seedlings should have one to two feathery-looking leaves.


Super cute seedlings ready to be chopped!
 
There's nothing like freshly made guacamole in the summer. Now if I could only grow avocadoes...


Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Persimmon mishap

When I decided to acquire my persimmon tree, I had a grand vision of an espaliered specimen against by backyard cottage. I ignored the fact that eventually, the cottage would need to be painted.

I have no one to blame but myself for choosing a) the worst place to plant a tree and b) the time for transplanting my persimmon tree. I knew I had to move it to another place in the garden or at least temporarily pot it up while my house was being painted. So why did I decide this weekend to move it? I know better to take on such a task when the tree is dormant; not when it's fully leafed out in sunny weather.

Part of me didn't give the persimmon a chance. I bought it as a whip from Swason's on clearance towards the end of fruit-tree-planting season. It's been in the ground for 5 years; the first of which I didn't think it survived the winter. It's faithfully leafed out yearly since, but fruiting was another issue. I started to doubt it would ever happen. Even though I know it takes most fruit trees 7 years to reach maturity and produce fruit. So I put off the transplanting project until now--a week out from said painting project.

As I start to dig out the root ball, I notice these little things along the branches. I can't believe it, or actually, I can. Of course, this is the year it fruits...when it's slated to be moved.


You can see four small fruits just starting to grow: two towards the lower right of the photo and two on the upper left.

I did manage to dig it out and pot it up, but it's understandably going through transplant shock. I'm hoping it will be ok and currently scoping out a new location for it in the garden altogether. I still like the idea of an espalier and probably am committed to it since it's been trained as such early on.

I'm doing all I can now to save this tree. I've certainly learned my lesson...


  

Monday, May 12, 2014

Bay Laurel

I was surprised to see my bay laurel in flower a few weeks ago. I've actually never seen the culinary laurel, Laurus nobilis, flowering.


.

This plant is "dioecious," meaning "two houses," where there are separate plants with either male or female flowers. This plant in my garden is female.

Enough with the botany lesson...

I love this slow growing shrub in my garden. It's right next to my front steps and easily accessible for a few leaves when I'm making marinara sauce or I need a sachet. Such sachets of a couple bay leaves, smashed garlic cloves, and whole peppercorns wrapped in cheesecloth are popular in Thomas Keller's stock recipes.

Even if you don't use the leaves in your kitchen, it's still a handsome must-have plant for your garden or in a container on your patio.

 

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Spring Seed Sowing

Where does the time go!? I can't believe my last post was in January.  And with the summer-like weather yesterday, I'm already thinking ahead to tomatoes.

All my seeds arrived from Kitazawa, Territorial, and Fedco. And my bareroot plants from Raintree are in the ground: purple asparagus, Jewel Black raspberry, and a hedge form of serviceberry.

Out of the many seeds I ordered this season, I am most looking forward to growing the Indigo Blue Berries tomato. I've been buying these at farmers' market for a couple of years now and decided grow them myself this year. They are a small cherry type with deep bluish purple skin with hints of red, and super flavorful. The need 75 days until maturity and I've successfully grown other cherry tomatoes with similar timing so I'm hoping they'll do well.

 
 
Other veggies I'm looking forward to growing are purple pac choi, painted serpent cucumbers, and zucchini. I'm surprised that this will be my first time growing zucchini given how successful else is at growing it. This is your warning: lock your car doors!
 
Repeats of previous years that will be grown again this year are eggplant, shishito, escarole and tomato 'Odoriko.' This tomato is pink fleshed, a little larger than a roma and very flavorful. It also has a short requirement for maturity making it ideal for Seattle summers.
 
That's only about half of the seeds I ordered, and I'm already feeling a space crunch. My eyes are definitely bigger than my garden!