Monday, September 29, 2014

Baby Veggies


I just picked a handful of "baby veggies" reminiscent of spring veggies. They are small but since it's officially fall fall (hello, rain!), calling them "spring veggies" is totally wrong and "fall veggies" conjures up visions of kale and acorn squash; so "baby veggies" will have to do.

I was lucky my 'Spineless Beauty' zucchini crop didn't get out of hand--yay me for my laziness and procrastination! I had a manageable amount with my five plants that went into the ground in early July. The vines are done, but I wouldn't say I'm cutting my loses. I had the perfect amount of snappy, crisp young zukes to go along side with my pesto the other night. "Spineless" refers to the lack of hairs on the zucchini, not a reference to it lacking a backbone or being like jello (gross).

 
Sautéed with garlic--YUM!
 
'Tromboncino' was the other summer squash I tried this season. They germinated quickly but then sat around for awhile until a few weeks ago with the last blasts of summer heat. It climbed up the spent cardoon flower stalks. Had I known it was going to take off, I would have trellised them earlier. According to Fedco Seeds, they are great as both a summer and winter squash. I harvested them at 4-6" rather than the 8-10" they recommend. They also can be left to grow longer and change color to greenish-tan as a winter squash. 60 days to maturity for summer harvest and 90 days for winter harvest.
 
I'm leaving my vines in for a bit longer (can we say "seasonal denial"?) to see if I can get anything else out of them. Regardless, they were great combined with the Spineless Beauty zukes with my pasta. But next year, I will plant them in as starts in June rather than sowing directly in July. In the meantime, I'll be dreaming of the wonderful dishes I'll use them in next year: gnocchi, ravioli, sliced fresh in salads...Mangia! Mangia!
 




Monday, September 22, 2014

My Garden is a Mess

I could feel my garden getting away from me in August. I blame the "summer crush" where we Seattle-ites double and triple booked ourselves with end-of-summer activities. All I could manage was collect zucchini, eggplant, tomatoes, Shishitos, and Asian pears. Not exactly a bad problem to have, but really I needed to at least pull a few weeds once in awhile. And not neglect the beans which seems to happen every year as well.

My vines were taking over. I had grown Delicata winter squash before, but not Jack-be-Little pumpkins. I was skeptical if I'd even get one single jack-o-lantern out of the 8 or so starts I planted. They were super stressed so I more or less wrote them off. Boy did they take off! They climbed over everything and anything--my roses, the fence, the echinacea.

A crazy mess
 
I evaluate everything I grow as to whether it's worth growing again. Sometimes I'm willing to wait a year or two before repeating a variety like with tomatoes since there are so many out there to try. With other varieties that fail, I feel the challenge to try again. And for those that do really well and need some refining, like with these oh-so-cute little pumpkins. I'm going to try half the number of starts and a more extensive trellis that keep them from running away from me.
 
I'm a sucker for these little pumpkins
 
Finally, this last weekend I decided to pull the plug on the vines. Real estate is scarce in my garden and I needed room for my winter veggie starts. I'm hoping I'm on time getting them into the ground! More on those later...
 



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...