Friday, June 27, 2008

Lessons Learned

Now that the weather is finally cooperating, it's time for a reality check and re-evaluate what does not work for this Pacific Northwest veggie garden.

Remember the Thai Red Roselle I had major zonal denial, yet such high hopes for? Well, they didn't make it past 3 inches tall. Even in the warmest spots, they did not enjoy the wet cool spring.

Sometimes, a crop goes missing in the whole shuffle of sowing and transplanting. I cannot find the pepino melons. They're completely gone--vanished. It's possible I mixed them up with the eggplant and gave them away as I handed over a tray of nasturtiums. I do remember them germinating and getting transplanted, but after that, who knows!

And speaking of eggplant, it will be interesting to see if they do decide to do anything. Last week I read they do not like nights below 55 degrees which we have had a ton of. Just now are we maintaining night temperatures above 50. Eggplant will stall out and remain stunted. They looked promising when I set them out in May and had at least four to five leaves each. Some are now holding their own against the slugs and have more leaves, but it's been an uphill battle.

The cucumbers were just an experiment, but I don't have enough to pollinate the girls with the boys. The seed was super old which may be why I have weak plants.

Ironically, I have one fennel plant out of the entire batch that is hanging on. Why is it that when you're not trying to grow fennel, it's everywhere. But, once you decide to plant it and cultivate it, the entire crop fails? I had great germination, but the survival rate has been dismal.

We all know what poor plants look like under such conditions, so I didn't bother taking any photos.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Summer Solstice

Happy Summer Solstice!

Did we think that summer would ever arrive? It's finally here. The warm weather is most welcome by me and my veggies that have had a miserable spring. It was as though winter weather continued through spring.

The weather is making it difficult to stay inside and update everyone with what is going on in the garden. I'll make it short so we can all get back to enjoying the sunshine!

So far, the Swiss chard is producing new leaves, tomatoes are taller, radishes are ready for harvesting, onions are swelling, and edible chrysanthemum is oh-so-tall and flowering. The celery is thicker, and the eggplant is starting to take a turn for the better finally. And the fava beans are climbing high!

Here is one of the views of my garden. Notice the freshly painted blue planter boxes in the background.

Okay! Get back out there, soak up the sun, and fight that morning glory!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


I love to surprise my friends by tossing flowers into my salads. I recently did this to the salad mix I received in my Stoney Plains Organic Farm CSA subscription.

People are used to eating red, yellow, and orange nasturtiums. But, blue starry flowers sprinkled amongst the greens catches them off guard.

"What are those?! Can we really eat them?!"

"Yes. And, they taste so wonderfully fresh almost like cucumbers!"

The flowers are delicate. I pluck the whole flower from the stem and separate the fuzzy sepals from the blue petals. The sepals are underneath the petals, also called a calyx as an entire unit. Here is a photo showing these different parts of the flower: the corolla (petal unit) and calyx (sepal unit). A little botany terminology never hurts!

The petals will easily fall off as you're gathering them for your summertime salad. Since the calyx's texture is too fuzzy for some, I only add the petals. If they aren't separating for you, just add the whole thing. Don't worry since the salad dressing will most likely mask the texture. Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


I know it's late in the season for acquiring a rhubarb plant. But there I was, at the West Seattle Farmers' Market, wandering around and I spotted it in a 4" pot at Langley Fine Gardens. It was so cute with several small leaves and a lot of potential. Where it would be planted was already visualized in my garden. I gave the man $3--a bargain!--and took my new crop home.

Here it is in the ground with my Walla Walla onions in the background.

Cute, eh?

I sacrificed a few primroses to make room for the rhubarb. Who wants to eat primroses anyway? Some may argue the same for rhubarb, but I like it. Especially at this time of year when local fresh fruit is hard to find. The apple supply has been looking pretty grim since April. But I haven't had enough heat for cherries.

I've made crisps and sauces this season using the rhubarb from the Columbia City Farmers' Market. The recipe I recently used was from the first edition of edibleSEATTLE. It calls for ground ginger for the topping and the filling. I prefer using fresh ginger for the sauce. The more intense flavor means I don't need any for the topping. All you need is some peeled ginger and a Microplane. If you don't have a Microplane, the small holes (not the nutmeg grater) on your box grater will work just fine.

Rhubarb sauce is easy and quick, and you don't have to make a crisp. I made a sauce last night with rhubarb, ginger, strawberries, butter, and brown sugar. I threw it all in a pan on medium high heat until the rhubarb was tender. You can swirl it into your ice cream or even oatmeal for breakfast. Enjoy!