Friday, September 30, 2011


Yes, there are times when something I've grown in the garden just doesn't quite work out.

My early purple sprouting broccoli has grown wonderfully. The stalks are huge and about 4' tall. But, I have yet to get any flowers on them.

Instead of giving up completely, I decided to try sauteing the leaves with some butter and garlic. A friend told me that the leaves can be very tasty. They seemed similar in texture to lacinato kale and became a lovely green color when I cooked them up.

Looks good!

Oh, but what a disappointment when I tried them. They were leathery and not flavorful at all. No amount of butter, garlic, and even Parmesan cheese would make these right!

Ah well. I guess I'll keep growing on the others until they finally sprout or a freeze knocks them back for the season. Stay tuned!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Beans, Beans!

Beans really are a magical fruit. I am amazed how easy they are for me every year. I directly sowed the seed once it got warm enough. This year, it was just before the 4th of July...although we got tricked into thinking that was the start of our summer here in Seattle. Then I watered them in and kept the soil moist and within a week and a half or so, they sprouted.

I couldn't keep up with the harvest this year again. But, that's okay since what I don't eat can be saved for next year's planting. And the old plants can be turned under before I plant my winter veggies.

I had fun this year planting my Purple Pole Beans next to a rose bush as a support. This rose reaches about 7-8' and was a lovely natural trellis.

I planted Purple Podded bush bean as well. Both of these had a nutty flavor. I never did get around to cooking them up. I imagine they'd be great in a stir fry. I just ate them straight from the garden. Yum!

Another cool variety were the 'Dragon Tongue' bush beans. I wish they were a pole bean because the pods with their contrasting cream and purple skin are hidden close to the ground. I'd like to have them at eye level. Ah well.

Still fun to look at even if you have to crouch down to get a peek at them. These had a more green flavor...not quite grassy, but close. Again, I only ate them from the garden and didn't get around to trying them in a dish. All of them are perfect for snacking as you wander the garden.

Oh, and for the record, another bowl of tomatoes were harvested this evening. Woohoo!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Tomatoes and Eggplant

When I got home this afternoon, my son asked if we could go outside and pick tomatoes. No one has to ask me twice!

Today there was a definite hint of fall in the air. It rained last night and was still overcast when we headed out. But, still warm enough where I'm not feeling panicked about ripping out tomato plants just yet.

We gathered a fantastic looking bowl of tomatoes and eggplant. Check it out!

Most of the tomatoes are the Isis Candy which are delicious! Tangy and sweet with a cool orange-red swirl of color around the fruit. I would say it's a nice balance between the sweet, sweet Black Cherry and the punchy tang of the Wow!

I had given up on the Isis Candy harvest since they are quite slow to ripen given the cool summer we had. If it weren't for growing these beauties in the south-facing front yard, I'm sure most of them would still be green.

As we filled the bowl, my son reminded me about making green tomato pie. And, he mentioned several times he wanted it "now." Maybe later this week, we'll fill a bowl of all green tomatoes just for that.

Oh, and I almost forgot the eggplant! One of my Little Fingers eggplant finally came round and produced a handful (pun intended!). If you look closely at about 6 o'clock in the bowl, there is one peeking out. The others you see are Kyoto Egg. One single plants had a good looking and sizable crop--close to 10 eggplants!

I promise I'll make a separate post of what they look like out in the garden. I hope to convince you to plant your edibles amongst your perennials.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

End-of-Summer Tomatoes

I wouldn't say I've had a glut of tomatoes this year, but I managed to collect at least two bowls full. Better late than never with the heat we had the last week and a half. You didn't hear this Seattleite complaining about the weather. I wanted ripe tomatoes!

I took this latest harvest and added it to the pesto pasta I made last night. The pesto was simple: basil, garlic, parmesan cheese and toasted hazelnuts. Whirl the ingredients in the food processor with enough olive oil to make a paste and a couple dashes of salt and Voila! It was a big hit with my friends.

Before adding the tomatoes to the pasta, I quartered them and sprinkled them with a little kosher salt and olive oil to bring out their bright and tangy flavor.

Maybe I'll grab some crusty bread at the farmer's market tomorrow and use the rest of them for bruschetta. It will be my toast to the end of summer as I feel the slight chill of fall in the air.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Shinseiki Pear

Two and a half years ago I bought a 4-way grafted Asian pear. It is advised that after the first year of planting, not to let it go to fruit. Last year, as soon as the flowers were done blooming, I plucked them off. I didn't want to be tempted by the little fruits forming.

This year, I had a fair amount of blossoms. But there were several that didn't make it. I managed to get about 8 pears total. Mind you, it is a small tree!

Not knowing how to tell when the pears are ready for harvest, I asked my favorite fruit farmers at the Columbia City weekly market. Jim, from Little Wing Farm, told me to wait until the fruit start to "glow" with a golden yellow color. He also mentioned to start harvesting from the tips of the branches and work your way in. I told him it's such a small tree, I only have pears on the tips.

I found it interesting that Jim also harvests the same trees several times through the season. He told me at first it takes some trial and error to figure out how ripe the fruit is. This year, I don't have many chances with just a handful of fruit. Hopefully it's more trial than error.

Today, I took a closer look at it. There was a pair sitting on the end of the Shinseiki graft. The fruit had a yellow glow to it and decided to take a chance. The two pears lifted easily from the branch--a promising sign! I placed them on the dining table to snap a quick picture before we dug into them.

That blur is my son's hand trying to swipe one from the table.

I sliced one and saved the other for tomorrow. They were sweet with a hint of tartness, and juicy without being watery. Good crunch and structure, too. Can't wait to see how the other compares, and how the rest of the harvest will be this season.