Monday, October 21, 2013


I can't believe these are blooming now!

I planted then last fall as a birthday present to my foodie husband.

Pretty exciting! I thought they would bloom in the spring; not now in the fall. There are fall blooming crocus (technically they are Colchicum), but these are true crocus. Still...a welcome surprise!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Seasonal Denial

I've been trying to make the transition into fall; putting my summer garden to rest. These last few days of rainy forecasts trumped by warm sun aren't helping.

I popped the last round of ripe Sun Golds into my mouth as though they would give me the courage to start yanking out plants. But look at all the green tomatoes that may easily turn yellow with a couple more days of this weather! I couldn't do it.

Really these are going to ripen...
The Shishito peppers, packed with flowers, made it difficult as well. The sun was warm on my back; certainly a few more warm days will help bring on another round, right? But then I caught a slight scent in the air finally convincing me this won't last. I collected another bowl to be wok fried as I plucked the plants from the garden.
All those white flowers made it tough!
The peppers I collected were significantly larger than the ones from earlier this summer. I saw some for sale at the Friday Harbor farmers' market a couple of weeks ago. I was a little envious since theirs were much bigger than the ones we had. And $8 a pound! I'll have to say they are spicy and loose that distinct, concentrated "green" flavor compared to the smaller, younger fruits. Plus, the larger they are, the longer they take to cook. And when it comes to snacking on these, you want them to be done quick!
Wok-a! Wok-a!
I needed little convincing with pulling out the basil though. Once the nights get below 50 degrees, basil slimes out pretty quickly. One last round of pesto. I brought the plants into the kitchen to pull the leaves off. As I took the left over plants out to the compost, my son asked why I was throwing the plants away. I explained basil is an annual and grows in the summer. I told him once it gets cold, the basil will die so it's time for them to go into the compost. A kid who likes to save EVERYTHING he didn't argue with me for once.
So long, farewell...
I've checked the forecast (NOAA is pretty accurate) and it's supposed to dip to 47 on Wed night. Perfect weather for turning my Sun Golds to mush for sure. In the meantime, I'll keep up my seasonal denial.

Friday, September 20, 2013

I had decent timing on my eggplant this year. Snagged several of these beauties last week to add to my ratatouille. They're pretty small but flavorful! They are called Diamond from Adaptive Seeds and are said to grow in less than ideal conditions.

Our weather this summer has been amazing with decent temperatures and little rain. I'm sure this helped Diamond do well.

Hope your summer harvests are winding down nicely. Savor those last meals that make the most of the season. Invite your friends over and eat in the garden before the weather turns.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Sun Gold Special Delivery

It's been hard finding time to keep up on my posts. When I'm inside writing, there's less time spent outside savoring the last moments of summer.

The Sun Golds are still quite prolific. My son was happy to collect a bunch and give them a ride in his trike.

These are full of flavor and can be used in so many summer dinners from fish tacos to cool pesto pastas. Yum!

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Doing Nothing

What to do about apple scab and codling moth? Apple scab leaves lesions on the apple's surface and is caused by a fungus. On the scale of a home grower, there isn't much one can do that doesn't involve fungicides. I've been lucky my apples haven't been hit by it.

Codling moth is another story. I've had a few apples invested with these wormy delights. My way of controlling this pest is wrapping each apple in a piece of pantyhose. This is quite labor intensive. So I decided this year to do nothing. Risky since this is a high yield year. Last year my crop was way down. I may end up next to no apples two years in a row.

So far the Honeycrisps are looking pretty good. No signs of frass. They are starting to turn red within the last week.

I'll keep you posted on their progress. I hope doing nothing pays off!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Dinner Showcase

Tonight's dinner featured several items from my garden...

Pesto with freshly picked basil tossed with Sun Gold tomatoes
The look other world-ly but they're just 'Hunger Gap' kale chips. My son's current favorite!
Flash fried 'Shishito' peppers sprinkled with kosher salt. Super tasty we almost gobbled them up before I remembered to take a picture.
I your summer garden is providing you with lots of yummy edible goodness! Bon apetit!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Sun Gold

I've been avoiding Sun Golds since I started growing my own tomatoes. "What's the big deal?" I've said to myself year after year.

Last summer, a colleague of mine left some at the greenhouse which I grew on in pots on site. I then knew what the big deal was. They ripen easily and have amazing flavor.

I decided this year to grow them in my garden and I can't get enough of them. Remember my earlier post about freaking out whether the plants were going to do anything? Well, they are doing well. My current problem is that they aren't ripening fast enough in order to keep up with our consumption!

Orange globes of goodness!
Not entirely related, but couldn't pass up sharing with you a photo of a sleepy bee on my orange hybrid dahlias this morning. When I was snapping photos of the Sun Golds, a few bees were caught dozing. When I first started gardening as an intern, I loved seeing slumbering bumblebees in the lavender early in the morning. 
It's hanging on well to that flower, but completely asleep!

Friday, July 26, 2013

Peppers II

It's been several seasons since I've grown peppers in the garden. The last time I grew Chinese 5 color pepper. Grown for their great colors--hence the name--there were red, orange and purple peppers on the same plant; I never did a taste test.

This year, Eldon, my culinary nerd and foodie husband, requested we grow Shishito peppers. I specifically ordered from Kitazawa Seeds. Having a maturity time of 60 days (75 is my cut off), I agreed to grow them. I now have quite a pepper forest between these and another variety I am growing. I actually have no idea what the plans are for these when they're ready for eating. I think he wants to do a tempura with them.

If you think these are funny looking, wait til you see the other pepper I'm growing. 'Sigaretta de Bergamo' is Italian variety that is literally "cigarette pepper" from Bergamo. Claimed to be great in salads, stir fries, and pickling. I think I'll try the pickling option.
 I ordered them from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. I can see how they got their name. I'm looking forward to eating both types!

Sunday, July 21, 2013


A dear friend's partner died suddenly and unexpectedly a little over a week ago.

Although I only met this person once, I could tell he was kind and caring. Little did I know he grew veggies. For how long I'm not sure, but at the memorial pepper plants were given away.

He also composed "A Garden Love Letter" back in October 2009, which was read at the memorial.

Dear pepper garden,

What a joy our journey has been. Six months ago tiny leaves elbowed through the soil and gasped for sun, and I fell smitten. Doting on you has provided me with purpose, spending hours ensuring the sun makes you warm; that your food is fine; and that your roots explore freely as you mature. By day, I sought excuses to bask with you in the summer sun; and by night, each meal consummated a celebrated union. Now, as the rains herald the chill of darker days, a stone sits in my heart. Ripe fruit makes way for molding branches. Facing imminence, seeds are sentimentally hoarded, hopeful for a future season.

Good bye and thank you dearly.

Thank you, Chris. This is exactly how I feel about growing tomatoes. I hope I do this pepper justice.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013


I'm finally back online after my computer died.

A lot has been going on since my last post. I've had a great crop of fava beans and started another round. All of my tomatoes and peppers are in the ground...although I'm having my annual freak-out where I'm worried they're not going to do anything. More on that in a future post.

And I had a couple of artichokes this year. One plant popped up about a month ago. I did a double take as I was walking along my sidewalk.

How come I didn't notice this earlier?!

I let my lone artichoke last year flower and go to seed. I really wanted to harvest it, but felt bad since that plant worked so hard. I was happy enough that I had a plant actually produce a single artichoke.

This year was different. So delicious! I'm not a huge mayo fan and like to make my own when I can. A quick alternative is to squeeze a few drops of lemon into a small spoonful of mayo. I had it along side my hummous sandwhich.

Two for one stalk!

I have another one in my backyard. Looking forward to having that one as well. I'll be sure to make some mayo this time!

Looking forward to more yumminess!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Broccoli Early Purple Sprouting

I picked some early purple sprouting broccoli yesterday. Our of shear laziness, I decided to eat it raw. The flowers are not quite ready to open, but they're close so I was expecting a biting mustard undertone as I bit into the stalk. I was surprised how sweet they are. My son was even enjoying it!

My opinion of growing broccoli has certainly changed. It's all about the proper timing. Planting starts in the fall adds winter interest when everything is dormant. And, the harvest is ready just in time when we're all bored of eating kale.

I'm going to let a few go to seed for planting this fall.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

White House Garden Tour Ticket

Just had to include a shot of my ticket for the Whtie House Garden...


Sunday, April 21, 2013

White House Garden Tour

Once the White House announced all tours were cancelled effective March 9, 2013 due to the sequester, I knew my chances of seeing the kitchen garden were slim to none. We were going to DC for my son's spring break and birthday celebration. Michelle Obama's kitchen garden was the top destination request of our visit.

My husband, who wakes up early for no one, was cooking eggs while announcing we had to leave in 20 minutes to make sure we had tickets for the White House Garden Tour. He and his sister are night owls and discovered a last-minute press release about the garden being opened for tours this weekend. Despite my sleepy, jet-lagged state, I quickly got ready.

It was a gorgeous day with temperatures in the 70's, blue sky, and blooming cherry and crab apple trees. It brought out a crowd of people ranging all ages. I was surprised to see even college-age students enthusiastic about catching a glimpse of the kitchen garden.

First things first: the White House Bee Hive. It's in the middle of the picture behind the stair-shaped branch. I acutally heard several people say the tree needed to be trimmed so we could get a better look. This hive produces 200 pounds of honey a year which is used by the White House Pastry Chef. Personally, I think they should sell it. I would totally buy a jar!

 It was hard to get a photo of this section without the silly green sign in view. Still great to see so many lettuces, greens, and alliums growing.
The middle section of the garden. More edible greens!

On the left, behind the path is an herb garden with lavender, rosemary, thyme and oregano. Beyond the picnic bench to the left are blueberry bushes.
I know it's just a glimpse, but what a treat to see it in person and share with you all here. American Grown is an amazing book that gives the reader a closer look into the garden and what it does connecting community through home-grown food. The book also features kitchen gardens nationwide. Truly inspiring!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Fall Rewards

II had a chance to get some gardening done during a sunbreak today. My top priority was to remove the flowering stalks from my rhubarb.

But in the time I changed into my gardening clothes, the weather turned again. Regardless, I made a mad dash out into the garden to remove the stalks and ducked back inside.**

In my rush back towards the house, I noticed a few things from my fall planting. The fava beans are flowering. These plants have been in a holding pattern this winter. I'm not sure if they would be as good looking if it had snowed or been colder.

I love the black and white color contrast in the flowers.

My early sprouting purple broccoli has started producing flower heads. We'll see how well they end up doing. I think I have the timing right. I planted them in the fall. I'm still not convinced it's worth the effort for the amount of broccoli in return.

I have my doubts...
The spinach I planted I thought I was going to harvest for the fall. I quickly realized when I put it in the ground, I was too late. Just like the fava beans, I'm not sure if the plants would look as good if we had a harsh winter. I'm looking forward to using this in a salad with the lettuce I have.

Looks like a slug beat me to it!

I did plant garlic this fall and then I forgot that I had planted it. Then I remembered when garlicky things started emerging from the ground. Yes, there are times I forget to label where I've planted things.

I'm looking forward to garlic scapes more than anything!

Even the rutabaga that my son and I sowed directly in the garden at the end of summer is looking like something. We'll see if anything comes of it. I do predict that he probably won't eat it in the end. Ah well.

**As I was writing this, the weather cleared enough for me to snap these photos. Yay!**


Monday, April 1, 2013

Random Seeds

I have no trouble removing a plant from my garden when I grow tired of it and want to replace it with something more exciting. Part of my job was to dispose of extra plants when space was scarce or when we geared up for the next season. I also learned my most coveted plants either died or became infested with pests, resulting in me developing a sense of detachment early with my gardening world.

So why is it I can't get rid of seeds? Maybe because I can easily tuck them into the butter drawer of my fridge. They don't take up much space at all. What's the harm in keeping them?

What started as a small envelope a couple of years ago evolved into a small manila envelope--a little ridiculous. I forced myself to go through the extra seed I had. Even after trying to tell myself that any seed more than a year old should be tossed, I couldn't help holding onto the all the different marigolds I have.

I did sow a bunch of the leftovers. If I wasn't allowing myself to save them, might as well start them. I'm hoping I'm not too late like I was last year with my eggplant 'Diamond' from Adaptive Seeds. I had a few last year that didn't do well, but I think it was because my timing was off.

I also started the rest of 'Russian Hunger Gap' kale. This kale has a jagged, feathery leaf. I'm not growing it so much for the leaves as for when it bolts. The flower stalks can be harvested before it actually flowers for "kale raab." I tried this last year at the farmers' market and was kicking myself for not letting my kale bolt. This year, I'm prepared!

Another random seed packet I sowed a couple of weeks ago was from the Northwest Flower and Garden Show. The Seattle Times handed out packets of "mixed herbs" which include Italian Large Leaf' basil, sweet majoram, winter thyme, parsley, dill 'Bouquet,' and summer savory. It's amazing that these little seedlings are already so fragrant!

Meanwhile, it looks like the frost is gone for good. Time to sow all the seed that can be done directly in the garden.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Seeds for 2013

Usually I'm much more on top of my game as far as ordering seeds. Within weeks of the big catalog dump in my mailbox at the beginning of the year, I have my lists figured out and my seeds arrive by the end of January or February at the latest.

Well, here it is...March. I compiled my list and received my seeds yesterday from Fedco. I really their selection, but I forgot that the seeds take awhile to arrive. I became impatient and double checked my confirmation which reminded me that they'd ship within two weeks.

Finally they arrived yesterday. What is it that they say? If you snooze, you lose! Well, that's exactly what happened. I missed out on mache and the painted serpent cucumber. I'm actually surprised about the mache. Isn't that like saying you ran out of lettuce?

I am pretty disappointed about the cucumber. Now I have to either look for starts or find another seed source. I'd rather pay the shipping for just one item.

What struck me was I didn't get a substitution as instructed in my order. Instead they sent a $2.10 refund in a seed envelope stamped with "REFUND ENCLOSED." Two $1 coins and a dime were enclosed.

I thought sending cash through the mail was illegal...

I enjoy the thoughtful letter from CR Lawn; giving his report from Maine. A little bit about the weather, which he says is more normal this year compared to more recent winters. CR continues on about sales trends (a 3% gain from last year), how people are ordering (online vs paper), and how particular varieties are favored over others.

He mentions the paper catalog is sent to the printers in November so the online catalog is more current with availability, crop failures, etc. So why does he keep producing the paper catalog? Customers can't take their computer into the bathtub nor read it lying down in bed. Hey...I agree!

It seems to me there is a political message in his letter too. This time CR Lawn mentions the Right-to-Know legislation campaign which would make Maine the first state to pass a GMO food labeling law. It will be interesting to see how this unfolds.

In the meantime, I'm going to hash out my planting plan for this spring. My next post will include details about what varieties I chose.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Signs of Spring

We've been lucky with a mild winter in Seattle. Even so, I could tell a few weeks ago that spring was just around the corner. I can't describe it, but it's something about the way the air smells in the morning...and I'm up pretty darn early. And it had nothing to do with my daphne blooming.

About a week after that, I noticed my rhubarb was breaking dormancy. The crown turns bright red which means leaves are soon to follow.

I'm looking forward to when I can harvest the stems to make a rhubarb sauce. I don't really follow a recipe but add cinnamon and brown sugar to taste. Sometimes I add freshly grated ginger--use a Microplane to avoid stringy-ness in the sauce. It's great on pancakes, waffles, or French toast. Maybe I'll try a quick bread this season. I'll let you know how it turns out!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Morning Frost

I love seeing a frosty blanket in my garden on a winter morning.

 If I remember correctly, this is Red Chidori kale

 Frosty Apollo broccoli florets

Nodding viola flowers

That concludes my gardening for today. On to perusing seed catalogs...

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Kohlrabi Aliens

I waited all season for my kohlrabi to bolt and go to seed so I can do some collecting.

I knew if they hadn't flowered by the end of fall, I would let them overwinter.

Even though there is still no sign--not even a hint of a flower stalk--they have taken on a life form of their own.

This one developed "pups" at the top of the "bulb" 

This one didn't form any "pups," but just elongated along the soil's surface 

This one split in half, or developed a side pup.

Turns out that these veggies are considered "perennial" which is confusing because the longer you let them grow, their texture becomes woody and no amount of cooking will change it. There is a cultivar 'Gigante' that will grow to 4" in diameter. This cultivar is also known as the 'Superschmelz' which I'm tempted to try since I just love saying that name! The trade off will be color. 'Superschmelz' is green.

I think I'll let the 'Kolibri' (that's the purple one I have) continue to grow and see what it does in the end. Will it ever flower? Will it continue to make pups? Maybe the pups are decent eating? I may also try the younger leaves to see how they compare to kale and other mustard greens. Stay tuned...