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.