Thursday, April 30, 2009

Thursday's Garden Meal Post

*just a little snippet first, I finished the Poly Tunnel today. I will post about its construction tomorrow once I have all the photos organized and have it all written out.

Here goes my first weekly Garden Meal Post. The garden is lacking in variety currently because it is so early in the season so today's post is more like half a meal. I am hoping to have this weekly post in full swing by June once more variety is available. On menu today is Mixed Greens Salad w/ Honey Mustard Vinaigrette & Rhubarb Ginger Galette. Here is what was harvested:

The first greens of the season, there is 1 oz. It is a mix of romaine,
bok choy, radicchio & two different mesclun mixes. Looks like there
is enough greens now for a daily salad harvest.

The prepared rhubarb, There is about 5 cups.

Honey Mustard Vinaigrette:
  • 1/4 cup vinegar (wine or unseasoned rice etc)
  • 1/4 cup dijon mustard
  • 4 tablespoons honey
  • 1/2 cup oil (anything lightly flavored)
  • Salt & Pepper
Combine all ingredients in a jar with a tight fitting lid. Shake to emulsify and dress your greens. Left over vinaigrette will keep in the fridge.

Dressed Green Salad w/ Roast Beef

Rhubarb Ginger Galette:
I decided I wanted something easy to make with the Rhubarb so I choose a Galette recipe.


For the crust I used a recipe from Jason Parson of Pellar Estates for 'Perfect Pie Crust', here is the recipe. As the name implies it is perfect and works every time. I made the dough the night before and refrigerated it. I cheated a bit and used a food processor as well, pulse pulse done. This recipe make a double crust so the other half I froze for later use.

Flour your dough and roll it into a 14" round. I then transfers the dough to a buttered pizza stone but a large sheet pan will work well too. Set aside well making the filling.

  • 3 cups diced rhubarb
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 tablespoons ginger (I used 'stem ginger jelly', candied ginger or fresh will work too)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon butter
Start by pre-heating your oven to 375. Then combine all ingredients except the butter in a bowl, stir and allow to macerate for about 15 minutes. Then transfer the ingredients to the center of the dough leaving about two inches around the edge. Then fold the excess dough over the filling forming wide pleats. Then dot the top of the filling with gobs of butter, I think I used more then the tablespoon, oops... Place the pie in the pre-heated oven and bake until it is golden brown & bubbling, about 30-40 minutes.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Amaryllis again, monster plants & potting up

Back in February I posted about planting this Amaryllis. When I planted the bulb it had no roots and two flower stems coming out of the bulb. After the first flower stem bloomed the bulb went wrinkly and the other flower stem would not grow. I then dig up the bulb and saw that no roots were growing. So I put it back in its pot and placed it in a southern window. I then barely watered it for 2 months and a few weeks ago the dormant flower stem started to grow. I am glade it lived and it is a nice spring addition to the living room.

Now for the veggies. After potting up all the tomatoes they have turned into monsters. They are getting way to big and need more space again.

So I took them down, lowered the shelf and gave them all more room. The poly tunnel will be done any day now and these space hogs will start going outside under the tunnels protection during warm days. Can't be soon enough. Next year I am going to wait until the second week of April to start the tomatoes.

Here we have my three well behaved tomatoes. From left to right is Purple Calabash (from Skippy's Vegetable Garden), Chocolate Stripes & Black Zebria (seed saved from the grocery store).

Here is the new addition to the Tomato lineup. It is a Red Velvet Cherry Tomato from a swap with The Conservative Gardener. It grows into a plant with velvety white leaves, sounds pretty interesting.

Big Chili II

Jimmy Nardello's

I then potted up the two peppers above because they are getting monstrous as well and are drying out to fast. They went into 3" square pots and were placed beside the monster tomatoes.

I also planted the Basil, Minette from its community pot into a cell pack.

Lastly here is Mister Early Tomato. He has been in and out a lot and as you can see from the lower photo he is sporting a sun tan. He will be fine though, just needs to toughen up a bit. If you look closely you may also notice that he has one flower bloom out and is loaded with tiny buds.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Tuesdays Photography

As mentioned in my Monday post, here is the start of my weekly photography post. I am constantly taking picture in the yard and quite often they are not on topic for my post so they are never shared. So every Tuesday I will now post a few photos that I have taken in the yard, things like veggies, plants, flowers or birds.

Morning dew in the cold frame.

'Green Arrow' Shell Pea taking hold.

Kohlrabi taken in morning light.

Viola in the front border with Daffodils in the background.

Yellow-rumped Warbler in one of the large Maples behind us.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Recent Activities

First off I have put the harvest widget up on my side bar. I did end up getting my harvest widget back after the html editor crashed with all my files disappearing. I reinstalled the program and my files were still gone and today they are back, no idea what happened there. I still think it's windows vista's fault and I am sticking to it. I will have a tomato harvest widget coming as well once I start harvesting tomatoes, hopefully near the end of May.

Now about the weather, it has been pretty erratic lately. Saturday was about 25c(77f) followed by thunderstorms with rain all evening and night. Then Sunday was a chilly 16c(61f) with a cool breeze and today is 28c (82f) feeling like 31c(89f) with the humidex.

Some real technology at work here, It is so hot
it took three stones to vent the frame on Monday.

I have some updates on the poly tunnel that I have posted about here and here. I have started to work on it again after it has sat in the office being neglected for a while. Last week I cut all the poly to fit and stapled the two end pieces on. This past weekend my Mom graciously sewed the velcro on the top piece of poly for me so I can easily raise & lower the poly. I am hoping to complete the poly tunnel this week and do a post about its construction.

Sewing at the speed of light.

This past weekend I also spent a lot of time in the garden doing various things. I planted out many seedlings that have been in the cold frame. They include the broad beans(fava's), broccoli, shell peas & snap peas. I still need to plant the seeded yellow onions & shallots, tatsoi, chard & some lettuces. Here are some photos of the planting:

The broad beans from Down on the Allotment. They really
didn't like the heat last weekend in the frame so I planted them
out fast. The have cool little black spots on them. Maybe this
means flowers are coming?

The broccoli, I planted out 16 altogether. There is radish &
onion sets interplanted with them. Now I have to start
planning when t0 start the second crop of broccoli.

The shell peas, Green Arrow. They were grown from seed from
last year and are very tasty. I planted out 20 peat plugs, some
with 2 plants and some with one plant.

The snap peas, Sugar Snap in their terracotta pot. I planted
out 6 into the container due to poor germination. The seed was
purchased this year.

I also dug out two of the new raised beds leaving just the top one that will be dug out very soon. I need to get going on refilling them so I can get planting. Once I finish digging the last one I will do a post on the additions and also include the square footage of the whole veggie patch. I have never calculated the square footage so it will be interesting to know.

Lastly I am going to start doing a weekly photography post and a garden meal post. Hopefully it goes well as I am horrible at keeping a schedule. The photography post will be on Tuesdays starting this week and will consist of a few nice photos of the garden I took during the previous week. The garden meal post will be on Thursdays and will not start until the garden is in full swing. In addition to regularly eating veg from the garden I want to start cooking one meal a week that is predominantly from the garden. For this meal I will allow the use of oils, pasta, grains(flour, rice, breads etc), dairy & eggs but I will try to mostly avoid meat and no bought produce expect maybe mushrooms. It should be fun.

Friday, April 24, 2009

First harvest, planting & greens post

Today I harvested the rhubarb that I forced. This is done by placing a container over the crown to exclude light and speed up growth. The end result is smaller leaves that are about a 1/4 of their normal size and longer more tender stems. I really like the results of forcing rhubarb so I will continue doing this each spring. Here is a photo of the process:

This is my first harvest of the season. This should have been the debut of my new harvest widget but my html editor crashed thanks to a great program called windows vista so it is now lost. I will have to start over so it will be coming soon. My first harvest weighted in at 1lb 11oz.

The weather today was great so I headed out late afternoon to do some planting. Here are some photos of what I put in the ground:

The Bok Choy. I planted these two to a cell in March and
today broke them up and planted 8 in a 4 foot row.

These are the Red Fingerling potatoes, the seed came from last years crop.
I planted 6 seed in the bottom of a large 22" container. As they grow I will
fill the container thus replicating hilling. Later on I will extend the rock edging
to encapsulate the potato pot as well as making more room for addition plants.

I will end with some photos of all the greens I currently have growing in the veggie patch:

In the front we have 'Vesey's Baby Leaf Blend' and behind is 'Tortoiseshell' Spinach.
The lettuce is settling in well and I hope with the warm weather coming it will take off.
The spinach is just starting to form true leaves.

In front is the Bok Choy I just planted out today and behind is
the Romaine Lettuce I plant out April 10th. The romaine is really
doing well and I will start thining every other one for salads soon.

The 'Tauro' Radicchio planted with onion sets.

The oak barrel greenhouse lettuce. I planted another 1/4 almost
two weeks ago but it had very poor germination. Today I reseed
the whole barrel because time is ticking. The lettuce needs to be
harvested by May 24th to make way for three Jersey Devil Tomatoes.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

This years seed trades

I have been doing a few seed trades so I thought I would round them all up and do a post about them. I recall the first time I received seed in the mail from a fellow gardener, it was many years ago (9 maybe) and was arranged through Gardenweb. I had posted a question about where to find seed for Hibiscus moscheutos (Rose Mallow) and a nice forum member sent some seed from their plant. It was pretty cool and I think the plant is still growing at the condo I used to live at.

Early this year I came across a few bloggers that had set up posts to organize seed trades so I started to partake. So far I have done eight seed trades and they have arrived from Canada, United States & England. Here are the varieties I received in alphabetical order and a link to the blogger I received them from:
I will follow up with a seed trade plant post near the end of May once all the seeds are growing, that should be fun! Thanks again to all that sent seed.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Seeds orders, Chitting & Onion set planting

Checked the mail box today to find that my seed order & seed potatoes arrived. I like when things come in two's, it's double the excitement.

I ordered the seeds from seedmart on eBay and they had surprisingly fast shipping. I ordered the following:
  • Sport Peppers - used on Chicago style hot dogs, seeded this evening
  • Cilantro - seeded this evening
  • Red Celery - fall crop
  • China Rose Winter Radish - fall crop
  • Florence Fennel - fall crop
  • California Poppy - seeded this evening
The potato order is from Eagle Creek Seed Potatoes. They are located north west of use in Alberta, Canada. I was happy to find a Canadian company selling such a good mix of potato varieties as I can not order from the big suppliers to the south due to customs. They sell what they call a 'foursum' which is great for a small scale gardening like myself that does not need pounds of seed. I ordered Banana Fingerling which has a heavy set of yellow fleshed potatoes and Netted Gem Russet which are your typical long russet potato. They are both late season potatoes which are what you need to increase yield in your potato bin. I will also plant some red fingerling potatoes that I grew last year in a container.

Being that I still have many things to finish before I can actually plant the bin I am chitting the potatoes in a cool window. Chitting is a good way to get a head start on your potato season without planting your potatoes outdoors. Simply place your seed potatoes in an egg carton, eye's facing up and keep them in a cool bright spot, 10c(50f) is best. Then in 3-6 weeks the potatoes will form short buds and are ready to be planted out. Chitting is also a good way to get a head start on the season with out the concern of frost damage.

The Red Fingerlings I found tucked away in the basement from last fall. They have sprouted fairly long buds so I put them in a plastic bag with a little damp potting soil and placed them in the fridge. That should slow them down until it is time to plant.

I also spent a few minutes this evening planting my onion sets. I figured I would do it after Mondays heavy rain and during Tuesday & Wednesday light rain. I planted a little over 14' in a few rows around the garden. I have about 1/2lb of sets left so I will store them in the fridge and planting them here and there once the garden is in to fill in spaces.

Here they are being planted in some of my well rotted compost
at the packages recommended spacing, 3" apart & 1/2" deep.
They seem a little close so I may take every other one out or thin
as green onions later. How do you space your onion sets?

One of the two straight rows I planted

I planted two of these squares to go around what will be the Romanesco
Broccoli in the middle of May. That is the Kohlrabi in the middle.
Looks pretty good I must say.