Time to Start Planning your 2011 Garden

It’s never too early to start planning your garden for next year!   Now is the ideal time since you have fresh in your mind what worked well and what you want to plant more of!   I am a big fan of record keeping so I can remember what worked from year to year.   It’s amazing how easily it is to forget those tiny details from the summer before, so as I write my notes from this past season, I start my new list for next year!   As I plan I also am keeping in mind the newest project which initially I called “GROW to Eat” after the GROW project I participated in this past season and  have decided to rename to “Garden Dish”.   Reason being…there is a Twitter name Grow to Eat and I don’t want to confuse them with this new undertaking I am starting.   So Garden Dish it is!!!   I created a blog and posted a brief explanation so folks can subscribe to the blog and keep updated on the progress of Garden Dish, ask questions (new gardeners and old gardeners), share planting ideas and pass the word around to everyone to come join the fun!

I mentioned the GROW project and last week when I was down south the Nasturtium was still growing in the container on the deck!   Seeds had formed and these can be saved for planting next year.   The first time I grew Nasturtium I had no idea what the seed was – it’s huge actually and there are not too many plants that seed like this (at least ones I have grown)!

I decided to start my Recipe Box at the Mixing Bowl and added the famous “Garlic Cake” recipe!!!   Make sure to check it out and if you love garlic, you will have to bake up a cake …. it will definitely be the talk of your next party!!!

 “I’m growing Nasturtium “Spitfire” for the GROW project. Thanks, to Renee’s Garden for the seeds.” 

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GROW to Eat

The GROW project hosted by MrBrownThumb has reached its final post and a huge thank you goes out to him for all his work in coordinating this online blogging event.   Thank YOU!    Renee’s Seeds was the sponsor and graciously donated the Spitfire Nasturtium seeds to all participants.    A Thank You goes out to them as well and of course to ALL the participants!   It was a little tough staying connected for me since my summer location did not have internet connection, but I must say I did post religiously every month about the GROW project progress and the seeds.   I felt it was my duty and enjoyed it very much!   Next year there will be internet access SO I will have an easier time staying connected.  (no excuses…except if it goes down way out there in country neverland) 🙂

I made a suggestion to MrBrownThumb for next year.  It started with his comment about the Nasturtium and Beans and you can see the exchange here.  (under the Comments)    So with his endorsement I came up with the name “GROW to Eat” and the idea behind it will be to grow food (or flowers) and create a recipe or dish to eat with what we grow.   Following the same schedule as the GROW project we all make a post on our blogs and share.   I do have a website page which can be used as the anchor and a blog linky used so everyone can go from blog to blog each month.

I know folks start planning their gardens for next year soon and keeping in mind this next GROW project will help set up our gardens so we can GROW to Eat and share!

Here is the website page and I will update it with this project information.  Of course since I love tweeting, I will be sending out some tweets at @RunningGarlic!

Thank you again to MrBrownThumb and Renee’s Seeds and all the folks who joined in!

 “I’m growing Nasturtium “Spitfire” for the GROW project. Thanks, to Renee’s Garden for the seeds.”  

Garden Wrap-up

Fall is upon us and the summer gardening season has pretty much ended – a few tomato and pepper plants remain, but most have been removed.   It came on suddenly, hot in the 90s very early in the season and the temperatures reached heat indexes of over 100 – now all the sudden it’s Chilly!   The cooler weather is welcome and fall colors have to be some of the most spectacular of the year; just hoping those cold snowy days don’t arrive too soon!

The Nasturtium flowers continue to grow and bloom in the container on the deck and I am sure they will flourish up until a frost covers the ground.

These flowers were planted as a team GROW project with many other gardeners across the country and all documented their progress throughout the summer months.   “I’m growing Nasturtium “Spitfire” for the GROW project. Thanks, to Renee’s Garden for the seeds.”  

I also planted and just recently harvested TriColor Bush Beans also received from Renee’s Garden and I will be blanching and freezing these later this afternoon.

 TriColor Bush Beans – yellow, purple, green

I have some mini pumpkin gourds I will be working on this week and these were actually from last year’s harvest.   My mini gourds this year didn’t take off like I had hoped so I only have a few and they will have to dry before I can work on them.   The larger gourds are still out in the field and they were doing great until the 115 degree weather hit and I was not there to water them – they suffered, but I will have some gourds regardless.

 Mini pumpkin gourds setting in the sun to dry after I washed and scrubbed them getting ready to decorate.  

I want to Thank everyone that entered the Garlic Giveaway and we did announce the winner last week … this will be the last week the garlic is listed for sale in the shop; then it’s Garlic Planting Time!!!     

Thanks again and Happy Fall!

Tough Summer for Gardening!

Now that the summer months are almost over I have to say it was tough and HOT!   I did very well maintaining all the gardens even during the 110 degree span, but I lost control when I had to leave for several weeks and the temperature actually soared to 115 degrees (heat index)!!   If I had known the weather would get hotter I would have scheduled my back and forth trips differently, but as we all know… the weather can be unpredictable and this year was extremely hot here – very unusual!   So today I arrived back up north here and the WIND is whipping around like crazy ….. unreal!

I am very surprised the Nasturtium in the huge pot on the deck survived and since it was cooler this past weekend it is actually blooming and thriving.   I bet it prefers the cooler temperatures – I know I do!

The various peppers finally took off and I was able to harvest some –

Nothing like fresh salsa with your own homegrown jalapeno peppers!   The tabasco peppers are still tiny and this is the first year I grew them.   I am excited for their final harvest.

 Tabasco peppers growing

I did have a little fun with the camera and took some neat pictures which I will have to add to my Flickr account ….

Make sure to check out the Garlic Giveaway and leave a comment for a chance to win some great garlic!   Last but not least the Sunflowers were looking Glorious!!!

“I’m growing Nasturtium “Spitfire” for the GROW project. Thanks, to Renee’s Garden for the seeds.”

Artist drawing and pickling seeds – Nasturtium

Just returned from several weeks down south and the weather was HOT – heat indexes reached 110 on several days and it looks like the week ahead will be the same!   We were lucky enough to receive rain each week so the plants did survive!   I canned up some pickles and the tomatoes were ripening up quite nicely.   The Nasturtium on the deck in the big pot had several more blooms and my nephew who is quite the artist found it a wonderful image to draw …… he had no idea the plant was a member of the GROW project and drew a remarkable sketch one day!

I WAS impressed …….. beautiful job Josh!!!

The Nasturtium which were planted next to the pea plants are thriving  now among the Jacob’s Cattle bean which replaced the peas.

I came across a very interesting recipe using the seeds from the flower!!!

Pickled nasturtium seeds – used as a substitute for capers.  Pick the seeds on a dry day while they are still green.  Steep in brine made from 1/2 cup of salt to 1 quart of water for 24 hours.  Remove and dry the seeds, then pack into small jars.  Make a strong spiced vinegar to fill the jars, using white wine vinegar and salt and a selection from tarragon leaves, mace, nutmeg, shallots, garlic, peppercorns and horseradish slices.  Pour the hot vinegar into the jars, then seal and leave for about a month.  After opening the jar, use up the contents quickly!   Enjoy!!!

“I’m growing Nasturtium “Spitfire” for the GROW project, thanks to ReneesGarden.com for the seeds.”

Garlic Scapes

This year I decided to harvest the garlic scapes from the hard garlic growing in the garden.   Some folks do this and others don’t – last year I didn’t and all the garlic harvested seemed quite large to me.   This year by cutting the scapes (the curly stalks that hard garlic grow) I am giving the bulb in the ground an even better chance of growing larger – the growing energy is directed towards the bulb and not the stalk or scape.   So now I have all these Garlic Scapes

and browsing through the blogs participating in the GROW project I spotted this perfectly timed post by Colleen at In the Garden online  and spent the day yesterday making Garlic Scape Pesto and canning up 6 pints of pickled scapes.   The pickled scapes will make a great addition to my Father’s Day gift since my Dad loves garlic and the garlic bulbs are not ready yet to harvest.

I cut the scapes to fit the pint size jars (I made 6 pints) and added the hot brine along with some red pepper flakes and dried oregano.   To make the liquid brine you heat up 3 cups of vinegar, 5 cups of water and 1/4 cup of kosher salt.   Then you use the hot water canning method and cook 45 minutes.   They need to set for 2 weeks before eating to allow the flavors to blend.

I also made the Garlic Scape Pesto and it is totally addicting – I am thinking even better than a Basil Pesto ……. really good!   I modified the recipe a bit.   I cut up 1 cup of scapes and added them along with 1/3 cup of walnuts to the blender.   Blended a while and added 1/2 cup olive oil and lastly about 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese.

 So very delicious!!!   Thank you Colleen for your timely post – I am enjoying my Garlic Scapes to the max!

I recently returned once again from the trip down south and my mailbox was full of wonderful treasures …. 2 new magazines I have subscribed to;  Runner’s World and PaperCrafts.   I have decided I now have to purchase the Provocraft Gypsy to go along with my Cricut simply because of all this back and forth traveling.   The Gypsy will allow me to travel and create without lugging the Cricut machine each trip….how exciting is that!

Renee’s Garden once again floored me with their promptness and generosity.   I received the media kit with my Nasturtium seeds and decided to send for the 18 free packages of seeds they offered.   I received them all within a few days and am overjoyed with all these wonderful new possibilities to add to the gardens down south.

Happy Gardening!!!

Gardening Update

The month flew by and the majority of time was down south starting with chilly weather and frost and ending in hot, humid tropical weather!   When I first arrived I set out all my trays of seedlings on the deck and held my breath waiting for frost.   We did receive frost a couple of nights and had to move everything inside.   A week went by and the weather was rainy and chilly so I held off – then I heard the weekend forecast … 90s and hot!   Thinking that would fry the poor seedlings I was undecided but realized my stay there was coming to an end and I wanted to get everything planted before I left or else I would have to drag everything back.   Slowly, I started with the seeds – direct sowing them into the ground; the beans, squash, corn, gourds, melons, millet, broomcorn, sunflowers.

One by one I started transplanting the tomatoes, peppers, basil along with other herbs and flowers.    The nasturtium seeds which I had previously planted for the GROW project were put into the ground and I did lose a few due to the extremes of the weather.    It appears the sets that were transplanted into the big pot on the deck will make it fine.  

I had also started several seeds directly into the ground between the pea plants and garlic our last trip and they were growing right along.   Peas were ready to harvest but only a few handfuls – I am sure there will be many more next visit. 

 Peas, Nasturtium, Garlic

 Planted from seed in the ground

A big problem I encountered this season is a Mole burrowing around in the garlic/pea area and also by the tomatoes and peppers.   He has managed to uproot quite a few of the small seedlings and expose their roots to the hot sun.   I can only hope they pull through, but I am a bit doubtful.   Every morning I would inspect all the tunnels and tramp them down, but they reappeared each day.   Finally, we did purchase 2 mole traps and set them up.   Once again I can only hope things work out according to my plans.

The lavender and sweet william are blooming nicely … all around creatures and critters are appearing and gearing up for a wonderful summer ahead!

 Lavender, Sweet William

“I’m growing Nasturtium “Spitfire” for the GROW project, thanks to ReneesGarden.com for the seeds.”   My monthly post for July may be a week later since we may be away from the computer for the holiday week.