Gardening

California Caprese-Tomatoes, Fresh Mozzarella, and Avocado

August 17, 2014
Thumbnail image for California Caprese-Tomatoes, Fresh Mozzarella, and Avocado

It’s the middle of August and my tomatoes are almost done. I’ve had a banner year in terms of yield, but since I planted in April and we have an early growing season, almost everything came ripe at once in July. I always say I’m going to stagger the planting, but I never do because I’m so enthralled by choice when at the nursery. Better Boy? Green Zeebra? Lemon Boy? Brandywine? San Marzano? Why yes, I’ll take one of each please.

tomatoes

This is about 2 weeks worth of tomatoes in July.

Since I don’t can my tomatoes, I mostly make sauce and soup and freeze it. I also freeze peeled and seeded tomatoes. And we eat lots and lots of fresh tomatoes in salads, on bagels, in sandwiches (best BLT ever), but the caprese is probably our favorite way of eating fresh tomatoes. The traditional Insalata Caprese originated …

Read the full article →

Grilled Zucchini with Toasted Fennel Seed Vinaigrette

August 2, 2014
Thumbnail image for Grilled Zucchini with Toasted Fennel Seed Vinaigrette

Are you knee deep in zucchini? If you have a garden, it’s that time of year. I learned a long time ago that unless I want to feed an army, buying a six pack of zucchini seedlings is a mistake and will result in friends and neighbors running the other way when they see you in the street with an armful of large green squash. Leaving said squash on doorsteps in the dead of night is another option of course, but may not endear you to your neighbors.

Still, every year we grow one plant and that’s more than enough for us to eat, and to share with family and friends. The growing season is early here; we planted in April and were harvesting the first zucchini in early June. It was so hot in July the plant almost gave up, but this week it seemed to regenerate, giving us …

Read the full article →

Summer Garden 2014-What’s Growing?

April 29, 2014
Thumbnail image for Summer Garden 2014-What’s Growing?

Every year when I plant a garden I have grand hopes and dreams for all the sweet and juicy tomatoes, fragrant basil, earthy eggplant I envision will come from my labors. I see myself traipsing down to the perfectly tended raised beds with a sun hat on, lovely basket in hand, gathering my urban farm fresh produce and making delicious, healthy meals a la Martha Stewart.

Don’t you?

(cue the movie scratch-screech sound)

Reality is often somewhat different, isn’t it?

Garden2014-01

This year when preparing the beds for planting I forgot the sun hat and got sunburned. Two of my big gardening tools broke apart in my hands as I was working, the hoe and the pitchfork, making the mixing of soils extremely back-breaking work. Often those lovely tomatoes I anticipate shrivel, blacken and die on the vine before harvest due to blossom end rot. Bugs and raccoons destroy plants before …

Read the full article →

Summer Beet Salad with Corn, Cucumber and Basil

July 8, 2013
Thumbnail image for Summer Beet Salad with Corn, Cucumber and Basil

Beets seem to strike two types of reactions in people; they either love them, waxing poetic, or dislike them with a passion usually reserved for people who steal your parking space at the mall. I am firmly in the “love” camp, though I came late to the party in my affection for beets. People who say they don’t like beets, when pressed, usually admit to a long rooted childhood aversion to canned, over-cooked, or pickled beets and often haven’t tried them again as adults.

My theory is that like many other foods, beets, if properly prepared, are almost impossible to dislike. If your only experience with fish as a child was eating school cafeteria fish sticks, then I’m not surprised if you say you don’t like fish. But let me give you a spectacular piece of grilled wild salmon and I promise to convert you. The same holds true for …

Read the full article →

Summer Garden 2013- What’s Growing?

May 14, 2013
Thumbnail image for Summer Garden 2013- What’s Growing?

I’ve decided to keep it small and simple this year for our summer garden and we’re only using the two smaller raised beds we have. There’s more space available for gardening, just no space in my life right now for more of me gardening. I’m happy with what I’ve got and so far, so good.

This year, there have been no garden monsters, thankfully, pulling up my plants. I’ve finally learned from years past and covered the plants with chicken wire until they were big enough to crowd the boxes and keep the masked bandits out.

Changes this year:

Tomatoes: Almost every year we get big beautiful plants which develop plenty of tomatoes and then get blossom end rot. This year I buried several crushed egg shells in the bottom of each hole where I planted the tomatoes. Supposedly the extra calcium in the egg shells will help prevent …

Read the full article →

Summer Garden 2012

May 29, 2012
Thumbnail image for Summer Garden 2012

I seriously debated whether or not I wanted to spend the time, effort and money to do a garden this year. In the past we’ve built raised beds, I tracked every expense to see if it’s worth it, and last year only planted half a garden. This year, even though I was a bit late in getting started, I decided to jump in all the way and plant every bit of space in our raised beds. With a little help from family and friends we got the beds ready in a weekend.

We went with a modified version of the no-dig method this year. Instead of hay, alfalfa, compost and fertilizer, I substituted organic garden soil for the compost and fertilizer. Last year we lost a lot of soil in the boxes to various digging creatures and general decomposition. The hay and alfalfa break down every year so …

Read the full article →