What’s up in the garden!

20140403122458-Meraviglia-di-venezia-a-grano-biancoStill catching up on what’s up in the garden. I planted a new bean called Climbing pole French Bean – Meraviglia Venezia that I bought from Franchi Seeds. It’s a Romano type of bean only yellow in color. I wonder what it will taste like. I also planted Emerite french filet pole bean from John Scheepers Vegetable seeds and a Chartreuse leaf colored scarlet runner pole bean which I grow for looks as the bright yellow-green leaves look fantastic against other greens.

 

Detroit Red beets, Craupadine beets and Atomic Red carrot seeds were planted directly in the garden. I put row cover over all of them to keep the birds from eating the bean seeds and to keep moisture in the ground for the beets and carrots.  If you’ve had trouble with birds eating germinating seeds, put row cover over them till they get about 3 inches tall. The Detroit beets and carrots are coming up nicely but the Craupadine beets are not. They are so hard for me to germinate compared to other beet seeds-still I try as I love the flavor of them.

cuke transplantsCucumber seeds planted in 2″ pots in the greenhouse at end of May, have germinated and will go into the garden today-June 15. The varieties are: Poona Kheera cucumbers (best tasting slicing cuke ever-never get bitter), Parisian cucumbers (I will make Cornichon pickles out of them), Boothby Blonde cucumber seeds will become Bread and Butter pickles and National Pickling cucumber seeds which will become dill pickles. Can’t wait to make pickles!

Pillbugs_(Armadillidiidae)Last year and every year before, I planted cucumber seeds directly in the ground but roly polys ate my cucumber seeds as they germinated last year in the soil. Roly polys, sow bugs, pill bugs, potato bugs are sort of interchangeable names for Armadillidiidae. They are actually good composters of horse manure so they are great in a compost pile but can damage small seedlings as they germinate in your garden when you plant seeds. Last year, I thought it was a cut worm eating all my seedlings, but found the roly polys instead to be the culprits. I had to plant 3x before I could get enough up and only after I sprayed them with Neem did I have success. This year I pre-started them in the greenhouse in 2″ pots to get them a little bigger. I find when seedlings are bigger, the roly polys don’s bother them anymore. They only like the young tender seedlings as they emerge.  If they do eat some of my other seedlings that are direct seed planted, they will be toast as I will spray Neem Oil on the roly polys on the soil where they live to get rid of them.

Rogosa-Violina butternut

Rugosa Violina Butternut Squash

The winter squash varieties I’ve planted are Rugosa Violina Butternut and Waltham Butternut. I grow Butternut squash because it doesn’t attract squash bugs! It’s the winter squash to grow if they are a problem.

 

 

 

 

calabacitas squash pic

Calabacitas squash

I’m also growing ‘Tahume’ Calabacitas squash which is really a winter squash picked very immature-we eat it like summer squash out here in Santa Fe especially in the dish called Calabacitas, which is a mixture of sauteed onions, corn, Hatch green chili and calabacitas squash. I got this from Botanical Gardens seed company. Very yummy!

 

 

 

costata romanesco

Costata Romanesco zucchini

Summer squash varieties I started are Costata Romanesco zucchini (best flavor ever) and ‘Bennings Green Tint’ patty pan. If I hadn’t had such trouble with the rolly polys last year I would just plant the seeds in the ground and you should too if they are not a problem for you. The soil has warmed up nicely—over 70°F which is perfect for squash seed germination.

 

bennings-green-tint-scallop-squash

Bennings Green tint summer squash

Should be done with all veggies planted this week. So if you think you are behind in the garden this year, don’t worry, you’re not alone!

The runaway

giant marrow 08-10

A BIG runaway! DISCLAIMER: This one is way too big to eat! I entered this in 2010 in the State Fair instead!

At this time of year if you’re a vegetable gardener, you’ve experienced it—zucchini runaways. One day you go out and see this cute little zuke and think I’ll give it one more day and the next day you go out and it grew into a baseball bat. It’s like overnight it got on some steroids and went ballistic.  Now it’s too big so what do we do with them besides hide them under the bed in case an intruder comes in? Well you could use them as door stops or take them to the fair but here are 4 ideas to eat them!

Savory Zucchini Pancakes
Take 2 cups of grated zucchini, add two beaten eggs, 2 tablespoons of flour, and 2 teaspoons of some fresh herb you have and 1 cup feta or mozzarella or cheddar or whatever cheese you have (please, no Velveeeeeta). If you want more, then just up the ingredients like 3 cups zucchini, 3 eggs, 3 tablespoons flour, etc. Just don’t up the herb, keep it at 2 tsp so not to overwhelm the flavor of the zucchini (what? zucchini has flavor? Yes, at least two varieties do – Costata Romanesco and Benning’s Green Tint (not a zucchini but a delicious summer squash). All the others, in my opinion, are worthy of either the compost pile or the chicken coop or both) Then saute them in olive oil until brown on both sides. This is my favorite way to cook super-sized zucchini.

Garlicky Zucchini Medallions
Slice them into medallions and saute them in olive oil with some crushed garlic cloves until tender in a BIG fry pan. Sprinkle lightly some red pepper flakes and add fresh grated Parmesan cheese on top and cook a few minutes more till melted. This is also great with a little left over spaghetti sauce drizzled over them.  (Can you really drizzle spaghetti sauce. No—but you get the idea-don’t drown them.)

Zuchinni Soufflini (This one comes from my mom-thanks mom!)
1 1/2 lbs zucchini
1 large onion, chopped
3 TLB butter
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper
2 beaten eggs
1 1/2 cups soft bread crumbs
2 TLB butter

Cook squash whole for about 5 minutes in boiling water. Cool. Dice into cubes. Saute’ onion in 3 TLB butter and add to zucchini. Stir in cheese and seasonings and allow mixture to cool before adding beaten eggs. Spoon into buttered 1 quart casserole. Toss bread crumbs with 2 TLB melted butter and sprinkle over casserole. Bake 30-40 minutes at 350°F about 30 minutes or until knife inserted comes out clean. Serves 4-6 people.

Of course there is always the infamous zucchini bread but how about chocolate zucchini bread? I got this recipe from a friend many moons ago and it is excellent. Your kids, friends, spouse or partner will never know they are eating something healthy!

Chocolate Zucchini Bread
2 ¼  cup all-purpose flour
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 ¾  cup sugar
½ cup butter
½ c vegetable oil
2 eggs, large
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ cup buttermilk
2 cup unpeeled zucchini, grated
6 oz choc chips
¾ c chopped walnuts

-Preheat oven 325 degrees. Butter and flour a 13” x 9” x 2” baking pan
-Sift flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, salt into large bowl.
-Beat sugar, butter and oil in large bowl until well blended. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla extract. Mix in dry ingredients, alternate w/ buttermilk in 3 additions each, fold in zucchini. Mix in choc. chips + nuts. Pour into the baking pan. Bake until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean in about 50 min. Cool completely in pan.

So the next time you get a runaway, don’t despair, now you have some ideas on how to use them besides hiding them under your bed!

Review of 2012 vegetables

fall harvest

2012 VEGGIE LIST

Here is my review of what I will and won’t grow again from last year’s vegetables that I tried and why. I will put tomatoes in another list since there are so many of them!

WILL GROW AGAIN
ARUGULA
-Apollo-nice leaf size and flavor

BEANS
-Rattlesnake bean/pole-remarkably flavored pole bean-grows very tall-great for trellises or arbor
-Tarbais bean/pole-dry bean-after much work FINDING IT last year in the states, you can now get this wonderful bean from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds this year. I will make a french dish called cassoulet with it.
-Fava Bean/bush-wonderful flavor and 2 crops last year. A little work shelling it twice but worth it. Also is a good cover crop replenishing the soil with nitrogen.
-Golden Scarlet Runner/pole-I grow runners for their flowers/foliage-the foliage on this one is a striking chartreuse color against the scarlet flowers-simply beautiful

BEETS
– Craupadine-BEST tasting (but ugly) beet around
-Cylindra-long cylinder shape, great taste, easy cutting into slices

BOK CHOY
-Extra Dwarf Pak Choy-wonderful flavor-I like to cut one in half, saute it in olive oil, and add tamari when you flip it

CARROTS
-Atomic Red-great color and flavor
-Cosmic Purple-one of my favorites

CHARD
-Bright Lights-adds great color tucked into the garden and good flavor
-Argentata-thick juicy stalks with huge leaves-very cold tolerant
-Ruby Red-one of the prettiest and tasty chards out there

CUCUMBERS
-Parisian Pickling-used for making cornichon pickles
-Boothsby Blonde-used for making bread and butter pickles
-Poona Kheera-best flavor for eating
-Armenian– fun to grow, good flavor, few seeds

EGGPLANT
-Fairy Tale-sweet, no bitter taste and tender (not tough) skin

LETTUCES
–Provencal Mix, Mesclun Mix, Buttercrunch, Yugoslavian Red, Santoro Lettuce

PEAS
-Dwarf Sugar Gray-great in salads or steamed, grows about 3 ft tall

PEPPER–want to try some different varieties from Europe this year as well
-Shishito (Japanese non-hot pepper)-one of my favorites
-Poblanos-mildly hot (I call it warm), great for chile rellanos or scrambled eggs, wonderful smoky flavor

POTATOES–first year grower and I’m hooked!
-French Fingerling-OMG, the best flavor!
-Peruvian Purple-I loved the flavor of these as well

SPINACH
-Bloomsdale and Tyee

SUMMER SQUASH
ZUCCHINI
-Costata Romanesco-best tasting zuke around

SUNFLOWERS-technically a flower but they are veggies for the birds!
-will grow another huge patch of different varieties-beautiful and the birds love them
-Russian Mammoth AND Titan– for us/birds to eat
-Black Oil-for the birds only

TOMATILLO-Green-good for tomatillo salsa-only need one plant as they are so prolific.

WON’T GROW AGAIN
BEAN-Emerite bean/pole bean- great flavor but didn’t grow high enough to cover my teepee and I will grow others this year.

CARROTS
-Paris Market-too small, bland flavor, not impressed

CALABICITAS SQUASH
-seed from local grower-turns out it was a native winter squash, not calabacitas squash.

CORN-again not this year (I’ll get it from our Farmers Market)

FENNEL/FINOCCHIO
-Di Firenze-might grow one or two but not 25 plants like last year!

PEPPER
-Jalapeno-I don’t use them enough to call for space in the garden. I’ll just buy the few I use throughout the year.

POTATOES
-Russian Banana-too crunchy and watery

What’s wrong with this zucchini?

What’s wrong with this zucchini? The one on the left is yellowing and shriveling up. It wasn’t either fully pollinated (some bee didn’t do her job) OR once again it was too hot when pollination happened and it didn’t take hence it is self aborting. Just like tomatoes, all squash likes the heat but not when it is trying to pollinate. The zucchini on the right side of the photo is fine.

Tomato Lady of Santa Fe returns to the Farmers Market this Saturday August 25, 2012

Tomorrow, Saturday, August 25, I am returning to the Santa Fe Farmers Market as ‘The Tomato Lady’. At this time I have over 15 varieties of organically grown heirloom tomatoes from luscious black tomatoes like Purple Cherokee, supersweet yellow Virginia Sweets to Italian Red Costoluto Genevese and many, many more . I have over 50 plants and 25 varieties that will ripen as we go through the season. They are beautiful. They are gorgeous! And they taste wonderful! Magnifico!

I also have Shishito peppers, Costata Romanesco zucchini and Fairy eggplants that I will sell as well. Next week I will add some sunflowers out of my sunflower forest and Emerite French filet beans. I’ll be inside the building-look for ‘The Tomato Lady’ sign above my booth. Hours are 7am-noon. Hope to see you there!

PS: More on the dreaded squash vine borer

I just posted about the squash vine borer and a gardening friend, Gene, mentioned that his squash is smaller than in the video in a comment in the earlier post on squash vine borers. I forgot to mention that while the squash is small before they blossom, I keep them covered with row cover which keeps both the SVB and the squash bugs out but once the plants are bigger and blossoms, we have to take the row cover off for the bees to be able to pollinate them-that’s when we should use the foil.

The Mystery of the Calabacita Squash

Article first published as The Mystery of the Calabacita Squash on Blogcritics. Story by giantveggiegardener.

As a gardener and a cook, I’ve been searching for a particular squash seed-the Mexican Calabacita. It was the original squash used to make the famous ‘Calabacitas’ dish of squash, corn, onions and green chili here in New Mexico. Most of us now use zucchini to make this savory dish because of it’s availability, but here at the Santa Fe Farmers Market, you can buy the Calabacita squashes in early summer and then by mid summer, they are gone. They are little green squashes with soft skin and teeny weenie seeds-too small to harvest. I researched it and found that the squash originally came from Mexico but not a lot of information is out there on it. No seed catalogs have it. None of my gardening friends have any seeds. I couldn’t find it anywhere.

Then two years ago while on vegetable gardening forum here in Santa Fe, I met another gardener and during the course of our conversation after the forum, the mysterious Calabacitas squash came up. I told her of my difficulty finding the seeds. She told me she had gotten some Calabacita seeds from another farmer whose family had been here for generations.  She offered me a few of the seeds. Finally I would get some seeds! So we emailed each other and I sent her an envelope to send me some but they never came. I went by the Farmers Market where she sells produce but we kept missing each other. Another season passed and still no seeds.

This year, on the last day of my season as ‘The Tomato Lady’ at the Farmers Market where I sell heirloom tomatoes, I went by her booth and mentioned maybe I could get some of those seeds for this upcoming season. She said,” Why not buy one of the squashes now?” When she pointed them out, I said, “That’s one of them? It doesn’t look anything like the ones earlier in the season” and she remarked, “Yes that’s one of them. They are actually a type of WINTER SQUASH. We just pick them when they are really young and immature and have no seeds”. That explains it! Why I could never get any seeds from them. That is why we don’t see them later on in summer-if you let it keep growing; it will become a mature winter squash. There were several there at her booth with different colors. Some were green with orange stripes and some were salmon color with green-grey stripes. She said there really wasn’t any difference in the taste.  I ended up with the salmon-green striped one. It weighed about 15 lbs and has a squat oval shape outside and lovely orange color inside. It smelled like a cross between a cucumber and a melon.

I got the seeds and roasted the squash. To roast it, I quartered it and rubbed some oil on it and put it on a cookie sheet. Then I added a little water in the bottom of the pan so it wouldn’t dry out. I put it in the oven at 350° and placed some aluminum foil loosely over it so it would not burn. It took about an hour to cook. Afterwards, I put the flesh in a freezer Ziploc and will later cook squash lasagna with béchamel sauce.

So Calabacita squash can be used to make Calabacitas in early summer or later in the fall used in winter squash dishes.

Here is a recipe for Calabacitas from New Mexico:

1 lb or more Calabacita squash or any summer squash, cubed

3-4 ears fresh corn cut off the cob or 1 can corn

1 chopped onion

cumin to taste

New Mexico green chili to taste

Sauté the onion, add the squash and corn and sauté till tender.

Add cumin to taste. Add New Mexico green chili to taste.