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!

My Garden Kicks Ass!

I think this is my best garden ever even though I don’t have a lot of produce yet-but it’s all coming! It’s gotten so lush with just a couple of days of rain. I don’t mean to brag but I must-it’s really hard to grow a garden like this in the high desert. I fight the pests and have problems too just like you but diligence and hard work has really help. Hope you enjoy these photos.

This is the same angle from the corner of the garden I’ve photographed  since the beginning of this year.  Wow what a difference 2.5 months makes.

55 tomatoes planted May 15th!

Here is the same corner in  the beginning of the season back on May 15, 2011

Here the view is looking towards the entry from inside. Zucchini, flowers, scarlet runner beans, rattlesnake beans tomatoes, corn, asparagus, sunflowers, rhubarb all stuffed in the entry!

These Emerite pole beans are hiding the teepee now.

Corn, asparagus, flowers, rhubarb and sunflower coming along.

Baby cucumbers- these are Boothsby Blonde variety. They will make great bread and butter pickles.

Caleb, my apprentice, gave me a gourd seed that someone had given him but he didn’t know what type it was, so I call it-Caleb’s mystery gourd. Notice the purslane in the left corner. I’m going to try some this year so I left it in..

Flower bed to the right of the entry-zinnias, cosmos nasturtiums, pole beans and sunflowers. I can only imagine this when they all bloom.

My one lone cosmos flower yet but what a beauty-Magenta cosmos flower

Here is Caleb’s baby mystery gourd-wonder what kind it’ll be. Kind of looks like a pear right now.

The tomatoes have really shot up-about 5 feet tall now. Now the Long Gourd tower in the background doesn’t look as tall.

Best tasting zucchini ever-Costata Romanesco

Pepperoncinis’ with eggplants behind them

The Long Gourd is stretching towards the top of that 10′ trellis tower I built! Never thought I’d see that!

Scarlet Runner bean flower-beautiful!

Here’s  one of Caleb’s bees doing it’s thing with the pumpkin flower.

Finally the Shishito peppers are kicking in.

View from the inside looking out towards the gate. The Rattlesnake pole beans are producing and growing over the arbor now. Way in the background inside the corral is the pumpkin patch.

Finally a baby ‘Greenie’ pumpkin-about 5 inches in circumference right now-small but I’ll take it!

Put my cell phone on top of the giant pumpkin today to give it some perspective. It put on 11.5 lbs yesterday— went from 56.5 lbs to 70 lbs.  Hope the squirrel doesn’t get it. Been hiding all the pumpkins under row cover and burlap to discourage the squirrel.

Today’s small harvest-slow but steady!

Vegetable Garden July 4, 2011

Happy July 4th! Here’s a look at the main garden so far this summer. This year is definitely slower than this time last year due to lack of precipitation but with the monsoons here, it should take off this month and kick butt. To see last year’s garden at this time, go here.

The cukes I’ve had to replant due to something eating the seedlings several times even though I’ve covered it with row cover..

I have 2 Costata Romanesco zucchini plants. The leaves are very delicate compared to other zucchini types. Hope we don’t get hail. I grow it because I  think this is the best tasting zuke ever. I read about this Costata Romanesco in one of Debra Madison’s vegetarian cook books-‘Local Flavors’. She lives in Santa Fe and  has several vegetarian cookbooks out. Great books on what tasty things you can create with your veggies. I’m not a vegetarian but am  always looking for new ways to use my vegggies so I don’t get bored.

We didn’t get ANY strawberries this year because I almost lost them all when we had that -25°F this winter. I have June bearing strawberries so I know the time has past. I had just a few plants this spring that survived but the strawberry patch is coming back nicely. Next year I will cover them with straw before winter to help insulate them.

This variety of pole bean is called ‘Emerite’ from John Scheepers. It is a new variety for me. I also have my favorite, ‘Rattlesnake’ beans and another new bush variety called, Verandon, which is a french fillet style of bean. I made a teepee out of bamboo. Notice the row cover in the background covering some of the cucumbers.

Here is the eggplant patches. They are doing well. The patch in the foreground has ‘Fairy’ eggplants in them, a variety that get 3″ long and are my favorite. Their skin is always tender and they are never bitter. You don’t have to soak them in salt water like some varieties-and they are beautiful-purple fading to white. I like to saute them in olive oil and throw them in a stir fry with noodles.

The patch in the back with me are a new variety of eggplant called ‘Rosa Bianca’ and next to it are 4 ‘Peperonchino’ peppers that are growing well.

This year I planted rhubarb among the asparagus plants. I found them this spring at one of the nurseries and they were the sorriest plants I’ve ever seen at that time. They say they grow well with asparagus. Now they are beautiful! Seem to like their location. On the left is row cover I use to help protect new flower seedlings. I take it off in the day and back on at night. Once they get a little bigger, I take it off completely.

The biggest disappointment of the garden so far. The ‘Shishito’ peppers are still slow but finally don’t look sick any more. Still small and something ate some of them so they are really small but they will come back. Some of them are producing buds. No wonder they are so expensive at the SF Farmers market-they are not so easy to grow..

Overall I am very pleased with the tomatoes this year. They are doing well. Everything is done except for my scheduled organic fungicide spraying every 10 days-especially now that the monsoons appear to be here. I’ve only lost 2 tomato plants and another 3 are suspicious. I will cover those with some row cover in case they have something contagious but if I think they are dying I will pull them pronto. Notice this picture taken from the some angle as on May 15th below-when I first planted them-they have come a long way!

It has proved to be a more challenging year what with the lack of rain for so many months but I feel confident  for all of us with some more rain we will have a good garden this year.

costoluto genevese tomato