Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Good and Bad


I'm supposed to wait till they turn orange, but I needed a pepper for dinner today. Peppers seem to be doing pretty well despite a few that wilted and completed died earlier in the season.


This is my first attempt at growing onions from seeds. Golf ball size at best. Some pea size.... I think some of my shallots are bigger! I am definitely going to try again next year, now that I know the difference between long-day, medium-day, and short-day maturing onions.

My favorite salad

I absolutely love cobb salad! Especially when some of the ingredients come from my own garden, it makes the salad extra delicious. It's sort of like making soups, in that, you can just throw in anything you have in the fridge/garden. I wish I could say that the lettuce is from my garden, but it has been too hot for them.

For the toppings, we had onions, tomatoes, cucumbers, and carrots from the garden, plus bacon, shredded cheese, hard-boiled eggs, and cut up leftover grilled chicken from 2 nights ago. I usually make ranch or blue cheese dressing for this, but I wanted to go a little lighter. So I made a honey mustard dressing. Yummy!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Harvest Monday

This is my first post for Harvest Monday, which is hosted by Daphne's Dandelions at http://daphnesdandelions.blogspot.com/2012/07/harvest-monday-july-30th-2012.html#comment-form

Tomatoes: 2lb 7oz - We planted about 40 tomato plants hoping they will give us some a plenty for eating and canning. But unfortunately, they have been struggling due to what we believe is Fusarium or Verticillium wilt. They are not completely dead, but not performing well either, so I had to put some of them out of misery this weekend. Thus, the green tomatoes that I picked that were left on those poor plants.

Carrots: 1lb - After complaining about them a few days ago, I realize I probably should be happy. Today, I pulled out some nice straight carrots. I probably have about 1-2lb left in the bed, hoping they will grow a little more. I also sowed some seeds for the fall crop.

Yellow wax beans: 4oz - They have been very good to us and providing consistent harvest for several weeks. I think they are just starting to get tired. But my haricot vert plants are now in full bloom. I think we'll start harvesting these by next week.

Zucchini: half rotten one.... We have one zucchini plant, that has been producing just the right amount for 2 of us. This one probably didn't get pollinated properly.

Broccoli side shoots: 2oz - I have 6 broccoli plants that keep on giving. The heads were cut off 2-3 weeks ago.

Sunday, July 29, 2012


It has been a busy Sunday! We went peach picking the other day and picked 20lb of yellow and white peaches. 2 quarts of chopped peaches went to the freezer. I canned 7 pints in light syrup - 3 of which did not seal properly!!! I should have used the regular mouth and not the wide mouth jars. This has been happening too often when I use wide mouth jars. I think I will stick to the regular mouth from now on.

We also picked just a pint of blackberries at the same farm. We don't really like eating them alone, but I love peach blackberry jam. I think they look really pretty like little black pearls in jars.

We still have some that are not  ripe, but I'm sure we'll enjoy them fresh throughout the week.

Now on to dinner...

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Fall Garden Preparation Take 2

This is what I did to the poor seedlings for the fall garden...

I knew those cabbage butterflies would destroy them in no time, so I put up a plastic dome that comes with the seed tray, and one day - when it was really hot, I forgot to move the tray in the shade. I baked them in the sun.

So here is my second try....

They are just starting to sprout.
My husband quickly put together a nice wooden frame so that I can cover them with a floating row cover.

I hope it's not too late. We'll see...

Friday, July 27, 2012


Another challenge I have is celery! Actually, I had this impression that growing celery was going to be a big challenge in terms of germinating them and letting them to grow to a decent size. They were in fact very slow to germinate and to get to a decent size to be transplanted. But since transplanted, my celery plants look pretty nice and healthy. Earlier in the season, I had some aphid problems that killed a couple of plants, but the rest 12 or so plants have survived and been doing well. They are just match-stick thin, though!! I can't figure out how to fatten them up. I have been taking the outer layers off for my daily uses.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Thursday's Kitchen Cupboard

I did not grow corn, but there are many local farms that grow wonderful corn for next to nothing. We had some steamed corn for dinner 2 days ago, and I still had 3 ears left, so I made some soup/chowder using some of the items from my garden: Onions, Celery, Carrots, herbs.

Most of the time, I don't use recipes. Instead, I just whip up things with what I have around. But this is roughly what I put in.

1TBSP oil
1TBSP butter
1 medium onion
3 small carrots
3 tiny stalks celery (probably equivalent to 1 regular size stalk)
2 cloves garlic
3 ears of corn shucked  (do not throw the cobs away!)

saute the above until they are soften
then add the following

3 cups chicken stock
pinch of thyme
bunch of parsley
salt, pepper
Shucked corn stalks (Very important!)

bring it to a boil and simmer for 30-40minutes
then remove the corn stalks
then add

1/2 cup of heavy cream
3 TBSP Grated Parmesan Cheese

taste and see if you need more salt

I thickened mine with some corn starch, flour, and water solution, but it's not necessary.


As I was typing the last post, I spotted a groundhog munching on the leaves of my hard bean plants and winter squash plants! Time to go inspect and patch up the fence. Ugh!


I harvested some carrots today. Carrots are one of those mystery vegetables that I have a hard time growing. Here are the reasons: 1) the germination rate is not so high, 2) the birds love the seeds, 3) insects and animals love the leaves, 4) you never know how they are doing under the ground, 5) they take A LONG time to mature. Mine have been growing since March and some of them are still the size of my pinky. I have been pulling out a few at a time to see how they are doing for the last several weeks, only to find them disappointing. Then two days ago, when we came back from a weekend getaway, I found out that something got into the garden (most probably a groundhog) and ate the tops of my carrots and hard beans. So today, I decided to pull out the ones with the tops chewed off. There was a few nice size ones, which  I broke off, underestimating the length.

I am happy about the length and how straight they are. My husband will be happy because he was the one who dug the carrot/potato bed extra deep and spent hours sifting the soil (while telling me "carrots and potatoes are a dollar a pound at the store"). I just wish they were fatter! Maybe it's the soil, but I read somewhere that they don't require much nutrients. I need to do more research. I have been sowing more carrot seeds for the fall crop. They are germinating nicely.

Carrots - 12 1/2 oz

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

First Garden

There are SO many things that I would like to post, but I should first describe the condition of my garden.
  • Size - 35x35 on a slight hill. I have sectioned out about 13 small beds.
  • Location - not so great - Zone 6b, surrounded by lots of trees and one giant Black walnut tree down hill but pretty close to the garden.
  • Sun - About 5-6 hours of direct sun a day - again not ideal, but it's the sunniest spot we have.
  • Soil - Dense, mostly clay, very rocky, freshly dug up, did not amend much except for several buckets of manure.
  • List of things I have been trying to grow: Cabbages, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Lettuces, Peas, Radishes, Green and Yellow beans, Hard beans, Peanuts, Herbs, Hot peppers, sweet peppers, Zucchini, Winter Squashes, Melons, Onions, Beets, Leeks, Carrots, Potatoes, Cucumbers, Tomatoes, Asian greens, Celery, Fennel, Chicory, Kale, Swiss Chard, Spinach, Soy beans, potted citrus plants and berry plants...I'm sure I'm missing something

So as you can see, it's not an ideal condition, and we are over ambitious with the list. But, we are trying to make the best of it. We keep saying, "it's only our first year." It's true, we have to examine which vegetables work and which don't, how much sun we get, how our soil holds up etc. etc. When we first dug up the plot, we thought we would just plant the seeds in the ground and all of these vegetables will grow magically - just like our grandparents did, and we'd have 100lb of tomatoes.


We keep getting all sorts of diseases and pests, and constantly battling against them. Some things such as peas, beans, lettuces, and asian greens have done very well. So it's not all a bust, but our most anticipated things like Tomatoes and cucumbers are struggling. I will post about them in separate posts.

Soil test would have helped tremendously. I don't know why we didn't think of doing it at the beginning of the season, as if our soil somehow had all the nutrients and minerals. After seeing some problems, we did one of those home soil test kits and found out that we basically have no phosphorus or potash. Of course, those things are not 100% reliable, it explains some things. We will send our soil sample to a university for more accurate testing.

First entry

Welcome to my blog! I hope to share my gardening and cooking episodes, but mainly to document my successes and failures so I can make improvements in the future.

My love for cooking (and eating) naturally led me to gardening, so I can grow fresh produce right at my door step. Well, it's easier said than done. For the last several years, my husband and I lived in cities and have tried to grow things mainly in pots with the exception of one summer when we were able to rent a community garden plot. And this year, we finally moved to a place where we are allowed to have dig a garden! As much as we are excited to have this big space, it's still not so easy...

I have been learning how to garden by following other people's blogs, researching online, and reading books. Although it's well into the mid summer already, it's about time I start blogging and sharing my experiences.

We moved to this place last December, and we started our adventure by building a hoop house. So there is quite a bit of things to post, but I'll start with the current state of my garden and sometimes go back several weeks or moths as I remember.

Because it's my first entry, I will include a picture of today's harvest:

Soy Beans - 12oz
Yellow string beans - 5oz
Tomatoes - 1lb 3oz
A couple of damaged hot peppers and a cucumber