Garden, Plant, Cook!

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Cold Moving On In - Have Plant Frost Protection Ready.

Dear Folks,

The warm weather time (La Nina) is ending with a blast of cold air coming in tonight.  Near freezing in some areas of the valley by tomorrow (Monday) morning. It looks like the low night temps will be around for about 2 weeks according to long-range forecast.

Have you frost protection ready.  This does not look like these will be killing frosts here in the valley area BUT can damage the tops of all sensitive plants.

If you have stuff in the ground, use the jug cover method (poor man's cloche above), cardboard boxes, even lawn chairs to shield plants.

If you have a pile of dried leaves (I keep a pile handy for this and mulching) pile the leaves OVER the seedlings temporarily covering them.

If you have none of those -- sheets, blankets or towels will protect the plants.

You can leave blankets, boxes, sheets and leaves on tender plants for up to 5 days without harm, but it is best to remove during the day if you can to let them have the light.

If you have seedlings, bring them in at night - they still need light during the day.

AND keep the protective stuff handy.  As I posted before this transition time when cool and warm air can collide with winds and atmospheric moisture can bring HAIL.

We ARE heading into spring, it is just going to come in fits and starts for a couple of weeks, then temps will start to rise!


-- Catherine, The Herb Lady

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Friday, February 16, 2018

Around The Garden and Harvest - February 16, 2018

Dear Folks,

Over cast and damp cool this morning, so I thought time for pictures, particularly after our harvest yesterday of sugar cane.

This is one of my Red "Lipstick Peppers".  This variety is sweet.

I also have an orange variety "Lipstick" - this plant is about 5 years old and still pushing out a lot of fruit several times a year.  When you look at the harvest plate picture below, you will notice the peppers are several different sizes.  Once peppers and tomatoes for that matter, start to color, that is the size they will remain while continuing to ripen.

My sugarpeas are still producing - I have 2 different varieties growing there, one which produces lovely blushed pods.  When you look at the harvest plate picture below noted the opened two pods at the bottom. These peas delicious raw or cooked when the pod swells.  Later on you can harvest the dried peas for storage for cooking later, but be sure to save some for resowing next fall.

I am very glad I did something different sowing this past fall and recently.  I planted more and closer together in each row, about 2 inches apart in a staggered conformation which produced multiple vines in a short row, and then I duplicated that in 3 more rows.  The last row I planted was about 3 weeks ago and those plants are about 4-5 inches tall now, so I should be harvesting sugar peas into April.

We (that is to say Deane) cut sugar cane yesterday to take to the zoo today.  This is a treat the elephants love and we have been doing this for several years now.  It is a lot of cane.

Deane, cut and I hauled to the trailer.  A REALLY good workout of about an hour and a half to 2 hours and then tarped and ready to deliver today.

Currently we have both white/green and a purple variety of sugar cane.  I have decided to downsize and just keep the purple.

There is a cool trick for expressing the sugar cane juice out for a homeowner.  Cut the mature cane (still must have green leaves so you know it is fresh) into about 2 inch pieces. Fill the largest crock pot you have rinse, then top with water, cover.  Set on high for 1 hour, then reduce to low for about 5-6 hours.  Taste.  If necessary to reduce further, strain (compost the pieces) put the strained juice on the stove and reduce more to you liking.  Store in the refrigerator and use within 7 days.

Harvest This Morning.
Our warm winter, officially identified as a La Nina dry/warm condition has kept both the peppers and tomatoes going gain busters while not slowing my sugar peas down at all.

Some flowers caught my attention this morning.  The undamaged parts of the eggplants are flowering so hopefully I will have early fruit this year.  With older eggplants, one needs to be mindful of the thorns which may grow on the calyx of older plant but new fruit.  A phenomenon which may be a way of trying to get the plant to reseed before it dies or the fruit is eaten by critters (or us!).

I have both lilac and purple colored stock blooming right now. The purple is such a rich "royal purple" color it is hard not to see it.  Stock is an edible flower (Matthiola incana) from the broccoli family and the flower and soft tips have that flavor. I have a relative who enjoys munching on some when visiting.  The flowers are also incredibly fragrant sweet scented.

I have Spanish Thyme and Lime Scented Geranium growing and they have both been loving the weather.  The Lime Scented Geranium is a really lime scent and this is one of the edible geraniums.  The Spanish Thyme (also called Cuban Oregano or Indian Borage) is from the same family as the house plant Creeping Charlie and is a fun soft velvet edible leaf (frequently deep fried as a garnish or chopped in a salad dressing).

Also in the garden our bare Saturn (Doughnut) Peach is what we call the "Dove Tree".  The various breeds like to hang out in the tree after eating the seed we out out (or waiting for us to put out the seed  *hurray up*).  We just chuckle at the site.

Not garden, but I have started a new "Saucisson" of Pork - a dry cured Salami.  This time I am using a larger loin so it will take longer to dry cure - I will check it in 5 weeks and see how it is doing.

If you want to know about dry curing this "salami" click here for the link to my post on how to.


SEED SHARE

Don't forget my Free Seed Share coming up on Saturday March 3rd at the Mesa Urban Garden.

Until next time, have a great day in the garden and kitchen.


-- Catherine, The Herb Lady

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Tuesday, February 13, 2018

March Planting Tips- Warm with a Chance of Hail! And Two Events Coming Up

Dear Folks,

Hail?  Yes I know.  Hail sounds like a strange weather possibility as we go into even warmer times.

With the global weather weirding we have been having since fall, up / down temperatures with an even warmer winter, my garden journals have shown a possibility for hail in March, July and Fall.  This is caused by a combination of cool and warm air masses colliding as we move into Spring and other seasonal transition times, coupled with winds shifting.  So - have your frost protection handy for the possibility of hail.  You don't want your seedlings and tender transplants flattened to the ground with hail.

We also can have the odd frost in late February and into mid-March here in the valley, so again, keep the frost protection handy until all danger of frost (or hail) is over.

The poor man's cloche, cardboard boxes or even plastic lawn chairs can protect your plants from hail and soft frost.  [Pictured: Note the caps off the "cloche".  In this instance I was leaving the jugs in place and taking the caps off allows built up heat to vent.]

As we transition from cool weather loving plants into the warm weather loving ones, keep in mind tomatoes, basil etc. like their "feet" warm.  The odd cool days as we typically transition into the 90s by end of March and beginning of April, can actually "stall" growth of these warm soil lovers.  Don't fret.  They simple take a break from growing when the soil temporarily cools.  Once the soil warms again and continues they will again start robust growth.

March Planting

Artichoke, Jerusalem
Artichoke, Globe
Basil, Plant or seed
Bay, Greek aka Sweet
Bean, Lima
Beans, Snap
Beans, Soy (March 15th)
Bee Balm
Beets
Cantaloupe
Carrots
Catnip, Plant or Seed
Chives, Garlic, Plant or seed
Chives, Onion, Plant or seed
Corn       
Cucumbers
Eggplant
English Daisy
Epazote, Plant or seed
Hollyhock
Jicama
Lavender
Lemon Grass
Lemon Balm
Lemon Verbena
Marigolds including ,Citrus Scented (Tagetes Nelsonii), Tangerine Scented (Tagetes Lemonii)
Marjoram
Melons, Winter
Melons, Musk
Mints
Myrtle  
Okra
Onions, Green
Oregano, Mexican
Oregano, Greek
Peppers
Perilla, Plant or Seed
Portulaca
Pumpkin
Radishes
Rosemary
Safflower
Sage
Savory
Scented Geraniums
Squash, Winter
Stevia
Summer Squash
Sunflower
Sweet Alyssum
Tarragon, Mexican
Tarragon, French
Thyme
Tomatillo
Tomatoes
Watermelon

GARDEN TIPS for March
    If you are just now thinking about planting, see Flower Mulching technique. And run, do not walk, to purchase a water meter from your favorite garden nursery.  The gallop into high heat can occur this month with such rapidity that we can go 70 to 95 in 30 days. (In a rare occurrence, we hit a 100 one year on March 29th.)
    Get a jump on spring with weed cleanup.  Some pests breed on the winter weeds and can launch an incredible attack (a type of gnat can assume locus swarm proportions), which may cover everything light or white in color, plants, flowers, buildings, even clothes drying on the line.
    Perennial herbs will be starting to flower by end of March / beginning of April.  If you use thyme, marjoram, oregano or any of the trailing herbs as ground covers, enjoy the blooms, then give them a hair cut.  Remember the flowers are edible!
    The pest bugs like our mild weather too with aphids a particular pest.  SAFE Soap Spray for aphids: 1 tsp each vegetable oil and Dawn to 1 quart of water.  Spray every 5 days at sunset at least 3 times.  DO NOT MISS a follow up spraying - spraying once will not take care of the aphid problem.  The 1st gets the active adults, the 2nd one picks up the just hatched and missed ones and 3rd one gets the stragglers.
 

Flower Mulching Technique:  Imagine a 12 inch diameter circle.  Place your primary herb, vegetable or fruit plant in the middle and using 3-5 flowers from a six pack or 3-5 4 inch flowers plant very close to the primary plant staying within the imaginary 12 inches.  You can also plant the flowers first and then the primary plant, or you can use existing plantings to perform the same service.  Many of the flowers will survive to be used in salads etc. (which is why I choose seasonal edible flowers).  If the flower plants were not grown organically or without chemicals, wait 90 days before harvesting the flowers for food use.
 

Two Events Coming Up:

My FREE Seed Share and Q&A at Mesa Urban Garden - March 3rd, 11 a.m.

Click here for the event page.

The Arizona Herb Association is having their 2nd Annual Herb Festival February 24th, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.  This all day event includes speakers, activities, tours and lunch.

Click here for the event page and to purchase tickets.

If you enjoy my monthly planting tips, my all year calendar is available for sale to have handy whenever you need to check on when to plant, regular maintenance and some recipes to encourage you!

Amazon

My Publisher


Have a great time in the garden and Kitchen!


-- Catherine, The Herb Lady

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Sunday, February 11, 2018

Seed Share Day, Q&A and Raffle Fun! March 3, 2018

Dear Folks,

My next FREE Seed Share Day is March 3rd with some extra fun additions at Mesa Urban Garden (MUG).

Two handmade quilts will be raffled off, as will some tomato seedlings grown by the MUG volunteers.

Tomato seedlings will be for sale too.

I will have my Seed Bank there.  And I will be answering your questions on what to plant now and later, garden maintenance issues and any concerns you have about growing edibles in the desert.  New to gardening here?  Perfect! This is the day to come out and see and learn how easy it is to grow some or more of your own vegetables, herbs and more right in your own back yard.

SEED SHARE AND Q&A with Catherine, The Herb Lady at Mesa Urban Garden, AND More!

A FUN combination event.

Saturday, March 3, 2018
11 a.m. to Noon


Mesa Urban Garden (MUG)
212 E 1st Ave (NE Corner of Hibbert and 1st Avenue)
Mesa, AZ 85210
(602) 370-4459

AND

GET Your Tomato Seedlings!!  MUG will have tomato seedlings for sale!

AND

RAFFLE for 2 quilts and seedlings to benefit the garden

QUESTION and ANSWERS  Catherine will answer your questions on choosing seasonal varieties and any other gardening questions you may have.

SEED SHARE

FREE Pick up some seeds to get growing or expand your garden.

SHARE seeds you have harvested from your own edibles.  You do not need to bring seeds to pick up some varieties you want to grow.

RAFFLE - purchase a raffle ticket to win one of two handmade quilts OR tomato seedlings (Seedlings will also be for sale separately).

SEEDLINGS FOR SALE - seedling starts will be available for sale all ready to put directly in the ground.

MUG - Mesa Urban Garden is an all volunteer, non-profit community garden.  You can rent a bed, all ready to garden in.

Donations help support MUG's year round programs of helping people grow their own food and also contribute fresh produce to the local food bank.

https://m.facebook.com/events/1793843437315499

I hope to see you there.  Click on the link above.



-- Catherine, The Herb Lady

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Monday, February 05, 2018

Harvested Heirloom Pumpkin/Squash and Around The Garden.

Dear Folks,

I finally harvested my "Upper Ground Sweet Potato Pumpkin" and the results are in.

First - Mark your Calendars for March 3rd.  My Next Seed Share is March 3rd.  I will be bringing my Seed Bank, details to be announced.  We have not decided yet on a late morning or early afternoon time slot.  This is a free event, you are welcome to bring your own harvested seeds or heirloom non-GMO purchased ones to swap.

Back to the Pumpkin.  I first read about this winter squash several years ago and my first planting a year ago, did not produce any.  This past summer I planted out on July 5th and the vine took off like a rocket, but the flowers were not pollinated until September.  Happens sometimes, when the Cucurbitaceae Family (squash, melons, gourds, cucumbers etc.) puts out a ton of male flowers first to attract the pollinators and the female flowers sort-of lope along later.

Watching the fruit get bigger and bigger I was excited that I might actually get a harvestable fruit for Thanksgiving, then Christmas and past New Year and the fruit was still showing a lot of green.  I should have measured the circumference instead of just the width, but it came in at about 12 inches across and weighed 11.4 pounds.

The taste of this squash was supposed to be close to a Sweet Potato in flavor and was grown in historic gardens including Thomas Jefferson's Monticello.  For a while you could get the seeds from the Monticello store and you may wish to check that out, however, I was able to get seeds from Baker Creek, AND I will have seeds at the Seed Share in March 3rd.

This is a very hard shelled fruit with an open cavity as you can see by the picture and I pulled a generous amount of seeds and pulp from the whole thing.

While I composted the pulp, I recommend you check out ways to use this edible "pulp" of the pumpkin, The Kitchn suggests, making soup stock out of it along with other vegetable parings, puree (without the seeds) and use to make pumpkin bread, or juice them.

I rinsed then dried the seeds, and as I mentioned, I will have some at the Seed Share on March 3rd.  I put a plate together to show you the viable seed vs. the non-viable.  Basically you want to look for a plump seed with well-defined edges.  Sorry the picture is not clear enough, the glare from the seeds makes the flattened, almost transparent aspect of the non-viable seed not show well..

Even with the open cavity of this type of fruit, there is a lot of it.

I cut off a portion and  baked.  400 degrees for 60-90 minutes to fork-tender.  It took right at 85 minutes or so to be able to easily put the fork through the skin.  Cooled it was then easy to scrap the the fruit from the skin.  I chose not to oil or season, so I had options on how to use the squash.  I had made chili so I cut up the squash and a cooked potato and served my chili over this.  A nice combination of the slightly sweet squash with the spices of the chili.

TASTE results.  This is really more squash than pumpkin but with a lighter squash texture than say banana squash, and not as sweet as banana or pumpkin.

GROWING:

I would grow again, HOWEVER  I am planning on sowing the seeds in Late May this time.  I think the warm fall may have delayed the ripening, because from the approximate date of pollination this fruit took about 4 months to get to harvest stage.  I was in contact with Baker Creek about the harvest stage and they recommended to not pick too early, which confirmed my thoughts, so I just waited, and waited and waited. :-)

Pictured is the vine September 15th, and it tripled in size eventually.  (That is Daisy Mae my Flying Pig - a gift from a friend :-)

The flowers by the way are really big, easily 5-6 inches across, so if you choose to grow this squash, I recommend you harvest some of the male flowers for use.

Around The Rest of The Garden

Johnny Jump Ups are starting in the lawn for my annual lawn of flowers to come later.

This annual display later on is beloved by us and family and friends.

The potato plants are sprouting.  I need to add more leaf mulch.  I am changing out some of the planting sites for potatoes and sweet potatoes.  Moving things around in the garden is a good thing.

The Purple Tree Collard in the greenhouse is loving it, so I moved the other one in there also.  This one was "looking" like it was all dying back and then I noticed first a couple of "bumps" at the base and now this bigger set of leaf stems coming along nicely.  I'm really excited to try this "green" in the garden to add to my supply of greens through the year and hoping I find their happy spot for growing happily through the heat of the summer.

My garlic both standard and elephant are growing nicely, but I am anxious about the warm weather.  Last year our winter was so mild the garlic never formed the heads we look for, so I'm hoping for one good chill before spring actually hits.  Watching the birds being "frisky" I'm not sure we will get a chill. They may know something we don't.

Finally, I used some of my harvested Roselle petals to make a green tea/Roselle Sun Tea and if it was done, I added some honey to the strained tea while it was still warm from the sun, shook a couple of times and Chilled it for the next day when I had a friend over for lunch out on the patio to enjoy the nice weather and a glass of cold sun tea from the garden.

I used organic green tea as a base frequently for sun tea.  In this nice 80-ish degree weather it takes about 6-7 hours of "sunning" to produce a nice flavor. FYI NEVER add any sugar, honey or other sweetener to the jar, as you can create mold.  Dried or fresh herbs like stevia for sweetness are okay as long as you rinse them well.  If my allergies are acting up I will through in sprigs of thyme.

There are still a few days left of my SURVEY, in the upper side bar here on the blog.  I appreciate the feedback, thank you.

You can find my calendars and books (most are available in both print and PDF form) at My Publisher's site.


I am taking a break for a few day, be back next weekend.

Have a great week in the garden and kitchen!



-- Catherine, The Herb Lady

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Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Growing Seed: Nature Germinated vs "Help" And Ginger from The Garden.

Dear Folks,

Questions come up each spring (or earlier) on a regular basis:  (sometimes fall) -- how to start seeds, indoors, under lights, greenhouses etc.

First, though, I harvested my Ginger!!

I saved the piece on the left - it is about 3 and quarter inches long, and broke up the other into 3 pieces and replanted.

This ginger has been in the ground about 18 months, give or take, and as with the turmeric (click to read the post) I usually "try" to harvest in the fall, but we were so warm this fall, I just decided to wait until the plants really began to die back.

This is the biggest piece of ginger I have ever gotten.  Many of these roots are not "supposed" to do well here in the valley, and you have to have patience as ginger, turmeric, horseradish and other of these types may take a couple of years to establish.  I'm thinking about trying galangal a ginger relative but I need to see if I have room for it when I see the results of the turmeric and ginger replanting.

BACK to seed germination.


Germination rates are listed, sometimes on packages or websites, and are a good guide to the percentage of seed which will germinate.  What these germination statistics don't address is the "quality" of the seedlings produced.

Germination quality and quantity are totally dependent on which of the 3 types of sowing occurring .

Direct Sow, Self Sow (natural re-seeding), and Indoor/Greenhouse Sowing.

Pictured is my tomato volunteer (self sown) taken yesterday.  This little and healthy seedling is about 3 inches tall and already nicely branching out.  I fully expect this plant to grow, then stop when the weather cools again, then start up and that will continue until all danger of frost is over (about the end of February).  This is probably a cherry type tomato, which took up residence in our gardens about 5 years ago and comes up with regular performance each year in 1 or 2 places.  This is a new location and I expect the plant to do well BECAUSE it self-sowed.

Direct Sowing is just what it sounds like.  You sow the seeds in the spot in the ground or raised bed where you want the plant to grow.

Indoor/Greenhouse Sowing is the use of pots, flats or as I do, use Jiffy Pellets to "force" seeds to germinate under more ideal conditions.

Pictured are some of my current crop of seedlings in jiffy pellets, that I will start planting out in February/March -with frost protection handy.

Here is the BIG difference in the quality (and quantity) of seed germination between the 3 types of seed germination environments.

Self Sown (naturally re-seeding from existing plants) is going to produce the healthiest plants by natural selection i.e., those that germinate and grow are going to be the healthiest of all 3 types of germination simply because the seed is the strongest combined with the best environmental conditions (i.e., soil temperatures and moisture reliability).

At the same time the quantity of seeds germinated is going to be VERY low.  If you knew how many seeds were spread by the plant the volume of germinated self sown seed would be a fraction of the total seeds dispersed 

Direct Sown Seed is next in terms of healthiest / strongest germination quality.  Again because even though you choose when to sow and control location selection (presuming you are choosing a good sun access location) and watering, the seeds which germinate are going to be the strongest.

Seed packages and other sources of information traditionally say sow 3 seeds of each, 1 for the birds, 1 which does not grow and 1 for you. You can increase the germination rate by pre-soaking the seeds before you sow.  Soak seeds, roughly 24 hours or overnight for most seeds, particularly hard seeds and a maximum of 8 hours for beans and peas.  This pre-soaking helps break dormancy faster and increases germination rate (quantity) and decreases the time for growth emerging from the ground.

In other words you are "helping" the seed by controlling some of the factors around germination.

Indoor/Greenhouse Sowing, is the option which will give you the highest germination rate (quantity), BUT potentially at least a fair amount of lower quality seedlings produced.  Why?  Because you are creating optimal conditions for germination which will grow both strong and weak seedlings.  Growers will watch all the seedlings grow and then clip off any which appear too weak to be good transplant candidates.

We all like to see success in sowing seeds and many folks give up and buy already grown transplants to save the frustration of growing from seed.

Choosing to grow from seed usually allows us to control all of the above conditions, but also choosing which varieties and also the option of heirloom and/or organic over patented / commercially control of plants.

I use a mixture of direct sow and greenhouse jiffy pellets depending on time of year and what I want to have available, when.

I choose jiffy pellets over pots for the simple reason there is little or no transplant shock to the seedling.  You plant the entire jiffy pellet in your chosen location and let the baby grow.

A package of 36 pellets is usually around $3.76, so a little over $.10 each.  If your nursery does not offer them, Amazon has a pretty good deal for 100 a little under $.14 each.

In this collage I show you my method of starting the seeds.

After pre-soaking seeds I choose to pre-soak (not all need it) I first fill a container with HOT water.  Some I do not pre-soak like basil seeds which are small and will react immediately to the Pellet by releasing their gel coating.

I then wait (maybe 10 minutes) for the pellet to expand.  I make sure the netting at the top is open and fully exposes the peat moss, and put the seeds on top, then push them in, gently ease the peat moss around the seeds and take them out to the greenhouse.  I make a "map" of which pellets have which seeds.  I use a dark tray for the pellets, which both catches water and heats up during the day, with some retained heat for a while after dark.

The point of the HOT water is two fold:  it expands the pellets very fast AND provides a warm starting environment for the seeds, which I then take immediately out to the greenhouse.

After a few weeks of growth, I add a few grains of fish emulsion fertilizer to help the seedlings, as the peat moss is an inert material with no real nutrients in it - its sole purpose is to provide a moist environment to break dormancy and germinate the seeds.

Dormancy in seeds is a fascinating thing.  The seeds all have a hard outer shell or coating which protects them from intermittent moisture or soil temperature changes.  They NEED a constant of their preferred moisture and temperature to germinate.  There is a whole range of other factors which can influence germination (fire, going through an animal's stomach etc.) which we do not need to discuss here.

Suffice it to say that seeds need a constant combination of moisture and preferred temperature (cool weather loving plants like cool or cooling soil, warm weather loving plants like warm or warming soil).

As an aside - many gardeners, particularly new-to-gardening, are frustrated when they sow seeds, water for a few day or even a week and then nothing comes up.

Remember the word "constant" or consistent if you will?  What happens, many times, "under ground" is the seed HAS started to germinate, but then when the watering is not continued OR the soil cools too much or warms too much depending on the variety, it stops growing or dies all together.  The last point is most often the result of watering a few days and then not watering again.  The seed started to germinate then without moisture it died without every breaking ground.

I hope this helps with your seed growing decisions.

One more reminder about my survey in the upper left side bar.  Please take a minute if you have not and vote on your preferences.  I appreciate the feedback as it helps me make decisions on what content to provide to you.

Have a best day in the garden and kitchen!







-- Catherine, The Herb Lady


You can find my calendar and books at Amazon.

Or My Publisher.  My publisher has both print and PDF versions of most of my work.

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Saturday, January 27, 2018

Broccoli Soup on the light Side, From the Gardens & Sugarpea Support

Dear Folks,

Our neighbor got her garden up and running this past fall and it sure produced.  Deane helped her build a large raised bed and after a couple of false starts it took off.

I need to do a post on the building of this bed for her.

She gifted us with some broccoli and I've been trying to think of something special to do with it and was checking recipe ideas for roasting when I came across a delicious sounding, no milk or cream, roasted broccoli soup.

Roasting always gives vegetables a great taste because it will lightly caramelize the sugars, and in the case of broccoli, tame some of the "mustard" notes.

I give you the original recipe below.


Broccoli was the only ingredient in the original recipe I had!  Ha!  I substituted type of potato, onion, cheese and acid, and added my own garnish.

So I improvised as I frequently do.  We were really pleased with the way it turned out.  Lighter because of no milk or cream, but the taste was rich, full and great.  And I added a garnish of some of our sugar peas and sugar pea flower and also some Stock flowers.  The Stock flower is an edible member of the broccoli family so I thought that was appropriate.
Sugar Peas with Flower

Roasted Broccoli, Potato, Cheese Soup
Makes about 3-4 cups

Inspired by:

https://www.thekitchn.com/roasted-broccoli-amp-cheddar-soup-159133

2 tablespoons of avocado oil
1 medium size head of Broccoli
1 potato
4 ounces white American cheese
handful of I'iotoi Onion tops
2 cups of water
salt and cracked black pepper
limequat

sugar peas and sugar pea flower and stock flower for garnish

An immersion blender works best for this, or you can use a counter blender working in batches and return to the pot to continue cooking.

Stock Flowers
Heat oven to 450, prepare a pan.

Cut broccoli up including stalks.
Clean and cut potato into about 1 inch chunks - I leave peels on
Snip onion tops
Shred or cube cheese and set aside
Cut up sugar pea for garnish into 1/2 inch pieces, set aside

Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a medium size pot.

Spread broccoli in pan, sprinkle 1 tablespoon of oil over, season with some salt and cracked black pepper, stir and roast for  5 minutes.

While the broccoli is roasting add onion to hot oil in pot, stir and reduce heat and cook for about 5 minutes more, stirring as needed.

Add water and potatoes to pot bring to a boil, add a bit of salt, cover and cook at a low boil.

Stir broccoli and roast for 5 minutes more.  When the broccoli is finished add to pot, keep at a low boil, cover and cook until all are tender - about 7 minutes.

Using the immersion blender puree.  I like to leave some chunks in the soup.

Add cheese to melt, stirring into the soup to combine.

Serve with garnish of sugar peas and flowers.  Squeeze a bit of lime juice over each bowl. 




By the way, after trying several different methods of staking our sugarpeas we came up with a zig-zag bending of hogwire set up using a couple of bamboo poles for stability.  We put the fence in AFTER the vines were already growing and it is working but it will work better next year when I put the fence up FIRST then sow.  Also I did a denser sowing of the peas and the production shows the good result of this decision.  I just sowed a few more to get me through spring.  You can see the pretty pink/rose colored flowers of the sugarpea variety "Pea Magnolia Blossom Tendril". Love the color and the peas.


Our asparagus will be coming up in a few weeks and I think an asparagus, potato, cheese soup will be on the menu later on. 

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-- Catherine, The Herb Lady

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