Garden, Plant, Cook!

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

January Planting Tips - Ready, set . . .

Dear Folks,

At this time in December, while the citrus ripens on the trees, colorful fruit hanging like ornaments, and we make our plans for Christmas and all other holiday gatherings, make some plans for planting and sowing.

Growing up back east, we had to wait until April or even later to even begin to think about in-ground planting/sowing. So while 4-season gardeners can only dream about the gardens, cruising through seed-catalogs, we can start, plant and sow NOW.

I like to plant my regular potatoes on January 1st, as a way to say goodbye to the holidays and hello to spring coming.


I have started my seeds in jiffy pellets for transplanting on or about February 1st - with Poor-Man's cloches as frost protection.  I am setting them outside during the day and bringing them into our laundry shed with the hot water heater overnight. I had decided not to put up my greenhouse. Predicting this winter's weather is almost a dart game, so by putting the seedlings in near the water heater, I want to ensure my seedlings survive whatever mother nature throws my way.

While I am dreaming about starting tomatoes, peppers, eggplant and summer squash, I am enjoying good things from the garden right.  I have two multi-year lived pepper plants and the harvesting is good.  Lipstick on the left and Paradicsom on the right are very happy now with the extra rain (isn't that wonderful!!) and cooler temperatures.  Paradicsom (a Hungarian thick-walled variety) is about 4+ years old and the Lipstick (sometimes called Lunch Box Peppers) is about 6+ years old.  Pepper plants in the Valley tend to produce abundantly in the spring and fall/winter - sagging a bit during the hottest part of the summer.









Other harvests recently were ripe Pardiscsom peppers, Listarda Eggplant, radishes, young garlic, mixed greens and herbs.  I used the herbs and greens in soup and roasted the eggplant with the garlic.  I like to eat the radishes straight :-)









I have two pea varieties growing right now:  Sugar Pea (Magnolia Blossom with those gorgeous purple/lilac colored flowers - and I ate the first pod yesterday), and Pigeon Pea.  I plan on harvesting the Pigeon Peas as green rather than dried (except for saving for re-sowing).









A while back I saw a fun "life hack" video by "Blossom" on re-planting vegetables and this one on using THE pepper as the planting "medium" where you slice the pepper in half, push the seeds down into it, fill with soil and plant, caught my eye.  Well I have grown/germinated and otherwise re-grown plants and I thought this was such a good idea I decided to use it when one of my peppers was at a good point. (In the same video she shows using an egg carton to regrow scallions/green onions which you can harvest as needed.)

Well about 2+ weeks ago I had a Lipstick pepper which was a bit shriveled, so I cut it in half, pushed the seeds down, filled with soil and buried it next to my eggplant.  I forgot to mark the day I planted it, but it was probably less than two weeks when I took this picture of the seedlings coming up on December 1st!!

I will decide which one is the strongest as they grow-along and snip the others out.   I will also have to have the poor-man's cloche handy for frosty nights.

GARDEN TIPS for January
    As we are nearing the end of the primary perennial planting season, I like to celebrate the start of the new year by planting at least one new plant on January 1st.  I have not made my decision yet on which new-to-me plant.
    Celebrate New Year’s Day by planting potatoes.
    November through January can be a ‘rainy’ season for the desert. You can usually hold off on regular watering if you have received a half inch or more of rain within 2 days of normal watering days.  Make good use of your water meter to determine soil moisture.
    If rains are heavy this month, in addition to foregoing some water days, you may need to put down Ironite or green sand to compensate for mineral bonding (which makes iron unavailable to the plants) due to both the excess water and the cold soil.
    Prune citrus and deciduous fruit trees no later than early January before flowering starts.  We generally prune our trees mid-December.  Shrub trees such as pineapple guava which bloom in late spring, need to be pruned later -- in April approximately.
    Asparagus – Cut back to the ground - don’t go deeper than soil surface.  The plants will begin re-sprouting by mid-to-late January, give or take depending on soil warmth.

WHY Edible Flowers? To attract pollinators to your fruit, herbs and veggies year round and to use as safe garnishes and additions to your dining table.

FROST damage:  DO NOT prune until danger of frost is over - the damaged plant protects the lower growth.

FROST/FREEZE NOTE: Have protective covers ready anytime the overnight forecast is 40 or lower.

FORCING BRANCHES

One of the delights of spring is the peach and apricot bloom time - clouds of light to dark pink flowers cover the ends of the tree branches with the bees busily doing their work.

Just as the tree's flower buds are starting to open you can select a few branches to 'force' into bloom inside for a lovely arrangement.  I emphasize 'a few' because you will loose that potential fruit.

Select a branch and clip off 12-18 inches - arrange in a vase of room temperature water or slightly warmer, after re-cutting the branches under water.  You will be treated to a spring display as one each of the flower buds are 'forced' to open in the warmth of your home.  Change or freshen the water each day - if you need to, re-cut the branch, under water, every several days to keep the moisture flowing up to the buds.

At the end of the display, add to the compost pile, or dry and use as kindling for the grill or firepit.

JANUARY PLANTING:

SEED Selection:  Where possible choose short maturity (75 days or less) for maximum production.  Plant short rows in succession of veggies like carrots ( 2 feet at a time) to provide continuous harvest potential (can you really use 12 feet of carrots all at once?).  Also, start seeds like tomato, basil, eggplant and peppers  indoors under lights or in a greenhouse to set out February 1st (with frost protection)

Anise
Asparagus
Beets
Bok Choy
Broccoli
Cabbage
Caraway
Carrots
Cauliflower
Chamomile
Chervil
Cilantro
Dill
Fennel, Leaf
Fruit, Bare Root
Fruit Trees
Garlic, Green (planting cloves for use as scallions through spring - they will NOT produce heads)
Greens (lettuce, kale, arugula, spinach etc.) 
Kohlrabi
Lavender
Lettuce
Marjoram
Mustard
Myrtle
Onions, Green
Oregano, Greek
Ornamental Cabbage/Kale (Brassica Oleracea)
Parsley
Peppers (seed)
Potatoes
Radishes
Sage
Savory
Shungiku Chrysanthemum
Spinach
Strawberry
Thyme
Turnips
Watermelon

EDIBLE FLOWERS TO PLANT:

Carnation (Dianthus)
English Daisy
Jasmine Sambac (Arabian)
Nasturtiums
Pansies
Primrose
Scented Geraniums (with protection)
Snapdragons
Stocks (Matthiola)
Sweet William (Dianthus)
Sweet Alyssum

I wish you the happiest of holidays, whatever and how many you celebrate.

Be kind to all, and be patient with those who need a little more understanding,


-- Catherine, The Herb Lady

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Sunday, November 10, 2019

December Planting Tips, Around the Garden and Kitchen

Dear Folks,

Back on October 20th I posted that two of my banana plants had put out a flower - well we have beginning fruit.  Now I can only hope we do not get a freeze which will kill it back.  Fingers crossed I can make my homemade banana pudding in about 3 months. I tried to catch a bee working the flowers (they need to be pollinated) but I missed her.

I harvested a nice size purple sweet potato and my radishes are coming in nicely.  See below for what I did with the sweet potatoes.

I planted my root crops in a different bed this year and the radishes said "thank you for the move" and have been growing strong since Sept and the most of the ones in the picture came from the October planting :-)

My good friend Jacq Davis, over at Epic Yard Farm gave me some Pigeon Pea seeds and they also said "oh yes we like this area".  The plants are about 4 feet tall and have starting putting out flower/seed heads. These were amazing in growth. I direct sowed the seeds July 16th, and they were up in 9 days!!!

I plan on harvesting them for fresh peas, rather than dried, except I will let some dry for re-sowing next summer.  My timing worked great for sowing this past summer.

December Planting/Sowing/Maintenance Tips

Holiday time can be stressful. Your edible garden can be an oasis from stress.  With citrus fruit ripening like yellow and orange ornaments, pansies blooming, and dill waving in the breeze, winter is only a state of mind here in the Desert Southwest.

Anise
Asparagus
Beets
Bok Choy
Broccoli
Cabbage
Caraway
Carrots
Cauliflower
Chamomile
Chervil
Cilantro
Dill
Fennel, Leaf
Fruit, Bare Root
Fruit Trees
Greens
Kohlrabi
Lavender
Lettuce
Marjoram
Mustard
Myrtle
Onions, Green
Oregano, Greek
Ornamental Cabbage/Kale (Brassica Oleracea)
Parsley
Peppers (seed)
Primrose (Primula Vulgaris)
Radishes
Sage
Savory
Spinach
Strawberry
Thyme
Turnips
Watermelon (by seed December 15 and after)

EDIBLE FLOWERS TO PLANT:

Carnation (Dianthus)
Chamomile
English Daisy
Jasmine Sambac (Arabian)
Nasturtiums
Pansies
Primrose
Scented Geraniums
Snapdragons               
Stocks (Matthiola)
Sweet William (Dianthus)
Sweet Alyssum

GARDEN TIPS for December
    Holiday time can be stressful. Your edible garden can be an oasis from stress.  With citrus fruit ripening like yellow and orange ornaments, pansies blooming, and dill waving in the breeze, winter is only a state of mind here in the Desert Southwest.
    November through January can be a ‘rainy’ season for the desert. You can usually hold off on regular watering if you have received a half inch or more of rain within 2 days of normal watering days (except for trees unless you receive 1 inch or more).  Make good use of your water meter to determine soil moisture. 
    If rains are heavy this month, in addition to foregoing some water days, you may need to put down Ironite or Green Sand to compensate for mineral bonding (which makes iron unavailable to the plants) due to both the excess water and the cold soil.  Ironite is not a fertilizer so it will not burn plants -- apply to the drip line (edge) of tree canopy.
           
Watering Guide:
As the temperatures rise or decrease, a guide (this is only a guide! make use of your moisture meter to check moisture content of soil) For mature gardens would be:
    70s water every 5-6 days for all but trees
    80s water every 4-5 days for all but trees
    90s water every 3-4 days for all but trees
    100s water every 2-3 days for all but trees

Garden Design tip - if you are considering laying out a new garden, use Ironite to 'draw' the garden layout on the soil, easy and safe.

FROST damage:  Do not prune until danger of frost is over - the damaged plant protects the lower growth.

PRUNING:

Prune citrus and deciduous fruit trees in December, or no later than early January before flowering starts.

Occasionally our crazy peach trees drive Deane nuts because they still have leaves on them when they start to flower in late December or early January.

The idea with pruning deciduous trees is to get it done before the 'sap starts running' in the warming spring weather.  Because we do not usually have extended cold spells some of the stone fruit trees may not actually go into full dormancy.

The commercial growers like Schnepf Farms have simply adopted the practice of prunning their peach etc. trees after December 15th. This ensures that flower buds will not be pruned off later on.

There is always the challenge of a cold spell coming in January or February while the stone fruit trees are coming into bloom, which in other areas of the country might mean the severe limiting of fruit production.  Here we have not generally found that a short cold period has killed off the flower bloom/fruit production.

If you feel you are in a colder area, you can cover the blooming peaches, apricots, plums and apples with cloth covers if you can reach high enough to make it worth the effort.

FRUIT TREE PESTS

Peach tree borers are a problem here in the valley as the special hybrid stone fruit trees are more vulnerable to borers because the pests are not killed off as readily as in very cold areas of the country.

Winter 'dormancy' of the trees is the time to consider treating the trees to an oil spray to discourage the darn pests

Generally called "dormant oil" or "horticulture oil" this is a heavy oil based control which is designed to smother the pests, and therefore can't be applied to the active growing parts of any plants.  It is sprayed on the trunks of stone fruit (not evergreen like citrus) from the soil-base line up.  Make sure you read the instructions carefully.

If peach and other stone fruit trees are new to you and your garden, look for swelling on the buds/edges of each branch which indicates the tree is going into active growth and DO NOT use the spray on those areas.

In future notes I will discuss thinning fruit and a nice spring bouquet option of "forced" branches.

Around the Kitchen.

I started Sauerkraut back in October and it will be ready to refrigerate tomorrow. I really packed it in using a new "packing wood tool" a friend gave me.  It was a kit and it also contained a larger glass weight (weights are not really visible in pictures - they keep all the ingredients submerged -- this is very important when fermenting foods) and silicone "pickle pipes" (the funny looking cap) designed to allow the CO2 gas (the gas is formed during fermentation) to escape without opening or leaving open (but covered lightly)  My sister and I are planning a holiday cooking / baking week shortly and I will be using some of the sauerkraut for our homemade Pierogies.


I also decided to, finally, "preserve" some of my limequats ala preserved lemon tradition.  I say finally because I have been "thinking" about doing this for several years and never got around to it.  I saw this awesome recipe by Sweet Paul for a Mediterranean Stuffing that had my mouth watering.  It called for the usual type base of onion, bread but added olives and preserved lemons.  As soon as the limequats are ready (in about 2 weeks) I want to make this stuffing by filling a casserole dish with the stuffing, laying chicken breast and/or thighs (bone-in, skin-on) over and baking until the chicken is tender.  Meanwhile all the juices from the chicken add additional flavor to the stuffing.


This is my first time using the Pickle Pipes and so far so good.  I am not a real big fan of all the silicone baking/cooking gadgets but this seems like a very good exception to my personal rule.

That sweet potato I showed earlier and some elephant garlic I harvested in late spring got the "roasting" treatment in the oven yesterday.


Garlic: I first decided rather than the more traditional form of roasting garlic whole with the top cut off,  I would separate the clovers, toss with olive oil and roast at 400 degrees.  Because they were so big (and harder from drying over the summer) they took about 60 minutes to the lovely caramelized gloss you see in the lower part of the collage.

I have not yet completely decided how to use the roasted garlic.  I separated the cloves from the skins, saved the skins (and froze) for making a pre-broth to make one or more of my soups and stored the cloves in the frig. I will be freezing most of them for use as I dream up some meals.

Next I put the spiralizer to work on the Purple Sweet Potato.  These purple varieties are a "drier" type and harder so I worked up my muscles getting it through the blades, but what a nice batch of curls I got.  I cut them up some so there were workable pieces.  I tossed with a little avocado oil, fresh ground black pepper and course Himalayan Pink Salt.  I roasted at 450 degrees for ten minutes, tossed then roasted for 15 minutes more..

Last night I used some of them for garnish on one of my "Cream Soups" and it worked great.

One last item from the kitchen.  I use a recipe from Jacque Pepin for his Saucisson (salami) which is dry/cold cured in the refrigerator.  I have made this several times and it is always wonderful. Here is the link to his original recipe.  A NOTE:  I use a small cooling rack over a large dish to place the curing meat on.  I put it on the top shelf in the back of my refrigerator and it is the perfect spot for drying as our refrigerators constantly remove moisture from the air.  Once it is finished to the degree of drying you want, I store in a container or ziplock bag to keep from drying out more.  It can get as hard as a rock which is not fun to slice.  Still tasty.  After it is all consumed, there are always tiny bits of spices and meat, which I toss into my freezer stock bucket for the next broth making.

This last one I made was done in 3 and a half weeks curing.  I will be putting another in soon as my two nephews asked for it for Christmas :-)

I hope the gardening and cooking give you ideas for your own garden and kitchen.

You can find my cookbooks and gardening calendar links on my publisher's site or on Amazon.

We have much to be thankful for and I hope you and yours have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

A kind idea for the holidays.

Consider a Reverse Advent Calendar Food Box.  Try starting on Thanksgiving when you gather to appreciate family.  Take to the food bank of your choice a few days ahead of Christmas.




Kindness is the best choice.  Have a wonderful time in the garden and kitchen.

-- Catherine, The Herb Lady

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Monday, October 21, 2019

Around The Garden - October 20, 2019 - DARN! and Better Late Than Never?

Dear Folks,

I have a pot of stock makings simmering on the stove.  I collect scraps and vegetable parings in a container in the freezer and when it is full, I add some of my bay leaves, black peppercorns and thyme and let is simmer way for 2-3 hours to break everything down.  Then strain, jar up and either refrigerate or freeze.  I usually go through them so fast - freezing is not an option.

Banana fruit takes about 4 months flower-to-ripe-fruit.  I had been watching my plants all summer hoping they would fruit at a time when they would ripen before mid-November.  No such luck.

I was out in the garden and saw a flower on my banana plant which I am now calling the DARN Banana Flower, because it will mostly likely not survive the first good frost. Ugh.  I did have one a year or so ago, which got "some" damage then kind of went to sleep and re-started growing and fruiting in January/Feburary.  I was able to get enough fruit to make homemade banana pudding - yum!

We shall see.

Better Late Than Never?

On June 20, 2019 I sowed Listarda Eggplant seeds - as the earlier seedlings I had sown at the right time, died in the freeze this past winter.  I figured what the heck, so I sowed.  And the plant just did nothing much until about the beginning of September and started growing with gusto.  I noticed a flower a week or so ago and this morning I saw probable fruit.  I really enjoy eggplant roasted etc.

Hoping to get fruit before frost.

I have always enjoyed the white "Casper" or similar eggplant until I met the Listarda - a gorgeous looking purple striped variety when can get bigger than the Casper but is still not bitter.

I chose not to put up my green house last year - too much family needing me back and forth to worry about it.

This year I am probably going to put it up, maybe, depends on family needs :-)  At the very least I will overnight the trays in my laundry shed which contains the hotwater heater and I hope to have tomatoes, eggplant and more sweet peppers (have a couple of plants going on 5-6 years but I want MORE peppers! :-) - in the garden, on time and ready to frost protect.  Fingers crossed.

I hope you are enjoying the weather, garden and bounty.

REMINDER - you NEED to get your GARLIC planted no later than October 31st to ensure enough time in the cold soil.

Have a best day, and be kind to one another,


-- Catherine, The Herb Lady

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Wednesday, October 16, 2019

November Planting and Sowing Tips - Successive Sow For Continuous Harvest


Dear Folks,

Successive Sowing is one of my mantras - sow short maturity roots and shoots (herbs and greens) every 2-4 weeks through December/January for a continuous harvest of deliciousness!

Pictured October 1- rows - right - under cover sown September 19th - between covers garlic going in, second cover on left just seeded.

Do you really want to harvest 10 feet of carrots - all at once?  The beauty of our desert climate is about 5, 6, or more months of growing in the cool times of the year.

Pictured - October 6th, garlic up in middle, radishes, carrots, leeks, and beets all growing on right (sown Sep 19th -- left rows sown Oct 1st, beets, radishes and carrots sprouting.


Check out my November Planting post from last year for two delicious soup recipes to use your greens and herbs.

Before I get to what to plant/sow, I wanted to share my applesauce recipe. I use organic apples and sugars.


My Homemade Applesauce
Ingredients
        5 apples cored, NOT peeled, diced and chopped in processor
        1 tablespoon lemon juice
        2 tablespoons brown sugar
        1 tablespoon regular organic sugar
        1/2 cup lemon water.

Instructions
        Squeeze 1 lemon, add a bit of juice to 1 1/2 cups water (lemon water)
        Core (leave peels on) and quarter apples and place in lemon water
        Drain, - saving 1/2 cup of lemon water, shred in processor
        Add 1/2 cup lemon water, two sugars and 1 teaspoon of lemon juice to pan and bring to boil
        Add shredded apples and return to boil. Reduce, stirring frequently.
        Cook down to desired consistency - can, refrigerate or freeze


This made 4 4ounce jars of applesauce. Yum!

November PLANTING:
October/November is the time to get your perennials IN THE GROUND.   They may not look like they are doing much above ground, but the cooler weather enables strong and deep roots to get them ready for the hot times of the year.

Anise
Asparagus
Bay, Greek (Sweet)
Beets
Bok Choy
Broccoli
Brussels Sprouts
Cabbage
Cabbage, Ornamental
Caraway
Carrots
Cauliflower
Celery
Chamomile
Chard
Chervil
Cilantro
Dill
Endive (and Chicory)
Fennel, Leaf
Fruit Trees
Garlic (only as green garlic)
Greens
Horseradish
Kale, Ornamental
Kale
Kohlrabi
Lavender
Lemon Verbena
Lettuce
Marjoram
Mints
Mustard
Myrtle
Onions, Green
Onions
Oregano, Greek
Oregano, Mexican
Parsley
Parsnip
Peas
Radishes
Rosemary
Sage
Savory
Spinach
Tarragon, Mexican
Tarragon, French
Thyme
Turnips

EDIBLE FLOWERS TO PLANT:

Calendula
Carnation (Dianthus)
Chamomile
Cornflower (Bachelor Buttons)
English Daisy
Hollyhock
Jasmine Sambac (Arabian)
Johnny-Jump Up
Marigolds, including Tangerine Scented (Tagetes Lemonii), Citrus Scented (Tagetes Nelsonii)
Nasturtiums
Pansies
Primrose
Scented Geraniums
Shungiku Chrysanthemum
Snapdragons
Stocks (Matthiola)
Sweet Alyssum
Sweet William (Dianthus)
Violet

GARDEN TIPS for November
    First frost date average is around November 17th.
    Frost in the Valley at the 1100 or lower elevations is usually limited to ‘soft frost’ where simple cloth sheets or paper placed over sensitive plants (or moving potted plants beneath patios or trees) is sufficient to protect them.  Never use plastic covers as the plastic transmits the cold to the plant tips.
    For every 1000 feet over 1100 in elevation the first frost day is moved forward 10 days.  The possibility of hard (killing) frosts starts to occur, although at 2000 feet or lower this is still a rare occurrence.
    Frost pockets in the Valley can surprise gardeners.  As a matter of practice, if the weather forecasters predict an overnight temperature of 40 F, I prepare for frost by protecting my sensitive plants with cloth or paper covers This is because heat retention by buildings and walls dissipates by early morning (4 or 4:30 a.m. to dawn the temperature can drop 8 degrees plus or minus).
    Frost danger continues until about mid-February.
    Cool weather annuals and biennials can be sown every 2-4 weeks (beginning in August) through the end of November for a continuous crop through next spring.
    November through January can be a ‘rainy’ season for the desert. You can usually hold off on regular watering if you have received a half inch or more of rain within 2 days of normal watering days.  Make good use of your water meter to determine soil moisture. 
    If rains are heavy this month, in addition to foregoing some water days, you may need to put down Ironite or green sand to compensate for mineral bonding (which makes iron unavailable to the plants) due to both the excess water and the cold soil.

FROST DAMAGE
The best way to think of frost damage on your edibles is the damaged plant material is now a partial protective cover to the underlying growth.

As mentioned in prior notes, frost damage in the lower desert gardens is usually limited to 'soft' frost which is controlled by simply putting cloth or paper covers over the plants at night, or if containers, moving them under evergreen trees or onto the patio.

IF, however we get hard or killing frosts, of extended periods or days, die-back will occur even on protected plants.  The reason is the radiant heat retained by structures and even the soil dissipates completely, leaving the plants exposed to too-cold air.

Whether the frost damage is from soft or hard frosts if the plant is still alive DO-NOT-REMOVE-THE-DAMAGE.  Doing so risks damaging the growth still alive under the top die-back.  I don't remove even dead plants until spring.  I have found basil seedlings coming up under a large dead basil plant killed off by a hard frost.

Obviously we like our gardens to look pretty most of the time, but selectively resisting the urge to pull something a little bedraggled gives you, the gardener, access to earlier production of the warm weather plants because of their larger root systems.


I hope you have a wonderful time in the garden and kitchen, while enjoying our cooling temps.

Be kind to one another.

-- Catherine, The Herb Lady

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Thursday, October 10, 2019

National Farmers Day aka Old Farmers Day - October 12th

Local First Arizona
Dear Folks,

A day to honor our farmers.

I consider myself a farmer even though I do not farm acreage - just a large residential lot.  However I am always appreciative and somewhat amazed by the real farmers out there providing the food most of us rely on to "be available" in the store when we need it.

National Farmer’s Day was once called Old Farmer’s Day, and it has deep roots that go back to when agriculture was much more common in everyday life. Essentially, the day was to thank farmers for their hard work and contribution to the economy. It is believed that agriculture is one of the world’s oldest industries, and the economies of many countries still rest squarely on the shoulders of the agricultural industry. 

The day was set on October 12th because it is after the traditional harvest times of many crops—back before cold-hardy cultivars and technologies like high tunnels and other methods to extend the growing season were put into practice. That way, the farmers themselves would be able to join in the festivities because they would be done with the harvest. -- https://agamerica.com/history-of-national-farmers-day/

For all of that - shop with an open mind at your local farmers market.  You can help the farmers who supply farmers markets by understanding "seasonal availability" and try to consider what looks good at the market for dinner, meals etc. rather than go only with a list and be frustrated when your "local farmers" do not have an out-of-season vegetable, fruit or herb.

Purchasing what is seasonally available means those farmers can be more profitable and continue to succeed in supplying locally grown food.  Give that some thought.

Speaking of seasonal -- watch for my November Planting/Sowing tips post next week.

Here are two links to find farmers markets near you.

LocalFirst

USDA list

"...there were 8,771 farmers markets listed in USDA’s National Farmers Market Directory [2019]. This is a 6 percent increase since 2014" -- USDA


Now that the weather is cooling off - get out in the garden and get your growing on!  :-)


-- Catherine, The Herb Lady

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Monday, September 30, 2019

World Vegetarian Day - October 1st -- October is Vegetarian Awareness Month

Three Sisters Stew.
Dear Folks,

You do not have to be vegetarian to appreciate vegetables.

As gardeners we treasure the bounty from our efforts.  Our vegetables, fruits and herbs are royalty for all of the work to make them available for us.

So, how come vegetables are the after thought when preparing a meal?


You do not have to BE vegetarian to treat these great garden gems like the stars they are.

I like many of the modern chefs creating "vegetable forward" meals, featuring them rather than as the side dish.  

Pictured is my "Three Sisters"  stew simmering away on the stove.  I also added some potatoes.  This hearty and tasty meal-by-itself dish is based on the principles of Three Sisters Planting of the Native Americans:  corn, beans, and squash.  A balance of foods that is nutrient and fiber dense.

I had pumpkin last year which was not fully ripe but the frost was coming so I harvest it immature (you CAN do that), diced. roasted and then froze for use.

I was in the mood to make a Three Sisters meal so I purchased frozen organic corn and edamame (I like the nutty taste of this soy bean, plus it is higher in protein).  I also had pre-cooked and frozen some diced potatoes, and bingo I had simple ingredients for a simple meal.   Traditional beans would be tepary or pinto.

My Three Sisters Stew

The ratios are very forgiving so don't fret about exact amounts.  I made this as a stew.  If you want to make as a soup, double or triple the broth amount and leave out the corn starch.

2 cups cooked squash
2 cups corn kernals
2 cups edamame (shelled)
2 cups broth of choice
2 cups diced partially cooked potato
1/2 cup of white wine
1 teaspoon thyme
Onion diced
1-2 cloves of garlic, pressed or minced
1-2 tablespoons of olive, avocado or oil of choice 
Salt and Pepper to Taste
Corn Starch

Optional:  Bay leaf for cooking, remove before serving.
Optional Garnishsunflower* petals and/or sunflower seeds, roasted, raw or ground  

In a soup pot (about 2 quart minimum) heat the oil on medium and add the onions.  Stir and cook for about 3 minutes.  Add the garlic, stir and cook for another 2-3 minutes.  Add the broth, half the wine, thyme and if using the bay leaf and bring to a boil  Add the corn and potatoes and cook for 2 minutes.  Add edamame and cook for 5 minutes.  Add the squash and cook for 2 minutes.  Mix the corn starch with the rest of the wine and stir in the stew to thicken - usually takes about 3-5 minutes.  You can adjust the corn starch / liquid ratio to make it thicker or thinner..  Taste for salt and adjust.

Serve with garnish of choice. 
   

*The sunflower is called the Fourth Sister because it was grown along the outside of the three sisters planting to attract pollinators.

Vegetables When trying something new and you don't know how to cook it -- Roast or Grill it.  Roasting or grilling vegetables brings out the natural sugars and tends to decrease any potential bitterness.   Whole or chopped, brush or toss with oil, a bit of salt, pepper and an herb of choice.  350-400 degrees, stir or flip every 5 minutes until cooked to your satisfaction.  Pictured:  Chopped carrots, potatoes, sweet potatoes (purple), and onions with a sprinkle of rosemary.  Great tasting combo.
 


Read up on World Vegetarian Day at this site:
https://ucdintegrativemedicine.com/2015/10/world-vegetarian-day-not-just-for-vegetarians/#gs.6bwd7s

Think outside the "meat" - what vegetable(s) can you turn into a main dish?


Our weather is getting to that wonderful mix of cool mornings and warm afternoons.  Enjoy yourself and be kind to one another.  
 


-- Catherine, The Herb Lady

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