Garden, Plant, Cook!

Thursday, March 17, 2016

April Planting Tips and a "Green Pumpkin" Recipe Tip - Companion Planting Chart

Dear Folks,

It is St. Patrick's Day - what better day than to talk about green - as in growing and a cool cooking green pumpkin tip to keep tucked away for fall.

The picture at the right is showing planting "Christmas Lima Beans" (so named because they are frequently ready at Christmas Time), on either side of a sunflower.  This part of the garden is going to get a type of flood watering today.  With the warm weather it can bring in slugs, so I wanted to use and show you the use of cardboard collars to protect against snails, slugs and cut worms.  Top to bottom - I soaked the beans for 2 days, dug and loosened the soil, nestled the collars in, added the beans, covered and water inside the collar to settled the soil.  As they grow the beans will be able to grow up the sunflower stalk.

Companion Planting:  Part since and part observation.  There are many proven companion/non-companion plant combinations, i.e., some that play well together and others that do not.  For those of you who would like an easy reference chart, check this one out.

Geoff Lawton shared a nice companion planting chart you can download as a PDF.

 Green Pumpkin Recipe

Watched a video on youtube on a channel I subscribe to - all about cooking in the late 1700s around the time of the Revolutionary War.  This particular video showcased using pumpkin 3 ways for the soldiers in the field using pumpkins to supplement their diet.  I thought the use of a green pumpkin was a great one in particular.

The seeds probably won't be mature enough to save and grow, but I'm thinking if they have firmness to them, they can be roasted and eaten.

18th Century Cooking with Jas Townsend & Son Fried Green Pumpkin.

Recipes Here:

April Planting Tips

Time for my monthly heads up on what to plant.
As we move into the beginning of our 'warm' time, pay attention to your watering routine.
For many years I have kept a log of rain and temperatures for my gardens (far east valley, so temperatures may be different from yours), so I thought I would share some history for April.

April Rain and High / Low Temperatures
2010 Rain .2 / Temps 93/42
2011 Rain .75+ / Temps 98/38
2012 Rain .2+ / Temps 104/45
2013 Rain .1 / Temps 97/45
2014 Rain T / Temps 93/42
2015 Rain .2+ / Temps 94.3/45.5

Some of my observations so far this year are that 2012 was similar to this year.  We will see.

El Nino has had an impact starting last year and still being felt.  Our warm February/March compared to last year has had many of the plants blooming early / bolting early and generally behaving like it is April.

I expect a bit more of the same unusual behavior going forward -- so our respective gardening journey is continuing to be a learning experience :-)


Artichoke, Jerusalem
Bean, Snap
Beans, Soy
Garlic, Green
Melons, Musk
Onion, Green
Peas, Sugar
Peas, Black Eyed


Impatients Wallarana
Marigolds, including Tangerine Scented (Tagetes Lemonii), Citrus Scented (Tagetes Nelsonii)
Scented Geraniums
Sweet Alyssum

    Prune spring-flowering shrub fruit trees before flowering starts (April - May for shrubs like Pineapple Guava).
    If you planted your potatoes January 1st you can start checking the end of this month for usable size — just insert your fingers gently into soil. (See the file "Planting Potatoes")
    Get the children involved in gardening by helping them grow a Tee Pee or Sunflower House.
    Described in Linda Lovejoy’s fabulous book “Sunflower Houses,” either of these ‘hideaways’ will delight your budding gardener.
        a)  Create Tee Pees using 8-foot garden bamboo poles bundled and tied tightly 1 foot from the top.  Prepare the ground for the garden. Spread the legs of the Tee Pee — and anchor in the ground.  Plant pea, cucumber, or other edible vines at the base of each pole, and allow them to grow and cover the teepee.
        b) Sunflower Houses are created using the growing sunflowers for the poles of the house.  Prepare the planting area and decide how wide and long you want the house to be — ex. 4 x 6 — and draw the dimensions in the soil, leaving an opening for the ‘door.’  Mammoth sunflowers (those that grow over 6 feet) are best for this.  Plant the sunflower seeds 2 or 3 to a hole, about 1 foot apart all along the ‘walls’ of the house.  In between the sunflower seeds, sow edible vines like peas or cucumbers.  Given the water requirements, creating a trench for the walls will allow flood watering for the growing plants. These houses can be as elaborate as you and your children wish. Plant flower or strawberry beds along the outside walls;  herb and flower ground covers inside for a ‘carpet’ are limited only to the imagination. The vines grow up the sunflowers and if they are enthusiastic enough, will even grow over the top of a narrow room creating a ceiling.
        c) do teach the children about bees, leaving them alone and avoiding them when they are "working" the flowers.

. . .

My Wall Calendar has all planting information for vegetables, fruits, herbs and edible flowers, month-by-month in one convenient form to hang on your wall or use on your desk.

My Calendar Available through my publisher, Amazon, Changing Hands Online Book Store and Barnes & Noble.

Have a great time in the garden.

P.S.  I will be traveling beginning next week for about 2-3 weeks and will be off the grid.  Type at you when I get back!

-- Catherine, The Herb Lady
If you enjoyed this post, subscribe in the upper side bar link, to get all my posts!

Disclaimer: Clicking on links on this blog may earn me a small commission if you purchase something. Your price does not change.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Irish Soad Bread Recipe - Loaf - Style

Dear Folks,

A year ago I posted my Irish Soda Bread Recipe and I decided to make and post a Loaf version because I like the way it turned out.

A couple of points about soda bread if you are not familiar with it.  Chemical leavening relies on a reaction between acid (buttermilk, yogurt or other acid foods) and baking soda or similar alkali.  This replaces yeast to create lift and rise.  Baking Powder does the same thing and is frequently called for in recipes using baking soda to boost the lift.

Also you must get the dough in the oven QUICKLY because the action can start to relax and you won't get the nice lift.

The original recipe did not use Baking Powder, but when I decided to make a loaf form instead of the traditional round form, I thought it needed some extra help based on some ideas I was reading.  So last year I tried a loaf form, I liked the way it came out, but did not post it.

I made my bread yesterday for use with today's Corned Beef meal - we are having company, so I wanted a more standard form of the loaf for easy slicing.

It turned out great, with wonderful lift and a great taste and texture (yes we had to sample it last night while it was still warm :-)

The original recipe calls for 1 1/2 cups of buttermilk, but I do not keep it on hand so the yogurt/milk combination works as an excellent replacement.

BTW - I am very bad, or good depending, on keeping and using up ALL things.  One of the my mistakes is to keep baking powder past its prime.  I learned that the hard way making some baked goods this past year - when I went and looked at the date - it was about 2 years out of date!  There are some things that this is okay with, not baking powder :-)

Catherine O'Crowley's Irish Bread*
(I did the O' in honor of my father, but have since learned there is a feminine version "NĂ­" so it should correctly should have been Ni'Crowley since I'm not a "son of" :-)

3 1/2 cups unbleached white whole wheat flour (I used King Arthur's)
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup organic Greek Style Yogurt
1 cup whole milk
Flour for dusting

Preheat oven to 425.  Lightly flour your baking sheet.

Sift flour, salt and baking soda into a bowl.  Stir yogurt and milk to combine.
Create a well in the center of the flour mix and start adding the yogurt / milk mix stirring with a wooden spoon.  Continue adding all the liquid and combine until the dough holds together.  You may need to use your hands to get the last bit of dry melded into the dough.

Shape the dough into a 6-8 inch circle, place on baking sheet and flatten to about 2 inches high.  Use a knife to score a deep X almost all the way to the sides.

Bake for 35 minutes or until the bottom sounds hollow when tapped.

Cool completely on a wire rack.

Serve with good butter, honey, molasses or jam.

 * Loaf Version
For the loaf I made yesterday I used 1 cup of white whole wheat and the rest of the flour organic all-purpose.
add 1/4 teaspoon of baking powder, spray a loaf pan but do not flour and increase the baking time to 40 minutes turning the loaf pan half-way through for evening browning.

. . .

If you like my recipes check out my two recipe books on the side bar.

Have a wonderful day!

P.S.  Have you seen my recent youtube videos?  Check them out on the sidebar here on the blog.

-- Catherine, The Herb Lady If you enjoyed this post, subscribe in the upper side bar link, to get all my posts! Disclaimer: Clicking on links on this blog may earn me a small commission if you purchase something. Your price does not change.