Garden, Plant, Cook!

Saturday, May 25, 2019

June Planting Tips

Lemon Queen Sunflower
Dear Folks,

El Nino has given us several blessings this winter/spring with extra rain (more snow pack, yay) and a longer cooler spring.  The last time I remember an El Nino spring like this one, when the 100s finally hit in June they hit with more heat even than normal (remember we typically hit our first very hot days in mid to late June, then things start to calm down - a little - with the Monsoonal rain wind shift).

So keep your moisture meter handy and eye on the plants.  Check moisture in the early morning NOT mid-afternoon when the plants with thin leaves may "droop" to retain moisture in the hot sun.

I love the "Lemon Queen" Sunflowers and this one set against our blue sky is just one of those "sigh" relaxing moments.  There is another "pose" below.  I could not choose between them so I am posting both! :-)

AND you can still sow (direct sow) sunflower seeds into early July.


Cucumber, Armenian
Luffa Gourd
Melons, Musk
Peas, Black Eyed
Peppers, Chiles
Potato, Sweet

USING existing plants you can under- seed with:  Basil, Chives, Shiso, and Epazote


Roselle, Jamaica Sorrel (Hibiscus sabdariffa) (not too late to direct sow seeds)

    June through August in the Desert Southwest is the equivalent of winter in North Dakota — you maintain what you have planted, taking special care of young or sensitive plants. With the exception of August when the heavy pre-fall seed “sowing” begins, it is a good idea to hold off on any major transplanting until the fall when the temperatures drop back to prime planting weather (below 90 daytime).
    Our Flower Mulching technique can be used to protect young plants by canopying the soil around them, placing the flowering plants very close to the base of the young plants.  (Flower Mulching::  Choose a 6-pack of flowers - image a 12 inch diameter circle, sow or transplant the focused edible surrounded by 4-6 of the flowers.  This creates a soil canopy - keeping it cooler - while allowing the focused plant to get all the sun it needs.
    Heavy watering requirements may result in yellowing of leaves due to iron deficiency, especially of fruit trees (Chlorosis).  Apply Ironite or Green Sand before next watering to correct.
    Sowing corn for fall harvest, plant ONLY one variety at a time, so you can save some dried corn after harvest for re-sowing.  You can sow corn twice a year.

Use your moisture meter to determine if you need to change the frequency of watering adjusting to the higher temperatures.  Did you know you can actually over water when the humidity starts ramping up in July?  Again use that meter.

Begin looking into what you will be sowing mid to late July and Early August for fall growth.  If you want winter squash or pumpkin you need to count backwards from Halloween or Thanksgiving 90-120 days for sowing.  Also you can seed in winter herbs such as Cilantro, Chervil, Dill and Parsley in August and the seeds will germinate when the soil begins cooling.  You need to make sure the sown area stays moist.  Light Leaf cover helps.


-- Catherine, The Herb Lady

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Friday, May 24, 2019

It's National Asparagus Day!

Dear Folks,

We have had a bed of Asparagus for many years and of course that means lots of harvesting for a couple of months - basically about 6 weeks from approximately late January until sometime in April - well I do cheat a little and harvest even now a few spears to have some fresh.  But all that wonderful bounty means I craft recipes to give us "Asparagus Variety" although we do have some favorites.

Like Bacon Wrapped Asparagus Bundles on the grill - with basil leaves tucked in if I have some fresh in the garden.  The one pictured from some years ago was a quick side - now-a-days I wrapped the whole length of the bundle.  Either way they are awesome!

I frequently make a Savory Oatmeal as a Side and a couple of years ago I did one with asparagus, topped with cheese, and it was great.  The recipe is here.

In the last year - since 2018's harvest I have been making variations of my "Creamy" Soup with Asparagus and we just love it.  Two pictures of the way they turned out - one with Dill and one with Edible Flowers as garnish.

How about a Pasta Primavera with roasted asparagus, red sweet peppers, carrots and shucked sugar peas!  I use Orzo pasta frequently for my pasta dishes.  All mixed with some shredded Parmesan Cheese.

For the soup and other ways with Asparagus, including a lovely fresh salad with roasted asparagus and other veggies from the garden click here for my post.

Last Month I used some Gailan (Chinese Broccoli) from the garden and roasted along with some the asparagus, tossed pasta with some fresh celery leaf from the garden and served with poached chicken seasoned with some of my dried Rosemary.  Lovely dinner.

I hope these give you some ideas for how to use this wonderful garden gem.

This weekend while enjoying family and out door time, remember the fallen Memorial Day.

Memorial Day is an American holiday, observed on the last Monday of May, honoring the men and women who died while serving in the U.S. military. ... Originally known as Decoration Day, it originated in the years following the Civil War and became an official federal holiday in 1971.

Take care and be kind.

-- Catherine, The Herb Lady

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Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Back from Trip - What is going on in the Garden and another "creamy" Soup

Dear Folks,

I came back to really BIG crook-neck squash - this is what you get when your wonderful, but none cooking partner, does not harvest and use (or give away)! Still wonderfully delicious and I used in a soup recipe - see below.

One of the few none-edible plants I grow is this stunning Amaryllis - I look forward to the bloom every year.

I got started growing Amaryllis decades ago when my Dad gave me a bulb - I missed its bloom this year while traveling, but I know Dad's original one is healthy and so are some of the babies I transplanted around the garden.

Our winter produced some amazing affects including an amazing bounty of fruit on our trees.  This is just a small sampling of what is ripening now Peach, Apricot and Barbados Cherries.

Another interesting cold winter induced response is this Lamb's Ears growing.  I have not had this plant growing in the garden in quite a few years and I can only presume there were dormant seeds which just needed the right conditions of light, cold and whatever.  I love the soft furry leaves.  Lamb's Ears are antibiotic and were used as wound bandages during the Civil War.

I often swap plants in the same large pot or bed from season to season, where they share the same pot, but grow - that is the theory - at different times.  So it was time to harvest my potatoes which I planted in early January and I discovered peanuts growing! (The green plants on the left in the pot.) I had grown them last summer and thought I had harvested all of them, well apparently not. So I tried not to disturb those plants and will add the peanuts I saved from last year to the pot in a week or so.

I am experimenting with changing out where I am planting season things like potatoes, sweet potatoes and root crops.  I have decided to try and contain (insert laughter here) my sweet potatoes and am growing them in two large pots this year.  We will see how that goes.  Since the peanuts did not mind sharing the pot with the potatoes I may do that one more year.  Meanwhile I got a bit more than a half of basket of the potatoes, which I used for the soup recipe (mentioned above and see below) and I have enough to do more dishes with the remaining potatoes. I will save the very small ones for re-planting next January by storing in the crisper in a cardboard box.

I used some of the squash and potatoes to make one of my "Creamy" Soups.  I have made asparagus, broccoli, and several other vegetable soups using potatoes as the "creamy" to add thickening and flavor along with herbs. To this one I topped with some chopped organic celery and ground walnuts (we have a dear friend in California who ships us some from his old ranch every year).

Basic "Creamy" Soup
2 cups of chopped vegetable of choice
Optional:  Herb to pair with vegetable (rosemary, thyme, or oregano work well)
2 tablespoons choice of oil - I like avocado but olive or vegetable works too (or you could use uncured bacon grease if you want more flavor :-)
1-2 cups of potatoes cut into 1 inch pieces (more potato makes a thicker soup)
2 cups water or broth of choice (I usually have my homemade chicken broth on hand)
Onion of choice - about 1/2 cup chopped - more if you like
Salt and Cracked Black Pepper
1 lime cut in half
Garnishes of choice - chopped vegetables, edible flowers, ground nuts, snipped dill or cilantro or herb of choice
Optional: 4 ounces of cheese of choice - I frequently use Parmesan but any cheese you like works.

You will be pureeing this soup - an immersion blender works well for this.
Prepare a cookies sheet with aluminum foil.
Preheat oven to 450.

In the pot you will be cooking the soup in, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil, just to warm. Toss the vegetables in the oil to coat.  Spread vegetable on prepared pan, season with salt and pepper and any additional herb you desire  Put in oven and set timer for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile heat remaining oil in pot and sautee onion for 5 minutes, do not burn.

When the timer goes off, remove vegetables from oven and toss, return to oven and set timer for 5 minutes more.

Bring water or broth to boil in the pot and add potatoes, cover and cook until timer goes off.

Add vegetables from oven to the pot of potatoes, scraping the foil to get all the good bits.  Stir, bring back to boil, then simmer, covered until potatoes and vegetables are knife tender - approximately 15 minutes.

Blend soup, add cheese and put back on burner if needed to completely melt cheese.  Serve with a squeeze of lime in each bowl and topped with garnish of choice. 

For this Squash soup I also added about 5 marinated artichoke halves to the roasting pan with the veggies.  Just a bit more complex flavor.

You can search the blog on the side bar for more soup recipes.

My Turmeric Is Up!

With all my helping family and then some trips to visit family I never got around to harvesting it this winter so - there you go, it is getting another year's growth in!

We have baby watermelons!  I am so happy to see this in the new area I decided to sow my Black Tail Mountain Watermelon Seeds.  This is a great melon, a bit bigger than those personal size ones, with sweet red fruit.  Can't wait.  I took the picture about 3 days ago and the fruit is already a bit more than double in size - oh boy!

My Wild Montana Apple Tree.

My "wild" Apple Tree Experiment.  Last April I purchased Wild Montana Apple seeds from Baker creek and sowed them in late September in jiffy pellets - they sprouted October 5 - I put them in 4 inch pots for a couple of months. Transplanted to this pot January 13th at about 4 inches tall.  Now just over 22 inches tall.

These Wild Seeds are a "landrace" believe to have been tossed as families and travelers rode through that area and the various types of apples sprouted and crossed.  I could have some delicious fruit it they actually blossom and fruit or I could have crab applies

ust enjoying the experiment
I also another one in a large pot and that one is about 28/29 inches tall now.  Grown on the southside of other trees.

One of the ongoing discussions on apple trees in the valley is whether they are limited to desert-adapted varieties such as Anna - so this is my experiment.  I am trying another store bought variety I sprouted in the ground to see if there are issues with not being on a graft.

I hope you are having fun in the garden and kitchen with your bounty!

-- Catherine, The Herb Lady

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