Category Archives: garden

Canning Bonanza

Sorry for the lapse.  There’s a lot to catch you all up on.  I’ll start with what’s been going on in the kitchen. We recently had a pickling bonanza.  We made some dill pickles and we canned 10 pints of roma tomatoes from our garden. Here are some highlights.

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The Garden is Happy Too…Mostly

We’ve had our fair share of garden woes this year.  We planned our raised bed in the perfect location, only to realize that it got full sun only a couple of hours each day.  We’ve had slugs and white flies.  When the weather was unseasonably warm earlier in the year, our fig tree put out a bunch of fruit only to drop them all a few weeks later when the weather turned cold again.  Despite all this, our garden seems to be pushing through.  We’ve planted a bunch of things in containers, we’ve applied some B.thuringiensis to the plants and our fig tree is producing a whole new batch of figs.

Here’s one of the tomatillos around the time we first planted it…

and here it is now.

Our tomato plants are starting produce the first of the tomatoes.  I’m excited to can them and use them through the winter.

Here’s the Napa cabbage last month…

and here they are now.  I see kimchi making in the near future!

Our horseradish plant has gone crazy in the last 2 weeks.  It grew a bunch of leaves and started to flower as well.

Here’s our fig tree.  The big fig is the 1 fig leftover from before the tree dropped its fruit.  All the little ones just popped up this last week.

While the tomatoes in the raised bed aren’t doing as well as the one in the pots, the kale seems to be doing just fine.

The beets are starting grow nicely too.

The sugar snap peas, also in the raised bed, aren’t doing as well as expected, but we started seeing the first of the actual peas this week.

We’re enjoying our lazy, almost summer days…or at least Dwight is.

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The Carnivores Are Happy

I know we’ve been MIA.  Both of us have been rotating through various ICUs with crazy schedules.  Now we’re finally on a rotation with normal people hours, and it’s been grand.  Our garden has had its fair share of issues, but in general, the plants have gone crazy with the warmer weather.

Today, I wanted to share some photos of the flowers that have been blooming on the various carnivorous plants we have.  Also, if you want to get carnivorous plants of your own and you live in Northern CA, check out California Carnivores…it’s awesome.

 

 

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Knitted Slouchy Beanie

I’ve been working on a sweater forever, so I wanted to work on a smaller project that I would have instant gratification with.  Greg’s been wanting a slouchy beanie, and I found this pattern.  It took only 1 day to finish and it looks great!  I used Malabrigo Worsted in Rattan that I bought at Imagiknit in SF (thanks David for the gift certificate).
This is Greg in front of the lilac bonsai.

This is how not to wear it…

And, from our garden, our butterwort (a carnivorous plant) is throwing up a very pretty deep purple flower right now.  I’m excited to see it bloom!

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Garden Happenings in the Month of March

I’ve been slaving away in the ICU and haven’t been able to update the blog as much as I would like to.  There’s been a lot of stuff going on in and around the house to share and we’ll be posting about them soon.  For the last month, we’ve been putting  a lot of work into the garden, and we’re excited to see how much growth there’s been in just 1 month’s time.  We’ve been able to plant some plants in the ground and others we’ll be able to transplant this week.  Above is a row of arugula we planted that just sprouted.  This post has many “before and after” photos taken just a few weeks apart.

The photo below is our horseradish plant that, just a month ago, was a small, boring looking tuber and now is starting to flower.

We’ve been able to transplant kale into the ground.

Our tomatoes are growing a ton each day…

and so are the tomatillos.

Our fig tree has plenty of fruit.

The napa cabbage is flourishing.

And, as always, Pickle and Dwight are doing well.

In this photo, Pickle is playing with his new “toothbrush” chew toy.

Soon to come are posts about beer, knitting and stinging nettles.

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Garden. Version 2012.

Last year, we were so sad when we had to move right in the middle of prime gardening season.  This year, we’re excited at the prospects of staying in one place long enough to actually enjoy the tomatoes we grow.  A couple of weeks ago, we did a lot of work to prep the garden.  Here are some photos from then.

We wanted a dog-safe place to do most of our growing, and we found the perfect place on the side of the house.  This little lot used to have several more rosebushes, but I think that a veggie garden will come in more handy.  As you can see, the dogs can still enjoy the garden too, but they won’t be able to dig in it.

Greg built a nice raised bed, we filled it with soil and compost and topped it off with some of the worm castings we harvested.  Now it’s just waiting for our seedlings to get big enough to transplant.

Speaking of seedlings, here’s a picture of our seed starter with all the seeds that we planted.

This next picture is actually a bit outdated now…nearly all of the seedlings have sprouted.  We’re just waiting for the true leaves to come in before we transplant them into little pots and then into the garden.  We also plan to plant other things like beets, arugula, sugar snaps, Napa cabbage (mmm…kimchi) and radish to name a few, but these will go directly into the ground once the weather becomes more consistently warm.

We like to pick a few oddball things to grow each year, and this year, we picked horseradish.  We bought a root, and they say that you simply lay it horizontally and cover it up with soil and it should start to throw up greens.

Our asparagus that we bought last year are doing well and they are all growing asparagus again.  We bought a few more root crowns to add to the collection.  The asparagus from last year may or may not be ready to eat this year.  You’re supposed to let it grow without eating any of it for 1-2 seasons depending on how robust the plant looks.

Below is our container garden, full of herbs, the asparagus and horseradish and our fig tree!  I counted at least 30 tiny figs on it today…I can’t wait!

 

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Harvesting Worm Castings

We just harvested a ton of worm castings from our vermicomposting bins.  We use a 3 level system.  Initially, we were filling just the middle bin and letting the juices drain out to the bottom bin.  As the middle bin became full, we started to fill the top bin a few months ago, allowing the worms to naturally work their way up to the more active bin.  Last week, we decided to harvest the worm castings to prepare for the new garden.

This is what the compost looked like in the bin.  As you can see, there are some bits that are not completely broken down, but for the most part, it looks and feels like soil.

This is our active bin, and if you look closely, you can see some of the worms.

We wanted to make sure that most of the worms stayed in the bin when we harvested the composted.  We used the dog’s pool as we were sorting through the compost.

Look how much we got!  Pickle’s impressed!

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an ode to vacation

intern year is over.  and we have been awarded 6 days off.  earlier in the year we had grand plans of sonoma cabins, vineyards, good eats, and wide open spaces.  sadly, we have been forced out of our current house that we adore (i dont want to talk about it) and so much of this break is being spent packing, boxing, taping, and moving.  but my god, even with the chore of moving, vacation is god!

surf 'n turf

moving has provided a steady task, but it has been interspersed with bike riding, drinking, yoga, and good meals.  day 1 we got a lot done, and were rewarded with some home-made surf n turf of bison filet, shrimps, and scallops on the bbq.  also found time to get on the bike in the heat and spent a few hours on the american river trail.  it’s great when time off gives us a chance to soak up all the reasons why we have fallen in love with sacramento over the past few years.

covered in shallot butter

love these new metal skewers

i ate these shrimps, heads, skin and all!

day 2 and we were off to the farmers’ market;  70 degrees at 9am, ranier cherries, squash blossoms, and a market packed to the brim.  we made off with a few choice items including the afore mentioned blossoms, baby back ribs, pretzel croissants, and a first for us, crawfish!

love these!

everything should be filled with ricotta

and also then fried!

the rest of the day was filled with yoga followed by so many pimm’s cups, with some packing as well.  lunch was squash blossoms filled with ricotta, battered and fried (recipe at the bottom of the page).  yum.  dinner is still going.  yet another version of baby back ribs with some home-made chipotle-maple bbq sauce and a crawfish boil!  this should be interesting.

two racks of farmers' market baby back ribs

on a bed of onions, covered in beer, in the oven for 2 hours before the grill

mud bugs

so scary

homemade bbq sauce is the only way to go

these turned out amazing!!!!!

crawfish!!!!!!

needless to say, we are soaking up this time off with good meals, good rides, good yoga, and good drinks.  we will have a mini-vacation for a day out of town and then back to work in a few days.  looking forward to our new place, and in the meantime, trying to salvage what we can from our beautiful garden; rosemary, thyme, sage, parsley, and oregano have been potted; but still planning the rescue of the tomatillos, edamame, eggplant, habanero, jalapenos, broccoli, corn and brussel sprouts.

our new obsession, pimm's cups

a proper pimm's cup with borage foraged from our garden, who knew?!?!

Eunice’s Stuffed Squash Blossoms

12 squash blossoms
1/3 cup canola oil

Filling:
1 cup ricotta
1 tsp Rosemary
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp oregano
salt to taste

Batter:
1 cup whole-wheat flour
3/4 cup water
pinch of cayenne
pinch of salt and pepper

1. Prep the squash blossoms by cutting off the stems if they came with stems. Then, reach inside the blossom and snap off the stamen. It’s ok if you tear the blossom a bit, but try to be careful.
2. In a small bowl, mix together the ricotta, thyme, oregano and salt and scoop this into a pastry tube or a ziploc bag with a corner cut off (improv pastry tube).
3. Squeeze about 1 Tbsp or so of the filling into each squash blossom and twist the ends of the blossom to secure.
4. Mix together the flour, water, cayenne, salt and pepper in a separate small bowl. Add extra water if the batter seems too dry.
5. Heat the canola oil in a frying pan.
6. Dredge the stuffed squash blossoms through the batter and once the oil is hot enough, fry the squash blossoms until the batter starts to brown, about 2 minutes.
7. Place on a paper towel to soak up extra oil and enjoy!

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