Thursday, July 1, 2010

Reward for Our Visitors

So in order to thank our garden helpers, Adam created this muy delicioso dinner.  The main course was a pizza with sliced potatoes fried in garlic and olive oil, chorizo sausage boiled in our Chimay clone homebrew beer, caramelized onions, and goat cheese, and then drizzled with a olive oil / butter sauce infused with garlic, thyme, and oregano.
For a side dish, Adam's mother gave him a recipe for Cool Cucumber Salad.  This is similar to other cucumber salads that we have made except this does not require sugar, and it has penne pasta in it and some mustard.
Potatoes, Onions, and Cucumbers all came from the garden.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Visitors to the Garden

During a much needed break from bar preparation, our friends Kate and Becca came with us to help weed the garden.  In addition to weeding, we had quite a few things to pick including onions, red beats, cucumbers, zucchini, and potatoes.

We also had our first two ripe cherry tomatoes and our tomato plants have even more buds on them than last week.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Graduation Gift?

So in order to make weeding a little bit easier, my parents purchased Miguel and myself a graduation gift... in the form of a rear tine tiller.
It actually makes weeding a great deal easier, and when we start to do the second round of plantings, this will help tear up the ground much easier and in a more precise manner than the tractor or by hand.
Miguel is just demonstrating... I'm the one that actually uses it.  ;-)

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Cup o' Joe

Sometimes Miguel needs a little pick me up in the mornings...
Apparently picking potatoes works just as well....

A Different Perspective

Sometimes it's hard to describe exactly how big our garden is this year.  One way of describing it is that it's twice as big as last year.  That's only helpful if you saw it last year.  So in order to help visualize here is a picture.
That's me and our car at the far end of the garden.  Part of the reason the garden is bigger is the addition of new types of plants.  Last year we only had tomatoes, peppers, beans, zucchini, pumpkins, and cucumbers.  This year, we have branched out into mammoth sunflowers (apparently they grow to be 12 feet tall)...
Corn (yellow, white, and bi-color)....
Potatoes (pictured are our blue potatoes that we purchased at Wegman's because Adam saw that the eyes were growing so he thought they may be good seed potatoes... they were)...
Tomatillos (pictured below).
Squash (such as spaghetti squash pictured below)...
and eggplants.
Another reason the garden is so large is that some of our plants got destroyed after a hail storm.  On the day of Adam's graduation from law school, Carlisle had a big hail storm and some of our plants that we had in containers got hit pretty hard.  So as soon as graduation was over Adam started some more plants from seeds.  Turns out our original plants were just fine and those are the ones giving us vegetables now.  The ones Adam started after the storm are just now giving us vegetables so it looks like we (and our friends and family) will be eating well all summer long.

 Below are some pictures of the hail after it stormed that day.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Some Recent Meals

We recently had an opportune day where there was a nice variety of vegetables ready.
So we decided to have a feast.
Our delicious meal included grilled zucchini and yellow squash; cucumber, tomato, and onion salad; roasted new potatoes; and zucchini bread for dessert.

Earlier in the week.......
Raspberry Ice Cream with fresh raspberries from Adam's parents' house.
Potatoes and Sugar Peas cooked in milk.

My Bad.....

Jack was upset that we left him out and wants everyone to know that he helps out too.

Father's Day

Even on his special day he still helps out in the garden.
 So does Adam's mom.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Sugar Snap Peas with Sesame and Sauteed Swiss Chard with Bacon

Heres my a picture of dinner with fresh peas (prepared with sesame seeds and dark sesame oil) and swiss chard (sauteed with garlic & red pepper flakes) from my garden. Salmon was poached on top of the swiss chard and a delicious salad of mixed greens with a sweet cider vinaigrette was prepared with goat cheese wrapped in bacon! I can't wait to for more fabulous veggies to be ready....especially those 90 tomato plants! 

Recipes at:

Sugar Snap Peas with Sesame

Sauteed Swiss Chard with Bacon

Careful the way you weed, onions can fall over!

So last week I started weeding around the onions and learned that you have be careful the way you weed, your onions can be start to fall over or worse, you can actually uproot them!  I had to act quickly and build mounds around them to make sure they stay alive!

Damn Groundhogs!

So we have our first loss for the year:  Brussel Spouts!  It took a while to figure out who the culprit was but after some investigating, we've concluded that it was either one or a family of GROUNDHOGS!  At first we thought deer, but we couldn't see any tracks. Next we thought it was rabbits trying to make their way to cabbage patch.  But then we had some confirmed sightings of a family of groundhogs living under an old car on the property. 
Adam's dad came out with his gun one day to try and find these jerks for eating all of brussel sprouts but he couldn't find anything but this trail leading underneath the car.  We wanted to find a way to keep these pests out but unless we fumigated their hole or shot them the only (organic) way of keeping them out would be to keep our dog Jack tied up overnight.  He does love a good hunt and everytime he gets near that car, he goes nuts!  But it is what it is, right! I guess they're part of the natural balance of things.  I wish I knew exactly how pests like that contribute to natural order of an ecosystem.  Aside from Googling the benefits these guys have, I'm going to let go.  I guess I'll have to wait to plant again in July I guess. 

The Three Amigos!

   I can't believe it's already June!  We have added a few extra things in the garden like corn, sunflowers, blue potatoes, and more pumpkins.  Adam's grandmother told us about an old Indian technique called "The Three Sisters".  We planted our corn in a block and then put pumpkins between.  You can also put beans in the mix which is where the number three comes into play but we left at just 2.  As the corn grows, the beans/peas have a trellis on which to climb and the pumpkins provide the perfect ground cover to keep the soil moist and shaded to kill off weeds.  It really is a perfect idea! 
   Adam's Aunt Martha gave us two kinds of  seeds for the pumpkins (Jack-O-Lantern & Longneck) and we found three kinds of corn at Butchers Farm Market.    We're hoping regular sized pumpkins will      work out better this year than the giant ones Adam attempted last year.  Last year's pumpkins only reached Jack-o-lantern size. 
   Hopefully this year our pumpkins will make it all the way into October!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

May 15th finally arrived!

So my hardiness date is May 15th & it was a very busy  weekend. Adam graduated from law school and we were hit by a very crazy 20 minute hail storm.  We lost some of our zucchini in the
storm but were able to transplant it on Sunday the 15th.  We had to have our garden doubled in size.  The new area has either never been gardened or hasn't been worked in years.  The soil is wonderfully fresh and moist! Our early seeds have begun to go nuts and we are sure to have a ton of radishes (please pass on any recipes you may have). A few weeks earliers, we were able to find some swiss chard and transplant about 12 bunches.  We also were able to put in the fennel I started from seed, and then transplanted both red and green cabbage, and brussels sprouts.  So now we were able to say we have a garden right? Absolutely not!  We needed to go big or drive the 27 miles home!  Adam and  have definitely gone overboard this year but I think it'll be worth it.  We were able to put in the zucchini we thought we'd lost, eggplants, cucumbers, watermelons, peppers, & hot peppers on our hardiness day of 5.15.10. Adam's parents came out to help and it was help that we totally needed.  Cousin Derek came over and helped some but I think he was more interested in socializing with older people.  Our rows are extremely crooked and
 nothing is grouped together because Adam and I didn't do our jobs properly. But the way we see it, when everything comes up, we'll just pick it.
   The one thing I was able to get organized were my tomatoes.  My 60(+) tomato plants.  I have about 42 romas, some lemon boys, sweet 100, healthkick, better boy, 3 San Marzano, Old German, Purple Cherokee, and I think one more but who can keep track!  Well if you know me, you know I wasn't satisfied!  Adam's grandmother mentioned something about pineapple tomatoes so Adam and I went to bigger farm supply stores (Ashcombe's & Stauffer's of Kissel Hill) and found those tomates (I picked up two plants) and some zebra striped, yellow pear, tomatillo & something called Joe Robeson.  I know I don't need them but when I make that first salad, it's going to be BEAUTIFUL  and delish!   We'll also be trying some corn this year!  WATCH OUT DEER I GOT MY GUN LOADED!  Just kidding!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

The First Plow and Harrow

So after the manure had sat on the field for a few days, it was time to plow.  Adam's dad's tractor comes in handy for these situations.  It took a few times going over, but eventually the garden was ready for step 2.
After the garden was plowed we then harrowed the field.  A harrow is a farm implement consisting of a heavy frame with sharp teeth or upright disks, used to break up and even off plowed ground.  Mr. Britcher has two different types of harrows.  The first is like the one pictured below.  The chain harrow is dragged behind the 4-wheeler and did a fairly decent job, thanks to Adam and his cousin Derek who kept getting off the four wheeler to get all of the dead vines off of the equipment.  

The second harrow that Mr. Britcher has is like the one below but without the seat.  This created a slight issue since Adam had to stand on the harrow to increase it's weight so it would go deeper.  This was slightly risky but he survived.

Once the ground was leveled and broken up, we got ready for the first planting.

Cleaning Up and Spreading It

The picture to the right is how our garden looked before we got started this year, and the one on the left is after we pulled up the black plastic.  We sort of were lazy last year and didn't get a head start on fertilizing the ground or even cleaning up after ourselves.
So, once we caught up a little bit, we then had to visit our special fertilizer patch (see previous post) and spread the good stuff around.  With all of the tools that Adam's dad has, a manure spreader is not one of them.

After we covered the field with manure, we gave it a few days until we went back to work on the garden.  Below is Jack, about to roll around in the freshly strewn manure.

Starting from Seeds

   So last year, we were pretty successful starting  most of our crop from seeds.  It's not as difficult as it sounds but it does take some planning.  For about the cost of a night at the bar, you can purchase all the seed packets it will take to start your fabulous garden. 
   This year we bought a couple of greenhouses.  We didn't build a giant one like you might think, basically it is 72 peat pellets that you water and add your seeds to. Then cover with the plastic lid and let your garden take off. In about a week or two, you will start to see your plants come to life.  It's very exciting knowing that you're growing your own food.  We do monitor our plants to make sure we transfer them into peat pots (which you can see in the picture) before they get too big.  Both peat pots and greenhouse (by Jiffy) can be purchased at Lowes, Home Depot and even Walmart!  We currently have 2 kinds of zucchini, yellow squash, & cucumbers in peat pots.  They'll be ready to transplant around the 15th of May.  This is traditionally the day to start a garden in our area but we're very excited to have a big harvest this year so we started early by growing from seeds indoors.  You can find out when it's time to put your wellies on and dig by googling Hardiness Zone.  I like the National Gardening Association's page.
   We also have quite a bit of fennel still in the pellets as well as eggplant, watermelons, pumpkins and hot peppers.  Once it warms up again, we'll drive up to our garden and transplant everything in. Butcher's farm stand has tons of fabulous tomatoes and I'd rather leave the growing to Stacy.  I'll get my tomatoes from her as well as my herbs for my herb garden.   Last year, Adam's dad and grandmother didn't think my fennel would survive but lo and behold I had some fantastic salad with fennel.  This year, I'm really hoping to do more with my veggies.  I've also decided to donate as much as possible this year to local food bank or a place that feeds the hungry.  You definitely have to give back when you've been blessed! Don't you agree? 
   I think we may have to plow more this year for our very big garden.  I hope Adam's dad doesn't mind!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Manure Happens!

Adam's parents race standardbred horses so we are lucky to just go out back and get fresh fertilizer for our garden.  We forgot to cover our garden last year,  so this year we killed two stones with one bird.

Adam's dad bought that orange tractor you may have seen in some of our photos a while back and puts it to good use in our garden.  We loaded this wagon up about 3 times and hauled it over to the garden which is pretty much next door to his parents house.  Then we scattered all this horse poo over the garden and let it rest for a couple of days.  On Saturday, Adam's dad with Adam's help, plowed the field incorporating all those good nutrients into our garden.  It took them a few hours to do but it is definitely worth it.  If you don't have access to fantastic resources (horses, tractors, etc)  like we do, Lowe's and Home Depot have a great gardening department.

I know this is about 2 guys, a dog, & a garden and you're probably wondering where the dog is in most of these shots!  If you look at the photo, our garden runs along the side of a road,  a country road.  And Jack Russells love to get into trouble, so we taught Jack (yes! our Jack Russell's name is Jack) to work the camera.  No, just kidding. He in the car (usually on the center console) watching us and not getting himself killed.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Greens, Greens and Nothing but Greens

In the past we have tried to grow salad greens in various pots and containers.  Normally this works for a bit but either we have poor drainage or not enough soil for the greens.

This created a debate between Miguel and myself.  Miguel wanted to grow the greens in the garden, while I was willing to settle for buying them in a nice plastic bag at Wal-mart.  I guess my concern was whether animals would leave the greens alone or eat them or worse contaminate them in a way that no salad spinner would ever get clean.

However, we came to a conclusion that we would grow the greens in our garden... aka Miguel won. (You'll see this as a recurring theme.)

We did reach a slight compromise.  Rather than putting the greens into our rows of vegetables, we decided to create a separate bed for them.  

We started by using a garden claw to tear up the ground some and then the shovel to remove the top lawyer of sod.  Once we had the old grass removed, Miguel then went to town with the garden claw and tore up the soil while at the same time mixing in some coffee grounds and some pelletized lime. 

Once the garden was worked properly, we used the hoe to make rows and planted our seeds.  For this bed, we planted Black Seeded Simpson Lettuce, Grand Rapids Leaf Lettuce, and an Italian Mixture Salad Blend.  

To finish off the garden, I found some birch branches and created a border partly to make it look good and partly so no one would step on it.

Below are some more pictures of Miguel creating the garden for the greens.