We’re getting ready for summer season!

I’ve had trouble finding time to garden and blog.  Ok, I’ve been having trouble finding time to garden even.  We have been slowly getting plants in, getting things cleaned up and even finding a few minutes to cook.

I want to show you what we’ve been up to.  Lots of pics below!

Our apricot that we planted last year is getting HUGE!  We’re still waiting to harvest our first ones.  We also will probably prune a few branches soon.

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This weekend we pulled out four Laciento kale plants.  This giant pile of kale went with us to the food swap this weekend.

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We also harvested a handful of purple carrots.  Here they are shredded, waiting to be cooked.

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And here they are turned into purple carrot cake jam.  Yummy!

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We really liked the way the Florida Weave worked out for our tomatoes last year, so we decided to plant two rows.  We included five different heirlooms in the back, two San Marzanos and three tomatillos in the front. They’re looking great so far, although they’re all just starting to flower.

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Here’s the whole backyard garden right now.  I was just pulling out a chard that popped up before taking this.  We still have to figure out what to do with the bamboo trellis, as the front right section will be soybeans and bush beans this year. (With a few other things, like bush Delicata and Sweet Dumpling thrown in.)

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I transplanted this kale a couple of weeks ago.  It’s supposed to go to my sister’s house.  Hopefully it will perk up before we give it to her.

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The long beans are starting to take off.  I have to replant a few this week, now that the bed has fresh layers of straw, leaves, manure and mulch.

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There are two eggplants that have been in the ground for a short period of time.  They were looking really sad for a while.  Just this week they started to experience new growth and perk up!

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The ladder on the side yard will have cucumbers again.  These were a little small to transplant, but I did it anyways because we were heading out of town last week.  I have a few more that are starting inside right now, but my guess is these will be ok soon.

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The onions are growing large and flowering.  I’ve heard that if they flower that means they won’t really make onion bulbs underground.  We’re using the green onion tops as we need green onions, but that hasn’t been often recently.

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We let this pepper overwinter in the garden, and I never cut off the old growth.  There are new peppers and flowers already!  I think this is the serrano plant.

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Our red mustard is finishing up with quite a show!  We’re enjoying the flowers, and David is hoping to catch a few red mustard seeds so that we can replant them later.

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Here’s proof that our tomatoes are flowering! I love tomato flowers!!

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We have a small patch of beets.  We thought our purple carrots weren’t going to be purple enough, so we picked a beet to shred and add to the carrots, ensuring that they were bright purple.  Funny thing though, we forgot that the beets were Chioggia beets, meaning they were candy striped and more white than the carrots!  As it happened, the purple carrots were super purple and the jam was just the color that I envisioned.  And the best part about the beets, they didn’t stain the kitchen, or our hands, purple!

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In addition to the red onions that are flowering, we planted spring onions/ scallions, and they’re also flowering!

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We’ve moved away from loose leaf lettuce, and have been trying to keep up with our salad needs by planting heads of lettuce.  Isn’t this head of butter lettuce beautiful?

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This winter David and I were tempted by the bare root berries.  Our blackberry is flowering!

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And our strawberries are too! We planted four berries, but have found three more that popped up around the yard, so our patch has been expanding.

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Lastly, I thought our cabbages would look great in the front flower bed, so I threw a few in there earlier this winter.  They finally started growing recently.  This green one looks ready to pick.  The aphids are starting to take over, but I’d like the cabbage to get a little bigger before we pick it.

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Hope your spring is going well!

 

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Busy in the kitchen

We’ve had a few tomatoes from our garden, but not nearly enough to start cooking with or preserving.  David and I decided that we’d roast or dehydrate a few at a time when we have time.  We figured with the way the tomatos are ripening, we wouldn’t start our saucing operations until the end of July or beginning of August.

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There are a few red San Marzanos, but most of them are still quite green.P1020375

The Indigo Rose are ripening, and thanks to a suggestion from a reader, we’re leaving them on the vine until they feel soft.  These will be for salads and roasting.

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The Jaune Flamme are going to be great for drying and roasting.  There are bunches of ripe ones, but there are not many at the same time.  I did get out the dehydrator though, and figured this was enough to do our first batch.

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Our last tomato that is producing fruit right now is the Isis Candy.  These are great to eat in salads.  As you can see though, we’re far from peak tomato season.

Then David chatted with our neighbor across the street.

He told us that he was headed out of town and we should pick all of his tomatoes.
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David and I went across the street, dug around for a little while, and proudly came home with two overflowing bowls of fruit.  There should be more later in the week, but we cleared out everything we could find.

And decided that we’d make our first batch of salsa!

I set aside the largest for slicing (every dinner comes with a caprese salads or tomatoes drizzled with vinegar and olive oil), the smallest for dehydrating and chopped up 7lbs for salsa.  We were going to stick to the Blue Book, but I found a salsa recipe that we’re trying instead.  When our neighbor gets back in town, he’ll get a couple jars of salsa and pickles.

Yes, he gave us cucumbers too.

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He has some gorgeous salad cucumbers, which David made into an Israeli cucumber and tomato salad.  The ones that weren’t too seedy, were quartered and turned into dill pickles. We picked up some pickling spice at Penzy’s earlier this spring, and have been itching to try it.

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Our vines had cucumbers growing on them also.  We’ve been pleased with the shape, size and yield of our little leaf cucumber plants.  I’ve been trying to move away from hybrids, but this one is making me think about that decision.

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We have two vines on the ladder.  The vines are full of flowers and have over a dozen cucumbers in the midst of growing right now.

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I picked these off our two ladder vines and the one in the backyard.  I snagged a few cayenne peppers and a handful of dill and it was time to make dill pickles.

At that point, I put my camera down and focused on cooking.

Our end tally was:

2 pint and half jars (1 chips, 1 spears)

5 pint jars (2 spears, 1 spicy spears, 1 spicy chips, 1 zucchini chips)

And then there were the apricots.
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David bought apricots at Costco for canning, as our new tree isn’t producing this year. We had enough for a half batch of jam.  We decided on something savory, and chose Apricot-Ginger-Rosemary jam.  The amount we had filled two half pint jars and gave us a little bit left over.  The leftover jam was later cooked with caramelized onions and used to top pork chops.

We will savor this jam, and I highly recommend the recipe.  There’s just enough crystalized ginger and rosemary to make it interesting but not overpower it.

We just may be picking up more apricots to make more.