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Archive for the ‘Vegetables’ Category

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As usual, summers in Texas are a bit rough, with temperatures varying from the high 90s to 110. We had our hottest ever July day. It doesn’t rival 2010, but it has been a hot year with very little rain.

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Last year was a bad one for okra, and my poor production has continued this year. I’m not sure if it is root-knot nematode again this year, or the extreme heat. It was the 110 degree day that halted production.

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The peppers have had a stellar year, since I added slow release sulphur to the beds, to fix the PH problem. My new favorite pepper is from Baker Creek Heirlooms, called Habanada. It is a non-spicy Habenero, and the flavor is amazing! I only planted 3 plants, but have gotten well over 100 peppers. I’ve been putting them in everything. I also tried Marconi for the first time, and this one will be on my repeat list as well. It is a large yellow bell pepper with great production, and flavor.

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Melons produced pretty well, and I am still getting a few.

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The tomatillos usually die out in the heat of the summer, and this year they lasted a bit longer. I don’t know how long they can hang on, and if I’ll get any fall production.

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Malibar Spinach is thriving, and such a lovely plant.

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Summer beans are just starting to produce, with black-eyed peas leading the pack.

Cut and Come Again Zinnias have been the star of the garden. They seem to like a good soaking every 3 days. My vases have been full all summer. I’ll definitely be planting these again.

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I’ve let the cowpen daisies take over this year. They spread pretty aggressively, but are easy to pull out so I’ve just let them do their thing. They make the veggie garden pretty, when most things are hanging on for dear life.

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As usual, the thai basil has done the best of the varieties. I don’t really care for the flavor, but it is a favorite of the bees. The honey bees have disappeared lately, maybe due to the abundance of robber flies, but I have seen a few bumbles hanging around.

I just started fall seeds this past weekend under the grow lights, so despite the heat, fall is just around the corner!

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Bloom Day 4/18

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The spring has been very chilly so far, which is stalling many of the usual April bloomers. The roses aren’t complaining though. This is their best showing to date.

Belinda’s dream is stunning, and smells heavenly, but I am really loving Peggy Martin being the perfect shade of flamingo pink! All of the roses are repeat bloomers, which is a requirement in my garden.

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Bluebonnets are still going strong. They start at least a week later in my garden than some parts of town. I think it’s due to the gravely soil, and no additional water.

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Silvery-blue agave with bluebonnets, what a combination!

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The columbines have also loved the mild spring. They have hung on weeks longer than last year. I am loving how this bed is filling in. I had been unhappy with it for some time, but all it needed was the removal of 3 pale pink pavonias that were extremely happy, but poorly placed.

A few other bloomers.

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Freezing Kale

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The dinosaur kale has really taken off in the garden, and will be bolting soon, as the temperatures are starting to rise. I decided to try freezing some this year. I won’t be able to use the frozen kale in fresh salads, but it will be great in frittatas, stir fries, and soups.

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The first step is to trim out the stems and tear into 2×2 inch pieces.

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From here I blanched the kale. This helps it retain color, texture, and flavor. You blanch kale for 2.5 to 3 minutes in boiling water.

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After blanching, put the kale immediately in ice water to stop the cooking process.

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After the kale has cooled, squeeze it dry and let any excess water drain out.

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I have a foodsaver, so I’m able to use this to freeze my extra veggies. You can also use ziploc freezer bags. Tip – There was still too much moisture in the kale, which messed with the foodsaver. I ended up par-freezing on a cookie sheet in the freezer for a few hours before packing.

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I missed bloom day this month, but have plenty worth posting.

Pineapple Guava

Pineapple Guava

Pineapple Guava

Pineapple Guava

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Grandma's Yellow Rose

Grandma’s Yellow Rose

Celestial Explosion Iris

Celestial Explosion Iris

Eggplant Flower

Eggplant Flower

Livin' Easy Roses

Livin’ Easy Roses

Butterfly Iris

Butterfly Iris

Red Yucca -- first year these haven't been completely (only mostly) devastated by deer

Red Yucca — first year these haven’t been completely (only mostly) devastated by deer

 

 

 

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Bluebonnets

Bluebonnets

Cafe Bleu Iris

Cafe Bleu Iris

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Veggies

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Veggie Garden

Veggie Garden

 

Onions

Onions

 

Potatoes

Potatoes

 

Bee Bed

Bee Bed

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Green Beans

Green Beans

 

Tomatoes - 1 of 3 beds

Tomatoes – 1 of 3 beds

 

Tomatillos -- been fighting cutworms all season in this bed

Tomatillos — been fighting cutworms all season in this bed

 

Squash and Cucs

Squash and Cucs 

 

First Tomatoes

First Tomatoes

 

Hairy Vetch

Hairy Vetch

 

Tomatillo Flower

Tomatillo Flower

 

Swiss Chard

Swiss Chard

 

Volunteer Sunflowers

Volunteer Sunflowers

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I’ve found that you don’t have to remove the entire brussel sprout plant at once. Instead, I snap off the lower-larger sprouts from each plant and let the smaller ones keep growing. These brussel sprouts came from around 5 different plants.

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Chop up the brussel sprouts and dice an onion. I find that if you cut the sprouts in half, they are much more flavorful, as the increased surface area soaks in the juices.

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Melt butter and olive oil over medium heat.

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When melted, add the onions, brussel sprouts, some minced garlic, salt, pepper, and the juice of a lemon or two. (depends on your taste)

Depending on how soft you life the brussel sprouts, you can optionally cover them for a few minutes. This will steam them a bit.

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Once the onions and brussel sprouts are soft, brown and the liquid has evaporated, they are good to go.

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To finish off this dish, I cooked up some egg noodles and tossed them with the brussel sprout mixture and some parmesan cheese. I also served it with sauteed chicken breast.

 

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We have had an extremely rainy spring this year and the cucumbers have loved it. The lemon cucumbers are doing especially well. I’ve been pickling like crazy, and unfortunately the cucumbers don’t always ripen at the most convenient time.

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I was in a rush, so rather than wait until the brine had come to a complete boil, I decided that the salt had dissolved, and that was good enough. Bad mistake! Turns out that when the temperature outside of the jars is hotter than the temperature inside of the jars, they break. The jars just started popping, and the bottoms cracked right off. 4 quarts of pickles in the trash.

Luckily, I have been able to make another 8 quarts of lemon cucumber dill pickle wedges, so my daughter is happy and I learned a valuable lesson.

 

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