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Archive for the ‘Vegetables’ Category

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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Homestead Update

So much has been happening, I don’t even know where to start …

Let’s start with, I do have a queen bee. Yea! I opened up the hive on Sunday afternoon and found capped brood. This means that eggs have been laid, and covered up. Unfortunately, with the heat, a piece of comb about 2X2, containing capped brood, melted off and fell to the bottom of the hive. When I talked to my bee-mentor, she said that if it’s a small piece, leave it, and the bees will recycle it. Lesson learned — don’t go in the hive in 90 degree weather, things are too fragile. On the bright side, the hive is buzzing along nicely, with plenty of honey and new babies coming soon.

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Berm my daughter made to try and keep the rain away

Berm my daughter made to try and keep the rain away

Next up … 2 new chicks and 1 new duckling. This is good and bad. For the chicks, Maribel was one several eggs and only one hatched. The second chick I found under where the turkey had been sitting, but apparently she up and abandoned it. I gave the chick to Maribel, and she has accepted it as her own – good mama. We had 2 ducklings sitting on large clutches of eggs, but only 1 live duckling. Our Peking, got scared off the nest and got up, the few viable eggs (with pips) dried up and the ducklings didn’t make it 😦 Our second duck, the Lavender Peking lost 4 chicks in the 5″ of rain a few weekends ago. Luckily, one had hatched before the majority of the rain came in. The others sadly drowned. It looks like we may need to incubate if we are wanting ducklings this year.

On to a happier note, the garden is coming along great. I am harvesting tomatoes, zucchini, butternut squash, okra, jalapenos, green beans, and tomatillos daily.

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I made this caprese salad with cherokee purple, wyche yellow, and emerald evergreen – plus basil from the garden.

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I’ve also starting this year’s canning, tomatoes, salsa, sweet pickles, and dill pickles.

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Due to the new induction cooktop, I had to get a new canner. Considering my other one was just a not-quite-big-enough-pot, this was not a huge sacrifice. Canning was so much easier with the large canner, and water that boils in no time.

We also just redid our kitchen, new counter tops, brick backsplash, farm sink and the afore-mentioned induction cooktop.

Before …

Double sink, difficult to clean large pots

Double sink, difficult to clean large pots

Split-Level island and centered cooktop took away all of my prep area

Split-Level island and centered cooktop took away all of my prep area

Crappy tile, which made rolling out dough a pain

Crappy tile, which made rolling out dough a pain

After …

New Farm Sink

New Farm Sink

New Island with so much prep area

New Island with so much prep area

Updated computer area

Updated computer area

We also have 4 new lambs. My daughter got her 2 FFA lambs, 1 medium wool and 1 southdown. We decided to replace our Dorpers with Southdowns. The Dorpers just weren’t very friendly and considering we will need to take them to see a Ram once a year, we didn’t want catching them to be a monumental chore. Plus, it is fun to have lambs come up to you and eat out of your hand, rather than take off in the other direction. The one negative is that we will have to sheer the Downs, but I know people who can turn wool into yarn. This weekend is sheering day, I’ll have to update on how it goes.

Think that should about do it for today …

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