Archive for the ‘Kitchen Garden’ Category

Weekly Garden Update: 2/6/2011

February 6, 2011

Gardening season begins in earnest.  Our onions and other seeds which we discussed in the last update are germinating.



We were a bit slow in seeing that the broccoli and cauliflower was up and growing so they were in the dark a couple of days more then they should have been which has made them a bit leggy.  Hopefully that will be fixed as they’re now growing under lights.  We also germinated our snow peas and our sugar snap peas inside this year, and today we planted them all in two boxes.  We decided to do this because the soil temps (as they were last year) are too low to germinate them, but not too low to allow them to grow (we hope).

Pea Peas

In the pan

Today we seeded the celery.


I cooked venison steaks this past week, attached the recipe in a post just prior to this one.  Last night we had the smothered quail again, and it was great.  No I mean it was *GRREAT*.

The Kale seems to have survived the winter, as have bizarrely, the lettuces.  We have carrots still.  The Garlic is sprouting up through the mulch all over, and seem to be saying, “Ok, Winter did it’s thing, now let the Spring come in Early”.

February Garden

February Garden

Box for Peas






Weekly Garden Update: 1/17/11

January 17, 2011

An actual Harvest:  4 carrots



Fabulous tasting, sweet and carroty carrots.  Hopefully we’ll get more soon.


We’ve had temperatures this winter that have been significantly and consistently (like 9 degrees in the month of December) colder than “normal” according to the weather statisticians.  The difference around here between a low of 35 and a low of 26 is major, particularly in what you can over-winter and/or if you are trying season extensions.  We’ve also had more frozen precipitation up to this date than in many years.

Attached below are pictures of our Kale, which might make it.  And then there is our mustard, which probably won’t, though it might come back out.  And then lastly, our tom thumb lettuces, which look surprisingly good.


Kale, beaten by Winter

Mustard on the Edge

A lettuce nested in the leaves



Lastly, we’ve been having a great time with the seed exchange.  A happy shout-out to those of you that we have been communicating with, and getting seeds from — thank you!

2011 Garden Beginnings!

January 2, 2011

For our weekly update this week, we have the beginnings of our 2011 Garden plantings, and a Seed Exchange!


We spent part of the week planning out what (and how many) plants we need to start in the basement to be transplanted out in the Spring.  We’re expanding the garden a bit this year to the front yard to grow melons and winter squash where they can spread out and not be in the way.  Doing so opens up some of the main garden’s boxes for more PEPPERS.  We figure we have room for 86 pepper plants at the dense planting we tried this year (and it worked out great).  We have 16 different varieties we’re going to try to grow next year (some are even home-saved seed!).  The first number in the list below is the number of plants of each variety we hope to end up with; the second number is the number of plants we’ll start in order to (hopefully) end up with the desired number:

HOT Peppers:

Tabasco:  2, 3

Habanero:  5, 7

Ancho:  7, 9

Thai Hot:  1, 2

Cayenne:  5, 7

Jalapeno:  6, 8

Serrano:  4, 6

El Chaco:  2, 4

SWEET Peppers:

Cherry:  5, 7

Anaheim:  7, 9

Pimento:  3, 5

Yellow Pimento:  3, 5

CA Wonder:  11, 14

Red Marconi:  8, 10

Yolo Wonder:  9, 11

Italian Relleno:  8, 10

We’re cutting back on tomato varieties this year to only four (2 paste, 2 slicing) plus tomatillos.  We’ll be planting (and starting):

Better Boy:  9, 12

Early Girl:  5, 8

Amish Paste:  5, 8

Roma (seed gotten from Mimi):  5, 8

Tomatillos:  3, 5

Tomatoes/tomatillos will take up 3 boxes, as they did last year and we thought we had a good amount for eating, canning, and sharing.


In other plants, we had way too much celery last year, even though we lost a number of plants to voles.  But we had so much we actually sold some to a local specialty store.  Next season, we hope to have 25 celery plants and we’ll start 32; all one variety this year (Tendercrisp) – it’s our first time growing this variety so hopefully we’ll be successful!

Eggplant:  we lost all of our eggplant seedlings to the voles last year and had to plant store-bought seedlings.  Four plants survived the voles and we thought this gave us a reasonable number of eggplants through the growing season (basically, 1 per week).  We’re aiming for 4 eggplant plants again next year so we’ll start 8 since we have trouble getting eggplant to germinate well.

Onions:  this year we’ve finally figured out which onions grow in our area!  (Maybe we’re a bit slow…).  We’re growing Yellow Granex from seed.  We’re going to start half of the seed inside and direct sow the other half to see which methods works the best for us.  We may also pick up some Candy onion seeds from Southern States if we decide we need more than one seed pack.

Broccoli and cauliflower:  we’ll try again but this may be the last time we do so.  We do not have good luck growing either of these vegetables to maturity, regardless of whether it’s Spring or Fall.  But we will start two varieties of cauliflower (8 of each, hopefully to end up with 6 of each) and three varieties of broccoli (7 of each, hopefully to end up with 5 of each).

Summer squash:  we normally do not have room under the seed starting lights to start them early but we’re going to make room this year.  The plants germinate so easily when direct sowed but the squash bugs pose such a problem here in NC that the plants die long before they’re even thinking about giving up.  We want to plant transplants this year to give them a bit of a head start on squash bugs and hopefully get a bit more production.

Winter squash:  we may direct seed the butternut varieties since they seem to have a bit of resistance to squash bugs but the acorn squash we want to grow needs an early start indoors if we hope to get any fruit before the plants succumb to bugs.  We also ordered some “Lakota” seeds from Burpee and will likely start those indoors as well.

It’s looking like we may need to expand the indoor seed starting operation!  Maybe I’ll go down to the basement soon and figure out what we can do…

More Seeds!


We’ve culled the seed collection and decided what we’ll be growing next year so we have the following seeds to either just give away if you need seeds but don’t have any to trade or to trade for seeds we’d like to get.

Seeds we’d like to get:





French Breakfast radishes

something you have that you think is particularly worthy

Seeds to give away/trade:

Old Dutch Half-Runner Beans (a great, tasty, prolific green bean that we’ve grown for 3 years and will continue to grow but we have too many seeds.  Stringless when young.  Although a 1/2 runner, it grows to 8 feet in our garden).

Heirloom Iceberg Lettuce (iceberg lettuce can be hard to get to germinate)

Parisian Carrot (small-ish round carrots)

Green Zebra Tomato

Greek Basil

White Sweet Spanish Onion (long day)

Walla Walla Onion (long day)

Bianca di Maggio onion

Ruby Queen beet

Chioggia beet

Plum Purple Radish

Watermelon radish

Chinese Red Meat radish

Chinese Green Luobo radish

Black Spanish radish

Japanese Minowase Daikon radish

Baby eggplant

Russian Tarragon

Utah Celery

Beefsteak Tomato

Bloody Butcher

San Marzano Tomato

Send us an e-mail: foodgardenkitchen at gmail dot com if you’re interested.

Weekly Update, Nov. 7th

November 7, 2010

November 7, Weekly Update:

Fresh Cut Dill

Remember, Remember, the 5th of November, the Gunpowder Treason & Plot….(happy belated Guy Fawkes Day)

Not much of an update this week, just a few items to be noted.

We got our first freeze last night; it got down to about 30 degrees.  Yesterday we covered our remaining pepper plants, and pulled the row covers over most of the fall & winter crops.

I was going to write about my sweet green tomato recipe, that I made from the tail end of the tomato crop this year, but for whatever reason they didn’t end up being as good as I had hoped.  I will need to go back to my father for more explicit instructions on the family sweet green tomato recipe.  I suspect that I am basically over-complicating a simple heavy syrup & cinnamon flavored sweet pickle, but the texture was also not what I had hoped, and I don’t know why.  That puts me back to the drawing board.

Sweet Green Tomato Pickle

We also harvested most of the parsley and dill yesterday, though I dragged one of the dill containers out of the open air, in hopes that it might survive.  I also covered the sage and the oregano.

It rained about an inch this week.

The lettuces appear to be doing well; we may be able to begin harvests in a couple of weeks.

Our limited harvest this week was jalapeno peppers, and what is probably the last of the green beans, as we expect that the freeze last night will end them.

The garlic hasn’t started peeking up yet, I find myself checking them more frequently than I should.

Weekly Garden Update: Halloween

October 31, 2010

Roll Me Over, In the Clover…

It is All Hallows Eve, and we descended on the Garden in a fashion which must have been scary to the plants.


Butter beans


We ripped up all the tomatoes, the squash vines, the butter bean plants, the Tabasco and Ancho pepper plants, and the basil.  We took down the hummingbird feeders, having not seen a hummingbird in at least 3 weeks now.  We cut more plastic fencing to surround a few more of our boxes, worked some boxes where we pulled stuff up, put away trellises until spring, and generally did some tidying up.


Green beans


Out of all that we harvested a nice basket of butter beans, a lot of Tabasco peppers, another 30 ancho peppers, green beans, and a couple boxes worth of green tomatoes (some of which will turn ripe, and some of which we will make green tomato pickle or other things out of).  We are thrilled to have had green beans and butter bean production all the way to November, and we still have pepper plants budding.  No one knows how long we can continue that harvest, I guess until we get a hard freeze.


Pile o' Peppers



Green tomatoes


We also harvested all the current crop of red cayennes and Serrano peppers.  Kale and mustard and other greens were harvested today as well.


Mess o' Greens


This past week we harvested the last watermelon.  And then we cut it open, and it was pink and green and delicious.  We were very happy to get such a nice tasting and firm textured melon at last.


Moon & Stars Watermelon


Garlic Planting!  Today we finally planted 2 boxes of garlic, approximately 128 plants, in hopes of a garlicy-green springtime to come.


Lemongrass Plant


The lemongrass plant is so large now that we cut out 3 large canes of it, and can’t tell where we cut them out.


Lemongrass stalks


We have volunteer dill coming up in both containers where we had dill earlier this year, and they’re doing great!




The clover is sprouting up everywhere, the annual red clover in the boxes, and the perennial red and white clovers all over the yard.


In the Clover


The whetherpeople (no I didn’t spell that wrong) are hinting that we might have a freeze coming up this next weekend.  If that looks like a serious prediction later in the week, I’ll be dragging out the burlap for some of our remaining growing things.


Bottles of Tabasco Peppers


I have 2 pans of peppers drying in the oven as I write this.  And I separated out my tabascos and some cayennes to make bottles of North Carolina pepper sauce, which is *mostly* vinegar and said peppers.  Based on how they look sitting in bottles by themselves, I predict they will at least look aesthetic.  Before thanksgiving, we’ll be compounding our chili powder for the year out of the different varieties of dried peppers we have.


Garlic box 1


Box o' Brassica

Garden 1

Garden 2

Garden 3



Weekly Garden Update: 10/17

October 17, 2010

Here in the garden, Fall is king.




This week we harvested lots of nice greens, including kale and mustard, and some lettuce.  We got a few tomatoes, more anchos and sweet Italian peppers, butter beans, and green beans.


A mostly ripe watermelon


We also harvested the last watermelon, and tore up the vines.  We’re down to the last squash vine, and that vine is being eyed with a lean and hungry look toward being torn up as well.


Last Watermelon, but a big one


Today we fertilized all the open spaces, and planted red clover (annual) in those boxes where we can.  We also worked the garlic beds, and are hoping to plant garlic by Halloween.  Depending on a spot of Indian summer they’re calling for, and a lack of rain in the 10-day forecast, it may actually be Halloween before we plant it.


Upper boxes


We also sowed the lawn, yes the grass, with cinnamon clover and white clover – lots of it.  I’m hoping to drive out the invasive grasses with invasive clovers.  They look nice and will be healthier for the lot.  For anyone out there reading this that spends oodles of money on your lawn, go ahead and shudder!


Middle boxes


Earlier this year, we wrote about garlic scapes.  At the time we froze some, and this week used the same garlic scape spread we made back then.  I am here to report that frozen ones just don’t hold up as well, we are unlikely to try to store them in this manner again.  The flavor is less garlicy, and more like .. grass.  We’ll eat this spread, but we’re throwing out the rest of the frozen scapes.  For us, garlic scapes will go back to being one of those things you get “in season” and no other time.


Horseradish, Sage, Rosemary, Dill, Tarragon


All the herbs are doing great right now.  In fact, after I write this I’m going outside to harvest a bunch of oregano.


Garden 1



Garden 2



Garden 3


Kale in the sink, with some salted water.  We do this to clean them, and also kill / drive out any tiny mites trying to hide in the leaves.


Kale in the Sink


The hummingbirds seem to have left for the season, neither of the two feeders has shown any activity in about a week now.

Weekly Garden Update: 9/26 Post-Autumnal Equinox

September 26, 2010

The autumnal equinox has come and gone.  Deer have been eating our pea vines, butter bean vines, and actually nibbling on some pepper plants, so I sprayed deer repellant in the area, and the predations have ceased for the moment.

Tabasco Peppers

It’s been Six weeks and no accumulation of rain.  Weather reports say that it is gonna rain a lot starting.  … oh 12 hours ago, so I guess I’ll believe it when I see it.  Some friends of ours up in Stokes county however, got 3 inches of rain in one night – one of those instances when the cure is nearly as bad as the disease.

Somehow we're still getting Cucumbers

The moon & stars watermelon we picked last week wasn’t ripe.  I have no idea why not.  And some critter ate a whole charentais melon, once again a day or so before we were gonna pick it.

Butternut in situ

This morning we pulled up the eggplants.  We got a reliable 1 eggplant a week average on the ones we planted, and so we were happy with the production this year, which is a great increase over last where where we got no eggplants and only 1 plant that grew higher than a foot tall.  We also pulled up the tomatillos plants.

We harvested the big butternut-type squash (we noticed the seed packet actually says “Butternut rogosa Violina “Gioia” Winter Squash”, and noticed that one moon&stars had dropped from its vine.  It had darn well better be ripe.

Squash & Melon

We harvested lots of ancho peppers this week.  I dried almost 30 of them.  And the rest of the peppers keep tumbling in as well.  I guess I’ll make some more hot pepper jelly in the next five days or so.


Dried Ancho Peppers

We also picked butter beans, field peas, greens beans (3 times this week), and we have some greens ready to harvest already.

Field Peas

Butter Beans

Dutch Half-runners just keep on producing

While I write this, the other one is outside planting radishes, lettuces, carrots, beets, and more kale.

Growing under Cover

This week has had a minor revelation.  While we were gone last week, we were unable to eat the quantity and variety of vegetables that we have become accustomed this year, and it was a great relief to return home where we can partake of such bounty.  Times where we have needed to eat processed food (traveling can do that to you) we have noticed that it gave us a variety of symptoms, mostly feeling logy, or lethargic, or slightly sick, or gave us headaches, or made our skin “feel funny”.  I drank a regular soda with high fructose corn syrup and regretted it all afternoon one day.  One begins to wonder if our national “couch-potatoness” is not in some degree a side effect of what we’re eating rather than how much we’re eating.

Garden 1

Garden 2

Garden 3

Covered boxes

Happy Lemongrass


Everlasting Basil

9/5 Weekly Garden Update

September 5, 2010

Green beans

We are now clearly into late season garden phases here.  No rain for at least the past couple weeks (Earl notwithstanding) and there is none forecast for the next 10 days either.

Garden 1

Garden 2

The cursed deer ate my 6 apples on the other apple tree that was producing this year.  I would curse them less had I had a chance to have eaten just one from it.  They also stripped the tips of several limbs of leaves.

Garden 3

Garden 4

We have begun ripping out a few tomato vines, all the blue lake bush beans, and we plan to continue as items stop producing.

Garden 5

However we’re still getting harvests of cucumbers, tomatoes, Dutch half-runner green beans, field peas, butter beans, and all kinds of peppers.  I have enough picked anchos now to dry, and they should make the base of a nice chili powder.

Anchos, etc.

Melons, etc.


We got 2 charentais melons, and 1 moon & stars watermelon.  We have more ripening of both.  The butternut squash is now putting more of its efforts into making little squashes, if it continues at this rate and we are able to harvest all of them we might get as many as 20 to store in the basement and eat throughout the winter.

Field peas & Eggplant

We’re still putting up green beans.  The last time I canned them, I had a rare occurrence, i.e., a jar that didn’t seal.  We warmed them up in the microwave and they were really really good, clearly the next best thing ever to having them fresh from being picked.  They beat the dickens out of the blanched and frozen ones we did last year.

Bucket o' Harvest

One day's pickins'

Voles are seeking to make inroads.  I keep trying to poison them as fast as they show new tunnels.  Sammie Squirrels are stealing tomatoes and running off to the woods with them, little orang- red blobs in their mouths.  Deer are starting to nibble on our green bean vines.  I seriously contemplate building a deer blind on my porch so that I can have some nice venison tenderloins, squirrel stew & barbecued squirrel.



Mustard and kale seedlings are doing well!  Cabbages, broccoli and other brassicas are coming along.  The lettuce and carrots could not stand the heat and the desiccation we are currently having and will have to be replanted.


Seedlings 2

We put up another cover on a box.  This morning it was 67 degrees outside, fall is peeking over the horizon of Labor Day.

Irrepressible Basil

Squash & Melon plants


Lettuce in a Box

Well that’s all for now!

Weekly Garden Update: August 15

August 15, 2010

Today the post is late, because we got up this morning, and after coffee and an egg-white frittata with dill, cheddar, country ham, sweet sautéed peppers, and some leftover cornflake chicken (served on English muffin), we went out to the garden and started the Fall planting.

We just cut into the Charentais melon, and wow it is delicious.  It is sweet and has an excellent flavor, and the flesh is firm and crisp!

Covered Box

We put in cabbage, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, Red Winter Kale, and Italian Lacinato Nero Toscana Kale.  We set up the piping, and covered 3 boxes with ground cover to protect new seeds coming up.  This Wednesday we already had seeds coming up from our plantings last weekend.

Boxes 2

Boxes 1

Boxes 3

The Tabasco peppers are finally coming in, and we have bunches of little pimentos as well.  The jalapenos and serranos look like they’ll never quit; I plan to make whole pickled Jalapenos this week.  Later I’ll probably dry some serranos and cayennes and make powders out of them.



We have plenty of other peppers as well; ancho, bell, Anaheim, and Italian rellenos, as well as some Italian red marconis.




We got 4 cucumbers this week, and are pleased by the progress of the 2nd succession of cucumbers.

Volunteer Tomatoes

I trellised the volunteer tomatoes, since it looks like they’re gonna produce.  We sprayed fish emulsion on the tomatoes and melons, and kaolin clay on the cucumbers, eggplants, and squash.


The butternut squash is determined to make up for every squash or melon plant we’ve ever failed to grow.  It has spread the width of almost 3 box areas and is half way into the next column, with oodles of female blossoms, and little butternuts growing.

Some Tomatoes

Other harvest items for the week include another big crop of tomatoes (I am making tomato sauce again today), about 3.5 lbs of green beans (I’ll be canning more green beans this week), and our first harvests of field peas and butter beans.  We also got 2 tomatillos and another eggplant, and harvested the very last celery.

Butter beans

The last Celery

Harvest 2


Field PeasGreen beans

Weekly Garden Update: August 8th

August 8, 2010

Wow, it’s August already!

In addition to the seedlings we’ve been developing, we did more fall planting yesterday:  Cabbage seeds were started inside, but we direct seeded a box of Cauliflower and Broccoli, and a box comprised of Chinese Mustard, Ruby Red Swiss Chard, and Southern Giant Curled Mustard.

The Chinese Mustard is courtesy of  Thanks!

Our Yukon Gold potatoes are flowering, perhaps we can harvest them by September.

Potato Flower

We harvested the last set of beans from the Haricot Vert, and pulled them up, thanking them all the while.  We got over 7 weeks of incredible production from these green beans, and are thrilled.  The dutch half-runner beans are hitting a production peak, and the blue lakes continue to give us a handful or so every week.  Hopefully I can put up some more beans soon.

Haricot Vert box

Tomatoes have slacked off a bit, but we still got half a box this weekend after I pulled everything red and did more tomato sauce this past Monday.

Boxes 1

Boxes 2

Boxes 3

Peppers continue to roll in.  We are getting red Marconi peppers now, and some of our jalapenos are turning red as well.  The only peppers not doing well are the El Chaco’s, which did superbly last year (helpless shrug).  Here are some Serranos.


Butternut squash are getting female blossoms, and the second succession of cucumbers and squash seem to be doing well so far (keeping fingers crossed).

Butternut Blossom

We got 6 cups of Kaolin clay powder this week from our biodynamic farmer and we plant to spray it this week, if it will ever stop raining every other day.

Basil in Harvest Basket

Basil in Box

BASIL.  Yes, the BASIL is coming at us with a vengeance.  We made pesto yesterday, and have 2 trays to dry, and dried basil in the drawer, and oodles more in the garden.  We’re thinking of ramping down to half a dozen basil plants, or even less, next year.

The weather has been almost daily thunderstorms (which our dog hates), with 0 to 0.25 inches of rain almost every day.  Thank goodness it didn’t rain yesterday, and I was able to start mowing the hated grass.  I also mowed back our Kentucky Colonel mint.  The lime mint I planted last year has propagated this year an amazing amount, but I’m about to pull it all up and plant something else.  It tastes nothing like mint or lime, and it’s had plenty of time to develop, flower, or whatever else it wanted to do.  I felt like an idiot standing there chewing nasty leaves from several plants, for all the world like a Koala.


We harvested another eggplant along with all the other stuff this week.  We cooked the one we got last week.  I sliced it thin, salted it and let it sit for a couple of hours, washed the salt off, and dipped each one into milk, then into a cornmeal and bread crumb mix seasoned with sweet paprika, black pepper, dill, ground parmesan, and ground romano.  Then I cooked them in ¼ cup of olive oil spread out over my 16” skillet.  They were yummy, and we spooned our own tomato sauce over them on the plate right before eating.  I’ll probably do something similar this week.

Charentais Melon

Last, but not least, we harvest a charentais melon.  We are very excited, we just hope it’s ripe!

Green Beans!


Field Peas

Cucumbers blooming

Butter beans