Archive for the ‘Pictures’ Category

Weekly Garden Update: 4/10

April 10, 2011

Weekly Garden Update:  4/10





It was the week of bolting.  The over-wintered cabbage and Brussels sprouts plants bolted along with the mizuna and mache.  The cabbage and brussels sprouts were disappointing because the plants looked so healthy.  We ended up just cutting the leaves, a nibble of which proved pretty tasty, so we’ll use them in Suan la Chow Show (a Chinese dumpling dish with cabbage and pork) later this week (N.B.:  If anyone has Mary Chung’s recipe for either the dumplings or her sauce, please please email us.  I can make some pretty good imitations, because I have a recipe imitation back from when it was made at Colleens, but I can’t match her).


Help meeee, I'm boltinggggg



Some internet research revealed that these two plants aren’t good candidates for over-wintering in our region as they tend to bolt once warm temperatures arrive if they’ve been exposed to sub-freezing temperatures for a length of time.  Live and learn.  Of course, when we planted them last Fall, we had hoped they would produce by the time really cold temps arrived.  But Fall 2010 was short – summer lasted forever and snow came in early December (somewhat early for us).  True Spring and Fall crops tend to be hit and miss around here.



And more....

And more harvest


We harvested the rest of the mizuna and mache and some more of the various lettuces this week.  We also harvested the rest of the over-wintered Lacinato kale, some of the over-wintered mustard, and some of the over-wintered Red Russian kale (which is also bolting some).  We have more of these plants growing, which we direct sowed in mid-February, but the seedlings probably need another month before they’re harvestable (if they don’t succumb to potentially too-high temps by then).




The potatoes are leaping up to worship the sun god!  It’s amazing how much they’ve grown in the past week from little nubbins barely poking up to actual plants.


This weekend we also potted up some of the peppers and tomatoes growing in the basement.  We also started to harden off the celery which we intend to plant out next weekend.  We hope that low temperatures will be forecast to be high enough soon so we can transplant out the summer squash seedlings.  They are now at the size at which we intended to plant them out but there are still some lows forecast in the upper 40s this week so we want to wait until lows are always in the 50s.


Peas Peas!

Broccoli & Cauliflower




Peas, garlic, and the other brassica are motoring along.


New Asparagus Bed with 31 Planted Crowns


Lastly, we finished the asparagus bed and planted the asparagus.  Hopefully we’ll be in asparagus for years to come!



Apple Trees

Blueberry Bells


How is your garden growing?



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!

Weekly Update: December 5th

December 5, 2010

Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow!


Snowy Garden


As usual, the whethermen got it wrong.  It was explained to us for over two days that we were getting possible snow flurries or a light dusting of snow overnight on Saturday, but that any accumulation was out of the question.  By 1 pm Saturday afternoon it had started snowing, and by 3 pm we had about 1.5 inches accumulation.


Boxes in the snow



So I was told to go out and shoot pictures, which was fun.  The dog ran through the snow and gamboled about.  Hearts were comforted watching from the big windows looking out over the yard and the forest as the flakes swirled about and landed lightly.




We covered up most of the crops earlier this week due to low temperatures in the high 20s, using Burlap and the row cover we have.  The only production we’re getting right now is fresh herbs when we cook something (I used a LOT of sage last week on turkey and the dressing and stuff, along with some rosemary, tarragon, and dill).  Oh and the greens.  We’re getting mustard and kale, two varieties of each, on a once or week or twice a week basis.


Greens for some Color!


We are however, starting to hit the canned goods from this summer.  We opened our first jar of Haricot Vert this week, and oh my Yummy!  The very next best thing to fresh from the garden.

In cooking news, we ate all that lovely turkey this past week, including turkey curry and turkey hash and turkey sandwiches and sliced turkey with gravy, etc.  This week we’re varying the menu quite a bit, and one of the things I’ll be making is my Chicken Divan, at which point if I remember I’ll come back to the recipe I just posted here and add some lovely photos.

I first ate Chicken Divan at my Aunt’s house, and it was a perennial favorite as I grew up whenever I could cajole her into making it.  The recipe wasn’t really like the one I use now, it has changed regularly over the years, mostly as my eating habits have changed.

A good friend in the 1980s talked me into making my own sauce, and adjusting the cheeses and seasoning.  Adding the pimientos was my own idea as I was experimenting with variations.  It’s a great hearty one-dish dinner, and highly prized at potlucks as well.

I hope you enjoy it.

Weekly Update: November 21

November 21, 2010

The garlic is peeping up!  We’re very happy not to have to wait until spring to see.  Despite the weather, all our herbs are still doing very well.  We harvested more greens this week.   Other than that, there isn’t a lot to talk about with the garden.

I made biscuits this morning, and diverged from my normal plain biscuits and added some roughly chopped cheese, a small jar of drained pimientos, and some black pepper.




I have put off, and put off again, making a post about biscuits, and listing my biscuit recipe.  The truth is, I feel like a heretic.  I was raised to think of biscuits in a particular way, and departing in any way from that always seems a little “wrong” to me.  But years and years of making biscuits and experimenting with them, altering recipes in small ways just to see what happens next, has made me rather opinionated on the topic.

Yes, it’s true that you can make perfectly decent biscuits with just flour, water, and lard.  It helps if you have a touch for it, which is something that I’ve never been able to explain.


Plate o' Biscuits


But it’s easier to make biscuits that more people enjoy by adding a few more ingredients.  So today I’m posting my biscuit recipe in the other section.  And I have attempted to minimize my commentary, story-telling, extreme opinions, and sneering at some of the other types of biscuits from other places, all the while feeling guilty for putting in anything but soft winter wheat flour, because experience has taught me that mixing the flours changes the texture of the biscuit in an advantageous way.

I expect that some other people may take this recipe, and do what I do, which is change it immediately.  I just want to point out that if you make these biscuits using vegetable shortening, don’t come complaining to me.  Maybe *your* grandmother only made them that way, and they were great, but I cannot make them come out tasting decent using vegetable shortening.

Weekly Update: November 14

November 14, 2010

We harvested the rest of the peppers this week.  We’ve had at least three days that have gotten down to freezing at night, and the plants were starting to look frost-bitten.


Pepper Harvest


The greens and other winter crops look fine, but the garlic still hasn’t started up in their beds.  In another couple of weeks I’ll cover them in leaf mulch regardless.


Dried Peppers


I’ve dried two batches of peppers, and have the last batch in the oven now.  Then I’ll separate out some for reconstituting, and grind the rest for powders.


Tomato Sauce


We used the last of the tomatoes that were turning red this week, and the last of the basil as well in this batch of tomato sauce.

And we made Lemongrass Shrimp soup this week for dinner.  From our garden we had cilantro, lemongrass, cayenne, peppers, and a couple small potatoes, as well as our own homemade chicken stock.  The recipe is listed under our recipe section, along with a picture.

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: 10/23

October 24, 2010

We went to the NC State Fair yesterday, and had a wonderful time.

Among other enticements like the food, the dairy goat show and all the other livestock, and the Village of Yesteryear, we spent some time examining the preserved food, grown food, and baking categories for the state competitions.  It is our considered opinion that our hot pepper jelly, some of the things we grow, and some of the other things we preserve, including dried items, are worthy of being submitted in next year’s competitions.

This week we harvested more greens.  We got a few more peppers, a couple tomatoes, and some green beans.

Garden shot

I harvested oregano and dried it in the oven.

We caught some deer coming up into the garden to nibble on the squash plant – the dog raced out the doggy door, down the stairs, and out the other doggy door in order to chase them into the woods.

The red clover in the boxes and the crimson and white clovers in the yard are germinating!  Lettuces, greens, beets, spinach, and carrots are growing.

Still been too hot in the days to plant garlic, so our projected planting date is still October 30th.

This is a picture of a close-up of what mycorrhizal fungi does to our garden mulch.  Yes, it’s a full color picture.

Mycorrhizal fungi

Given the slow down in garden information, I am predicting an increase in weekly cooking posts of some sort or another.

In that vein, I want to speak about bacon.  It has been very very difficult to get real cured bacon with the changes in our eating habits.  By which I mean, humanely-raised “pastured” natural hogs that were humanely slaughtered and raised without unnecessary antibiotics or with growth hormones.  People who raise this kind of meat rarely get it cured in a real fashion, i.e., with nitrites.  It is interesting to me that the stuff some companies use to cure bacon without adding nitrites actually results in the finished product having a higher percentage of nitrites from a chemical process than if they just added the nitrites to begin with.  And there are a lot of people that sell or process uncured bacon.   But bacon has a really short shelf-life without nitrites and you really can’t freeze it, the taste of the fat goes “off” very quickly.   Consequently we have been unable to locate a bacon that I have been happy with.  But today we discovered a regional bacon producer who uses humanely raised and slaughtered pastured pork, who uses nitrites to actually cure the bacon — and they’re only in Alabama.  We bought 6 slices, and we’ll try it and let you know how it tastes.

Garden box

Garden box 2

Garden box 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: October 10

October 10, 2010

We’re in full Fall mode now.  The transition from Summer to Fall came with a bang this year.  First the amazing amount of rain all at one time, and now the temperatures have left the Augusty September behind, bringing on a Novembery October.


Radishes coming up





The NC State Fair starts at the end of this week, I will note in passing.  We particularly enjoy the agricultural and crafting exhibits, followed by the food.  The Goat Show is a particular favorite, it’s always the 2nd Saturday of the Fair.  And of course the beloved Village of Yesteryear.


Carrots coming up

The squash keep trying



This week’s Harvest consisted of butter beans, green beans, the last of the field peas, what may be the last of the cucumbers, tomatoes, kale, mustard, lettuce, and peppers galore.




Lovely Jalapenos

Mustard & kale

Mustard & Kale


I made my Instant Karma HOT Pepper Jelly this week, with Habaneras.  It kind of glows with an orange wicked inner light.  I also made a milder “Hot Kitten” (it thinks it’s hot, but it’s just a kitten) Hot Pepper Jelly with Anchos, Cayennes, and Serranos.  And then I made Pickled Jalapenos.


Instant Karma Hot Pepper jelly


This next week I plan to make Tabasco Vinegar Sauce, and maybe some Hot Chili Garlic Sauce.  We have bottles ordered from a great place on the internet that sells inexpensive bottles.

This morning we did a light watering, and ripped out the field peas.  We have lots of fall stuff germinating, including carrots.

The tomato vines are looking tired.  The tomatoes off them are smaller, and turn red less quickly.  We have one watermelon that we insist on having high hopes for, and two more that are unlikely to get ripe unless something odd happens.


Garden 3

Garden 2

Garden 1


Herbs continue to do very well in the fall environment.