Let's Get Dirty
A gardening blog for adults who still love to play in the dirt.
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By Penny Stine
Monday, October 21, 2013
I grew a variety of root veggies this year just because I had the space and I was curious. In addition to carrots and potatoes, I grew parsnips, beets and celery root. I inadvertently killed most of the parsnips and beets when they were tiny early in the summer, but we won't talk about that.
I read that root veggies taste better after a slight frost, so I waited for a frost and then dug a couple of everything.
The tops of the celery roots are also edible (as are the beet tops) and taste like very strong celery-flavored celery. Sorry, weird description, but I don't know how else to put it. A little goes a long way. I used some in a tuna melt last night and it was good.
I've been using the beet greens (and the celery root tops) in my morning smoothies. As long as I don't get carried away with the celery, they're fine.
Everything looked better once I cleaned them.
I decided to roast all of them together because almost every vegetable is better when roasted. I mixed a little honey with some olive oil and fresh thyme and stuck them in the oven at 350.
As you can see, they looked pretty while they were roasting. (Isn't looking pretty good?)
I probably left them in the oven a little too long because the colors all bled out and it was difficult to tell what was what by the time we ate. Everything was good, but I couldn't really distinguish between the flavors. I was hoping for more of a distinction. I still have a few parsnips and beets and about six or seven celery root plants out in the garden. I can't bring myself to pull everything yet, I figure I have until early November before the ground gets too hard.
By Penny Stine
Friday, October 18, 2013
My garden got hit by frost one night this week. Pretty sad zucchini.
The tomatoes are equally gone, as are the peppers and melons. In fact, they're all starting to get soggy-looking and sad. I'll spend several hours this weekend cleaning up my garden of all the frozen remains.
Some plants, however, are still going strong, like the kale. Carrots, beets and celery root are also quite happy in spite of the cold nights. When it gets really cold and the snow's coming down, the kale will turn brown, but I've learned not to dig it up or pull it out. In late winter, I just cut away the brown leaves and I'm picking kale again from the same plant by mid-April.
Perennial herbs can take the cold as well. This is parley, which is a biennial plant, which means it takes two years to complete its life cycle. Mine seems to be acting more like a power-hungry perennial set on world domination, but that's OK, I've never had to plant it again for it to reproduce. I like having it in the garden because it's usually the first thing that grows in the spring and it's one of the last thing to freeze and turn brown in late fall.
This is salad burnet, which is a true perennial and will be green and pretty again by April. It's still green and pretty in late October when lots of other things have turned brown.
By Penny Stine
Wednesday, October 16, 2013
I wasn't very good at battling the squash bugs this year, so I lost most of my squash plants after they gave just one or two tiny squash.I did have one that I must have planted late and the squash bugs never found. So when I was picking anything I could find last night in anticipation of a freeze, I found these.
I had two pieces of bacon in the fridge and a little bit of cream (and onions, garlic, chicken broth), so I decided to make pasta sauce.
After I cooked the bacon (and drained most of the fat), then sautéed the garlic and onions in the remnant of bacony goodness with more olive oil, I decided it needed an anchovy, so I chopped up one of my treasured Croatian anchovies and added it to the onions and garlic. Then I added all that zucchini (diced, of course) and basil & cooked until soft.
Next, I added chicken broth and cooked it some more. I realized I didn't have as much cream as I thought, so I added what little I had (with a bit of ground flax mixed in it to thicken it), along with some sour cream and Romano cheese.
Tossed it with penne pasta, and dinner was done. It's one of my fave things to do with summer squash, so I'm sad that I didn't get more summer squash this year.Oh well, there's always next year!
By Penny Stine
Monday, October 14, 2013
I planted beets on Sept. 27 because I thought the seed catalog said 30 days. When I looked again (after planting, of course), it said 50 days. However, it also said it was good to plant two weeks prior to the last frost, which indicates that the beets continue growing until winter truly sets in.
Here's how my tiny little beets look. Will they get to any size whatsoever before the snow starts flying? I have no idea. Usually we don't get a bunch of snow and really cold weather until Thanksgiving, but last year, I think we got several inches by Nov. 6.
This is the sunniest spot in my yard, so maybe I'll have baby beets for Thanksgiving!
Except that my sons probably wouldn't eat them and we are planning on having dins with the boys, so I'd better think of a more conventional vegetable for Thanksgiving.
By Penny Stine
Monday, October 7, 2013
My gardening buddy (who's also my canning buddy) and I have been picking tomatoes like crazy, peeling them and then sticking them in gallon freezer bags. Both of our freezers are full of tomatoes, so we decided it was time to can. Seriously, we had 38 gallon size freezer bags full of tomatoes, so it was definitely an extravacanza.
We can in my kitchen because it's nice and roomy, with a stove that can fit two canning kettles and access on both sides. As you can see, we needed all the room we could get.
What this photo doesn't show are the bags (and bags) of frozen/thawing tomatoes and the empty-but-soon-to-be-filled jars.
We worked pretty much from 1 p.m. to about 7:30 p.m., canning about 60 quarts of various flavors of tomatoes (we did some with tomatilos, some with Italian herbs, some with green chiles) and 13 pints of salsa. A fine days work. We still have eight frozen gallons of tomatoes that we ran out of time and energy to can, so we made a date to can again in two weeks. Maybe by then all the green ones I picked last week and the few I left on the vine to get bigger will also be ripe.
I think there's lots of pasta sauce, chili, soup and Mexican food in my culinary future this winter.