By Penny Stine
Tuesday, July 31, 2012
I'm growing okra for the first time this year. Knowing that okra can reach six feet tall under the right conditions and that it is native to Africa, I gave it prime location in my garden. It's in the sunniest area possible, and I tried to give it lots of space.
In mid-June, it looked rather sad, forlorn and silly, having such large areas for such tiny plants.
This particular variety was supposed to be a 50-day okra, so by mid-July, I was somewhat skeptical.
As you can see by the photo, it still looked less than impressive. And wasn't producing, but was taking up a huge space in my limited garden.
I gave the okra a privileged place in the front yard not just for the sun, but also because I saw a photo of this particular variety, which produces a red pod and has a gorgeous, cream-colored flower to go along with it. So I wasn't disappointed when it finally flowered in late July.
So far, I have picked all of four pods from three okra plants. One I stuck in stir-fry (and I finally learned what people mean when they say that okra is somewhat slimy) and the other three I just picked a few days ago and stuck in the fridge. I'm hoping that they all start producing like crazy, since my deep fryer is on stand-by and I'm eager to experiment with fried okra and gumbo. As you can see from the photo, I'll have a few more pods to add to the three in the fridge, so maybe fried okra will be on the menu this week!
By Penny Stine
Friday, July 27, 2012
OK, I know everyone is probably sick of looking at stuff growing out of a straw bale, but this is so cool!
The pumpkin vines like their home in the straw bale and are swallowing everything in sight.
They're also producing pumpkin! I hope these vines produce enough pumpkins for every child in the preschool to have one to decorate.
By Penny Stine
Wednesday, July 25, 2012
This sorry peach is the one lone peach that formed on my peach tree this year. I wasn't surprised or disappointed by the single fruit because I just planted it last spring. I had been watching it and checking for ripeness. Evidently some critter had been, too, since those teeth marks are not mine!
I would be much more devastated about his sorry, half-eaten, sad-looking peach if I couldn't go to the Teller Arms farmers market on Saturday and buy a flat of peaches every Saturday morning. But since I'm well on my way toward my goal of eating my weight in peaches this summer, I can just say "bummer," and chalk it up to learning.
Perhaps next year I'll have to buy a spy-cam to see what's stalking my peach tree.
By Penny Stine
Tuesday, July 24, 2012
My main reason for gardening is growing something tasty I can eat, so last night was a thriller at the dinner table. I had the first green beans of the season.
I grew two new types of pole beans, one was called Smeraldo and the other is Kwintus. Both beans are long and flat, and I got both kinds of seed from Park Seeds. I was disappointed in the germination and the way the bugs devoured them when they first came up, but I think part of that was my own dang fault. Beans like warm soil, but I'm always in such a hurry to plant in the spring that I think I plant them too early. Next year, I'll try waiting until mid-June to plant and I think they'll do better. The smeraldo beans are really sweet and tasty.
I've been reading various recipes for fried squash blossoms (and received a deep fryer for Christmas from my son) so I decided I had to try them last night, too.
I won't repeat the recipes since there are already a ton of them online, but I decided to not just fry them, but to stuff them with cheese and herbs, too. The only problem was I had to go to the grocery store after work, so by the time I got home, my husband was hungry and not willing for me to take my time thinking about herb combinations and the perfect ones to complement the ricotta cheese. I grabbed some basil while I was in the garden hunting for squash blossoms and called it good.
Which reminds me, if you know you want to try making deep fried squash blossoms, don't wait until the evening to pick them. Pick them in the morning, when they're open. At the end of the day, they're closed and wrinkled, making them harder to open, pluck the stamen out and stuff with cheese and herbs.
I stuffed with ricotta and basil, which was too boring. Next time, I'll try goat cheese and basil, rosemary and thyme.
I didn't take pics of every step of the process, due to the fact that my poor husband was wasting away from hunger. I used a sandwich bag as a pastry bag for the cheese, which made it easy to squeeze just a bit into each flower. I also dipped in an egg, and then a flour/corn meal mixture prior to plopping them in the deep fryer.
In spite of the boring stuffing mixture, the blossoms were pretty tasty. Of course, shoelaces would probably be tasty after dipping it in eggs and a seasoned flour mixture and then tried 'til golden.
By Penny Stine
Friday, July 20, 2012
As the main contributor to this gardening blog, I get plenty of unsolicited e-mails telling me about garden products, books and sometimes a few non-gardening items, as well. Occasionally, someone sends something to the newspaper, too. The latest product to come my way as keeper of the gardening blog was a box containing two bottles of fish rich fertilizer.
One is organic and the other is not. Frankly, when I see something all packaged, processed and pretty, but with an organic label, I'm immediately skeptical. From what I've read about nutrition, it's not the added fertilizers and pesticides that cause the most harm to our bodies, but the added processing and packaging. But I won't go there today...
I decided to give this fertilizer a try and let my readers decide if it did any good. I'm using my straw bales as test plots because they were looking puny, as you can see from the before pictures, which I placed on the left. I took the after pictures six days after applying the fertilizer.
This is my bale containing one sweet potato plant and one big Jim pepper.
This bale has one melon plant (I can't remember what kind of melon) and one sweet pepper plant. And no, I can't remember the exact type of sweet pepper, either. I think it's a gypsy hybrid.
And last, but not least, this one has a spaghetti squash in back and a big Jim in front.
Oops. Sorry, that was not the last photo. I mixed an entire gallon
of fertilizer and had some left over, so I decided to fertilize my straw bales at the community garden.
So, whaddya think? Are the results amazing, a-snoozing, astounding? I dunno. Stuff looks bigger, but whether that's simply because it's had an additional week of sunshine and extra water (I've been watering my bales at home almost daily) is anybody's guess.
The best-looking straw bales didn't even get the fish fertilizer.
They do, however, get lots of water, since the kids at Kids of the Kingdom preschool water at least twice a day.
At least we've got a definitive answer to the question of whether or not straw bale gardening will work in Western Colorado. Yes!
OK, so this really is the last pic for this post. Look! A baby spaghetti squash! This plant wasn't producing fruit before I fertilized with Fish Rich and now it is. The kids' pumpkins are loaded. Even without the fish fertilizer.