By Penny Stine
Thursday, August 11, 2011
This is a testament to the hours and hours I spent listening to pop music as a kid – I can’t think of much without thinking of song lyrics. So when I think about sunshine, I can’t help but hear John Denver singing about sunshine on his shoulders.
But it’s true that more sunshine on my garden would make me extremely happy. I have big shade trees in my yard, which I love because they keep my house cool. They also make it tricky to find a good spot to garden.
My gardening buddy, Jan, has no shade trees blocking her garden. Check out her Thai basil…
I cut about six cups of leaves from her plant to experiment with a Thai basil pesto. We’re eating it tonight with grilled shrimp and pasta – I’ll let you know if it’s any good and share the recipe if anyone’s interested.
Jan and I split a packet of kale seeds. This is how it looks in her garden.
This is my shady kale:
It tastes fine when roasted, but I’ve got to pick a lot more kale leaves from my puny little plants!
By Penny Stine
Tuesday, August 9, 2011
I can't grow zucchini. There, I've confessed. I heard Dixie Burmeister recently confess that she can't grow it, either, so I don't feel like a total failure as a gardener.
I’m growing two different types of scallop squash this year and neither one is the standard pattypan that I’ve been growing for the last three years. I wanted to try something different, so I decided it was time to try some new scallop squash varieties.
I planted a few G-star hybrid squash from Park seed. The description said they were extremely prolific, do well in the heat and are resistant to powdery mildew. They’re dark green like a zucchini, but shaped like a pattypan.
I also planted a seed from Baker Creek Heirloom seeds called patisson panache jaune et verte scallop. I forgot everything I learned in my one year of high school French, but I think jaune et verte scallop simply means yellow and green scallop. No idea what patisson panache means.
I chose it because the description said you could eat it like a summer squash when it was small and like a winter squash if you forgot about it and let it grow to plate-size proportions. It was also supposed to be yellow with green stripes, which I thought would look cool. And the name is already awesome, so there ya’ go.
So far, I’ve discovered that the dark green squash has very few seeds (a big plus) and tastes slightly better, in my opinion (also shared by my son and one of his buddies, who was eating dinner with us one night when we were eating stuffed squash). The green squash has more squashy flesh, since it has fewer seed goo.
Both are producing well and both have that lovely, flying saucer look that I love in a pattypan. I’ll also use both as zucchini substitutes later this summer when I start baking chocolate zucchini bread to store in the freezer for winter consumption.
Unless the heirloom one is amazing when baked as a winter squash, I think I’ll just go with the G-star hybrid next year.
Unless, of course, I see some other squash seed that I want to plant in my experimental garden.
By Laurena Mayne Davis
Monday, August 8, 2011
For someone who believes in positive reinforcement in raising both kids and pets, I sure do take a critical view of the garden.
Every morning starts with the disapproving once-over. The corn needs top-dressed. The asparagus needs weeded. The bolted spinach bed needs replanted with carrots and cabbage for fall.
Sheesh. You’d think I couldn’t find anything good to say.
That’s why it’s a particular pleasure to gift items from the garden. Putting together the garden bounty in an aesthetically pleasing way makes you fully appreciate the beauty under your own nose — weeds and all.
Monday, August 8, 2011
On the way to the Sunday Palisade Farmer's Market we spotted this sign at The Red Barn fruit stand. "Real Tomatoes," as opposed to those dry, tasteless grocery store varieties I talked about earlier. If you haven't been to this Farmer's Market yet you should go. It still has that small town charm and the best peaches you will ever eat. The market is Sunday's from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Friday, August 5, 2011
I start dreaming of tomatoes in January when I get the catalogues. Then I start with a small step in February by planting a couple dozen small seeds with visions of canning dozens of jars of salsa, tomato sauce and tomatoes.
During the winter and spring, tomatoes at the grocery store are dead to me. I refuse to even go there. What is the point in eating dry, tasteless, EXPENSIVE pieces of... well you know where I am going... cardboard.
Everything from February on is geared toward the goal of a bountiful harvest of home-grown tomatoes. Oh, sure, I do grow a lot of other things, but they are they are all sidelines, the wallflowers of the garden. The tomato is the prom queen.
The compost pile I hike outside to on freezing winter days is for the tomato. The addition of new beds, with hundreds of dollars of new soil, with everything my precious bambinos are going to need - it's all for the tomato. All this for the heavenly first bite of the fresh sun rippened tomato.
June found me heartbroken, pulling up dying, diseased tomato plants, which Dennis Hill attributed to late blight or microscopic insects, and here is July - still pulling up dying tomato plants with curly leaf virus.
I am just so happy I don't depend on my garden to keep me alive. Let's just say, it would be a short, hungry life.
I finally had one ripe pear tomato and a promise of more with one healthy plant. Out of the twenty original plants, I have about five healthy plants left with green tomatoes. Maybe I won't have to buy all my tomatoes from the farmers market.
"It's difficult to think anything but pleasant thoughts while eating a homegrown tomato."
Lewis Grizzard quotes