Tag Archives: beets

Cooking with Fire

I’ll admit, I’m kind of new to the grilling scene. Not to say I was completely inexperienced, because I’m not, but I never actually owned a grill up until about 2 months ago. That’s unless you count the time I had an in-ground fire pit that we would fill with charcoal and lay grill grates over top. It was kind of awesome. After cooking dinner, we would fill it with wood and have a fire. I, however, was completely paranoid because we had nosey neighbors and there was an enforced ban on open fires, and it was placed right next to my other neighbor’s wooden fence. Do you see where I am going with this? Sure, it was constructed from brick and cinder blocks, but paranoid I was!

Since I am not much of a carnivore, it never entered my mind to purchase a grill after moving into the new place.  Then, the summer holiday super sales on grills began, so I ended up getting one.  I thought about charcoal, because I really like the smoky flavor, but I really don’t want to mess around with coals.  So propane it is!

Mainly, I grill veggies, but it has seen two pork chops and three chicken breasts, too.  I found them when I cleaned out the freezer late Spring to make room for this year’s anticipated veggie harvest!  Last week I grilled tofu for the first time and I must say I was pretty pleased with the results!

Grilled Herb Tofu and Agave-Dijon Root Vegetables – adapted from Cookouts Veggie Style

for the tofu::

1 block extra-firm tofu, sliced and pressed to remove excess water

2 Tbsp lemon juice

2 Tbsp rosemary infused olive oil

3 cloves garlic, minced

8 fresh basil leaves, sliced into ribbons

1 med sprig of fresh rosemary, chopped

several splashes of vegan Worcestershire sauce

salt & pepper to taste

Whisk together lemon juice, oil, garlic, rosemary, basil, and Worcestershire in a shallow bowl.  Marinate tofu “filets” for 20-30 minutes.  Overnight would have been awesome, but I had just gotten home from work and I was starving!  Remove tofu from marinade and sprinkle each side with salt and pepper, place on a hot grill over a medium flame and cook approximately 5 minutes per side, or until browned.  I have one of those veggie cage things (I have no idea what they are really called) and it worked perfectly!  Seriously, when I saw it at the store I gasped out loud and was like “MOM! Oh my god, that is awesome and I am so grilling stuff with it!”  She just shot me the one eyebrow raised “you’re so weird” look.

for the root veggies::

4 Tbsp agave

3 Tbsp Dijon mustard

4 Tsp lemon juice

2 Tbsp olive oil

salt & pepper to taste

4 medium beets, sliced and quartered (you can peel them if you want, I don’t)

4 medium carrots, coined into 1″ pieces (I don’t peel my carrots either)

Marinate veggies 20-30 minutes, then transfer to foil.  Double wrap the veggies and place them on a hot grill over a medium flame.  Cook for 15-20 minutes, turning once.   Remove from grill with tongs; use caution when opening the foil package, the steam will come rolling out!!

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Wordless Wednesday: Chioggia Beets

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Garden Tour and My Battle with Blight

Last weekend, I spent most of Friday night, all of Saturday morning and some of Monday afternoon tackling the beginnings of late blight on my tomatoes.  Late blight is usually our precursor to the ever loathsome dog days of summer.  Every July, the bottom leaves develop spots, turn yellow, shrivel up, and die, leaving my tomato plants looking like a sad mess.  Thankfully, late blight seems to favor my leaves and not the actual fruit itself.  However, it can affect and destroy the leaves, stems, fruits, and tubers of potato and tomato plants.  Late blight was responsible for the Irish Potato Famine.

Late blight spores are asexual and are spread by rain splash and wind currents.  One way to slow down this ugly fungus-like pathogen is to begin removing the infected leaves as soon as they appear.  I should have started that task around Tuesday, but alas, I had too much other stuff to tend to.  By the time I got into the garden Friday, it had spread through the first three rows of my tomatoes.  My Cream Sausage were the hardest hit.  Since they are a determinant variety, I will be pulling them after the harvest.  My Amish Paste, Hillbilly, Cherokee Purple and Green Zebras are all indeterminant varieties, so I will continue to clip off leaves and suckers well into the fall till our first hard frost.

And now, I shall take you on a 365 degree tour of the main garden!

Several of my sunflowers had what appeared to be powdery mildew, so I pulled them.  I’ve started new ones for transplant.  Two weeks ago, I pulled the sugar snap peas and rebuilt the trellis to accommodate my tiger melons, which I will be growing vertically.  My bush peas will most likely be pulled this weekend and replaced with winter squash.  Carrots were next to the bush peas, but I pulled them after the picture was taken.  The brassicas will most likely come out next week.  Some are forming heads and others I don’t believe ever will.  I will be planting carrots, beets, and beans in that space.

After the empty space on the left is celery, then Brussels sprouts.  They may or may not do anything.  Regardless, I am going to give them another go this Fall!  I love me some Brussels sprouts sautéed in an obnoxious amount of butter and garlic!!  And now begins the tomatoes.

L-R Cream Sausage, Amish Paste, Hillbilly, Cherokee Purple, and Green Zebra.  I think it took me a total of about 10 hours to cut out all the blight damaged leaves.  I also thinned out the suckers (stems that will never flower) and restaked everything!  You can now walk down each path; by thinning out leaves, I’ve increased air circulation, which will hopefully help in protecting against other tomato diseases!

Some of my tomato plants have reached a height of 6 feet, they are now taller than me! :)  I did some companion planting this year and placed a row of carrots between the Green Zebras and the Purple Tomatillos, they were shaded by the rapid growth of the plants flanking them.  After the leaf trimming, they are getting more light, but it will be a slow grow for them!  This is my first year for tomatillos and I did not realize just how big they got!  I did not stake them, but they are holding up well.  I may go in with supports later if they begin to look stressed.  To the very right of the picture are my ground cherries.   Only two made it and they are thriving; I’ve started two more that now have true leaves.

Beans, beets, beans, and cucumbers!  I’m going to seed more carrots next to the last planting of beans.  If I need to, I will trellis my cukes to keep them off the ground and away from my carrots, which is most likely the case.

And as we continue along the backside…

Zucchini and purslane are behind the tomatoes.  Yes, I eat purslane.  Yes, I know it is a weed.  I have more summer squash growing in the front garden, along with kale and onions…but this post is all about the main garden.

I ended up losing two Swiss chard earlier this year.  I’ve never had them bolt from the heat in their first year till now!  I’m going to start more for my cold frames, and hopefully extend my harvest well into the winter months.  Next to my chard are alternating rows of beets and carrots.  They will soon be ready for harvest.  In front of those are my newly seeded French breakfast radishes.  So far they are doing well!  Next are beets that I have slowly been pulling.

And finally, the remaining brassicas, peas, sunflowers and some empty growing space that will soon be covered with winter squash!

Well, that’s it.  You have now just circled my main garden.  Hope you enjoyed the tour! :)

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A Day of Firsts

First sunflower opened.

First black swallowtail caterpillar.

First summer harvest.

Today was a good day indeed.

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Filed under Micro-farming, The Critters

Garden Growth: Mid June

I’m having a hard time accepting the reality that summer is just a few short days away!  Um, pardon me, Father Time?  Would you mind slowing things down just a bit?  You see, I’d like to savor these last few days of Spring because once Summer rolls in my mind automatically jumps ahead to begin preparations for Fall.   And with these thoughts of Fall I’m painfully reminded that winter is right around the corner.  See, it’s not even Summer and already I’m thinking of Winter!  UGH!  Sometimes I really hate the way my brain works!

But enough about the neurotic workings of my cerebral cortex, lets focus on the task at hand: bringing you up to speed on the progress of this year’s garden(s)!  Last night I spent another 2 hours mulching the garden.  No, I’m still not done with that project.  But in my defense I’ve got a lot of ground to cover!  I’d say about 90% is done, I still have some planting to do and it is senseless to cover an area that I am just going to have to reopen for seeds.  Plus, I tend to get lost in thought; several times I caught myself standing there contemplating crop rotation, succession plantings, and trellis placement.  Forethought is essential to maximizing crop yields and pest prevention, especially when you grow organically!  Or at least that is my excuse for perpetual garden daydreaming! :)

You may want to stand back, for I shall now open the photo floodgate!

 Excuse my weeds, I have yet to properly mulch this end since I will be ripping out the peas and trellises over the next few days.  My sugar snaps are working on their grand finale, and after one more thorough sweep through the golden sweet peas I’ll pull them.

Towards the back you can see the golden sweet peas leaning into the bush peas.  After my third horizontal garden incident I gave up.  If it were earlier in the season I would have fixed it (again), but since I’m pulling them in a few days why bother.  The bush peas are still producing but I’m not sure for how much longer.  This was my first year growing this variety and honestly I’m just not all that impressed.  Don’t get me wrong, they are yummy, but I think I prefer both the look and taste of trellised sugar snaps.

Next to the bush peas are two mini rows of carrots, behind that are a few heads of flame lettuce, other wise referred to as “clown head”.  :)  Then there are the brassicas.  So far I’ve harvested about 5 smallish crowns from the green sprouting broccoli.  The violetto cauliflower and romanesco broccoli have done nothing, and I’m assuming they probably won’t due to the rapid increase in temperature we experienced a few weeks back.  Brassicas hate the heat and it went from April to July during the end of May beginning of June.

After I harvest the crown I pull the plants.  If it were earlier in the season or Fall I’d keep them for the small offshoots, but I need the space since most of my cucurbits will be transplanted here.

You can see on the left side of the picture where I’ve begun pulling plants.  The dark areas were mulched last night.  Those four green spots towards the middle are celery and behind that are a few short rows of beets and carrots.  Next are Brussels sprouts, again not too hopeful on a harvest, and behind that is Swiss chard.  Then starts the tomatoes!

This is the same picture as above just taken from the other side.  One the left is the Swiss chard, the open patch is four rows of newly sown french breakfast radish seeds; I’m planning on pickling them.  Next are Detroit dark red beets; I started harvesting those and the cylinder beets (hidden in the pea rows) last Wednesday.  My mom and niece had stopped by that evening so I showed Cecelia how to pull beets and then sent a bunch home with my mom.

My first beet harvest of the season.

L-R Cream Sausage (the first to mature, I’ve harvested 4 so far) then it’s Amish paste, hillbilly, Cherokee purple and finally green zebra.  I’m hoping to have staggered them enough so that they are don’t mature at once, but I doubt it!

Hillbilly tomatoes

On the left are purple tomatillos, then ground/husk cherries (my first year growing both).  I’m planning on starting more ground cherries later today.  I knew they were small but had no idea they were tiny!  I’d like to can some and with just two plants I don’t think they will produce enough…especially since the ones that have ripened never make it out of the garden! hehehe  After the cherries is a row of red swan beans and beets (too small to see).

Purple Tomatillo

Red Swan Beans

I’ve decided to try things a little differently this year in hopes to not have everything ready for harvest/canning all at once.  Next week I will be calculating harvest dates and putting in my “canning” beans, carrots and beets.  Hopefully by the time they reach maturity I will have the bulk of my tomatoes canned, sauced and salsafied!

You can barely see them but at the bottom center are my Boston pickling cucumbers .  I’m hoping I got them into the ground late enough so I don’t have another attack of bacterial wilt like last year!  What a mess that turned out to be!!

Malbar spinach, although technically it’s not spinach, it is a tropical perennial that tastes just like spinach.  It is part of my edible landscaping, which will vine up the arbor next to my roses.

Chinese five color peppers.  Another new variety I’m growing this year.  I have a bed of peppers and eggplants but this is the only one doing anything worth photographing!

My front side yard where I ripped out the ivy to create more growing space.  I have two rows of onions, cipollini and red, alongside my Russian red and scotch blue curled kale.  Towards the back are patty pan squash.

I have more squash varieties and onions in another bed but the onions have not broken ground so I didn’t take any pictures.  I also have basil, parsley, rosemary, oregano, cilantro and a few others scattered about the property.  I ended up running out of light so I’ll have to photograph them later.  However, I think this post is more than enough to tide you over till my next garden growth post! :)

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Wordless Wednesday – Beets & Onions

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