Wednesday, February 29, 2012

In Love with Live Oaks

Live oaks (Quercus virginiana) do not grow where I live, so this is a long distance love.  I returned from a trip to the South Carolina coast, which is why I've been missing in gardening action recently.  I spent four years living in Florida and that's when my love for live oaks began.  They are like no other oak trees I have met.  I love the way they sprawl out with branches that become homes for ferns and Spanish moss.  This trip I met an amazing live oak known as the Angel Oak.  It is estimated to be ~1,500 years old.  The oldest tree east of the Rockies.  It was amazing!

At first I was disappointed that there were so many other people visiting the Angel Oak, but without them you wouldn't be able to tell the massive size of this tree.

The branches are crawling on the ground and are contorted into amazing shapes:

On these branches live an entire ecosystem of other plants:

And just look at the size!

I wish I could bring a live oak home with me, but I know they like warm weather and sandy soils.  It would not be happy living in the clay here, so my love for live oaks will have to remain long distance.  Oh and the beach was nice too.

Here's sunrise on Kiawah Island:

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Harvest Monday 2/20/12

Not much going on in the garden this week.  We almost saw a snowflake, but alas we only saw rain and the snow stayed about an hour north of here.  There was a little coating of ice that made for a not so speedy commute Monday morning.  I'm still hoping for a snowflake siting before spring official arrives.

As for harvests:
Broccoli 0.3 oz - a few little side shoots keep coming
Lettuce 1.1 oz
Radish 15 oz

Weekly total: 16.4 oz
Yearly total: 14.33 lbs worth $21.67

I did not take pictures of my little harvest this week, so I will leave you with a photo of raindrop on broccoli. 

To see what others are harvesting check out Harvest Monday at Daphne's Dandelions.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Thursday's Kitchen Cupboard... Radish Curry

I am trying to expand my culinary skills when it comes to radishes.  I was debating whether to plant radishes in the spring because I'm getting a bit tired of them in salads.  So this week I decided to try cooking radishes in a different way- radish curry.

Here's the original recipe, my changes are in italics.

Radish Curry
A bunch of red radish – contains 6 to 8 radishes.
Onion- one small, sliced.
Garlic- 2 or 3 small cloves crushed
Green chilis – 8 small, crushed (I didn't have green chilies, but I have a ton of dried cayenne peppers.  I used 1 crushed cayenne and I do not recommend it unless you like really spicy.)
Turmeric powder- a pinch.
Oil for saute
Mustard seeds – a pinch
Curry leaves- a sprig (I used curry powder)
Salt to taste
The leaves: Roll all the leaves together and slice into long shreds. (I used about half of the leaves.)

Clean the radishes and cut them as you would slice an apple. Clean the leaves, if you want to use them in the dish.  In a pan, add some oil. When it is hot, add the mustard seeds.  When the mustard seeds splutter, add curry leaves and onions. Next time I make this I will add radishes at the beginning because it took awhile for my radishes soften and the onions ended up burnt.  Saute for 3-5 mins until edges of the onions turn slightly brown. Add the crushed garlic and chilis, and turmeric powder. Saute for about a minute or even less.  Add the radishes, mix well and add salt. Cook covered for about 3-4 mins.  Once the radish seems soft, remove the lid and crank up the heat. Saute on high heat for a couple more minutes. The radishes will be soft yet crunchy.  After you remove the radishes onto a plate, in the same pan quickly saute the leaves for a few seconds and add it to the top of the radishes. For best results, serve right off the stove.

I liked the taste and texture of cooked radishes, although a bit less spicy would be my preference.  I also liked that this recipe included using the leaves too.  I never knew radish leaves could be sauteed.  I'm thinking that radishes are going to make the spring planting cut.

If you want to peak into other kitchens and see what others are cooking, head over to Thursday’s Kitchen Cupboard at the Gardener of Eden.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Harvest Monday 2/13/12

This week in the garden I harvested what are now the familiar veggies of winter: broccoli, spinach, lettuce, and radishes.

The broccoli continues to produce little side shoots, which is perfectly fine with me.  They can keep on producing until the asparagus arrives.  They are occupying what is going to be the asparagus's permanent home.

I also had a couple of salads from the garden this week and pulled a bunch of radishes.  A couple of small ones, medium ones, a giant one, and one red one came out of the garden this week.  Check back on Thursday to see how I cooked this bunch of radishes.

Weekly totals:
Broccoli: 6.1 oz
Radish: 17.2 oz
Spinach: 1.3 oz
Lettuce: 0.9 oz

Weekly total: 2.1 lbs
Yearly total: 14.2 lbs worth $21.51

To see what others are harvesting check out Harvest Monday at Daphne's Dandelions.

Happy Gardening! 

Saturday, February 11, 2012

February Garden

I think it might actually be winter here.  Tonight's temperature is due to dip down to 18 degrees F (-7.8 C).  The coldest we've had this winter.  I, of course, had uncovered all my beds and had to go out with a headlamp and fight the wind to get the row covers up. 

Here's what my garden looked like during the first week of February.  You can click on the image to make it larger and read the labels.  And be sure to ignore the weeds invading the paths!  A great thing about mild winters is how many veggies keep growing and producing.  The bad thing is that the weeds enjoy the weather too. 

This was my first year of growing and harvesting through the winter.  Next year I want to expand with more broccoli, carrots, and lettuce.  Since it has been such a mild winter, I'm not really sure what to expect in a  more typical winter.  I may be experiencing beginners winter gardening luck!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Harvest Monday 2/6/12

The first week of February did not bring an abundance of harvests, but enough to feed me some salads.  I would like to thank my garden for encouraging me to eat my veggies on a dreary February Monday, how could I pass up such pretty veggies:


Weekly Totals:
Broccoli:  1.7 oz
Spinach:   0.3 oz
Lettuce:    1.0 oz
Radish:     1.1 oz

Total: 4.1 oz
Year total: 12.2 lbs

To see what others are harvesting check out Harvest Monday at Daphne's Dandelions.

Happy Gardening!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

February Garden Goals

Winter has been a bit busier than I expected.  I'm still hoping for a snow day, but with the extremely mild temperatures we've had this winter it's not looking possible.  This month is going to be all about preparing for spring.  However, I need to keep working on that ambitious 2012 project list.

  1. Start seeds inside: broccoli, cauliflower, onion, leeks, cabbage, Chinese cabbage, parsley, celery, eggplant, peppers, and tomatoes are on the list for Feb.
  2. Starting seeds outside: peas and spinach
  3. Harden off: leeks, onions, and parsley
  4. Clean up beds: get the beds ready for spring planting, those winter annuals have enjoyed the mild temperatures a bit too much!
  5. Build raspberry beds: I wasn't sure if I was going to plant raspberries this year, but I ended up ordering them with my asparagus order.  Why pay multiple shipping charges?  However, this means I've got to make a bed for them before they arrive in the spring.
  6. Prettify the potting shed: paint shelves, make workbench skirt, install trellis around foundation of shed and maybe even make a windowbox.
  7. Finish potting shed bed: I need to get some topsoil and mix in manure to get the new bed ready for planting.  It's a shady spot so I was originally planning for shade flowers, but now I want to squeeze in some veggies like lettuce, peas, cabbage that will hopefully appreciate some shade.
  8. Make a bee mason house: I'm trying to make my garden more friendly to wildlife and attract pollinators.
  9. Start on the path to the garden: This is going to be a digging project that may take awhile, maybe if I start it now I'll finish before the year ends!  
  10. Clean garden tools: I didn't get to this last month, so maybe Feb will be the time to do it.
Well see if February is going to be as productivity as January. 

Happy February gardening!  I still can't believe I have radishes growing in Feb, crazy! 

Friday, February 3, 2012

Revisiting January Garden Goals

The first month of 2012 has already flown by and with my giant list of 2012 projects, it is time to see how I am doing.  

January Gardening Goals:
  1. Finish potting shed - the shed is functional with shelves and workbench, but I do want to do some painting and make it a bit cozier.
  2. Set-up my seed starting station - Baby seedlings are happily growing on the heat mats with hanging lights.
  3. Start seeds! - I started broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, leeks, head lettuce, onion seed, parsley, and Chinese cabbage.
  4. Build bed in front of potting shed - The bed is built!  I wasn't expecting to finish this in January.  I still need a fill the bed and then start planting in the spring, but the structure is built!  
 I also want to put something around the foundation of the shed.
Here's a side view:

  1. Asparagus - I ordered my asparagus- Jersey Knight, 25 crowns.
  2. Harvest and weigh winter crops -yep, I'm still thrilled about weighing harvests
  3. Plan spring garden - I've mapped out where everything is going to be planted and how many seedlings I'm going to need.  Now we'll see if I stick to the plan!
  4. Make seed starting journal - So far I've kept track of what I planted and when, hopefully I can keep up with this even when spring gets very busy!
  5. Clean and sharpen garden tools- nope!  This will be carried over to next month.
Whew!  I'm exhausted after realizing how much I did this month.  Not a bad start to the year!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Thursday's Kitchen Cupboard... Turnip Time Part II

Another week and another opportunity to discover new things to do with turnips...

This week's recipe is a turnip and cannellini soup.

The only change I made to the recipe was to put about half of the cooked soup in the blender to make it thicker.

Turnip and Cannelini Soup

2 T olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 cans cannellini beans
1 box (32 oz.) veggie or chicken broth
1 bay leaf
1 pound turnips, peeled and chopped
2 large carrots, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 tsp paprika
dash of cayenne
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp pepper

Saute onion and garlic in olive oil for a few minutes.  Add remaining ingredients (except for salt and pepper) and simmer for 30-45 minutes until veggies are tender.  Season with salt and pepper.

This is how my soup turned out:

It was very tasty!  Now if only we had a bit of a winter chill to go with a steaming bowl of soup it would be perfect.  Maybe since the groundhog saw his shadow winter will stop by sometime in February.

If you want to peak into other kitchens and see what others are cooking, head over to Thursday’s Kitchen Cupboard at the Gardener of Eden.