Archive for April, 2009

Blossoms!

With the sudden onslaught of warm weather, the garden is starting to burst with blossoms. The peas, beans, cucumbers, squash, and tomatoes are all showing off their beautiful yellow and white flowers. Coming soon: squash blossoms! Once they get large enough to stuff full of goat cheese and saute with olive oil, salt and pepper, we’ll see how many actually make it to adulthood.

The peas are blossoming and some pods are already starting to grow.

The peas are blossoming and some pods are already starting to grow.

The blossom at the end of that little squash should get to be about four or five inches long. Filled with goat cheese, it is a delicious snack.

The blossom at the end of that little squash should get to be about four or five inches long. Filled with goat cheese, it is a delicious snack.

Cucumber blossoms

Cucumber blossoms

Lima bean blossoms

Lima bean blossoms

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Intriguing salad items

Back in the “olden days”, the freshest fruits, meats and vegetables were restricted so that only royalty and the upper class could eat them. Because of this, the lower class and peasants had to make do with what was left.  This forced diet of barely edible dregs resulted in some of the finest and most creative dishes available in the world. Who would have thought pig’s cheeks could ever be tasty or collard greens so flavorful if someone hadn’t been forced to mess with them, plying their flavors out with all of the culinary skills in their armory.

Garden pea shoots - those twisty little do-dads at the top. Pinch them off just below a couple of the youngest leaves.

Garden pea shoots - those twisty little do-dads at the top. Pinch them off just below a couple of the youngest leaves.

It wasn’t until we were strolling past the Charleston Grill downtown and dropped in for a bite that we learned how many things are growing in our garden right now that we can eat. It started with the English garden pea shoots, an idea we had heard about from the Glass Onion, but hadn’t tried until it showed up, springing happily from our shrimp and scallop entree. They are deliciously flavorful and slightly sweet; and snapping the shoots off the top actually help the pea plants by encouraging more growth.

Arugula blossoms in the salad box.

Arugula blossoms were another new salad item. They were featured in one of the Grill’s locally grown salads and neither of us had ever thought to throw the weed-like blooms into our mixed greens. Kevin had just picked a bunch of them out of the salad bed the day before because he assumed you do the same with them as you do with basil – snap off the flowers so the leaves don’t become too tough. With the arugula, the leaves do

become tough and extra spicy, but allowing the blossoms to grow is worth it.  Kevin never had to worry about the blossoms; the next day, twenty more shoots were unfolding their small white flowers and we quickly snapped off a handful and tossed them in our dinner salad.

What a taste! The arugula blossoms were surprisingly citrus-y and spicy at the same time; adding a bright, zesty quality to the dark leafed melange.

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garden growth

Just a quick update on the garden’s progress. We’re waiting until this weekend to replant the tomatoes, but we already bought four heirloom brandywine replacements (the last big ones at Sea Island Savory Herbs!) and will be going back to SISH for some hybrids, as well. In the meantime, the beans, peas, strawberries, squash, onions, carrots, blueberries, potatoes and blackberries, as well as the herbs, all seem to be doing well. Pending a torrential flood (knock on wood), we should be able to start harvesting within the next month or so.

The onions are doing great; some of them are even starting to flower. And the carrots ... well, since they're a root vegetable, they take a while, but the'yre looking good!

The onions are doing great; some of them are even starting to flower. And the carrots ... well, since they're a root vegetable, they take a while, but the'yre looking good!

The salad mix is doing really well with the 180 sprinkler attachment on the drip irrigation system. The leaves are really spicy and delicious with a drizzle of local honey and balsamic vinegar.

The salad mix is doing really well with the 180 sprinkler attachment on the drip irrigation system. The leaves are really spicy and delicious with a drizzle of local honey and balsamic vinegar.

We had to kill an ant pile in the potato patch. Since we're trying to be as organic as possible, we simply poured two big pots of boiling water on top of them. We'll see if it worked in a few weeks.

We had to kill an ant pile in the potato patch. Since we're trying to be as organic as possible, we simply poured two big pots of boiling water on top of them. We'll see if it worked in a few weeks.

The blueberries are starting to show up all over our three bushes. We'll have fresh blueberries in a few weeks, if the squirrels don't get them first.

The blueberries are starting to show up all over our three bushes. We'll have fresh blueberries in a few weeks, if the squirrels don't get them first.

All four pots of strawberries are doing well, but this one is really coming along well. Once it gets warmer, the berries will really start to take on their full sweetness.

All four pots of strawberries are doing well, but this one is really coming along well. Once it gets warmer, the berries will really start to take on their full sweetness.

Just a full view of the garden for comparison purposes. Can you tell we mowed the lawn? :)

Just a full view of the garden for comparison purposes. Can you tell we mowed the lawn? 🙂

We haven't even planted the new brandywine plants, and they're already blossoming. I've never seen such big flowers for a tomato!

We haven't even planted the new brandywine plants, and they're already blossoming. I've never seen such big flowers for a tomato!

The seedlings for the fall crop are also doing well. There are about 18 heirloom tomatoes and a few eggplants and peppers in the separate containers.

The seedlings for the fall crop are also doing well. There are about 18 heirloom tomatoes and a few eggplants and peppers in the separate containers.

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Good lord, it’s raining

For two days straight: rain, rain, rain. And it started the day after we planted the tomatoes. I hope this doesn’t effect them too much. The day after the rain stopped, the shoots looked pretty sad; and the day after that, some of the leaves were quite yellow. The shoots are standing up a little more, but this cold snap might make it even more difficult for them to come back. Well, luckily Sea Island Savory Herbs isn’t too far away and the tomato seedlings aren’t that expensive: it’s just all the preparation that goes into planting them. Hopefully we won’t have to bury more fish heads …

The garden after the first day of rain. The water is pooling around the south side entrance: I think we'll have to install a drainage ditch soon.

The garden after the first day of rain. The water is pooling around the south side entrance: I think we'll have to install a drainage ditch soon.

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cold snap

There’s a rule of thumb that farmers and serious gardeners in this area live by: don’t plant your spring crop seedlings until the first full moon of April. However, since we’re beginning gardeners and know all that there could concievably be known about gardening, we decided that the last weekend of March was the perfect time to plant our spring tomato crop: screw the folklore, we haven’t had a cold day after March since the blizzard in 1994.

So tonight, April 6, it’s supposed to drop down to the high 30s, and tomorrow, the low 30s and the day after that: upper 20s. We wouldn’t be so self centered as to think nature was personally trying to teach us a lesson, but it sure feels like it. So, in our evening pajamas since we didn’t see the weather report until after 8pm, we ran outside and covered the tomatoes and strawberries in a plastic tent and moved the seedlings and two coffee plants inside. We set the plastic tent up so that the plastic didn’t actually touch any of the plants, since Kevin had read somewhere that if the plastic is touching the plant, it’s the same as leaving it out in the cold, since the temperature will be transfered directly by the contact. We hope this works and we’ll keep our fingers crossed over the next few days.

We used two plastic sheets and garden stakes to cover the tomato rows and keep the plastic from actually touching the plants.

We used two plastic sheets and garden stakes to cover the tomato rows and keep the plastic from actually touching the plants.

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