Organic Gardening on the Great Anoka Sand Plain.

Grapes

…three weeks later.

Grapes

These are grapes from back in August. August 21st, actually (before my last update, even!). We’ve been a bit busy…lots of social events. Also, I have been trying to get my candles made for the September 21st opening of the Eveland Family Farm. So far I’m still quite behind.

Chris tried to make some grape jam out of these. He used a recipe without pectin, and sadly boiled it one minute past the jam stage into the candy stage. Fortunately, we have quite a few left that are ripening up now so maybe we’ll give that another try.

In good news (which you don’t know is good news because I haven’t posted an update about it), our Outside Niko is still around. We hadn’t seen him in a couple of weeks. The city is doing some work on the drain to the right of our house, and so I’m sure he was just kept inside for a few days. But we hadn’t seen him on walks either, and given his love for the street I was slightly concerned.

But, the other night I looked out of the kitchen window to see him happily jumping around in our yard. Later that evening we went to check out the garden, and he heard us and came meowing. We let him in.

neighbor cat

Cedar enjoyed his company for a while, and he enjoyed our catnip. Oh, and he really is a *HE*. I need to flag down the maybe-owners and ask if they have plans to prevent him from procreating. Sweet cat though; he must belong to someone.



Like this post? Share it with your networks!

Fresh Garden Lasagna

Before I start this post, I have two things to point out:

  1. This is the first time I have made this recipe, and it is still baking.
  2. Photos and content are all being posted from my phone. This is kind of a test…I mean, what’s the point of having this fancy camera phone with a huge monthly data plan if I can’t update our blog from it?

Yesterday morning we spent about 8 minutes picking veggies in the garden before we gave up (it was 90 decrees and rising!) and came in. Here’s what we ended up with in that short time:

Garden Harvest - August 26th

On order to clear off counter space, I decided dinner tonight would consist of mostly these things.

Hence, fresh garden lasagna. No noodles, one pot, little prep. Bonus: vegan and gluten free!

Ingredients:

Eggplant, Zucchini, Tomatoes, and vegan riccota

  • Zucchini
  • Eggplant
  • Tomatoes (these are Marvel Striped and Prudens Purple tomatoes
  • Tofu ricotta (crumbled tofu with generous amounts of olive oil, nutritional yeast, salt and pepper)
  • Garlic
  • Basil
  • Salt and pepper

Prep:

Simple. Slice all vegetables. Layer in a pan. The finished result may look something like this:

20130826-171208.jpg

We have a little convection oven out on our deck. It lives there or in the garage (depending on the weather), and we use it on sweltering hot days like this one, for roasting coffee, etc.

I crammed all of that into one 9×9″ pan, and it is baking at 400F. I’ll report back if it’s any good!

——————————

UPDATE:

So, I learned that my iPhone 5 isn’t a replacement for my digital camera. Sorry about the fantastically blurry pictures.

Also, this turned out pretty good. Very flavorful – I went a bit overboard on the basil, but that was a good thing!

Tip for the future: Salt the eggplant and zucchini first. (To do this, lightly sprinkle each piece with salt and place in a colander to drain). This will remove some of the liquid – it was a bit soggy, but still tasted just fine. Alternatively, adding uncooked lasagna noodles would have helped, as it would have soaked up much of the moisture. But not too bad for an impromptu dinner using up some veggies!



Like this post? Share it with your networks!

Thirteen Striped Gopher

Technically, they are called thirteen-lined ground squirrels. But we always called them striped gophers growing up.

thirteen striped gopher

And now we know who made all of the holes in our yard.



Like this post? Share it with your networks!

Garden Visitor

Garden Visitor

A few weeks ago, a small orange cat peeked out from the weeds across the street when we were coming home from a walk. Soon, he became more and more friendly. I’ve seen him follow bikers down the road for a while, and he always pops out to say hello when we walk by.

I assume the cat belongs to our neighbors, as that’s where he comes from and I have seen him hanging out in the driveway with them. We call him “Outside Niko” because we have an indoor orange cat named Niko. Funny, because when we moved in we had an “Outside Kallie” who I believe also belonged to the same family. Outside Kallie was old though, and we haven’t seen her in a long time, so I’m guessing this little guy is the new family pet.

The other day, he decided to check out our garden (which is prime hunting land for a cat!). I saw him from the kitchen window, and by the time I got to the garden to say hello he was already waking away with his catch:

Garden Visitor

I wonder if we’ll end up with a new garden buddy soon.



Like this post? Share it with your networks!

Fresh Zucchini Salad

Fresh Zucchini Salad

Fresh Zucchini Salad

This is a great way to use your zucchini when it is small, before it turns into monster zucchinis. Chris found this recipe online somewhere (I’ll see if I can track that down for a credit!) and modified it slightly to his taste. Here’s the recipe for you to enjoy!

Fresh Zucchini Salad

  • 1 pound small zucchini (under 5″ long)
  • 2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
  • 2 Tbsp. Vinegar (balsamic, red wine, white wine, etc.)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, diced
  • Generous amount of fresh basil, chopped (the more, the better! We used purple basil for added color)
  • 1 can artichoke hearts, quartered
  • A couple of handfuls of cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
  • 1 can of chick peas or other beans (optional)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Thinly slice zucchini into long strips. A potato peeler works well for this. Then, combine all ingredients, mix well, and serve immediately. Enjoy!



Like this post? Share it with your networks!

Heirloom Tomatoes

Marvel Striped Tomato, Prudens Purple Tomato, Amana Orange Tomato

Marvel Striped Tomato, Prudens Purple Tomato, Amana Orange Tomato

I was looking through some pictures of our tomato plants in August, 2006 when we still lived in Morris. We used to grow some nice looking vines!

Since we moved to the Great Anoka Sand Plain, though, we have been struck with blight every year. It is so bad that mid-July I end up stripping nearly all of the leaves off of the tomato plants each year.

The fruit still comes out okay, but I know we would have a much better crop if we could just get the blight under control. I say this every year, but next year may be the one that we skip the heirloom tomatoes and only plant blight-resistant hybrid varieties.

Our Marvel Striped Tomatoes look quite a bit different than they did the first year we grew them (in 2006). This is kind of interesting, because I actually used seeds from this exact same seed packet.

I was a bit disappointed this year, because I started 5 “San Marzano Roma Tomatoes” from seed. I put three in my garden, and Chris planted two in his. We had a late frost and lost two of them – but I figured that three Roma plants would be enough for canning.

Turns out, they were grape tomatoes and not Roma tomatoes at all! Kind of disappointing. They are good little tomatoes, we were just expecting something different.

Marvel Striped Heirloom Tomatoes

Marvel Striped Heirloom Tomatoes

Tomato lineup: Grape, Prize of the Trials, Marvel Striped, Prudens Purple, Amana

Tomato lineup: Grape, Prize of the Trials, Marvel Striped, Prudens Purple, Amana

Check our our Tomato Varieties Page to see what we’ve grown over the years!



Like this post? Share it with your networks!

The Obligatory Giant Zucchini Post

If you have a garden, you are familiar with this scenario.

Late in the spring, you start to get the fresh veggie fever. One of the easiest plants to grow is zucchini – so you put some in. You vaguely recall regretting the overplanting of zucchini you did the year before. Completely disregaring the 24 cups of shredded zucchini still filling up half of your freezer, you put in three times more zucchini than a family of 12 would ever need. You dream of soon picking that reliable producer, and completely forget how incredibly sick of zucchini you are going to be come mid-August.

And the zucchini produces. And you pick it, and you eat it. And inevitably, one or two zucchinis get away from you, and you end up with a kitchen counter looking something like this:

Giant pile of zucchini

Your friends and family come to help resolve your zucchini problem, but you still gain 10 pounds by eating nothing but zucchini bread for the next six months.

Fortunately, you are able to put that giant zucchini to at least one good use: Internet Meme.

Zucchini Meme: Please...Pick your veggies.



Like this post? Share it with your networks!

Somerset Seedless Grapes

Three years after planting grapes on our fence, they are starting to produce! We have dozens of little bunches ready to be picked. The best variety we planted for eating are these Somerset Seedless grapes:

Somerset Seedless Grapes

They are (almost) truly seedless, though there are some traces of seeds in them, but nothing that needs to be discarded. Quite sweet and also tart.

Most of the other grapes have three or four seeds each, and given the size of them (quite a bit smaller than your conventional grocery store grape), that makes eating them difficult. I think we’ll try to make some jelly with the grapes from this year. Hopefully in a few years we will have enough to attempt a batch of table wine!



Like this post? Share it with your networks!

Cabbage Patch Kid

Cabbage Patch Kid

Cedar and I spent much of the day yesterday discovering new things in the garden. I couldn’t resist taking a few pictures of him with the cabbage.

Cabbage Patch Kid

Cedar in the Garden

Future winemaker?

Future winemaker?



Like this post? Share it with your networks!

The Garden Grows

Things got off to a late start.

First, we had a baby. He is almost 8 months old now, and really enjoys “helping” out in the garden. I’m sure he’ll be digging on his own in no time:

Cedar with a sunflower

Then we had a late spring. It’s hard to get much done when you get a 12″ snowfall two weeks after you were hoping to plant your peas and carrots!

But, the garden is (miraculously) taking care of itself this year. I’ve really only spent about 4 hours – total – weeding this summer, and didn’t even have the time to put down mulch. So I’m pretty happy with how things have turned out, considering.

VEGarden on August 6th

VEGarden on August 6th

The beans are flowering, and should be producing soon:

Beans at VEGarden

We have two cucumbers, and more on the way (and a lot of green tomatoes!):

Cucumbers

There are more than a few giant zucchini that need to be picked (this one below is nowhere near the size of some we have out there!):

zucchini

From just three tomatillo plants, I believe we will be set with green salsa for life:

tomatillos

…but really, like every other year, we are mostly just growing dill:

dill overruns the garden again

Looking forward to harvest season, to see how this all comes together!



Like this post? Share it with your networks!