Wednesday, July 18, 2012

This All Season Romaine Mix from The Cook's Garden looks beautiful in the garden and is still sweet and tender despite the very hot weather. The mix contains the following varieties.
Craquerelle Du Midi
Little Gem
Rouge D'Hiver

The D. Landreth Seed Company newsletter offers some history of romaine as well as descriptions of different varieties.

The cucumber plants are climbing up one of the tripods.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Bountiful and beautiful harvest from the garden on June 28 includes Carrots Burpee Kaleidoscope Mix that will be the main ingredient in this delicious Carrot and Tofu Quiche recipe. The seeds from the dill flower add wonderful flavor to this dish.

The parsley was used to make this cool and fresh tabouleh salad.

The wild arugula was used in this extremely delicious and refreshing salad with watermelon and feta cheese. It is the perfect dinner for these hot summer evenings.

The delightful colors of the Cooks Custom Mix radishes make harvesting them even more fun. These radishes along with their leafy green tops will be used in this radish top pasta dish later in the week.

The beautiful red cabbage pairs nicely with apples in this recipe. Here is an article with a little bit of coleslaw history as well as some suggestions for different ways to spice up the this common dish that was introduced to this country by the Dutch settlers.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Lettuce Ashley

I love how ornamental red leaves are in a vegetable garden as well as in a salad bowl. This lettuce from The Cooks Garden is said to be very heat tolerant so I am still planting seeds of it.
I can affirm that this lettuce is actually tolerant of warm weather since the leaves harvested on June 29 from seeds planted at the beginning of June were sweet and tender.


Borage volunteer seedlings started blooming in late May. You only need to plant borage once since it typically self sows in a nice way. Here it is growing up through the fava bean plants.

'Lemon Gem' and 'Tangerine Gem' Marigolds

These marigolds are pretty additions to the kitchen or herb garden. The flowers are edible and look nice in a salad. Botanical Interests seed company offers the seeds for sale online. I found the plants this year at Willey Farms in Townsend and at Richardsons in Glasgow.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Fava beans

It was exciting to harvest these fava beans yesterday off the plants grown from seed sown in the garden in January! The preparation process includes shelling the beans, steaming them for one minute, then removing the outer coating. Here is a link to the instructions with photographs of each step as well as recipes for using the beans. We are adding them to salads. They are bright green and delicious.

Last year I made the mistake of picking the pods too early. This year I waited until they were 5-7" long.

This is an easy plant to grow, provides a very satisfying harvest while improving the quality of the soil through the process of nitrogen fixation.

Monday, April 23, 2012

The black and white flowers of the fava bean plants are unusual. The seeds of these plants were sown directly into the garden on January 10, 2012. I will be sowing seeds of lettuce in between the rows of fava bean plants.

A swiss chard plant that overwintered is surrounded by romaine lettuce mix that was sown March 6, red onion seedlings planted that same day and mesclun salad.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

mesclun and red onion seedlings

Mesclun lettuce seeds that were planted about two weeks ago are now sprouting. The red onion seedlings were planted at the same time.

Wando peas

Wando pea seeds that were planted directly into the garden on March 08, 2012 are now sprouting about 2 weeks after planting.

Fava beans Windsor

Here are the developing Fava bean Windsor plants the seeds of which were planted directly into the garden on January 10, 2012. The plant in the left foreground is marjoram that overwintered. Visible in the right background are rosemary and swiss chard plants that have overwintered in the garden. The pea seeds that were planted on March 08, 2012 at the base of all of the twig tripods have started to sprout.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Kale lacinato

Kale lacinato sometimes called Tuscan or dinosaur kale survived the past mild winter with no protection and has resumed growing. The seeds of these kale plants were sown in the garden last autumn. Here is a salad recipe that will be featuring the leaves of this beautiful and nourishing plant.


I always plant viola plants in the fall in all of my gardens because they come back so full and healthy in the spring - with well developed root systems that make the plant more self-sufficient. They look really sweet scattered throughout the kitchen garden and they are a very pretty and edible addition to salads.

The following is a recipe from a seventeenth century Dutch cookbook translated by Peter G. Rose in her book The Sensible Cook: Dutch Foodways in the Old and the New World.

"To prepare raw Salads.
Take Head Lettuce, Leaf Lettuce, Curly Lettuce, Lamb's Lettuce, also the shoots of the Dandelions or wild Chicory, also the shoots of Chicory roots, Endive, or red and white Cabbage or Cucumbers, whatever one has on hand that is best or that is in season and all well cleaned is eaten with a good Oil of Olives, Vinegar, and Salt. On Purslane, Burnet, Rocket, Tarragon, Buttercup, one may also add the flowers of Bugloss, Borage, Rose, and Calendula. This salad is also eaten with melted Butter and Vinegar gently heated together instead of Oil and Vinegar, according to everyone's desire."

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Fava beans

Surprise! The fava bean seeds that were planted in the garden on January 10, 2012 have plants emerging - some are as high as 3 inches. The fava beans were planted in rows in the two sunniest beds knowing that they help improve the quality of the soil through nitrogen fixation. I plan to plant rows of lettuce seeds in between the rows of beans since the lettuce can thrive in the shade of the bean plants.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Red Acre cabbage

I am posting this picture just because the plants are so pretty and still growing
in the garden. It seems that little cabbage heads are beginning to form.

I cut all of the broccoli last night and will use the heads, leaves and peeled
stems for this broccoli and white bean soup recipe - perfect for a snowy Saturday afternoon.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Broccoli Di Cicco

This beautiful broccoli is almost ready for harvest. Botanical Interests seed company recommends harvesting the main heads of this broccoli when they are 3 inches across to encourage the growth of the side shoots that are forming in all of the leaf nodes. They also suggest using the leaves like chard. What I find amazing is the fact that the kale and broccoli are growing (albeit slowly) in a section of the garden that receives no direct sun at all in the autumn and winter.

Kale January 23

Snow covered kale in the garden on January 23, 2012.

Kale February 3

Here is the same kale that was snow and ice covered January 23.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Companion planting and cover crops

This book is one of my favorite gardening tools. Companion planting or biodynamic farming and gardening are methods of gardening that seek to
emulate the processes that occur in natural plant communities in order to maximize health and yield of our gardens while avoiding all unnatural chemical input and continually improving the quality of the soil.

The practices include planting herbs and flowers within and around vegetable gardens to attract beneficial insects that might prey on the destructive insects. Planting strong smelling herbs amid vegetable plants might serve to repel or confuse insects that rely on smell to find a plant. Knowing that nitrogen fixing plants like beans and peas help to improve the soil might inform a decision to plant heavy feeders next to or after these legumes.

In this Dutch House kitchen garden, I am experimenting with using fava beans and common buckwheat as winter cover crops. The seeds were planted January 10, 2012. I wanted to plant cover crops in the fall but did not because the gardens were so productive. I read that fava beans can germinate in soil temperatures as low as 35 degrees F but suspect that the buckwheat might wait until spring to germinate. Here is a page from Cornell University discussing the types and benefits of cover crops.

Lists of plants that benefit each other and plant combinations to avoid have been compiled based upon observations. They are worth exploring and experimenting with in our efforts to grow beautiful healthy food in alliance with the natural processes that sustain us and our planet.

I noticed in this garden this past autumn that the brussels sprouts plants that were growing amidst the borage suffered no damage from the cabbage moth worms. I will be sure to scatter more borage seeds this year among the plants susceptible to that garden pest.

Here is a fact sheet from Cornell University on the topic of companion planting.

There is a wealth of information available on this topic. Here is another site with a list of plant combinations to encourage and to avoid. And here is another list from North Dakota State University.

companion planting

Here is a picture of one of the pages from the above book. I planted chive plants around the base of all of the fruit trees in this garden.

Monday, January 23, 2012

snow scene

This photo was taken on the foggy Monday morning of January 23d after a weekend snow and ice storm that
quickly melted away with the unusually warm temperatures of this winter.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Happy and Healthy New Year 2012

I harvested kale and swiss chard on January 02, 2012 since overnight temperatures on January 3rd were forecast to be below 20 degrees but left a little in the garden to test how cold tolerant it really is.
This beautiful kale was used to make a delicious, easy and nutritious kale and white bean soup.

Swiss chard