Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Garden Update and a Smoothie Recipe from Martha

    I've actually made some progress on the vegetable garden the past few weeks. It gives me a good feeling to have some things in the ground even if they aren't doing much yet. One thing I like about our maritime climate is that fact that I can plant stuff in February

    I've planted about 20 feet of Cascadia Sugar Snap Pole Peas. I'm assuming with the term "pole" in the name that these peas climb higher than most peas. I planted most of the peas along a welded wire fence so they have a built in trellis. I also planted some of them along a cedar trellis leaning up against the chicken pen near the bamboo and the new raspberry patch. One thing I like about snap peas is that you harvest the entire pod so the harvest is significantly greater. I think I have planted enough so we can freeze enough  to use in stir fries throughout next winter.
Garlic poking up through the straw mulch

   Technically the garlic is something I planted last fall. After several years of harvesting smallish heads of garlic, I read up on the subject and learned that garlic should be planted in the fall, like tulips.  I was pleased to see the garlic has sent up new little shoots. I'm anxious to see how much bigger the heads  turn out to be with a fall planting. Also they are planted in a nice full sun area in the front in soil that was given significant improvement last season.
The onion bed is looking good while the surrounding garden area looks pretty neglected.

   I took advantage of my time at the Seattle Flower and Garden Show to pick up some red onion starts from one of my favorite seed companies, Irish Eyes.  They were only a few booths over from the one I was working at.  The variety I chose was "Red Zeppelin". I'm sure they will do better than last years red onions. I was forced to move them when they put in the access road for the water right a way. Obviously they were too far along to move. I ended up with a fairly meager harvest of smallish bulbs. Linda loves red onions so hopefully she will have a good supply of them this year. The goats made a significant contribution to the fertility of the onion bed. That is probably not the thought you're looking for when you're putting onions on your hamburger.

    I planted parsley in a portion of my cold frame. I direct seeded it into the ground but I will transplant it to other locations after it emerges. I want to leave some of it in the cold frame as a winter salad crop. I would like to have our own fresh parsley for tabouleh this fall.  I am also going to use the cold frame for starting seeds this year. I bought a bunch of jiffy pots and filled them with potting soil so I'm ready to start cabbages and other early vegetables.
The last two tires in the row have rhubarb while I planted shallots in the first three.

    The rhubarb plants I had dug up from my mother's house in Sunnyside died this past year. It made me a little sad that my Dad's rhubarb died on me. I was forced to buy new rhubarb plants to start over.  I bought some good sized rhubarb roots and planted them into some tires on the north side of the duck pen.  These are old tires where I have cut out the sidewalls. They make pretty good little planting beds as they last forever and the black color absorbs heat from the sun and warms the soil.  I also bought both red and yellow shallot bulbs which I also planted in tires near the duck pen.

     About that smoothie recipe...Whenever Linda leaves me unsupervised for a while I start getting the urge to cook.  I've tried two new recipes since Linda flew back to Maryland. The first was quinoa, inspired by a few packages of seeds at the West Coast Seeds booth at the Seattle Flower and Garden Show. I asked Jeanette, the owner of the company, if the quinoa seeds were intended to be ornamentals as they had two varieties which both appeared to be fairly colorful. I was surprised to learn that quinoa (pronounced keen' wa) is fairly easy to grow and harvest. They had apparently grown quite a bit of it last year and she enjoyed eating it.  Since Linda already had a package of quinoa at home I decided it was time to try cooking the stuff. It turned out to be tasty and no more difficult to prepare than rice. I was so impressed that I decided to buy some seeds, but alas they were fresh out of quinoa seeds the next day I was at the garden show.  However, Jeanette promised to send me some.  Happiness is having a friend who owns a seed company.

    My second recipe I got from a little booklet attached to Linda's newest issue of Martha Stewart Living, entitled "Everyday Food". They had three smoothie recipes a few pages into the booklet, one of which was a Mango and Yogurt smoothie. The mangos caught my attention as they were on sale at a nearby grocery store and I had already picked up a few.   The smoothie recipe consisted of 1 1/2 cups plain yogurt, 2 1/2 cups frozen mango chunks, 1 tablespoon honey, juice from 1/2 lime, and 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon. I had some fresh lemons on hand so I squeezed out the juice and used it all in the smoothie. I didn't see the point of storing a very small container of lemon juice. I also used a little less mango than the recipe called for as I only got a little less than two cups of mango chunks from the mango I peeled. I used two cups of yogurt in order to make the final amount of smoothie closer to the original recipe.  Even with all of my modifications it turned out very well. I get the impression that smoothie making is not an exacting process like making bread or pie crust where following the recipe closely is very important.

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