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Archive for February, 2014

Sometimes I can be impulsive, not always thinking things through before I do them. That’s what happened when I decided we should grow garlic.

It’s not that I just ordered them out of nowhere, I had been thinking about it ever since we made our marinara sauce with almost everything from the garden except the onions and garlic.

But I didn’t think ahead about where I was going to plant them or if there were any plants they shouldn’t be grown next to in the garden. But, that said, I think it’s going to turn out great.

We have three varieties: early Italian, elephant and Transylvania. Except for the elephant garlic, I don’t remember which is planted where.

What we learned

• I was a bit worried about whether it was too late to plant – we didn’t get to it until late November – but everything seems to be going well so far. That actually doesn’t matter as much as I thought, it just means they will take a little longer before they’re ready to come out of the ground.

It does matter, however, that they can set down some roots before it gets too cold.

• You can eat the “shoots” the garlic puts out in the spring. They’re called scapes and are apparently a very coveted item among farmers market foodies. I’m really excited to try some of these recipes.

• There’s a little more to saving the garlic than it seems. You have to cure the bulbs for them to form the papery skin everyone is so used to seeing. That also helps them last for months so you can use them as you need.

If it does well, you can pull your biggest and best cloves to plant next year.

• You can’t plant the cloves from supermarket garlic (yes, I Googled it). They’re treated with a chemical so they don’t sprout. We bought ours from Burpee and had them shipped to us.

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We love hot peppers and always have at least a few jalapeño plants in our garden. They’re usually our “golden crop” but didn’t do so well this year. There wasn’t anything wrong, per se, but they weren’t the prolific producers they had been in the past.

The beginning of the best hot sauce I've had. And it's all pretty much fresh from the garden.

The beginning of the best hot sauce I’ve had. And it’s all pretty much fresh from the garden.

Anyway, Matt’s parents also had a small garden this year and planted cayenne peppers. Though I’m not quite sure why — they don’t have a particular affinity for spicy foods. They know we adore anything hot & spicy and unloaded a bunch of cayenne peppers on us.

We were happy with the gift, but we were at a loss for how to use a dozen of them. A few were thrown in chili pots and used here or there for cooking. Even with that, we still had quite a few to use, along with some other jalapeños and Anaheim peppers that were starting to get wrinkly. That’s when I came upon this recipe for hot sauce. Ours is a variation because we had different peppers, but it was simple and delicious. Next year, we plan on reserving one or two of our new “pots” for cayenne plants so we can make this again.

(more…)

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I just learned about a brand new initiative in our neighborhood, and I had to share. It’s called 500 Gardens. Here’s a little more about it from their website:

Madisonville is a neighborhood of Cincinnati that has a lot going for it, especially for a gardening project.  There are large lots, generations of garden tradition, active community partners in the Madisonville Community Council, the Madisonville Community Urban Redevelopment Council, and local churches, and we have two years of partnership with Lighthouse Community School and success in building gardens on the school parking lot and nearby vacant lot with the students.  The neighborhood has a vibrant mixture of ages, ethnicities, incomes, and family origins, and carries a USDA Food Desert designation.

In this project we plan to:

• Recruit, organize, and teach volunteers.

• Recruit, teach, and coach mentors.

• Organize, promote, and teach on- going classes and workshops.

• Develop and disseminate educational materials.

• Acquire and organize lumber and soil.  Manage use and distribution.

• Schedule garden building, coordinate volunteers and homeowners.

• Host monthly Gardener Gatherings during the growing season.

I’m really excited about this and hope it is tremendously successful!

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We actually had a really good, big harvest from our green bean plants. The problem, however, is we only had one. And it came at the end of August.

Most of this is our fault. First, because we planted them too late — in June after the peas were done. Second, because we forgot to check them after the first bowl.

We also attribute some of this to the weird weather this summer. It was cooler than most summers and we had a lot of rain in July.

The Kentucky Wonder pole beans grew very well — some tendrils and leaves reached more than six feet tall and wrapped around our garage toward the tomatoes. But once they started to actually mature into beans, quite a few were bulging, which means they’re overly mature and could be tough (not good).

The good and the bad of our green bean harvest.

The good and the bad of our green bean harvest.

 

We made a delicious garlicky green bean sauté (recipe below) but wished we had more throughout the summer. On a positive note, the deer didn’t eat them like they have the past couple years.

So, what can be done better next year? We need to plant early! And check on them more often. I’d love to have a steady supply throughout the season.

Garlicky green beans

We had about a pound or so of the green beans, and this is an adaptation of a recipe I found. First, snap off the ends and de-string the beans. Then cut/trim to desired size.

Toss into a pot of boiling, salted water and cook for about three or four minutes. While those are cooking, add garlic to hot pan with oil. We used about four or five cloves of garlic.

Once the green beans are done, transfer from the boiling water to the pan with garlic and continue to sauté for another four or five minutes, stirring, until the green beans are crisp tender.

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