Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Lettuce Soup - 30 July 2013


Lettuce Soup - a great way to preserve your end-of-season lettuce!

Recipe for Lettuce Soup (sorry, no metric equivalents):
4 cups lettuce
1 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup celery if you have it
1 tsp garlic
1 tbs parsley
1 tbs chives
2 tbs tarragon
1 tsp thyme
3 cups chicken or vegetable stock
2 tbs olive oil
1/2 cup heavy cream

Heat oil, add onions and celery and sweat for 5 minutes (the onions, not you)
Add herbs and garlic, cook 1 minute
Add lettuce and wilt for 3 - 5 minutes
Add stock
Blend with blender or stick-immersion blender
Heat back up (do not boil) and add cream
Salt and pepper to taste
Serves 3-4 
Okay, so now you are saying this is a variant of the folk tale "Stone Soup." Well, in my family we couldn't afford rocks, so it was Nail Soup. Same concept. But seriously, this is tasty! All the herbs came from the kitchen herb garden. According to The Kitchen Goddess, she put in extra tarragon since she knows I love it, but it may be too much of this pungent herb for some tastes.
The plan now is to use up all the leftover lettuce and make the stock (minus the cream) in a large batch, for freezing.
Here it is รก table with the cream added, and a nice garden salad, plus bubbles:

Knowing now how absolutely yummy this soup is, I'm not so sure I planted too much lettuce.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Harvest Monday - 29 July 2013

Welcome to Harvest Monday. It's a great time of year, don't you think? Once again, we've been busy.

The onions that had flopped over were all pulled.

Here they are drying on the floor of the garage. The variety is called "Stuttgarter," which the Harris Seeds catalog calls "the best onions from sets for long-term storage when properly cured...the finest variety overall." I planted 8 squares of 16 sets (128 total), which I purchased from a local garden center at a very reasonable cost of 3 or 4 dollars. About 20 never grew, still leaving us with a nice haul which we hope lasts the winter. We had only limited success last year with onions, but once I determined how depleted of fertility the soil was, and took steps to restore it, you can see what a difference it makes. Next year I may plant more, or maybe some from another variety. Onions really are no fuss, which is great.

After the dirt mostly dried off, the Kitchen Goddess braided them into tidy bunches, ready to be hung for the winter. This way, some can be brought in to the kitchen one bunch at a time.

The Braidy Bunch:

The cucumbers have sent out robust vines, and have tons of flowers, but so far only 3 have gotten picking-size. Here are two of them. The variety is Double Yield Pickler. They taste absolutely great in salads too, so they never made it to the pickling process.

We're still picking beans and zucchini of course, and another batch of beets and carrots. The carrots got frozen, and the beets canned.

The last of the lettuce, New Red Sails, finally started bolting this week. Personally, I don't like the way bolting lettuce looks in the garden:

So out it comes! This pretty much filled the bushel basket.

That does it for this bed that held spring crops: peas, radishes, and lettuce. As the summer progresses and the sun keeps declining, the bed gets less and less sunlight, so time to rake it smooth...

...and put the bed to bed for the season. Thank you for your service! Next year I'm planning to use a green manure instead of the weed blocker.

I checked an ear of corn, and couldn't resist eating it raw right then and there! It was small but super-sweet. Something is eating all the silk off the ears, so I may harvest sooner than I expected.

Finally, I'll bet you're wondering what we are going to do with all that lettuce (plus some left over from earlier). Well, here's an answer from The Kitchen Goddess: Lettuce Soup! Recipe will be published in the next post...I promise.
Thanks for reading, and thanks again to Daphne! http://daphnesdandelions.blogspot.com

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Progress Report - 24 July 2013

Ears are forming on the corn planted May 17. Our mouths are already watering; gardeners are ever-hopeful! The variety is Spring Snow F1, which is supposed to tolerate colder weather at the start. That much seems to be true. This was last year's seed. Harris seems to have discontinued it this year. Again, I really beefed up the soil this year and am spraying diligently, as last year we got nothing. In the foreground was a later planting (June 1) of several SE hybrids, which hardly germinated, I guess because the seed was from 2011, who knows. So mostly what you see is what I filled in on June 15 with Stowell's Evergreen, an heirloom OP variety that grows tall. I'm hoping that's not too late for this long-season corn. It was the only seed I had left.

Yay! A squash! I thought this is where I planted Waltham Butternut, but it looks more pumpkin-y to me. Or it could be Tatume, a new (to me) variety I'm trying. This will teach me not to trust memory and to label the hills. It would have been OK, but when some seeds did not come up I replanted based on what I remembered. So now it appears everything is mixed up.

Something sat on the onions! I guess that means harvest-time. I thought the leaves wouldn't collapse until they were browner. Also it seems strange that all of them would flop at the same time, regardless of size. Maybe they come to a mutual decision "we're not going to grow anymore."

A volunteer tomato now taking over a compost bin. It's growing lushly, as you would expect. I wonder what variety it will be? In the bin to the left of this one is a volunteer dill plant, now flowering. I'll have to catch it before the seed matures and falls, or I won't be able to use this compost!
Not all is well, of course. This was supposed to be my Wall O' Sunflowers, including a few American Giants that reach 16 feet (4.88 m), all planted on May 26. Something has completely defoliated them. I have found no culprits, and spraying with Pyrethrin did not help. What could it be? I do have another patch (var. 'Sunseed') in the row-crop area, and they are doing better, but are only supposed to be 4 or 5 feet tall (1.2 - 1.5 m).
You can see the Scarlet Runner Beans planted behind the ravaged sunflowers. These were from seeds I gathered from last year's crop. They came up true, and some are starting to flower, a lovely coral-pink. They were planted the same time as the sunflowers. Maybe this year I'll eat some as dried beans. I love their mottled purple color).

Friday, July 19, 2013

Harvest Monday - 22 July 2013

If you are here you probably started at Daphne's Dandelions. With this post I am joining the Harvest Monday party and grateful for the opportunity to do so.

We've been picking zucchini for about a week now, from plants direct-seeded May 27. This variety is "Tigress F1" from Territorial. The fruit is tasty and attractive. The catalog says they are at their peak flavor when 7 to 8 inches. Some of those pictured are a little larger than that, so we'll see if it makes a difference. This particular pick yielded 8 cups (1.89 l).

Four plants fill up a 4x12 (1.22x3.66 m) bed, with some room around the edges for 12 pepper plants. This is the first year we have had any real production. Last year the Squash Vine Borers and Squash Bugs ruined the crop, as with the winter squash too. This year, in addition to substantially beefing up the soil, I am being vigilant about spraying with Pyrethrin and BT once a week. So far no signs of damage, but the season is still young. Keeping my fingers crossed, as I love Zucchini Smash! Recipe will be posted one of these days.

I direct-seeded all my lettuce on April 14. This is the last of the Green Ice and Red Romaine, both having bolted.

The variety New Red Sails still looks good, even into the 4th heat wave of the year. For the record, a heat wave in New England is defined as 3 consecutive days of 90+F (~32 C) temperatures. It helps that by this time of year this particular bed is mostly shaded. I grew 12 lettuce squares in total, with 4 plants per square. Next year I will probably halve that, since it really was too much lettuce for two people.

Beans have been harvested also for a week now. They were planted on May 17. Not all came up and some were cutwormed, so holes were filled until June 22. I planned 16 squares this year, less than last year since we still have some in the freezer. The purple variety is Velour, and is a filet-type or haricots verts. But can it still be vert if it's violet? Mais oui, it turns green when steamed. The larger beans will get french-cut before eating or freezing--that's the only way I like them. And boy do I like them.

The above was all Friday. On Sunday, more beans and zucchini:

A decent handful of chard:

Chard seems to have so much more payback than spinach. And as long as you don't mind the slight bitterness, a good substitute in my opinion.
We took some of the carrots where they were encroaching on the beets:
Some are kind of funky-looking. They are Danvers Half-long, and were planted April 17.

This is our first big harvest of beets:

These are Detroit Dark Red and Golden Touchstone. They too were planted April 17. Beets are the perfect crop--all parts are edible. Personally I don't like the root, but the greens are great.

On a whim I decided to pull up a shallot. The results surprised me, so we pulled up five of the six bulbs I planted April 13. The sixth was always weak so I'll leave it for awhile. I got the bulbs from Harris, at $8.25 for the set of six. It seemed steep. But each bulb produced 4 or 5 offspring, so it definitely was worth it. This is the first time I've grown shallots.

And some blueberries and red raspberries stolen from the birds!

So the above got turned into this by the Kitchen Goddess:

Then this:

And for the beet-lovers of the world, this:

So that's it for this weekend. Thanks for viewing, and again thanks to Daphne, our gracious hostess.

Friday, July 12, 2013

The 'Farm' - an overview in pictures

View from the "Back 40" (actually Back 1 but feels like 40 when mowing).

Fruit trees and northern part of fenced vegetable/fruit garden.

Aerial view of fenced garden from [dusty] 3rd floor barn window. Fenced area is 2400 sq. ft (223 square meters). The cemetery-looking part is grapevines.

Looking north from front gate of fenced garden. Peas and lettuce did not like the July 4th weekend heat wave!

Kitchen herb garden made from repurposed sandbox.

A nice place to rest, but the mint is taking over.