Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Plants Make Me Smile

Great things are happening in the garden. All my plants have started flowering and I am giddy with excitement. 

These are my cherry tomato plants that are full of flower blossoms.

A few okra on each plant are starting to grow. By the way, I didn't know this was how okra grew. How cool!

The brandywine tomato plants are shooting up and we finally got cages around this morning to keep them supported. 

For the last couple of weeks this "weed" has been growing in the bed I am going to use for the pepper plants. I have been lazy and have just been letting it grow until I need to transplant the peppers. One of our friends came over for breakfast this morning, and I was showing her the garden. I pointed to the chard, the tomatoes, the okra, and showed her the huge weed that I needed to deal with. In shock she said, "that's not a weed, that is a squash plant". I guess one of the squash seeds from the compost in the garden bed germinated and we now have a mystery squash plant in our garden. I was looking online at pictures of different squash plants and they all look the same to me.

Realizing that it is actually a plant I want to keep in my bed, I started watering it today. Isn't it beautiful with the curling tendrils and unfurling leaves?! If any of you are good at identifying plants, let me know if you know what this is. I am rooting for it to be spaghetti squash.  

 Did you know this is what green onions look like when they flower? Don't worry, I didn't either. You see, I have been letting a green onion, that I bought at a farmers market two weeks ago, grow on my bakers rack. I know I should eat it, and not let it go to waste. But it is so cool how it has kept growing toward the light in the kitchen window and started flowering. Uh, I am such a romantic :).

Vegetables can be so beautiful!

Monday, June 6, 2011


I love making sprouts. It took me forever to actually start sprouting. But once I did, and I realized how easy it was, I started making them all the time. They are very nutritious, as sprouting allows us to easily digest and assimilate all the vitamins and minerals contained in the seeds. They also are very tasty and are great in sushi, wraps, salads, sandwiches, stir-fries, and even just by themselves. 

You start off by soaking your seed of choice overnight in water mixed with a couple tablespoons of either apple cider vinegar or lemon juice. The acid helps to break down the seed coating. Here I am using mung beans. I used 1/3 cup of mung beans and by the time they were finished sprouting they filled up almost the whole jar. So, make sure you have a large enough container. I have also successfully sprouted brown rice, chickpeas, kidney beans, quinoa, and lentils. 

After it has soaked for 12-24 hours, drain off the water. Place a cloth over the top of the jar so the sprouts can get oxygen and use a rubber band to keep the cloth in place. It works best to put the jar on an angle so the sprouts stay well drained. I put mine in a bowl to catch any extra water coming from the jar.

Keep your container of sprouts in a low-lit place somewhere in your kitchen, and rinse the sprouts with fresh water every 8-12 hours to keep them moist. Then anywhere between 2-5 days, depending on your personal taste, you will have a lovely looking jar of fresh sprouts ready to be eaten. You will notice that they are not as big as store bought mung bean sprouts because the ones from the store are sprayed with chemicals and gasses to make them grow bigger. So, for a little bit of forethought, you can have bean sprouts that are cheaper are healthier for you. If you don't want to eat them right away you can store them in the fridge with a paper towel or towel around them to keep them dry and crisp.

I used this particular batch of mung bean sprouts in a creative interpretation of pad thai :). It is kind of hard to see them in this picture, but they were delicious!! 

Friday, June 3, 2011

Garden Update

Hey everyone! I can't believe I have only blogged once since classes started back in January. I was challenged in many ways, but it was a great first semester, and I finished my last final on May 5th. I decided not to take any classes over the summer, and will start back up in the fall. Since school has been out I have catered a wedding, worked a lot, and last week I had surgery. The surgery went really well, and I have just been resting and healing since then. 

Now, onto the purpose of this post. Besides all the working and resting, I have been gardening. I don't know a lot about gardening. My strategy has been to prepare myself as much as I can through research and reading gardening books, and then do it myself and learn from my failures and successes. This year I started everything from seed and some stuff has done better than others. 

Here are my pepper plants. I have had problems with little bugs on the undersides of the leaves and I am reading around to try and figure out how to fix it without pesticides. 

The tomatoes I started from seed are doing really well! On the left are the brandywine tomatoes, and the five plants on the right are the cherry tomatoes. My next task is to get them cages. 

Since the surgery, Chris has been a great help watering all the plants for me. Here he is watering the okra plants. As you can probably see, I need to weed.

In this bed I planted a bunch of carrot and swiss chard seeds and I only had one swiss chard seed sprout. But, it is doing really well, and I harvested most of the leaves today. 

Finally, this is the thai basil I planted. I also planted dill, parsley, and cilantro in other pots, but the basil is the only thing that survived. I am keeping the pot in an aluminum pan with 1/4 inch of water in the bottom to keep in moisture. The clay pots tend to dry out really quickly, especially in this 95 degree weather!

I hope you enjoyed the tour of my garden. It has been so much fun, and an incredible learning experience. I will do many things differently next year, but I am enjoying the process. Hopefully I will even get some good tomatoes, okra, and peppers out of my little garden plot in Homer. 

That would be nice.