Thursday, July 31, 2008

Wilty poblano

My poblano pepper plants are 3 to 3-1/2 feet tall! Flowers and little poblanos all over the plant. I have to water these plants heavily every day. If they get the least bit dry, they look wilty. But after watering them heavily around 6-7pm, by the next morning they are standing tall and looking really perky! Poblano plants are interesting looking plants. The bottom stalk looks like it's getting woody - very thick, while you get a whole top full of leaves, kind of like a minature tree. But you can tell right away when they aren't happy!


Wednesday, July 30, 2008

German Queen Pics - New

My first german queen tomato has finally started to turn color. It's so exciting! You can't see the other tomatoes on this plant, but they are there, green. This plant also has lots of flowers on it, which you can't tell by this picture either. My other german queen tomato plant has had flowers on it, but not produced any fruit yet.

What will I make with my first tomato? As it's a loner, I most probably will have to slice it up and put the slices on my husband's sandwiches for lunch. He's already popped a few of those sweet one hundred cherry tomatoes in his mouth. They are starting to come in faster.

I gave some of my sweet one hundred cherry tomatoes to my sister who visited the other day, as well as some fresh basil. She was going to make a quick pasta with a little olive oil, garlic, basil and those cherry tomatoes cut in half. What an easy, light dinner!

Put more Miracle Gro in the garden, as it's been 7 days. Hope it helps!


Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Problems with growing seeds

I have to wonder what the deal is with seeds from Plantation Products and brought out under the name of American Seed. I originally was on the lookout for seeds on the 4th of July, when I found you are supposed to reseed cilantro. I only had two plants, which I have pretty much used up. The only place on the 4th of July that had seeds left was Ace Hardware. They had cilantro, spearmint (wanted to try them) and radish seeds from this company available. I sent the radish seeds to my mom, because she loves her radishes and had been looking for more seed. Anyway, we both planted these seeds, and NOTHING has come up. We verified that the seed packets had a good date on them - sell by 12/08, so there should have been no problem. I've planted again, and nothing. How disappointing that nothing has come up from 3 different type seeds.


Monday, July 28, 2008

More cubanelle pictures and a zucchini recipe

The cubanelle peppers that I found the other day, by surprise, under the leaves near the bottom of the plant, have grown tremendously! They grow so quickly when they finally set on. But the two that are near the bottom of the plant, may have to be picked early, as one is already touching the ground. It wouldn't have that problem if it grew near the top, where most are going to be! The one touching the ground is approximately 4 inches, a little short for a cubanelle! But, I don't want it to rot either and go to waste.

Last night, we had another zucchini on the grill for dinner. Yep, came from mom. Since I made spaghetti, I decided to cut the zucchini lengthwise into planks again and marinate them in "Italian" spices. I used fresh basil and oregano from my garden, sea salt, and freshly ground pepper. I put a little olive oil on both sides of all the planks, and sprinkled the spices all over it and let it marinate for a couple of hours in the refrigerator. Then I grilled it. I never can get those perfect grill marks like you see on all the food shows, but is sure was very tasty with our spaghetti!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

June Bugs or Japanese Beetles or whatever you call them

Yesterday afternoon my husband comes running into the house. He said the next door neighbor was spraying his river birch tree, which is right next to my big old pine tree. The neighbor told him that there were Japanese beetles all over his tree - hundreds of them. He went to a nursery and asked what to do. They mentioned applying "Sevin" to the tree. It's a poison that kills them after they start eating the leaves that have the Sevin on them. I guess these little bugs eat certain things, such as birch leaves down to a skeleton. I looked online and found that they love roses and Norway maple trees too, as well as other things. I went and checked my roses, and yep - there they were. My rose of sharon bushes were LOADED with them - those are the pictures that I took. No wonder my blooms were dropping off of the bush like crazy. I didn't know the damage that these bugs can do. And my Noway maple is right next to my rose of sharons! Cripes - the poor tree has had enough. It was struck by lightening a couple of years ago.

Anyway, the nursery lady told our neighbor to spray with Sevin, but not near vegetable gardens. She said they have come out in droves this year because of all the rain we've had, so unlike past years that I remember. She said the only good thing is they are supposedly going to be gone in another couple of weeks! Yep -can't wait for that!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Time to grow

While weeding my garden, and killing a monster spider who decided to challenge me, I see how well my garden is growing. It just might be me, but I think the Miracle Gro has helped - and we only put one application on. You're supposed to be able to do it once a week. Don't know if we'll be that zealous, but you never know!

Last night I made a baked potato on the grill. I slathered it with olive oil and I sprinkled it liberally all over with sea salt and my fresh rosemary from my garden. I love rosemary. The smell is so sharp and uplifting! Anyway, yes, I chopped quite a few of those little needle leaves, mixed it with the sea salt and sprinkled it all over the potato, wrapped it in foil and threw them on the grill. When done (fork tender), I just added some homemade chili over the top. It was wonderful!


Friday, July 25, 2008

German Queen Tomato picture

The German Queen tomato plants that I have are big and lush. I have two plants. One which is bigger than the other, had lots of flowers on it, but no tomatoes. The 2nd plant, which has my first tomato still growing on it, has flowers too, but it now has a 2nd tomato on it. Admittedly, my tomato plants aren't as huge as the ones in my mom's victory garden, but they are getting there.

The German Queen tomatoes tend to get very big, lopsided, and I've never seen one without a blemish yet. But they are supposed to get to be over a pound a piece.

Looks like another good day today - more weeding to do, I expect!


Thursday, July 24, 2008

3 foot tall poblano plants

I don't know if it's the Miracle Gro but my poblano plants just shot up 4-6 inches to be about 3 feet tall! It could have just been their time, but it is pretty amazing to see! I have over 30 flowers and buds and some peppers already growing on one plant alone. It's the other poblano plant that we had just picked the 4 inch pepper off of and grilled. We had a couple of poblanos which we had bought from the produce store, and those peppers had more heat to them than mine. Probably because mine was picked early. It was thoroughly enjoyed though.

I had picked out weeds between my shallots yesterday. I'll be moving onto the pepper area today.

My husband made 3 more cages, just in time, as my Health Kick tomatoes are starting to really shoot up fast too. He still has about 7 more cages to go, I think.

Looks like it will be another great day!


Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Cubanelle picture

While looking at the cubanelle plant this morning, I saw many of the pepper buds around the top, like I always do. But hidden behind leaves, I saw 2 peppers growing! There is one right next to the flower in the picture on the left. They are each about 1-1/2 inches long, and they are the lighter green peppers like I have bought in the store. These peppers are near the bottom of the plant, and I know they grow very long - at least 6 inches - I hope they don't drag on the ground! If they do, I'll have to pick them early.


Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Miracle Gro Time

This is my mom's garden over at her victory garden there at the retirement community of Saddlebrook Farms. Look how huge the tomato plants are in the background. Everyone's vegetables are that big in those gardens. And they have tons of vegetables hanging their waiting to get ripe. Kind of puts us to shame!

Well, so my husband finally dug out the big box of Miracle Gro, and made some up and got it in the garden finally. This morning, I don't know if it's just my mind playing tricks, but things do look a little greener. Maybe we can finally catch up to those old folks!


Monday, July 21, 2008

Picked my first poblano and grilled it

I picked my first poblano off of the plant yesterday. I had already bought 3 that morning for $1.79 a pound! Well, two were going to be diced up for various things. But two are going to be stuffed with all sorts of good things and grilled! Now my husband and I are going to fight for who gets our home grown pepper! Well, actually not because when I stuff them, we can only eat one half of a pepper.

poblanos will make 4 stuffed peppers. I usually freeze two for another day! I slice the poblanos in half length-wise. Clean the inside. I get a block of cream cheese which has been softened and put that in a bowl. I add chopped up fresh cilantro, some chopped green onion, some diced peppers, a couple of dashes of chili powder, and a small bag of shredded monterey jack cheese. Mix that all together and fill each poblano half with the mixture. Then wrap hickory (we've tried other bacon, but everything else tastes lame next to hickory) bacon all around it, you'll need a few slices for each pepper. At this point, I freeze two of them in a freezer bag for a later day. The other two, I place on the grill and cook on indirect heat, slowly. It's done when the bacon is nice and crispy. We don't turn the peppers over when we cook them. With the slow, indirect heat, it cooks on top too. This is like a big version of my dragon-bite recipe. Dragon-bites are great for appetizers, while this stuffed poblano is good for a meal!


Sunday, July 20, 2008

Comparing Gardens

I was at my mom's yesterday for her birthday. She lives in a retirement community. They have a victory garden there. My mom's plot is about the size of mine. She had planted all her stuff a good 3 weeks before me. It's unbelievable how HUGE all of her plants are, and everyone else around hers, for that matter. Mine are so tiny! Does three weeks really make that much of a difference? Their tomatoes are at least 3 times the size as mine. And here I thought I was doing great. I still think I am, so maybe three weeks does matter? Well, my mom gave me some of her green beans, zucchini, cucumbers and beets. I've been wanting to try the zucchini on the grill, since seeing Emeril slicing them lengthwise - just adding a little olive oil, salt and pepper, and grilling them.

I gave my mom 2 quarts of raspberries when I saw her - she's going to make some jam with that. She then also gave me two wooden signs she had made me for my garden. My favorite being "Garden of Weedin", she made that one because of how I describe my vegetable garden to her.

Well, the ground is still wet, weeds are still growing. Maybe sometime this afternoon the ground will be just dry enough for me to weed, without me getting all muddy!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Organic garden - not

I was supposed to use Miracle Gro on my garden last night, but couldn't. It decided to rain pretty good. This morning it's still raining pretty good. Oh well - one less day or two to water!

Now I had wanted to try an organic garden this year. But I had already blown it by using the Tomato and Blossom Set spray. So I figured that I could use Miracle Gro too. I've had a huge box of it for the last couple of years and want to get rid of it. We'll see about an organic garden next year, but that would mean no blossom set spray, which I truly believe is working well.

We made a couple more tomato cages last night while watching Aliens. Always nice to keep your hands busy, especially when the cause is my garden!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Time for Miracle Grow

Tonight, I am going to use Miracle Grow in my garden. I think it is time for a little extra nutrient boost. I have so many flowers and little peppers and tomatoes growing that the soil may need the extra nutrients to feed them to get a nice, healthy crop. Remember, this year is my first year of getting back into gardening, so everything is kind of new again to me, and I'm experimenting. I want to see what happens this year and improve things for next year. I really think the Tomato and Blossom Set Spray really does work. I just have to find a place that sells it in a larger size. And I don't want to pay shipping anymore. It costs almost as much to ship it as it is to buy it. I went online to the place that makes the Tomato and Blossom Set Spray, and they show who carries it locally and what sizes. Hopefully, the place they listed locally, Random Acres, has the larger size!


Thursday, July 17, 2008

My Health Kick Tomato has little tomatoes

Well, my health kick tomatoes finally are starting to grow. Yes, they are short and spindly. But they are starting to get taller, and I think trying to get a little fuller. But they have little tomatoes on some of them! How exciting! You can see the little tomato (shaped like a plum tomato) where the yellow flower is still attached to the underside of the tomato.

Everything is starting to grow beautifully. I need to get 13 more cages completed and on my pepper and tomato plants this weekend.

I watered last night, though I really didn't need to, if it was going to be a normal temperature day today. But it's supposed to be the hottest yet - 92 degrees. So I watered a little bit, thinking my plants will probably need it.

It's been 2 weeks since I did the intensive weeding. It looks like I need another weeding session. Though I don't have as many weeds as the first time - thank goodness!

My Sweet 100 tomato plant has many little cherry tomatoes on it. And one is starting to turn red! How cool is that! I can't wait! I understand that the Sweet 100 is supposed to give you so many cherry tomatoes, that supposedly you'll get tired of picking them. We shall see!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Cubanelle and Poblano Pictures

This is my cubanelle pepper. You can see many little buds all over my plant that will become peppers. See how my plant isn't a dark green like my poblanos and jalapenos. I should have gotten two plants when I saw them at the store. I do love the taste of these peppers!

The ground, you can see is very dry. This is what I get if it doesn't rain. I really have to water every day if it doesn't rain. It got to be 90 degrees today - pretty hot!

And my poblanos! I have over 20 buds on one plant! The plant looks healthy so far, so I don't know if I should take off a few to make sure that the others have a better chance at growing bigger, or not. This will be an experiment for me!


Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Cooking with Basil

While waiting for my basil to grow from seeds, I did buy a lovely basil plant from Lowes that was huge, on the 4th of July. Well, yesterday afternoon, my brother stopped by and dropped off some of his award winning ribs. He and his wife go to all the BBQ cook-offs and compete. They just came back from one in Rockford this past weekend. He brought the ribs over to thank my husband for fixing his pump on his hot tub. Well, we were going to have a great dinner! So I saw the basil and decided to make a light macaroni salad to go with the ribs. I cooked the macaroni and cooled it down in cold water, drained it. Then added some chopped up basil leaves, red onion, olive oil and some lemon juice. Set that all in the refrigerator and waited for the husband to get home. He was in Wisconsin and when he heard that we were having my brother's ribs for dinner, he couldn't wait! I placed the ribs, which were wrapped in foil, on the grill with just a few charcoals to heat the ribs slowly. My brother told me to reheat slowly or they will dry out. Well, they didn't and the salad with basil was just wonderful! I love gardening! Everything is so fresh and tastes, well, like you made it yourself!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Caging peppers

Do you know when you need to cage your peppers? When they start leaning over! We had to make another cage for a jalapeno plant, a Mucho Nacho type, which isn't exactly tall, but it did start leaning last night under the weight of a big pepper. The only thing getting BIG in my garden is the poblano plants. Everything else is kind of short. I don't get it. They are producing flowers and such, just small plants. The next plant to get caged will be my cubanelle. It is full of little buds! I can just tell it will be the next to lean. The cubanelle is starting to get a little darker green that it was last week. I think that's a good thing! At least the plant looks very healthy, as does all my other plants, albeit shorter than they should be.

Last night was the first night I've had to water in days! It's been raining pretty good, except yesterday. I thought I would be able to get by with not watering, but the ground was just so dry and hard. Well, this morning the peppers, tomatoes and herbs all look like they appreciated it!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Watching my garden grow

After a couple of days of rain, we are looking to have a real nice day today. Even though it was fairly muddy in the garden, we transplanted the basil which we had grown from seed, into the garden. The ones that we had grown in a trough on the deck grew so much bigger than the ones we put straight into the ground (seed, that is).

We also put another homemade cage or two out there to help support my plants. We still have more to build!

The weeds are coming back up, but not as many as last week. I might do some weeding today if the ground isn't muddy. I like to pull weeds when the ground is damp, but not muddy. The weeds pop out so nicely when you pull them from a damp ground. You also get more of the root, which is very satisfying. Who wants to weed all day and just yank off the tops of the weeds? You've got to get tot the bottom of things! Anyway - here's to a good day!

Friday, July 11, 2008

How to grow cubanelle peppers

Last year was the first year that I even heard of a cubanelle pepper. At my local produce store, Valli produce, they would get in some new things every now and then. I'm always in the mood for trying a new pepper. I would chop those up and throw them in my spaghetti sauce, not knowing it's really an Italian stir fry pepper - I learned that this year on the label of the plant I bought! You're supposed to just stir fry the peppers in a little olive oil, but I throw mine in spaghetti sauce- there is just a nice hint of heat. Anyway, I had seen pepper and tomato plants in front of my other grocery store, Jewel. They had cubanelle pepper plants in amongst everything. I thought, how cool! Though the peppers were cheap last year at Valli when they introduced them, they started going way up in price, just like everything else. I decided to grab a plant and check my luck.

Honestly, there is nothing to growing it. Though my cubanelle is a little lighter green than all of my other type of pepper plants, it has so many little flowers on it, it's crazy! My peppers get full sun, and if, by 6pm they look dry, I give them some water. That's it. They will be getting a cage for support soon, as the plant looks like it's getting very heavy with all the little flowers on it! The top has a large cluster of buds that will grow into flowers, then into peppers. That's what happened to my poblano plants. They got top heavy too!


Thursday, July 10, 2008

Making your own tomato cage - German Queen and Peppers

The other morning, I woke up to find my poblano peppers, which are very tall and strong, leaning heavily to one side. We had a rain storm the night before. One of my German Queen tomatoes was leaning too. They needed support!

We have quite a bit of fencing left, so decided to use what we had, instead of buying some flimsy tomato cage. My husband, who can make or fix anything (he's like a bigger, older McGuyver), went to work on the project. He cut a length of fencing with his wire cutters. Connected it to the other side by folding over the wire onto the other side, making a cylinder. See where the bottom of the fence has a smaller spacing? He cut 4 horizontal rows off of the wire going vertical (kept that wire in tact). The vertical wire on the bottom of the cage is used to be pushed into the dirt. It doesn't look it in the picture, but the length of the vertical wire on the bottom is 7-8 inches long. Because these cages have 8 wires going into the ground, it has turned out pretty sturdy! We shall see how it works out

Also, as a search engine optimization person, I love to see what searches bring people here to this site. It's mostly been searches for German Queen Tomatoes, Health Kick Tomatoes, and Cubanelles!


Tuesday, July 8, 2008

German Queen, Health Kick and Bush Tomatoes

My Health Kick tomatoes finally have blooms on them! They aren't tall, they really aren't leafy, at least mine aren't. But they do have blooms and they look strong! I thought they were going to be late bloomers.
In the mean time, my German Queen tomatoes are doing well. Because the tomatoes are the really big, heavy type, I have to start thinking of putting up some support very soon (and for my tall poblano peppers)
I have some bush tomatoes that are doing fine also - blooms and tomatoes on them.
I'm not doing too badly for someone who's been out of gardening for so many years. Except for that little over-watering incident with my new seeds this early spring, I've had some pretty good luck!

Monday, July 7, 2008

Watching the garden grow

Just this morning, I got up at 5am, and went out to check my garden. Some of the jalapeno peppers which I grew from a second batch of seeds in a trough, on my deck, had been added to my garden yesterday. The feeling of wonder and accomplishment came over me and made me smile. I finally grew something from seed and it's taking off. Those new jalapeno plants were perked up in the soil, just like the big ones surrounding them. All that weeding this long weekend was worth it! Everything looks great.

I hear a redwing blackbird screeching at the bird feeder by my deck. The big old cat is laying by the door, catching the morning coolness. I have fed the cats and made the coffee. All is good.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Marjoram, Tarragon and Sage

When I was out looking for cilantro seeds on the 4th of July, I found a few more herbs that I had wanted to put on my deck. Marjoram, tarragon and sage.

I've never used tarragon before, but I understand that it is known for its cool, bittersweet minty flavor and anise-like aroma. Used in egg dishes a lot. I found a recipe for tarragon chicken that sounds real good!

I never used marjoram before either. But there are recipes for this too, such as chicken marsala.

Now sage, I love cooking with sage in the fall time. Sausage and pumpkin dishes especially. There is a pumpkin sage pasta that I make that is absolutely delicious!

I love to try new herbs. It can make a simple dish stand out and scream, "I'm gourmet!".

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Holy Mole Pepper

Before we began our weeding yesterday, we did harvest some raspberries from our bushes on the side of our house. Then I wanted to go to Meijers to check out their herb section. I needed to find cilantro seed, and Lowes was out. So off we went. Didn't find the seeds at Meijers, but found a plant called Holy Mole Pepper. No other description on it - just a picture of what the peppers look like. Very long and dark green. So, the husband and I decided to give Holy Mole a try, after all, these suckers had blossoms and the little pepper buds on them already.

We went home and I had to check the Internet about what a Holy Mole Pepper is. I guess it's like a poblano, and it's used in - you guessed it - mole sauce. Mole sauce is one of my husband's favorite Mexican sauce. We usually buy it in a jar, but now, we'll get to try to make our own homemade sauce. Can't wait to make our own blend of peppers, chocolate and spices!

We did find the cilantro seed at Ace Hardware, of all places! We went there to get some wood for our fire pit, so we could watch the fireworks from our deck in comfort! It was a wonderful night!

Friday, July 4, 2008

My Garden - 4th of July

I am so proud of my garden! It may not seem much. And I have trouble weeding the garden by myself (with my achy arthritis). But what a thrill so far! I'm growing cilantro, jalapenos, shallots, poblanos, cubanelles, and various tomatoes. I'll have to take a picture next month and see how everything is growing to compare.

I used to grow a garden 20 years ago in the back area of my house . But now I've been out of practice. I have built up the back area where my old garden used to be, with grass and trees, etc... Now I talk to a guy who works with my husband. He grew up on a farm in Iowa. For years, I would get some of the tomatoes he was too tired to can, from his garden. Now I get to compare his garden and mine. His is way bigger, by far. But his peppers and tomatoes don't even have blooms on them yet. He's not expecting them to for another couple weeks. He had to come by the other day and see what I was bragging about.

He also came by to borrow my vegetable chopper. He has a salsa maker, which mushes his peppers and tomatoes, well, kind of like salsa. My chopper, from Williams-Sonoma, cuts them so nicely. I love it. He said he has to get one now.

HAPPY 4th of JULY!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Jalapenos grown from seed

When I first started this season, I had gotten some seeds from Burpee. Jalapenos and Roma tomatoes. Just before I planted then into the ground. I accidentally killed them by drowning them. Well, I had a trough, and had extra seeds. I had room in my garden also for seeds. So I planted some in both places. Well, I'll tell you. Even after my husband tilled the soil, got out all the rocks, etc... - the jalapenos grown in my trough on the deck are good-sized - half of them ready to be placed into the ground. The ones that I seeded right into my garden either didn't grow, or they are very slow growing. Yes, a few came up, but very short and ratty looking. Now we'll have to see which grow jalapenos the best!