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The High-Yield Vegetable Garden

Categories: | Author: George | Posted: 1/22/2011 | Views: 10657
How to Grow an Organic Vegetable Garden with Spring, Summer, and Fall Harvests

New for 2011!

Conscientious people around the globe are looking for ways to grow their own healthy produce in the back yard. This year we'll chronicle a 420 square foot high-yield vegetable garden using organic and natural techniques to produce a healthy bounty.

Please share and discuss your permaculture and sustainable gardening ideas with us on our FaceBook group!

 It's late January. Outside it's a stark white landscape--the sun has been hiding behind grey skies for a week. This is the perfect time to remember spring days and to start planning the upcoming vegetable garden! (For added inspiration, look through photos in last year's Permaculture article and TGH Garden Journals.)

Planning your garden now means that you will be prepared to order seeds early (to get the seeds you want and to take advantage of sales) and set calendar dates for when to start seeds indoors, prepare the garden beds, and seed directly. I'll be starting the broccoli indoors in mid-March even though our average last frost date is in May. For more information on starting seeds, see our TGH Starting Seeds Indoors article.

 Here are some great vegetable gardening resources:

         

 

Planning your garden can be as simple, or as complicated, as you want it to be. In the case of a succession garden where your goal is to have maximum, continuous yield, a bit of legwork and documentation may be in order.

I'm considering selling produce at a local farmers market, so it's important to know what vegetables will be available on any given week. Here is a snapshot of the spreadsheet that I used to plan when to start seeds indoors, transplant, direct sow, and harvest the vegetables in bed #2:


The bright yellow column indicates when I project it's safe for most cool weather crops that are planted under row covers. The dark blue column indicates when the local farmers market opens for business. The orange column shows the average first frost date.

Many cool weather crops can be in and out of the garden in as little as four weeks, so a little extra planning allows you to keep the garden in full production all season long.

Post-season note: I've been reading good things about the garden planner at Mother Earth News--this may be an easier way to plan your vegetable garden...

January 28, 2011: Seed Orders Have Arrived

This year's garden will include a wide variety of vegetables, including Swiss Chard, Beets, Peas, Spinach, Mesclun, Carrots, Dill, Parsley, Cilantro, Radishes and Onions.


Starting Seeds Indoors Using Soil Blockers: March 13th

Although most cultural information indicates that peppers should be started indoors about 8 weeks before average last frost. Peppers take a while to germinate and also transplant well, so giving them an early start can mean an earlier harvest this season (but it may also probably mean that I will have to transplant the peppers into a larger pot before they are ready for the outdoors.)

I'll be planting 10 of each of the following varieties using soil blockers--more on that next: Krimson Lee, a Hot Pepper Mix, Red Knight Green to Red Bell, and Lipstick.

A Soil Blocker is a form that is used to make neat seed "cubbies" from seed starting mix, organic fertilizer and water.  I'll be using the 2" block maker from Johnny's Select Seeds. So why use soil blocks? A soil block serves as both a container and the soil for starting and growing seedlings, eliminating the need for plastic pots and trays for transplanted seedlings. Seedlings grown in soil blocks form stronger root systems than those grown in containers due to increased oxygen to the roots and the soil block's natural tendency to "prune" roots. This creates a substantial advantage when seedlings are transplanted into the field, because plants establish themselves more quickly and, because of lessened root disruption, they are less prone to transplant shock.

Well, a picture is worth a thousand words, so let's take a look at the process:

 

 


Required Materials:
Seed Starter Potting Soil, Organic Fertilizer, Soil Blocker, Mixing Tub, Mixing Stick, and Warm Water.


The Four Block Maker comes with instructions and a blocking mix recipe. The included recipe is a bit complicated so I elected to go a simpler route*.


One standard planting tray hold 50 medium soil blocks. This requires two coffee cans (3 lb. size) of starter mix and about 1/4 cup of organic fertilizer.*


Combine the starter mix and fertilizer with warm water until it is the consistency of soft putty and then pat into a mound. The consistency is very important for correct operation of the soil blocker form.


Push the soil blocker into the mix until it contacts the bottom of the tub, then twist 1/4 turn and lift. Set the blocker into the tray and push down on the handle while lifting to place the blocks. 50 blocks fit nicely into a standard plant tray.


Place 1-2 seeds in the whole at the top of each block, then cover according to the seed package directions. Peppers like to be buried 1/4" deep. Tamp the soil to ensure good contact with the seed. Cover with a plastic dome and place on a heating pad.

 

 

   *The original soil block recipe calls for both compost and soil, which would probably give more structure to the mix. After working with my simplified version of the mix for a few weeks I've noticed that the blocks fall apart pretty easily, making them difficult to water. I recommend following the prescribed soil block recipe for future batches.

If you want to make your own seed starting mix, OEFFA (Ohio Ecological Food & Farm Association) has some recipes listed in a corresponding article.

 

Peppers take about 2 weeks to germinate and they like warm soil, so place the tray in a warm location or use a heating mat.

I've placed this tray on a shelf of the Low Cost Grow Stand for Seedlings that was included in an article last year.

I'm also starting bunching onions, the Guardsman and Evergreen Hardy varieties. I'm trying something new with these seeds, setting 5-7 seeds per block. From what I've read, as these onions mature the closely packed plants will push each other apart and form nice bunches, which is very convenient for harvesting and selling!


Since onions will germinate at cooler temperatures there is no need to use a heating pad.

Guardsman is a cross between a bunching onion and a bulb onion that matures in 50 days.

Evergreen Hardy White matures in about 65 days.

 

Germination Table for Seeds Started Indoors March 13th

Name Temp Start Date 1st Germ/True Leaves
Basil 86 degrees March 13 March 16/March 25
Guardsman Bunching Onion 65* "" March 18*
Evergreen Hardy White Bunching Onion 65* "" March 18*
Krimzon Lee Pepper 86 "" March 19/March 27
Hot Pepper Mix** 86 "" March 21/March 27
Red Knight Bell Pepper 86 "" March 20/March 27
Lipstick Red Pepper 86 "" March 19/March 27

 * Initial germination: seedlings are not vigorous. Moved seed flat on to a heating mat on March 19th to see if germination of successive seedlings improves. (Update: Germination is noticeably stronger with the heating mat.)

**Hot Pepper Mix seeds are from the 2009 season, which may ex;plain why they are not germinating with the other peppers.

Germination Table for Seeds Started March 25th
Name Temp Start Date 1st Germ/True Leaves
Fordhook Giant Swiss Chard 82 degrees March 25 March 28/April 11*
Bright Lights Swiss Chard "" "" March 28/April 11*
Thyme, Common "" "" March 29/April 8
Oregano "" "" March 29/April 8
Rosemary** "" "" April 1/
Cilantro "" "" March 31/April 6
Brandywine Tomato         82 degrees March 25 March 29/April 4        

 *The Swiss Chard germinated well, but did not mature well in the soil blocks and didn't transplant well into pots. In the future I'll probably seed this crop directly into the ground instead of starting it indoors.

**Rosemary has a very low germination rate. As of April 12th, only three seedlings have emerged out of about 20 seeds.

Insectary Plants Started March 25th

Name Temp Start Date 1st Germ/True Leaves
Alyssum 86 degrees March 25 March 27/April 9
Calendula "" "" March 29/April 7

April 4 Update

Transplanted the Brandywine tomatoes, Cilantro, Calendula and Swiss Chard into plastic containers using a mix of 3 parts seed starting medium, 1 part compost and 1/2 cup organic fertilizer:

  • The tomato seedlings got tall fast, so I transplanted them deeper than their original level. Also taking them off of the heating pad to slow down the growth rate and, according to some sources, to thicken the stems.
  • Cilantro does not like to be transplanted, so I moved them into a larger container early to minimize root shock. Root shock can cause cilantro to bolt to seed early (which is good if you're going for seeds (coriander), but not so good if you're growing it for leaf.) Moving them off of the heat mat should keep growth in check until they can be moved outdoors.
  • Calendula like it cool and start off with a long deep root, so into a larger container and off of the heat mat.
  • Swiss Chard is a member of the same family as beets and grows a tap root that doesn't like to be disturbed. It's also a cool weather plant that will be ready to go outside as soon as I can prep the beds (it's been a cold, and now wet, spring).
     

 Started indoors two types of broccoli: Blue Wind and Bay Meadows in a Burpee self watering tray on April 4th.

Name Temp Start Date 1st Germ/True Leaves
Blue Wind 68 degrees April 4 April 7/April 14
Bay Meadows "" "" April 7/April 14

 

It's a challenge to keep seedlings that are grown indoors at a good moistures level, mainly because conventional watering methods like watering cans with rain heads or hose nozzles with gentle output would make a mess indoors. The direct output stream from an indoor watering can is too forceful and often leads to overwatering or soil displacement.

This self watering tray system has a fabric wick that soaks up water from the bottom tray and delivers it to the bottom of each planting cell. I've placed a heating mat under the bottom tray, but one of the drawbacks of this system is that the heat cannot be applied to the cells in an efficient way.

Delays: During the past week temps were about 15 degrees below normal, with night time lows in the teens. This week rain is forecast for the week, making the soil too wet to work. I had scheduled Hercules carrot for direct sowing into a raised bed, but this will have to wait until I can fully prep the area. 

Beds 1 and 3 are scheduled for plantings this week (April 4th) and next week. Since rain and snow are forecast on and off during the next five days, I've covered these beds with clear plastic. This will limit the amount of new moisture going in to the soil and also warm the soil. Fingers are crossed that this will make for good workable soil by the 10th...

 April 8th

Transplanted the peppers and basil into larger pots. These are warm weather plants that won't go outside until the end of May.

 

 

April 13th

Beds 1 and 3 are finally dry enough to prep for planting. The first step is to double-dig the beds--this process loosens the soil to a depth of two feet and mixes the top soil with the lower strata. Double digging takes a bit of effort, but plants with deep roots will definitely benefit, and you only have to dig the bed every couple of years.

 

  1. Dig out and remove a trench of soil 12" deep from the first foot of the bed and place the soil in a wheel barrow or buckets (not shown)
  2. Use a spading fork to loosen another 12" of soil at the bottom of the trench
  3. Place a board on top of the bed about 12" from the trench (this will limit soil compaction) 
  4. Use a spade to slice 12" sections of the bed and drop the soil into the trench (this creates a new trench)
  5. Use a spading fork to loosen another 12" of soil at the bottom of the trench
  6. Place a board on top of the bed about 12" from the trench (this will limit soil compaction)
  7. Repeat these steps until you reach the end of the bed. Fill this final trench with the soil from the wheel barrow or buckets that you had set aside in step 1

 The double dug bed will be quite a bit higher than the original soil level because it is no longer packed tightly. Use a rake to break up any large clumps of soil and to smooth the bed.

Here are some videos that show the double digging process:

 

April 15th: Planting Bed #1 with Peas and Carrots

With the double-digging done and the weather cooperating, it's finally time to plant the first raised vegetable bed for the season, yay!

To complete preparation, I sprinkled organic fertilizer and compost on top of the bed.

Soil temperature is 48 degrees, which is warm enough for both pea and carrot germination. First planting is Caselode shelling peas. <Note: May 9--Caselode had excellent germination.>

Following seed packet directions, I created two 6" wide furrows with a hoe and sprinkled in the seeds. Peas don't mind a bit of crowding. This variety will grow to about 24" long.

I treated all pea seeds with an inoculant by first wetting the seeds and then sprinkling on the inoculant in a plastic bag and shaking thoroughly. Second planting is a Sugar Daddy snap pea. <Note: May 9--Sugar Daddy had very poor germination.>

Next up are the carrots, which I'm planting in single rows. I used a round garden stake to trace out the rows. 

The first type of carrot is a Nantes Half Long and came mounted onto paper tapes for easy planting. It is an easy way to plant carrots, which are pretty small seeds, but it costs about twice as much for the seeds.

The last planting is Hercules and Scarlet Nantes carrots. I originally only planned for the Hercules, but the seeds are small and difficult to plant according to the package spacing--the seeds went down too thick and I ran out, so I'll have two varieties in this last section of the bed.

There's a 90 percent chance for rain tomorrow, so I didn't bother to water in the seeds--nature will do that and save on water. I covered the bed with a lightweight floating row cover that will protect the seeds and seedlings from birds and pests.

 April 17

 Started indoors four types of eggplant (variety pack) in a Burpee self watering tray on April 17th.

Name Temp Start Date 1st Germ/True Leaves
Eggplant 68 degrees April 17  April 24/May 5 <growing very slowly indoors>

  Double-dug bed #2 today. Rain is the limiting factor this season for preparing the beds for planting. It's been raining 3-5 days per week, so keeping the non-planted beds covered with plastic has been crucial to prevent the soil from becoming saturated.

 April 18

Moved broccoli to larger containers--they'll go in to the garden in 1-2 weeks...

 

April 21

Planted bed #2 with:

  • Red Rover Radish (21 days)
  • Easter Egg Radish (30 days)
  • Encore Lettuce Mix (28 days)
  • Mesclun Spicy Mix (28 days)
  • Asian Salad Greens (21-45 days)

 

 Partially dug bed #3, then uncovered a small boulder down about 12". Took about 20 minutes to loosen the boulder, then two people to slide it out of the hole with a toe rope. Whew! Rain is scheduled for the next five days, so I covered the bed with plastic and will just have to wait and see when the weather will cooperate.

April 27 Update: Beds 1 & 2 Are Sprouting!

Carrots (these will definitely need to be thinned!)

Caselode Peas

Radish

Mesclun

This season has been unbelievably wet and windy. I still can't work bed #3 and more rain is forecast for 5 of the next 7 days!

April 28: Move Seedlings to the Plant House

 Instructions for Setting Up and taking down the Flower House:

 

April 30th

Transplanted Broccoli, Alyssum and Calendula under a low tunnel in bed #3. 

Direct seeded Bright Lights and Fordhook Swiss Chard in bed #3. (And spotted the first hummingbird of the year today!)

May 4th Update

This has to be the wettest April on record--hardly a day has passed without some rain and the ground is absolutely saturated. Temps have also been about 5-10 degrees below average on many days. In short, the soggy soil puts a damper on garden activities and slows plant growth.

Here is a progress shot of bed #2 (radishes and mesclun). I just installed the low tunnel today. (The row cover fabric should go all the way to the ground to protect the plants from pests, but the standard fabric is about 1' too short for the hoops :-(

 

May 14th: CVNP Farmers Market Opening Day

It's been a cool and VERY wet spring, but this farmer was able to bring produce to the market by heating their high tunnels and starting planting in January.

May 15th

Time to thin the radish plants. I will use these baby radishes in a salad mix, but a little bit goes a long way since they are spicy (and a little bitter)!

 

Picketing the Peas

These Caselode shelling peas will grow in vines about 2' long. An inexpensive way to provide support is to use branches from the yard to create a mini-trellice. Best to add the support before the vines get too long because peas do not like to have their roots disturbed.

 

I've mentioned how WET this spring has been. On top of that, a strong storm came through a few days ago and dropped 2.5" of rain in about 45 minutes. This was the heaviest rain that I have ever seen in the yard!

There was so much water that it created rivers through the garden and carried away a good amount of soil and alfalfa seed (argh!) Fortunately the raised beds were not damaged because the swales between rows funneled away the torrent of water.

 

May 18

It's been too wet and cool to work much of the garden, so many of the plants that I started from seed are hanging out in the green house. Here's a photo update of the alyssum, calendula and Brandywine tomato:

 

May 22 Update

The carrots and snap peas had very poor germination in bed #1. The reason is still a mystery, but I suspect one of two culprits: ants or voles. Ants are not normally bad in the garden unless they decide to farm aphids, but when it's extremely wet, as it has been, I think they may tunnel more to let air into their network, thereby undermining young seedlings. On the other hand, before I prepared this bed there were tunnels from a mole (a good thing) or a vole (a voracious plant eater!)

Perhaps this mystery will be solved over time. If you have any ideas on the cause, or solution, submit a comment for this article.

 

Bed #1 Succession Planting: Beets and Bush Beans

In the area where the snap peas did not germinate I planted three types of beets: Bulls Blood, Chioggia and a mix. For best germination, soak the seeds in water for a couple of hours before planting.


Between rows of carrots I planted Contender bush beans.

May 24th: Planting Tomatoes and Peppers

Finally have an opportunity to get the tomatoes and peppers in the ground. The Brandywine plants are about 2 feet tall and have blossom starts on top! Also going in are Sungold (gold cherry hybrid--an early and prolific producer) and Super Italian Paste (heirloom), plants from a local nursery. One of the Sungold plants already has two tomatoes on it!

I worked the bed with a broad fork, which is a new tool addition this year and a definite keeper. The 13" tines really open up the soil nicely. Oh yeah, also going in are the Lipstick peppers, started from seed, and calendula and alyssum, also started in the basement. The mini greenhouse has worked out fantastic, allowing me to move the plants out of the house sooner, and the plants have thrived in the humid and sunny conditions.

 

Dig the hole deeper than the plant (in this case about 12")

 

Remove the leaves to a point a few inches above ground level. The plant will grow roots along the buried stem, providing better support, water and nutrition.

Form a moat around the plant so it's easy to provide a deep watering. 

 

May 26th Update

We had a repeat cloudburst yesterday--2.5" in a few hours, and the river in the garden was dug deeper by the torrent of water (but the upgraded deer fence held!). Fortunately the swales protected the raised beds and the vegetables seem to be OK. These photos are from the morning after...

June 4th Update

We went from cool and soggy to 90s and dry, basically jumping from early spring to mid-summer. What's a plant to do? Some of the radish and mesclun decided it was time to bolt. The peas are stressed. The broccoli and lettuce are like, OK, whatever.

Red Rover Radish Harvest 

 

Easter Egg Radish Bolting 

Encore Lettuce Mix 

Blue Wind Broccoli 

 

June 6th Update

Transplanted the Krimzon Lee, Red Knight and Hot Pepper plants into the garden (plants are a very healthy 12" tall and some have flowers ready to open!).

 June 8th Update

Temps remain in the 80s and 90s, which is not typical May and June weather. Today is forecast to be 97, which is not only unusual for spring time, it's a temperature rarely seen in this area even in summer.

About 1.25" of rain fell yesterday and helped to moisten the parched and cracked ground. What a roller coaster ride for the vegetables this year!

The strawberries have managed to produce a good crop so I'm drying a batch--they make great snacks :-)

June 13th: Harvesting Peas

Here's a link to a video series about planting, harvesting and cooking peas...

The Caselode shelling peas are pretty much ready for harvest, and are they ever tasty. They're very sweet right out of the shell, but steam and add butter and salt and they are right up there with sweet corn right off of the stalk!

 June 14th

The salad mixes are still holding in there, although I had to thin the Asian Mix because a good number of plant went to flower...


I'm trying a new mulching method this year to keep weeds out and keep moisture in: newspaper and grass clippings! The plastic mulch worked great last year, but it's not cheap, and at the end of the year it goes into the landfill.

June 20th: Blue Wind Broccoli Harvest

 

For more information about harvesting vegetables, read the World Peas Harvest Guide.

June 26-28 Harvests

Cherry tomato (it's supposed to be a SunGold :-), carrots, scallions, Fordhook Giant swiss chard and Bay Meadows broccoli.

 

 

July 7th: More Carrots

 

July 17th: Green Beans and Yet More Carrots! 

 

 

July 24th: Beet Harvest

 

July 25th: Making Bread

Although this isn't something to harvest from the garden, it's great to have fresh bread to go with those garden meals. I recently purchased this book and tried the master recipe--this is the easiest way to make bread that I've seen and the bread tastes great!

 

August 2: Second Beet Harvest 

Chioggia Beet

 

Pickled Beets

  • 4 or 5 beets
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard (or ground mustard seeds)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Remove greens, then cut beets to uniform sizes (the less cutting the better, makes the peeling easier later on). Steam or boil until fork tender.
  2. Drain beets then rinse in cold water. Peel (I use a fork or small paring knife). Slice the beets.
  3. Vinaigrette: Combine vinegar, sugar, olive oil, and dry mustard. Whisk. Add salt and pepper to taste. Let marinade for 30 minutes at room temp (but I prefer placing them in the refrigerator for a day or so). 
  4. Enjoy!

 August 18th: Fried Eggplant

We've been harvesting eggplant for the last couple of weeks, and today decided to serve it up fried.

To start, line a cookie sheet with a double layer of paper towels, then cut the eggplant into 3/8" thick slices. Lay the slices in the sheet and salt the tops liberally, then top with another layer of paper towels. Place another cookie sheet on top and weigh it down so it presses the eggplant. Let sit for 1-2 hours.

Dab the slices dry and set on a plate. Beat 3 eggs in a bowl and place next to the plate. Mix flower (try gluten free flower as an option) and pepper in another bowl. Heat canola oil in a fry pan.

Dredge each eggplant slice in egg, then flower, and then into the fry pan. Fry until golden brown on each side.

Serve with your favorite marinara or pasta sauce. Yum!

 Starting a Fall/Winter Garden in July and August

Around latitude 45, zone 5, July and August are the months to start many fall and winter crops. A week ago we planted mesclun mix in the deck planter and soon we'll be planting carrots, which get much sweeter as the weather turns cold. Here are some crops to consider:

  • Beets - the greens will die with a heavy frost, but the roots will survive temps into the upper 20s.
  • Brussel Sprouts - stand up to temps in the low 20s.
  • Carrots - become sweeter in the fall. Can withstand temps in the upper 20s, mulch for lower temps. Harvest throughout the winter as long as the ground isn't frozen and they're well mulched.
  • Collard Greens - withstand temps into the low 20s and become sweeter with low temps.
  • Kale - withstands temps into the low 20s
  • Mache - good replacement for lettuce, can withstand temps into the mid-20s.
  • Parsnips - like carrots, improve with low temps. You can store them in the ground, like carrots--mulch when temps fall into the upper 20s.
  • Spinach - at its best in cool weather. Can overwinter if mulched before temps fall below the mid-20s.
  • Strawberry spinach - will withstand temps into the mid-20s.
Fall / Winter Garden Planting Dates
Variety When to Plant Variety When to Plant
Arugula August Lettuce July to early September
Beets End July to mid-August Mustard End of July to September
Broccoli Transplant July to August Parsnips June
Broccoli raab July to mid-August Peas August
Brussel Sprouts Transplant in June Radishes August to mid-September
Cabbage Transplant July to August Spinach August to mid-September
Carrots Mid-July to September Strwbry Spinach August
Cauliflower Trans. July to mid-August Swiss Chard July to mid-August
Green Onions July to early August Turnips June
Kale July to August
 

 August 21st

Mammoth sunflowers are in bloom--these really add some nice vertical interest to the garden and will soon feed the birds in the yard.

September 3rd: Pepper Harvest

 

 

Stuffed Pepper Recipe

  • Peppers (mild, hot, bell, banana--they're all good!)
  • Mild Italian sausage (or ground beef)
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Chicken or beef broth
  • Pasta sauce 

Over medium-low heat, saute the onions and garlic until transluscent in a small amount of oil. Salt and pepper to taste. Set aside and let cool.

Cut the peppers into halves length wise and remove seeds and membrane. Place into a glass cooking dish or broiler pan.

Remove the casings from the sausage and add to a large bowl. Add the onions, garlic, and parmesan cheese and mix well. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Stuff the sausage mixture into the peppers. Add about 1/2" of broth to the bottom of the pan (consider mixing a bit of the pasta sauce with the broth for extra tomato flavor.) Spoon pasta sauce over the top of the peppers.

Cover the pan with foil and cook the peppers until the sausage is done, about 40 minutes. Remove the foil and let the sauce reduce for another 20 minutes in the oven.

Remove from the oven and enjoy!

September 19, 2011: Freezing Vegetables & Recipes

To properly freeze vegetables, follow these steps: Wash the vegetables thoroughly. Blanch in boiling water so that the enzymes do not cause the vegetables to become tough and lose flavor. Cool vegetables in ice water after blanching. Drain thoroughly, pack in packaging designed for freezing, label, and freeze immediately.

The following two recipies come courtesy of From Jolene George

Green Tomato and Bacon Sauce

This quick, anytime pasta dish works well for a quick weekday supper or for late evening dining. Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese creates a creamy sauce when combined with the pasta water. Crispy bacon, sweet tomatoes and vibrant parsley accent the warm, white spaghetti strands. Always serve pasta on warmed plates.

6 slices thick-cut bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound green tomatoes, cored and cut into 1/4-inch dice
Salt
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons minced pepperoncini
1/2 pound cappelini pasta
2/3 cup freshly grated pecorino Romano cheese
1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley, plus more for garnish
Freshly ground black pepper

In a 12-inch skillet over medium heat, cook the bacon until crisp. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a plate lined with paper towels. Drain and reserve 1 tablespoon bacon fat. Add the olive oil to the pan. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, 60 seconds.
Raise the heat to medium high. Add the tomatoes, salt and red pepper flakes. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes soften and start to turn golden brown, about 7 minutes. Add the wine and pepperoncini and cook until the some of the liquid evaporates and the tomatoes are a bit saucy.
Meanwhile, cook the pasta in salted boiling water according to the package directions until al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup of pasta water, then drain the pasta.
Put the drained pasta back into the pot and add the cooked tomatoes, cheese, 1/2 cup parsley and cooked bacon. Toss until combined, adding reserved pasta water to moisten, if necessary. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper.
Divide the pasta among warm plates, sprinkle with additional parsley and serve immediately.

Green Tomato and Apple Hazelnut Crisp

Warm seasonal fruit, fragrant spices and a vanilla-overtoned hazelnut crust sings with the tastes of early autumn. Serve with sweetened whipped cream or, my favorite, just warm by itself.

9 tablespoons all-purpose flour (divided)
1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
3/4 cup hazelnuts, toasted and skinned (see note)
3 medium Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced

2 medium green tomatoes (about 1 pound), cored and sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
3/4 cup granulated sugar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
In a food processor, blend 6 tablespoons of flour, the brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Add the butter and pulse until blended. Add the nuts and process for 8 more pulses or until coarsely chopped. Transfer to a bowl and refrigerate while preparing the filling.
Place the apples and tomatoes in a large bowl. Stir in the lemon juice. In a small bowl, combine the lemon zest, remaining 3 tablespoons flour, and sugar. Stir into the fruit, mixing gently.
Spray an 8-inch-square baking pan or 2-quart casserole with nonstick cooking spray. Transfer the apple filling to the pan (do not put the topping on yet). Bake until the filling is bubbly, about 35 minutes.
Remove the topping from the refrigerator and sprinkle evenly over the fruit. Return the pan to the oven and bake until the topping is nicely browned, about 20 minutes. Cool on a baking
rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Note: To toast hazelnuts, spread the shelled nuts in a shallow pan and roast in a 350-degree oven for 8 to 10 minutes or until the skins crack. Rub warm nuts with a rough kitchen towel or between your hands to remove as much skin as possible.

 October 14th: Naked Pumpkin Seed Harvest

We planted some very special pumpkins this year. They're not eating pumpkins, but they have hull-less seeds that don't require shelling, so you just remove and clean them and they're ready for toasting--very convenient and tasty.

 

 

October 23rd: Saving Tomato Seeds
from Nichols Garden

"Tomato seed is easy to collect. First squeeze the innards from a
tomato into a container and let it sit in a warm spot for 3-5 days.
Fermentation will begin and this destroys most seed borne pathogens.
Discard fermented pulp and floating seeds. Fertile heavy seeds sink to
the bottom. Rinse these carefully with slowly running water, and
spread out to dry in a fine sieve or on waxed paper. Let them dry
completely and place in a jar with a drying agent. Even salt will do a
good job of removing any moisture. Pour an inch of salt into a jar and
then carefully place your labeled and wrapped seeds so they do not
come into direct contact with the salt. Check in a week to see if
there are signs of any moisture and store. You’ll be salting them
away for next year’s garden.

If the tomato you chose is open-pollinated the seeds will produce the
same tomatoes as the parent plant. If it is a hybrid, you may see a
range of different tomatoes, or they might seem essentially the same.
The genetic differences can be fascinating and you can treat it like a
garden experiment. After a few years of doing this you will have seeds
producing a uniform batch of tomatoes. Your own personal
open-pollinated variety."

 

 

Using Chickens and Poultry to Control Garden Pests

 

 

 

 

 

Seed Starter Kits, Heat Mats and Supplies

       

 



 

 

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