Month: July 2013

5×5 Garden Challenge: July Update

My garden is better this year than it has been at any point in the past.  Here is a summary:

Harvested 

1. Lettuce: I’ve been harvesting lettuce for a while now.  We don’t eat that much of it but I keep it growing for when we need it.

2. Radishes: We all like radishes in this house.  I’ve been able to harvest a few times now.  Surprisingly the most recent plantings have been the biggest ones. They have grown to golfball size.

3. Peas: I had put in sugar snap peas.  We ate a few good meals off of them.  I picked the last of them and pulled the plants last weekend.  Next year I want to do it again but maybe try a different variety.  I also need a better trellis for them next year.

4. Beans: I planted a mixture of yellow, purple, and green beans.  They are growing in really well.  We have eaten many decent meals from them and have a few more to come.  My boys love them and are excited to help me pick them.  They even planted a few plants of their own.

5. Tomatoes: So far this year I have picked 6 baby orange tomatoes.  We are all looking forward to the tomatoes to come.

6. Herbs: Chives, mint, basil, chives, and lemon balm.  Last year I planted lemon balm and let it go to seed.  This year it is coming in like a weed.  It tastes delicious when I throw it in with a salad.  I want to try doing a lemon balm pesto for pasta soon.

Growing 

1. Rhubarb: I have one plant growing that is doing really well.  Hopefully next year it comes in well enough that we can get a few pies from it.  Yum.

2. Cucumbers: I have 2 cucumber plants growing but I got them in late so we will see how they do.

3. Green Pepper: I got one plant in and it has one pepper on it.  I hope it’s delicious.

4. Carrots: I have a few rows of carrots in.  I hope that they end up tasting good when I finally do pick them.

5. Onions: I planted 2 different varieties of onions this year.  Far to many of the plants didn’t make it.  I know that there is a gopher living in the garden and I think that he ate most of them.  There are 6 onions that I planted that were growing in our pantry.  Right now they have tops growing with blooms coming in.  I have gotten a few compliments on the pretty “flowers”!

6. Zucchini: My boys planted a single zucchini seed that is growing.  I hope to get at least a few off of the stems.

Flowers

1. Blackeyed Susans: I planted these a few years ago and they are doing fantastically.  Next spring I want to dig some up and transplant them.  They are getting super thick.

2. Bachelors buttons: My mom gave me these a few years ago.  They keep growing and blooming but….  I don’t like how they get all floppy.  I think that next spring I will transplant them somewhere else and put something else there next year.

3. Peonies: I have some beautiful peonies and planted one new plant this year.  Hopefully next year it will be big enough to bloom.

4. Purple Clematis: Another one that I have had for quite a while this year I gave it a bigger trellis, it is currently full of nice big blooms.

5. Succulents: I planted a variety of succulents over the last couple of years.  They are doing wonderful this year and are nice and big.

6. Marigolds: These got planted to thickly but are growing nice and bushy and big.  Their flowers are so nice and bright.  Definitely planting more of these next year.

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Zaycon: Ground Beef Review

I am a person who believes in stocking up on food.  Especially the tried and true items that you know will get used before they go bad.  For example, I pick up 10 bags of 3 packs of whole wheat flat bread from Costco because we go through 2 packs a week these days.  I have officially graduated to buying meat in bulk.  I was reading a blog recently where the woman mentioned that she had just picked up her Zaycon Chicken order and I started looking into the company. I decided I liked what I saw and I decided to order.  The company sells their product by the case, and deliver it to parking lots in box trucks.  I drove up, they found me on their computer, then they loaded my order into the car where I told them to, then I drove away.  Super easy.

Once I found them, the next item that came up in my area was 36lb boxes of bacon.  I could not bring myself to order it.  I am convinced that had I ordered it my cholesterol levels would have skyrocketed just on the drive home. So I waited.  Finally ground beef came up for order, 40lbs of 93% lean ground beef for 3.46/lb.  I went ahead and ordered it.

Today I left work early and picked it up.  Then I went home and split it up and my mother in law started frying some up.  There was almost no fat at all in it, just enough that it didn’t stick to the pan but that was it.  It was nice and fresh, if I read the website right this hamburger had never been frozen it was so fresh.  Next up, fresh boneless skinless chicken breasts for $1.76/lb.

My box totaled 38lbs and broke down as follows:

  • 16 – ~1.5lb packages raw meat to be frozen
  • 5 – ~2lb packages of fried burger to be frozen
  • 1 – 1lb package for later in the week
  • 1 – 1lb chunk for burgers to be fried for supper tonight

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Book Review: Four-Season Harvest

Over the last few years I have found that, with the exception of my audiobooks, my reading habits have been leaning more and more towards non-fiction.  I borrowed a copy of the “Four-Season Harvest” by Eliot Coleman from a friend of mine.  I had expected that it would take me a while to get through it.  Instead I found it so interesting that I read the entire book in a matter of days instead of weeks.  It is well written and gave me so many new ideas that I have to figure out what to do next.  

I have a very small garden that grows slightly each year.  It is a mix of annual veggies, annual flowers, perennial veggies, and perennial flowers with a couple of small lilac bushes thrown into the mix.  This year is the first year that the garden is actually producing food for our table in reasonable amounts.  I need to keep the yield small and restricted to what I know will be eaten, rather than what I would like to grow.

Keeping in mind that I need to keep things simple, basic, and as low maintenance as possible, I have decided that the 20 x 40 year round greenhouse is just not quite feasible.  Instead here is a list of things that I may be able to pull off with out too much trouble or additional weekly work.

  • Look at building a real compost pile, possibly using straw bales or hay bales just to keep the cost as low as possible.  It would be nice to have it close to the house so that everyone can dump stuff into it.  Plus it would be near where we want to put the potager garden in.
  • Get some seeds so that I can plant some of the following cold hardy veggies for a fall/winter harvest: Spinach, Scallions, Mache, claytonia, and carrots.  I think I can convince my family to eat each of them.
  • Clear out the space where I want to put in the new garden.  Instead of creating the garden I was originally planning I am going to modify it to hold a 4×8 cold frame over the top of it instead.  I want to outline the whole thing with bricks that are leveled that the cold frame can rest on.  It will make the garden easier to mow around in the summer anyway.
  • While I am at it I want to clear out my shade garden and frame that with bricks as well.  I need to pull most everything in the garden and dig up the ground.  It is far to compacted and should have some compost mixed in as well.  
  • I need to build said cold frame so that it is ready for this fall when the cold weather starts.
  • Long term I would like to create a garden that is designed as a year round one possibly along the south side of the new house.  it gets some of the best sun and the brick along the bottom will help to keep the garden warm in the winter. 
  • When we put in our new patio/potager garden/fire-pit/gazebo/ everything else outdoor room it would be nice to include some cold weather gardening ideas as well.  
  • Someday a nice big 

Recipe: Zucchini Cornbread Casserole

It’s not often that I find a recipe on Facebook that is tasty, delicious, and pretty decent on the “healthy” scale.  This one fits the bill.  It is going into my special notebook for recipes that I don’t want to lose.

Zucchini Cornbread Casserole

INGREDIENTS:
4 cups shredded zucchini
1 onion, chopped
2 eggs, beaten
1 (8.5 ounce) package dry corn muffin mix
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
8 ounces low fat Cheddar cheese, shredded

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease a 2 quart casserole dish.
In a large bowl mix together the zucchini, onion, eggs, muffin mix, salt and pepper. Stir in 4 ounces of the cheese. Spread this mixture into a greased 2 quart casserole dish; top with remaining 4 ounces of cheese.
Bake in a preheated oven for 60 minutes.
Makes 8 servings 231 calories