May 31, 2012 - Thursday's Kitchen Cupboard

I haven't been doing any "fancy" cooking lately.  It seems the older we get, the simpler our meals become.  I am, however, trying to empty my freezers and shelves to make room for preserving the bounty from the 2012 garden, as well as using the fresh spring vegetables that I'm beginning to harvest.

Salad of fresh garden greens, dried cranberries and walnuts with a sweet balsamic vinaigrette
Ground beef patties with chopped garden fresh onions
Mashed potatoes and gravy
Chioggia beets from the garden, roasted with store bought carrots

Salad of fresh garden lettuce with light Italian dressing
Beef goulash, made with home canned tomato sauce and frozen sweet peppers (2011 garden), and fresh from the garden onions, celery, garlic and parsley  
Buttered green beans (frozen, from 2011)

Another pantry/freezer/garden meal, not pictured, was meatballs made with fresh onion and parsley from the garden, and simmered in home canned sweet chili sauce, served over garden fresh parsley buttered noodles, with a fresh picked lettuce and spinach salad.

The last jar of 2011 raspberry jam has now been consumed.  

Our hostess for Thursday's Kitchen Cupboard is Robin, from The Gardener of Eden.  Be sure to check out her blog to see what others have been using from their gardens, pantries and freezers.

May 31, 2012 - A Common Misconception

Every now and then I find it necessary to explain something to new readers of my blog.  My name isn't Annie.  Oh, I can understand why you'd think it was.  After all, this is Annie's Kitchen Garden.

But this is Annie

And this is Granny...AKA Carol.  We don't look much alike.  I think it's because of our hair color.

Annie dug the first hole for the new garden,

And she spent a lot of time (with her brother, Otto) guarding the garden and keeping it safe from predators.

So you see, I let Annie think it's her garden, and she lets me use it just as long as I promise to share with her and her brother and to never feed her lettuce ever again.

This used to be Annie's Dishwasher, but she got too fat to jump up on the door so she gave it back to me.

Unfortunately, this is still Annie's Living Room.  She doesn't often share it with us.

Love and hugs from Carol.....Annie's Granny


May 30, 2012 - The End of May Garden (part 2)

We continue our stroll through the garden....

 This is the garden bed where all the spinach germinated then disappeared, three rows of carrots became 11 carrots, and about half the beets were consumed by who-knows-what.  The beets that survived the attack are looking just beautiful under their protective netting.  About a half dozen spinach plants (from a later seeding) also survived.  Half of the bed is being wasted for planting something else, due to those 11 carrots.  I may try moving them, and if they don't survive it will be no big deal.  I'd like to get some bush beans started there.

 Sugar snap peas are very close....I picked and ate a tiny one yesterday.  Five cauliflower plants are struggling in front of the peas.  They survived 3-year-old Alicyn the other day.  She was fascinated with the owl that hangs there, and kept stepping on the small plants.  The owl has a motion sensor, and goes whooo-whooo when something passes by.  Of course, we had to make multiple trips to the garden to make the owl go whooo-whooo.  After a while I grew weary of taking her to the garden, so I pulled up the stake that holds the owl, moved it over to the edge of the patio and set it up for her.  For some reason the owl's whooo-whooo got stuck and would not shut off.  After a while, Alicyn came in the house and said "Grandma, that thing is really annoying".  She can be so funny for her age!  I showed her the shut off button, so now she can turn the annoying whooo-whooo off.  

 Oregano that's so pretty I don't want to cut it.  I think I'll just let it blossom.

 The three Brussels sprouts had to be covered with netting after birds chomped off some leaves.  They didn't bother the lettuce plants in the front.  For some reason, the birds don't bother the colored lettuces, only the green ones.

Speaking of lettuce, The Thing I has been replanted with new seedlings.  Only one mature plant remains, and will be pulled this week.  More seedlings are ready to take its place.

 A pretty corner in the Kennel Garden.  This columbine lived in my shade garden for years, and would only get one or two blossoms.  After I moved it to the Kennel garden, it really came to life.  All of the alyssum and nasturtiums in this garden are volunteers from last year's plants.  I planted quite a few Johnny Jump Ups around the columbine, but something ate all but one or two.  See the neighbor's pretty (NOT!) weeds behind the fence?

 Silver Queen corn had spotty germination.  I sure can't say the same for the potatoes!  I thought I'd be able to find a few edible sized potatoes by now, since they are blooming, but I only came up with a single walnut sized one which was promptly washed and eaten raw.

The cantaloupe has a long way to go.  I had a lot of trouble getting these seeds to germinate, so I just kept planting them in different places in the garden.  They seem to be doing the best in this pot, but if all of the seeds I've planted turn into mature plants, I'll have to go into the cantaloupe selling business!  I'm quite sure there are more than a dozen plants growing now.

The sweet potato slips were quite small when I planted them, but the roots were many and huge.  This is my first try at growing them for tubers.  The mother potato went into a hanging pot on the patio to hopefully become a pretty vine.

Spacemaster bush cucumbers are beginning to blossom.  Nasturtiums are growing in the two smaller pots.

More pots and buckets.  Fortex pole beans are growing in the blue bucket, hopefully to become my seeds for next year.  At $8 a packet, it only makes sense to grow some for seeds.  I think those are some of Dave's Happy Yummy sweet peppers, along with a Pixie tomato in the three pots.

The West Garden with its buckets of tomatoes, rhubarb and strawberries.

Another view of the West Garden.

"Tomato Alley".  The tomatoes are growing by leaps and bounds, and two of them are fruiting.  The peppers are slow this year, but finally beginning to show a bit of growth.

You want to hear "annoying" ?  Try listening to this guy and his friend conversing with each other all day!  They are my constant garden companions, and the reason I don't leave my bedroom window open in the summer.  The cawing begins at daybreak, right outside my window!

May 30, 2012 - The End of May Garden (part 1)

I got a bit camera happy today, so I'll break this down into two posts.  

This is the garden at the end of May.

View from the back patio.


 Zucchini and yellow crookneck squash.

 The first zucchini!

 My favorite spot in the veggie garden has no veggies.

Tomatoes next to the garden shed.

Some Minigold tomatoes, ready to harvest.

 The triangle gardens grow shelling peas, beets, radishes, lettuce, broccoli, carrots, garlic, marigolds and alyssum.  The bolting Chinese cabbage was removed last week.  Beets are not protected with netting in this garden, so I hung a sticky fly paper, hoping to trap the leaf miner flies before they did their damage.  It didn't work, but it did catch a lot of them.  The peas are producing a lot of pods now.

 Broccoli, lettuce and alyssum.

 These lovely lettuces will be picked this week, and replaced with "who knows what".  Maybe a single head of cabbage.

 All of the Chioggia beets were pulled from this net covered bed this week, and carrots were planted in their place.  The spinach is very close to bolting, and will soon be replaced with more beets.  These are the cooking (storage) onions I grew from seed.  I'll let them grow and hope they eventually form bulbs.

Bush beans, sweet peppers, carrots, celery and miniature cabbages.

Carrots are growing beautifully.  These were all sown on 12" x 12" seed mats.

 The mini cabbages are beginning to form heads.

 The bush beans are growing much faster than the sweet peppers.  We just haven't had enough warm weather to jump start some of the vegetables.

 The broccoli on the right, in front of the strawberry bed, is the one that was dying last week.  I trimmed off the wilted leaves and pulled the soil way up around the stem, and it looks like it might survive.  The strawberries aren't doing much of anything yet, but that's typical of this variety.  Once they get in gear, they produce quite well.  There is dill growing in the larger pot, along with a few onions and a chamomile plant that may or may not get to stay there.  The small pot was just seeded with cilantro, which hasn't yet germinated.  Pole beans against the fence are the ones being attacked by leaf miners.  It looks like they may possibly survive, unlike the other two plantings.  I don't know why the beans do so poorly against that cedar fence.

 Four hills of Waltham butternut squash will soon cover the entire middle section of this north garden.

 Early Golden Crookneck squash and Honey Select corn.

The raspberries are late this year, but it won't be long now.  Lots of bees buzzing around them.  That's a good thing.

Looking back at the North Garden

May 28, 2012 - Harvest Monday

This week I harvested my largest picking of spinach of the year, and the last of my Chioggia beets.

Harvest for the week of 5/21 through 5/28 

Lettuce - 11.2 oz.
Spinach - 23.8 oz. 
Celery - 3.1 oz. 
Beets - 23.2 oz. (roots only, no greens) 
Tomatoes - 1.8 oz. 

Total for week: 63.1 oz (3.94 lb.) 
Total for year: 294.1 oz (18.38 lb.) 

Daphne's Dandelions is the host for Harvest Monday, where everyone can share links to their harvest for the week. Please visit her blog and leave a link, so we can enjoy your harvest photos!

May 27, 2012 - Fences Aren't Just For Critters

After hoeing out half of the row of carrots that were planted in front of the pole beans, not once but twice, I reseeded it and installed some folding wire fencing to keep myself out!

I often plant something on a whim, then don't mark it because I know I'll remember, and of course I usually forget.

I changed my mind on what to plant in the half barrel under the lilac tree.  My first plan was to fill it with Honey Bear winter squash, then I changed my mind and planted some cantaloupe.  Today I moved the cantaloupe to another location and replaced it with two sweet potato slips.  Some day I'll get it right.

I moved the cantaloupe to the container that earlier held the cucumber plants that died.  I think I'm just a glutton for punishment.

Trying to get radishes to grow through the hot weather ahead, I filled a container with good potting mix plus soil and set it in the semi shade between the house and the cedar fence.  It's always about ten degrees cooler there in the summer.  I planted the 15" x 21" box with radishes and a few seeds of slow bolting lettuce for summer.

The last of the Chioggia beets were pulled yesterday, and four rows of Imperator carrot seeds took their place.  I made Mr. Granny a quart of pickled beets.  I must say, Chioggias do not make very pretty beet pickles!  The little bit of color in their stripes pales to beige when cooked.  They taste good though.

I've been reading Daphne's post about her huge chamomile plants, and wondering why I planted two pots full of them.  I didn't realize they got so large, and I have visions of those giant cosmos that took over the garden last year.  I'm thinking I might go rip out the plant that is right next to the garden, and just let the one in the corner by the arborvitae grow to maturity.  It won't hurt a thing there, it can reseed to its little heart's content.

I have one pea pod developing on my tepee of shelling peas.

I fed Mr. Granny the first (and only, so far) strawberry of the year today.  He said it was way sweeter than those sour tomatoes I've been putting on his salad.  Hmmmf, I thought the tomatoes tasted pretty darned good.

I bought myself an ice cream maker, a Cuisinart that was on sale at Costco a couple of weeks ago.   I made the first batch with low fat milk and half and half, and it was way too icy.  The second batch was a cooked custard, with half and half and heavy cream, and it was good but too creamy for me.  Yesterday I made frozen yogurt, and used fat free vanilla yogurt, low fat milk and just a little heavy cream.  I tasted it as it was churning, and felt like it needed something else.  I pulled out a bag of frozen strawberries (from last year's garden), and put them in the microwave just long enough to thaw them, then put them in the blender with just a bit of sugar.  Can I just sure the bottom is securely on your blender before you pulverize berries.  Yes, it was all over my kitchen!  Luckily the counter was nice and clean, so I scooped up what I could and added it to the yogurt.  It was really very good.  It did get a little too hard in the freezer, I liked it better at the soft serve stage.

May 25, 2012 - "This is the best day EVER!"

Alicyn's pansy plant only had one flower when it expired, but just look at it after Grandma used her special plant medicine on it.  

May 25, 2012 - And The Winner Is.....

By a nose............

Bloody Butcher!

Although Victor was the first to blossom, Bloody Butcher once again was the first to bear fruit!  Last year, this variety gave me my first tomato of the year on June 21.

Of course, the four Minigold tomato plants, that were started in January and grown to fruiting in the laundry room window, are still the big winners.  

This one has several clusters of tomatoes, some ripening ones at the lower left.

Both of these are loaded with blossoms, and one has several clusters of baby tomatoes.

The fourth one grew too tall for the patio, so it was planted in the garden a couple of weeks ago.  It  also has ripening fruit.

Not a huge harvest, but not bad for Eastern Washington in May!  If we ever get more than a few warm days in a row, all four Minigolds will be loaded with ripening fruits.

As I brag about my tomatoes, my heart goes out to Elizabeth, from Montana, whose garden is under a layer of heavy snow today.  Everybody please cross your fingers that her peas survive!