Saturday, October 27, 2012

Garden Update Oct 27th 2012

I planted my first plot in the community garden September 23rd, so its been a little over a month.

September 23rd 2012
Look at it today!
October 27th 2012
Everything is growing nicely! All the seeds I planted have sprouted.

This is a salad blend of lots of loose leaf lettuce varieties. By mid November they will be ready to harvest. I will have fresh salad for months. The blend consists of 20% each: Crimson Butter, Red salad Bowl, Iceberg, Bibb, and Lola Rossa.

My two kale plants have turned into giants. This means lot of kale salads too. I'm going to try making kale chips. Apparently they are delicious.

Another view of the plot. Its kind of hard to see everything. I faded out and back and whited the areas that are not my plots in photoshop. The plot behind mine is full of sweet potatoes. Anyways, in my plot 2 of the 3 peppers I transferred here are doing well. And guess what, the peppers produced are large this time. That was an issue I had when trying to grow them at my apartment. Peppers need lots of soil to grow a huge root system, or you will get small peppers.

As you can note the whole top of the soil is covered by the lettuce blend mentioned above. I used the lettuce as a live mulch. They grow very fast so they blocked out all the weeds from growing in the plot. Also, they have shallow root systems so they wont bother the bigger plants they are growing around. It looks crowded, but it doesn't have the negative effects of over crowding.

This is Nasturtium, a flower that is edible in salads, and it repels bugs. The seed I bought was Burpees Nasturtium Jewel Mix. I planted seeds in the holes of the blocks bordering my plot. The dirt in these holes is very sandy and compact. I didn't amend the soil because it was very hard to scoop out the dirt in the holes. So I didn't bother. The plant is doing great and the leaves are nice and big. This is compared to the same Nasturtiums I planted in my apartment garden one the same day, which are very small and look stunted in growth. The soil in my apartment pots is pure store bought organic compost. Some flowers, and practically all herbs hate rich soils. They actually do better in harsh sandy, dry, soils. And their taste is better too. Another example is the 3 freakin times I sowed cilantro seeds in the same store bought organic compost in my apartment garden. They sprouted and withered away. They didn't like the rich soil even when I avoided watering them much, since cilantro doesn't like lots of water either. The seeds I planted in sandy soil in the cement block holes are doing fantastic. I just hope the cold wont kill the cilantro before I can harvest it.

Also growing in the holes are white Lisbon bunching onions, German chamomile, Burpees marigold happy days mix, and fern leaf dill. All these flowers and herbs repel bugs. Bugs hate the smell and taste of them. So I hoped they would act as a natural pest repellant. So far so good.

Front left is Broccoli Packman hybrid. Ugh hybrids...Anyways its growing profusely. I cant wait to harvest it.

Back left is lavender, which isn't doing too good. Again, its a herb and doesn't like rich soil and lots of water. So I avoid watering it as much as everything else. Half of the stems died back. The other half seems to be stabilizing. Maybe it was just too hot? Now the weather has cooled down significantly.

Front right is Ruby Red cabbage which is also growing well.

Back right in the cage is a patio tomato. Not sure what variety. It has several tomatoes growing on it. So far no signs of blossom end rot like the tomatoes I planted at my apartment. Seriously, my potted apartment garden is not fit to grow serious vegetables. Every vegetable I planted there during the summer did horribly.  Everything growing in the community garden is doing great. My apartment garden is now only for growing flowers and herbs that I commonly cook with.

Introducing my 2nd plot which was planted October 21st 2012. There are morning glories and super sweet 100 tomatoes growing up the round wire trellis. I wonder how the tomatoes will do during the winter here.

Then in the middle section is blue lake #274 bush beans, Burpee's salad select spinach, and neon lights mixed swiss chard. I've never cooked with swiss chard. The neon lights swiss chard comes in so many colors from pink to yellow, so I grew it because its a beautiful vegetable. Then at the far left is some more broccoli packman hybrids and ruby red cabbage. Also, 2 seedlings of broccoli majors hybrid survived from some that I grew from seed. It will be interesting to compare the flavor and outcome of the different broccoli varieties. Then on either side of the plot is some Bibb or Limestone lettuce variety, and baby choi cabbage.

Lastly there are some garlic bulbs I planted. I bought some organic garlic from the grocery store and planted them. The garlic sold from seed companies etc... are very expensive. You can grow garlic bought at your grocery store just make sure its organic. Garlic bulbs are usually sprayed with a chemical to inhibit growth. So I thought to try growing organic bulbs, because organic means they have no chemicals right? The organic bulbs all ready had shoots growing so that was a sign that they would grow in my garden. I separated the cloves and planted them 4 inches apart. I use garlic in everything I cook so I made sure to plant lots of it. I'm in zone 9 so it is recommended to plant garlic in warm climates starting late October through November.

Close up of broccolis and cabbages in plot #2. They are not doing too good. I got to water them every day until their roots take hold. They are stressed out but I think they will survive.

This is one of 3 morning glory Grandpa Ot variety growing up the trellis. Over the summer I tried growing morning glory in a hanging planter. It grew vines like crazy but never flowered. I was so disappointed. I've never had a garden without morning glories. When I was little we had sky blue morning glories growing on our porch, so its kind of nostalgic for me to have some. This one all ready bloomed! I was so surprised because the plant is only like 4 inches tall. At least I know I will be getting flowers this time.

This is a close up of the bush beans. As far as I know these are green bean type of beans. The blue lake variety is a really compact plant and a heavy producer. You grow them 6 inches apart so its perfect for small spaces. I think I have at least 15 of these growing which will provide tons of green beans. I expect to start harvesting around December 18th.

So thats it for now. I'm so happy I joined the community garden.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

A kale salad everyone will like. So good it is my favorite salad of all time.

I'm not a big fan of salads. In my opinion they are flavorless and doused in tons of dressing that they aren't even healthy either.

I was inspired to like this particular kale salad recipe that I have concocted from a recipe that I learned in a cooking class at Truffles & Trifles in Orlando Florida.

It is the same kind of idea, I just change up the ingredients to follow what is currently seasonal. Now that it is fall time, kale is coming into season.

I think kale is a greatly misrepresented and underused green. It is extremely versatile and super healthy. You would use it just like you would spinach.

Kale is known to be slightly bitter. Which is why it is not really used in salads because people prefer to cook it down in a soup or something to mask the bitter taste. Its not that bitter people. It doesn't taste gross I promise. Especially when you pair it in a salad that is bursting with flavor and hits all flavor and texture  profiles from sweet and salty, to soft and crunchy.

Kale Salad with Fall Seasonal Toppings
Basic Salad Ingredients
Kale - washed, dried, and torn into small pieces. I wash all my produce in vinegar and water.
Fruity type of vinaigrette, I used raspberry vinaigrette.
Crumbled blue cheese- gives tons of flavor and the salty profile. I don't recommend using a different cheese.
Chopped nut of preference, I used chopped walnuts.

Take it to the next level by adding these toppings:
Chopped apples or pears (crunchy & sweet). You can toss the apples or pears with some lemon or lime juice so they don't turn brown.
Sliced mandarin oranges, or just regular oranges (sweet & citrus)
Grapes sliced in half (sweet & juicy)
Dried fruit pieces, like dried cranberries (sweet)
Pomegranate seeds (sweet, juicy, & crunchy)

I know this salad sounds weird. I thought the same thing when it was made in the cooking class. Except the cooking class used a bagged mixture of salad greens, not just kale. I almost didn't try it. But I'm so glad I did. I love how all the flavors combine and its a perfect fall time salad. This salad may sound fancy, but its so easy to make. Just chop everything into small pieces, even the kale, since most of the ingredients are very small. I eat this like every other day at least.