Trial Planting of Tepary Beans

I mentioned a while back that I was going to try growing tepary beans (Phaseolus acutifolius) this year. The plants are very heat and drought tolerant, and the beans themselves are high in protein, calcium and other minerals. Back in June I sowed seeds for two varieties, Blue Speckled and Sacaton Brown. It was sort of a last minute decision to grow them, so I had to find room in the garden as best I could.

Blue Speckled Tepary Bean

Blue Speckled Tepary Bean

For the Blue Speckled, I found a spot at the end of the bed where garlic was planted. Tepary beans are classified as a half-runner bean, with a sprawling habit, so I decided to give them support rather than have them running all over the garden. I found a remesh tomato cage that wasn’t being used, and planted the beans around the outside of the cage.

young tepary bean plants

young tepary bean plants

For the Sacaton Brown variety, I used a spot at the end of the brassica bed where I had pulled the Senposai plants. That gave me an area slightly over ten feet long to plant the beans. I sunk a couple of metal t-posts and put up a trellis like I do for my pole beans. I also spread straw to help control weeds. I didn’t put down newspaper or cardboard though, since tepary beans are supposed to prefer drier growing conditions. Both varieties came up in about a week, and the plants are now two weeks old. As you can see in the above photo, the leaves are a bit more pointed than most garden beans.

trellis for tepary beans

trellis for tepary beans

There’s not a whole lot of information available about growing tepary beans, and since I’ve never grown them myself it will be surely a learning experience for me. I’m excited about the prospects of growing a bean that can tolerate our hot summer weather. I’ll be sure and give updates on their progress.

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Monday Recap: Summer-y

Both the calendar and the garden are confirming it is summer here. Yesterday I brought in the first tomatoes, not surprisingly a few of the Sun Gold variety. It will be a bit before the rest of the tomatoes start rolling in, but the first ones are always extra nice.

Sun Gold tomatoes

Sun Gold tomatoes

Summer means zucchini too, and the plants are in full swing now. That’s a couple of Striata d’Italia hanging out with a Romanesco (in the middle) in the below photo. Even though they look similar in the photo, the Romanesco has a distinctive ribbing while the Striata is striped but smooth.

Striata d'Italia and Romanesco zucchini

Striata d’Italia and Romanesco zucchini

Some of both the zukes wound up in a spiralized zucchini salad I made last week. I ran the zucchini through the Paderno Spiral Vegetable Slicer, and dressed it with some garlic scape pesto. Then I added a few dehydrated Juliet tomatoes from last year (after rehydrating) and tossed in some pine nuts for good measure. It made for a light side dish I served with planked salmon one night, and it was tasty enough I made more for lunch the next day.

Spiralized Zucchini Salad

Spiralized Zucchini Salad

My wife and I both got out and worked on the currant harvest one day. We got a decent amount (almost three pounds) from our two year old bushes, more red than white. I made a cobbler with some and froze the rest for later use. The red variety (Cherry Red) has more flavor than the white (Primus) in addition to being a bit more productive. We have a spot for another bush, and I am thinking about adding Pink Champagne next year. The currants are decorative as well as edible, and so far we have not had any pest or disease issues with them.

harvest of red and white currants

harvest of red and white currants

There are lots of cucumbers coming in right now. I planted the pickling variety Calypso this year for the first time, so far it is making lots of cukes. I definitely had plans for the ones in the below photo.

Calypso cucumbers

Calypso cucumbers

I used them to try a couple of different recipes for lacto-fermented pickles. I made one batch of sweet bread and butter pickles, and one of  spicy brined pickles. Both have started bubbling after a couple of days, and I will taste them and move them to the refrigerator when they have fermented enough for me. It’s been a long time since I fermented cucumbers, and I am looking forward to more experimenting with them. These are a lot easier to make than the 14-day pickles I used to make in a big five gallon crock. I may try some fermented dill pickles too when I have some fresh dill, plus perhaps a bit of relish.

lacto-fermented cucumbers

lacto-fermented cucumbers

The greenhouse cukes are going great about now too. I have four plants in there, two of Tasty Jade plus one each of Manny and Corinto. All do well in the summer greenhouse, and usually keep going until August depending on the weather and if whiteflies or spider mites move in. I’ve got them vining up some old remesh cages, and when they get a bit past the top of the cage I pinch off the growing point to get them to branch out. Almost every leaf node makes a fruit so they are quite productive. We usually take our extra cukes and squash to our local food pantry to share them with others.

greenhouse cucumber plants

greenhouse cucumber plants

Since the cucumbers don’t have to deal with the weather, or many insects, the fruit stays clean and the skins are smooth and tender. That’s Corinto in the below photo, almost ready to harvest. Not many things can take the heat of the greenhouse in our summers, but the cukes do well as long as I keep them well watered.

Corinto cucumber

Corinto cucumber

We continue to enjoy the Thai Rai Kaw Tok winter squash from last year. They are keeping extremely well, with the flesh remaining firm and sweet after eight months in storage. I used some of the one in the below photo for a curry dish. Since the squash are so big, I had raw squash leftover. We have lots of cooked and pureed winter squash in the freezer already, so I decided to treat it like I sometimes do butternut and cut it in cubes and freeze it raw.  It will be nice to have it that way as well. I sure hope the plants do well this year. We still have one left in storage, and I will try and sample it in another month or so and see how it is keeping.

inside of Rai Kaw Tok squash

inside of Rai Kaw Tok squash

I also dug one hill of potatoes to see how they are sizing up. They looked good, and I think I can start digging them as needed. That’s German Butterball in the below photo, and they wound up joining kale in some Kale and Potato Hash my wife cooked up last night.

German Butterball potatoes

German Butterball potatoes

That funky looking head of Gypsy broccoli from last week wound up in a Broccoli Walnut Salad I made. Looks didn’t matter when it met up with cranberries, walnuts and a little bit of bacon. I love my version of this retro salad that is usually served up with raisins, lots of mayo and at least a half pound of bacon. I prefer to be able to actually taste the broccoli!

Broccoli Walnut Salad

Broccoli Walnut Salad

That’s a look at what’s happening here in late June. To see what other gardeners are harvesting and cooking up, visit Daphne’s Dandelions where Daphne hosts Harvest Mondays.

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Ups and Downs in the Garden

It’s always something in the garden. I lost one of the zucchini plants this week. The whole top half of the plant suddenly died off. Some folks will be thinking “squash vine borer” but the dreaded SVB is rarely a problem here and besides, SVB damage is pretty easy to spot. Bacterial wilt is a lot more common, but this wasn’t a case of that either. After examining the stem closely, and finding no evidence of SVBs, it looks like mechanical damage. The stem of the plant was soft and had a rotten smell, but there were no signs of insects or disease. It looks like the stem of the plant split, possibly due to wind, and rot set in. With 7 inches of rain falling last week, conditions were certainly favorable for rot.

dead zucchini plant

dead zucchini plant

Fortunately the rest of the squash plants look good at this point. I haven’t even seen squash bugs yet, though I’m sure they will appear soon.

squash plants

squash plants

Right next door to the dead zucchini plant is the bed where sweet potatoes are growing. This year I decided to interplant some of those with lettuce, and that experiment seems to be going quite well. You can see the crisphead Sierra starting to head up in the below photo. The lettuce should be out before the sweet potato vines take over, and I’ll get two crops in one space. Sweet!

lettuce interplanted with sweet potatoes

lettuce interplanted with sweet potatoes

A few doors down, the broccoli patch is not doing all that great. The Gypsy variety is heading up, but the heads are not exactly the greatest looking I’ve ever grown. As I’ve said before, the fall planting of broccoli usually does much better here.

Gypsy broccoli

Gypsy broccoli

Just a few feet down from them we have the runty plants of the Packman variety. It usually does well here, but not this time. It’s been 70 days since I set out the plants, and we have a little button for a head! We’ll see how it does this fall. Last year Imperial, Diplomat and Green Magic did the best in fall, followed by Packman and Arcadia. I also grow the ‘broccolini’ type Apollo. This year I dropped Arcadia, and I’d like to narrow the field down to two or three varieties that consistently do well here. Next spring I may experiment with an early type like Blue Wind.

Packman broccoli

Packman broccoli

Nearby the broccoli are the bush beans. Last year I thought I had a problem with striped bean/cucumber beetles. I now know they are pigweed flea beetles, and they actually don’t do any damage to beans or cucumbers, though they love amaranth. They are also very picky about which plants they do eat. In the below photo they have reduced one of the pigweeds to lace, but the lamb’s quarters (and bean plant) next to it is untouched! Too bad we don’t have a bug that feeds on Bermuda grass, or some of our other favorite weeds!

damage from pigweed flea beetles

damage from pigweed flea beetles

Speaking of bugs, the Japanese beetles have arrived right on schedule. One favorite hangout is the top level of the pole beans, which they seem to use as a speed dating site. I’ll have to start my daily trips out there with a container of soapy water. The pole beans are starting to bloom, which is a welcome sight.

Japanese beetles on pole beans

Japanese beetles on pole beans

Also pretty much on schedule, the eggplants are blooming and starting to set fruit. That’s the Millionaire variety in the below photo.

Millionaire eggplant

Millionaire eggplant

I’ll close with something else that’s sweet, figuratively speaking. Many of the hostas are blooming now. I regularly spray Liquid Fence deer repellent on the hostas to keep the deer from eating them up. They really love to eat the blooms, and they seldom last very long before they are eaten up. That’s the huge Big Daddy variety blooming in the below photo. It and several other hostas are planted around the base of our giant mulberry tree.

Big Daddy hosta blooming

Big Daddy hosta blooming

That’s it for now. I’ll be back soon with more happenings from HA. And if you are a gardener, I hope your garden is giving you more ups than downs!

 

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Monday Recap: Billed Out, But Inspired

The remnants of Tropical Depression Bill visited us on Friday and Saturday, giving us four inches of rain in a 24-hour period. That came on top of 2.5 inches we had earlier in the week. The month of June actually started off dry here, but we have certainly caught up on our precipitation, and then some! Thankfully the rain came down fairly gently, and our silty soil was able to absorb most of it without a lot of runoff. I am guessing folks with our area’s more typical clay soils had water standing in their gardens and yards.

the rain from Bill

the rain from Bill

Of course the rain is making things grow like crazy, including the cucumbers. I harvested the first ones of the year last week. They were quickly followed by several more, until I had enough to make a batch of refrigerator pickles. In the below photo, two Green Fingers cucumbers from the main garden are joined by a Corinto from the greenhouse. The vines are loaded with baby cukes, so we will be enjoying more of them in the days to come, and no doubt sharing some of them with friends as well.

trio of cucumbers

trio of cucumbers

I also harvested the first squash and broccoli of the year. Those happened to be yellow squash, and I harvested from all three of the yellow varieties I planted this year (Gentry, Enterprise and Multipik). The first broccoli was from Goliath, though in this case the head I harvested was not all that big. I don’t have high expectations for the spring broccoli this year. We had extremely hot weather a bit earlier than usual this spring, and it has pretty much stayed hot ever since. That is typical around here, and broccoli usually does much better in fall. I’m always thankful for any spring broccoli I get. The squash and broccoli are hanging out with another Corinto cucumber in the below photo.

first yellow squash and broccoli of 2015

first yellow squash and broccoli of 2015

I had plans for the squash, and I also needed some onions for my plan so I pulled a Red Torpedo Tropea that was sizing up nicely plus a few of the ones I planted for scallions.

onion harvest

onion harvest

My plan for the squash and onions was to make the Zucchini, Onion and Ricotta Pie that Michelle made a couple of weeks ago. I made mine with the yellow squash I had on hand, plus the white onions in the above photo. I also chopped up a few garlic scapes and some fresh parsley and added a little crushed and minced garlic. This dish comes together pretty quickly and made a great dinner meal for us one night, along with some steamed broccoli. The leftover pie tasted even better the next day, and I can see making this versatile recipe again when more of the summer veggies start rolling in. Some lovely eggs from local pastured chickens gave the pie a nice golden color.

Squash, Onion and Ricotta Pie

Squash, Onion and Ricotta Pie

I was also inspired this week to make a gooseberry pie. I’ve been hungry for some ever since last July when Daphne made a couple of beautiful pies to take to a 4th of July party. I decided to make a double pie crust using some soft white whole wheat flour and use it to make my favorite gooseberry pie recipe, straight from my well-worn and vintage Betty Crocker cookbook. I loved the gooseberries, but I thought the crust was a bit chewy. My wife loved the crust, though it was difficult to make the lattice top with it. It wasn’t my prettiest pie but it all disappeared over the course of several days. Next time I want to try a gooseberry cobbler. I pretty much used up all of this year’s crop, so I will have to wait until next year for that.

gooseberry pie

gooseberry pie

Another inspiration came from Norma, who told us a couple of weeks ago how she used kohlrabi and marinated tofu (along with other goodies) in a stir fry dish. I skipped the meat, and added some April Cross daikon radish, yellow squash, mushrooms and chopped garlic scapes to my creation. I marinated the tofu in a mix of soy sauce, rice vinegar, honey and sesame, along with a crushed dried Aji Angelo pepper to add a tiny touch of heat. After marinating and removing the tofu, I added a bit of water and cornstarch to the marinade and used it to make a sauce. I also took her suggestion and served it on lettuce, skipping the usual rice. It’s a yummy way to prepare the kohlrabi and other veggies.

stir fry with kohlrabi and other veggies

stir fry with kohlrabi and other veggies

With plenty of warning that Bill was coming our way with lots of rain, I dug more garlic before the soil got any more moisture. This time I harvested the rest of the turban varieties (Shilla, Uzbek and Xian), plus three of the artichoke varieties that were ready (Inchelium Red, Siciliano, and Lorz Italian). Most gardeners, me included, plant the largest cloves of garlic because they tend to make the biggest bulbs. But occasionally those large cloves are “double cloves”, which will produce two bulbs. I had two of the Lorz Italian plants that did just that, including the one in the below photo. I don’t normally wash the bulbs before curing, but I did this one so you could see how the two bulbs were growing.

double bulb of Lorz Italian garlic

double bulb of Lorz Italian garlic

I usually get a few of the double bulbs, so that wasn’t a big surprise but this year I also got a triple from Inchelium Red. Commercial growers usually try and avoid planting double cloves because the resulting bulbs can be hard to sell, though it’s no big deal for most home gardeners. You can see how wet the soil was in the below photo, and that was before Bill came through!

triple bulbs of Inchelium Red garlic

triple bulbs of Inchelium Red garlic

For me, the main appeal of growing garlic is in the bulbs and the scapes. But for our cat Puddin, the real attraction is in the leaves. Every time I drag bunches of garlic through the house (and she is awake) she wants to bite and play with the foliage. I think she gets more excited about the garlic than she does when I bring her catnip! She’s got a wild look in her eyes but she’s really a big sweetie.

Puddin chewing on garlic

Puddin chewing on garlic

I’m continuing in my quest to eat as many different types of dry beans as possible. Last week I cooked up some Rio Zape beans, and I can see them starring in future meals. These beans have a wonderful, rich taste, and I could easily sit down and eat a bowl of them all by themselves. Some of these wound up getting refried, and others wound up in a Rio Zape Beans and Sweet Potatoes salad we had for dinner last night.

Rio Zape beans before cooking

Rio Zape beans before cooking

The salad also featured some of our roasted orange and purple sweet potatoes, topped with some fried sage leaves from the garden and toasted pine nuts. I served the salad at room temperature, and it tasted a lot better than the below photo looks. My wife declared it a ‘home run”, a metaphor that is as close to baseball as either one of us ever gets!

Rio Zape Beans and Sweet Potatoes

Rio Zape Beans and Sweet Potatoes

That’s a look at what’s going on here lately. To see what other gardeners are showing off and cooking up, visit Daphne’s Dandelions where Daphne hosts Harvest Mondays. I’ll be back soon with more happenings from HA.

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Saturday Spotlight: Kolibri Kohlrabi

If there was a contest for least-appreciated vegetable, I would nominate kohlrabi. Many people don’t even know what it is, much less what to do with it. Around here it is not often found in grocery stores, though I do sometimes find it in an Asian market where I shop. It doesn’t get a lot of space in seed catalogs either, unlike the more popular tomatoes or sweet corn. However, I happen to be a big fan of kohlrabi, and have been for a long time. Kolibri is a purple-skinned hybrid kohlrabi that I’ve grown for several years now, and it’s the variety I want to spotlight today.

Kolibri kohlrabi

Kolibri kohlrabi

In the home garden, I find Kolibri to be quite easy to grow. To get a jump on the harvest, I start the seeds indoors, and then set out transplants when they are about three weeks old. Seed can also be sown in place where the plants are to grow. I like to space the plants about six inches apart in a bed, or four inches apart if grown in rows at least a foot apart. Square foot gardeners usually plant four to a square. Kohlrabi likes a rich fertile soil and ample moisture while growing in order to produce well. It is bothered by the same pests as other brassicas, chiefly the cabbage moth caterpillar that feeds on the foliage. Slugs can also feed on the skin, though the damage is superficial.

Kolibri kohlrabi

Kolibri kohlrabi

Kolibri is faster maturing than most open-pollinated varieties, and this year I started harvesting the first ones about six weeks after setting them out. Both Johnny’s and Fedco list Kolibri as taking 45 days to maturity, while Pinetree has it at 43 days. I usually let them get to the size of a tennis ball or a bit larger. The tender, crisp flesh of Kolibri doesn’t get woody or tough for me even on the larger ones. The ones in the below photo ranged from 6 to 10 ounces each after trimming off the leaves, and the largest one was just as tasty as the smallest.

harvest of Kolibri kohlrabi

harvest of Kolibri kohlrabi

The name kohlrabi is German for ‘cabbage turnip’, though it really doesn’t resemble either vegetable. It’s often thought of as a root vegetable, but the part we eat is really the swollen stem of the plant. Unlike root vegetables like turnips, kohlrabi leaves grow from all around the swollen stem, as you can see in the above photo. The leaves themselves are edible if they are picked while young and tender. Underneath the purple skin, the flesh of Kolibri is ivory white and nearly fiberless.

inside of Kolibri kohlrabi

inside of Kolibri kohlrabi

And despite being named after cabbage and turnips, to me the taste is mild but sweeter than cabbage, more like a jicama or a baby turnip. I enjoy Kolibri both raw and cooked. The raw flesh is crisp and works well in salads or for things like my Asian Kohl-Slaw. For a real treat, try oven roasting some, which really sweetens and mellows the flavor. It’s also good in stir-fries, soups, and even mashed or pureed like potatoes and turnips.

In the U.S. seed for Kolibri is widely available from a number of sources. I hope you have enjoyed this spotlight on great variety of a vegetable that isn’t exactly well known. I’ll be back soon with another variety.

To see my other Saturday Spotlights, visit the Variety Spotlights page.

 

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Asparagus Bed Cleanup Plus Q&A

My wife and I just finished cleaning up and mulching the asparagus beds and I thought it was a good time to talk about how we grow asparagus. It is a popular but sometimes challenging vegetable for most gardeners to grow, and we often get questions about it. Questions like “how long do you harvest?” (usually for eight weeks) or “how long has it been planted?” (since 2007).

Folks also want to know what varieties we planted. We have one row each of Jersey Giant, Jersey Knight, and Jersey Supreme. All three are hybrids developed by the Rutgers Asparagus Breeding program. I have not really seen significant differences in how the three perform here.

And how long are those rows? They are 30 feet long, and 4 feet apart. How did I plant them? After roto-tilling the soil, I dug a shallow trench about six to eight inches deep, planted the crowns with roots spread out in all directions, and then covered with a little soil. I gradually filled in the trench as the spears started coming up, and I kept them well watered during that first year.

me planting asparagus in 2007

me planting asparagus in 2007

I always tell people that if you like to eat asparagus, planting it is an investment with great returns. A well-tended bed can bear for 25 or more years. We took small harvests from ours in 2009 and 2010, and then began harvesting for eight weeks in 2011. Our total harvested from the beds is now 165 pounds, including the 35 pounds we got this year. It is safe to say the plants have paid for themselves by now – and then some!

Once the plants are established, weed management is probably the biggest challenge. This year my wife got out before the spears started emerging and cut down the dead foliage from last year. This can be done any time after the foliage is thoroughly brown and dry, from late winter until early spring. Then she weeded the beds and mulched between the rows with a layer of cardboard covered with straw. We have also used newspaper in the past, though cardboard seems to do a better job of keeping down the weeds. Our experiment with landscape cloth did not work very well, as weeds came up through it too easily and getting them out was difficult. She also likes to spread shredded paper or newspaper down the rows where the spears come up. That’s the hardest part to keep weeded.

looking down the asparagus row

looking down the asparagus row

After the eight week harvest window, we weed and mulch the beds as soon as possible, which this year was a couple of weeks ago. Then we let the new spears grow into the ferns that will grow until freezing weather arrives, replenishing the roots and crowns for next year’s crop. As you can see in the below photo, we still need to weed a bit between the rows, and then add more straw. Once the ferns fill out, the foliage will form a canopy that will shade the beds and help keep down weeds.

asparagus bed after mulching

asparagus bed after mulching

Another question I often get is about fertilizing asparagus, which I do once a year. The general advice is either to do it in early spring before the spears emerge, or after the harvest is finished for the year. This year I applied the fertilizer in June as we were weeding and mulching the beds. I spread it down the center of each row where the crowns are located.

And how much fertilizer do you need to use? Of course that sort of depends on the type of soil you have and its fertility. The advice I have seen, including this bulletin from the University of Missouri Extension, generally says to add between .1 and .15 pounds of nitrogen annually per 100 square feet of growing area. Since our beds are about 360 square feet that would mean between .36 and .54 actual N. Asparagus also needs moderate amounts of phosphorus and potassium for good results, and since I know our soil is low in those two nutrients, I used a fertilizer mix that supplied NPK plus I added kelp meal for its many micro-nutrients.

asparagus ferns leafing out

asparagus ferns leafing out

The only real pest problem we have had with asparagus over the years is the asparagus beetle. Both the adults and their larvae feed on the spears and ferns. They can be controlled with hand picking the adults or with a pyrethrin spray if the outbreak is really bad. But we did something different this year that really helped with that problem. In past years we harvested only spears that were larger than 1/4 inch in diameter, at least as big around as a pencil. We left the smaller spears. This year we followed advice to cut all spears regardless of size. This had the benefit of keeping down the beetles, since they had very little to feed on during the harvest season when they are typically a problem. I’ll monitor the foliage throughout the summer to make sure they don’t get out of control then.

Asparagus is a delicious and nutritious perennial vegetable, and its tender spears are often one of the first harvests each spring. If you are thinking about growing it, a little planning and annual effort can lead to a crop that will keep on feeding you for years to come. I hope you have found this information useful, and I’ll be back soon with more happenings here at HA.

For more information about growing asparagus:

Growing Asparagus In The Home Garden (OSU)

How To Grow Asparagus (Rodale’s Organic Life)

All About Growing Asparagus (Mother Earth News)

 

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Monday Recap: Crunchy and Seeded

Lots of crunchy vegetables are coming in right now. Like the April Cross daikon radishes. I’ll probably ferment some of those in the below photo for crunchy pickles. A little bit of them went on a salad yesterday, and I also plan to use some in a stir-fry. The one on the left was hard to dig up and the root end of it snapped off and was left in the ground. The soil is getting dry and I should have soaked it first to make digging easier. The three radishes weighed a little over two pounds.

April Cross radishes

April Cross radishes

Speaking of fermented radishes, I’ve been enjoying the batch I did a couple of weeks ago. The pink and purple from the radishes turned the brine from clear to pinkish, and then made the radishes themselves pink. They have a nice, salty crunch to them and a mildly fermented flavor that will get better as they age. At least until they are gone, which may be soon if I keep on eating them!

lacto-fermented radishes

lacto-fermented radishes

Another crunchy vegetable we’ve been enjoying is kohlrabi. That’s the green skinned Winner along with the purple Kolibri in the below photo, along with a couple of the Starburst watermelon radishes on the right. My wife roasted some of the Kolibri one night and it was delicious (but camera shy).

kohlrabi and radishes

kohlrabi and radishes

I’ve been wanting to try my hand at making crackers again, so last week I baked up a batch of King Arthur’s Crunchy Crackers. They are indeed crunchy, as well as seeded with sunflower, flax and sesame seeds. This particular recipe uses about 50% white whole wheat, and included yeast for leavening. The dough is rolled out thin, then the seeds are sprinkled on and pressed in with a rolling pin. I also want to try other whole grain cracker recipes without leavening, and ultimately make some using whole grain spelt flour. These are disappearing faster than the radishes though, and I like to spread a little garlic scape pesto on them for a snack.

Crunchy Crackers

Crunchy Crackers

Speaking of seeded, I went ahead and planted the tepary beans. I decided to try a test planting of two varieties, Sacaton Brown and Blue Speckled. I’m using a remesh tomato cage to give the Blue Speckled support, and I’ll put up a trellis for the Sacaton Brown.

Blue Speckled Tepary Bean

Blue Speckled Tepary Bean

In other news, blueberries are ripening now. Last year the season lasted from mid-June until early August. My wife is in charge of harvesting these, and she barely got to rest up from her daily cutting of asparagus until the blueberries started rolling in.

blueberry harvest

blueberry harvest

The blueberries are joining the raspberries every morning on our Homemade Dry Toasted Muesli. I am harvesting the raspberries, which won’t go on nearly as long as the blueberry season. That’s my breakfast most mornings, muesli soaked in a little almond or coconut milk and topped with lots of fresh fruit.

homemade muesli topped with fresh fruit

homemade muesli topped with fresh fruit

A few of the earliest maturing garlic varieties have started flopping over, so I dug one to see how it was doing. I wound up digging all of two turban varieties, Red Janice and Maiskij. That’s Red Janice in the below photo, which has been a big producer here since I first planted it back in 2011. Based on how these two are doing, I will no doubt be digging more of the early types soon.

harvest of Red Janice garlic

harvest of Red Janice garlic

I also pulled up a few carrots to see how they are doing. Unlike the garlic they are not quite ready yet, at least not the Mokum or Purple Haze you can see in the below photo. They were edible though, and went on salads we had yesterday. Of course this is what baby carrots REALLY look like, not those awful things that pass for baby carrots in the grocery.

not quite ready for prime time carrots

not quite ready for prime time carrots

Fortunately there was a lot more lettuce than there were carrots for the salad! I’ve done a pretty decent job of planting lettuce periodically, and we have had plenty of it for the last couple of months. What’s planted now has to deal with the heat, so it will be mainly crisphead varieties plus something like Slobolt which usually does well this time of year. That’s Red Sails in the below photo, not colored up real well but still tasty. And it’s hanging out in a small Cesto Tubtrug, which is what I’ve been using for a harvest basket lately.

Red Sails lettuce

Red Sails lettuce

On a sad note, a male House Sparrow trashed all the bluebird eggs from the nest last Thursday. He pecked them out and dropped them near the base of the support pole. Hopefully the bluebirds will be willing to give it another try this year. We will see. At least they didn’t kill live babies, which I have seen the house sparrows do on more than one occasion.

bluebird eggs destroyed by House Sparrow

bluebird eggs destroyed by House Sparrow

I’ll close with happier news. Last month I said we would get ‘a handful’ of gooseberries. They must have been hiding from me back then, because when I started picking them yesterday the little bushes were loaded with berries. I wound up with over 1.5 pounds of them, enough for a pie and then some! They are a mix of Amish Red, Captivator and Hinnomaki Red. I tasted them all and while they each have a slightly different flavor, I can’t say which I prefer just yet. I also planted Invicta this year since it gets good marks from Daphne. For cooking I like to use mostly green berries, with a few pinkish ones mixed in. A few of these got really ripe so I will pick them out and eat them raw or else mix them with the currants which are also about ready to harvest.

gooseberries

gooseberries

To see what other gardeners are showing off and cooking up, visit Daphne’s Dandelions where Daphne hosts Harvest Mondays. I’ll be back soon with more happenings from HA.

 

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