Veg*n Cooking and Other Random Musings: Garden Update #5

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Garden Update #5

Be forewarned, this is going to be a very long post.

We experienced our first ‘issues’ with our garden this week, though we seem to have been able to mitigate the problems, at least it seems that way so far. First off, we took the larger starts outside earlier this week. We were wanting to start ‘hardening them off’, basically, getting them acclimated to wind and sunlight since they’ve been inside thus far. Well the day we put them outside, we experienced 35+ mile an hour winds. Needless to say, some of the starts broke or bent, and the wind really dried out the pots and caused some of the leaves to dry out. We brought them back inside and they started doing a lot better, but the damage was already done to some of the starts and they didn’t make it. :-( I guess it’s a good thing we started multiple seeds.

Second, we experienced our first bug problem. Early this week I noticed a lot of little bugs on the habanero plant. We had these last year on some of our peppers, I’m not sure what they are, but lemon juice and water seemed to do the trick last year. So I zested a lemon, soaked the zest in water overnight, and then we sprayed the leaves of the infected plant with the mixture using a spray bottle. It seemed to do the trick as the bugs are dying and we haven’t noticed anymore or any spreading to other plants. We went ahead and sprayed the rest of the starts just to be safe. I really like using the lemon juice/water combo as it doesn’t burn the leaves and it’s safe to use on young starts. It works on these little bugs, but I’m not sure it will work on larger bugs like beetles.

I also learned that I’m going to have to start doing my labeling system differently next year as a lot of the labels are falling off the pots. It’s really not a wonder since I just wrote the names of the plants on slips of paper and taped them on the pot. Next year I’ll use those little plastic things like what the tomato has or something. Now we’re not entirely sure what all the plants are though. Hehe.
We also have had to start 'thinning out the plants numbers', picking the healthiest ones and clipping off the others. I'm not a fan of doing this, as I like all the plants (I know I'm silly), but it's what you have to do or they will start crowding each other out and they'll all die. :-(

And finally, we are starting to wonder if we started our peppers a little late. They aren’t growing as quickly as the other plants and we are starting to wonder if they will reach maturity in time. We’ve decided that if they haven’t started growing significantly in the next 2-3 weeks, we’ll start getting starter plants of the peppers we want to grow (we found out that between the farmer’s market and some of the local stores, we can get starts of everything we want). We’ll still keep the little pepper starts growing. In this household, there really isn’t such a thing as too many peppers, especially when they can be dried, canned, pickled and frozen.

There are also two new additions to the garden. Yes, I know, it keeps growing! We decided to experiment a few weeks ago to see if seeds from our dried New Mexican Chiles would start, since we’ve never seen fresh or starter plants for this type of chile. Well, to my surprise they did start! This is really exciting! Brett also came across some poblano pepper starts, and since we eat so many of them (and dried poblanos, called anchos, make really good sauce), we decided to get one. I wouldn’t expect to see any more new additions though, our porch isn’t really all that big (it’s going to be very crowded as it is), and our garden plot can only hold so much.

I checked the weather for the week and it looks like it's supposed to be warm and not windy this week, so after I photographed the plants, I took the larger starts back outside. Let's hope it goes well this time.

Here is the progress:

Acorn squash.

Better Boy tomato. It's looking a bit scraggly, but it's still growing.

Brandywine tomatoes. This actually looks better this week, it finally has some new growth.

Buttercup squash. These things are growing like crazy. If they fruit anything like they grow, we may be in for a lot of buttercup squash.

More buttercup squash.

Butternut squash. Yum!

Long red cayenne peppers.

The lone cucumber plant. The others died due to wind and their leaves being dried out. :-(

I'm not entirely sure on this one, maybe a yellow straightneck squash? It has some damage on one of its leaves, so we'll see how it fares.

The chard is really going nuts! Brett ate a piece the other day and said it was really good. The chard better watch itself, it's days are numbered. :-)

The broccoli has finally taken root and is really starting to grow. You can also see part of our yucca tree in the background. It's not doing so hot, we thought bringing it outside for the summer would really help it, but so far it seems to be killing it, and now we're afraid to bring it back inside for fear that it will stress the tree even further.

Here is a better look at the new growth on the broccoli.

This is another one I'm not really sure what it is, I thought maybe a zucchini, but who knows?

Habanero. :-)

Jalapenos. After I took the picture, I clipped the least healthy looking starts from the larger pot.

Mini bell pepper starts. They don't really seem to be growing all that quickly. I wonder if it's not warm enough or something.

Serrano peppers.

These are the New Mexican chile starts. I have to admit, I'm still a little shocked that the seeds from dried peppers I bought at the store started, but I guess, why should I be? People have found seeds that are thousands of years old and have been able to germinate them. Nature is an amazing thing. Gardening has only increased my awe of the complexity, fragility and yet resiliancy of life, and the beauty of natural laws, it's truly a sight to behold. Alright, sorry about that, that's enough waxing poetic, read Thoreau if you desire more nature love. :-)

Sweet banana peppers.

Poblano pepper start.

There's lots of new growth on our old serrano pepper plant from last year.

Yellow straightneck squash.


Our community garden coordinator informed us yesterday that they will be tilling the garden and putting up the plot numbers this weekend so folks can start planting next weekend. Traditionally, Mother's Day weekend is when people put their plants in the ground. So if all goes well, next weeks garden update will feature the first pictures of the plants actually in the ground! We'll also begin transplanting the peppers into pots as they become large enough.

I thought some of my readers might be wondering (alright, I didn’t really think anyone was actually wondering, but I thought I’d tell you anyway) how it is that we eat so many beans, but never seem to buy them at the store. Well it’s actually two reasons, it was one and now it’s another. The original reason was that we buy them in bulk from the grocery store, so we usually get quite a bit, and it’s something that Brett generally picks up on his mid-week trip to the store. For awhile though, we have been wanting to buy in bulk through a co-op that is available via the Peace Nook. The co-op, called Blue Planet, sells all sorts of bulk things (mostly organic), as well as some brand name natural and organic food items. Well buying in bulk, while it saves you money in the long run, is quite expensive in the outset, so it hasn’t been until now (with some saving and planning) that we’ve been able to start buying from Blue Planet. We also get beans directly from a family farm called Purcell Mountain Farms. We only get our organic anasazi and cranberry beans through Purcell as I haven’t found anywhere else to get them. I recently ordered 10 lbs of each and they arrived yesterday.

10 lbs each organic anasazi and cranberry beans. For some reason they came in two 5 lbs bags, but that's alright, the beans are going to be stored in tubs anyway, they'll keep better that way.

Even Gabby is interested in the beans.

Anyways, a week or so ago, we ordered 25 lbs of organic adzuki beans and 25 lbs of organic black beans from Blue Planet which we will be picking up tomorrow. Tomorrow, we will be ordering 25 lbs of organic pinto beans, 25 lbs of organic long grain brown rice and a couple of cases of organic, fair-trade Darjeeling black tea. I love buying in bulk for many reasons. First off, I get to support business that operate in a way that I feel is socially and environmentally responsible. By buying from Purcell Mountain Farms, I am supporting farmers directly. By buying from Blue Planet, I am supporting a natural and organically focused cooperative as well as the local, non-profit store, the Peace Nook, which is an amazingly wonderful and progressive place. Secondly, it’s more convenient. We don’t own a car, so stocking up on things means fewer walks to the grocery store. It’s less packaging. And finally, it’s also cheaper. I suppose with the rise in food prices, it might be a good way to save money, so long as one doesn’t hoard, or get more than they can feasibly eat. That is really important to note, if buying in bulk, do not purchase more than you can consume before it goes bad, otherwise it’s just a waste of food. This might seem like a given, but I think people often overestimate what they can consume. When deciding what to buy in bulk, and how much, Brett and I evaluated our recipes, what beans we eat most often, and how many times a week we eat them, to determine how much we could eat in say, a year. Just thought I’d share that.

On to the grocery store and meals this week round up. Whew, this really is a long post!

I'll start with the produce, as usual.

We've got: lots of Anaheim peppers, 4 organic California avocados, about 1 1/2 lbs tomatillos, 2 organic red bell peppers, some serrano peppers, 3 habanero peppers, a bunch of organic kiwi, 2 organic zucchini, a couple organic tomatoes, an organic yellow onion, an organic jewel yam, a red onion, organic bagged spinach, organic white mushrooms (I'm not sure if it's really necessary or beneficial to buy organic mushrooms, it could just be a marketing scheme, but I try to buy whatever I can organic), shiitake mushrooms, organic cilantro, and 2 poblano peppers.

Here's the rest of the stuff:

We've got: chipotle chilies in adobo, organic pineapple chunks, Follow Your Heart Vegan Jack, regular Newman O's, 2 Amy's non-dairy bean burritos (for work week lunches), Amy's Mushrooms and Olive pizza (Brett), Amy's Roasted Vegetable pizza, Amy's Vegetable Lasagne (Brett), 2 Amy's Roasted Vegetable Pocket things (for work week lunches), and blue corn taco shells.

My breakfasts this week were the usual, except I had the addition of oranges as well as apples. For lunches this week, I had my usual of leftovers or frozen vegan Amy's things, but I had the exciting addition of vegan sushi a couple of times this week for lunch. There is a place on campus that sells veggie sushi that I go to when I can, it's pretty good, and I had meetings in the area this week, so I took advantage. I've also been snacking on a bag of natural salt and vinegar chips this week. I really love salt and vinegar chips, but can't eat very many of them due to their strong flavor, but I guess that's a good thing.

Our dinners last week were as follows: Black Bean, Mushroom and Olive Empanadas, Spicy Lentil Burritos, a veggie sandwich from a local sandwich shop, pizza, Marinated Mushroom, Pepper and Corn Flautas, and a soba noodle and veggie stir-fry with peanut sauce and crushed peanuts.

Well, I've been at this post for over an hour and my hands are getting tired! Kudos to anyone who managed to read this entire tome!

'Til next time!


VeggieGirl said...

No worries - we all experience "issues" with gardening and other tasks. Looks like your garden is growing quite nicely though!

The dinners sound WONDERFUL!!

Shannon said...

You garden looks like its doing really well. I like to grow things I can't find at the store such as zebra tomatoes and purple tomatillos. Last year I grew lemon cucumbers and 6" long purple and green green beans that were really good to. Good luck with your garden.

ChickPea said...

I read the whole thing, and I'm glad I did!
What is the difference between butternut and buttercup squash?
I can't wait to see what meals you produce with those big bags o' beans!

Anonymous said...

I enjoy gardening a lot but find that I managed to kill most things >.<
Is it weird to find seedlings cute?

vegan addict said...

wow! i am very excited to follow you and your journey in the garden! it's also fun to see what other people buy at the grocery store, so thanks for sharing. i guess it provides some inspiration. and, i plan my weekly meals out too! it is so much easier to know what's for dinner beforehand and it prevents buying too much food. i am keeping my fingers crossed for all your lovely little garden plants!

Lisa (Show Me Vegan) said...

I'm so impressed that you're gardening. I rely on the Farmer's Market. Homegrown poblanos would be a dream come true!

Bianca said...

Damn, that's a lot of beans! And your garden looks like it's coming along nicely. I wish I had your green thumb.

Alice (in Veganland) said...

The idea of using lemon juice for the bugs is great, I'll try whenever I have problems and see if it works!
You are so right when you say people should buy in bulk but only as much as they need! It's difficult but otherwise you're wasting resources and money!

Jennifer said...

Veggie Girl - Thanks! It couldn't be too easy or more people would do it, right? I'm so happy to see how much they have grown!

Thanks, they were!

Shannon - First off, purple tomatillos?!?! What type of climate is required to grow tomatillos, are you familiar? I live in Missouri and have been wondering if it would be possible for me to grow tomatillos. And your purple tomatillos have got me mighty intrigued.

What cool crops you grow!

Thanks so much, to you as well.

ChickPea - Are you suffering from eye strain now? :-)

A buttercup squash is shaped more like an acorn squash. The flavor is, like most other winter squash, sweet. The biggest difference between the flavor of a buttercup and butternut is that buttercups are drier.

I have many 'o ideas for those big 'ol bags of beans!

Bean Mix - I'm that way with my houseplants. Especially cacti which you are supposed to be able to forget about and they'll be fine. Mine all die. Let's hope that doesn't happen with the garden!

Not at all, they are cute! The little leaves especially.

Vegan Addict - I'm so glad you are enjoying it. I started it more for Brett and I so we could see the progress, but others seem to like it as well.

I LOVE seeing what other people get at the store. Gives you ideas for things to work with.

One of my favorite things is planning out my weekly meals. It's done out of necessity, we don't own a car, so we have to plan ahead, but I also enjoy it.

Lisa - Thanks so much! The plants do most of the work. :-) I'll still be hitting the farmer's market as well, Brett and I signed up for a CSA with a local organic farm. I'm pretty excited to see what shows up in our weekly baskets.

I was really excited about finding the poblano start. They are one of my favorite peppers (behind habanero and serrano).

Bianca - We were going for about a years supply worth.

Things in the garden seem to be going well so far, we'll see once we put them in the ground next weekend. Apparently, there are a lot of dear in the vicinity of the garden, might have to put up one of those fences or something, otherwise they'll eat all the crops!

Alice - It seems to work pretty well, and like I said, it doesn't burn the plants, and well, it's not chemical insecticide. I'd rather pick the bugs off myself (ew) than use chemical bug killer.

Some people go overboard, especially with the food crisis. I have no problem with people buying bulk, but only as much as they can consume. We have hungry people in this world, one shouldn't waste food. Not to mention, I hope to donate some of my savings to my local food bank (and my extra produce as well) and the world food program. They really need money more than anything, the food crisis is a result of two things really: poor allocation of food (giving it to cars not people) and lack of access to money. Nations aren't lacking food, their people lack the money to purchase it. It pisses me off to no end, so long as there is food around, there should be NO EXCUSE for distributing it to those in need regardless of ability to pay. But I suppose while profit is to be made off of the suffering of others, we will see things like this. It is what it is I guess.

Vegan_Noodle said...

Wow, you were serious about the long post! But glad you did it, I am living vicariously through your gardening experience since I don't have one :-)

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