Frozen Peppers and Cherry Tomatoes

green peppers and cherry tomatoes from 2010 garden

Only in winter can we enjoy last year’s harvest while starting this year’s garden.  We still have about 2 bags each of frozen peppers and cherry tomatoes from our garden plot harvest 2010.  We use the frozen cherry tomatoes and peppers on homemade pizza and in soups, chili and tomato sauce.

Last summer, we had an abundance of tomatoes and peppers in our garden plot.  Along with canning, we tried freezing these veggies for the first time.  The frozen veggies still taste sweet and fresh.  I will use the same freezing method for this year’s harvest.  To freeze the peppers… chop, blanch in boiling water for one minute, soak in ice cold water, drain, dry, freeze individual pieces on a cookie sheet then toss all the  frozen pieces into a freezer bag.  To freeze the cherry tomatoes…. cut in half, roast on cookie sheet for several hours in a 150 degree fahrenheit oven, cool, freeze on a cookie sheet then place in freezer bag.

While enjoying last year’s harvest,  we started planting seeds for this year’s garden.  This week we planted King Richard Leek, Genovese Basil, Italian Parsley, and Hybrid Shallot seeds in starter containers.  In a few weeks we will plant our tomato, pepper, eggplant, swiss chard, escarole and lettuce seeds.

Our Rosemary Bush

rosemary in ice

This morning everything outside was encased in ice from last night’s winter mix.  I saw a wonderland of  shimmering glass highlighting each branch, leaf, seed pod and stick in our garden.  My son saw a huge glass playground to shatter with his walking stick.  He whacked and watched as ice pieces slipped off branches and leaves then crashed to the ground.  I reminded him to be gentle with the vulnerable plants.   Although, I was not too concerned about our rosemary bush because it is tough enough to handle almost anything!

 

Our rosemary bush is the most hardy and helpful plant in the raised bed below our deck.   Even covered in ice, I could smell our rosemary’s sweet fresh woody scent and see its deep green needle-like leaves.  It flourishes in cold icy winters and hot dry summers.  During the summer its pungent scent repels deer and mosquitoes.  I am convinced that deer do not come to our garden and eat our figs and daylilies because our rosemary bush is planted at the edge of the raised bed.

Our rosemary bush helps in our home too. It gives me a fresh herb to cook with all year round.  I sprinkle crushed rosemary leaves on my homemade focaccia bread and pork roasts and add rosemary sprigs to soups and stews.  I read that simmering a couple of lemons and a rosemary sprig on the stove top will freshen the house. I’ll try it this winter.

Rosemary has many uses and is always available in my garden.  No wonder it is considered the herb for remembrance and friendship!

Growing in Our Mini Plot

Mini Plot Salad Table Made by My Husband

My husband built a salad table one Saturday afternoon this past spring.  He followed the plans for the Salad Table from the Grow It Eat It Network.  He built it from wood piled in our garage.   After he completed it,  we had a little more space in our garage and a mini plot on our deck.  A variety of crops grew in our salad table this year.  In early summer,  swiss chard, romaine lettuce, green leaf lettuce and arugula grew in it.   My son helped me pick  the tender leaves.  The table is the perfect height for him to reach and pick without bending over or standing on his toes.   We ate lots of mixed salads and swiss chard this summer. I sautéed the swiss chard in olive oil with garlic, salt  and pepper then tossed with pasta.  Swiss chard is good in minestrone soup, too.

Wild Fennel

The fall crops are now growing in the salad table.  Recently, this wild fennel shoot popped up unexpectedly.  I learned that wild fennel can be an  invasive plant.  It does not have the celery-like stem of sweet fennel.  Its delicate leaves have a strong anise  or licorice flavor.   Clippings of fennel leaves in a salad are a happy surprise to taste buds.  Along with the wild fennel there is spinach, radishes and two mystery greens growing in the table.   The mystery greens are transplants from my husband’s coworker.   Our mini plot’s first growing season was a success.  It grew some gregarious greens!