Today thin green spinach seedlings popped out of the seed starter soil, a perfect start to Spring. During our late winter snowfall last week, I planted seeds for our summer kitchen garden. I found this wire rack at the Goodwill and thought it perfect to hold our seedlings. This year I plan to make our raised beds more visually appealing with a mix of flowers planted among vegetable plants. I picked attractive vegetable plants including peppers, eggplants and spinach for our garden below the deck. I will grow patio tomatoes in pots on the deck to keep them from getting unruly. I learned my lesson from last year. My son requested his favorite flower, Forget-Me-Not, so we started those from seed, too. My husband planted garlic last fall, and tall green stalks are appearing around the raised beds already. They will be harvested in July, so I am hoping they will not detract from the plan to have a more beautiful garden that invites relaxation. The snow in this photo has melted. Spring is here bringing many garden dreams!
We are overflowing with peppers (bells and cubanelles), eggplants (neon, Italian, Chinese and globe varieties) and another 40 pounds of tomatoes. We can not keep up with the processing of all these veggies. We shared with friends, family and the food bank. I spend my free time searching for recipes, chopping, freezing or canning. We canned 30 quarts of tomatoes and 11 pints of salsa. We have several gallon freezer bags filled with chopped peppers and roasted eggplant slices (some plain or coated with bread crumbs). The eggplant slices can replace the noodles in lasagna.
We are grateful for this wonderful veggie bounty, but the best gift from the garden came today. It was not the 45 more pounds of veggies we picked (not in the photo). It was when my son eagerly helped me plant the fall crops of broccoli, cauliflower, romaine lettuce, kale and fennel. He put on gloves, tucked in each newly planted seedling with a handful of fertilizer and a smile!
Eggplants and peppers are abundant in our garden plot. We have plans for all these veggies. The eggplants: stuff and roll up – slice, dip in egg and bread crumbs, broil, spread with mixture of egg, ricotta and parmesan cheese, roll up, place in baking dish, cover with tomato sauce and bake; transform into spaghetti – slice and sprinkle with olive oil, broil, cool and cut into strips, top with sauce; pickle and spread onto bread or crackers, roast, grill and saute . The peppers: chop and freeze, pickle and preserve in jars, stuff and bake and slice in salads. Some of the peppers and eggplants will be donated to our local Food Bank. But I must admit my favorite plan for the peppers is … slice and give to my son. He eats the sweet crispy cubanelle and bell peppers like a sliced apple. I am thrilled! They are loaded with vitamin C.
Harvest totals for this week:
Cubanelle Peppers 4.5 pounds
Bell Peppers 2.25 pounds
Eggplant 7.0 pounds
Zucchini 8.5 pounds
To see amazing harvests from gardens around the world, stop by Daphne’s Dandelions, the host of Harvest Monday.
A few plants in our community garden toppled over from Hurricane Irene. My son cried when he saw his sunflowers bent and broken. But he felt better when we showed him several large gourds hiding under his gourd vine’s velvety leaves. As we expected, some tomato plants were knocked over, yet we still collected over 20 pounds of ripe tomatoes and over 10 pounds of green tomatoes! We made 10 quarts of salsa and plan to make tomato relish or green tomato cake from the green tomatoes. Our fig tree keeps popping out sweet figs. I picked 5 pounds of figs this week. We canned 8 half pints of low-sugar fig jam.
I picked three eggplants this week. The eggplant has become my favorite vegetable because of its high versatility and low carbohydrate content. I discovered that strips of broiled eggplant can be used like pasta noodles and topped with tomato sauce and cheese. The eggplant is peeled, sliced a quarter inch thick, brushed lightly with olive oil, broiled for 5 to 10 minutes on each side and cut into strips to make “eggplant noodles.”
Here are my harvest totals for the week: beans 0.5 lb, eggplants 2 lb, figs 5 lb, habanero peppers .25 lb, leeks 1.25 lb, red pepper .25 lb, shallots .25 lb, tomatoes 21.75 lb and green tomatoes 8 lb.
Total this week: 39.5 pounds
Total this season: 257.10 pounds
Thanks to Daphne’s Dandelions for Hosting Harvest Monday.