Sunday, June 26

Lessons from my garden

My first tomato and pepper are almost read to pick. I can’t wait. These are just some notes on what I’ve learned from my garden this year. Hopefully, I'll think to check back and look at these next spring so I don't repeat my mistakes.

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Cilantro, is not worth planting, at least not in the spring. It’s not heat tolerant, but it needs a lot of sun. Next time, it there is a next time, I’ll try planting it in the fall. With how cheap it is it really seems to make more sense to just buy it. Most of my recipes using cilantro use it in large quantity, so if I do it again I’ll want to grow lots.

Mint, is easy to grow and has a wonderful scent, but at this point in time, I just don’t use enough mint to justify having a plant. I think I need to do some experimenting. Any recipe suggestions?

Parsley, makes incredible sense for me to have. I never use it in quantity, so I usually just skip it in recipes instead of buying a whole bunch. This is a nice way to keep some fresh have around. It’s quite hearty.

Basil, is wonderful. I will never be without a basil plant again. This is my third and first really successful try with basil. The key element seems to be lots and lots of sunlight. I can use it in quantities small or large I nipped off the buds and it just keeps on growing. I made a simple pesto recipe with just the right balance that I found at Epicurious and froze it in an ice cube tray to have individual portions on hand.

Dill. Well, I really liked having it around for it’s brief visit. I must learn how to prevent a caterpillar invasion next time around. There will be a next time around.

My "yellow" bell pepper.
Tomatoes, are very satisfying to have around, even if I’m not exactly excited by my yield. I only have three tomatoes on the whole plant which is now over five feet tall. This year, I naively picked out a celebrity tomato plant. Now that I know a little bit more about them, I will choose a more container friendly variety on my next go.

Cucumbers. I don’t know what went wrong with my cucumber plant, but something did. It’s been three months since I planted it. There have been many, many blossoms, and one deformed cucumber; nothing else. Recently parts of it started to die off, while the rest of it looks happy. I think it’s time to call it quits. I’m going to stop watering it and cut it down. Bummer.

Peppers. I’m quite pleased with my pepper plant. However, I choose a yellow pepper plant, and I’m really beginning to wonder whether or not it’s ever going to turn yellow I’m thinking the plants may have gotten labeled wrong. I really was looking forward to yellow bell peppers, because they’re something I won’t usually cough up the money for. If it’s a green bell pepper plant then that’s fine too. I will definitely do a pepper plant, or two, next year, but I’ll start it earlier in the season. It has been the most satisfying of my plants. It’s about four and a half feet tall. I lost part of it because I didn’t have it adequately staked, but I won’t make that mistake again. I’ve been watching just one pepper grow over the past month, but last week several new ones have developed. It looks like I may end up with quite the crop.


tapestrygirl said...

beautiful! i tried mint, no success. have rosemary that is flourishing, smells darn good. i think the bell pep is green. how does it smell?

Sue said...

Oh, what a wonderful pepper plant! It may yet turn colour - I think it happens at the last moment.

We used to grow mint in the UK. It grew like a weed there, once it got going. I use sprigs of it when cooking new potatoes, and also use it in tzatski, a wonderful dip people eat a lot around here. Basically it's a mixture of thick natural Greek yogurt, grated cucumber, crushed garlic, and chopped mint. Quantities to suit personal tastes. You could also make mint tea which is good for easing tension or headaches.

The cucumber problem sounds as if they weren't fertilised properly. Were they supposed to be self-fertilising plants? We had that problem with cucumbers and courgettes last year - very much as you describe; I don't think enough bees got to them. We can't get the self-fertilising hybrid plants here.

Contemplative Activist said...

I like to make raita with fresh mint. Just add some freshy chopped mint to natural yogurt with some cucumber. Yum yum yum.

Mint infusions are good too - just add it to hot water. Lovely jubbly.

Or you can mix mint with lemonade, strawberries and pimms to make a nice summer cocktail. Although I'm not sure if you have pimms in that end of the world, it might be a British thing!


PS. Thanks for stopping by my blog!

Contemplative Activist said...

Oh yes and I echo Sue's suggestion of tzatski!

Goes great with pita bread and salad, or with hot chicken in pita, or with crunchy veggies or indeed with just about everything.

Super yummy :)

Lora said...

I didn't think of smelling it. It is rather green pepper like, but I'll check when I run to the grocery store next.

Thanks for the great mint suggestions. I love yogurt so I'll give both tzatski and raita a try.

Thanks for your insight on the cucumber plants, Sue. I just did a search on it and there are lots of things to read.

Crystal said...

Wow, were all these grown in containers? I want to try now! I only ever had luck with cherry tomatoes and basil. I'm interested in growing parsley.

Mint can also be chopped up with parsley for tabbouleh...

Lora said...

Here are my previous garden post. Sorry I didn't even think to give a little background. Week Two, Week Four, Week Five, Week Six, Week Seven, Week Nine, Week Ten, and here's a photo from Week Twelve.

Also I picked the pepper and ate the whole thing while it was still warm from the garden. It tasted wonderful. However, I spoke with a friend who was grow yellow peppers before. She said that she had the same problem, but that they will turn yellow at the very last moment. I know that for the rest of the crop.

colleen said...

You put my measly corn photo to shame. We're about a month behind you here. My cilantro reseeds itself every year and throughout the garden season. It's actually already going to seed and when it does I'll replant the seeds for the fall garden. I'm on the last wee bit of my pesto in the freezer and only two basil seedlings came up! Maybe the ground wasn't warm enough. I replanted some. Love the stuff.

crystal said...

Thanks for the links, was nice to go back and see how it all started! I can't believe how crazy your cucumber plant is.

gypsy said...

Mint is a great thing to have around. Here are a few things I use it for:
1) Mojitos. Very refreshing libation. Look up the recipe.
2) Desserts. Mix a little mint with some strawberries and honey and serve it on a crostini that's brushed with butter and smeared with cream cheese and honey.
3) Put in in an ice ring and let it float in your punch as the ice melts.

Mint will grow like crazy, so I grow it in a pot so it doesn't take over everything else.

Bearette24 said...

This just has a little mint, but it's worth a try. Courtesy of Jeanne Lemlin's Simple Vegetarian Pleasures:

Thai Noodle and Green Bean Salad

1 pound spaghetti

The Marinade:
3 Tbsp peanut oil
3 Tbsp sesame oil
3 Tbsp lime juice
2 Tbsp brown sugar
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp minced ginger root
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp salt

1 lb green beans, each cut in half
3 scallions, very thinly sliced
2 Tbsp finely shredded fresh basil
2 Tbsp finely chopped fresh mint
1 Tbsp finely chopped cilantro

1. Bring a large stockpot of water to boil for the noodles. Meanwhile combine the marinade ingredients in a medium-size bowl and set aside.
2. Drop the green beans in the boiling water and cook just until tender yet still slightly crunchy, about 5 minutes. Taste one to test. Scoop out the green beans with a strainer or slotted spoon and place in a bowl filled with ice-cold water to stop any further cooking. Dump out the water and repeat until the green beans are cold throughout. (Taste one.) Drain thoroughly and place the green beans in a large serving bowl. Stir in the scallions, basil, mint and cilantro.
3. Drop the spaghetti into the boiling water and cook until al dente. Drain thoroughly in a colander, then rinse under cold water. Shake the colander vigorously to remove all excess water. Mix the spaghetti with the green bean mixture.
4. Pour the marinade on the noodles and toss gently with tongs. Tossing occasionally to coat it with sauce, let marinate at room temperature at least 2 hours or up to 24 hours before serving. (Cover and chill the noodles if longer than 4 hours, then bring to room temperature before serving.)

Hope this helps! Happy cooking.

Lora said...

Thanks Bearette,

I can't believe you went through all that trouble for me. It looks really good.