Category: garden

Pickled green tomatoes, Italian style.

Italian style pickled green tomatoes.

The garden was crazy this year, thanks to our big ol’ raised garden bed. So when things started to get super cray cray, I decided that the best thing to do once I had a harvest of more than just two tomatoes at once, was make salsa & bruschetta.

But of course, sometimes you just see those green tomatoes hanging out there… and you wanna pluck ‘em off & use them, too. They’re so cute & small & round. And then there’s all that fresh basil & oregano that’s just waiting for you to keep picking it…

A girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do.

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Scenes from the garden, 2014.

Scenes from the garden, 2014!

As summer draws to a close (wahhh!), I think it’s only appropriate to recap the garden shenanigans that have been going on around here. Every year I typically share  how everything has progressed during the season, so why not do it this year? We had some crazy success- and a few not so successful things- on our first season using our raised garden bed.

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Raised garden bed DIY project!

How to build a DIY raised garden bed!

As you might remember, I love gardening. Every summer I typically do container gardens. Not for lack of gardening space, but because the best spots were taken by other things, and I never had the time nor frame of mind to really tear down and build up, so to speak. I do love container gardens for many reasons, and a raised garden bed is pretty much just a big ol’ container garden!

But this year a few events worked in our favor & some great spots were open. So my woodworker Jay decided to finally build me some raised garden beds! What a great early birthday gift. And it turns out, it’s actually a super easy DIY project that you can make in one weekend.

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Growing celery indoors!

Growing celery from scraps!!

Last year I talked about how you can grow your own garlic from cloves you already have, even inside. It was insanely simple and in the spirit of being green & the popularity of composting/reusing kitchen scraps, it’s one of my most popular posts.

This year I decided to expand on that & show you how celery is extremely easy to grow, as well. Yes- even indoors! I promise. It might not be quick or give you instant gratification… but in 6 months you’ll have tall, fresh celery. And you can certainly use the stalks before that; the 6-month mark is just the thickest, tallest celery (think of the kind you see in the supermarket or farmer’s market).

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Garden vegetable quick pickles.

Quick garden vegetable refrigerator pickles.

It’s nearing the end of a quiet, still, warm summer day. Its just about 5 p.m. The birds are still chirping, and it’s still light out, but the light is diffused; not so strong as it was just two or three hours ago. Everyone is just getting home from work or the beach, and kids are just pulling up on their bikes after a day out with friends.

And me? Well, I decide to make pickles.

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Garden’s last hurrah: nectarine basil preserves (+ a salsa).

It’s September, and the weather is changing. My little herb garden is still growing, but it’s struggling. I know it’s short-lived: the temperatures are dipping down into the 50’s at night, and they’re starting to show the signs that it’s too cold for them. So I’m using every last bit that I can. Making sauces & throwing in extra basil, making cilantro rice, and making rosemary-herbed chicken. Because before I know it, I’ll be drying them all for use over the winter.

When I was a kid, this time of year used to depress me. Back at school for weeks already, time in the pool getting cut drastically short (or disappearing altogether), the weather changing, etc. As an adult I find it doesn’t anymore… sure, I miss the summer. But after long, swelteringly hot days where my face feels like it’s melting off, I look forward to the coolness of the fall. The quietness. The changing leaves. The awesome fall TV lineup. The ability to bake a cake & not have it be too hot to breathe or have the frosting form nothing but a sad, pathetic puddle of sugary mush.

I definitely always miss my garden once the fall weather moves in. Using dried herbs just isn’t the same. And I miss all the fresh produce, too.

But right now… it’s still just warm enough, and it’s all still fresh.

Beautiful, fresh Washington State nectarines.I mean, come on… really now… they’re insanely beautiful!

I made the following recipes after receiving a second massive box from the Washington State Stone Fruit Commission. You might remember that the last time it was a huge box of beautiful peaches. This time, it was half ‘Sweet Dream’ peaches, half ‘Honey Royale’ nectarines (shown above); grown in an orchard right outside Yakima, Washington. They were so stunningly picture perfect, I couldn’t help but snap some photos before they were gobbled up. The nectarines were so big & perfect they almost looked like apples! Just gorgeous. I swear, I have never seen such beautiful fruit before. Not even at farmer’s markets, or gourmet food stores. The fruits I’ve received from them have been some of the best produce I’ve ever had.

So of course, after I took photos… a few of them got eaten fresh. And my parents took some. Gave a few to lucky neighbors.

And the piles of fruit that were left were all for me to play around with!

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Freshly minted.

Fresh mint! Turn it into jelly in less than 15 minutes!

One of the best parts of having a garden in the summer is the fresh herbs. I use my cilantro in tacos, salsa, guacamole & jasmine rice while the green coriander seeds go into pickles, I use the basil & oregano on fresh pizza, Caprese salad or in tomato sauce as well as drying some, the dill goes into pickles & gets dried for winter soups & sauces, the tarragon goes into flavored vinegar & gets dried, same goes for the sage, etc. Everything gets used, ultimately, whether it gets used fresh… or dried.

Mint is excellent when used fresh. It’s awesome in water or lemonade, or as a garnish on ice creams/sorbets. But if you’re growing mint & not making homemade mint jelly, you’re seriously missing out. Even if you don’t like it you probably know someone who loves to smear it on lamb chops or a leg of lamb, so gift it to them.

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