Tuesday, March 25, 2014

2014 Gardening Season Begins!

Let the shoveling and seeding begin! The 2014 spring season is here and it is time to start preparing the soil for the seeds and plants.

first kumquat of the spring season

I ended last season on very high note. I moved and thought a small pot garden on the patio would be fruitful during the fall 2013 season. Unfortunately we had a very warm winter. The days were cloudy and warm while the temperature dropped at night. This unusual weather pattern wreaked havoc on my seedlings and none of them survived.

October 2013 patio garden
My herb garden is growing strong and survived the dry California winter. I trimmed back most of the oregano and basil to give the fresh tender shoots the ability to grow out by the beginning of summer. I currently have oregano, basil, rosemary, and catnip in my patio garden and I would like to add another herb plant. However, I am not sure which kind of herb plant to add. Please leave me a comment below this post if you have suggestions on herbs and how I am may use the herb in the kitchen.

oregano, rosemary, sage
 A new addition to the patio garden is a small yet study Kumquat tree. My father bought the tree from Costco for $19.00. It was a great price. The tree was loaded with  yummy orange kumquats. All of the fruit was eaten within a few weeks. I harvested over three baskets full of kumquats from this little tree. I cannot wait for this year's harvest.

In preparation for the summer MVG patio garden, I transplanted the Kumquat tree and will be filling up the additional pots with soil and organic fertilizer. I cannot stop imagining cucumbers, beans, corn, and bell peppers growing in these pots. I am going to have fun this summer!

new pot means more room to grow
kumquat is pushing out new shoots
Later this week, I will return to the main MVG garden to prepare the soil, mix in the compost, and begin the seeding process. YUP! You read that last statement correctly. I will return to where this garden madness all started and plant a new season of MVG veggies and fruits. My parents will help with the watering and harvesting but I have to get things started. I see lots of sweat, shovels, soil, and two stinky compost covered dogs in my future.

Stay tuned for the list of items planted on the patio and in the main garden... until then happy gardening!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

The habanero brings the heat to the MVG

habanero peppers
Over the past few months the MVG has not slowed down. The warm month of September was a big month and produced an array of vibrant peppers.

habanero plant
The hot pepper plants took the longest to mature but are finally filling out dishes with spicy flavors. The hottest pepper is the habanero. These little spicy bulbs have made their way into stir fry and pasta dishes. The habanero pepper might look small but they really do pack a punch. I had to cook off most of the heat from the pepper to make most of my dishes edible and digestible.

hot pepper box is overflowing
The long slender red fleshed Thai chili peppers are no comparison to the habanero. The chili peppers were bland in comparison and had little to no heat. In the future, I will plant and grow only habanero peppers. These little orange orbs of hotness have proven themselves deliciously spicy to me and my family.

supersauce tomatoes
The first week of October brought a huge wave of large red SuperSauce tomatoes to our kitchen. My mother made a few batches of salsa but froze most of the tomatoes for use during the winter months. I have also used the tomatoes in many of my curry dishes. The sweet flesh adds a nice layer of sweetness to the the savory taste of the curry. However, nothing beats eating the tomatoes raw with salt and pepper or sliced up in a salad... mmmmm!

last harvest of green beans with
a small harvest of Cherry Stuffer peppers
The Sweet Big Daddy pepper is a favorite with many members in my family. The pepper is very sweet and soft yet the skin is crisp and crunchy. The pepper is excellent when eaten raw. My mother slices them up in salads. I like to cut them up in long strips and add the sweet delight into my veggie springs rolls. Anyway you cut it, the Sweet Big Daddy pepper is a fantastic colorful addition to any garden. This is another items that will be planted in the garden next year.

The MVG is beginning to change and prepare for the winter months. The corn stalks have been cut done and tied into bundles.

A family friend picked up the corn bundles and will be using them in his front yard Halloween themed landscape. Last year, I used the corn as a backdrop for my Halloween photo shoot with my dogs.

2012 corn stalks
The biggest change to the MVG does not have to do with the cleaning up but with the location. My boys and I have recently moved to a new smaller location. This means that the MVG will be moving with us. I have already started a small vertical garden on the small patio we now call our garden.

small green kale sprouts, yeah!
We are going to start small this fall season by planting (from seed) blue kale, brussel sprouts, sugar snaps, spinach, and pok choi. I have also purchased a few herb plants too: oregano, sage, and rosemary. I had lots of fun learning about vertical gardening and trying out a variety of vertical gardening techniques in 2012. I hope this fall season will be just as fun.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

August Harvest

The sun is out and the temperatures are heating up. The MVG is loving the warmth and producing lots of veggies this month.

We have baskets of tomatoes, sweet peppers, cucumber, eggplants, bitter melon and hot peppers. We cannot eat them fast enough so most of the veggies are cleaned, chopped, and frozen in Ziploc bags. 

To date, we have 6 quart bags of frozen sweet peppers and eggplant. We also froze a gallon and a quart of bitter melon too. 

The tomatoes are in full bloom. The meat is super sweet and taste great in salads. We only have three tomato plants this year so we might not have enough to freeze for winter. Right now we are eating them faster than we can save them.

RIC - The Okra's reign in the MVG has come to an end. This was the first time we have grown Okra and we loved watching the flowers bloom and each Okra grow into maturity. I have pulled up all of the Okra plants. The stalks are drying out in preparation for chopping and inclusion in the compost pile. Rest in compost Okra.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Purple, white, black, green, and red...the eggplants and peppers have arrived!

MVG August 7, 2013
The summer is cooling down and the corn stalks are drying out. The green beans and squash plants have been uprooted and tossed into the compost. BUT... the eggplants and peppers have arrived.

eggplant, sweet peppers, hot peppers, and one tomato
The eggplants are in full bloom and producing lots of black, purple, and white oblong shaped fruit. There are still lots of flowers on the plants too. Hopefully these flowers will push out a few more eggplants before the summer season ends.

Yatsuifusa peppers
The hot and sweet pepper plants are also showcasing green and red fruit. The Yatsuifusa and Thai Chili peppers are producing handfuls of red peppers each day. There will be lots of spicy dishes in our near future. Any hot peppers that are not used immediately will be frozen in Ziploc freezer bags for later use.

jalapeno peppers
The only hot pepper plant that is still maturing is the habanero plant. The habanero peppers are still green and will need a little more time to mature into a golden orange hue. However, the jalapeno peppers are doing great. The plant produced over a dozen jalapeno peppers so far and still has lots of smaller orbs maturing for future harvests. These green peppers will be excellent in salsa and soups.

chicken soup with MVG veggies

Speaking of soups, my family is putting the MVG veggies to good use when making chicken soup. The most recent batch of chicken soup features summer squash, green bell peppers, zucchini, green beans, and okra. With the exception of the chicken, chicken broth, noodles, and long green onions, my family tosses in any and all types of the veggies grown in the MVG. This means that every pot of chicken soup is different which can cause more stimulation on the taste buds. I personally do not eat the chicken soup but my family sure does love it.

zucchini and summer squash bread
I have been making a variety of zucchini and summer squash bread. I used the standard zucchini bread recipe I found in my Better Homes and Garden New Cookbook 15th edition but only use half the amount of sugar. This helps tone down the sweetness. I made a total of three dozen muffins, 6 large loafs, and 8 small loafs of bread. I froze most of the bread to ensure they would last the winter.

zucchini and summer squash
RIC - The Tabasco and Chile D'Arbol hot pepper plants have joined the compost pile. Both plants did not produce a single flower this season. Sometimes a plant just can't make it regardless of how much water, fertilizer, and care you give it. Rest in compost hot pepper plants.

bouquet of oregano and sage

Saturday, July 20, 2013

2013 Corn Harvest

... if you plant it, they will come.  The corn has arrived! This year, I filled up our garden cart with a load of sweet corn from the MVG. The warm start to the summer helped our four rows of corn produce large plump ears of corn.

Morrison Victory Garden July 19, 2013

My family and I will blanch and freeze the ears of corn. This is the easiest way to store the yummy kernels for the winter. Last year, we documented our corn freezing process and it proved to be very efficient for our winter culinary needs.

The cucumbers are still growing strong. We have canned an additional 3 quarts of dill pickles and added 3 quarts of kosher pickles to our pantry.

Fairytale eggplant
Nadia eggplant
The eggplants will soon be joining our weekly harvests. The Fairytale and Nadia eggplants are looking very large and plump. I cannot wait to grill these yummy vegetables on the BBQ.

Big Daddy sweet pepper
cherry stuffer sweet peppers
Our hot peppers are beginning to show colors and shapes. The Habanero peppers are peeking out and the Thai dragon peppers are transitioning from green to red.

Habanero pepper
Thai Dragon peppers
RIC - The green beans have come joined the compost pile. The bush beans were no longer producing flowers and veggies. We have a total of 7 quarts of blanched green beans in the freezer. Rest in compost yummy bush bean plants. We will see you again in 2014.

Okra flower

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Hot weather brings big veggies!

July 6th - biggest harvest of the season
We had a major heat wave pass through the Morrison Victory Garden. The heat brought lots of growth to the plants and also helped produce extra large veggies.  Additionally, I had to break out my big wicker basket to hold the larger harvests. So far, our largest harvest of the 2013 summer season includes 5 zucchini, over a dozen summer squash, over a dozen cucumbers, 10 okra, and a basket full of green beans.

The cucumbers and the summer squash endured a major growth spurt during the heat wave. I have included a side by side comparison of each vegetable. The smallest veggie is the regular size and can help you estimate the size of the extra large veggies. I don't want you to think I left the veggies on the vine for weeks either. I pick veggies every three to four days. I think the combination of super soaking the veggies a few days ago and our 90 degree temperatures helped increase the size of these two veggies.

The tomatoes are doing very well. All three plants have filled the tomato supports and are holding dozens of green oblong tomatoes.

Crescent Moon eggplant
Purple Rain eggplant
Nadia eggplant
The eggplants and bitter melon are showing of a variety of colors and textures. By August, both plants will be filled with ripe veggies for soups, stirfrys, and BBQs.

Bitter Melon
The ears of corn are plump and are showcasing brown strands of silk. It won't be long now. Depending on the size of the kernels I might start picking corn within the next two weeks.

Even the sweet peppers are enjoying the heat. We are proud of our Big Daddy plant. This is the largest pepper to have dangled off of a branch in the MVG. WOW!

Big Daddy Pepper
Due to our large bi-weekly cucumber harvests, my mom canned dill pickles on 4th of July. Ten quart-size mason jars were sterilized, packed, and filled with yummy dill pickle goodness. I cannot wait to try them out next year. Yum!

canned dill pickles
The hot weather has subsided but we hope the warmth will return soon. We definitely like the increase in the size of the harvests and the size of the veggies.

Herb row (L-R): Sage, Oregano, and Rosemary