Archive for 'Vegetables'
my first globe artichokes

Ode to My First Globe Artichoke

Posted 23 November 2012 | By | Categories: Gardening, Growing Food, Plants, Vegetables | Comments Off on Ode to My First Globe Artichoke

my first globe artichokes

So delighted to harvest my first globe artichoke today. They were started from Koanga Institute seeds January 30, 2010, and survived along the edge of the orchard, but never seemed to thrive. They were shaded by a fence and tall puka on the other side. Moved a couple of them into the strawberry patch at the end of last season and now we’ve got artichokes!  They’re so tender and tasty, I like to steam, eat, and appreciate them without any extraneous flavours.

In honor of this joyous occasion, I offer Pablo Neruda’s “Ode to the Artichoke”:

The tender-hearted
artichoke
dressed up as a warrior,
erect, it built itself
a little dome,
it kept itself
impregnable
beneath
its armoured leaves,
beside it
the raving vegetables
began to frizzle,
they turned themselves into
tendrils, bullrushes,
touching bulbs,
below the ground
the red-moustachioed carrot
slept,
the vine
dried out its shoots
through which wine climbs,
the leafy cabbage
took to trying on skirts,
oregano
to scenting the world,
and the sweet
artichoke
there in the garden,
was dressed as a warrior,
burnished
like a grenade and proud,
and one day
assembled with its fellows
in large wicker baskets,
it walked
through the market
to make its dream of
soldiery
come true.
In ranks
it never was so military
as at the market,
the men
among the vegetables
with their white shirts
were
marshals
of the artichokes
the serried files,
the ordering voices,
and the report
of a fallen crate,
but then
Maria
comes along
and with her basket,
picks out
an artichoke
she isn’t scared,
she scrutinizes it, considers it
against the light as if it were an egg,
and buys it,
tossing it
into her bag
jumbled together with a pair of shoes,
a cabbage and a
bottle full of vinegar
until
when entering her kitchen
she plunges it into a pot.
Thus ends
in peace
the enlistment
of this armed vegetable
called the artichoke,
after which
leaf after leaf
we undress
its deliciousness
and eat
the peaceful substance
of its green heart.

(Translated by Phillip Hill)

Spinach in the garden 7 Apr 2012

Oh Spinach, What am I going to do with you?

Posted 07 April 2012 | By | Categories: Cooking, Food, Gardening, Growing Food, Health, Plants, Vegetables | Comments Off on Oh Spinach, What am I going to do with you?

Spinach in the garden 7 Apr 2012

 

Juiced, wilted, braised or super slow cooked? All of these and more!

 

 

Tomatillo Time

Tomatillo Time

Posted 17 April 2011 | By | Categories: Cooking, Food, Gardening, Growing Food, Plants, Seagarden, Vegetables | 4 Comments

tomatillos grow like lanterns

Initially I didn’t have high expectations for Tomatillo Grande Verde (Botanical name: Physalis philadelphica, from the Solanaceae family, a.k.a. husktomato, jamberry, ground cherry; tomate de cascara, tomate de fresadilla, tomate milpero, tomate verde, miltomate; sourced from Kings Seeds organic), sown September 10, 2010, since I associated tomatillos with Mexican food, and therefore a sunny, warm climate. But the tomatillo’s been surprising in so many ways, proving itself hardier than all the tomatoes I planted this year and even thriving in the challenging Seagarden environment.

I planted out the seedlings at the same time as the tomatoes (gardeners delight and brandywine) and watched the tomatillo flower profusely with bright yellow blossoms, yet fruit didn’t set until much later. It turns out, they are not self-fertile— you need at least two plants to set fruit. I planted at least 4, but in different places around the garden. Happy to see at least two plants fruiting exuberantly. Thanks, bees!

Snail on Tomatillo

All types of creatures seem to like tomatillos. I loved seeing all the rigid and mis-shapen parts of the protective husks – visible reactions to threats and predators.

Todays Harvest

Yet within the husk, the fruits of my most recent harvest all looked entirely untouched. They feel sticky when you peel off the husk, but that rinses right off.

Naked Tomatillos

Alas, except for that big shiny one in the middle, I did it wrong. You’re supposed to wait until the fruit bursts through the hull — but not so long that they lose their bright green colour. Luckily, I didn’t pick them all, so I’ll wait until the rest are bursting through. My harvest was on the small and young side, but considering the delicious results of the slow cooked spicy Oaxacan Lamb stew I made with them, using Moreish organic lamb shanks from Urban Harvest and Mark Bittman’s sear it afterwards tip, you wouldn’t know I missed a trick.

Garden Harvest Lentil Salad

Garden Harvest Lentil Salad

Posted 31 March 2011 | By | Categories: Cooking, Food, Gardening, Growing Food, Health, Inspirations, Seagarden, Vegetables | Comments Off on Garden Harvest Lentil Salad

Todays harvest 31 March 2011

Behold, today’s bountiful harvest! Featuring cavolo nero, meyer lemon, parsley, roma tomatoes, jalapeno pepper, hungarian wax pepper, mint and oregano. This purple flowering oregano preceeded me in the seagarden. When I first arrived (and mistook it for marjoram), it established one half of the strawberry patch as its domain. We cut it out entirely, I thought, but tall stroppy strands of pungent leaves and purple petals continue to pop up where it once ruled. Since I’m resigned to never be rid of it, I’m always looking for new ways to use it. Thus, I was excited to discover a recipe featuring fresh oregano, “Greek-Style Lentil Salad” in one of my favorite cookbooks, Madhur Jaffrey’s World Vegetarian.

Bioitalia lentilsWhere Jaffrey’s salad features green lentils and cucumbers, my version that she inspired features canned lentils and all the vegetables just harvested above. I was a purist about cooking with dried lentils (since they didn’t need pre-soaking) until I read Tim Ferriss’s 4-Hour Body. He’s got a good point that it’s better to eat canned beans than to not eat beans at all because you don’t have time to cook them. Discovering Bioitalia canned beans that come out of the can looking perfect rather than sorry and soggy upped my enthusiasm. And considering the recent run of natural disasters around the world, it’s comforting to see a stock of legumes at the ready each time I open the cupboard.

1 (14oz/398ml) can lentils, drained and rinsed
1 chopped red onion
1/2 c diced tomatoes
1/2 c cavolo nero leaves, torn from stem
1/4 c chopped parsley
2 seeded and diced peppers (I had a jalapeño and Hungarian wax, but use bell pepper or other capsicum too if you have on hand)
2 tbsp chopped fresh oregano
2 tbsp olive oil
1 fresh lemon, juiced
salt and pepper to taste

Toss all ingredients and enjoy!

Gardenharvestlentilsalad

This was delicious on its own, and it would also welcome feta cheese. It also makes a lovely base for simply grilled fish. Hope you enjoy!

What are your favorite ways to use fresh oregano? If you’ve got any recipes or pointers, I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

Happy Birthday Orchard

Happy Birthday Orchard

Posted 07 January 2011 | By | Categories: Container Gardening, Food, Gardening, Growing Food, Plants, Seagarden, Seasons, Vegetables | Comments Off on Happy Birthday Orchard

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Hard to believe it was just one year ago the Seagarden orchard was planted. Especially the magical bean-stalkish tamarillo trees. Almost everything made it through the first year on our extreme coast and quite a few have thrived. Here’s what’s notable in the garden this week, starting with the first ripe tomato. And what a punk fruit it is, with stitches and a hammer and sickle emerging from its ripe red flesh. It was, quite simply, the best tomato I’ve ever tasted, and that’s adjusting for bias because it’s the first one I’ve ever grown from seed to plate. With a name like ‘brandywine’ I thought it would be more explosive on the palette than the palate, but I was happily surprised by the reverse.

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Clamalicious Recipe

Clamalicious Recipe

Posted 04 January 2011 | By | Categories: Cooking, Food, Health, Vegetables | Comments Off on Clamalicious Recipe

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Happy New Year! In Chinese New Year celebrations, clams symbolize wealth and prosperity because their shells look like coins. Clams are also rich in an essential nutrient I’ve been seeking out lately, vitamin B12, and New Zealand clams are the best I’ve ever tasted. Growing up far from any ocean, I don’t remember coming across live bivalves, and although I’ve always loved eating them, I was intimidated to cook them for a long time. Turns out there’s nothing simpler…

  1. Choose live clams that close when you touch them. (Ideally Cloudy Bay Clams from Yellow Brick Road at City Market in Wellington, NZ. Pictured above, the also wonderful littleneck clams, aka Austrovenus stutchburyi and tuangi, from Southern Clams Ltd.) If you’re not cooking them immediately, keep them in a well-drained container in the fridge — not in a plastic bag or they’ll suffocate. Savour the sound of their gentle sighs as they open up and let it all hang out.

  2. Cook up a pot of aromatic and delicious things from the garden in wine like: Crazy by Nature shotberry chardonnay with kaffir limescallionsparsleymintcoriandercherry tomatoes and Vietnamese mint olive oil and/or buttergarlic and chile peppers.

  3. Rinse, then kiss and thank your sweet little clams as you place them in the boiling broth.

  4. Simmer for about 3-5 minutes until they all open. Toss any that don’t open.

  5. Have some great bread ready to soak up all the delicious juices. My favorite in Wellington is Simply Paris’s wholemeal, made from just organic rye flour, spring water and salt. Alternately, serve over linguini or spaghetti.

If you try a variation of this, let me know how it turns out. I’d love to learn from your favorite ways to cook with clams too. Wishing you a healthy 2011 abundant with serendipity and delight!

Summer Comes Alive

Summer Comes Alive

Posted 09 December 2010 | By | Categories: Container Gardening, Flowers, Food, Gardening, Growing Food, Plants, Seagarden, Seasons, Uncategorized, Vegetables | Comments Off on Summer Comes Alive

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Summer has truly come alive. The first tomatoes, brandywine, are plumping up on the vine, and everything’s growing in full and lush.

Loving the fire-like blossoms on the native harakeke (phormium). For the last few days, a new drama has unfolded in the meditation garden outside my office: a blackbird smacks down a large stick insect and proceeds to wrestle it into submission. So far, the blackbird has won every match.

The vertical gardens are a delight this season. The strawberries (chandler, elsanta, gaviota) are doing exceptionally well and sending out runners to the tiers below. I’m still enjoying excellent strawberries from the patch that was planted before I arrived on the scene, but I have read that the plants weaken after a few years and succumb to pests and diseases.

Happy I interspersed lettuce with edible violas in the vertical planters – they’re visually delightful, and the flowers are lovely on salads and dishes. Also happy to see the potatoes planted in the bases are thriving. Will the new nutty celery succeed? Time will tell.

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Halloween Special: Mummies in your Garden

Halloween Special: Mummies in your Garden

Posted 31 October 2010 | By | Categories: Food, Gardening, Pest control, Plants, Vegetables | Comments Off on Halloween Special: Mummies in your Garden

Vivid tales of parasitic wasps eating mummified aphids from the inside out are but a part of this thought-provoking talk on plant protection using insects and the mass production of benevolent bugs.

A real horror story is that more than 90% of fruits and vegetables examined in NZFSA’s Food Residue Surveillance programme have pesticide residues. This method of natural pest control shown by Shimon Steinberg above could be a part of New Zealand’s strategy to reduce pesticide residues in our produce and soil.

Cavolo Nero Kale Chips

Cavolo Nero Kale Chips

Posted 24 August 2010 | By | Categories: Cooking, Food, Gardening, Make Things, Vegetables | 3 Comments

My fabulous Aunt Jan introduced me to the addictively delicious treat known as kale chips Stateside in June, making them from a bunch of mature cavolo nero, and serving them up elegantly in a tall glass a la Dan Barber. Now that I’m back in a winter (almost spring!) garden filled with greens, I’m making them almost every other day.

I have been experimenting with all different types of kale, cabbage and greens, and they’re almost all good. Young cavolo nero, also known as lacinato kale, Tuscan kale, and dinosaur kale, is my favorite to use, but curly kale, red Russian kale, squire kale and even savoy cabbage leaves work well too. Mustard greens, not so much. But since they’re taking over the garden, we’ll figure out some great things to make with them by next week. (Your favorite mustard green recipe suggestions are very welcome!)

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Ingredients:
1 bunch cavolo nero, other kale and/or savoy cabbage leaves
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon sea salt

cavolonerocabbage-1.jpg

Directions:

  • Wash the leaves and dry them well. To tear or not to tear? I prefer to leave the stems intact — with younger kale, the stems aren’t thick or tough, and they still get crispy and delicious.
  • Toss with olive oil and sea salt.
  • Preheat an oven to 180° C (350° F).
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (optional, but makes for joyfully easy cleanup) and arrange the leaves in a single layer. You may need two baking sheets, depending on leaf size and number.
  • Bake until the edges are crisp but not burned, approximately 10 minutes.

Delicious variations:

  • toss in some apple cider vinegar with the olive oil and salt.
  • add cumin
  • add cayenne pepper
  • add curry powder
  • add finely grated parmesan (or other) cheese

kaleandcabbagechips.jpg

Enjoy them in a glass, on a plate, crumbled on some popcorn, in your mouth…

Fractalicious Romanesco

Fractalicious Romanesco

Posted 08 May 2010 | By | Categories: Food, Gardening, Plants, Seagarden, Vegetables | Comments Off on Fractalicious Romanesco
fractalicious romanesco

Fancy fractal food: Broccoli Romanesco, Cauliflower Romanesco, or just Romanesco

Today, with great excitement, I harvested my first Romanesco and made a self-similar salad from it by breaking it into Romanesco-shaped pieces and tossing with a little olive oil and kelp granules. Perhaps the most delightfully geeky of all vegetables, the Romanesco is a nearly exact self-similar fractal form that illustrates a Fibonacci sequence. I have seen it in the marketplace as Cauliflower Romanesco and Broccoli Romanesco, and the French call it chou Romanesco, which translates to Cabbage Romanesco, so we’ll just note that it’s a Brassica and refer to it as Romanesco.

This electric chartreuse coloured vegetable offers a more subtle flavour than both cauliflower and broccoli, with a distinctively nutty note. I find it delicious raw, but it can be steamed or prepared in any way that you would with broccoli and cauliflower. And even though the organic ones often seem expensive at the market, I now know they are well worth it.

The Learning Curve

Romanescos at Yunos Farm stand at Abingdon Square Greenmarket, NYC I first became enchanted by Romanesco at the Yunos Farm stand at the Abingdon Square greenmarket in NYC (right), and noted if I ever grew my own vegetables, I would definitely grow this one. What I didn’t know is how much time, energy and water goes into each one. Because it’s always sold with the leaves stripped away, I assumed that the part we buy was the plant. Turns out it’s merely the flower of the plant. A giant plant. (This goes for broccoli and cauliflower too.) I thought I could tuck a few seedlings into the front of the berry patch, but they took over the space entirely for the season (image below).

giant Romanesco plant

The other growing surprise was that amidst an entire orchard, the Brassicas were voted most desirable plant by leaf-munchers and sap-suckers alike. I imagined the insects would go for dessert first, but they chose Romanesco, broccoli and brussels sprouts over berries and grape vines all day long. The most damaging was the hungry green caterpillar of the white cabbage butterfly. Eventually, I caved in and sprayed a trial of the bacteria Bacillus thuringensis Bt, which worked. Many of the plants bounced back entirely and produced beautiful veggies, while a few others never quite got their health back and suffered aphid infestation after the caterpillar menace subsided.

With broccoli, removing the central head stimulates side shoots for later picking. Does Romanesco work the same way? Let me know in comments if you do, and I’ll update when I find out here.

Update: According to Grow Better Veggies, “once the main head is cut, that’s it. You cannot rely on lateral growth for additional minor heads as the season goes on, which is a nice feature of regular broccoli.”

Companion Flower Salad

Flower salad: calendula, hyssop, nasturtium and borage Not only is Romanesco a flower that makes a great companion plant for other edibles in your garden (since everything wants to eat it), but many of the companion plants recommended for growing alongside it (and the rest of the Brassica family) are edible flowers too: (shown at left, clockwise from top right corner) Nasturtium, Hyssop “sweet marigold,” Borage, and Calendula. I don’t know if they distracted a single predator, but they definitely attracted bees, our friends in need, and kept any uninvited plants from crashing the party. They also add colour, beauty and diversity.

How do they taste? I found the Nasturtium too peppery for my palate, but it’s been brilliant in the garden as the earliest to bloom with bright orange blossoms. Borage, the last flower to arrive on the scene after a long period of leaf growth, features delicate blue flowers atop fuzzy stems that taste of cucumber. Hyssop ‘sweet marigold’ has an anise or licorice flavour. Calendula is slightly tangy and bitter and more appreciated for its use in topical tinctures and lotions than cuisine, but its leaves are lovely tossed into salads.

Saturday Seagarden Spoils

Saturday Seagarden Spoils

Posted 17 April 2010 | By | Categories: Art, Gardening, Plants, Seagarden, Vegetables | 3 Comments

Garden Harvest 17.4.2010: 4 large cucumbers and the last of the cucumber plants; 1 glorious white icicle radish; 2 dwarf beans or french beans; 8 large, 11 small and 17 green potatoes; 1 curvy carrot; 13 ripe strawberries; marigolds (to make space for new plantings); and 6 baby beets. Planted: spinach, purple kohlrabi, cauliflower snowball, cauliflower green macerata, cabbage mix, misome and mustard greens.

Very Hungry Caterpillars

Very Hungry Caterpillars

Posted 24 March 2010 | By | Categories: Animals, Books, Gardening, Growing Food, Vegetables | 1 Comment

very hungry caterpillars

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric CarleThis week marks the anniversary of The Very Hungry Caterpillar, one of my favorite books as a child. But one glance at the protagonist’s varied diet (food diary lovingly compiled by the Shrinking Sisters) reveals that it is not Pieris rapae rapae (aka cabbage white butterfly, small white butterfly or just white butterfly), Seagarden’s frequent diner.

These soft green consumers grow up and become white butterflies, who then lay their eggs on the underside of the leaves. The caterpillars hatch and begin to feast on a menu of organic tatsoi, kale, bok choy, broccoli and brussels sprouts, i.e. the brassicaceae — in the case of the tatsoi (below), until it’s entirely devoured.

In the organic garden, the main options for stopping this cycle are physical (removing the caterpillars and eggs), chemical (garlic spray as a preventative), and biological (Bacillus thuringiensis aka BT, dipel and thuricide which is a bacterial stomach poison for all caterpillars).

I regularly apply garlic spray, which I suspect the caterpillars enjoy as a tasty marinade, and my strategic companion plantings of hyssop, nasturtium, calendula and cosmos have been interpreted as gifts of affectionate bouquets. A box of BT (in the form of Organic NO Caterpillars) sits on the shelf, but after buying it I found I really don’t have a strong desire to poison the little beings. I guess I value biodiversity more than a perfect crop. (See Dan Barber’s inspiring TED talk featuring systems-thinking measurements of success, such as the the health of the predators and water purified through the farming process.)

I handpick them in the mornings. And sometimes in the evenings. They rotate their fuzzy faces towards mine and channel Mary Oliver, mouthing “Don’t bother me.
I’ve just been born.”
Once I’ve gathered a handful or so, I fling them gently over the fence, into the puka (or beyond). I won’t be replanting tatsoi. How do you deal with very hungry caterpillars?

Vegetable Sheep

Posted 20 February 2010 | By | Categories: Gardening, Plants, Vegetables | Comments Off on Vegetable Sheep

Captivated by New Zealand’s vegetable sheep via Anne Galloway (Raoulia and Haastia species, not to be confused with sheep made from vegetables). You can listen to the story of one good sheep captured in Canterbury and sent to the Auckland Museum. If you want to grow these “extremely dense, cushion forming perennial with tightly packed rosettes of overlapping, oblong, gray-hairy leaves,” at home, here are cultivation notes. More beautiful photos and notes at botany.cz.

    1. 8 Most Important Doctors by Malcolm Harker via Love PlantLife

    2. 1. Pure oxygen-rich, nutrient dense water and foods
    3. 2. Sunlight and fresh air
    4. 3. Love and laughter
    5. 4. Appropriate exercise
    6. 5. Bare contact with the earth and elements
    7. 6. Firm breathing
    8. 7. Relaxation, meditation, music and sound sleep
    9. 8. Being at peace with oneself and in harmony with the environment
  • The Foodprint Project, a collaboration between Nicola Twilley (Edible Geography) and Sarah Rich, kicks off a series of international conversations on urban foodscapes and opportunities to transform our edible landscape through technology, architecture, legislation and education. First event: Saturday February 27 in NYC.

  • Homegrown Evolution’s self-irrigating planter resources.
Who’s Laying Eggs in the Okra?

Who’s Laying Eggs in the Okra?

Posted 07 February 2010 | By | Categories: Plants, Vegetables | Comments Off on Who’s Laying Eggs in the Okra?

who is laying eggs on the okra plants?

This morning as I was moving the okra seedlings to make room for UV film installation on the windows, I noticed each leaf of both the clemson spineless and burgundy varieties had little crystal beads on their undersides. They look like tiny dew drops and feel like tobiko (flying fish roe). That’s eggs. Eggs! Who is laying eggs in my okra?

Okra doesn’t seem to have too many natural pests, and I hadn’t seen eggs like this on any other plant.

Turns out they’re sap beads — not eggs at all, as The 5b Garden discovered before me. In fact, it’s a good sign, boding well for future offspring according to Laura Silver, cultivating Okra on her fifth-floor Brooklyn, New York balcony. Apparently, both okra and orchids can release little sap balls when they’re happy.

Windowfarms NYC

Windowfarms NYC

Posted 19 April 2009 | By | Categories: Art, Container Gardening, Vegetables | Comments Off on Windowfarms NYC


windowfarms.jpg
Britta Riley and Rebecca Bray have set out to start a window farms craze in NYC. They are creating several different designs for suspended, hydroponic, modular, low-energy, high-yield light-augmented window farms using low-impact or recycled local materials. They are calling for participants to build a window farm and grow your own food at home in a collaborative design project.http://windowfarms.org/

This project fits within a larger context of their collaborative work: “crowdsourced R&Diy solutions for environmental issues. Our inspiration for community involvement derives from concepts of local production (think of the coming network of 3D multi-material printers), mass customization, and crowdsourcing. We envision the DIY aspect, not as a nostalgia-inducing hobby or a compromise during hard financial times, but as a futuristic infrastructure-light alternative to big R&D. Instead of waiting for products and services to be developed by industry, local social networks develop solutions for themselves by dividing scientists’ breakthrough findings into actionable local steps.”

Crowdsourcing local solutions to environmental problems. Wikis and instructables aren’t enough – develop tools to help people build on what other have started.