Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Heat wave wilts more than lettuce!

We are in the doldrums with a heat wave of above 90 temps all week and poor air quality.
Time to resource easy meals that use the vegetables that are fast maturing in the heat, and minimize time spent in the garden.I have a soaker hose, so I can run out and turn that on and it does the watering for me. On my forays to the vegetable garden I have noticed that I have a new addition to my wildlife enemies list-a chipmunk- and so far he doesn't appear to be afraid of the dog. So cute but so destructive. He has been up on my deck! digging up the containers for one thing, and he or one of his relatives has been eating the french pole bean stems before the they can even set blossoms. I am sure Bertie will be keeping an eye out for him.This is the seasonal change from late spring crops to summer- My first bunch of peas is winding down, but there is plenty of chard, lettuce and kale out there and we've eaten a few tiny cherry tomatoes from the ones on the porch. I usually have an early girl producing by about now, but this year I did not buy any commercial plants due to the destructive late blight that was spread by them last year.
Delayed gratification this time.
Here's a pasta recipe that we're having tonight to help use up all that lettuce that might be getting ready to bolt in the heat: ( you can substitute cooked crispy bacon for the prosciutto)

Lettuce, Pea and Prosciutto Pasta

2 Tbs butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup sliced green onions
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup chicken broth
2 cups shelled fresh peas or two cups frozen,thawed
1 head of lettuce torn into pieces
1 cup Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup chopped parsley
4 ounces prosciutto, sliced into strips
1 lb pasta such as rotini

Melt butter and 2 tablespoons oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and season with salt and pepper. Sauté till tender and add wine; simmer until liquid is reduced about 3 minutes.
Cook peas until just tender, and drain.

Cook pasta until tender,drain it, reserving some pasta water, then reheat onion mixture, adding lettuce,allow it to wilt, then stir together with pasta, parmesan and parsley in the skillet. Transfer to a large bowl and top with prosciutto and more cheese.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Bertie and the hoop house

Everything planted by memorial day

Well, now it is June 1st and the weather can't be more different.
The vegetable garden is planted and few days of above 85 temps have caused the beans to pop up and basil to germinate almost overnight! We have been eating lettuce for several weeks now thanks to the little plastic covered hoop house that I ordered from Gardeners Supply. Definitely a good way to get a jump start on the season. My garden club friends and I grew about a bazillion tomato seedlings which we donate to our annual sale and also to a community garden. We had so many that we had to rely on the gardening network to finally place all the adoptees in good homes! There is one of each kind with some old favorites such as Cherokee purple, pineapple, Dad's mug, pink pong and sungold, and a few new ones such as variegated,bush celebrity, speckled roma,and Mr Underwoods German pink (not a good germinator). I always try to spread the varieties through the season with some heirlooms and some hybrids so that I don't have to wait till august for my big crops.
I took the first compost from the worm farm this weekend; they and I seem to be getting the hang of things - how do you know when enough is enough for them?
The directions said don't feed them too much. What do overfed worms look like?It seemed to take a little over a month to start really producing, although only enough for some top dressing. I have some unusual russian varieties of squash seeds from someone in the Cactus society which I am curious to try. My Dad and pruned a salix lanfolia over Easter and I used the whips for stakes, and tutueurs-an idea I got at Chanticleer, which is right around the corner. A gardening friend suggested to set up a system of overflow containers for the rain barrel-there was a rain squall a few miles away that I got drenched in, but the black cloud did not make it over to the garden yet!