February 7, 2010

How does your garden grow?

DSC_1495 Today, I hosted our annual “Seed Talk” event.  The event started years ago and centered around sipping hot tea, flipping through seed catalogs, and chatting with friends. We meet in winter and are warmed by thoughts of fresh tomatoes off of the vine, happy zinnias greeting us at our doorsteps, and children delighting in dirty hands and feet.  As children have grown and our lives have become busier, the focus on friendship and food has taken priority over actual garden planning, but the get together still serves as a motivation for us to look ahead to the next season. 

The menu is always “girlie” food.  The recipe below was from our garden vegetable soup today.  You’ll see that I used some of our home preserved foods.  Each time I use them in a recipe, my desire to grow a bigger garden and preserve more foods at home is reinforced. 

Garden Vegetable Soup

As with almost any soup, you can vary the amount of the vegetables based on what you have on hand.

4 Carrots, chopped

1 large onion, chopped

4-6 cloves of garlic, minced

3 stalks of celery, chopped

1 small head of cabbage, chopped

1 T. olive oil

1 can Ro*tel (do not drain)

2 quarts home canned tomatoes or 2 large cans (15 oz) diced tomatoes (do not drain)

3 quarts of chicken stock (organic preferred)  To make vegetarian, use vegetable stock instead

1 1/2 cups dehydrated zucchini and squash or 2 large fresh squash sliced or chopped

Seasoning—salt, pepper, Tony’s, and any herbs you would like to add (parsley, basil, etc)

If using fresh squash, sauté squash, onion, carrot, garlic, and celery in olive oil for about 2 minutes.  If using dehydrated, reserve those to add later.  Add chicken stock, cabbage, tomatoes, and Ro*tel.  Bring to a boil, and then if using dehydrated squash, add those.  Season to taste. 

  The Seeds

Go to my post here to learn more about my favorite seed catalogs and gardening books. 

I have some seeds that I saved last year.  Does that save me money on my seed purchases?  Well, of course, not—for gardening enthusiasts all that does is give us more of our budgeted money to spend on more seeds and plants!  ;) 

DSC_5909What will I be planting this year?  I’ll be buying almost all of these seeds from Kitchen Garden Seeds.  Because I sometimes almost always find myself a little overzealous with my planning, I suspect that at least a few of these plants will not make it into the ground.  One can hope, though!

Late Winter Planting/Spring Garden—Sugar Snap Peas, Snow Peas, the first wave of beets and onion sets, lettuces and spinach in succession planting, collard greens, Pak Choi, broccoli raab, radishes, Chinese cabbage, and I’ll give carrots another try.  We’ll be able to enjoy our asparagus for the first time this year, and I’m very much looking forward to it!  A friend has said that he will come by and teach us how to prepare the bamboo shoots so that we can stir fry and/or pickle them.  I’ll plant some more pansies and violas.  (My front porch looks a little like the Adam’s Family porch with the dead plants in the pots right now!  Cleaning out those pots will be a priority this week!)  I’ll also start some sweet peas in pots very soon.  We’ll put the potato boxes back together and get them ready for potato planting.

Mid-Late Spring Planting/Summer Garden—I’ve given in to the nutsedge!  Instead of trying to plant vegetables in that garden bed, I’ll be tilling it and planting flowers (sunflowers, zinnias, cosmos, nasturtiums, a wildflower mix, and hyacinth bean and moonflower on the trellis).  We already have garlic growing that was planted in the fall of 2009.  We should be able to enjoy the scapes from it early in the year and pull it for drying later in the summer.  We’ll plant more beets and onions.  Other vegetables—filet pole beans, Pawnee bush shelling beans, many varieties of tomatoes, blue lake pole beans, bell peppers, jalapeños, green onions (I like the Fukagawa), zucchini, squash, watermelon, butternut squash, cucumbers, red and green okra, parsley, basil, and dill.DSC_9904

Late Summer Planting/Fall Garden—Garlic, more onions, cabbage, broccoli raab, spinach, lettuces, greens, kale, and beets.

Perennials to add to the garden this year—horseradish (a friend has offered for me to dig some out of her garden), raspberries, fig trees, and more daylilies, sedum, and irises.

Other garden chores planned—separate the Lenten Roses and replant, mulch the blueberries and add organic sulfur, and purchase or find some straw that we can let rot for the garden.  We’ll also be adding another rain barrel this year if we can.

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