Broccoli Delight

The garden has been slow to develop this winter. Now that it is definitely spring, I am finding more growth and response. I love the way the flowering bulbs pop their heads up early showing promises for the coming glory.

At this time of year, I have a sideyard full of oxalis providing delicious lemon yellow color all day long. The tantalizing scent of narcissus is filling the house. Intoxicating!

narcissus and calendula

While today the first, and most fragrant, of the freesias (the yellow ones) are opening to fill the air with their own lovely fragrance.

yellow freesias

The broccoli I planted last spring (what’s still standing of it) is finally offering us baby broccoli to put in the salad. The “winter” crop of broccoli is also finally giving us something to eat. This year we discovered that the greens are as tasty as the heads. They provide a delicious and nutritious option to chard, kale or cabbage.

 

 

purple baby broccoli

garden greens

 

The hearty mustard is with us this at this time of year also. Mustard is my favorite of the naturalized plants. Though many people don’t like them as they are not truly “native”, I enjoy the happy yellow mustard blossoms. And their greens are delicious! Nothing like wandering out in the yard and picking fresh mustard greens to add to a dish. It’s only available for a limited time each year and that makes it doubly precious. Come and get some in the next week while they’re still around!

 

 

The garlic chives are doing quite well also. I’ve tried for years to grow onion chives with little success. For some reason, I always get aphids on them and they die. So, I’m very please that the garlic chives are doing well!

garlic chives

When I have vegetables in the garden, I love to peruse my cookbooks (yes, actual books!) and find recipes to make featuring what’s fresh. One of my favorite cookbook authors is Mollie Katzen. I found a recipe that I hadn’t tried before in her Moosewood Cookbook. It’s called Warm Salad. I love the use of the fresh greens mixed with the other vegetables. I added my baby purple broccoli  and some broccoli leaves instead of the escarole. You can see how gorgeous the broccoli is after its cooked. It starts out purple and turns a bright green with cooking! I used my spring onions instead of leeks and it was delicious. Here’s the recipe from the book:

warm salad

           Warm Salad

3 Tbsp. olive oil

1 small bunch escarole, chopped

1 medium bunch red or green chard, chopped

8 large napa or savoy cabbage leaves, chopped

2 cups chopped mustard greens

 

1 – 2 tsp. salt                                                                  1 stalk celery, sliced

2 large cloves garlic, minced                                   1/2 small cauliflower, chopped

2 medium leeks, chopped                                           3 Tbsp. balsamic or wine vinegar

2 cups red onion, chopped                                          6 Tbsp. or more parmesan

3/4 lb. mushrooms, sliced                                         fresh black pepper

1) Heat 1 Tbsp. olive oil in a large wok or deep skillet. Add the escarole, chard, cabbage and mustard greens, a little at a time, salting lightly after each addition, and adding more greens as soon as the ones in the pot cook down enough to make room. Use a fairly intense level of heat under the pot, and stir as you cook. When all the greens are wilted and tender, stir in the garlic. Cook and stir just a minute or two more, then transfer to a platter.

2) Add the remaining oil to the wok or skillet, and when it is hot add leeks, onion, mushrooms, celery and cauliflower (I added the broccoli here). Salt lightly, and stir-fry quickly over medium-high heat until just tender (about 5-8 minutes). Add to the platter, mix gently to incorporate the greens and sprinkle with vinegar and parmesan while still hot. (I put the greens back in the pan to mix. Then I had each family member take a serving and sprinkle their own vinegar and cheese individually. That way, the leftovers can be reheated and taste fresh tomorrow.)


Beauty Marvels in the Garden Every Season

The garden is such a charming place. As I walk around watering or just taking a look at what is growing I am continually amazed at the endless beauty of the garden. It is so different each season and yet, they are all fantastic! I couldn’t begin to say “This is my favorite season in the garden.” As the season unfolds, I find that I marvel anew at the beauty I find no matter which season it is!

The winter squashes are harvested and waiting to be enjoyed. We like to cut them off the vine and set them in the sun for a day or two to harden. Then into storage they go to await a delectable soup or roast veggie dish!

Winter Squash curing on a bench

A great recipe for Kabocha or Acorn Squash is to wash the outside of a large squash. Cut squash in half lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds (save these for planting next year!). Place the squash skin side down on a lightly oiled baking sheet. Drop a teaspoon of butter and a teaspoon of maple syrup into the opening. Bake at 375degrees for about 40 minutes or until the squash is soft when pierced with a fork. A perfect addition to Thanksgiving dinner!

Kabocha Squash

The broccoli we planted last spring is continuing to grow at an amazing rate. One of them is over 6 feet tall! The leaves are more than 12″ long. Strangely enough, we still don’t have heads on these plants. We can’t figure out why they aren’t producing flowers. I’ve watered them, fertilized them with manure tea, the weather is cooler now…..If you have any suggestions let me know. They are beautiful plants so we will just leave them be and see what happens next.

Foot long leaf

Our fall garden is popping with color. The light at this time of year is magnificent. The sunshine isn’t quite as bright and the colors stand out more readily from the background. From the pineapple sage blossoms to the lovely crape myrtle leaves,

Crape Myrtle carpet

the pyracantha berries and the hyssop flowers; the red chard is a deep, rich color after the cool evenings and the newly planted brassicas show a delightful variety of greens. Even the leaves on the geraniums are an interesting shade of purple and green from the cold!

 

 

One of the most beautiful plants we have at this time of year is the Persimmon tree. It’s at the back of the property so I have to go back there to admire it. It’s leaves display multi-colored contrasts showing off its beauty. You can see here how many shades of orange,  green and red are present in this glorious tree!

Glowing persimmon leaves

Golden persimmon leaves

Contrasting colors

 

 

 

 

 

Pyracantha berries

 

 

The pyracantha makes for a stunningly beautiful Thanksgiving arrangement for your table. Collect a few branches and arrange them artfully around a candle centerpiece or a collection of colorful pumpkins. Sprinkle colorful leaves randomly around and it will “Wow” your guests.

As you’re thinking about what to place on your Thanksgiving table, consider some of our freshly baked goods that are being offered through the Come and Get It feature of Sugi Garden. Here’s what’s available for ordering:

Midnight Moons

Midnight Moons (Gluten-free cookies)…………………$9/dozen

(Sweetened with molasses and honey)

Tahini Moons

Tahini Moons (Gluten-free cookies)……………………….$8/dozen

(Sweetened with brown rice and maple syrups)

Giant Chocolate Chip Cookie

Giant Chocolate Chip Cookies (1/2 lb.)………….$5 each

 

 

 

 

 

Silky Chocolate Pie

 

Silky Chocolate Pie…………………………………………………….$14 each Regular or Gluten-Free Vegan

(Sweetened with brown rice and barley malt syrups)

Fudge

Chocolate Fudge…………………………………………….$4 / ½lb. ……$8/1 lb.

Chocolate Fudge with Walnuts…………………..$5 / ½lb…….$10/1 lb.

Contact me to order 5 – 7 days before pickup. Only local people. No shipping.

To be notified of produce and food products for sale through Sugi Garden, join the weekly bulletin!

 

 


Come and Get It – The Raccoons Did!

For the past few weeks we have been feeling like our garden is a smorgasboard for the raccoons! Every morning when we get up, there are numerous areas in the yard that have been poked through, dug up and disturbed. The seedlings that have accidentally been left in their watering tubs have been thoroughly destroyed by curious (and hungry!) animals.

Seedlings in watering tub

We haven’t caught them in the act, per se, but we have heard many squealing noises during the night. Only a few nights ago, Ofer saw some adolescent raccoons roughhousing in the dirt! So, on a daily basis we have been rescueing our neatly planted beds so that we have some tasty produce in a few months. Most of it is safe and growing happily!

Some of the beds we surrounded with old fencing to protect them and they are growing well, but it is hard to get in there to weed. Oh, well! The good news is that the season is full of crisp mornings and beautiful days. Our baby seedlings are growing strong and starting to look like they’ll make it.

volunteer zucchini

We’ve even gotten some volunteers popping up and the volunteer zucchini from the summer is still going strong.

Red Mustard

Young Calabrese Broccoli

 

The Red Mustard is a volunteer that we get each year and is a most beautiful and tasty plant. The Red Mustard has a little bit of spice in its flavor and  is enjoyable in soups, stews and vegetable broths.

Fall fruits have their own personality and I find that as the weather turns I begin to crave them. Persimmons, pears and apples, fresh from the garden, cut into a fruit salad and topped with cottage cheese or yogurt makes for a healthy, yummy breakfast in the fall!

Fuyu Persimmons

The colors in the garden are definitely shifting and the glorious fall colors are showing themselves. Yes, even in sunny California the colors are beautiful in the fall! You can plant your garden to reflect this quite easily. The crape myrtle trees seen here alongside a pyracantha bush

Pyracantha

provides a lovely fall backdrop. Pineapple sage is a lovely way to add red in the fall garden and keep feeding those hummingbirds!

Pineapple Sage

We decided to let the basil flower this year in the hopes of collecting seeds for next spring. It is quite beautiful when blooming so it is a welcome addition to the fall garden.

flowering basil

We  are now offering “Come and Get It!” a weekly bulletin that will announce the produce and food-related items available for purchase. The bulletin will include valuable information about the crops currently ready from the garden and recipes for you to enjoy. We will happily include recipes that you would like to share with others. If you live in the Pleasant Hill, CA area and would like to enjoy our garden-fresh foods, you can sign up through the link on the sidebar to the right.


What Inspires You in the Garden?

This is such a lovely time of year in California. It is a time of harvest and planting. Creating fun and tasty foods from the abundance of a summer garden that has been given an extra burst of growth with the heat wave of autumn. This year, I’ve had lots of different orange tomatoes and a variety of colorful cherry tomatoes. I found them collecting in the kitchen -everywhere. On the counter, in the refrigerator and the table too! So, I thought, what can I do with this wonderful variety.

Tomato bowl with figs

I decided to try cooking them down for a sauce or soup. I washed them and dumped them in a large soup pot – no peeling or removing seeds. I cooked them for about two hours. As they softened a delicious aroma filled the house. When they were cooled, I put the liquid through a cloth to remove the seeds and skins. I ended up with a beautiful, soup base. Tomato Soup when fresh is at it’s best! I added some salt, a splash of goat milk and some onion powder. Delicious!

The basil also called to me, so I made some Pesto. Usually I like to add parsley, but my parsley didn’t grow very well this season. So, I just used basil.

Happy Basil

Take a large bunch of basil wash it and put it in a food processor. Add two cloves fresh garlic, a cup or so of olive oil, grated parmesan or asiago cheese and a handful of walnuts. Blend thoroughly. Add extra olive oil, a little at a time, for it to become a nice, smooth paste. You can vary the amounts to fit your taste buds.

It turned out quite well and made for an nice addition to my dinner – Pesto Pasta with Tomato Soup. A perfect repast for a cool autumn evening.What creative meals are you cooking from your garden (or farmer’s market) produce?

The preparations for our fall garden are continuing to move forward. Our side yard is currently being fixed up to receive flower seeds in the next week or so. We added a layer of manure and a layer of soil. This bed was our first insta-bed that we made two years ago.  It seems like a good time to try a larger cut flower garden. I’ll be planting some of the seeds now for early blooms in the spring and some will be planted in the early spring for summer bloom.

This fall I’m planting snapdragons, marigolds (these will go with the vegetables as a companion plant for healthy veggies), early sweet peas, bachelor’s buttons, delphinium, gaillardia (thanks, Eileen for sharing your seeds!), butterfly flower, canturbury bells , red tulip and freesia bulbs. I’d love to know – what’s your favorite cut flower to grow?

Ofer and Yo’el continue to make more soil so we can add a top layer to our new beds for the fall vegetable planting. They are digging the soil from an area of our yard that had been used for a vegetable garden in previous years. Then manure, ashes and compost will be added for a good top soil mix.

 

broccoli plants

The purple broccoli that we planted this spring has been growing like a weed. The plants are absolutely monstrous with huge leaves and about 4 feet tall. All summer we’ve been watching it and wondering when it will actually grow the heads (that’s the part we eat).

broccoli head forming

It is just now beginning to form the broccoli heads. Here you can see the light colored leaves in the center. That’s where it all begins. Keep your fingers crossed so we’ll have purple broccoli for the first time.

kohlrabi

Another plant from the spring is this darling kohlrabi. When I first saw kohlrabi I thought that it was a root vegetable. I couldn’t figure out how they washed the bulbs to get them so clean. Then I grew some and voila! it isn’t underground after all.

 

 

 

 

A funny cat story:I was out in the garden a few days ago and saw Jade batting at the Love Lies Bleeding(amaranth) flowers.

Love Lies Bleeding

Jade

Lao Hu

The funny thing was, when I looked closer, I saw Lao Hu laying in the plant bed rubbing his face against the stalk of the plant. Every time he rubbed, the stalk made the flowers start swinging and Jade would happily swing right back! They are quite a pair.

 

 

 

Come and Get It!

We would like to provide an opportunity for you to purchase our produce on a somewhat regular basis (as we have high yielding plants to share). We’d like some input from you as to how best to go about it. What would be a good day and time for you to have “Come and Get It” days?  We will post a list of what we have available with prices.

Right now, for example, we have: Chard – $2 a bunch, Red Flame Grapes $2 a bunch, Figs $4 a basket, Pears .50 each, Basil $2 a bunch and Eggs $5 a dozen

Do you have other suggestions? Please let us know.