Blog posts from July 2008

Ginkgos for your ears…nothing to do with gardening…

Jul 31, 2008

Ok, I'm going to shamelessly self promote here. I make silver jewelry and have a small business on the side called growLively designs. I have a new earring design that you plant lovers might like. Ginkgo leaf hoop earrings. They are quite fab and look great on. Lightweight. So there you go. Shameless plug accomplished.

Growlively_ginkgohoops_large

Yay! Hummingbird sighting!

Jul 31, 2008

Unfortunately I don't have a photo, but when I walked out of the door this morning to go to work, a female ruby-throated hummingbird was going to town on all the different salvias in my front garden. She took no notice of me and went about her business as I watched her. It was great! I've posted before about my lack of hummingbird sightings this year...so I was very happy to have the encounter...

Ya love it or ya hate it…

Jul 25, 2008

Okra. You either love it...or hate it. I love it. Especially stewed with tomatoes and peppers. MMMMMMM. I have a dwarf okra variety called 'Clemson Spineless' this summer. The plants are quite tiny, but the small blooms are still beautiful. Just thought I'd post a photo.

Okra_dwarf

I crack myself up…

Jul 24, 2008

"If a man is standing alone in a garden, and he speaks, but there is no woman to hear him, is he still wrong?"

Ha!! I crack myself up.

Pickling Habaneros…Wear Gloves

Jul 19, 2008

So I grow hot peppers. Lots of em'. My father in law told me about a dish he'd had that required pickled habaneros, and had gotten the recipe. I told him I'd do him a solid and pickle him some. He lives in Minnesota...not sure how the hot pepper growing goes up there. Pickling is super easy, so if you've never canned anything it's a good place to start. You need glass jars, mason type. Any kind that has a secure lid. For this project I used some recycled tomato sauce jars with the old labels removed. You'll need to sterilized your jars and lids. You can either do this in the dishwasher or boil them for 10 min. My dishwasher is my husband and that dishwasher is often broken so I boil my jars. You'll also need to boil some vinegar.  I was filling two 20 oz. jars. I brought 32 oz. of vinegar to a boil. It took about 29 oz to fill the two 20 oz. jars after packed with peppers. So, you'll want to time it so your jars come out of the boiling water and your vinegar is boiling about the same time. You don't want your freshly sterilized jars to sit too long before you fill them. I used whole peppers instead of slicing them well, because a pile of habaneros, plus boiling vinegar makes for an potentially eye searing experience. So no chopping. Plus, they were so pretty whole I decided to use them that way.

Habanero_peppers

You'll want to trim stems off completely and make sure to wash your peppers thoroughly. You'll notice my lovely bowl of peppers is flanked by a wine glass, as these activities are always best accompanied by libations...and broccoli seeds. Yes, it's time. I started broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts seeds today. I also planted black eyed peas and a second crop of potatoes, but I'll leave that for another post (I'm experimenting with some special potato containers, so I'll keep you posted.)

Habanero_bowl

Notice my heavy duty rubber work gloves. It's a good idea to wear gloves when handling this many hot peppers Especially if you're going to be slicing them. The juices from the peppers will soak into your skin and it can be a less than pleasant experience. Also, when you're pickling, you're also dealing with boiling vinegar, which is an acid. If you've got hot pepper juice on your hands and then expose them to some vinegar, about an hour later you'll feel like you dipped your hands in a hot acid bath...and it can last a couple of days. How do I know this? Because I'm an idiot. I've done it before. It was one of the most painful and miserable experiences...don't be an idiot like me...wear some gloves!

Habanero_gloves

So you've sterilized your jars and you've set them on a dishtowel on the counter, your peppers are washed and your vinegar is boiling. DO NOT take the lid off the vinegar and stick your face over it to see how it's boiling. You'll sear your eyeballs, and nostrils out..you'll regret it. Keep your face at a respectful distance. Pack your jars with the whole or sliced peppers, almost to the top of the jar leaving some space at the neck. Turn the heat off the vinegar. Using a ladle, and funnel if you have one, ladle the vinegar over the peppers until it covers all the fruit. You may need to press the top few peppers down into the vinegar (hence the handiness of gloves) and make sure they are completely covered. then screw the lid on securely. Let the jars cool for a while. Whala. You're done. Pickled peppers will keep for quite some time. They don't have to be refrigerated, but they will last longer that way.

Habanero_peppers_canned

Now, you're entire house will reek of vinegar, so I suggest you open a window during this process. Here in Texas this time of year it's about 100 degrees, so it does make it a toasty project, but if you don't ventilate, you might be sorry. Ok, even if you open a window your house is still going to reek. I don't mind it, my husband thinks it's the end of the world. I used apple cider vinegar because I thought it might create a more interesting flavor. Well, that and it happened to be the only kind of vinegar I had in the house. So there you go. It is a bit dark in color, so if you want to see the color on the peppers more clearly use a white vinegar, a rice vinegar or such. Lovely. Burn your mouth to a crisp lovely.

Gotta make some pesto…

Jul 19, 2008

I've managed to turn my husband into a pesto lover. He's not one for adventurous food, or many vegetables for that matter, but he's come to love my fresh pesto from the garden. Everything is better fresh. Now he makes  the 10-year old face and says "Are you going to make me pesto tonight?", on a regular basis. I'll be making some tomorrow...Sunday. I have a couple varieties in the garden you might be interested in. 'Pesto Perpetuo' a small variegated variety and 'Sweet Aussie', a bright green variety. Both have a very tight compact growth habit with small leaves. The nice thing about these two is that they are very slow to flower. While both my sweet and purple leafed varieties are already in full flower and leggy (I should have harvested more) both of these are still very tight with no flowers. Yay. So, if you're a fresh pesto addict like we are, you might give these varieties a try. Great for garden or containers.

Basil_Pestoperpetuo

Basil_sweetAussie

Super squash

Jul 11, 2008

I've been so busy I've not had time to adequately update or photo what is going on in the garden. This time of year, when it's over 100 degrees, it sort of becomes survival of the fittest. Squash, peppers and eggplant are the usual survivors. They make quite the nice color combination, no?Squash_eggplant

Tasty Tomatoes…

Jul 3, 2008

Once my tomatoes start to ripen, I pretty much eat tomatoes breakfast, lunch and dinner. Tomatoes on my eggs, tomato sandwiches for lunch, tomatoes with mozzarella and basil from the garden dressed with olive oil and balsamic vinegar for dinner. That and many derivations of the like is pretty much how my summer goes. And I love it! I eat so many tomatoes I'm surprised I don't turn pink. I mean, look at these homegrown tomatoes...how can you resist? This variety in particular is called 'Celebrity'. It's my standard hybrid backup - a reliable producer, so I always have a harvest even if the heirlooms are acting up.

Tomato_celebrity
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