Tag Archives: zucchini

What happens when you leave your garden unattended for 3 weeks…

The garden becomes a jungle

Potatos (flowering),

Potatoes (flowering), and assortment of weeds and mystery plants

Weeds invade

Strawberry plants surrounded by weeds

Strawberry plants surrounded by weeds

Leafminers invade your beet greens

Tasty!

Tasty!

What you thought were beans turn out to be morning glory (for the second 2nd year in a row) – and they’ve taken over

Glorious!

Glorious!

One zucchini plant becomes two

Yep - there are two here

Probably should have noticed this earlier

You miss the last of scape season

No more scapes and the leaves are starting to turn brown. Oh well, soon it will be time for garlic!

No more scapes and the leaves are starting to turn brown. Oh well, soon it will be time for fresh garlic!

 

 

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Zucchini chips

It’s a drizzly day. Perfect time to try making zucchini chips. Here goes my first attempt: I found this recipe online from the Wishful Chef blog and used the giant zucchini from the garden.

I found an old mandolin of my uncle`s that looked like it was from the 70s.  It took him a while to remember which attachment I was supposed to add, but once we figured it out it was very simple to use.

Attempting to slice as thinly as possible

Attempting to slice as thinly as possible

Luckily the zucchini provided it`s own attachment for preventing me from chopping my fingers off

Luckily the zucchini provided it`s own attachment to prevent me from chopping my fingers off

I`ve found other recipes that said bake them for 2+ hours (and recipes for dehydrators, but I don`t have one). I liked this one because it was simple, with few ingredients, and the cooking time was only 30-45 minutes.

Not every even but it made a lot!

Not very even but it made a lot!

First batch in the oven!

First batch brushed with olive oil and salt in the oven!

Because my slices were uneven, the thinnest parts were brown and crispy while the thicker parts barely changed colour and were soft after 30 minutes. But the taste of the cooked part was unbelieveable! Just like my favorite root chips.

Fresh from the oven

Fresh from the oven

I would definitely try this recipe again, with other roots too (sweet potato, beets, etc). Perhaps my slices turned out uneven because I used the mandolin on an angle or applied uneven pressure. Maybe using a smaller zucchini would have given me more control.

Big take home messages for zucchini chips:

  • Thinner is better – use a mandolin if you can
  • Even-ness of the slices is important
  • Less salt is better – zucchini shrink and the salt concentrates
  • Less oil is better or they turn out soggy – use a basting brush or cooking spray
  • Watch them closely as oven temps vary
zucchini chips

A little oily and soggy but still yummy. My uncle took my basting brush to season hamburgers for the grill so I had to drizzle using a spoon. Brush is better!

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Harvest moon

In honour of the upcoming harvest moon, I thought I’d look back on some of the harvests of the season:

Red and yellow pear tomatoes. I think there's some dandelion under there somewhere...

Red and yellow pear tomatoes. I think there’s some dandelion under there somewhere…

It's as big as my forearm! And was mighty tasty despite its size.

It’s as big as my forearm! And was mighty tasty despite its size.

Zucchini blossoms bring some brightness to the green of the cucumbers, dandelion, beans, sage and chives.

Zucchini blossoms add a splash of brightness to the greens – cucumber, zucchini, beet greens, peas, mint, chives and thyme

All stages of the 5 colour Chinese peppers represented: purple, white, yellow, orange and red!

All stages of the 5 colour Chinese peppers: purple, white, yellow, orange and red!

Goodness from the roots: beets and carrots

Goodness from the roots: beets and carrots

Beet power!!!

Beet power!!!

Eat your greens!

Eat your greens – red romaine and kale from my uncle’s greenhouse, with some chives thrown in for good measure

One of the first harvests: onions, pear tomatoes, a cracked acorn squash, and some herbs

One of the first harvests: onions, pear tomatoes, a cracked baby acorn squash (my cousin hit it with the lawnmower by accident), and some herbs (sage, mint, chives, and thyme)

Feast-a-plenty!

Feast-a-plenty!

Happy harvesting!

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The secret life of bees

One of the reasons I love gardening is that there’s always something going on. The garden is teeming with life and activity 24/7. Something new is always waiting to be discovered.

Lately I’ve been spending a lot of time watching the bees. There have been a lot of posts on the Facebook pages I follow about pesticides killing off our bee population, including powerful photos of what the fresh fruit and veg isle of our grocery stores would look like if there were no more  of these essential pollinators. I think about this as I watch them go about their daily lives in the garden.

Bee (and friend) exploring a sunflower

I find the bumblebees in my garden particularly funny. The way they bumble around… They almost look like they`re high, covered in pollen as if it`s cocaine, or drunk.

Bees covered in pollen

Bees covered in pollen

This guy staggered out of this zucchini flower like he was drunk!

This guy staggered out of this zucchini flower like he was drunk!

I joke, but in all seriousness they work really hard, doing the things that help to produce the abundance of fresh veggies that I enjoy on a daily basis. Then they return to their hives to continue the work that produces other delicious and useful things: honey (yum) and beeswax.

This guy was staring at me as if I was interrupting something private.

This guy was staring at me as if I was interrupting something private.

Nowadays, more and more people are thinking about and questioning how their food is produced and where it`s coming from. People are coming together and advocating for better and healthier food choices. Something so basic to our survival has become so complicated when really it shouldn`t be. And honestly, it isn`t. When we put growing food back into our own hands, we feel empowered and we make better choices. There are so many options for where to grow your own food – your own or a friend`s back yard, balcony or rooftop, a community garden, an allotment plot. If you don`t have your own space, you can share with others. I just have to look at my gigantic zucchini plant to realize that one tiny seed produces so much with very little effort. It`s easy!

We waste a lot of time and effort on things that don`t matter and neglect things that do or should matter to us. Growing your own food and supporting local growers is a great way to spend time with family and friends and to build community, which should be what life is all about.

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“Mysteries” of the garden

My cousin picked me up from work on Friday so we could check out the organic farmer’s market on scenic drive. It was a pretty small market, about 6 vendors outside Scenic Drive Convenience Store, at Scenic Drive and Upper Paradise Road. She’s trying to lose weight for a wedding in August by increasing her consumption of greens and veggies. She’s decided that heirloom vegetables are what she wants to eat. It was funny to note that she had no idea that I was using organic and heirloom seeds and plants in the backyard. She picked up some kale and greens from Japan (looked like bok choy and name begins with a K). I was happy to sample blueberry pie and apple strudel while she made her choices and I learned from one of the farmers that a plant I had picked on the trail near James street stairs was from the spirea family (he was selling some). I’m trying to see if I can root it for transplant.

Not long after we came home, the sky turned dark. Storm clouds rolled in and the rain started coming down sideways. I was disappointed. I’d planned to quickly plant another strawberry that I picked up at Urban Harvest on Wednesday, take stock of what was going on in the garden, and then head back to Toronto. About an hour, tops. It had been a long week of commuting after recovering from a cold that had kept me off work last Thursday and Friday and in bed for most of the weekend. I wanted to head home at a reasonable time so that I could relax and enjoy my weekend. However, I wasn’t prepared to travel home in a storm so resigned myself to staying the night. I was dying to see what was happening out there so when the rain let up, I went out to check things out.

Snail on the prowl

Snail on the prowl after the rain

The first thing that caught my eye was mysterious little sprouts all across my beds. And then I remembered that my cousin had warned me – “don’t blame me…” she had started. My uncle had decided before he went away for work again (he goes every other month for a month) that he would sprinkle down “mystery” seeds in every space that was unoccupied. This included walkways.

My uncle's "sprinkle" method inside the greenhouse

My uncle’s planting method inside the greenhouse. This is how I knew he was to blame for what I saw below…

"Mystery" seeds around my tomatoes!!!

“Mystery” seeds around my tomatoes!!! Argh!!!

Clearly he doesn’t understand square foot gardening method. And, as I mentioned, he likes to do things his own way. Well, so do I. I had planned to put some companion spicy salad greens and basil on every corner of the tomato plants (ie. 4 plants to one tomato plant) so I proceeded to do so. We’ll see whose seeds to better. Did I mention I was stubborn?

Some plants are doing quite well after about a week and a half. Others not so well.

Onions are doing well

Onions are coming along

Apparently I didn't need to worry about the zucchini

Apparently I didn’t need to worry about the zucchini. I’ll have to remove the smaller plant.

One of two pea plants coming up.

One of two pea plants coming up.

I was disappointed to find that neither the butternut squash nor the nasturtium had come up so I planted more seeds. Also, surprisingly, no borage! That stuff grows like mad. I planted a few more seeds near the strawberries. I also put down some spinach because I had seen in one of the companion planting charts that it was a good companion for strawberries.

This strawberry plant is larger than the first one I bought and has a small strawberry growing already.

This is the first strawberry plant I bought. It doesn’t seem to be doing much right now. The new plant I ot is larger and already has a small strawberry growing on it.

It’s a mystery why some plants do better than others. A combination of seed issues (eg. germination rates),  soil and weather conditions, water,  pests… Nevertheless, nature always finds a way to reproduce. I have a feel that although some things are coming along more slowly than I had expected, it will be a very productive garden. I also have a feeling that I’ll have to put in a lot more work than last year. Damn.

My uncle's okra are really coming along.

My uncle’s okra are really coming along. I wonder where he’s going to put them…

My uncle's section of the garden.

My uncle’s section of the garden.

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Fall on the horizon

Quickly ran by the garden before meeting up with a friend for dinner at Guu Sakabar. I had about 15 minutes to assess what was happening and  harvest whatever was ready for eating and for storing (ie. seeds).

The zucchini was putting out a few blossoms but not making any fruit. It’s starting to go down to  single digit temperatures overnight so I’d be surprised if any fruit actually produces. I hope more blossoms continue to bloom so I can try making a stuffed zucchini blossom recipe.

Blossoms only : (

The tomato plants continue their natural decline but I’m happy to say that energy is being put into ripening the fruit.

Fruit is still ripening

Parsley and dill are getting stronger. I’m not sure what the oblong-shaped leaf near the parsley and dill is. It doesn’t look like the collards near the back of the photo.

Parsley and dill

This chive flowers were closing up and starting to make seeds.

Chive seeds in the making

I was tempted to pick the buds but decided to leave them. A post on saving garlic chive seeds on the Garden web forum told me that, much like with other seeds, it was best to wait for the  seeds dry on the plant before picking them for storage. I wonder if they taste any good like this?

I’ve noticed for a while that the basil were going to seed and recently discovered that the  seed pods are actually underneath the flowers. I had to turn the plant upside down to find them.

Green seed pods under Dark Opal basil flowers

Basil seeds

I gently picked off the dried flowers and managed to separate some seeds from the pod.

Basil seeds

I’d soon run out of time so I quickly picked a few more dried basil, calendula and cornflower flower heads so I could remove the seeds at home.

Seeds and dried seed pods

Calendula and cornflower

Guu had an interesting atmosphere and the food was delicious. After dinner, we sat on the patio outside  Starbucks. I felt a little chilly in my short sleeved sweater. What was I thinking coming out without a jacket? Fall is just around the corner…

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Reminiscing…

It’s rainy and cool out there and forecasting more rain for the weekend. Feeling an ominous air of summer coming to a close and I haven’t made it to any Farmer’s Markets yet. Or the beach. Feeling reminiscent and as a result I’m thinking back on the successes and failures of the garden this season.

My favorite new addition this year was the collard greens. My sister really likes them so I bought seeds  especially for her. What a beautiful and tasty green! The stuff at my local grocery store is ginormous and tough while the collards in the garden were tender and non-mutant. The kale was pretty good too but the collards seem to do better. Kale is supposed to be better in the fall, and tastier after a light frost, while collard greens tolerate the heat better. We’ll see how they do in the fall planting.

Collard greens, with kale in the background

They make a lovely bouquet – collard greens and Rainbow kale

Even though I only got one measly piece of fruit from the plant and it took up a heck of a lot of space, I’m still glad I tried zucchini this year. I’m hoping there’s still time for the new plant to make more fruit before it starts to get too cold.

Zucchini and blossom

Like an Olympic flame

Prized zucchini blossom

Luuved the surprise of the multi-headed sunflowers this year. They are looking pretty atrocious in the garden right now as they are coming to the end of their life cycle. The cucumbers are pulling them down as well, but I can’t take them out until I can figure out another support for the cucumbers.

There are about 4 individual sunflowers here; to the left is the large multi-headed sunflower as seen below

Sunflowers in their glory

The cucumbers were probably the biggest surprise for me, in the sense that for the longest time my brother and I thought the plant wasn’t doing anything at all. Turns out all the fruit was hiding underneath its large leaves. What a joy to come across even a tiny cucumber!

Peekaboo!

Stick that in your pipe and smoke it!

I was probably the only one in my family that enjoyed the chives this year. My sister complained that they were bitter and tough, but I quite liked the taste. I like to sprinkle it onto my meals for a nice onion-y kick. Did I mention these are garlic chives?! I’d forgotten. Apparently they are much tastier than regular chives.

Garlic chives – snapping off pieces promotes new growth, much like deadheading

Garlic chives sending up flowers – blossoms are apparently very tasty!

I came to really appreciate basil this year, not only for its tastiness but also for its hardiness.  It did really well in the garden, probably better than anything else. And it’s still doing well!

Sweet and dark opal basil with parsley

Sweet and lemon basils

This exercise has totally cheered me up. Looking forward to some sun!

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