Garden to Table – Summer Inspired!

Salads, salads and more salads! This is what immediately comes to mind when thinking of summer eating – it’s all about light, crisp and fresh.

Quick and simple is this refreshing looking Minty, Cucumber, Watermelon Salad

Looking for something unique and creative? Who doesn’t love ICE CREAM and what better places to get inspiration than from your garden. Strawberry, Lavender Ice Cream or Tarragon Ice. What about flower power mini cupcakes, Marigold Sipper or Minted Strawberries and White Wine.  These are only a few of the recipes listed by Better Homes and Gardens.

Eat are a few other suggestions from Eat Boutique including Honey Lemon Balm Spritzer and Tomato Basil Jam.

A great suggestion to deal with the zucchini sitting on your counter is to make it into pasta noodles.  You can do this with a vegetable grater or you can buy a vegetable spiraler at a local kitchen shop.  I often mix these with one of my garden inspired pestos, some tomatoes, and some capers or green pickled coriander seeds.  I just came across this recipe from Jenny Shea Rawn that I’m going to try out later this week!

Let’s not forget about everyone’s favourite either the sweet tomato.  From Oven Roasted Summer Tomatoes to something more simple like warming some cherry tomatoes up until they are soft enough to crush and then mixing with olive oil and fresh basil to be enjoyed with bread or crackers and a bit of goat cheese.

Essentially have fun and get creative with your garden ingredients you never know when you will discover your next family favourite this way.

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Yes, It’s Time to think about your fall Garden!

Right now you have pile of tomatoes, cucumbers and zucchini sitting on your kitchen counter that you are spending time every weekend preserving but I’m going to talk about something else to add to your list of garden chores in the midst of this busy harvesting month: The Fall Garden.  This is even more important this year with the warm weather we have been experiencing in Surrey.

This is where succession sowing is so important and time to start putting those cool season crops into the ground if you are growing from seed.  From peas and lettuce to kale, brussels sprouts and arugula there are endless possibilities.  Don’t forget overwintering varieties and what types of garlic you would like for next summer to order soon for September or October arrival at your door.

Here is a great resource from West Coast Seeds which includes there 2014 fall and winter planting guide (the 2015 guide should be out soon).

In order to determine what to plant when you need to know roughly when the first frost date in your area is and work backwards from there with crops suggested days to maturity.  Modern Farmer has some other helpful tips about sowing your fall garden including suggestions of starting the seeds indoors or in a shady area of the garden until the ‘true leaves’ appear.

Trying to decide what pea varieties to grow in for the fall – think varieties that you can preserve for the winter according to A Way to Garden.  As well consider growing crops that may not have time to mature in a fall garden to use as shoots or micro greens instead of for the mature plant.

Preserving the harvest!

Now is the time to start thinking about how you are going to use up all your garden goodies.  A little advanced planning allows you to ensure you have all the tools and supplies you need so there is no last minute panic as you seek to stretch out the window you can enjoy your harvest into the late fall and winter.  This can be by drying, freezing, canning, pickling or even using some in your beauty routines.

There are many resources out there from books to google that can give you unlimited creative ideas. A few such resources I have come across include all the books by Gayla Trail. Her books, and information on her website are specifically towards urbsn small space gardeners. This is where I discovered garlic scapes, borage, lemon balm, nasturiums and whst to do with corriander seeds, hibiscus punch, herbals salts, chive blossom vinegar and much more and were the first gardening books I bought.

Since then I always have at least one ice cube tray in my freezer full of pesto (this make grest single use portions that can be tossed on top of some pasta while still hot to melt). Garlic Scape Pesto and Lemon Balm Pesto are two of my favourites but I’ve also made regular basil pesto, beet green pesto and have heard of oregano pesto but have never made this one.

Then I was introduced to the book Power Plants by Frankie Flowers and Bryce Wylde. This lead me to make my own oreagano oil, rosemary tea, and toner using thyme from the garden and witchhazel. My kitchen and bathroom are now full of jars and contianers containing these types of garden projects. I also have the urge to grow wheatgrass but havnet gotten to it yet.

Another great resource is to subscribe to the newsletter or podcast of A way to Garden. So much great info and interviews with garden experts that you may not have heard of before.

A few recipies I’ve had Success with!

Crisp Pickled Green Beans

Sweet and Spicy, Honey, Zucchini Relish

Preserving & Canning Books

Canning for a New Generation

Food in Jars – Preserving in small batches year round

Garden Critters – Friend or Foe?

Bugs, bugs and more bugs!  I’ve been noticing more and more critters of sorts in my garden and have been trying to do some research to see if I should be worried when I spot a new one.   So far I have spotted what I have narrowed down to a couple of green potato bugs (I don’t grow potatoes so not overly worried about this yet) on my chives and cucumber beetles (I’ll be planting my cucumber plants in the next week or so) mating in my wildflowers.   As an organic garden us members at the Cedar Grove Organic garden do our best to keep our in balance so a few pests are okay as long as you have other predatory insects to take care of this pesky pests without your plot being overrun.

Each time I see one of these critters I take a picture to bring him so I can try and figure out what it is so I can decided what to do from there.   In addition to the critters mentioned above I also had aphids in my garden on some kale plants last year put they were pulled and I haven’t seen any yet this year.

Green Potato Bugs – From what I have been able to determine green beans planted near your potatoes can act as a deterrent as well as add nitrogen to the soil to produce nice big healthy potatoes.  I’ve also read in several places that marigolds and others like yarrow, parsley and basil that attract predatory insects that will eat the green potato bugs. Once you spot these critters manually removing them is best but also remember if you are trying to keep your garden balanced the other beneficials that eat these may not stay if they don’t have a food source so it is best not to get rid of all of them.  Potato’s Best Buddies: Companion Plants for Potatoes

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Cucumber Beetles – Tend to emerge in mid-spring and will also eat your squash, and melon plants.  Row covers are one way to keep them away (as they can spread disease from one plant to another once established), otherwise similar to potato bugs you can grow plants such as tansy, nasturtiums, broccoli, radish, the article in the following link also suggests putting onion skins among your cucumber plants.  Lacewings and lady bugs like eating their larve.  Cucumber Beetle Control

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Aphids – I’ve had these both on my peppers on my patio as well as on a kale plant in my garden plant.  They multiple so often that if you don’t do regular checks of your plants it is easy for them to get out of control.   Everywhere I have read says the best method for control is to simply handpick them or wipe them off your plant with a soft cloth.  Ladybugs in your garden will help keep these under control so it’s best to plant make your garden lady bug friendly – I’ve going to take the fact that I see a couple of ladybugs every time I go to the garden as a good sign. If hand picking does’t seem to control them then it may be best to pull the infested plant out; remember you will need to check the plant daily once you see the first aphids.  Aphids, and How to get Rid of Them

Ladybugs – who does’t love these colourful critters.  Two main ways to attract lady bugs is to plant lots of flowers to attract them and to make sure you have the right bugs in your garden for them to eat.  Some suggested flowers include Chives, Cilantro, Calendula, Cosmos, Dill, Marigolds and Yarrow.  Don’t forget to make sure they have a water source. Attracting Ladybugs

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Bees & Wasps – it is best to plant native plants and heirlooms to attract bees and wasps as hybrids are often sterile and therefore of no use to pollinators. They like blue, violet, yellow and white flowers and would require a constant source so it is best to plan your garden to have early spring blooms through until late fall.  And like lady bugs they need a bee bath and water source, and don’t do well with insecticides.  Create a Bee-Friendly garden

Ground Beetles – these insects dine on slugs, asparagus beetles, corn ear worms and much more so they are considered a friend in the garden.  Provide a place for ground beetles to call home with flat stones or boards, or mulched perennial plants.  Once again do not use pesticides as ground beetles are highly sensitive to them – which aren’t allowed at Cedar Grove Organic Garden. You can also find ground beetles in or near rotting logs and move them for release into your garden but first make sure you create a friendly space for them.  Ground Beetles are Helpful Garden Insects

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