Getting into the Garden – Again

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My three weeks wandering across parts of the Western US is over and I can spend the next several weeks at home, recharging my personal batteries, prepping the garden for spring, investing in some needed family time and possibly brewing a new batch of beer – the beer doesn’t have anything to do with my gardening but it is one of my many vices/hobbies.

Sunday I pulled up a bunch of the purple carrots. My soil is still a bit heavy in one of the newer beds for best carrot growth. They tend to be short, stubby and prone to many forks in the root. Some of the deformations are pretty comical but it doesn’t seem to impact the taste at all! I usually cook them unpeeled….the skin is purple but the meat is carrot orange. When sliced cross cut, the carrot bits have that nice purple edge and the usual common carrot interior color. Adds nice color to the plate.

Freshly picked and rinsed off - interesting, eh?

Freshly picked and rinsed off – interesting, eh?

Oh yes....colorful carrots.

Oh yes….colorful carrots.

I have strawberries in all phases of development. In fact several appear to be showing signs of turning red. I shouldn’t be too surprised; two years ago I picked a beautifully red, heart shaped strawberry on Valentine’s Day – how appropriate! I may be able to share a few with my wife on or around Valentine’s Day. Fingers crossed for just enough rain but not too much – too much rain tends to mute the strawberry flavor – dry conditions seem to concentrate the sweetness.

Strawberry in the tower beginning to ripen!

Strawberry in the tower beginning to ripen!

I fired up the leaf vacuum and added close top another cubic yard of leaf litter to my compost bin. I have seen a few locations in the neighborhood where I can go out and round up another few loads to top off the bins. I will be adding some as mulch in the next few weeks to help keep the dad-burn weeds at bay!

Tonight I brought some of the colorful and yummy carrots into tonight’s menu. I cooked up a couple of Speckled Trout filets that the boys had caught a short while ago. I sautéed the carrots in a little butter and let them steam, no added sugar, they were sweet just as picked. The fish was simply prepared, fresh home squeezed lemon juice, a little olive oil, salt & pepper, a pat of butter then sealed up in foil and placed over medium heat on the grill. The rice was an experiment in a pouch – a lime flavored microwavable pouch – it was very limey and will probably not grace our table again. The fish was awesome, of course, and the carrots were like candy. Kathy had one of my home-brewed Pumpkin Ales and I tried a Breckenridge Brewery “After Rackin’ Autumn Ale” – after we swapped…..the Autumn Ale  – not too hoppy for her but the roasted malts imparted a bit of coffee and chocolate notes…..the coffee notes are not her thing.

My plate - Speckled Trout filet, my carrots and the limey rice.

My plate – Speckled Trout filet, my carrots and the limey rice.

Lettuce and Swiss Chard will be featured for tomorrow’s meal…….fresh from the garden.

A view down my newest bed...redone a year ago.Lettuce, Chard, cabbage, peas, carrots, brussel sprouts, turnips, garlic and a few beets.

A view down my newest bed…redone a year ago.Lettuce, Chard, cabbage, peas, carrots, brussel sprouts, turnips, garlic and a few beets.




Too many green Beans!

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Too many green beans.

I returned home to my garden, my refuge, my place of calm and inner peace after two weeks in California. My wife took very good care of the veggies and berries in my absence, save for the green beans. The beans went wild.

I had planted poles in such a way as to lean forward from the fence to the front of the raised bed. I had hoped it would make picking a lot easier. In theory it looked like a success in the days before I left. I had lots of blossoms, a good number of early beans and many more on the way. In my absence the growing conditions must have been ideal. The vines hit the end of the 7  foot poles and still wanted to reach for the sky. The result was a mass of twisting and twining vines that drug the support poles down and snapped several off.

I picked a load of beans my first day back, had tons that went well beyond the stage to eat or can. I also had some bush beans planted in the area. They too were loaded. I have more beans than I can possibly eat fresh. I hope my worms can process large tough bean pods.

 I was thinking back to what my gardening friend Jane had told me about fresh green beans…….she got $8.00 per pound for them. I probably had 8-10 pounds, excluding those that were no longer tender eating size. I can see how a market grower could have a great cash crop with beans…….as long as they manage them well.

So, why the picture of my son Joe holding a nice fresh caught Speckled Trout? Last night I grilled the trout after marinating in a mixture of olive oil, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, fish rub with garlic and some sea salt. We had the grilled filets with my wonderfull fresh green beans and broccoli. A simple yet an elegant meal. I paired my meal with the Imperial Stout Ale I recently brewed.. I was joined for dinner by my daughter Lisa. We had a nice visit and spent the evening watching the Mavericks put the Lakers into a deep hole. Kathy was off to New York City and Joe won’t eat what he catches.

I am planning a new technique for a bean tower. Last year I made a teepee structure and it worked well. So, why mess with success? I guess I have a need to know firsthand what doesn’t work so well! Hmmmmmmm, what can I come up with next? Maybe I need to consider the concept of “design of experiments” and use a control to test against…..the teepee? No that would take the fun of failure away!

TTFN Folks


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