Monthly Archives: July 2015

In the Garden, Week 9


Well, this week in the garden didn’t go quite as I’d planned. My plan had been to actually go to our community garden plot and pick raspberries at least twice. That didn’t happen. My plan had also been to show the garden to our niece, who was visiting from Washington State. That didn’t happen either. But we still had a great week swimming, visiting museums, going to Minnehaha Falls, and checking out the air show in Oshkosh.

Fortunately, my plants survived without my help, thanks in large part to the mild temperatures and the rain that fell on Friday morning. But it was pretty darn hot over the weekend and we returned to some wilting flower boxes on Sunday evening. We watered everything at home and then headed to the garden plot to weed, pick raspberries, fix the toppled tomato cage, and harvest a few Hungarian wax peppers and cucumbers. I’m going back to pick more peppers tonight because I can’t wait to try out this recipe for pepperoncini. My boys love pickled banana peppers on pizza, sandwiches, and salads.

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The tomatoes are coming along nicely and I think we could pick a beet or two, as they look like they are about the right size. I’ll definitely be making some pickled beets, because we have two rows of these beauties (Now I’m wishing I had planted a row of green beans!). The good news is that I found a couple of blossoms on the eggplant, so there may be hope for those after all.

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After all my fretting about getting to those raspberries, there weren’t many on the ground and there were only a small amount to pick. But the canes are covered with white berries and blossoms, so we are going to be making jam soon. I can’t wait! Then, check out these honeycrisp apples in our backyard! We planted the tree last spring and Brian has done an awesome job of pruning it into an espalier along the back corner of the house. Last fall we had two beautiful, delicious apples, and this year I count nine (if we can keep the squirrels at bay). I’ll keep you posted and include more photos of the espalier and apples as they ripen. Until then, I hope your garden is growing like crazy!

For more garden ideas, check out The Nitty Gritty Gardening Book, available through Amazon, Millbrook Press, and Mother Earth Gardens.

In the Garden, Week 8


Week 8…Can it possibly be week 8 already? I’m trying not to think about how fleeting the bright, sunny days of summer are in these parts. Instead I’ll focus on this: All of the summer perennials are in full splendor, blooming like crazy in my yard right now, and we’re spending the pleasant evenings on the patio, soaking it all in.

The community gardening plot is humming with activity as well. This week we picked Swiss Chard, Hungarian Yellow Wax Peppers, and a few batches of raspberries. In fact my youngest walked the dog over to the garden one morning and picked handfuls of berries, but forgot a container to carry them home in. He arrived with a juicy handful of the smooshed berries that survived the four-block walk, covered in the sticky red juice of those that didn’t make it. I missed his arrival, and sadly, no photos were taken. 😦



Not ready yet, but well underway are cucumbers, beets, carrots, tomatoes, and peppers. My oldest has taken charge of the beet and carrot crops, and has thinned them diligently. We enjoyed greens from the beets that didn’t make the cut in a salad on Thursday, so all was not lost. Not sure what’s happening with the Brussels sprouts and eggplant, but it doesn’t look promising. The plants look healthy enough, but I see no signs of blossoms yet. Soon, I hope!


Until next week, satisfy your urge for gardening updates by paging through The Nitty Gritty Gardening Book. Here’s a new crop of newspaper pots with calendula seedlings, created by my boys at the book launch party on July 8 at Mother Earth Gardens. Almost ready to put in the ground!


In the Garden, Weeks 6 and 7


Well, we’ve arrived! It’s high summer in Minnesota, and that means my garden is the most colorful it’ll be all year. And I’m trying to savor every last moment, beginning with this photo of the garden on the south side of my house. Pictures really don’t do it justice, especially since the wall to the right of the brown eyed susans is festooned with trumpet vine blooms. And to think that a couple of years ago, this spot was overgrown with purple phlox.

The flowers are fantastic, but what’s even more exciting is that we’re slowly stepping into that heavenly time of year when we begin eating our own homegrown produce! Last week I harvested lots of basil and made two batches of yummy pesto. If you’ve never made your own pesto, I recommend giving it a try. It’s so easy and you can use it to flavor pasta, pizzas, or sandwiches. My recipe is based on the pesto included in the first Moosewood Cookbook, only I add a handful of fresh parsley and the juice of one lemon. Check it out below.


We’ve also begun to harvest raspberries from our community garden plot, so you can expect to see some raspberry jam in an upcoming post. My big berry success story this year, though, is the blueberries. There aren’t enough to make jam or even blueberry pancakes, but every day over the past week I’ve picked 2 or 3 or 4 of these beautiful, deep purple gems and popped them in my mouth (of course I’ve shared some with the boys). After having two blueberry bushes for several years with no fruit, we finally dug them up and planted them in a pot with lots of acidic soil ( I think we added coconut husk matter, if memory serves) and then sunk that pot in the garden. Now when we enrich the soil with coffee grounds or other acidic treatments, the acidity doesn’t dissipate into the surrounding soil. It seems to be making a difference because the bush is loaded with berries. Here’s one day’s harvest, enjoyed immediately after I snapped this photo. FullSizeRender

My oldest harvested our first cabbage this week and we promptly cut it up and made the freshest, most delicious coleslaw ever. It was perfect with his birthday dinner of  turkey Sloppy Joes and fruit salad. This boy can eat two Sloppy Joes and a healthy serving of coleslaw in one sitting, I kid you not.


Needless to say it was a great couple of weeks in the garden. I’ll leave you with my favorite pesto recipe and a photo of these beautiful lilies from my friend, Jenny. She calls them Kathy lilies, in honor of her mom. I love them!


Favorite Pesto

3 cups fresh basil leaves, packed

1 bunch fresh parsley

3 large cloves garlic

1/3 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted

1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese

juice of one lemon salt and pepper to taste

1/3 cup olive oil

Place all ingredients except the olive oil in a food processor and grind until well chopped. Scrape down sides of the food processor bowl and slowly add olive oil, mixing until combined. Enjoy! FullSizeRender

For more fun garden projects, check out The Nitty Gritty Gardening Book, available through Amazon, Millbrook Press, and fine garden shops. Thanks to all Nitty Gritty Gardeners who came to our book launch party at Mother Earth Gardens this past week! It was so much fun to celebrate with you!