A Lucky Find

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I love farmers’ markets. There’s just something about heading out early on a Saturday (ok, midmorning on a Saturday) to walk around and look at all of the produce and products available in the different stalls. I think the trip is really half the fun!

There are many reasons to support your local farmers’ market. For one thing, just think of the convenience – it’s nearby, and you have experts on hand to help you with any questions you might have. After all, who could possibly tell you more about available produce than the very people who grow it? The stalls are run by individual farmers or farming families, and they are all happy to help you select items, tell you how to prepare fruits and veggies that you may be unfamiliar with, or suggest food pairings.

Take this rope of hot peppers, for instance. It caught my eye at the farmers market with the gorgeous red color and shiny skins of the dried peppers. Just looking at it lying on a table, I didn’t really know what to do with it, but fortunately there was a farmer on hand to help me out! She showed me that there is loop at one end so that you can hang the peppers up in your kitchen, then you just pull the peppers off from the bottom as you need them. Not only do the peppers look beautiful hanging in a garland in your kitchen, but she said they also bring good luck to the kitchen where they hang.

So far, these peppers have been great in tomato sauce for pasta and pizza and for flavoring beans. I can’t wait to see what other uses I can come up with for them!

Pretty, delicious, and lucky? This peppers were a deal that I couldn’t refuse!

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Summer Harvest: Corn

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Summer Harvest: Corn

Here is the first harvest of corn from the garden! This variety is a sweet corn called Silver Queen. I like it because, while it is sweet and delicious, it does not have the overly sweet taste that some newer varieties such as Incredible have. I tried some Incredible from the farmers’ market recently and I didn’t like it at all. I don’t want my corn to taste like someone dumped a cup of sugar into the pan!

Do you have any favorite varieties?

Onion Harvest

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Onion Harvest

The traditional date to harvest your onions is the fourth of July. Since it was raining so much, we were a few days late getting it done. We fortunately did manage to get them pulled close to that date, though, so now we have our little crop of onions drying out in the garden house. We usually don’t have much luck with onions, so for us, these are pretty good and big!

How Does Your Garden Grow?

With lettuce leaves, and onion sprouts, and potted herbs all in a row!

That’s right, the garden is starting to go in! It’s very exciting. We started some lettuce from seed a couple of weeks ago, but clearly it is still tiny little leafy sprouts. Therefore, we set out a few lettuce plants as well, so that we can start eating it soon! We chose some red lettuce for our bigger plants.

ImageThey look a little wilted and squashed now, but they will perk right back up in no time. I’m sure the rain that has been coming down all afternoon will help!

The pieces of wood are sort of a gardening secret, but more just a sign of bad cat behavior (or, I guess really just normal cat behavior). It keeps them out of the boxes. They, of course, think this soil that we have worked up to be nice and soft is just for them. I am sure you can figure out why they like it and the reason we don’t want them in there!

We also put out our little baby onions. They look adorable sticking up out of the dirt! Hopefully they will become big onions this year instead of just the slightly larger onions we often end up with. We certainly put enough mushroom compost and home-made compost in there! Surely they will be happy and swiftly-growing little onions!

ImageThen of course we have the ever-crucial herbs! Food is always better with fresh herbs, so we make sure to have plenty!

ImageHere we have parsley, sage, thyme, tarragon, and basil. Also a couple of Don Juan climbing roses, which we will set out in the ground once we decide where to put them! The thyme and sage plants lived through the winter sheltered somewhat from the elements in the garden house.

ImageThe thyme did the best. It kept all of its growth from last summer and looks downright bountiful and artistic! You can see the parsley peeking up behind it, and the rather bedraggled looking sage to the right.

ImageHere’s the French tarragon. You can see the new plant we put in at the top, and at the bottom there is a tiny sprout of the old plant coming back. I want to be sure there’s plenty. Bearnaise sauce is completely necessary to put on steaks in the summer!

ImageLast, but certainly not least, is the basil! We use it more than anything else. I could eat pasta made from fresh tomatoes and basil every day! It’s also great for making pesto, which you can eat fresh or freeze to use in the winter. Pesto is great as an ingredient or to just eat as an hors d’oeuvres on toasted bread.

As much as I love nice spring weather, setting out all of the vegetables and herbs really gets me impatient for them to start producing lots of delicious food!