Jun 252013
 

by Avis Licht

It’s two days after the Summer Solstice and the garden is coming into fruition. I am feeling so grateful to have a garden, to spend time in it, and to have so much wonderful food come out of it.  We also have  flowers everywhere, to bring color and joy. And to invite our friends the birds, butterflies and bees. It’s a regular gathering place for the multitudes. This unusual June rain is a gift beyond compare. Those of you in other parts may get summer rains. Maybe even too many.  But here in California a summer rain is what we call a gift from heaven. Thank you to the Powers that Be.

Here are some photos I took this morning in the rain.

We will have a bumper crop of apples this year.

We will have a bumper crop of apples this year.

 

Daylily

Daylily buds are edible and highly prized in Chinese cooking

 

Grapes

Thin the grapes early to make room for them to grow full size


Cherry Belle Radish

Radishes – Harvest early and often

Harvesting raspberries

In an unusual June rain, we adore picking raspberries.

Basil

Growing basil in pots is easy. In the ground sometimes basil gets eaten by earwigs and slugs. In the pots not so much.

Delicata squash

My seedlings of the squash have germinated beautifully and will start growing rapidly after this rain. The white flower is nicotiana, a fragrant night blooming flower.

Miniature rose

These roses have been blooming for months. After cutting them back a few weeks ago, they are starting all over again. I put these small roses all over the garden for beauty and delight. Rose petals are used in many culinary ways.

IMGP0058Variegated thyme

Variegated thyme provides a wonderful leaf contrast and I use it in cooking. I grow it near the strawberries as a companion plant.

Kale

Even though my kale has a few munching holes in it, it’s still great to eat. I don’t worry about a few pecks here and there.

Raspberries

Raspberries are easy to grow and I feel rich when we eat them. They’re expensive to buy, and cheap to grow! Watch out though, they like to spread themselves around the garden. Read about them in this post:

Squash blossom

Your plants will have many blossoms, and we often get way too many zuchinnis. So why not eat the blossoms? They’re delicious. Here are some ways to cook them: Squash blossom with ricotta.

Cucumber blossom

Once they start blossoming you can expect to get cucumbers soon and often. I plant 4 or 5 varieties, including lemon, Persian, Armenian,Thai and pickling. We love our cucumbers.

Blueberries starting to ripen

Given plenty of water, the blueberries are growing large and plump and we will harvest them over a long period of time. One of the best shrubs for the edible landscape. Read more on blueberries in this post.




Nov 012011
 
Butternut Squash

My rampant squash plants produced a good harvest of Butternut Squash

Winter squash, to be clear, is harvested in the winter, not planted in the winter. I have found that some people find this confusing. So now you know.  The best known varieties are Butternut, Acorn, Turban, and Banana. They are characterized by their hard skins as compared to summer squash like zucchini which have soft skins. You can store them in a cool place (about 55 deg) for most of the winter without problem. Unlike summer squash which will rot in a flash when you cannot bear to eat another zucchini dish.

Not only can you eat the meat of the squash, but also the seeds and the blossoms.

The easiest way to cook winter squash is to bake it in a 350 deg oven until soft.  Put a little salt and butter on it and eat it up.  But there are other ways too.

Buternut Squash

Harvested November 1, 2011

We love to eat butternut squash soup in the winter. It’s the perfect meal with a salad and a loaf of good bread. Here’s one of my favorite recipes for soup.  It’s so simple even my husband can make it.  And he has trouble boiling water.

 

Another great use for Squash: You can save the seeds from winter squash and dry them and roast them to eat.

Here’s a simple recipe for roasted pumpkin seeds, which works for all winter squash:

How to Roast Pumpkin Seeds

1.  Rinse pumpkin seeds under cold water and pick out the pulp and strings. (This is easiest just after you’ve removed the seeds from the pumpkin, before the pulp has dried.)

2.  Place the pumpkin seeds in a single layer on an oiled baking sheet, stirring to coat. If you prefer, omit the oil and coat with non-stick cooking spray.

3.  Sprinkle with salt and bake at 325 degrees F until toasted, about 25 minutes, checking and stirring after 10 minutes.

4.   Let cool and store in an air-tight container

You can also season them with sweet or savory spices like cinnamon or garlic salt. (Although not these two together, please.)

Squash blossom

Even in late Fall we can find squash blossoms to eat

Last but certainly not least you use squash blossoms  raw or cooked. Deep fried, in pizza, baked or in salads. Amaze and delight your friends by serving them something they’ve never seen before.

Here is a link to five fantastic recipes for using squash blossoms.

Give them a try.

 

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