Friday, August 28, 2015

Seed to Table Series-Parsley



Welcome to our Summer Series,
Seed to Table.
Every Friday, we'll explore a different crop
that you can grow in your own garden.
Whether you're in mid-harvest, already looking ahead to your fall garden,
 or just thinking about growing your own,
we hope this series inspires you.
We'll begin with planting from seed or seedling,
and end up with a scratch recipe.  

************



Late summer/early fall is the perfect time to plant parsley.
It enjoys the abundant sunshine
without the extremes in heat and humidity.



This crop is easy to direct sow,
whether it is grown in containers or in the ground.
It also transplants well,
so getting a good many started indoors will ensure you have all you can use.
This member of the carrot family
is rich in Vitamins A, C, K, folic acid and potassium.
The flat-leafed Italian variety has been used medicinally through the years
as a digestive aid and antispasmodic.



Seeds can be planted 1/4 inch deep and once established,
 enjoy a bit of room to grow, about a foot apart. 
By the second year, it may grow to upwards of 3 feet.
Here they are grown in containers.




 After reaching maturity in anywhere from 60-80 days,
the sprigs can be cut at the base of the plant.
The fragrance is intoxicating!
This taste of freshness can be added to everything
from breads, to eggs, to soups and salads.
The plants will continue to produce for years,
and can be kept indoors if winters are extremely harsh.




An added bonus of growing this plant
is the ability to host a variety of caterpillars in the warmer months.
Not to worry, these aren't the kind that eat your vegetable crops.
The black swallowtail makes its home on parsley,
where it remains throughout its life cylce.
The butterfly lays its eggs there,
and the caterpillars come out and eat away!

 

Within a couple of weeks, they enclose themselves
in a chrysalis, where they remain from 10-14 days.




They emerge from their sleep, 
transformed into this amazing creature.
Eggs are laid and the whole cycle starts all over.
We've been sure to have enough parsley plants
so that we are graced with many of these fantastic critters.
That way, there's some for them and us!

Here's one way we savor the parsley
that the caterpillars haven't gotten to!


 
Jacque's Ragout of White Beans

1 lb.  white beans
1 1/2 t salt
1 T olive oil
1 1/2 C chopped onion
5 sliced garlic cloves
2 t minced thyme
2 T chopped parsley 

In a large pot, combine beans with 6 C cold water and salt. 
Bring to a boil and simmer gently partially covered.
After 1 hour, check beans for tenderness.

While beans are simmering, sautee onions
and garlic in olive oil
with thyme and parsley for 10 minutes.
Add onion mixture to beans and cook 10 minutes more.
To thicken, puree 1 C of beans with hand blender
or in a blender or food processor.
Add more salt to taste, if needed.
Makes 4-6 servings.
Enjoy!

 



Lemongrass
Leek



Our Simple Homestead Blog Hop

Simple Saturdays Blog Hop

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

The Maple Hill Hop 95




Maple Hill Hop


Welcome to 
The Maple Hill Hop.
This is a hop for folks who love the outdoors.
Feel free to post about anything that's going on
OUTSIDE
in your neck of the woods,
no matter the season.
(Please share only outdoor posts.)
*Grab the button above to link back to Maple Hill 101.*


 We have been inundated!


 Our passionflower vine has gone plum crazy!
With the onset of summer rains,
it has increased in size many times over.
I'd love to prune it back,
but there's one minor problem.



Mother Nature's blessings are taking care of it for us.
These little guys are doing their best to keep up with the growth. 
Not wanting to disturb them, 
it's best to just leave them to their work.


 They are working in droves to get the job done,
and leaving our poor specimen looking bedraggled.
This is by far the most gulf fritillary caterpillars 
we've ever hosted.
We are definitely outnumbered!
We continue to give them away on Craig's List,
so that others can learn about these fascinating critters.
Last week, a teacher came by to collect quite a few
so that he could peak his students' curiosity.


Fortunately, we are also able to enjoy
many beautiful blooms.



They are hanging outside of our back porch by the dozens.
It's a regular caterpillar condo up there.


 Each morning, we check to see 
who is ready to come out of their chrysalis
and enjoy the wonderful life ahead of them.

Opened just this morning!


 Even the tree frogs are having to share the space.



With probably at least another month of "summer" here,
we are sure to be able to delight in their company
until the cooler weather sets in.
Then the bush will be cut back severely,
knowing it will bounce right back for next season's visitors.
It's a wondrous sight to see our backyard
filled with streaks of bright flaming flyers.
They truly help me get through the heat of the summer.



What's happening where you are?
HOP to it!


    


Friday, August 21, 2015

Seed to Table Series-Leek



Welcome to our Summer Series,
Seed to Table.
Every Friday, we'll explore a different crop
that you can grow in your own garden.
Whether you're in mid-harvest, already looking ahead to your fall garden,
 or just thinking about growing your own,
we hope this series inspires you.
We'll begin with planting from seed or seedling,
and end up with a scratch recipe. 

************

 

Leeks are a lovely addition to any food garden.
A member of the onion family,
they are much milder than table onions or scallions,
and add a delicate flavor to most dishes.




Leeks are easy to sow from seed.
They require a long growing period,
(anywhere from 70 to 120 days
depending on the variety),
so starting seeds indoors in most areas of the country is recommended.



Once they get going,
there's no stopping them.
They can be transplanted in the ground
or into outdoor pots as soon as temperatures warm up.


  
The plants are usually spaced about 6 inches apart,
but at Faye and Lynn's container farm,
they are grown three to the pot
with much sucess.
The benefit with growing in pots
is that the leek can be "hilled" a couple of times,
thus creating the much desired white portion of the stalk.
Once harvested, most of the plant can be used.
If I'm not using it right away,
I chop it up and place it in the freezer,
where they'll keep for months.
Just be sure to thoroughly rinse the stalks in water,
as soil or sand can become lodged between the layers.

 

 Leeks can be grown almost year-round.
They prefer the cooler temperatures,
but will do just fine into early spring
and right through the winter.
The advantage with growing during these times
is that there are less pests to worry about.
In fact, leeks have very few pest problems.

 

 Although they take their time growing,
you'll be rewarded with the most tender
and succulent gift from your garden.
After all, some things are worth the
wait!

 

Magic Mineral Broth (modified)
 4 unpeeled carrots, cut in large chunks
2 unpeeled potatoes, cut in large chunks
1/2 C leeks, greens & whites, sliced
2 big cloves garlic, peeled but left whole
1/2 C parsley
2 t salt
1 bay leaf

Place ingredients in large stock pot and fill halfway with water.
Bring to the boil, then turn down to a simmer
and cook for at least two hours.
Strain over sieve or cheesecloth.
Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

The Maple Hill Hop 94


Maple Hill Hop


Welcome to 
The Maple Hill Hop.
This is a hop for folks who love the outdoors.
Feel free to post about anything that's going on
OUTSIDE
in your neck of the woods,
no matter the season.
(Please share only outdoor posts.)
*Grab the button above to link back to Maple Hill 101.* 


beautyberry

In the full throes of a sizzling summer,
we wanted to share some of our colorful blooms.
The birds will be savoring these tidbits as they ripen to a gorgeous deep purple hue.




I'm not sure what these are officially called,
but I call them "Faye's sunflowers" since she provided me with the seed.
They've been sprouting up in a few different spots
and I often cut them to bring inside.
So cheery!



A morning glory that has not yet opened
is a thing of beauty.
It's absolutely magical the way it unwinds itself
and displays a brilliant blue center.




Summer just wouldn't be the same without the classic
black-eyed susans.
The more of these that pop up, the more I want to grow.




The passionflower is seriously overgrown
and overrun with gulf fritillary caterpillars.
The amazing blossoms are a spectacular sight.



I'm sorry to say that the garden has been neglected lately,
as I'm dealing with some health issues
and can't bring myself to get out there to keep things maintained.
The native red salvia has just about taken over the butterfly box.
You might be able to spy the gulf fritillary on the passionflower
in the upper right-hand corner of this shot.
(You can click on any photo to enlarge it.)



The porterweed in the front bed is happier than I've ever seen it.
The bumblebees have been relishing the nectar daily.
It also attracts a variety of butterflies
and other pollinators.






Another butterfly magnet, lantana,
gives us color all summer long,
regardless of the scorching temperatures.



Zinnias are a summer staple 
and never cease to leave me in a state of awe.



Hey, lil' guy.
Looks like you're lovin' the heat!

What's blooming where you are?
HOP on!