Thursday, September 17, 2009

My New Favorite Tomato

I've fallen for this beautiful variety of tomato called Pineapple. It is a yellow beefsteak type that has delicate shades of red running through it. The bush loads itself with so many of this big beauties that it's a wonder it can hold itself up.

Had to show you the inside- how pretty each slice is. And the flavor? Absolutely delicious, mild and meaty. I'll be keeping the seeds from these for next year so I can have more than one plant. Although seriously , one may be all you need!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

My Pepper Plantation

This week has been a great week for harvesting our bumper crop of peppers at the community garden. The peppers are big and meaty and abundant!

Orange bell peppers, just starting to ripen.

These long thin peppers are super hot. They turn red when ripe, making it such a pretty plant.

A shorter hot pepper. This bush is so pretty with the varying shades of red.

The hunt for big ones.

Success! This one is a keeper!

These will ripen yellow.

Bull's Tongue, ripens red. A big beautiful stuffing or canning variety. A little bitter raw.

Sweet Cherry Peppers

The happy harvest ready to take home.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Chinese Red Noodle Bean

A new addition to my beans this year is the Chinese Red Noodle Bean from the Bakers Creek Seed catalog. They are really an interesting plant. For most of the summer they sat at the bottom or the trellis with only a couple inches growth.

Just at the moment I had given up on them they sprang to the top of the trellis and produced some interesting flowers .They either resemble an alien or an angel, not sure which.
Then, magically , the red beans appear, looking like a cascade of fireworks.

I picked one off and tried it right off the and it was good! (and almost a meal in itself.)
I gathered the longest ones and brought them inside. I knew I was going to blow the kids mind with these babies. What was their reaction? Nothing, nada, zilch- not even the usual eye roll.

Whatever, I'm a dork I know. But these are really cool beans.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Tennessee Spinning Gourds

Every spring my husband and I get into an argument about the gourds I'm planning to grow in the garden. He thinks gourds are utterly useless and take up too much valuable space that could be put to better use. I , on the other hand, keep expanding my selections of gourds each year and stick them wherever I find an empty spot. This year I've found a new favorite. The Tennessee Spinning Gourd, or Dancing Gourd as it is sometimes called.

The leaves are a brilliant shade of green and have a nice size and shape to them.

The gourd themselves are about two inches long with pretty green stripes.

The vine has neat fairy tale- like tendrils all over it that adds interest to this lovely vine.

Here is one that is just starting to form.

The gourd can be used as a top when turned over and spun on it's skinny end. They also are a nice size to paint and use as jewelry.

The little gourds are prolific. I have one plant growing out of a big pot in my kitchen garden and it already has about a dozen spinners on it.

As you can see I've totally flipped for this beauty!

I just can't stop taking pictures of it.

Even the dog likes it!

Monday, June 15, 2009

A Garden Visitor.....

Look what we found in the garden this morning!
A huge snapping turtle nestled in among the peppers.

At first we thought she dropped by for a bite to eat.

Upon closer inspection we found the real reason for her visit! A new egg to research!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Cup and Saucer Canterbury Bells

Campanula medium (Bellflower)
These are biennial. They flower the second year . A great lesson in garden patience!

These were on of the first flowers imported to America in colonial times. Thomas Jefferson kept them in his garden at Monticello. ( just some nerdy garden info for you.)

In this picture you can see how the bottom petals flair out to form a saucer.
My girls started these from seem last year. From a packet of seed we ended up with 3 big beautiful blooming plants this year.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

A Look At My Community Garden

I finally finished planting the plot I have in my community garden. It's been such a wet and cold spring here in the Chicago area, so planting days have been few and far between. A large plot is only $15 for the season. Sometimes it is a struggle to get over there, even though it's only 5 minutes away. But it is a wonderful place to meet gardening friends and de-stress for a while.

Here is a picture of the garden a couple weeks ago. It is marked out with sticks. We have to use the rototiller on our own , but it's really not too bad. The soil is lovely and rich, but parts are more full of clay then others.

This is how it looks today. Everything is planted but still very small.
This is my lettuce bed on the left. The middle is cayenne peppers, separated from the other peppers on the other side. Also some celeriac and kohlrabi. The row on the right is eggplant.

Here are my various gourds and pumpkins. I just started the trellis, haven't finished it yet. Last year my winter squash got hit hard by some sort of vine-boring worm. So I planted radishes around each hill to try and deter pests .

These are some neat markers some gardeners have a few rows down. Just thought I'd show them to you.

Here is a larger view. I'll have to look for those for next year.
More pictures to come when things really get going!

Thursday, May 28, 2009


One of my most vivid memories from childhood is eating rhubarb right from the rhubarb patch. My brothers and I loved to play in that rhubarb patch. The huge stalks became swords or wands, and the large leaves made perfect roofs for our forts.
I only have one little plant at my house. But it was important to me to introduce my girls to the taste of it. They balked at the idea of eating this weed-looking plant, I told them- "Whatever you do- don't eat the leaves- they are poisonous." Of course they were fascinated by rhubarb then.(suckers)
My favorite way to eat it is raw- I love the tartness of it. The girls will eat anything with massive amounts of sugar in it. Since I'm not good making pies, I love making this quick and easy crumble recipe. The girls are hooked now!
Rhubarb Crisp

2 1/2 cups quick cooking oats
2 1/2 cups brown sugar
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup butter, melted
9 cups chopped rhubarb
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 cups water
2 cups white sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease a 9x13 inch baking dish.
In a large bowl, mix together oats, brown sugar, flour and butter. Put half of the mixture into the bottom of the baking dish. Place rhubarb over top of mixture and sprinkle with cinnamon.
In a medium saucepan, cook water, sugar, cornstarch and vanilla over medium heat until thick; let cool slightly. Pour over rhubarb and sprinkle remaining oat and flour mixture on top. Bake in preheated oven for 30 to 35 minutes.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Memorial Day Poppy

In Flanders Fields
Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872-1918) Canadian Army

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Nature Study....Robins

A couple weeks ago we found a little surprise in our bushes. Actually it wasn't a surprise because we noticed the mother and father Robin working feverishly, building their nest.The eggs made my DD squeal with delight...and then a hundred questions followed, as only a five year old can dish out! When will they hatch? How do they get out of the egg? Will the eggshell hurt them? Why are they blue? We went to the library to do research .

The anticipation was overwhelming! Then yesterday, they started to emerge. More questions and concerns....What do they eat? Are they afraid to be left alone? When will their eyes open? When will they fly?

They are cute aren't they? We had a lot of fun learning all about Robins. It was a fun springtime activity!
Some of our research materials.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Hillbilly Cucumbers

The plants have been loving all the rain we've gotten this spring! The peas I planted on St. Patrick's Day have almost reached the top of their trellis. They have never grown that fast before.
Last week I planted some of the cucumbers from my seed shelf along the side fence. I use my daughter's old crib bottom as a trellis. I think it works so well, but it makes my yard look like a hillbilly's until the plants cover it up.

It's hard to see, but this is a Turk's Turban Squash I planted along with the cucumbers.

Here is a better view of the awful way the crib springs look. Maybe it's more socially acceptable now because of recycling!

Today my Iris bloomed for the first time!