East Sac Edible


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October 2014 Harvest Tally

DSC_0279We always love October with the cooler temperatures and Halloween festivities. I haven’t been spending too much time in the garden lately so no garden pictures this time. However, I’ve included some of our Halloween decorations in this post. I painted the first pumpkin we grew and my husband carved bigger store-bought pumpkins. Also I made this super cute ghost garlands (traced from this free printable)!

DSC_0276My total poundage for October (2014) is 58.77 pounds.

My total poundage October (2013) was 43.61 pounds.

DSC_0277So far I have harvested 342 pounds this year. My one Trombetta squash plant that has given me a whopping 58 pounds of squash with many, many more to come. October’s harvest was mainly made up of Trombetta, tomatoes, basil, kale, peppers, pumpkins, a few runner beans and various herbs. I expect the harvest to slow down a bit now that we are in November.

Also a shot of our celebratory pumpkin…

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From Garden to Table: Soondubu Jjigae, Korean Soft Tofu Stew

I have lots of recipes but in general I stick to meals that are easy to throw together and can pack as many of our homegrown veggies in as possible. I have about 5 go to recipes that meet this criteria but was getting in a bit of a rut when I decided to look to the internets to give me inspiration. The other day I went out to Korean food with my parents. I don’t eat Korean food all that often so when I do, it’s a treat. I had a fantastic vegetarian bi bim bap at the restaurant but after we left I started thinking about soondubu jjigae. Soondubu is a kimchi soft tofu stew. It is served bubbling hot in its cooking vessel at restaurants. I just couldn’t get soondubu out of my head. Then I thought… I probably can make that myself. So I did.

And to my surprise, it was so easy AND you could throw any veggies you have in the garden into it. This might not be the most traditional of recipes but it worked for me.DSC_2943

I adapted this recipe from Chow and you can find their recipe here. Here is my adaptation:

Soondubu Jjigae (Kimchi Soft Tofu Stew)

  • 1 Tablespoon oil
  • 1 small onion diced
  • Salt
  • 2 teaspoons Korean chili paste (gochujang; This definitely makes it spicy so omit this if you can’t handle the heat!)
  • 1 medium zucchini, diced
  • Any other veggie you have in the garden!
  • 1 cup Nappa Cabbage Kimchi, roughly chopped
  • 2 cups vegetable broth (or any broth)
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1 (14-16 ounce) package soft tofu, drained
  • 2 large eggs (optional)
  • 3 scallions, chopped
  • Steamed white or brown rice for serving

DSC_2933First of all, you can basically throw anything into this pot so if you have veggies that you need to use up this is a great recipe to try. Second note, the kimchi I bought was pretty spicy on its own so I didn’t put any of the chili paste in. It was still delicious and just the right amount of heat. Adjust to your liking. Also the original recipe only calls for zucchini as the main veggie so if you do end up adding more vegetables to the dish, I recommend adding some extra broth for a more stew like consistency.DSC_2934

The veggies I grew in my garden that I decided to put in this dish were Trombetta di Albenga squash, Sweet Canary Bell Pepper, Hungarian Yellow Wax Pepper (for some reason these are supposed to be yellow but they are ripening as red… I saved these seeds from last year so maybe I mislabeled or they crossed!?), Orient long green beans and some Lacinato kale.

DSC_2938Heat the oil in a large saucepan with a lid on medium heat. Add onions and cook until softened about 5 minutes. Add salt. Add the chili paste, stir to combine, until fragrant about 1 minute. Add the zucchini and let cook for about 5 minutes if using Trombetta. This squash is harder than Black Beauty zucchini so I gave it a little more time in the pan. If you are using a softer zucchini just stir for about a minute. Add any other veggies at this time too.

DSC_2935DSC_2939Roughly chop the kimchi and add, stirring occasionally for about 2 minutes. The kimchi should start to simmer. Don’t forget to add in those kimchi juices!

DSC_2940Add the broth and the soy sauce and bring to a boil. Taste and season with salt if needed. Cook until veggies are almost done.

Using a large serving spoon, add the drained tofu in very large spoonfuls careful not to break into smaller pieces. Gently press down into the soup until covered. Cover with lid and simmer for another 3 minutes.

DSC_2941 Crack eggs into the simmering stew. Cover and simmer until whites are set (about 2 minutes). Dish the stew into bowls careful not to break the tofu or the egg yolks. Garnish with scallions and serve immediately with a side of rice.DSC_2942

This stew is hearty, healthy and perfect for fall. Enjoy!

DSC_2944Next on my ever-growing list to do is: grow Nappa cabbage (I already have seed!) and learn how to make kimchi!

 


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We are just on a break…

Finally some rain!

Finally some rain!

My garden and I have taken a little break from each other. After the hustle of the height of summer, I needed a little time away. The weather changed perfectly this week to provide some cozy time inside. Last week, we had our first “real” rain in longer than I can remember. You know you are in a real drought when you have a 16 month old and she has never seen rain fall from the sky before.

Deconstructed compost bins

Deconstructed compost bins

The new open air compost pile. It looks so nice because there is an obscene amount of coffee grounds thrown on top!

The new open air compost pile. It looks so nice because there is an obscene amount of coffee grounds thrown on top!

The garden seems to be happy with the rain. In Sacramento, the summer season really seems to extend quite a long time. Last year I was still harvesting tomatoes in November! This year I think I will take down the tomatoes earlier though to get my compost piles ready. Yesterday I pulled apart both compost bins and made one huge open air pile. I like doing this in the fall so that I can easily turn the pile and things seem to decompose much faster this way. Plus I don’t have room for all of my old summer plants in the bins so a huge open pile is the way to go.

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Synchronized Trombetta di Albenga squash!

Synchronized Trombetta di Albenga squash!

There is still plenty to harvest. Basil, peppers, squash, kale, and tomatoes are still coming in. I planted some fall seeds directly into the ground although I still have not fully committed to my fall garden yet. I am feeling a bit tired from gardening so I might take this season off just to plant cover crops, build up my compost piles and work on soil fertility. Sometimes the garden needs a break from me too.

Corn was replaced with some fall seeds

Corn was replaced with some fall seeds

Don’t worry though… I am sure we will reconcile after we both have our space.


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Day After the Tour Harvest

This morning I went into the garden to do some major harvesting. The week before the East Sac Edible Gardens Tour I slowed my harvesting so that visitors to my house would see what some of the vegetables looked like. This meant that I had an abundance of peppers, basil and squashes that were ready to be harvested this morning. Take a look at today’s haul! DSC_2878 DSC_2879 DSC_2880You are looking at about a pound of tomatoes, 2 pounds of basil, 8 pounds of peppers, and 3 and 1/2 pounds of Trombetta squash. Guess I will be busy today making pesto and pickled Jalapeños!

 


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A Great Day for Gardens and Charity: Edible Garden Tour

DSC_2835Despite the extremely hot weather yesterday, we had a great time hosting our garden as part of the Edible Garden Tour. Our garden was open from 10:00 am until 4:00 pm and we were the 5th house out of 6 on the tour. The day before there was a flurry of activity at my house to prepare. Each house on the tour was paired with a local business to embellish the gardens such as a florist, or garden shops. Our sponsored business is a store called Haus which is a home decor and gift shop. On Friday, their team brought over pumpkins and lanterns for an autumnal theme on the front porch. They also staged my back patio table with table settings and hung garden themed art along my side walkway. My most favorite addition was the Welcome to East Sacramento sign that they hung on my back fence.DSC_2839 DSC_2840DSC_2828 DSC_2830 DSC_2831 DSC_2832 DSC_2836 DSC_2838

The day before the tour I worked on some labels for my plants. I thought about how I wanted to label my plants for a long time and finally came up with a solution. Plant stake labels requires the viewer to crouch down low to read the label and I wanted labels to be closer to eye level if they could. I found these plain wooden tags at a craft store. Because I was unsure how the pen would hold up on the wood, I also got smaller tags on which to write the varieties of plants and then taped them together. These labels I hung from the plants. If plants were closer to ground level, I had a huge pack of leftover drip line stakes that I used to clothes pin my labels.

I tried to write the different varieties of plants on my labels because gardeners should know what varieties do well in the East Sac area. If they are looking at my squash and think it is doing great in our climate then they should also know the variety. Also I tried to give some information on the labels to inform my guests as to why I might be keeping a dying looking plant up in my landscape. For drying beans, I explained that I was saving seeds. I think the labels really added to the experience of the guests and brought their attention to plants that may be providing me food but currently had no evidence of food such as my Apple trees, blueberry bushes or pineapple guavas.
DSC_2827DSC_2842DSC_2874DSC_2870DSC_2871DSC_2873Also on Friday I set up a harvest table, displaying some of my harvest. I included some of the squashes that I have picked, onions, garlic, peppers dried from last year, seeds and some of my canned and pickled goods. The Monster Squash made an appearance on the table and was a hit with the guests!

DSC_2846We were up bright and early on Saturday morning (4:30 am!) to put the last finishing touches in the garden and sweep the pathways. The Soroptimist ladies arrived to set up their table, the Master Gardener came early to tour the garden so they would be able to answer guests’ questions and Bill, the trumpet player from Sacramento Symphonic Winds set up his area. DSC_2844 DSC_2875DSC_2845 DSC_2848

Hundreds of people walked through my garden yesterday and I had a great time talking to everyone. I met some neighbors who are also growing their own food and it is inspiring to hear what everyone else was trying in the neighborhood (one man I talked to said he was trying to grow saffron in East Sac!). I think I may have met some new best friends yesterday (ok ok… gardening best friends!).

Here were some common questions about my garden with links to posts:

If I talked to you during the tour and you are local, feel free to contact me for seed swaps, plants, cuttings, or harvest trades! I really enjoyed talking to everyone! Thanks for coming out and bearing the heat! It was a great day for gardeners and for charity too!

Also I got to sneak away for a little bit during the middle of the tour to check out two of the houses near me. I visited houses #4 and #6 on the tour and snapped a few pictures. Here are a few from Garden #4: Grandma’s Secret Cottage Garden.DSC_2854 DSC_2855 DSC_2856 DSC_2857 DSC_2858 DSC_2861 DSC_2862

And here are a few photos from Garden #6: The Whimsical Garden. This garden had a complete food forest growing in the front yard but I failed to take a picture.DSC_2852 DSC_2853Hope everyone is having a great weekend!

 

 


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My Garden Live: Good Day Sacramento

This morning my garden went live with Courtney Dempsey on Channel 31 to promote the Edible Garden Tour and water wise gardening. Good Day Sacramento is a live local morning program. The crew showed up around 8:45 am and left around 10:00 am all for 5 minutes of television! Susann of the Soroptimist International of Sacramento, which is putting on the Edible Garden Tour for charity, spoke to Courtney about some of my water wise garden techniques. Also my monster Trombetta Squash stole the show if I may say so myself. The Good Day team was really fun to work with and Courtney was really enthusiastic! At the very bottom of this post there is a link to the segment if you want to see the video for yourself.

Does this mean my garden is famous even if it only got 5 minutes of fame?

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Here is a link to the video: Edible Gardens « Good Day Sacramento.


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Monster Squash: Trombetta di Albenga

This year I decided to grow an heirloom climbing summer squash called Trombetta di Albenga. My friend grew it last summer and quickly sautéed it for dinner one night when I was at her house and it was delicious! The best part about this squash is that it is seedless and firm so it doesn’t get watery or mushy like Black Beauty zucchini.

I knew this was going to be a big plant and because my space is limited I decided to train the squash up the grounding cable to the power pole in my backyard. These cables are pretty ugly so why not cover them with a beautiful edible plant! So the other day I noticed that the squash vine wasn’t going up the cable anymore so I decided to help it out by clipping it back up. Well there was a good reason why it wasn’t growing upwards anymore because hidden behind the tomato plant I found this monster… DSC_2694

That’s right folks. Unbeknownst to me, this giant squash was quietly growing. I’m not sure the picture does it justice. This thing weighed in at 8 and a 1/2 pounds! It is 3 feet tall. This thing is the size of a toddler. DSC_2696 DSC_2697

You are supposed to pick the fruit when they are about 10 to 12 inches like this squash below. Even this one we have been trying to eat all week and I have been putting it in miso soup, and sautéing it with some olive oil and salt and pepper. I even sliced it thin to put on pizza. Even though we have been eating this one squash all week we still have about a fourth of the squash left! What is great is that the squash keeps well in the refrigerator and still hasn’t gone mushy on us at all. DSC_2626

This is what the plant looked like on June 6 when I transplanted it into the ground. I transplanted two just to be safe but only one survived the transplant. I dug a pretty sizable hole when I planted them and added lots of my compost into the hole upon planting. Squash are vigorous growers so rich compost is best for their growth.

DSC_1716This is what the plant looked like in mid July growing up the power cable. DSC_2180

Here is what it looked like in late July when some squash finally started to form. DSC_2534 DSC_2536And this is what the plant looks like today. There is one main branch climbing up the pole and two secondary branches going different directions onto the patio. The main branch actually has gone all the way to the back fence but fell down into the elderberry bush from the weight of the monster squash. I also interplanted some beans but they have yet to produce beans for me.DSC_2698 DSC_2699 DSC_2700 DSC_2702 DSC_2703In my opinion this squash is by far my most favorite. Even though this is a huge plant, the fact that it can climb is a huge plus in my small garden. You generally need a lot of room for squashes so this allows me to have my squash while still working in a small space. I planted some Black Beauty zucchini in the front yard as well but it only produced a few zucchini for me and then the plant completely fizzled in some of our hotter days of summer. I think next year I may forgo the Black Beauty and just plant more of the Trombetta!