Saturday, May 28, 2011

Pumpkin Blossoms are Good Eatin

I have let a bunch of pumpkins over grown the garden again.  I'm allowing it, not because I expect to get great pumpkins.  I'm allowing it because the pumpkin vines are great squash bug traps and I am eating the pumpkin blossoms. 

The pumpkin leaves seem to confuse the squash bugs.  They are mostly laying their eggs on top of the leaves instead of safely underneath.  I've just been cutting off the infested leaves and throwing them in fire pit to be burned.  One clutch of eggs did hatch.  I just lifted up the big leave and sprayed them all down with soapy water.  They were very dead very quick.  I'm hoping this activity will give my actual squash plants a fighting chance. 

I remember making fried squash blossoms last year and they were yummy.  Because of the diagnosis of MODY 2 diabetes, I have been on a very strict ADA diet for the past nine weeks.  I decided to try to fry the pumpkin blossoms with beaten egg whites instead of breading them.  The results tasted good, but were far to greasy.  I may make them with breading for Manly and the Monkeys, but I'll keep out of it myself. 

A better alternative for me was pumpkin blossom soup.  Just chicken stock, chopped up pumpkin blossoms and a little lemon juice.  Easy peazy.  I will put the soup through the food processor next time to smooth it out.  The texture of the blossoms was a little too spiky. 

Today I made a Noonday onion, pumpkin blossom, pepper, cheese and bacon frittata.  It was extra yummy.  The pepper and blossoms were from my garden, the eggs were from local chickens and the onions from Noonday, Texas.  The only things not local were the bacon and cheese.  I think I can find local sources for those for next time :)

Anybody else eating out of the garden yet?

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Terrific Tomatoes

I'm having a wonderful year in regards to tomatoes.  In past years, they have been hit or miss because of the weather and rainfall.  This year, I switched the back half of the vegetable/flower garden to three large raised beds and two smaller side raised beds.  One of the side beds has large pots of citrus trees sitting in it instead of being planted.  We are in the middle of a deck demolition and I needed the storage worse than the vegetable planting space.

I read and saw pictures somewhere on the interweb about growing tomatoes in containers sunk into a raised beds.  I've tried every which way I can think of to keep the water near the roots of my tomato plants instead of running off somewhere useless.  There were a bunch of abandoned 3 gallon plant containers junking up my potting bench, so I decided to give the sunken container contraptions a shot.

First thing - Cut the bottom out of the containers.  This is hard.  My trusty Felco pruners got it started, but I ended up have to saw them out with a serrated steak knife.

Second thing - Dig a hole inside of the raised bed and sink a pot into the hole leaving about 3 to 4 inches of pot above the soil level.  Repeat until all pots are buried.

Third thing - Plant tomato seedlings in the pots with potting mix and compost.

Forth thing - Water each individual pot. Repeat as needed. 

Fifth thing - Fertilize once a week with liquid fertilizer.  I'm using fish emulsion this year, but prefer Hastagrow.  (Hastagrow doesn't stink as much).

The results have been stunning.  My tiny seedlings planted April 1st have already outgrown my very large tomato cages.  I've already eaten two ripe tomatoes.  The plants are healthy, disease free and covered in blooms.  The water stays right in their root zone and I believe the containers are helping keep soil from splashing up on the leaves of the plants.