New Garden for 2014

I’ve had the garden up for a while, I just haven’t bothered to go out and take pictures until I got my Nokia Lumia 1020.  I stepped out this morning and snapped away, and you can view the pictures below.

I have learned a bit from last year’s garden successes and mishaps (such as the overload of cucumbers and lack of tomatoes in spite of my humungous plants).  I have arranged my tomatoes toward the end of one bed instead of in a row, and placed them in cages; so far I have 6 Beefmaster plants and 2 Brandywine (I think).  They are good strong plants and they are looking good so far.  Next to those in rows I have cucumbers and summer squash.  In the next bed I have 12 red pepper plants, 6 jalapeno, and 6 habanero.  This year I have given them plenty of space and only have one double-row of peas growing along the edge, and some lettuce at the end on a bare patch I had left over.

Before I had started this garden, one of the lettuce plants grew from seed that I planted the previous year, and just popped up from the soil after snow melt!  This let me to reading on planting stuff in the late winter, such as lettuce, snow peas (probably why they are called snow peas), and others.  This gives me a plan for a more efficient garden that I will need to think on and plan for next year.

The long bed along the house I planted garlic, shallots and onions to give advantage of the full sun that we get on that side.  Most of my garlic and shallots died after the hard winter that we had, but the shallots are growing happily with flowering scapes; I’m definitely looking forward to harvesting the seeds for future plantings.  I have enough garlic in the bed to keep me happy for now, and to hold us over through the winter.

The sunflowers have been an utter failure owing to squirrels and chipmunks raiding the beds.  They usually nip off the top of the plants as soon as the seed germinates and pops out of the soil, but after the second pair of leaves come up, they leave them alone.  This year after a second and third planting, they went straight for the newly planted seeds.  I give up!!!  So, in lieu of sunflowers, I have dedicated a gaping hole in the sunflower portion of the bed to cilantro, and I may put some beets or carrots down.

Surprise Summer Squash--this plant is yellow!

Surprise Summer Squash–this plant is yellow!

Pickle barrel cucumber plants coming up happy and healthy.

Pickle barrel cucumber plants coming up happy and healthy.

Jalapeno pepper perspective.  These and the other pepper plants are very strong and healthy this year.  I have a good feeling about this.

Jalapeno pepper perspective. These and the other pepper plants are very strong and healthy this year. I have a good feeling about this.

Habanero plants are much healthier than last year.

Habanero plants are much healthier than last year.

Blackberries!  Hopefully I can get to them before critters do.

Blackberries! Hopefully I can get to them before critters do.

Shallot scape in full flower.

Shallot scape in full flower.

Cilantro popping up this morning.

Cilantro popping up this morning.

Sweet basil popping up this morning.  It's taking a while for these to come up this year.

Sweet basil popping up this morning. It’s taking a while for these to come up this year.

Pesto Much?

Today I spent time making some pesto, following a modification of a recipe from Ottaviana’s Kitchen (an old Geocities site that is cached and no longer active).  The recipe follows:

3 cup fresh, packed basil
1 cup olive oil, extra virgin olive oil
1 cup Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup walnuts
1/2 cup fresh parsley
4-5 cloves garlic, or to taste


Walnuts are a substitute for pine nuts, which are traditionally used in pesto.  Pine nuts give kind of a rustic, woodsy flavor, and I think a little bit of a richer flavor.  Walnuts give body to the pesto, but seem a little bitter.  I settle for walnuts because they are cheaper.  For the cheese, you can use Romano or Parmesan; I have also used Asiago.  Use as much garlic to your liking.  I like a ton of garlic, to which point the pesto is hot on the tongue once it is first ground.  My wife isn’t into that, so I have to tone it down (which is something I don’t understand as she is Italian).  Work in batches, get a little basil chopped up a little into your blender so it is easier to work with, top with the parmesan, walnuts and garlic.  Glug some olive oil, glug, glug, and grind away.  About the olive oil . . . don’t get hung up on the recipe.  Drizzle that stuff in until the blender starts to really mix stuff up and churn the mixture into a sort of smooth consistency.  If you’re fighting with the blender, then it probably means you have either too much basil in at the moment, or not enough olive oil.  Salt to taste, add pepper if you wish.

I brought in quite a haul of Sweet Basil from the garden (approximately 5 quarts packed).

Sweet Basil, ready to get washed

Sweet Basil, ready to get washed

And below, getting my ingredients ready for the NINJA!!!!

everything in place for a batch run of pesto

everything in place for a batch run of pesto

that's a lot of green

that’s a lot of green

8 quart pan, nearly full

8 quart pan, nearly full

feerst wee steer de pestooo, den wee salty-talty!  Bort! Bort!

feerst wee steer de pestooo, den wee salty-talty! Bort! Bort!

they come in pints?!

they come in pints?!