Wednesday, November 21, 2007

pre-Thanksgiving update

It's Thanksgiving, and the garden is going well. I STILL have peppers! I probably could have kept the eggplant around longer, but I just wanted the space. We still have eggplant in the fridge in any case. And now it's finally getting cold, so the peppers won't last much longer.

The turnips are doing well. We should be ready to eat some of them really soon. One mistake I made was to not thin the first planting well. I tried to thin them recently, when the actual plant is pretty big, by moving the ones that haven't really formed bulbs yet, but they don't look great. Even if they recover, that was a royal pain. For my second planting, I've already thinned them, even though they barely have two sets of leaves. There's no point in having 5 beautiful plants that don't have space to form even one nice turnip.

The carrots seem to be doing well also. They grow so slowly that it's really hard to tell. The leeks seem fine as well. They are very difficult to weed, because they blend in with the grass sprouts. They are also planted behind some of the peppers, which I think are probably blocking out some of the sun. I really didn't expect the peppers to still be there at this point!

I just planted 32 garlic cloves, mostly big ones. I think they're from approximately 5 or so bulbs, so hopefully that will be enough variety. More notes on those later, when they actually start doing something!

The mixed lettuce I bought from the nursery is doing great, keeping us well supplied for our salads. It's really fantastic to have home-grown salads again, I'm loving it. I planted some red lettuce too, which hasn't quite recovered from being transplanted yet. I think next year I will try again to grow from seed, I'm learning a lot from growing the leeks, carrots, and turnips this year.

The cauliflower is really impressive - 7 out of 8 are producing, and 4 already have decent-sized heads. We're picking one for Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow. Loris will bread and fry it and we'll serve it with lemon. He did the same for some fresh porcini mushrooms we found at the farmer's market. I know we're both looking forward to it.

The broccoli is starting to form little crowns. I suspect they'll be ready soon, which is great! I love broccoli. The cabbage is also starting to form little heads, but I think it'll be a while before we eat it. They can grow to be quite big. The chard and spinach is not growing too quickly yet. Unfortunately, the first spinach I planted is really being overshadowed by one of the red cabbages. Whoops.

I think there's a very good chance that the peppers will come out this weekend. I will probably plant turnips or beets in the spot by the leeks. In the larger spot, I might plant carrots and possibly peas. I had no luck with peas last year, but I have learned an awful lot since then.
In general, I've learned a lot about the importance of weeding. I think it's made a huge difference since last year. It does take a lot of time, but when I put in 20 minutes after work a few days a week, it's not such a big deal. My plants are all so much bigger and healthier than they were last year, and growing much faster.

I also have a different layout. Last year I did 6-7 rows, but it was hard to move around the garden, and hard to weed. This year, I have four large beds with three walking rows. It's not always easy to reach the middle of the beds, but I've created areas where it's ok to step into the beds, so it works pretty well. The automatic sprinkling system has so far adapted pretty well, especially b/c I bought some sprinklers that use a finer spray which is much better for seeds.

All in all, it's so far turning out to be a successful fall!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Liquore di basilico 2

My basil liquor is more or less finished. It's bottled anyway. We have around 4 1/2 bottles. We unfortunately spilled some when we were bottling it, but I guess you have to make sacrifices sometimes.

I boiled a LOT of sugar and water, and then let the syrup cool. After that, we combined everything into a large bowl and used a tiny funnel to bottle it (hence the spilling). Then my hunky husband pounded some corks into the bottles (b/c I wasn't able to do it), and now they're waiting a couple weeks.

Not that we didn't taste it first, of course. Delicious!

As an afterthought, though, it doesn't seem to be as green as I expected.