After a rocky start, the garden is actually looking pretty good. Our first cherry tomatoes were ready to harvest around the third week of July and they are delicious. I’ve harvested around 60 of them so far, with many more to come.
So far the PVC trellis is working really well. It supports six potted tomato plants, some in large plastic pots and others in fabric Smart Pots. As they grow, I tie the plants to the trellis with old tights, which are gentler on the stems than twine. I wear tights a lot and this is a great way to recycle them when they become torn or stretched out.
supersweet cherry tomatoes
Abe Lincoln heirlooms
I think the plants are a little too close together, but so far there haven’t been any problems. One of the plants is just slightly taller than the trellis right now, but putting them in pots controls their size somewhat.
The bell peppers are also doing nicely so far, and if all goes well we will have a really good harvest.
The eggplants have blossoms, but no fruit yet.
I also got my first batch of finished compost from our tumbler. I had to sift it to remove some pine needles and whatnot, but it looked really good. I applied it to the existing plants and worked it into the soil for the fall crop of radishes and greens. I’m hoping for more success with this new round of vegetables.
We have had a very wet and cool spring (including a mid-May snowfall), which means the garden is not doing very well. We have managed to harvest some radishes, but some were cracked and split from the moisture. So far, that’s it. They did taste good, so that’s a plus. I am planning to make pesto from the greens.
I’ve planted the tomatoes and peppers in large containers and they are doing fairly well, as are the peas. The beets and onions are not really growing at all. Some of our lettuces looked promising until they were damaged by a recent hailstorm. So it has been a disappointing start for our garden. Aside from the weather, I think we should have worked on improving the soil a bit more for better drainage. We’ll see how things go as the weather dries out a bit.
After successfully sprouting the lentils, my interest in sprouting was renewed and I decided to give quinoa a try. I read that quinoa is quick and easy to sprout, and it is definitely true. It takes two days, tops, to get lovely sprouts. I used organic tricolor quinoa from the supermarket bulk section. The sprouts are so good.
So far I have only tried them in salads. Their subtle, nutty flavor goes beautifully with a Greek salad, one of my favorites. This version of the Greek salad contains cucumber, tomato, feta, onion, spinach, olives, and a handful of quinoa sprouts topped with olive oil and black pepper.
Tonight I tried something a little different: spinach salad with raspberries, dried cranberries, slivered almonds, blue cheese, and quinoa sprouts with pomegranate balsamic vinegar and lemon olive oil. This was fantastic.
It’s like a dessert salad!
I went a little crazy with the quinoa and now have a sprouts that need to be eaten in a couple of days, so I’ll probably be eating a lot of these salads. But what to sprout next?
After five days, my sprouts looked…pretty disappointing. Although I did have some reasonable-looking sprouts, I had a ridiculous amount of unsprouted seeds.
I did some research on what went wrong and found that I likely didn’t drain the seeds well enough. I tried another batch with fewer seeds and drained them very carefully, but my results weren’t much better. This is supposed to be so easy that a child can do it! I will probably try this again with a different type of seed to see if I get better results.
On the bright side, the few sprouts that I got did taste good.
Well, technically they started germinating a couple days ago, but today their little roots are finally big enough to be visible without close scrutiny. I think they will really take off today and tomorrow. The seeds need to be rinsed and drained twice a day and kept in the dark. Since cabinet space is at a premium, I keep them on the counter, angled on a dish drying rack and covered with a towel. It is more exciting than it probably should be to check on them twice a day.
This was the best photograph I could get through the glass jar.
The process has been a bit slower than I anticipated; I think the temperature may have something to do with it. The instructions say that a temperature of 70 degrees is ideal, but our house is never that warm in the winter. This is unfortunate both for me and the seeds. Unlike me, though, the seeds do not get a space heater.
Jared’s parents recently sent us a sprouting jar. Having been wanting to try one of these for quite a while, I was eager to get started. Along with the jar, they sent a pound of zesty sprouting seeds–a mix of clover, fenugreek, and radish. As per the directions, I added four tablespoons to my 1/2 gallon sprouting jar.
The seeds smelled delicious.
I added one teaspoon of citric acid and 3/4 cup of water, then put it in a quiet corner to soak. They are supposed to soak overnight, so I’ll check on them in eight hours or so.
And that’s it for the first step. If all goes well, I should have sprouts in about four days.
Last Saturday we picked up our last CSA share. Jared has already made hot sauce, ketchup, and roasted pepper baba ghanoush.
I think joining a CSA was ultimately a good thing, but we weren’t always the best about using everything up. However, I did eat a lot more vegetables than usual and tried some new things. It will be strange to go back to buying vegetables at the grocery store.