Monday, September 30, 2013

Today I Got Sauced

A good friend of mine of Italian extraction expressed dismay when he learned that I was using store bought sauce on my tomato pizza. Knowing that I was a gardener, he strongly encouraged me to make my own sauce. What can I say? It was an offer I could not refuse. After all, I had a plethora of ripe Roma tomatoes and sweet, red banana peppers just begging to be used. Not to mention pungent onions ready, willing and able to be part of a culinary symphony. Garlic? Oh yes there was garlic too, ready to play its part.

So how did my effort turn out? Well, I don't think Giada De Laurentiis has to worry about me taking her job anytime soon. Nor do I think The Order Sons of Italy will offer to bestow honorary membership on me in the foreseeable future. However, the taste is better than passable, if I do say so myself. And my friend was right. It tastes better and fresher than anything bottled or canned. So I guess we can label this experience delizioso!

Friday, September 27, 2013

Colors Of The Season

The sun is moving lower in the southern sky each day and overnight temperatures are dipping towards Jack Frost territory. Fall has indeed arrived and its customary hues can be seen, but not yet in the leaves of trees. Instead, my pepper plants are putting on an awesome autumn display of red and gold as they rush to give their last gifts of the season. Our average first frost date is around the middle of October. So in only a couple of weeks this chromatic festival will come to an abrupt and unwanted end. Color me blue!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

A Seedy Character

Today marks the 239th anniversary of the birth of a true original. The one and only nomadic, pioneering environmentalist and nurseryman John Chapman, better known as the legendary Johnny Appleseed. Although he lived what some would consider a rather bohemian lifestyle, you don't have to abandon the creature comforts of the 21st century to enjoy planting and trading seeds. Check out for help in getting started. I've used this organization on several occasions when trying to obtain heirloom tomato seeds and I've always had good results.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Yes, We Have No Bananas!

But we do have Banana Melons and they are something else! Take a whiff of these beauties when they're ripe and the aroma will transport you to the tropics. Slice into one and the orange interior at first reminds you of a cantaloupe because of its color. But it is more firm than you'll find in the average cantaloupe and has a flavor and sweetness all its own. This is the first time I've tried growing them, but it definitely won't be the last.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Sunny Survivor

"..If there is one thing the history of evolution has taught us it's that life will not be contained. Life breaks free, it expands to new territories and crashes through barriers, painfully, maybe even dangerously, but, uh... well, there it is."- Dr. Ian Malcolm in "Jurassic Park"

As some may recall, last year the  squirrels feasted on my sunflowers before they had a chance to properly mature and produce seeds. Or so I thought. It turns out that some seeds must have formed early on and then dropped to the ground while the bushy tailed rapacious rodents were gorging themselves. And one of them actually managed to sprout and survive long enough to bloom, despite being in far less than ideal conditions. This is amazing considering that the area in question has received nothing more than rain water over the course of the summer. And we have had some very dry weeks in the past couple of months. It's only about three feet(1m) tall, but I'm glad this sunny surprise has crashed through the barriers and hope that it seeds before the squirrels notice its presence.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

A Slice Of LIfe Situation

All good things must come to an end. This is the thought that kept running through my mind today as I enjoyed what will probably be one of the last melons from my Minnesota Midget melon plant this season. It's September, a month that can be a scorcher here in the Midwest, but which is more likely to be filled with days where the temperatures swing lower and lower with each passing week; especially at night. Mother Nature didn't design melon plants for less than warm weather. So while my squash and leafy greens will be comfortable until the first hard frost, the melon vines will no doubt give up the ghost long before then. It's just a sad, inconvenient truth. Soon I'll be without those sweet, tasty slices of sunshine. And I'll be left feeling very melon-choly.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

I Can See Russians From My House

Now I don't want anyone to get the wrong idea. This is not a parody of Sarah Palin. Heaven knows she does an excellent self-parody without any help from me. And Vladimir Putin has not declared war on this household. Although he might if he found out we served rainbow swirl ice cream the other day. This is a blog that is first and foremost about gardening. So rest assured that there is nothing here except commentary about this season's crop of Russian Persimmon Tomatoes. They're an heirloom variety that make you think more of that popular fruit of Chinese origin than a direct descendent of the prime ingredient in ketchup.

I like to use them in a simple, homemade freezer jelly recipe. The golden color of the final product makes everyone wonder what the jelly is made from. And when they find out they're really knocked back on their heels. When I'm using it on my breakfast toast in the dead of winter, it reminds me of the warm glow of the summer sun in the growing season just past and the season yet to come. It's really a wonderful, sweet way to beat back the  harshness of winter.