Archive for May, 2010

The Sunflower Bed

Last Sunday I finished my last big gardening project for this year, to wit: a new 4′ x 6′ raised bed in which to grow giant sunflowers and a few other things.  This was a two-morning job.

The first morning I dug up the plot and nailed together the frame for the raised bed:

The second morning I put up a 2′ tall chicken wire fence around the bed, put in a metal clothes rack I am using as a support for the sunflowers, put back the dirt I had dug up the first morning, added 30 lbs. of Omagrow compost:

As you can see, I suck at putting up chicken wire fences.

I planted ten sunflower seeds as soon as I finished putting the bed together, and just four days later I already had some sunflower sprouts showing above ground:

The sunflowers are supposed to grow to be 10 to 12 feet tall.(!!!)   Eventually I’m going to thin out the seeds I planted until there are just two sunflowers, one on each side of the bed.  I’m also going to plant some scarlet runner beans in the bed, and let them grow up the stalks of the sunflowers.  It should be beautiful: two lines of bright red flowers ascending to the sky, topped by two giant yellow sunflower heads.  I hope it works out that way.



Here is my recipe for tabouli, adapted from a recipe I found online:

  • 1 cup bulgur
  • 1 1/2 cups boiling water
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried mint flakes
  • 1 15-oz. can of chickpeas
  • 2 medium tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/2 cup scallions, chopped
  • 1 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  1. Combine bulgur, boiling water, and salt in a bowl.
  2. Cover and let stand 15-20 minutes, or until bulgur is chewable.
  3. Add the lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, and mint, and mix thoroughly.
  4. Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.
  5. Add the chickpeas, tomatoes, scallions, and parsley, and mix gently.

Note: I find it easiest to roughly chop the scallions and parsley, and then run them through my food processor.

I’m really looking forward to a couple months from now when I will have homegrown tomatoes, scallions, parsley, and mint with which to make tabouli!

Pesto, Pesto, Pesto!

I’ve been making a lot of pesto lately. Because basil upsets my stomach, and pine nuts are expensive, and I don’t like cooking with dairy products, I don’t use the traditional ingredients when making pesto. Instead, I use a variety of leafy greens in place of the basil, pumpkin seeds in place of the pine nuts, and nutritional yeast flakes in place of the parmesan.

Here is the recipe I use, adapted from a recipe I found online:

1/2 cup of pumpkin seeds
2 tablespoons of nutritional yeast flakes
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 pinch of black pepper
2 teaspoons of minced garlic
1/3 cup of extra virgin olive oil
8 ounces of leafy greens

Put the pumpkin seeds, nutritional yeast, salt, pepper, garlic, 1/3 of the olive oil, and 1/3 of the greens in a food processor. Pulse several times, then add the remaining greens and olive oil in two more batches, pulsing each batch.

In the past couple of weeks I have made three batches of pesto, the first with some curly endive I purchased at a grocery store, the second with three kinds of homegrown kale, and the third with homegrown turnip greens. Here’s a picture of the turnip greens pesto:

It’s creamier than the other pestos were, but I don’t know why.

I don’t really like eating pesto on pasta anymore, but it makes a great sandwich spread. Here’s a tortilla with some turnip greens pesto and some sauteed tofu:

Leafy Greens A-Growin’

Leafy greens are so satisying to grow! You get such quick results, and leafy greens fresh from the garden – especially lettuce – taste so much better than almost any of them you can buy in a store or, even, a farmers market.

I planted my first batch of leafy greens on March 25th, and here’s what they looked like on April 11th:

And here’s what they looked like three weeks later, on May 2nd:

My initial planting was swiss chard (upper left), dino kale (upper center), red russian and curled kale (upper right), green leaf lettuce (lower left), romaine lettuce (lower center), and butterhead lettuce (lower right). Recently I planted some red leaf lettuce, freckled romain lettuce, and cress in the pots (in the cleared areas in the pots in the front row), some spinach in three little pots that I set in amongst the six big pots (you can only see one of them in the picture), and a row of radicchio over in the ground plot (definitely out of frame!).

And here is a salad a made from my baby greens:

The salad contains homegrown butterhead lettuce, red russian kale, turnip greens, and, er, some store-bought curly endive.

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