I haven’t blogged in so long, and the only excuse I have is that I have been enjoying the summer sunshine and really relishing the fact that I don’t have to sit in front of a computer. While I have been trying lots of new recipes, I have really focused on tending to our awesome garden. I wanted to give you a peak at some of the things we planted this year. We ordered the majority of our seeds from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, and purchased some more specific items from Totally Tomatoes, Native Seeds/SEARCH, Botanical Interests, and Burpee. My dad usually starts the peppers and tomatoes indoors in March and we transplant everything around the middle of May. For everything else, we usually direct sow around the same time.
Pictured above is a variety of tomatillo called the Purple Coban. The plant itself is HUGE! It is about 5′ tall and looks like a tree. The amount of tomatillos on each plant is out of control! We are going to be swimming in tomatillos. This variety comes from Coban, Guatemala and is supposed to produce purplish green fruits that are 1″ in diameter. We plan on using these for salsas.
Here is a picture of our garden. It is 20′ x 40′ and it is located in our backyard. The area receives full sun for the majority of the day, and our only major problem is keeping the rabbits, groundhogs, and deer out. In the garden, we planted 6 varieties of peppers, 5 varieties of tomatoes (including a tomatillo), cucumbers, watermelon, and cantaloupe. Scattered elsewhere around the house, we also planted pumpkins, basil, oregano, corn, and a variety of flowers.
Martino’s Roma is supposed to provide great yields of delicious plum-shaped tomatoes. The plant is compact, and while it is supposed require little staking, ours is out of control, so we had to stake it. The fruit should weigh about 2-3 ounces and be very meaty with few seeds. Can’t wait to use these for salsas.
This is the chile mirasol, which means “looking at the sun” in Spanish. This chile is often left on the plant until red and then dried to be used in lots of Mexican dishes. It is called the guajillo when dried, and we plan on trying our hand at drying these once they are ready. The pepper should be about 1″ wide and 5″ long. They are relatively mild and usually bring a beautiful red color to many salsas.
Last year we had a lot of luck with some habanero plants that we purchased at a local nursery. This year we started these ones from seed, and they have been doing tremendously well. This habanero should ripen to a unique mustard color and then to a brilliant orange. This variety was started in Kutztown, Pennsylvania and produces a very hot-tasting pepper.
Here is another chile we plan to dry. It is called the chile de árbol. It is a very thin pepper that will become about 4″ long. Although some people eat these fresh, they are mainly harvested when bright red and then dried. While they are small in size, they have a ton of heat.
This is our second year planting jalapeños. We had a bumper crop last year, and canned an overwhelming number of jars. This jalapeños will become big and fat, and it appears that it is turning a deep purplish color. If you are growing jalapeños and they appear to have cracking on the skin, don’t worry. It is a sign of a healthy crop.
This is called a “winter grape” tomato and comes from Italy. Italian farmers used to hang the fruit-covered vines indoors and the fruit stayed fresh into the winter. They are supposed to be very flavorful, and can be eaten fresh or dried.
This tomato is supposed to yield large, smooth globe-shaped fruit that has fantastic flavor. It is disease-resistant and provides great yields.
This is our second year growing the Musque de Provence, Calabaza de Castilla, or Cinderella pumpkin. They did extremely well last year and practically took over the entire backyard. The pumpkins are enormous, too! We had one that weighed 29 lbs. last year. They are flat-shaped and have deep lobes, and they kind of look like a big wheel of cheese. The skin will turn a beautiful burnt orange color when they ripen. This pumpkin is traditional of southern France, but it is used a lot in Mexican cooking. We use it to make Tamales de Calabaza in the fall.
Cucumbers are one of my favorite vegetables. This variety is supposed to be crisp and mild with few seeds. Cross my fingers, it is a high-yielding variety.
Italian Large Leaf Basil
I love using basil in fresh tomato sauces and paired with fresh mozzarella. This variety is growing wonderfully in these small containers. The smell is amazing!
Musa ‘Basjoo’ Banana
I know this is way over the top, but we are growing our own bananas in hopes that we will be able to use the leaves for tamales. Banana leaves are used a lot in Mexican coastal cooking, and since Roberto is from Veracruz, we always find that we need them. Unfortunately, the only type of banana leaves that we can find around here are frozen. When we defrost them, they always tend to crack and are not as pliable as we would like.
This banana is supposed to withstand temperatures below zero with proper mulching. It grows many feet in a season and will grow up to 13′ in height. Although it does produce bananas, they are inedible. We are planning to bring one indoors for the winter and leave one outside to see how it fairs.
We have been growing Banana Hots for years now. We love to eat them stuffed or pickle them for eating year round. They also freeze well and provide lots of peppers all season long. They are slightly hot, but not overpowering.
These marigolds are unbelievable! They are currently about 2′ tall and have yet to bloom. They are supposed to get big, double blooms that range in color from lemon yellow to fire orange. Can’t wait to see what they look like!
Our cilantro is kind of on its way out because the warm weather has arrived, but it was very abundant in early June. I think, I’ll plant some more once the weather gets cooler. It did much better in the ground than in a pot.
My favorite garden attraction right now is the charming zinnias. We have three different varieties, and they get more beautiful each day. When this zinnia first opened up, I was kind of disappointed because it didn’t seem very full. But, as the days went on, it developed three layers of coral-colored petals. I love that it has a frilly skirt. It is about 2-3″ in diameter.
Our second variety of zinnia is just opening. I have a feeling that it is also going to become fuller like the Pink Señorita. It is a Byzantine purple color and is also about 2-3″ in diameter.
Our last zinnia is just opening up. It is a brilliant, scarlet-red and is supposed to have double blooms, too. All zinnias make terrific cut flowers which is why I planted them. I can’t wait to enjoy their color all summer long.
What is planted in your garden this year?