Thursday, May 10, 2018

Quickie Garden Tour - May 4, 2018

I am so far behind on my gardening tasks, I can't even begin to explain.  The weather was wonky, so I started all my seeds late.  My seedlings are still tiny.  I did sow some seeds outside: cucumbers, cantaloupe, watermelon, three different types of bush beans, dill, parsley, and basil.  I thought my asparagus were all eaten by one of my outdoor critters, so I started 12 new ones.  Then yesterday, I had asparagus popping up!  Who knows what's going on.

The Rutgers Scarlet Strawberry Plants started coming up.  I planted them in three boxes last year.  One is now pretty full, the second has not so much and the third has nothing.  While they are good strawberries, they were hella expensive.  I'm going to get some regular ones at the garden center and put them in late too.

The pear tree went from barren to covered in leaves and flowers in three days.  Literally, three days.

The mint patch is overrun with some random weed, but there is still plenty of mint growing.  I've started the tedious process of pulling those weeds out so the mint has room to grow.

The Early Purple Sprouting Broccoli overwintered, but was covered in whiteflies and their irritating eggs.  I mixed a batch of non-toxic whitefly killer (recipe to follow, I just want to confirm that it works long term).  It did kill all the eggs and the leaves are shiny, healthy and bug-free.  Let's see if this is the cure for my whitefly problems.

This zucchini was the first of my seedlings to sprout and looked just beautiful.  Then I put it outside, and we went from beautiful weather to freezing and it hasn't held up too well.  I am trying to give it some extra attention and fingers crossed, it will survive.

This is the first year I didn't plant my peas on St. Patrick's Day.  But they seem to be doing fine nonetheless.  I planted carrots and beets in the boxes with them.  Hopefully, this year I'll remember to harvest them instead of letting them rot in the box like an idiot.

The rain barrels are set up.  I'm going to turn the blue barrel someone gave me into an overflow barrel.  More on that later.

So not much to show yet, but come back soon.  That whitefly killer spray looks like it could be a winner and I'll post it as soon as I'm sure.  Hope you're all enjoying the warmer weather. 

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

What to do With Too Many Overgrown Overripe Large Yellow Cucumbers

I have a live and let live policy in my garden.  If you want to grow, then I will not stop you.  Even if you're a tomato plant (my "wild" cherry tomatoes grow about 6 foot tall) who decided to grow right in front of my garden door.  Or if you're a multitude of cucumbers that decided to grow in my strawberry boxes where pumpkins decided to grow last year, I will let you.  Which is how I wound up with this insanity.  Mind you, I planted additional cucumbers thinking these were pumpkin plants.

These plants are much, much bigger now.
Everyone loves a cucumber for all it's like, crunchy, awesomeness.  Some people love them more as pickles.  So what happens when you wind up with this many cucumber plants?  (Let's be honest, even if you only have a few plants.)  You will miss a few that are hiding, and they will grow into immensely large yellow cucumbers, with thick skins and large seeds.  The only thing they're really good for is compost or senfgurken (a German pickle made out of overgrown cucumbers).  

That is until now. 

My friends, and blog passerbys, I have discovered a better use for these cucumbers that certainly would prefer to be eaten than to left to rot in a compost bin. 


I know, smoothies?!  Have I lost my mind?  Nope.  Stick with me here.  First, I thought, I'd juice them, but honestly, cucumber juice didn't sound appealing.  Then I thought, cucumbers are more than 95% water, so they'd probably freeze really well.  And instead of adding ice or extra liquid to my smoothie, why not some frozen cucumbers?  (How many people do you think are going to suddenly post this on their page like it was their idea?  Link stuff back, people.  Don't be a jackass.  I always feel bad for Somar McCowan who created an awesome vegan mozzarella and then everyone on the internet stole it, pretended it was theirs and never linked back to her.  Well, not everyone, but a lot of people.  Don't do shady stuff people.  It will bite you in the ass.  Karma.)

Cucumbers are water and fiber rich, have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and they reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease.  Go Google it, you'll be surprised how amazing the simple little cucumber is.

All you have to do is peel, seed and cut up the cucumbers.  Now, I try to avoid plastic all I can, but I had no choice but to swipe some of my daughter's storage bags to put my cucumbers in.  Freezing them in glass jars is unrealistic...for me anyway.

I stick these bags in the freezer and use my no longer used meat mallet to pound on the bag and loosen up the cucumber pieces.  Then I replace ice in the recipe I'm using at a 1 to 1 ratio.  Or I just add whatever I think will work when I'm winging a smoothie.

My current weekday morning smoothie, for anyone interested goes like this:

1 1/2 cups non-dairy milk
1 TBS flax seeds
1 TBS chia seeds
1/3 cup oats
2 TBS sweetener
1-2 bananas (optional)
2 handfuls of frozen spinach
2-3 cups of frozen cucumbers
1 1/2 cups of frozen berries.

Pop everything in your blender (I have a Vitamix and I think it's well worth the investment). Initially, this turns into more of a sorbet, so I let it sit and re-blend when it's defrosted a bit.  If it's not thin enough, feel free to add less cucumbers or more non-dairy milk.  For my sweetener, I use maple syrup, agave, vegan honey or even sugar.  I remember to add bananas about half the time.

Hope this helps some of my gardening friends out there.  And if it does, pop back over here and say hi or thanks or you suck, this didn't work...either way, I'd love to hear from you.