Sunday, September 27, 2009

Artprize 2009 Grand Rapids, Michigan

Pirouette I know an art competition has nothing to do with veggie gardening, but we all need some relaxing time. The Artprize 2009 in Grand Rapids, Michigan is definitely an escape. Gorgeous art work in all kinds of creative medium is on display for the public to choose the winner of the $250,000 prize. The event is through Oct. 7. Go if you are in the West Michigan area.

Nessie the Loch Ness monster looks pretty friendly and not shy.

Grand Rapids Museum with Mobile installed in the river.

Enormous table and chairs sitting atop the pedestrian bridge.

I know this Artprize 2009 video is not dealing with veggie gardens, but I just had to share it because it is such a wonderful and uplifting experience. Artists compete for $250,000 prize judged not by art critics, but by the general publ

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Fall Garden

Yes, there really is a fall garden that produces food for your family until frost. Unfortunately the blight hit our tomatoes, so we have no tomatoes on the vine now. But you may be lucky to have some. Broccoli, lettuce, cabbage, radishes, onions are all doing well in the garden and will be good even in a light frost.

Our sweet corn has not developed fully this year. We blame it on the cool rainy season we have experienced this year. It is disappointing, but my DH already has plans for next year's planting.

The "Knucklehead" pumpkins are orange and ready. They have warts on them...even our grandkids commented on the warts. I think we all prefer non-wart "punkins" for next year. We don't know yet how hard they will be to carve. Earlier in the summer my DH carved each grandchild's name in a the pumpkin the child picked out. He used a dremel tool to cut the skin. The name grew as the pumpkin grew. It turned out beautifully. Unfortunately Ethan's pumpkin didn't quite grow as quickly as the rest. So naming them may be a bad thing because you can't switch the pumpkin for another. But Ethan took it in stride. We all laughed because the six month old baby granddaughter had the biggest pumpkin!!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Recipe--Green Pepper Heaven

Delicious recipes including green peppers are a must if your garden is like ours this time of year. The green peppers are really producing. It's almost as if they know that the first frost will be here soon, so they are going to dazzle us before they die.
Peppers are relatively easy to grow, so if you are a beginning gardener, try green peppers. California Wonder is a good old stand-by. Don't stick to just green peppers either. There are 100's of pepper varieties to choose from. We have planted yellow, chocolate (no, just the color, not the taste of chocolate..LOL) and purple, as well as some of the hot peppers.
If you leave the green peppers on the plant, they will begin to turn red. These are sweeter and have a different texture. Salads and salsa are so pretty with the green and red mixed peppers.
Recipe--Stuffed Green Peppers
We like the peppers stuffed with or without the meat using corn or peas or more veggies from the garden.
Place 6 peppers (either a full-sized pepper with the tops off and seeds cleaned out or a cleaned pepper cut in half) in a micro-waveable 8" x 8 " dish. (Yes,this is so much easier than boiling them for 5 minutes in boiling water, I think.) Salt the inside of the peppers. Cook the peppers in the microwave for 3-4 minutes depending on how thick the wall is. They need to be hot.
Prepare a cup of rice--instant, brown, whatever your family prefers.
Brown one pound of ground beef with onions in a large skillet. Drain. Return to the skillet.
Add rice and 3/4 can of diced tomatoes with onion and green peppers including juice. You may add salt and garlic to taste. Heat through.
Stuff peppers with meat mixture. Top with remaining tomatoes and juice. Return to microwave and cook covered 10-12 minutes or bake in 350 degree oven, covered, for 45 minutes. Remove foil from oven baked peppers, and cook 10-15 minutes longer.
Remove from heat and sprinkle tops with cheese. No need to return the peppers to the heat as the cheese will melt.
I let the dish of peppers set for five minutes before serving. Enjoy!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Information on Tomato and Potato Late Blight

The county extension agent wrote an excellent article in our local paper about tomato and potato blight that is hitting our area. Brought on by cool and rainy weather, she said that the late blight is hitting every corner of Michigan and the Northeast. Late blight produces spores that are carried by the winds to infect the gardens. This infection rapidly kills the foliage of tomato and potato plants and can affect the fruit.

If you have infected plants, remove the plants, place in a plastic bag, seal and discard in the trash or bury the plants deep enough that they will not sprout. DO NOT put them in a compost pile because the spores can spread.

If your potato vines show signs of blight, cut off or mow off the tops before the stems get heavily infected. This helps to prevent the spores from washing down into the potato tubers. Wait to dig the tubers 2-3 weeks after the vines are completely dead to limit the number of spores on the soil surface when the tubers are dug. Be sure to get all potatoes out of the ground so that there will be no spores living in tubers and surviving the winter. Do not wash the potatoes after harvesting them until necessary as that could spread the disease.

One sigh of relief is that the blight or fungus does not live in the soil from year to year, so it should not be a problem for gardeners next spring.

The extension agent explains that the unaffected fruit of blighted plants is safe to eat. But, the National Center for Home Food Preservation suggests using only "disease-free, preferably vine-ripened, firm fruit for canning. Do not can tomatoes from dead or frost-killed vines."

If there are signs of infection on the tomato or potato, cut away the bad part. It is safe to eat the healthy part, but it is likely the fruit will deteriorate quickly due to the disease.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Freezing Corn from Our Vegetable Garden

My DH and I spent a little over an hour freezing sweet corn from our garden this afternoon. We process it very quickly by boiling it, after shucking it of course, for about 3 minutes in a big tub of water. We immediately throw it into a sinkful of ice water to cool it down and keep it from cooking anymore. Then drain it in the other side of the sink on a rack. We cut it off the cob and then place it in the quart size freezer bags. DH came up with a great idea of cutting the corn off the cob on a plastic, flat cutting sheet. Then when we had the corn cut off, we just picked up the sheet and used it as a funnel to place the corn in the bag. We quickly bagged 9 quarts in that short time. The cutting sheets save a lot of time and clean up. He is so clever.

My DH and two grandsons dug potatoes yesterday. Surprisingly we had great success with them. The ground seemed pretty hard where he planted the eyes, but he mulched the plants, so it helped to keep them cool and moist. The little boys are so amazed when the potatoes are dug and love to see who can pick up the biggest ones. That really helps Grandpa's back!

We have been camping and I have neglected writing the blog. I apologize, Dear Readers, for not keeping up. While we were gone the blight got our tomatoes. I have heard several gardeners in our area suffering the same misfortune with their tomatoes. But gardeners will be gardeners and all are still planning on raising tomatoes next year. My hubby pulled all of our plants up, so that is the end of the 'maters for us.