Thursday, September 27, 2012

It's Been A Long Season

It's been a long growing season here in Minneapolis. The picture above was taken this afternoon and there are still plenty of tomatoes on the vines. We've been lucky to have a pretty good crop of tomatoes this year, especially our Black Cherry plant. For about a 3-4 week stretch, we were pulling off 5 lbs of cherry tomatoes off of that one plant, every 4-5 days.

The one thing that was frustrating this year were the really hot temps. That killed some early flowers but when the weather returned to "normal," the flowers came back, so now you see all of the green tomatoes on the vines in late September. I'm leaving them on until the temps really dip. This weekend is supposed to be in the 80's so maybe I'll get a few more to blush before I pick my last harvest.

A few weeks ago, I mentioned that the chipmunks were eating their fair share of my tomatoes. They live in the boulder retaining wall that divides my yard with my neighbors. Apparently, they liked the tomatoes so much that they've started growing their own, probably from my tomato's seeds. Here's a picture of a 20" plant growing out of the rocks. I've never seen this before and actually thought it was a weed until I noticed the little yellow flowers. It's about 10 feet from the closest tomato plant so my best guess is that the little rodents left some seeds in the cracks or something.

Friday, September 21, 2012

More Fermenting

We wrote earlier about Sandor Katz's new book, The Art of Fermentation. Buoyed by his reassuring tone and Permission to Ferment Anything, I threw together this one last Sunday after plucking a beautiful organic cabbage from the farmers market. Ingredients? Cabbage and organic lemon (mostly rind after I cleaned out the seeds).

With a rooster spur pepper for color and any slight heat it might impart. And salt.

I wanted to try a clean, clear set of flavors and spoon a little out each day in an effort to more clearly taste the fermentation process. Also, my boyfriend doesn't love the extreme flavor of an aged kraut-chi. A couple spoonfuls of this one in a bowl with a little olive oil sauces our rooftop greenie beans perfectly.

Today Mrs Homegrown at Root Simple waxes poetic about Katz and calls herself a fangirl.

Pretty sure I'm one too. The simple concoction pictured above tastes like the ocean, like spring, like heaven. And the rooster spur is gathering strength...

Friday, September 14, 2012

Mad for Melons

We love watching them grow in SIPs...and eating them too. Above, Tigger on the vine.

 Golden Midget (1 3/4 lb), Tigger (1 1/2 lb), Renee's icebox rainbow sherbet (1 1/8 lb)

Such pretty interiors, and sweetly flavorful too. The Tigger was loaded with seeds.

We dutifully washed and dried to save them all for next year. Imagine how precious if this were your only sugar source.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Harvest 2012: Provider Beans and Little Bells

Chicago absolutely fried earlier this summer, stopping much of the growth on all plants. But the weather's moderated and the harvest has been up and running in full force for the last several weeks. Even the second wave of tomatoes is coming in strong (after the first flowering was lost to nighttime heat), but more on that in another post.

Striking Chicago teachers wear red:
please support them

This summer we're singing the praises of these Provider bush beans from Bountiful Gardens. They've thrived in the heat and regardless how long they get (you always miss a few when picking) they're reliably tender. Other beans seem to set up their seeds earlier, so that this time of year the purple and yellow bush beans are more seed than good eating. Honestly this is my new favorite variety.

Provider bush beans

Picking lunch from the roof is one of the great joys of growing. Steamed Provider greenie beans with rooftop tomatoes and golden beets from the farmers market. That's a pretty typical summer lunch for us, with herbs and other seasonings.

Waiting for protein

Melons, eggplant, Jimmy Nardello and Little Bells sweet peppers plus a handful of tomats. Grab a knife and a fry pan and...lunch.

Love those Little Bells, from Wild Garden Seed. Check 'em out at the link: nice squat plants with small sweet peppers. They love growing in SIPs and this picture shows part of their color range.
Great pepper for northern climes with short seasons. Before fall's killing frost, we clip whole plants with remaining fruits attached, trim leaves and hang in a cool place. Fruit will continue to ripen on the stem for weeks.

Sunday, September 2, 2012


We've been seeding greens in previously planted SIPs up on the roof. I like to give them a good start in the full, late-season sun before bringing them down and replanting in the raised bed/low tunnel with winter cover. Up top, lotsa mustard greens and some arugula.

Ruby red chard from Bountiful Gardens,
still awaiting their first true leaves

I've always savored these intensely flavored tiny greens, and apparently there's also every nutritional reason to love these babies:
Gene Lester, a researcher with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and his colleagues at University of Maryland, College Park, have conducted the first scientific analysis of nutrients in microgreens. The results, Lester tells The Salt, "totally knocked me over." The researchers looked at four groups of vitamins and other phytochemicals – including vitamin C, vitamin E, and beta carotene — in 25 varieties of microgreens. They found that leaves from almost all of the microgreens had four to six times more nutrients than the mature leaves of the same plant. But there was variation among them – red cabbage was highest in vitamin C, for instance, while the green daikon radish microgreens had the most vitamin E.
 Fetal kale

As young as these mustards are, they explode with flavor and make an ideal bed for just about anything on the menu.

Add a few roof tomatoes.

Top with some sauteed Jimmy Nardello peppers, garlic, and scallops and you get...

My idea of a perfect lunch