Saturday, September 25, 2010

Fall Bulbs.... When Bigger is Better

Well... Bulbs. What makes a good bulb? Isn't any bulb good enough? Actually... No. We fight (Not really) the urge to buy low cost bulbs to compete with the box stores but thankfully we will stick to quality and the price, when compared to price per gram, is a bargain. Check out the picture... Sean bought a bag of tulips and a bag of daffodils from a local box store to compare. The difference is evident... almost twice to three times the size.

The following was written by one of our suppliers, Halifax Seed Company and frankly, I couldn't have wrote it any better myself...

Fall Bulbs are available from September to Novemeber. When buying Tulips and Daffodils for spring blooming, remember purchase the biggest bulb you can afford. In this instance the bigger the bulb the better the show. Look for top-size or jumbos in the Tulips, “Double or Triple nose” in Narcissi or Daffodils for best blooms. Small bulbs are used for naturalizing areas.

Inspect the bulbs as you choose them. Look for bulbs that are heavy and solid, soft bulbs won’t grow as well (some varieties and colours of Tulips differ in their weight - i.e. white Tulips can be very heavy where as some bi-colour Tulips are light weight - this is not uncommon and should be taken into consideration at the time of choice). Loose skin (tunics) and nicks do not affect the growth of the bulb. For best results, obtain Tulips with either partial or complete tunics.

Bulbs should not show signs of rot or mold. Powdery mildew is a sign the bulbs have gotten damp in storage or been in poorly ventilated areas. Basal rot shows a brownish stain at the bottom of the bulb.

In The Maritime Provinces, the best time for planting fall bulbs is after Thanksgiving, Mid October onward. Tulips can be planted very late in the year i.e. November/December and will perform wonderfully. Buy your bulbs early for best selection but hold them until the appropriate planting time. Keep the bulbs cool but in a dry area and a paper bag will provide air circulation, do not store in plastic bags.

When purchasing fall flowering Crocus, please note these particular bulbs are planted now, however, the leaves will grow but the Crocus will not produce blooms until the following September.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Ripening Uncooperative Peppers and Tomatoes

Looks like frost tonite. I would imagine that there are a number of gardeners outside as I type trying to rescue their vegetables from impending doom . What to do, what to do... those darn green tomatoes. Do not despair. You can have garden tomatoes ripening till Christmas if you are careful and if you do not mind having a box full of veggies under your bed.
-Inspect all tomatoes for nicks and dings. Any wounds will promote mold that will go thru the whole batch.
- As you are inspecting, wipe each tomato dry.
- Place in a box trying to keep each one separated from its neighbor. If they touch it will encourage mold.
- Place a layer of newspaper over the top.
- Store in a dark, dry spot (under the bed is a great place).
- If you own cats make sure you put a cover on the box... cat lovers understand about boxes and cats.
- Check your crop a couple of times a week to make sure that one has not started to fester. If you are not diligent in this area you could lose the works. Mold spreads like wildfire.
- For faster ripening put some green tomatoes in a bag with a ripe apple. The ethylene gas given off by the apple will promote faster ripening.
- When all else fails, fry up your green tomatoes for a delicious treat. There are tons of recipes on the internet (or in church cookbooks) for using green tomatoes.

So what about peppers and ripening? It depends on the type of peppers you are growing. First of all, ALL PEPPERS MAY BE EATEN GREEN. If you are lucky enough to have your red, yellow or orange pepper ripen on the plant, consider yourself blessed. After all, this is Newfoundland.
- Pick your pepper as soon as it reaches full size to encourage the set of more fruit.
- If your pepper plants are in the garden, harvest once the weather turns cool and there is a danger of frost.
- If you have planted your peppers in pots you can take them indoors and put them in a bright window for another two or three months after the garden has succumbed. This will give your peppers lots of time to turn colour. If you do this, make sure that you isolate your plant before putting it in a room with other plants... it may be harbouring insects. I would give it a spray with insecticidal soap at three day intervals for the first two weeks after it is brought inside. Make sure you spray the undersides of the leaves... that is where the little buggers hide.

If you are determined to get another two or three weeks growth outside, you can use frost blankets over your crop. These work wonders as long as we do not have a heavy frost. The 'Harvest Moon' is called that for a reason, tho, and at this time of year we should be allowing our gardens a well deserved rest.

Thanx, Niki, for the suggestion for this blog. I hope it helps. If anybody else has queries or suggestions I would be happy to consider them.

No recipe tonite... we had home made tomato soup, made with yellow tomatoes. The colour makes it look a bit like barf and it did not really appeal to the photographer instinct.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

I had a BIG day in the garden today. The flower beds at 'The Greenhouse' do not get much attention all summer as we are busy with all of the other aspects of running a business. This time of year things slow down and a day like today is a gift. I spent the best part of the day weeding and pruning. At least a small piece of the garden looks like it is loved. Hopefully there will be a lot more days like this before the snow flies.

Sean is away for the evening so I fought the temptation to have a boiled egg and slice of toast and decided to grill a few eggplant stacks. Now, before you turn up your nose at the 'eggplant', these are deadly. Smothered in enough basil and olive oil, you can disguise the taste of anything.

Exquisite Eggplant

- 1 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 medium eggplants
- 1 large tomato
- 3 oz. feta (about 3/4 cup)
- finely shredded basil leaves for garnish

Blend basil with the olive oil and 1/2 tsp salt in blended or food processor till the basil is finely chopped. Prepare grill for cooking over medium hot coals. This may also be done using a lightly oiled pan over moderately high heat. While the grill heats, cut off bottoms of eggplants, then cut 1/2 " thick crosswise rounds. Slice the tomato about the same thickness. Lightly brush the eggplant slices with the basil oil and grill, covered, until the eggplant is very tender, 6 to 10 minutes. I turn once and brush the other side of the eggplant slice with more basil oil. Leave the grill on.

To make stacks: on baking pan, arrange 4 eggplant rounds side by side and spread each with a generous amount of basil oil, then top each with a slice of tomato. Season the tomato with salt and pepper and top each with about 1 TBSP feta. Repeat process and finish with an eggplant slice. Drizzle with more of the oil and set the baking pan on the grill with cover closed until heated thru, about 3 minutes. Transfer to serving plate and drizzle with more oil and top with finely shredded basil leaves.

This sounds like a lot of work but it is not. It is an easy meal or appetizer. The eggplant, tomato and basil all came from the greenhouse and were picked just before I came home. Mmmmmmmmmm! Eat your heart out, Jesse.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Tantalizing Tartar Sauce

We grow a large variety of herbs at 'The Greenhouse' and I love to use them when I cook. Our customers often comment that they wish they knew how to use them. For the next few weeks I will try to post some easy peasy recipes that readers can try. All recipes will be using FRESH herbs. The salsa recipe from yesterday used a bunch of fresh cilantro from my garden that I feel gave the salsa the delicious flavour.

Today we are having pan fried cod for supper. It is the 59th wedding anniversary of my parents so they are coming for supper along with my sister, Donna. Wish you were here, Chris.

Cod must be accompanied by freshly made Tartar Sauce. The commercial variety will never see your kitchen again once you have tried this.

- 1 cup real mayonaise
- 1 tsp Djion mustard
- 1 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
- 1 tsp minced shallots or green onion
- 1 Tbsp chopped green olives
- 1 Tbsp chopped drained capers
- optional - a drop of lemon juice

Stir together and chill. Delicious with cod or halibut.

Tonight I used a grating of fresh horseradish. It gave it an extra bite. As you can see, I used more than a Tbsp of parsley, too.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Excellent Salsa Recipe - Medium Spicy

When the occasional 'imperfect' vegetable shows up at the Greenhouse, we put them aside for preserves.

Here I am dealing with the rejects!

The resulting salsa was well worth it!

Sensational Salsa !
    • 30 tomatoes peeled and chopped,
    • 2 green bell peppers,
    • 2 red bell peppers,
    • 10 cups chopped onions,
    • 10 gloves garlic,
    • 1 cup of chopped jalapeno peppers (1 jar of strained pickled will also do the job),
    • 1/2 - 3/4 cup of sugar,
    • 2 cups of vinegar,
    • 8 teaspoons pickling salt,
    • 2 teaspoons black pepper,
    • 2 large cans of tomato paste.

    Simmer 1 1/2 hr, stirring often, at the end of cooking add 1/2 bunch of cilantro if desired. Jar and process - 35 minutes for pint jars and 45 minutes for quart jars. Makes 17 pints.