Tomato Contest

Tomato

A contest can be a lot of fun so we are challenging you to grow tomatoes, and we want to see pictures.  Take pictures of your first tomato of the season.  The person with the first outdoor tomato, not in a greenhouse will win a pack of heirloom tomato seeds. Send your photo with the date into ediblesanmarcos@gmail.com

There is another contest for the plant with the most tomatoes on it at one time, take photos.  Count the tomatoes, and take pictures we want to see how many you have on the plant at one time.  The deadline for the number of tomatoes will be Deadline is July 30.

At another point this summer we will do the biggest and best tasting tomatoes where we will have a judging downtown. So stay tuned.  As you can tell we are interested in your garden.  We want to get pictures and see how your garden is growing. Send in pictures so we can share your garden with others.

Seed to Table – Spinach

Spinach

Spinach is thought to have come from ancient Persia or Iran.  Spinach was brought into China where it was termed as the “Persian Vegetable”. It was said to have come into Nepal around 647 AD.

Next spinach found it’s way into Sicily then Arab and Germany by the 13th century. England and France came into Spinach in the 14th century.  In 1533 Catherine de’Medici not only became Queen of France but she insisted on having spinach at every meal.  This is why dishes made with spinach are named Florentine.  Now that is my kind of Queen!

Why do  you think that spinach was such a hit?  It is so nutritious!  it belongs to the amaranthaceae family.  It is chock full of phyto-nutrients that are life savers in many  areas. Spinach is very low in calories and fats while providing about 25% of your daily iron.

Fresh leaves also  provide you with vitamin A, lutein, zea-xanthin and beta Carotine as well as omega3 fatty acids.

Spinach can also pack a whopping 402% of your daily needs of vitamin K, This helps with bone mass and preventing Alzheimer’s.  Like that is not enough Spinach has high levels of B-6, B-1, Folate, Niacin and  Vitamin C, potassium, manganese, magnesium, copper and zinc.

This is all very exciting for me as it is getting a lot of iron and strength with out eating meat.  I always feel energized when I eat spinach.  There is one thing that you are probably not aware of.  You need to eat citrus to make the protein complete, when eating raw spinach.  So have an orange with your salad today.

Planting

Choose a sunny well drained location for your spinach.

Spinach germinated well in cold soil that is between 38-40 degrees F and up to about 60 degrees.  It gets fussy over that.  It does not like acid soil either so we are very lucky in that regard.  The trick is to plant your spinach early and then replant every 2 weeks. Spinach also likes nitrogen and boron.

There are two different types of spinach the savoy or  darker crinkled type, and the smooth leaved type.

It is advisable to soak your seeds for 6 hours or overnight to help them to soak up some water and become more pliable. Then plant the seeds 1/2 inch deep and about 3 inches apart. You want the plants to be about 4 inches from each other in the end.  It takes 37 to 50 days for spinach to reach maturity.  You can snip off the outer leaves when they reach 3 inches long or you can cut the entire rosette off.

Strawberries grow well with spinach.

Make sure to water in the morning not in the evening as wet leaves spread disease. The diseases that you have to worry the most about is Downy Mildew and fusarium wilt. The insects that attack spinach are Aphids and leaf miners.

Do not store spinach next to apples, melons or tomatoes as they give off ethylene gas in the fridge and will make your spinach spoil.

here are some healthy spinach recipes

and more recipes and still more.  Happy Cooking!

Winter Vegetable Soup

Winter Vegetable Soup

Winter Vegetable Soup

This soup was made from vegetables in my garden.  The only things that were not from my garden were the barley, beans, and the Vegetable Better Than Bullion.  You can purchase the Better than Bullion at Cornucopia .Better than Bullion is an organic vegetable stock.  You use one teaspoon per cup of water.  I keep it in my freezer after I open it, then I take it out and thaw it for about 15 minutes, take out what I need and put it back in the freezer, it works great.  I always have it on hand .  It has the best flavor around,  If you are not vegetarian Better than Bullion has a great chicken stock as well that is made from roasted organic chickens.  I like the convenience of not having large cans or boxes. If you do not have a garden you should be able to get all of the produce at a local farmer’s market as they are in season right now. Feel free to substitute any green or beans as you see fit.

1 Sweet Onion Chopped

3 Cloves Garlic MInced

2 Tbl Olive  Oil

1 Cup Pearl Barley

3 1/2 Quarts Water

1 Bay Leaf (remove at end of cooking)

1 Tsp Freshly Ground Black Pepper

1 Tsp Celery Seed

3 Lg Collard Leaves Chopped (2 cups packed)

17 Lacinato Kale leaves (1 Cup Packed)

3 Sprigs Fresh Rosemary Chopped (1 Tbl)

2 Heaping Tbl Vegetable Better Than Bullion Base

1/2 Cup Chopped Fresh Parsley

1 Tbl Fresh Marjoram Chopped

1 Tbl Fresh Oregano Chopped

1 Tbl Fresh Lemon Thyme Chopped

1 Inch Piece dried Ancho Chili (remove at end of Cooking)

2 Cups Sliced Carrots

4 1/2 Cups Broccoli and Cauliflower Florets

15 Oz Cannellini Beans (if using canned, rinsed and drained)

1.  Saute onion, garlic and barley in olive oil over medium  to medium low heat until onion is almost transparent.  About  5 minutes.

2.  Add water, Celery Seed, Black Pepper, Ancho Pepper, Better Than Bullion, Bay Leaf, Oregano, Marjoram, Parsley, Lemon Thyme and Rosemary and simmer for 30 minutes until barley is close to done.

3.  Add Collards, Kale and Carrots. Cook for 15 minutes or until carrots are tender.

4.  Add Broccoli and Cauliflower. Turn up heat and  let the soup get hot enough that you see steam rising off of the top then turn it off.  Immediately scoop it out into bowls or into container to freeze for later.  Do not let it boil or leave in the pot or the broccoli and cauliflower will get mushy. You want the vegetables to maintain their integrity.

5.  Enjoy! You can change it up with the many different vegetable that are in your garden right now.  I also like lentils in my soup as well.  You can also trade out potatoes for the barley.  I just use what I have on hand, that is the joy of soup.

Seed To Table – Onions

Onions

Onions

History

The history of onion is one that is so unclear as wild onions have been growing for centuries. Most archeologists agree that bulb onions originated in central Asia.

One thing that we can say for certain is that onions have been cultivated for over 5000 years.  In 3500 B.C. there were onions growing in Chinese gardens. In 2500 B.C. there was a Sumerian text text that told of a person plowing over the governor’s onion patch.

Onions were used as an object of worship in Egypt as they symbolized eternity. Why an onion you may ask.  It was because of the structure of an onion being a circle within a circle. The onions were painted in pyramids and used at banquet tables as well.

Indians, Greeks and Romans alike all used onions for its medicinal values.  Some may have gone a little too far, such as the Greeks by rubbing their bodies down in onion juice before competition. They probably chased the competition away with the smell!

The Romans brought the onions to England and Germany. From England the bulb onions came to America.  Bulb onions were planted in America in 1648. However the Native American Indians were eating wild onions called ramps.

Cultivation

What you see on top is what is happening below. For each leaf on the onion plant there is a ring of onion below.  The larger the leaf is the larger the onion ring is!  Onions form tops first and depending on the variety they then form bulbs.

Onion sets are actual onion bulbs that have reached one inch in diameter and then have been pulled to stop growing.  Onion transplants are onions that have been growing about 2 months

There are two different varieties of onions, short day varieties and long day varieties.  Long Day Varieties are for the North(North of the 36th Parallel) and start forming the bulbs when the day length reaches 14 to 16 hours. Short Day varieties are for the South and start to bulb when the day length reaches 10 to 12 hours.

There are other varieties of onions that you can grow to add variety to your dishes.

Egyptian Walking Onions Produce a small bunching onion on the bottom and a  small onion on the top that falls over and walks.

Potato Onions are a bunching onion that is a larger than a bunching onion  or a shallot and produces a hill of onions.

Shallots are a bit more pungent and divide, they also like a drier environment.

Bunching Onions produce a large green top and a small shallot on the bottom.  The beauty of bunching onions is that they produce nice fresh green onions in the winter and spring time while you are waiting for your main crop of onions to come into fruition.

Onions prefer a soil Ph that is between 6.2 and 6.8.

Beans and peas do not like onions so beware of that when you are planning your garden.

You need to choose a sunny location to grow onions. Plan your rows the same direction as the prevailing wind to prevent diseases. This will help you keep your onions aired out the natural way.  Onions need fertilizer when you plant them. They like fertilizer with a high phosphorus content.  It is good to add one inch of well rotted compost as well.  Other good sources of amendments are Gypsum which add calcium and sulphur and loosen the soil.  Colloidal phosphate adds phosphorus  and calcium which is needed for good root structure. Greensand or granite meal are good sources of potassium. Dig a trench that is 4” deep. Put the fertilizer in the trench and then cover with 2 inches of soil. Plant the onions 1” deep and 4” apart. Water well.  You need to fertilize again 3 weeks after planting, and again 2 to 3 weeks later. Continue watering and feeding the onions as they have a very shallow root system.  When the neck starts to feel soft, and the ground starts to crack and the bulbs start to form hold back on the water and on the fertilizer.

Cultivate regularly to keep the weeds at bay as they will hinder growth.  Remember that the onions roots are shallow so be very careful. Do not cover the onion bulb with soil or it will hinder bulb formation.

Covering the ground with mulch or straw can help to retain moisture and prevent weeds as well.

Harvesting

Harvest the onion when the tops turn yellow or brown and fall over.  Pull the onions and let cure for 2 days in the field. Make sure when you pull your onions that they are not in the scorching sun or they will get sunscald.  There is a method called shingling that is used to prevent sunscald. When you pull your onions make a windrow.  Then take the tops of one row to cover the next. You can also dry them under a shady tree or in the garage.  Drying in either of these methods will take a few days longer but you will not get sunscald and hence you will not be open to a host of  other fungal diseases. Bring them in and let them dry fully on screens.  Once dry clip the top and the roots to 1 inch. Store the onions in a mesh bag or wrapped in aluminum foil in the refrigerator.

I have compiled a complete list of diseases and insect that can attack your crop of onions.  There are links to follow so you can see pictures and read about the various diseases.  If I would have written about them all this would have been the longest onion article in history and you would have been bored out of your mind! So use this as a reference if you get in trouble.  Remember to rotate your crops.  I can never say it enough and I know you may be tired of hearing it.

Diseases

Purple Blotch – Purple lesions on the leaves

Blue Mold

Downy Mildew

Bacterial Soft Rot

Basal Plate Rot

Botrytis Bulb Rot

Black Mold

Dodder

Mushy Rot

Neck Rot

Onion Rust

Pink Root

Smudge

Powdery Mildew

Smut

Sour Skin

Southern Blight

Stemphylium Leaf Blight

Sunscald

White Rot

Tip Blight

Insects

Onion Thrip – A sucking insect that rasps the leaves. Thrips cause the onion leaves to turn grey. Thrips look like dark or yellow specks.  Use insecticidal soap.

Onion Maggots

Root Knot Nematode

Lesion Nematode

Stem and Bulb Nematode

Garden Springtail

Lesser Bulb Fly

Onion Recipes

http://recipes.lovetoknow.com/wiki/Category:Onion_Recipes

http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/archives/parsons/publications/onions/onionrecipes.html


All Purpose Bleach Alternative

1 Cup Hydrogen Peroxide

1/2 Cup Lemon or Grapefruit Juice

12 Cups Water

Mix ingredients and store in a plastic or glass jug labeled.

Add 2 cups per wash load along with detergent.

Anti-Inflammatory Garden Fresh Filling

This recipe has a lot of advantages.  First of all, this creation has rosemary, basil and cilantro in it , all of which are anti-inflammatory herbs. You can find these herbs fresh in your garden right now so they will be even more potent for fighting inflammation, that is an added bonus.  As a matter of fact I stepped right out of my back door and picked all of the vegetables and herbs except the mushrooms.

Secondly, this recipe was designed to make your life easier when you are in a hurry, it is a make ahead recipe.  I make this recipe and freeze it in single sized portions, and there it is waiting for me in my own little freezer aisle!  This is a filling that I put in an omelet but you could use it as is for a side dish it is so good. Or even put it in a cabbage pie crust and bake it with a little cheese.

Now for the easy 1,2, 3, recipe and it will be prepared in a flash!

2 Small Yellow Squash

6 oz Baby Bella Mushrooms

1/2 Sweet Onion

Chard – 5 or 6 Medium leaves or 2 lg leaves

1 tsp Fresh Rosemary Chopped Fine

1/2 tsp Fresh Ground Black Pepper

1/2 tsp All Season Salt

2 leaves Fresh cilantro

2 leaves Chopped Fresh Parsley

2 Tbl Butter or Olive Oil for Frying

1.  Prepare vegetables before starting to fry as it is done quickly.

2. Heat oil of choice in pan on medium  low heat

3.  Add vegetables and stir fry them on medium low

4. Add rosemary, cilantro, and parsley to vegetables and cook for about 5 minutes.

5.  Stir in basil as you turn off the heat. Server inside of an omelet.

Makes filling for 4, 3 egg omelets.   Stores in single serve containers well, just heat it up and slip inside of omelet or next to scrambled eggs when hungry.  Or keep in fridge for a couple of days.

Crunchy Kale Chips

By Suzi Fields

1 Lg bunch Kale with mid ribs torn out
1 Red Bell Pepper
1\3 Cup Activated Raw Cashews (soaked in warm water for 4 hours)
2 Cloves Pressed Garlic
1/2 Lemon Juiced                                                                                                                                                                                   1/16 Cup Balsamic Vinegar (or use another 1/2 lemon)
1 tsp Sea Salt
1 tsp Chili Powder
1/4 tsp Cayenne


  1. Wash kale remove mid ribs and dry. The mid ribs are the large veins down the center and they are bitter, get rid of them!   Here is a photo.
  2. The proper way to wash greens is to put them is a pan of water and agitate them this removes the debris in them.  Then you lift the greens out.  You will find dirt in the bottom of the water, that is why you don’t want to pour the water out with the greens in the bowl, you will get the dirt right back in the greens!

  1. Now,  put the kale in a large mixing bowl.
  2. Combine all remaining ingredients in a food processor or blender and mix until smooth. Add  just enough water  from the soaked cashews to make the sauce very smooth.   The sauce should taste good.
  3. Pour mixture over kale and massage into kale for a few minutes to soften kale. You  will feel the texture change of the kale as the acid from the lemon juice or the vinegar breaks down the kale, it is really amazing. This is what it will look like before you put it in the dehydrator.

4.  Place kale in a dehydrator at 110 degrees for about 6 hours until crisp.  You may use the oven on low setting if you do not have a dehydrator.

This recipe tastes like you are eating nacho cheese chips, it is hard to stop eating them!  They are packed with vitamins and nutrients.  This recipe can be varied greatly. Sometimes I just use the vinegar or I may use cider vinegar, or just lemon juice.  This time I only had orange peppers in the garden so that is what I used.  I make this recipe with rapa or collards as well. You can also add nutritional yeast to make it extra cheesy.

Everyone will ask you why it tastes so cheesy, so let me explain.  Many raw foodists or vegans use raw nuts to make a cheese substitute by soaking nuts and then adding lemon juice and olive oil and blending it up.  You can make sour cream and all kinds of yummy things this way.  If you want to know more about this wonderful phenomena just ask me and I will be glad to help you along. So what you are doing is making a seasoned vegan cheese, so to speak and putting it on the kale. Pretty cool stuff!