Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Soy Beans

It's been a bit delayed getting going, but our final raised bed is planted chuck full of soy beans! I've been waiting because the package said not to plant them until the temperatures consistently didn't fall below 50. With this unusually cold spring that meant I couldn't sew these seeds until the beginning of June! The only thing I didn't get to do with them that I had planned was to coat them in an inoculant first which helps them fix nitrogen to their roots. It's supposed to increase their yield, but the only nursery in my area that carries it is one I don't go to very often, so I eventually gave up on trying to get over there and just went without. I planted enough seeds though that I think we should be OK. In addition to freezing a lot to take as a snack to work, I'm sure we will be making this refreshing edamame salad as the grilling season heats up!

Edamame Salad

2 T Sesame oil
2 t soy sauce
1 T rice vinegar
½ t Asian chili garlic sauce

1 lbs. edamame
2 green onions thinly sliced
¼ c chopped mint
¼ c sliced almonds

1.) Cook edamame according to package directions (or simply thaw if already cooked) and place in the refrigerator until cool.

2.) Whisk together all dressing ingredients and set aside.

3.) Once edamame has cooled, combine the remaining salad ingredients and toss with the dressing. Serve chilled.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Ooops, I Did it Again

A few weeks ago I got excited when I experimented with onion flowers. I cut them and sprinkled them over a garden salad. It was delicious and tasty and I would highly recommend it if your onions flowers. I did a little research however, and found out that unlike garlic, onion flowers are a bad sign. I could paraphrase this, but I think a direct quote will work best.

"Flowering of onions can be caused by several things but usually the most prevalent is temperature fluctuation. An onion is classed as a biennial which means it normally takes 2 years to go from seed to seed. Temperature is the controlling or triggering factor in this process. If an onion plant is exposed to alternating cold and warm temperatures resulting in the onion plant going dormant, resuming growth, going dormant and then resuming growth again, the onion bulbs prematurely flower or bolt. The onion is deceived into believing it has completed two growth cycles or years of growth in its biennial life cycle so it finalizes the cycle by blooming."

Ok, so this doesn't sound so bad. You plan to pick your onion at the end of it's first year anyways. Then I read this.

"What can one do if flower stalks appear? Should the flower stalks be removed from the onion plants? Suit yourself but once the onion plant has bolted, or sent up a flower stalk, there is nothing you can do to eliminate this problem. The onion bulbs will be edible but smaller. Use these onions as soon as possible because the green flower stalk which emerges through the center of the bulb will make storage almost impossible."

Dangit. No more storage or hopes of giant onion bulbs for those plants. Well at least in my case the ones that flowered as a result of our warm then cold then warm again spring were few, and most of my crop is still on track to grow into big beautiful onions. So if yours happen to be in bloom, enjoy the flowers, and then enjoy some green onions!

Quotes were taken from here.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Pickin' Stawberries

No friends, I still haven't gotten around to covering my strawberry plants, but today I did manage to find four berries that hadn't been attacked by birds yet! Luckily my plants are getting so bushy that they are starting to hide their tasty treats from the local wildlife. For some reason I always thought strawberry's would be hard to grow, but as long as they get plenty of water and sunshine they seem to do just fine. I think our exceptionally long spring also helped by giving them a long time to get established before the heat set in. Take a look at these beauties.

While I was good and saved half the berries for my poor sick Jeffry, who was still in bed while I was foraging in my pj's in the front yard, I was able to enjoy one of my favorite weekday breakfasts. I really should buy a coaster for my desk.... 

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Invasive Plants

My response to this picture should be one of great joy. I bought this bush months ago for a great price at OSH (in fact I bought two). I knew exactly where I'd plant them, all I needed to do was build a couple small planter boxes. No problem right? Well if you're me projects are easy to think up and hard to get around to. Months later I'd repeatedly forgotten to water them and they were looking rather pathetic and snail bitten out on my front patio. By the time I put them in the ground they were half dead, but I still had hope. A week later maybe a quarter of the plant was left alive. I decided it was time to take serious measures. I chopped back both the plants to just their core and fertilized them heavily. MONTHS later, they are green and even starting to bloom again. I should be over joyed.

Why am I not you might ask? Well, look carefully at the center of this picture. That green stalk that is growing is NOT part of my bush. That my friends, is horsetail reed. This is yet another one of the plants I inherited from my home's previous owner and in case you haven't guessed it, its invasive. The bed of horsetail reed is about eight feet away from this bed, yet low and behold, it's found its way over to my bushes.

If you see horsetail reed and are considering buying it, don't let this post completely discourage you. It has a wonderful history of being used for scrubbing pots and such. If you're a pioneer it could be quite useful. It also looks quite lovely cut at different levels in a vase, and makes a delightful popping sound when you pull apart its sections. I will strongly caution you however, to put it in a pot. This is a good lesson for any invasive plants you might have your eye on, and this is not just limited to ornamentals. Plants such as mint and horse radish are a pain to get rid of once they find a home they like. Just a thought.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Some Stoop Shots

This past weekend Jeffry and I checked out the San Fransisco Botanical Garden with some friends. While I forgot to take pictures of the many different garden styles the garden displays, I was pretty shocked by the number of plants I recognized from my own yard! On the hike back to our car I started to take notice of some very pretty or interesting planter options that we passed and snapped a few photos to share with you.

Alright, I know it's hard to see in this picture, but on the bottom left balcony they turned a cinder block wall into homes for plants. They stacked the cinder blocks so the holes were facing up, and then placed plane pots (like the type you get the plants in from the nursery) in those holes. Since the ends are like steps, it made a lot of different heights for the plants to sit. I imagine you could also do something with placing boards between the layers of blocks. That way you could plant directly in the holes. Its a great mix of industrial and organic.

I liked this one because it looks like a little cottage stoop. Like if your turned around you wouldn't see a row of houses, but your favorite vacation spot. Unlike some urban  porches and balconies, which seem to try and fit a whole forest worth of plants into a teeny tiny space, these porches  look like the owners just invited a few of their favorite friends over to brighten up the space.

This last planter design I enjoyed because of it's clean lines and structure. So much in SF seems to look a little worn around the edges and unstructured, but this planter stands firm with sharp corners and tidy containers to keep the chaos inside them in order. I imagine it also provides a nice place to sit on a sunny day.