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July 27th, 2010

Test Garden Update: Leslie Doyle, Las Vegas, NV

leslie_d_tnIt’s been up to 118F in the shade in my desert garden and impossible to garden.  But not to prepare plum sorbet, using the harvest from my weeping ‘Santa Rosa’ plum trees.

I blanched the plums for 45 seconds to break the skins so they slip off easily. I skin the plums because the skins tend to work as a laxative, similar to prunes. Then I squish out the seeds and put the flesh in the food processor. Less sugar is needed when the plums are soft and ripe, so the amount of sugar varies according to my taste.  

Sorbet

I froze most of the sorbet as ice cubes and stored them in ziplock bags. Some sorbet is in little plastic condiment containers purchased at a restaurant supply store, and I froze more in soufflé dishes.


Plums down – peaches are next.
 

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July 27th, 2010

Test Garden Update: Barbara Miller, Boulder, CO

barbara_tnWell, I’m in love with the pepper called ‘Pinot Noir’—what a producer! Most of my pepper patch is in bloom or has half-ready peppers, but ‘Pinot Noir’ has magnificent spicy large and dark sweet peppers just a month after planting out. And lots of blooms coming on, so more fruit to come. The plants are quite small—no need to stake for sure. I want these peppers every year!

Pinot-for-web

After an up-and-down spring, here in Colorado we’ve settled into a nice warm summer with even a bit of rain. Lovely growing weather. The tomatoes are really getting big in our bright sunshine, but somehow the lettuce still hasn’t bolted!

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July 22nd, 2010

Test Garden Update: Linda Crago, Wellandsport, Ontario

linda_tnOn the Test Garden front, everything is growing extremely well.  The All-America marigold and zinnias are outstanding, absolutely covered in blooms. The 4 lettuces I am trialing are wonderful, with special praise going to ‘Sea of Red’, which nearly looks black-blood red. Love the colour. But I think with the huge heatwave we had last week, it didn’t stay as perky as the green lettuces. Dark colour, I guess.

‘Shiny Boy’ watermelon, another All-America Selections winner, is spreading out nicely. No fruit yet. The peppers are starting to colour up—’Gusto Purple’ and ‘Pinot Noir’. And the tomatoes are covered in fruit, but nothing ripe yet. Beans should be ready in a week.

‘Apollo’, a broccolette-style broccoli, was early. I have harvested all the main heads. They are smaller and more loosely beaded than traditional broccoli. I like the heads on my ‘Green Goliath’ better, but this sure beat it in terms of earliness.

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July 22nd, 2010

Test Garden Update: Debbie Leung, Olympia, WA

DebbieLeungIt finally got hot in this corner of our country, up into the 90s. We’ll probably continue in the 70’s/80’s for a bit. The lettuces have been great. I sowed ‘Sweetie Baby Romaine’ indoors in early March and the ones I haven’t harvested yet are still holding their own. Two additional plantings are growing nicely.

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‘Sea of Red’ leaf lettuce was planted with the ‘Sweetie Baby Romaine’ in early spring and is beautiful—very red where the sun penetrates, but green inside the head. It’s starting to bolt now. That’s the two of them in the photo at left. ‘Midnight Ruffles’ was sown in early May and June to test its purported bitterfree-ness in heat. It isn’t big enough yet to sample, but is quite beautiful.

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I must have gotten the zucchinis mixed up, but good thing! I thought the ‘Cavilli’ zuke died and I had no more seeds to replant. I sowed more ‘Midnight Lightning’ so I’d have plenty of zukes to harvest LOL. But the early zuke plant that survived got big quickly and started producing really early, like by a couple weeks even in this year’s cool early summer (due to it being parthenocarpic?), and was a creamy light green color. Must be ‘Cavilli’! Tastes good, too, nice and creamy.

I think I’ve discovered the secret to gardening side-by-side with wild bunnies. For years, I’d brag that they weren’t a nuisance for me—until now. Why were my test bean leaves chewed to nubbins, and the test marigold leaves, also the zinnias, spinach, chard, and some of the lettuces? I found a few slugs, but not many and none where some of the damage was. Then it dawned on me: bunnies! I’d been negligent on keeping the grasses mowed, some getting really tall and thick, providing good bunny hiding places. No one has been spending hours every day in the garden and my dog has aged to the point of no longer being a threat. The secret? Eliminate hiding places and putter in the garden a lot!

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July 19th, 2010

Test Garden Update: Leslie Doyle, Las Vegas, NV

leslie_d_tnI grew 4 varieties of garlic this past year to see which would perform in our desert climate. They all did. I have so much garlic now that I decided to freeze the harvest in various ways. You should smell my kitchen—well, maybe you shouldn’t.


I chopped the cloves in my food processor to the size I wanted—bigger than minced. I froze some of the chopped garlic in butter and some in olive oil in ice cube trays. Now that they have been popped out of the ice cube trays I’ll put them into freezer bags. See the fog around the frozen garlic cubes in the photo below? I also froze several logs of garlic herb butter for bread. Next I’ll be slicing and drying some for garlic flakes and garlic powder and then make some bottles of garlic olive oil—this should take care of the leftover cloves. Then I’ll be done with the garlic. Whew !

Freezing Garlic websize

The four varieties I grew are ‘Red Toch’, ‘Inchelium Red’, ‘California Early’, and ‘Silver White’. They all grew great here, in spite of a November start—the first 3 grew to be 4 bulbs to the pound. I understand they will even get larger with a September start in Las Vegas. So I have ordered some garlic bulb seed stock to plant in September—this time all ‘Inchelium Red’, the easiest to peel and HUGE cloves. The Rodale Test Kitchen designated it as a winner several years back.


Temperature today is too hot to open the windows and air out the garlic “fragrance.”  Don’t come over today!

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