I got all the leaves raked and the test beds cleaned out just before the rains started. Last week we were visited by “The Pineapple Express,” a rain cloud stretching from Hawaii through the southwest. Most of you have snow—I am so jealous.
I moved some of my newly planted seedlings out of the greenhouse to enjoy these many drizzly days (above). I expect to start transplanting most of them in a couple of weeks. As soon a the rain stops, I’ll finish putting the pea seedlings into the rooftop garden on my chicken coop and in this narrow bed in front of the guesthouse. The other seedlings will go into my new front-yard garden.
Four of my 10 backyard test beds are now planted to overflowing with ‘Inchellium Red’ garlic and I hope to be a source for local seed garlic next year. It grows huge here in my climate and soil, and I couldn’t control myself—I just had to take the plunge into garlic. It also repels vampires. —Leslie Doyle, Las Vegas, Nevada
This has been our week to say good-bye to the 2010 garden as we had low temperatures in the 20’s last night and have been having sporadic frosts for about a month. The autumn weather has been in the 60’s and 70’s during the day, which has been a real treat.
Last weekend we heaped composted manure on 80% of the garden beds after harvesting all but the hardiest: Jerusalem artichokes, sweet potatoes, horseradish, leeks, broccoli, and the remaining lettuces. The ‘Sea of Red’ lettuce is excellent in the fall bed and sized up nicely from a mid-August planting. The two Romaines did not really head up but we’ve been harvesting the outer leaves of both ‘Tin Tin’ and ‘Sweetie Baby Romaine’ from each plant. The ‘Tin Tin’ leaf thickness and taste is amazing. ‘Midnight Ruffles’ is beautiful but didn’t get large enough to harvest more than 5-6 leaves from each plant.
On Tuesday we made a recipe that is truly a transition from summer to fall/winter cooking. Roasted Ratatouille is made like the typical roasted “root vegetable” recipes but made with summer veggies. We used the last of our peppers, eggplants, and zucchini and I thought I’d share the recipe as well as “before and after” pictures—it was so pretty. It’s too bad the pictures aren’t scratch & sniff as the kitchen smelled like an Italian bistro. Make sure the whole family tries it as the garlic really shines in this recipe and you’ll have to live with them the rest of the day!
4 oriental eggplants, 1/2-inch cubes
1 tsp. salt
2 medium zucchini, 1/2-inch cubes
2 yellow peppers, 1/2-inch pieces
2 red peppers, 1/2-inch pieces
2 medium onions, chopped
6-8 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 tbsp. fresh thyme, finely minced
1 tbsp. fresh oregano, finely minced
1 tbsp. fresh basil, finely minced
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
2 tbsp. olive oil
4 roma tomatoes, sliced thinly
Combine chopped eggplant with 1 tsp. salt and let drain at least 30 minutes. Combine drained eggplant with remaining ingredients except tomatoes and toss like a salad. Spread on a cookie sheet and place the sliced tomatoes on top. Roast at 475 degrees for 30-40 minutes, stirring halfway through. We use parchment paper when we roast vegetables for easy clean-up and served the ratatouille with couscous.
I 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 !
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!