Monday, November 30, 2009

It's that time again!!!

Hooray! I have finally finished our 2010 catalog and whew, what a job! Our final selections have been made and everything is now ready for ordering. It is so much fun for me to choose our varieties and even the tools and supplies we will offer and I think this year is the best catalog ever. We have so many great new products and delicious vegetables for you to try.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Happy Turkey Day!

I know everyone doesn't eat turkey on Thanksgiving but we always do and it seems to be the icon of the holiday.  Whether you brine or not, baste or bag, smoke or deep fry your turkey, there is something very comforting about eating this fabulous bird every year.

Our memories of this holiday are so distinctive and mine always include the leftovers!  We used to eat leftover turkey in gravy on a "shingle" or piece of toast and the memory of that meal makes my mouth water to this day.  My French Canadian grandmothers always made a soup called Frico that was so incredible I crave it every year.  I don't know why we don't make more turkeys during the rest of the year but I am all for it.

Here is my grammy's recipe for Frico au Poulet:

1 onion, chopped finely
2 stalks celery, chopped finely
1 carrot, chopped finely
1 tsp. Summer Savory dried or 2 tsp. fresh (Thyme may be substituted)
2 tsp. butter
Sauté first 3 ingredients in butter until onion is translucent.  Set aside.
1 whole chicken or a turkey carcass and leftover turkey
enough water to cover or approx. 2-3 quarts

Boil gently for approximately 1 hour, removing the scum from the top, until meat is very soft and begins to fall off the bones.  Remove carcass/chicken  from the broth.  When cooled enough to handle, remove all meat from the bones and break up any large pieces of meat and add them back to the broth or if using leftover turkey, break it up and add it to the broth along with the sautéed vegetables.
2-3 potatoes, peeled and diced into bite sized pieces
Bring broth back up to the boil and add potatoes, cook potatoes about 5-10 minutes.

1 1/2 cups flour 
1 tbs. baking powder
 1/2 tsp. salt
 2/3 cup milk

Combine first three ingredients in a bowl and make a well in the center.  Slowly add milk to create a dough that is dry enough to handle, not sticky.  Turn it out onto a floured surface and knead briefly and gently to combine and smooth the dough.  Roll dough to 1/8" thickness or less and cut into small 1" squares.
Add dumplings, one at a time, to simmering stew adding more water to the broth if necessary.  Cover and simmer for 10 minutes more.  Serve immediately.

Friday, November 6, 2009

New Tomato Varieties

We are so excited about growing so many new tomatoes this season! Here is just a sneak peek at some of our new varieties for 2010:

Chocolate Stripes: Dark red, almost brown color with striking green-gold stripes, this Chocolate Stripes tomato is robust in flavor, with sweet notes and complex undertones. The whole tomato is a beauty too--a medium-large globe that is a dark, chocolaty red with green stripes. A big winner at Tomato Fest last year for flavor and beauty. Not only are they beautiful to look at, but the plant has some disease resistance, is a huge producer and fruit has perfect texture. Definitely has the sweetness of a black. Perfect balance of meatiness and juicyness.

Green Grape:
This old-fashioned tomato is an heirloom originally developed by the Tater Mater Seed Co. from crossing the Yellow Pear with Evergreen. The distinctive 1”, yellowish green fruits are borne in clusters of 6-12 that resemble large muscat grapes. Fruit has a translucent pale-green on the inside. This variety has become popular in restaurants and markets because of their unique attractiveness and great punch of flavor. Excellent mixed with other cherry tomatoes such as Black Cherry and Sweet Million.

Vintage Wine:
One of the most beautiful tomatoes available today, Vintage Wine bears beefsteak-style fruits weighing up to 1.5 lbs. A recent introduction and is still rare in the tomato world. Fruits are brilliantly colored, with a bright red base and orange and yellow stripes. Pulp is thick, with a full tomato flavor

And a new pepper too!

Sweet Pickle Pepper:

Very compact plants are loaded with these beautiful upright peppers in colors of red, orange, yellow, and purple, all at the same time. Similar to the hot ornamental peppers, these Sweet Peppers are larger at about 2 inches long and chunky, making for a spectacularly colorful display. This fruit is very edible and sweet, especially when fully ripened to red. As the name suggests, would be beautiful pickled in clear glass jars

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Canning again, my feet hurt, I smell like a tomato and my fingers are sore from peeling tomatoes. Our Romas and San Marzanos are prolific this year and the Opalkas are giant! The color red that they turn when canned is just beautiful and they call out for the tomato soup and spaghetti sauce in the winter. There is a great sense of accomplishment when the first jars start filling up my cupboard where I keep the seasons harvest in jars. Corn is in the freezer and onions are dried and ready to use all year long. Our Blueberries were a bumper crop and made the most amazing jam! There is nothing like it in any grocery store anywhere!

24 jars of pickles seems like a lot I know but we have a lot of folks around here for lunchtime in the spring and those pickles will all get eaten. Thank goodness watermelons don't need canning but all those apples all over the apple tree are going to make apple butter this year which cooks down in the slow cooker. We also have the prettiest french filet beans in yellow and green all packed into jars to enjoy for a long time.

Putting up is exhausting work, how did women survive doing this all summer long every year? I am afraid my family would have starved by the end of November. Living out in the country like we do, I can't just run to the store and get dinner every night so it is nice to have lots of great staples to choose from but I don't think we could live off of our own garden yet. We do have our own eggs and beef and we are lucky to trade for pork and sometimes chicken too.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Tomato Late Blight in the Northeast

Reports of Bonnie's Plants in the Northeast with Late Blight are in the news right now and I am sure many folks are worried about their tomato plants. This is an incredibly nasty disease that causes terrible looking lesions which start on the stems and move to the leaves.

Because of the distribution of plants all over the country by Bonnie's and others, and the fact that they don't know where it is coming from, Bonnie's greenhouses or at the stores, they are very concerned and have pulled plants off the shelves of several stores. This is akin to the situation with produce that is grown in factory farms, processed in very large scale and distributed all over the country. When there is an outbreak, it is almost impossible to control the spread.

If your plant shows signs of these particular lesions, they should be destroyed immediately, you will not be able to prevent the spread of the disease. Because the fungal spores travel airborne, it will move to your other plants and only get worse. If you don't have lesions like this, don't worry, you are probably just fine. We haven't had any reports of lesions on any of our plants and we don't have any reason to believe our plants have been contaminated since we don't sell in big box stores.

Fungicides can be used to prevent this disease and prevention is important if you live in areas where rainfall is extremely heavy for weeks at a time. This creates the perfect conditions for the spread of diseases.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Fall Vegetable Gardening! Yes, fall!

Here at The Tasteful Garden we are always one season ahead of you and believe it or not, we are getting ready for Fall. We have selected our varieties and are seeding now to have plants ready for shipping during August 17th-September 14th.

We have also updated our Fall Vegetable Gardening page to give you tips on when to plant, what to plant and what to do with the plants you have in now.

This gorgeous Swiss Chard "Rainbow" is just one of the many selections that are best grown during the cooler season. Others include Beets, Radishes, Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Cabbages, Kale, Radicchio, Spinach and Lettuces. So many varieties, so little time!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Harvesting Time

Well after not having time to think for so long I realized that it has been quite a while since I posted to this blog. I have been enjoying reading our other Tasteful Garden blogs and I hope you have too! I especially like Teresa's blog about the fairy visiting her garden and the compost blog from Jenny where at a party on her patio, the guests put their paper plates into her compost bin!

Here at The Tasteful Garden, we harvested onions this morning and the first tomatoes, a couple of San Marzano Redortas. The squashes are trying to get going and have lots of baby fruit but we are losing them to squash vine borers and hope to save one or two.

Sunflowers are about 36" high and the french filet beans are starting to bloom. Peppers are thriving and we are already almost tired of cucumbers, not quite but almost.

The cows got out again the other night, before we finished the electric wire on the fence, and ate every corn stalk we had. Oh well, the neighbors corn looks great so maybe a trade...

We are getting ready to do some construction around here to enlarge our packing room to double the size and we will be putting up yet another greenhouse to make room for more plants next year. We keep growing and growing!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Michelle Obama's Vegetable Garden!

Wow, that is just the coolest thing. We are so proud of Michelle and thrilled with the decision to plant a vegetable garden at the White House. Alice Waters and so many other wonderful gardening folks got this idea started many years ago and this year just became the perfect year for it. We are offering to donate tomato plants, we will keep you updated if that happens!

There is just nothing better for the American Family than the great example they are setting. Eating vegetables from your own yard, community garden, or farmer's market is all about good health, happy family activity, and respect for the planet too! Never mind that it is a great thing to share with your neighbors.


Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Absolutely Gorgeous Tomato Plants!

Every year it is exciting to see the new crop of plants come to size but I can tell you that this year is the best ever. We have beautiful plants in our greenhouses and I just wish you could all walk through with me. That tomato plant smell is so strong and the plants are just growing by the minute!

We have a fantastic selection and we are so proud of our babies!

We will be adding future posts with diary entries about how some of our long time customers are doing with their growing season, from all over the country. If you want to add your Tasteful Garden diary, email us.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

February is getting very springy

We have seen Forsythia in bloom and Daffodils are open, the first fruit trees are turning white and one Rhododendron flower has opened. Our camelias are in full bloom and some nice warm weather has been making it feel like spring is just around the corner! But the thing that most makes it spring around here is the greenhouses filling up with tomatoes, peppers and herbs! The first tomato plants of the season are about 4" tall and look gorgeous! We will begin our first shipment on March 2nd and from that point on it will be chaos around here.

When do I plant tomatoes in my area is one of the most commonly asked questions we get so here are some helpful tips and a map of expected average last frost dates for the US. Keep in mind that these are estimates so you should always be careful to watch out for late frosts that can do severe damage to young tomato plants. Also, using wall o' waters or season extending mini greenhouses can give you an earlier planting time and give a boost to your plants that will get you larger fruit than your neighbors!

The best time to plant is not the same for everyone. Each person has to decide at what point their garden is ready for certain types of herb and vegetable plants. Perennial Herbs can be planted just about anytime it is beginning to get warm but Annual herbs such as Basil and Dill need to wait until night temperatures are well above freezing every night. Tomatoes and other "warm season" vegetables are frost tender and will be severely damaged by even a light frost which can happen when temperatures are as low as 36-38 degrees. "Cool season" vegetables such as lettuce and broccoli like a bit of frost but a light freeze can cause damage and hard freezes will kill them completely.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Getting Ready for Spring

Wow, we really had a warm day today! Every time the weather gets warm and sunny during the wintertime it is a good day to work outdoors. I do think we can get depressed being stuck in the house so much so take advantage when a warm day comes along. Here are a couple suggestions for quick 1 day projects in the garden:

Build a raised bed
A simple box is easy to build with a few screws and a good drill. You can even get the boards cut for you at the lumber store. You can also use angle irons or special hardware for attaching corner boards to each other that will make your box strong and able to last for several years. (We also have special sturdy plastic hinge connectors in our catalog) Once your box is built, dig up the grass where you want to put it, rototill it a bit and add lots of good soil mix and compost. Use the stuff for outdoor planting beds, not regular potting soil for indoor use. That compost will work even on cold days to get the bed ready for planting once you are past your last frost date.

Start a compost heap
Compost is like gold in the garden and it is easy to get started. All you need is a place to put it, shaded and out of the way, some kind of support to hold it all together, (hay bales work great) and access to the hose. There are so many ways to build a compost container but you don't need anything expensive. Read more about composting here

Plan your garden
Spend some time thinking about where you will put your plants this year, how many of each you will need, what varieties to grow and when you want to plant. Drawing this out on paper, or on your computer is fun and keeps you organized so you will not end up with too much of one thing. Think about the sun exposure--don't shade out any lower growing vegetables. Then visit The Tasteful Garden for a fun shopping experience choosing all your fantastic flavored vegetables.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Black Swallowtail Larvae

Watch this caterpillar eat through the parsley leaves! Amazing.