Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Garden Growth

I thinned out the cucumber plants because they were all growing like crazy and were going to kill each other. Now, one of the 4 I had left is injured and they also have some company. Squash Bugs. Sad Face. I was hoping that my organic garden would just avoid these types of problems all on their own, but I know that's not at all realistic. Bugs are just a part of the process, and I need to safely deal with it. I read that I could use organic pyrethrum, which is from chrysanthemums. I want to look into it more before going that route. Another option is making a soapy spray. Add 1 tablespoon of soap to a gallon of water and spray a fine mist on the leaves. The soap I use is all natural anyway, so I'm thinking that would be okay? Does anyone have experience with this? The bugs especially dislike peppermint, and I have organic tea tree and peppermint shampoo and wonder if that may also do the job. Aside from the research time, the major con of using the organic pyrethrum thus far would be the shipping time for it to get here.

Otherwise, though, the garden is looking great! One of the tomato plants is just a beast and I can't wait to make some pico! Canning is something else I plan to get into in the next year, but doubt I'll have the opportunity to preserve much this year. I don't expect the garden to produce much more than we can eat, but if it does, I have family members with whom I can share. The one exception may be basil, but that's so versatile that I doubt I'll have a problem with consumption.

Tomato Beast - 6/28/11 - Day 24 post-transplant - Day 53 from seed

Lettuce - 6/28/11 - Day 24

Basil - 6/28/11 - Day 24

I got to use my basil for the first time today! I met with some girlfriends for a vegan potluck and I made a vegan Italian wedding soup. Although the recipe didn't call for fresh basil, I felt the need to use it anyway, and it paid off.

Vegan Italian Wedding Soup
courtesy of Vegetarian Times

Serves 6

4 Tbs. olive oil, divided
1 medium white or yellow onion, finely chopped (1 cup)
2 cloves garlic, minced (2 tsp.), plus 1 whole clove, peeled, divided
¾ cup diced carrot
¾ cup diced celery
1 Tbs. Simply Organic Oregano
1 Tbs. Simply Organic Basil Fresh basil from your amazing garden
1 Tbs. Simply Organic Parsley
6 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
¾ cup ditalini pasta
1 pkg. vegan meatballs, defrosted (I used Nate's brand Italian flavored. Many brands are not vegan, but these are)
1 5-oz. pkg. fresh spinach
2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice

1. Heat 2 Tbs. olive oil in large pot over medium-high heat. Add onion and minced garlic; sauté 5 minutes, or until beginning to soften. Stir in carrot and celery, and cook 5 minutes more, or until onion is soft and just beginning to brown. Add oregano, basil, and parsley, and cook 1 minute. Stir in broth, and bring to a boil.

2. Reduce heat to medium, add ditalini, and cook at low boil 5 minutes, or half of cooking time stated in ditalini package directions. Add meatballs, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer 10 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, heat remaining 2 Tbs. oil in skillet over medium heat. Add remaining garlic clove, and crush with wooden spoon in oil while heating. Add spinach; cook 3 to 5 minutes, turning constantly so spinach becomes evenly coated and wilted, but still bright green. After meatballs have simmered, add spinach and lemon juice to soup, and season with salt and pepper.

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