Jim, Could I ask some questions about starting seeds for our 2019 gardens.
Dallas County Master Gardeners said farewell to summer with an outside dessert buffet at our monthly meeting, Thursday, September 27th. Beautiful weather that morning teased us into believing that fall was only a whisper away.
Earlier in the summer we harvested gallons of blackberries from the vines in our north garden. Mid-summer peaches were purchased from local growers. Carefully packaged, our bountiful berries and fruits were sent to the freezer for a brief storage. And then, the cooking began.
Our dessert buffet featured some long-standing favorites:
*Old-Fashioned Blackberry Cobbler
*Old Fashioned Peach Cobbler
*Fresh Peach Pound Cake
*Blackberry Pie Bars
*Fresh Peach Drop Cookies
It was the surprise dessert, however, that took center stage…Lemon Verbena Ice Cream. If you already know about Lemon Verbena but aren’t growing it, now’s the time to reconsider. This ice cream was a real crowd pleaser based on some of the comments we heard as each spoonful was savored by our members:
“Lemony goodness is filling my senses. I want more.”
“Those tiny, little bits of candied lemon rind are popping in my mouth. So refreshing.”
“Creamy texture, divine flavor…please make this again.”
Lemon Verbena Ice Cream
1 cup milk
1 cup fresh lemon verbena leaves
1 ¾ cups heavy cream
¾ cup sugar
⅛ teaspoon salt
5 egg yolks
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
*¼ cup chopped candied lemon zest
In a saucepan set over moderate heat bring the milk just to a simmer. Gently crush the lemon verbena leaves in a bowl and add the hot milk. Cover and let steep until milk is cool.
Strain the milk through a sieve into a saucepan, pressing hard on the leaves to extract all flavor. Add the cream, sugar and salt. Bring to a boil, stir once, and remove pan from the heat.
In a bowl whisk the egg yolks, add half of the hot cream mixture, whisking, and pour the egg mixture back into the remaining hot liquid. Cook over moderate heat, stirring, until mixture coats the back of a spoon. Do not let it boil. Stir in the lemon juice and candied zest.
Transfer the mixture to a bowl, let cool, and chill, covered with plastic, until cold.
Transfer the mixture to an ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer’s directions.
Yield: about 1 quart
*Candied Lemon Zest
4 lemons, well scrubbed
2 cups sugar
1 cup cool water
Remove zest from lemons with a vegetable peeler, keeping pieces long. Remove white pith using a paring knife. Cut into a fine julienne using a very sharp knife. Place julienned zest in a small bowl; cover with boiling water. Let stand 30 minutes; drain.
Bring sugar and the cool water to a boil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. When sugar is completely dissolved, add julienned zest, reduce heat to medium low, and cook 10 minutes. Remove from heat, cover, and let stand overnight. Drain before using.
Yield: 8 servings
Here’s some information about a well-loved herb, lemon verbena:
Lemon Verbena, Aloysia triphylla syn. Lippia citriodora, is a member of the Verbenaceae family. It is a shrub-like herb with woody stems and bright green, rough-textured pointed leaves, from 1-3 inches long. Leaves grow in whorls of 3 to 4 with an intense lemon scent.
The bush generally grows around 3-6 feet tall. Plant in full sun in good garden soil. Give it plenty of room to ramble off in different directions or trim slightly, if desired. Either way, you will have an abundance of leaves to use starting in early spring and continuing into fall. In winter lemon verbena will lose its leaves.
Once springtime arrives, you’ll notice tiny little leaves popping out up and down the stems. Your lemon verbena has come out of its dormant stage and it is ready to welcome the new season. This might be a good time to give it a shapelier look.
Enjoy its crisp, clean lemon taste as a substitute in any recipe calling for lemons. Use its fresh leaves chopped up in cakes, cookies and glazes. Drop a sprig or two in your tea and relax with a delightfully lemon-scented herb that should be in everyone’s garden.
The next Dallas County Master Gardener meeting will be October 25 at Walnut Hill United Methodist Church and don’t forget our fall garden tour on October 13th. Tickets can be purchased ahead online for $15 or for $20 on the day of the tour at any of the garden locations. More information here.
All members of the public are invited to both events!
As master gardeners, we really dig a good reason to gather around the table. When delicious, garden-fresh food is involved we’re “all in”. That’s what happened a few weeks ago when we surprised our Raincatcher’s team leader, Lisa Centala, with a ‘bring your favorite dish’ salad buffet for her special birthday.
A tantalizing line up of salad bowls and platters was spread out the length of two 8-foot tables. We didn’t hesitate to fill our plates with the most amazing variety of green salads, vegetable salads, chicken salads and more. Approaching the end of the line were Artichoke Bites, Baguette slices spread with basil cream cheese and Hatch chili biscuits. No restraint was shown as evidenced by plates full of our garden-inspired selections.
One particular dish new to many of us and requested by all was the Zesty Brussels Sprouts. True to its name, the apple cider vinegar combined with sugar and horseradish was soaked up by each little sprout. They had just the right amount of zip to satisfy the palate. Kathey Roberts graciously shared the recipe for everyone to enjoy.
Now is the time to plant Brussels sprouts. With their long maturity date, transplants should be in your garden by October 15th.
Zesty Brussels Sprouts
2 (10-ounce) bags frozen Brussels sprouts or use fresh from your garden or produce isle
1 ½ cups sugar
1 cup apple cider vinegar
5 Tablespoons prepared horseradish (not cream of horseradish)
Salt to taste
2 teaspoons dry mustard
Cook the sprouts according to package directions; drain. In a large bowl, mix the sugar, vinegar, horseradish, salt and mustard. Add the sprouts and toss lightly. Refrigerate at least 6 hours or overnight.
For more information about Brussel sprouts and a video about their care read here.
By the way, only 6 tickets left for the Apples, Pears, Persimmons and Pomegranates lunch on October 16th. Lecture is free.
“Apples, Pears, Persimmons and Pomegranates”
Nature has been saving up all year for the grand finale.
You’ll be inspired by this colorful class on planting, growing and harvesting the fruits of the season.
Tuesday, October 16th, 10:00am – 11:30pm
Raincatcher’s Garden of Midway Hills * 11001 Midway Road
Instructor: Jeff Raska, Dallas County Horticulture Program Assistant, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service
(The class is free – no reservation required. The public is welcome, and Master Gardeners earn one-hour education credit)
Immediately following Jeff’s presentation in the church sanctuary, you are invited to join us in the Community Hall for a bountiful buffet table bursting with seasonal flavor. This will be a feast for both the eyes and the palate.
Lunch reservations required by Tuesday, October 9th * $15 Per Person * Limited to 60
Baked Brie with Roasted Persimmons
Cinnamon Candied Apple Slices
Butternut Squash-Pear Soup Garnished with Parmesan and Rosemary
Tennessee Ham Balls with Brown Sugar Glaze
Salad of Figs, Pomegranates, Persimmons and Pears with Pomegranate Dressing
Autumn Orchard Crisp, Persimmon Cookies, Caramel Apple Layer Cake with Apple Cider Frosting
Pineapple Sage Infused Water
Kay Mcinnis and Wendy Leanse are the coordinators at the Temple Emanu-El Community Garden. This is Part III of our August Garden Survey. Great information from a fruitful Dallas County Master Gardener project on the grounds of Temple Emanu-El.
In August you should be planning for the fall. Take a look at the planting guide put out by TAMU. Its mostly too hot to plant seeds directly into the beds so it’s ideal to start plants indoors.
We are harvesting Long Beans, Cucumbers (particularly Armenian cucumbers which don’t seem to be bothered by aphids), okra, peppers, eggplant, collard greens and tons of black eyed peas and our Cucuzzi squash has just started producing.
We have bitter melons planted that have also just started to bear. Ruth Klein introduced us to several tropical vegetables that don’t seem to be bothered by Texas pests that have done well.
We have 3 tomatoes planted to see if we can get a fall crop – maybe or maybe not…
We are at the end of our chard and will be preparing the beds to receive some Mustard Greens, Chinese Cabbage and various root vegetables that will produce through the winter.
As our current crops wind down, we will see if we can amend the soil and get a quick crop in or if we should re-new the beds with a cover crop. I have already ordered seeds for that since I found that last year things got sold out.
Last year we put in drip irrigation and are currently watering our beds 3 times a week for 60 min each. We will cut back if it ever rains again in Texas, or when it cools down. We also have volunteers that check our garden during the week to see if everything seems to be getting watered. We found that as the irrigation lines weather, they tend to pop off and need to be re-attached using hose clamps.
Our gardeners meet every week on Sunday at 8:30am where we clean up, weed, water what is necessary and harvest/prepare vegetables to take to the Vickery Meadows Food Pantry!
Kay McInnis, Master Gardener class of 2016
More information about long beans here.
It’s August and I wanted to write a little something for the blog that would encourage our readers and remind them fall is coming. Here’s Patti Brewer’s reply when everything seemed so bleak and no rain was in sight:
Well, I’m flattered you asked. This spring we had the shortest growing season I’ve ever experienced in all these years.
The only thing we are harvesting now is jalapeños and Serrano peppers. Bell peppers are struggling. We usually get our most productive harvest of peppers in Oct and Nov.
It was 111 degrees one weekend in July! We are sandy loamy soil. So you can imagine how things are barely hanging on in the veggie garden.
I am trying to regenerate about half of our spring tomato plants. I will sprinkle our homemade compost on the tomatoes and peppers this weekend because it is getting down in to the low 70’s
We are not on a drip irrigation system in the garden. I have mulched and mulched again which has helped. We were a failure at beets. Not sure why. I do have a loofa growing on supports that the English peas were growing on in the early spring, But It hasn’t bloomed yet.
For the fall we always plant the following: mustard and turnip greens, garlic, spinach, turnips and kale. Sometimes we don’t plant the spinach or kale till November.
I will be planting a new area for wildflowers in September. I have harvested many wildflower seeds from this past spring! Just hope we get the rain for those to germinate. Our farm locate west of Weatherford is experiencing big time drought.
My recent video of a hummingbird hawk moth and a picture of an Orb spider mummifying a grasshopper have been our entertainment. All from out here in Palo Pinto county!!
Patti, did you get any rain in the last week?
Yes!!! As of August 19th, we have received almost 3 inches!! I’m seeing my bluebonnets sprouting!! I have a new seeded wildflower plot that is 20 X 25 feet. That makes me happy. Loofah is vining like crazy. Still waiting on it to bloom. Tomatoes and peppers have so many promising blooms!! I have a few tomatoes on the vine too!!
Temperatures although mostly still in upper 90s with lows in the low 70s are making my garden happy. Black eyed peas are up along with mustard and turnip greens. Kale is up because I shook the dried seeds from my kale plants from last winter! Previously planted in the summer was zipper cream peas and black eyes. They look great now and I picked some even. I planted Blue Lake Bush green beans yesterday.
Rain was very important for our entire place. Fall is my most favorite season!!
Patti Brewer, Master Gardener class of 2012