Jim, Could I ask some questions about starting seeds for our 2019 gardens.
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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!
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
The July Master Gardener meeting was a tasty success – a wonderful, informative speaker on our favorite topic – food! …Well, to be more precise, the topic was about how to incorporate food plants into our landscapes. Cheryl Beesley, a master gardener, horticulturalist, and landscape designer with an emphasis on edible landscapes was gracious, entertaining and educational.
Before the meeting and her talk, we gathered to graze in Raincatcher’s own edible landscape. Culinary creations from our own fruits, vegetables and herbs were offered and gobbled up.
Our culinary team showing off our tasty treats!
Through the garden gate – a glimpse of the landscape.
Starla with a photo-retrospective of our journey from old playground to new edible landscape.
Our guests enjoying the tasting; that’s the hugelkultur in the foreground.
Three of our planting scenes: our southern border lined with okra, our ‘rock garden’ with herbs, and the transformed swingset, now home to peppers and cucumbers.
Abbe sharing the chilled tomato-basil soup served in mini-tomato cups. Recipes coming!
Lisa with glazed lemon zucchini bread.
Lavender shortbread cookies – yum!
Passion fruit and tarragon truffles by Ana made with plants from our edible landscape.
Annette and Starla’s friend, Marsha Adams, enjoying a seat in the shade.
Cynthia Jones with our speaker, Cheryl Beesley and her husband, James.
Written by: The Edible Garden Team and Lisa Centala
Pictures by Starla Willis
Have you always wanted to grow a passion vine but have too much shade to grow the showy purple Passiflora incarnata? Or perhaps you have a butterfly garden and are interested in providing one of the host plants for Gulf Fritillary, Julia and Zebra Longwing butterflies? Well, if you don’t mind having a Lilliputian passion flower that is only about an inch in diameter, then Passiflora lutea is for you.
Passiflora lutea is also known as yellow passionflower, though the color of the flowers may range from chartreuse to off-white. It is a native plant in Texas that blooms from May through September. In Dallas it is considered a perennial herbaceous climbing or trailing vine that can reach 15 feet in height. Here it will loose its wide shallowly-lobed leaves in the winter but it comes back reliably in the spring. The fall leaf color is a shade of yellow. Though considered somewhat drought tolerant once established, P. lutea prefers moist, rich soil. Its flowers are followed by small black berries, which some say are edible but not very tasty.
I have P. lutea growing wild in my shady yard near White Rock Lake. If I don’t keep an eye on it, the vines can grow rampantly in some spots. However they are very easy to pull off from wherever they are growing. I also have one pot of purple Passiflora incarnata and have noticed that the Gulf Fritillary butterfles tend to prefer to lay their eggs on P. incarnata rather than P. lutea. However, one of my neighbors had P. lutea growing in her yard and had many caterpillars feeding on it.
One of the historic uses for the berries has been to make ink. A recommended recipe is: ½ cup of P. lutea berries, ½ tsp. salt, and ½ tsp. vinegar. Crush the berries, and then strain the liquid through a fine sieve. Then add the salt and vinegar. Though this ink is not archival, the deep purple-black color is pretty
Yellow passionflower is not often found in most garden centers. However, Roseann Ferguson says that the annual plant sale at Texas Discovery Gardens will carry it. The dates for this year’s fall sale are September 15-16 with the member-only sale taking place on the 15. Many of their unusual plants sell out quickly, so get there early and consider becoming a member. Further information about the plants that will be for sale will be posted on Texas Discovery Garden’s website (www.txdg.org) closer to the date of the sale.
Tuesday at Raincatcher’s we noticed that the arugula was bolting. Lovely little white blossoms crowned the tops of all the arugula plants in our raised bed. The bees couldn’t have been happier.
However, it also reminded us that the time had come for one final harvest. Carefully we clipped our way through the plants with bees buzzing all around us. A very generous amount of arugula, at least 6 pots full, was harvested and shared with our volunteers.
Here is a delightful recipe for using fresh, peppery arugula brought in straight from the garden. A nice addition to the salad would be 1 bunch fresh roasted beets. Be creative, arugula supports a variety of many different ingredients.
¼ cup sliced natural almonds
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon minced shallot
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 ½ tablespoons red-wine vinegar
¼ teaspoon sugar
½ teaspoon salt
3 cups baby arugula (about 3 ounces)
3 or 4 radishes (thinly sliced)
- Cook almonds in oil in a small skillet over moderate heat, stirring occasionally until pale golden. Cool almonds in oil, (nuts will get darker as they cool). Transfer almonds with a slotted spoon to a small bowl and season with salt.
- Stir together shallot, lemon juice, vinegar, sugar, salt and oil from almonds in a large bowl.
- Using a mandoline or very sharp knife, thinly slice radishes.
- Combine salad ingredients in a large bowl. Drizzle dressing over the top and toss well to coat the leaves.
Yield: 4 servings
Note: Freshly “pulled” radishes were added to the salad, as well.
Find out more about arugula here .
And here’s another way to use harvested arugula.
Please take a minute to go to this link to see information about our fall vegetable gardens. This link contains names of varieties, spacing information, and you can enlarge the plot plan for easier viewing. Thank you, Dorothy, for setting this up for us! https://www.growveg.com/garden-plan.aspx?p=777788
Don’t forget tomorrow’s garden tour and sale of our cookbook, A YEAR ON THE PLATE, at 5030 Shadywood.
Questions? Leave a comment, we will answer or call the Master Gardener help desk at 214 904 3053.