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News From the Winter Vegetable Patch at Raincatcher’s

Lovely looking lettuce but guess what Syann told me-it took 3 sowings to get that lovely lettuce because the rain kept washing the seeds away.

Lettuce crop at Raincatcher’s 2019

Here’s our recent radish harvest. We have planted more radish seeds to enjoy throughout the spring.

Freshly pulled radishes

A dedicated team of Master Gardeners cultivates our vegetable gardens. As you can see in the picture below, note only one smiling gardener, it takes persistence and concentration to tend a research, education and demonstration garden.

Dallas County Master Gardeners-Sue, Cindy, Dorothy, Jim and Syann

We farm this patch of earth on Midway Road so that we can help you. Come see us on Tuesday mornings, attend our classes, or send us a question on this blog. We’d love to help your garden grow.

Ann Lamb

Pictures by Starla Willis


This year we will plant potatoes in the color wheel in the green section because, well, they have pretty green leaves.  Review our video: Perfectly Planted Potatoes Premieres

It’s time to plant onions, buy them now at your favorite garden center and plant like this.

A list of our 2019 classes will be coming later this month.

Happy New Year 2019 and It’s Getting Cold Outside!

Raincatcher’s Volunteers at our Christmas Party. Some Volunteers are missing from this picture and more needed! Happy Gardening in 2019 from our garden to yours.

Q. You have often mentioned cold tolerant vegetable crops and those which are very susceptible to frosty injury.  Could you list these and temperature lows which they can tolerate?

A. This is very difficult to do and be accurate since cold tolerance depends on preconditioning. For instance, if broccoli has been growing in warm conditions and temperatures drop below 22 degrees F., it will probably be killed. If these same broccoli plants had experienced cool weather, they would probably survive the sudden cold.

In general, a frost (31-33 degrees F.) will kill beans, cantaloupe, corn, cucumbers, eggplant, okra, peas, pepper, potatoes, sweet potatoes, squash, tomatoes, and watermelon.

Colder temperatures (26-31 degrees F.) may burn foliage but will not kill broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, chard, lettuce, mustard, onion, radish, and turnip.

The real cold weather champs are beets, Brussels sprouts, carrots, collards, kale, parsley, and spinach.

Thank you Aggie Archives for this information!

More about frost protection here.

Cold Tolerant Veggies from Daniel Cunningham here.

Ann Lamb

 

 

Shopping For Seeds for Next Year’s Garden

Dorothy shopping for Raincatcher’s via catalog!

Jim, Could I ask some questions about starting seeds for our 2019 gardens.

While many of us buy transplants for our garden, it’s a step up to know that our garden plans to start everything from seed.  What’s your reasoning behind that decision?
  By starting our seeds indoors, we can purchase the seed selection that we want and hopefully they will be ready to transplant at the proper time.  Some seeds are difficult to start from seed and it is better to just purchase the transplants, for example onions and leeks.  Also, some seeds are easy to start by planting directly into the ground – radishes, greens, beans, okra for example.
Are you planning to start everything for our vegetable garden from seed?
 For the raised vegetable beds, we plan on starting the peppers, tomatoes indoors and for the first time eggplant and tomatillo.
Why not the pepper, Hot Big Boss Man, that you grew last year?
 We like to try new varieties and interesting vegetables each year.  This year the peppers will be from the All America Selection list.
Ok, that was my next question. Did I hear that all seeds would be All-American varieties and why is that important? 
All of our peppers will be All American Selections (AAS) winners, except for the Poblano L.  AAS winners have been “Tested and Proven Locally” for garden superiority by horticultural professionals across North America.

Last year’s tomatoes(2018) started by seed, thanks to Jim!

You are an expert on tomato grafting! Which tomato varieties do you plan to graft and on what stock? 
No, I am not an expert by any means. I attended a workshop at a MG state conference and have grafted tomatoes with some success several times.  I also, presented an informal presentation at Joe Field garden years ago.  We plan on using the rootstock Estamino VFFNTA hybrid and grafting heirloom tomatoes, Brandywine Red and Cherokee Purple onto the rootstock.  Hoping for the same excellent flavor of the heirloom with improved production.
When do you plan to start these seeds indoors for the spring season?  Peppers we start mid-January and tomatoes mid-February. Probably, the other seeds around mid-February.  That will give us about 6 weeks before we set them out into the garden. The seedlings will be in the greenhouse the last two weeks before transplanting.
Thank you, Jim, this will help all of us as we plan our gardens for 2019.
Here’s a partial list of the seeds we are starting at the Raincatcher’s Garden:
Tomatoes-Lemon Boy and Celebrity
Peppers-Carmen, Carnato, Gallo, Gypsy, Poblano L and Hot Sweet Hybrid
Ann Lamb
Picture in greenhouse by Starla Willis

Recipes from the Apples, Pears, Persimmons, Pomegranate Lunch

Nature’s grand finale plated!

Bake Brie with Roasted Persimmons

Ingredients

2 (8-ounce) wheels of Brie, rinds intact

Roasted Persimmons, chopped (recipe follows)

1 large egg

2 tablespoons water

1 (17.3-ounce) package frozen puff pastry, thawed

Seasonal fruit

Crackers

Directions

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Cut 1 wheel of Brie in half horizontally. Place half of Roasted Persimmons on one half of Brie, and top with remaining half. Repeat with remaining wheel of Brie and remaining Roasted Persimmons.

In a small bowl, whisk together egg and 2 tablespoons water.

On a lightly floured surface, roll puff-pastry sheet to ⅛-inch thickness. Place 1 Brie round on puff pastry; fold pastry over Brie, cut away excess dough, and invert Brie onto prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining Brie and puff pastry. Using an acorn-shaped cutter, cut 2 acorns from remaining dough. Using a pastry brush, brush dough with egg wash. Place 1 acorn on each Brie round, pressing gently to adhere; brush with egg wash.

Bake until pastry is golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from oven, and let cool for 10 minutes. Serve with seasonal fruit and cracker.

Yield: Makes 10 to 12 servings

Roasted Persimmons

Ingredients

¼ cup maple syrup

¼ cup granulated sugar

¼ cup brandy

¼ teaspoon salt

1 vanilla bean, halved lengthwise

4 cardamom pods

4 whole cloves

2 star anise

2 cinnamon sticks

4 persimmons, blanched, peeled, and quartered

Directions

Preheat oven to 450˚F.

In a cast-iron or ovenproof skillet, combine syrup, sugar, brandy, salt, vanilla bean, cardamom, cloves, star anise and cinnamon sticks. Add persimmons.

Roast until fruit is tender, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool completely.

Remove persimmons, discarding spices and vanilla bean. Chop persimmons. Cover and refrigerate for up to 5 days.

Yield: Makes 2 cups

 

Butternut Squash-Pear Soup garnished with Parmesan and Chopped Rosemary

Butternut Squash-Pear Soup

Ingredients

1 (2.5-pound) butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and chopped into 2-inch pieces

2 cloves garlic

¼ cup vegetable oil, divided

1 tablespoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon ground black pepper, divided

1 ½ cups chopped onion

1 shallot, minced

1 quart chicken broth

2 cups half-and-half

1 tablespoon fresh chopped rosemary

2 teaspoons fresh minced ginger

6 ripe Bartlett pears, peeled, cored, and chopped

Garnish: shaved Parmesan cheese, fresh rosemary

Directions

Preheat oven to 450˚F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil, and coat foil with cooking spray.

In a large bowl, combine squash and garlic. Toss with 2 tablespoons oil. Season with salt and ½ teaspoon pepper.

Transfer squash mixture to prepared pan. Bake until tender, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from oven, and let cool.

In a Dutch oven, heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and shallot, and cook, stirring often, until tender, about 8 minutes. Add squash mixture, chicken broth, and remaining ½ teaspoon pepper Bring mixture to a boil; reduce heat to medium and simmer for 20 minutes.

Add half-and-half, rosemary, and ginger, stirring to combine. Continue to simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat, and let cool slightly. Add pears to mixture.

In the container of a blender, puree mixture, working in batches, until smooth. Return mixture to pan, and simmer over medium heat for 10 minutes. Garnish with Parmesan and rosemary, if desired.

Yield: Makes 8 servings

Figs, Pomegranates, Persimmons and Pear Salad

Salad of Figs, Pomegranates, Persimmons and Pears

Ingredients

½ cup walnut halves

2 large heads frisee, carefully rinsed and stems trimmed

1 Fuyu persimmon, cut into thin slices

1 Red Bartlett pear, halved, cored and cut into thin slices

6 fresh figs, halved through the stem end

Directions

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Spread the walnuts on a baking sheet and toast until lightly browned and fragrant, 5-7 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool.

Arrange the frisee, sliced persimmon and pear, and fig halves on individual plates, dividing them equally. Sprinkle with toasted walnuts. Alternately, arrange salad on a large platter.  Drizzle with the Pomegranate Salad Dressing.

Yield: Serves 4

Pomegranate Salad Dressing

Ingredients

½ cup Pomegranate Syrup (see recipe)

¼ cup olive oil

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon lemon juice

⅛ teaspoon salt

Directions

Combine all ingredients in a jar; cover tightly and shake vigorously. Chill.

Yield: ⅔ cup

Pomegranate Syrup

Ingredients

4 cups pomegranate seeds (4 large pomegranates)

3 ½ cups sugar

Directions

Combine seeds and sugar in a large glass bowl; cover and chill at least 8 hours.

Transfer mixture to a heavy non-aluminum saucepan; bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat, and simmer 3 minutes.

Pour mixture through a cheesecloth-lined colander; press against sides of colander with back of a spoon to squeeze out juice. Discard pulp.

Pour juice into a 1-quart sterilized jar; cover with lid, and screw on band. Cool; store in refrigerator up to 2 weeks.

Yield: 3 cups

Persimmon Cookies

Persimmon Cookies

Ingredients

2 large ripe persimmons, peeled and coarsely chopped

1 cup sugar

⅔ cup vegetable oil

1 large egg

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 cup raisins

1 cup chopped walnuts

1 cup sifted powdered sugar

3 tablespoons lemon juice

Directions

Position knife blade in food processor bowl; add persimmon, and process until smooth, stopping once to scrape down sides. Measure 1 cup pulp.

Combine pulp, sugar, oil, and egg, stirring until smooth.

Combine flour, soda, and cinnamon in a large bowl; add persimmon mixture, stirring until blended. Stir in raisins and walnuts.

Drop dough by rounded teaspoonfuls onto lightly greased cookie sheets.

Bake at 375˚F for 9 minutes. Transfer to wire racks placed on wax paper. Combine powdered sugar and lemon juice, stirring until smooth; drizzle over warm cookies. Cool.

Yield: 5 dozen

Autumn Orchard Crisp

Ingredients

3 pounds firm, flavorful apples

1 pound pears

Juice of ½ lemon

3 tablespoons granulated sugar

1 cup light brown sugar

1 cup all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons ground cinnamon

½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut up

1 ½ cups chopped walnuts

½ cup coarsely chopped cranberries

Whipped cream or vanilla ice cream

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Butter a 13 x 9-inch baking pan.

Peel, core and slice the apples and pears. Toss them in a bowl with the lemon juice and granulated sugar.

Place the brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, butter, and half the nuts in the bowl of a food processor. Process until blended and crumbly.

Spread one-third of the crumb mixture on the bottom of the prepared pan, top with half of the sliced fruit and scatter over half of the cranberries. Top with the second third of the crumb mixture.

Layer on the remaining sliced fruit and sprinkle over the remaining cranberries. Mix the remaining nuts with the remaining crumb mixture and spread over the top.

Bake until well browned and slightly bubbly, about 1 hour. Cool to warm and top with whipped cream or ice cream.

Yield: Serves 8

Review our horticultural lesson on

apples, pears, poms and persimmons here.

Linda Alexander

Pictures by Starla Willis and Linda Alexander

 

Brussel Sprouts

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.

Raincatcher’s Iconic Picture of Brussel Sprouts! Agree?

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

Ingredients

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

Directions

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.

Linda Alexander

By the way, only 6 tickets left for the Apples, Pears, Persimmons and Pomegranates lunch on October 16th.  Lecture is free.

 

Greek Vegan Domaldes Recipe

Judy and Yaiyia (Toney) discussing grape leaves at The Raincatcher’s Garden

You remember Yiayia aka Toney Davrados.  Yiayia is Greek for Grandmother and as any Greek Grandma would-she showed us how to make dolmades at our fabulous July  Grape Lecture and Lunch Event.

Now she has offered us the vegan version:

Yiayia’s Greek Dolmades Vegan Style

*Stuffed Grape Leaves with Rice and Herbs

Stuffed Grape Leaves (Greek Dolmades) are often served as part of a mezé (appetizer) plate.  Too often they come from a can and are not fresh. Fresh Greek Dolmades are far superior to the canned.  These can either be a main dish or an appetizer, depending on your appetite. These small bundles of rice and herbs wrapped in grape leaves are a favorite dish in Greece.

Toney surverys our grape leaves to show us leaves that are smooth on the back make better dolmades.

If you have never tried fresh Greek Dolmades, now is the time. They are very easy to make and so delicious!

*Fresh vine leaves: Blanch tender vine leaves for 2-3 seconds in boiling, salted water. Remove them with a slotted spoon and transfer to a bowl full of very cold water. Place in  colander to drain off water. Use a small sharp knife to remove any stems or tough veins they may have.

*When using bottled Grape Leaves:  To prepare bottled grape leaves, rinse well under cold water to remove the brine.  Place them in a colander (back side up) to drain and hold until ready to use

Ingredients

  • 60-70 tender vine leaves
  • 2 bunches fresh green onions, sliced in to very thin rounds
  • 1 large onion or 2 smaller ones, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cup rice
  • 1 1/2 cup water
  • 1 bunch fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 bunch dill, finely chopped
  • 1 bunch mint, finely chopped
  • grated zest of 2 lemons
  • salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • juice from 1 1/2 – 2 lemons

Preparing  filling:

Place a pan over medium to high heat.

Add the green onion, onion and garlic along with ½ the olive oil .

Sauté for 10-15 minutes, until they soften, caramelize nicely and shrink in volume.

Add the rice and sauté for 2-5 minutes.

Add the 1 ½ cup water and stir. Lower heat and simmer for about 5 minutes, until the rice soaks up the water.

When ready, remove from heat and set it aside to rest for at least 10 minutes.

Add the parsley, dill, mint, lemon zest, salt and pepper. Stir to combine.

To assemble:

Spread 4-5 vine leaves, and lemon juice on the bottom of a 22 cm pot. Use any ripped or broken vine leaves.

Place a vine leaf in the palm of your hand or on a cutting board (veins facing up and shiny side down).

Add 1 tablespoon of filling in the center, fold the sides of the vine leaf inward and roll to complete. Review the process here.

Transfer to the pot, placing the stuffed vine leaves in a row, one next to the other.

Repeat the same process for all the vine leaves.

When the first layer has been added, continue with a second and third, if needed until they are all done.

Add the remaining olive oil, and cover the stuffed vine leaves with a plate. This is done so that they don’t fall apart while cooking.

Add the warm or hot water, until they are completely covered.

Simmer for about 40-50 minutes until the rice is done and the vine leaves are tender.

When ready, remove from heat and set them aside to cool in the pot.

Let them cool for a bit, in the pot. They can be served warm or cold and should be enjoyed all on their own!

*Perfect sauce for dolmades

Serve the stuffed vine leaves with yogurt, dill, mint, olive oil and freshly ground pepper.

  • 8oz Yiayia’s Greek strained yogurt
  • 1tsp dill finely chopped
  • 1tsp mint finely chopped
  • 1tbs extra virgin olive oil
  • Fresh ground pepper

Linda Alexander and Ann Lamb

Video by Starla Willis

Fall Veggie Gardening Resources

 

Last year our family chomped through lettuce, spinach, Swiss chard and broccoli out of this little garden fall through spring.

Dallas Garden Buzz asked Daniel Cunningham, Horticulturist and Program Coordinator at Texas A&M AgriLife about fall gardening a couple of weeks ago. He has given us good information and was right on with his *rain prediction:

Fall is a great time for growing vegetables in Texas! Coming off the driest growing season (to date) in 109 years in DFW, even the most seasoned green thumb’s gardens may have struggled in 2018.

Plants and planters can be renewed this fall. Let’s rejoice in the fact that there are cooler temperatures ahead and hopefully some *well-timed rain events. AgriLife has an incredible network of resources to help folks root into fall vegetable gardening!

o    Sustainable Vegetable Gardening brochure

o    TAMU Fall Planting Guide

o    TAMU Vegetable Variety Selector

o    TAMU Vegetable Resources

o    TAMU Vegetable Integrated Pest Managment

o    TAMU Plant Clinic

 

Dallas Garden Buzz thanks Daniel Cunningham:       

Horticulturist | Program Coordinator     (972) 952-9223

@TXPlantGuy

 

 

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