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Posts Tagged ‘swiss chard’

From the garden yesterday: 3 eggs, 1 handful micro-greens (thinnings from my broccoli and kale starts – yum). Herbs: chives, sage and tarragon are all ready to use.

Last year's green onions in the garden.

Last year's green onions in the garden.

All this hype about Victory Gardens, the White House garden, and recession gardens, as I’ve heard them called, is making me want to try out a little experiment this year: documenting all the food that I get out of my garden this year. I am not alone in doing this; many others are conducting some sort of observable food production science in their yards as well.

What I really ought to do is document the money I’ve spent on the garden as well. I’ll try to find my Home Depot receipts and my seed order total – that should actually not be too hard. I’ll report back on that. Meantime, I’m going to track what’s coming out in terms of edible produce. Hopefully, at the end of the season, this will result in a really fun way to see just how productive and economical this hobby is, or if it’s more, well, just a hobby. When it comes to eggs, I already know the answer – but I’m counting them anyway because they’re worth the effort! I haved 4 chickens right now, and this will help us decide if we want more, or if 4 is just right.

I am also using this blog as a way to keep a garden diary, since I do not have one in reality (well, I guess the internet is real, but I don’t have a physical one!). I want to know what I did when, how long it took for things to come up and mature, what was most successful, and so on.

So here’s what’s in the garden right now. I planted all of these right about at St. Patrick’s Day in March.

  • Cherry Belle radishes: came up beautifully, all seedlings have since been nibbled off by a little visitor of some kind. I will have to replant this weekend.
  • Helios radish: looking really good. Good-sized seedlings, done first thinning already.
  • Cilantro: nothing happened for weeks, now I am finally seeing several seedlings that I have to hope are the damn cilantro finally making its appearance…
  • Chives: see notes on Cilantro.
  • 3 kinds of spinach: all making progress. One (Melody, planted in a container) is almost ready to start nibbling on; it has a good set of first real leaves and the next round is in the works.
  • Mesclun mix: visible.
  • Mache: nothing at all. This is a big disappointment. I may reseed and see what happens. It does say on the seed packet that it can take 20 days to germinate, and it even says “be patient,” so maybe I should just try that…
  • Mizuna: looking really good. Too tiny to eat yet, but looks like what it is – beautiful teeny toothed leaves.
  • Lettuces: Rouge d’hiver, Speckled, Merveille de Quatre Saisons – all have made an appearance and I’m waiting VERY impatiently for them to be harvestable.
  • Peas: sugar snap, Alaska, and sweet peas – all came up finally in the last week and I’m looking forward to some pea shoots in my salads!
  • Green onions: after a long wait, these too are up, which is a thrill because I thought I was not going to get results from last year’s batch of seeds.
  • Carrots: Nantes Little Fingers and Cosmic Purple – the Cosmic came up first, also after a long and breathless wait, and now the little ones are finally making an appearance. I may have gotten lucky with a whole lot of snow at just the right time; carrots NEED to be moist in order to germinate and my luck so far with them has not been stellar, so this crop looks like it will be a good one and I’m thanking the weather gods for that.
  • Bok Choy: looking good! Waiting to thin the seedlings till they’re at least the size of micro-greens so I can eat them.
  • Swiss chard: very early seedling stage right now. Some of the ones in the first container I planted got smushed by the snow and didn’t come back. I have more seeds and will possibly do a second planting depending on how many of this first batch actually get rolling in the next couple of weeks.

Now for my indoor seed starting project:

I planted a tray of Purple Sprouting Broccoli, Brussel Sprouts, Lacinato Kale, and Leeks. All have sprouted nicely, I just thinned them yesterday, and I’m religiously putting them outside in the cold frame during the day and bringing them in at night, so – knock on wood – they look fairly normal and not too leggy or washed-out. The thinnings made for a delicious tiny salad yesterday!

That’s all for now, but I have plenty of work to do…. thinning the bok choi, cleaning out the coop, turning the compost, watering my ‘soil-building’ project which is going on in one of my raised beds (I should post separately about that as well). Happy April!

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We had a little party for our 5 new baby chicks last night – they are one month old and getting ready to move out to their new digs in the garden, so we called it a “coop-warming party” and invited all our friends. Everyone was quite entertained by the idea – one couple, who it turns out also has 3 chickens of their own, thought it was the coolest party they’d ever been to: proof that other “normal” people have chickens too. 

In addition to tours of the just completed chicken coop and plenty of time for everyone to pet and play with the chicks, we served up a buffet of summer patio fare: in addition to the obligatory brats and whole grain rolls, we had salad of watermelon, feta cheese and red onions, grilled tricolor bell peppers, zucchini and yellow squash, grilled polenta cakes, orange cream cheese frosted brownies, a white balsamic custard tart with fresh fruit that went over very well indeed, and cream cheese with fresh chives and garlic from the garden stirred in. The most popular item of the evening, though, appeared to be the chard and onion quiche (I’d made two in the hopes that we’d have generous leftovers to enjoy this week – both were polished off in their entirety, so we will have to cook again tonight – too bad).

1 pie crust

large bunch chard, stems trimmed off and chopped separately, leaves roughly chopped

red onions, sliced – I used several small ones, but I’d say 1-2 large ones would work

grated Pecorino-Romano cheese (again guesstimating, I grated about a saucer full)

3 eggs, lightly beaten

1 cup milk (I used 1%)

1 cup cream (I used table cream that was left over in the fridge)

 a few toasted pine nuts

salt, fresh ground pepper, dash nutmeg and dash cayenne pepper

Directions:

preheat oven to 400 degrees

Saute chard stems in olive oil until softened; set aside

Saute chard leaves in olive oil, seasoning occasionally with salt and pepper, until wilted and tender; set aside

put onion slices in pan with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and a generous dash of sugar; over medium heat let them cook until well softened and beginning to caramelize; try not to stir much to allow the caramelization to begin to take effect

line a pie plate with pie crust and fold over edges

fill bottom of pie with onions

layer chard stems and leaves on top of onions

sprinkle most of the grated cheese over the chard

mix together cream, milk, eggs and season with salt, pepper, cayenne and nutmeg

pour egg mixture into pie crust

top with remaining cheese and sprinkle with pine nuts

bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes

lower heat to 325 and bake for 35 more minutes, until golden brown and slightly crusty

let sit for a while before serving – at least 30 minutes, but quiche will taste fabulous hours later or the next day

I was paid the highest compliment on this quiche when a native French woman had some and pronounced it truly excellent; she commented on people’s tendency to overbake theirs until the eggs turned runny, and on the excellent flavor of the vegetables. You might as well just call it “garden quiche,” because it could just as well have had any other combination of greens and veggies in it; this is just what was ready for the taking yesterday. I can see by my fast-growing vines that we will soon have the opportunity to try cherry tomato and zucchini quiche, for example. Any good cheese and any tasty combination of vegggies, sausage or other kinds of meat would surely be just as wonderful. Let your imagination run on this one – as long as you have the basic base down, you can’t mess up a quiche!

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