Monday, June 26, 2006

Zucchini Fritters

On Friday I harvested two large green zucchini squash and made one of my favorite recipes -- Zucchini Fritters. These are yummy and make a great light supper with a green salad on a hot day when you don't want a big meal. The recipe is from Foods from Mother Earth and follows below.


1 large or 2 medium zucchini squash
1/2 of a medium onion
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup unbleached flour
1/8 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup lowfat milk
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup sour cream or plain yogurt

1. Peel the zucchini if the skin seems tough, or else wash it well, then grate the zucchini and onion coarsely with a hand grater or food processor.

2. In a medium bowl, combine the grated zucchini, onion, eggs, flour, baking powder, salt and vegetable oil. Stir, then add the milk a little at a time, until well blended.

3. Heat a large frying pan or griddle over medium heat. Spoon the mixture into the pan to make small, round fritters. Cook until lightly browned, about five minutes, then flip to brown the other side. Serve hot with sour cream or yougurt.

Makes about 16 fritters.


Monday, June 19, 2006

Cool Reads

If like me, you find yourself needing to escape the brutal mid-day heat of the Central Valley but can't stop thinking about gardening, I recommend the following with a tall glass of iced tea:

From the Ground Up: The Story of a First Garden
by Amy Stewart

Amy Stewart had a simple dream. She yearned for a garden filled with colorful jumbles of vegetables and flowers. After she and her husband finished graduate school, they pulled up their Texas roots and headed west to Santa Cruz, California. With little money in their pockets, they rented a modest seaside bungalow with a small backyard. It wasn't much—a twelve-hundred-square-foot patch of land with a couple of fruit trees, and a lot of dirt. A good place to start. From the Ground Up is Stewart's quirky, humorous chronicle of the blossoms and weeds in her first garden and the lessons she's learned the hard way. From planting seeds her great-grandmother sends to battling snails, gophers, and aphids, Stewart takes us on a tour of four seasons in her coastal garden. Confessing her sins and delighting in small triumphs, she dishes the dirt for both the novice and the experienced gardener. Along the way, she brings her quintessential California beach town to life—complete with harbor seals, monarch butterfly migrations, and an old-fashioned seaside amusement park just down the street. Each chapter includes helpful tips alongside the engaging story of a young woman's determination to create a garden in which the plants struggle to live up to the gardener's vision.

The $64 Tomato: How One Man Nearly Lost His Sanity, Spent a Fortune, and Endured an Existential Crisis in the Quest for the Perfect Garden
by William Alexander

William Alexander had a simple dream of having a vegetable garden and small orchard in his backyard. It was a dream that would lead to life-and-death battles with groundhogs, webworms, and weeds; midnight expeditions in the dead of winter to dig up fresh thyme; skirmishes with neighbors who feed the vermin (i.e., deer); the near electrocution of the tree man; and the pity of his wife and children.

Both are quick, satisfying reads.

May I also suggest a look at a few of may favorite gardening blogs:

Angela's Northern California Gardening Blog
My Bay Area Garden
In My Kitchen Garden

Monday, June 12, 2006

I am a Petunia

I am a

What Flower
Are You?

"You are a tried and trusted friend who will be there for your friends when they need you. But you have a tendency to be nervous about doing things that go against the norm."

This is cute and fun but either I didn't answer accurately or it's a little skewed. The petunia in the picture is sure pretty, but I generally don't plant these because they are a little, how shall we say, common.

So, if I am nervous about doing things that go against the norm, why don't I plant petunias like everyone else?

Saturday, June 03, 2006


I had such good luck with these Nasturtiums, a Double Dwarf Jewel Mix I planted from seed last year I was encouraged to add more varieties to the garden this year.

I was very pleased the bright yellow bloomers above endured our mild winter and self sowed to increase their numbers.

I added to the planting this year to extend it further alongside the garage in the front yard. I picked up a few starts from a local nursery and added a few that I started from seed. The group now includes some reds, oranges and a few almost burgundy colored specimens.

Since last year I have discovered these hardy beauties come in a few softer colors that I much prefer. In the backyard bed adjacent to the kitchen I transplanted a few seedlings Thursday evening. I started them from a packet of Vanilla Berry Mounding Nasturtium from Renee’s Garden.

The package describes them as buttercream-colored blossoms marked at the throat in deep strawberry. I am looking forward to seeing them bloom and hope they will spread throughout the bed.

More Then and Now

In only two and a half weeks this barrel o’ veggies has become quite lush.

A friend picked up this half wine barrel for me for a mere ten bucks at a roadside Boy Scout fundraiser.

For that price I couldn’t pass it up.

On May 16 I filled it with two yellow crookneck squash, a zucchini squash and a Brandywine tomato.

I’ve been a fan of container gardening for years. Mainly I preferred it because it spared me the back breaking labor of double-digging and amending our hard-packed clay soil. An added benefit I suppose is keeping the goods above the “snailosphere” to borrow a term from Angela’s Northern California Gardening Blog.

Today the plants are not only thriving, they are flowering and one baby crookneck has emerged.

Fresh Lettuce

With the season now in full swing I've been so busy gardening, blogging time has been scarce.

At the home garden we harvested some baby lettuce for a salad Monday. It was my first attempt growing lettuce. I planted seed called "Crunchy Lettuce Trio Blush Batavians" from Renee's Garden in a small clay bowl.

The package says it does well in both heat and cold weather. This is how it looked May 22. In my hurry to get dinner on the table I didn't snap any photos of the lettuce at harvest or served in a lemon juice, garlic and olive oil dressing. I had been seeing those baby lettuce mixes in the store and had even purchased a few, so when these grew bushy enough I simply cut the leaves about an inch or so from the base and voila! Some varieties will continue to grow for a second harvest and I'm hoping this is one of them.

As you can see the planting was quite crowded so tender baby leaves were the goal all along. I have purchased a slightly larger bowl and several types of summer lettuce seeds that reportedly do well in the heat of the season. After this had sprouted and when the weather turned warm I moved the bowl to an area where it gets only a few hours of morning sun. One of the perks of gardening in containers is location changes are easy.

At our community plot I stole a couple of strawberries today. Shh... Don't tell the kids. They weren't completely ripe but tasty nonetheless. I wanted to get them before the birds did.

Side-by-side Comparison

On the lower left is what the garden plot looked like on Day 1 back on April 26. As you can see in the photo at right taken May 29, things are coming along well.

Most of the nine tomato plants have set fruit. For some reason however the Beefsteaks are struggling both here and at the home garden. They flower but the buds wither and die, then fall sadly to the ground.