Friday, September 28, 2012

What's Growing: Tomato Sauce & Freezer Pesto

I love my Potager. I would love it even if it did not produce a large amount of vegetables although it usually does. It is not just a crop to be harvested, it is a sacred place for me. All the plants have been carefully plotted and planned to work together and yet it still manages to sneak in a surprise or two. They grow upward, onward and intertwine. There is always a "moment" to catch - a humming bird attracted by the red blooms of the Scarlet Runner Beans, a bumble bee tipping the delicate disks of Blue Scabiosa, a Robin perched on top of the rustic arbor, a flushed rabbit ...

This year I planted Morning Glory among the runner beans, Cardinal flower beneath the peas, and Cathedral Bells along with the cherry tomatoes. Now, the Morning Glory masks the fading bean leaves and the Cardinal Flower blooms where there are no peas. The Cathedral Bells have yet to bloom but I see they have reached the top of the trellis and their leaves have a touch of purple to them and look fresh – not like the leaves of the cherry tomatoes that are growing tired.

I love this climbing Nasturtium Moonlight. It mixes wonderfully with the "surprise" ornamental gourds that began growing up the rustic arbor.

I have made three batches so far of tomato sauce which I freeze in jars. I cook them down skins and all and smooth using an immersion blender. I only add balsamic vinegar, basil, garlic, salt and pepper. This year I came across so many wonderful heirloom tomatoes between Cross Island Farms on Wellesley Island, the community garden and a very talented friend on Round Island. I am attempting to save some of their seeds. They are fermenting now on the back porch. So far, they do not smell too strongly. (Click here to read about how to save heirloom tomato seeds from a previous post.)

I don't believe my one German Striped Tomato plant has flowered yet. It may be too late. It is probably also too late for this eggplant. We will see but try, try again (next year).

With the dry, hot summer many of my plants bolted including the Cilantro. I chopped it down mid-summer and scattered the seed. I have a new fresh crop that I am really enjoying. This year I am going to harvest it and freeze it in oil for cooking all winter. And this year I finally harvested the Basil at its peak before too cold nights. I have a nice batch of freezer pesto.

Plenty of kale and collards for soups this season!

Carrots, golden beets and possibly a parsnip or two next. 

Saturday, September 15, 2012

What's Blooming: Maestro & Perilla

After this hot, dry summer many of my perennials, especially Bee Balm and Purple Cones, have already donned their seed heads for Winter. Their rusty brown and black forms contrast nicely with the fall palette of blooms. In the Bird & Butterfly Garden, perennial sunflowers, always reliable, bloom through Miscanthus Morning Light and peek from beneath Switch Grass Dallas Blues, Black-eyed Susans pop against Purple Perilla. An annual that reseeds itself, Purple Perilla pops up everywhere in my garden. It is also especially nice combined with the silver leaves of Lambs Ears.

In the Woodland Edge, Persicaria Firetail's blooms are now in flame, burning through the puffs of Prairie Dropseed and Nodding Onion.

A purple haze of not-so-Obedient Plants drifts throughout my garden.

Out front, Russian Sage and Walker's Low set off the dark foliage of Elderberry Black Lace. Sedum Maestro sings from a bed of Lambs Ears. Sweet Autumn Clematis perfumes the front porch.

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day is hosted by Carol at May Dreams Gardens the 15th of each month.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

New Visitors

Look who I discovered while watering (again) yesterday ...

I believe this is a European Mantis (Mantis religiosa). There is a tell-tale black ringed white spot on the right foreleg which isn't clearly visible in my photos. This Mantis is native to the Mediterranean region and has been introduced to our continent according to my handy Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America.

I was thrilled to find this insect in my garden! The plant it is climbing on is honeysuckle. I have not seen one of these since I was a little girl.

It's been an exciting week here in the Violet Fern garden. Another new visitor, a Common Yellowthroat, has been hanging out in the Jewelweed, Common Bidens (frondosa) and wild Asters all week – just right outside the new screened in porch. He's even posed on the leaf trellis a few times but those warblers are just too quick for my photographic skill level.


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