Finding Solutions to Gardening Problems

I read the books. I watch the shows on television. I listen to the professionals when they talk. I even follow the directions (or so I thought), and yet, the gardening problems continue. Thank goodness for the Internet and the myriad of information floating around the web.

Although my harvest yesterday was bountiful, there were issues with both the radishes and the carrots. The radishes were inedible and the carrots, well for two plantings of three 6-foot rows, I’d think you should get more than a handful of finger length carrots.

After much research and reading some humbling information (humbling for someone who thought they were doing everything right), I have once again been shown the way and will hopefully not make these same mistakes again.

Check out my posts at Simply Grateful Gardener for my solutions for The Incredible Inedible Radish and Why Aren’t My Carrots Growing?

I don’t know why it always surprises me when I screw up in the garden, it’s not like I don’t screw things up in every other aspect of the household, so why should the garden be any different. That’s okay, every time I screw up and then figure out where I went wrong, I grow, and for this I am — Simply Grateful.

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Cheddar & Ham Vegetable Chowder

I know, I know, it’s hot, muggy, and definitely not the best time to be stuck in the kitchen slaving away over a hot stove, but dinner’s not going to make itself and around here, dinner isn’t an option — it’s the rule. Still, why in the world would I chose to make a new chowder of all things?

For one, with all the wonderful vegetables coming out of the garden, I had to find a way to use them other than just as a side dish. I know I’ll have frozen vegetables to enjoy this winter, but putting the fresh, just-picked ones right in the pot is more fulfilling than I can possibly explain.

This chowder is thick, rich, and more filling than any soup I make. Hubby was only able to eat one bowl and two pieces of crusty bread. The rest of us barely finished a smaller serving and one piece of bread.

Cheddar & Ham Vegetable Chowder

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6 Slices Thick Cut Bacon, diced

1 Large Onion Chopped

1 Cup Diced Carrots

1/2 Cup Chopped Scallions

5 Tbsp. Flour

4 Cups Milk, divided

1 1/2 Cups Water

3 Cups Cubed Potatoes

1 Cup Corn

3/4 Cup Fresh Peas

3 tsp. Vegetable or Chicken Bouillon

3 Cups Shredded Cheddar Cheese

2 Cups Cubed Fully Cooked Ham

  • Cook bacon until crisp. Remove bacon from pan and drain on paper towel. Add onion, carrots, and scallions to bacon fat in pan and saute until tender. Stir in flour until blended. Gradually add 3 cups milk and stir until thick. Stir in water and again stir until thickened.
  • Transfer flour and milk mixture to a stock pot and bring to boil. Add potatoes, corn, peas, bouillon, and pepper to taste. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 20 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Be careful to keep an eye on this so it does not burn.
  • When potatoes are tender, add cheese and ham. Stir constantly until cheese is melted. Stir in bacon and serve.

This soup was a real hit! Even Grace’s boyfriend, who happened to stop by after work right around the dinner hour loved it. He told Grace he could have eaten the entire pot — now that would have been something to see.

The carrots, peas, and scallions from the garden, as well as the corn that I took from the last bag of Michigan corn I froze last fall, really made this chowder pop. I might even try omitting the ham next time and just enjoy the vegetable medley. Definitely a meal in itself, and for this I am — Simply Grateful.

Running To The Garden

One of the greatest parts of having a garden is being able to “run to the garden” rather than “run to the store” when I need a carrot, some scallions, a few peas, or some greens. In a couple of weeks, possibly as long as a month, there will be even more vegetables that I’ll be able to walk out the back door and harvest from the garden.

The other day while making some soup for dinner I realized I didn’t have any carrots.  Even though our carrots are still a bit young, I headed out to the garden and picked just a few to put in the soup.

First carrots from our 2015 garden

First carrots from our 2015 garden

They really hit the spot and were just what the soup needed to make it the best it could be.

There are so many rewards to be gotten from gardening — one of the best being the bounty, and for this I am — Simply Grateful.

Carrot Creatures

It has been a busy couple of weeks and time just seems to escape me.  For some reason, finding time when I’m not thoroughly exhausted, to write a blog post is getting harder as the fall weather takes a firm hold of Michigan.

The garden is lush and green, but without the sun and long hot days, I’m not sure the hundreds of tomatoes on the plants will ever see red.  I’m hopeful, but realistic enough to have a back-up plan.

The sweet potatoes are still spreading like wildfire, but I’m not going to begin harvesting those until October or later.  The last of the beets are going to be pulled and canned tomorrow, but today I pulled out some carrots.  I’d left quite a few in the ground after harvesting some baby ones earlier in the summer.  I couldn’t believe what I pulled out.

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And that’s just a few of what I pulled.

What was really interesting though, were the wonderful carrot creatures I unearthed.  Wouldn’t these make great monsters for Halloween?

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Well, they aren’t going to last that long.  Already I used a bunch of them today in a Tomato Alphabet Soup.  Surprisingly this soups base tastes a lot like Speghetti-O’s — go figure.  That’s okay.  It was reminiscent of my childhood without all the additives and preservatives.  A perfect accompaniment for dinner on a beautiful Michigan fall day.

Tomato Alphabet Soup

  • 1/4 Cup Butter
  • 3 Medium Onions Sliced
  • 4 Cups Fresh Chopped Tomatoes or Cherry Tomatoes
  • 2-4 Large Carrots Chopped
  • 1 tsp. Basil
  • 1/2 tsp. Thyme
  • 1 tsp. Salt
  • 1 Tbsp. Sugar
  • 4 Cups Chicken Broth
  • 1 Cup Alphabet or Orzo Pasta

Saute’ onion in butter until tender.  Add tomatoes, carrot, and chicken broth and bring to boil.  Add remaining ingredients and simmer for 45 minutes until carrots are very tender.  Using a stick blender, puree soup.  Strain soup through thin screened strainer and return broth to pot. Bring back to boil and add 1 cup of alphabet pasta.  Cook until pasta is tender.

A quick and easy tomato soup to warm you up on those cool Fall evenings.

Fall has hit here hard and fast and although I might have liked the heat and sun a bit longer to harvest more tomatoes, I love the change and am enjoying the cool temperatures, and for this I am — Simply Grateful.

Midweek Harvest — Carrots and Beets

This morning I decided to harvest all the beets I didn’t replant so I could clean out that section of the garden for my beet seedlings.  If the weather holds, tomorrow the seedlings that have sprouted will be transplanted.  The beets that I picked today are going to be pickled and canned in the next day or so.

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While I was at it, I decided to harvest the carrots that were ready for picking.  I picked 28 carrots.  That’s pretty good for the first harvest.  There are about 20 more in the ground that are still fairly small.  These will be picked in the next week or so.  With the carrots I picked today, I think I might make some carrot cake or carrot muffins.

It is so exciting harvesting fresh vegetables from the garden.  The cucumbers on the a-frame are coming in steadily, I harvested most of the kale under the a-frame yesterday, the peppers are nearly ready for another harvest, the tomatoes are starting to turn yellowish orange, the scallions are almost ready to be picked, and the sweet potatoes look beautiful — what they’re doing under ground I don’t know, but they sure are pretty to look at.

Oh, I almost forgot — the plum tree is about ready for harvest!

By the end of the next week I should have plums for canning.  I have no idea what I’m going to do with them, as I still have so much canned plum goodies from last years super-crop of 110 pounds of plums.  No matter, I’m sure I will find something to do with them.  I am just happy that the tree is healthy and productive, and for this I am — Simply Grateful.

 

 

What’s Up Bells?

Tonight Grace and I decided to pull out a carrot and see how they were doing.  No sooner did we have it out of the ground and Bell grabbed it and ran.

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Settling into the grass, she proceeded to chew it up, savoring every morsel.

We might not have been able to sample this particular carrot, but if the smell was any indication, it was definitely a good one.

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The carrots are still a little small.  A few more weeks and we should be able to harvest, and for this I am — Simply Grateful.