Garden Update June 2020

Hello, and welcome to another one of my garden updates. My last update was for May, and this one is for June. (Sorry it’s a bit later than the last one.) My garden has grown so fast, it’s shocking! I’ve gotten some radishes and lettuce off my plants, and this weekend I was able to get some cucumbers off my plants too.

This last month I’ve learned some valuable lessons. First, and I mentioned it in my last post, it is so important to space radishes. I tried to get them high density, just it just grew into a mess, and it took about 2 weeks longer to get any. Also, the two pictures below of harvested radishes is all the radishes I was able to harvest out of that mess. I had several radishes break under the soil and begin to rot, and I had many many more that produced no bulb due to overcrowding.

Second, I’ve discovered that cucumbers are a handful! I’ve been trying to grow them vertically, tying them to a tomato cage. And, though that works, They don’t climb naturally well, so I find myself every 1-2 days in the garden directing and tying off my cucumber plants. I also trimmed off some of the lower leaves off my cucumbers. They were turning yellow and dying, and they were also restricting air flow and making it hard to see any low hanging cucumbers.

Third, I learned all spacing needs to be respected more. I planted my green beans and cucumbers about 18 inches apart, and you’d swear they are star-crossed lovers. I go out into my garden everyday, and I always see these two plants reaching for one another, and being less than an inch from becoming a tangled mess I don’t look forward to dealing with. However, my other bed of lettuce, Swiss chard, tomatoes, and onions aren’t having any crowding issues. My Swiss chard didn’t come up. I believe I waited too long to plant. I also planted another segment of lettuce, and that also didn’t come up, I’m assuming same problem. My onions in that bed have appeared to stop growing. They are tinier than the other bed despite being planted earlier. They tops have also begun to fall over on several in that bed, leading me to believe pour drainage is likely a problem. I have several tomatoes that are nice and big, however none have begun to turn red yet. I also have one that a bug got into, but that’s not bad.

Fourth, I’ve learned good soil and drainage is important. As I just mentioned, my one bed isn’t holding onions, and I’m positive that if it isn’t holding onto moisture too much, the soil is likely not giving them enough nutrients. This bed was filled with mostly decomposed mulch, so the soil isn’t as good as my other bed. Besides that, the fabric bags we filled using soil from my in-law’s house, and their soil has a very high clay content. Because of this, in the hot June/July weather, I have to go and water them about every other day, when I see the leaves really wilting.

I’ve gotten everything planted and going. Some things aren’t growing as well as others, but I’m learning. We got a peach tree about 2 weeks ago and got that into the ground. I also left a few radishes to go to seed, and I have 2 onion sets going to seed now.

Ive also fertilized my soil about 3 times. I’ve been using Miracle Grow plant food for vegetables. Between that, watering regularly, and all the warm weather, my veggies have grown so fast!

May 24

May 29

June 9

June 18

June 21

June 24

Slow Cooker Goulash

Goulash is a favorite of mine. You can make a lot and is will last for several days. This weekend was very long, so I made this for dinner before this coming week and we’ve been eating it for several days now. You can also easily divide this and freeze some of it, assuming the noodles are still al dente. I left my pot on for 2 hours, and the noodles were almost completely mushy. However, I have a hotter pot than some, and I wasn’t able to check on it, since I wasn’t home. On low, it would have been much better to cook for half an hour less.

  1. In a large frying pan, begin browning and breaking up 1 lb of ground beef.
  2. In the bowl of a slow cooker, add 1 quart of diced tomatoes, 1 jar of spaghetti sauce, 1 tsp cumin, 2 tsp red pepper flakes, and 1 Tbsp garlic powder.
  3. Once the beef is fully cooked, add to slow cooker. Using the same pan, melt 1 Tbsp butter. Dice 1 small onion (1 cup) and place onion into frying pan with butter. Fry until translucent.
  4. Once cooked add onion to slow cooker. In the frying pan, add 4 cups of water, and 3 beef bouillon cubes. Heat until cubes dissolve, then add to slow cooker.
  5. Finally, add 2 cups of macaroni to the slow cooker. Stir and turn to low. Let it cook on low and it will be ready in 1 1/2 hour.

Chicken Nugget Casserole

Casseroles are always fun to me, but I like the variety of different textures and flavors. This dish has good variety and tastes like chicken parmasean and pasta. The chicken has it’s own flavor, the pasta has it’s own texture, the cheese adds a bit more savory flavor to the dish, and the dices tomatoes added more fresh flavor and additional texture. My chicken nuggets are always precooked, but your best bet would be to bake them early if you are nervous about them being cooked through, or you can bake for double the recommended time on your package. My nuggets said to bake for 15-20 minutes, so I baked them for 40. This dish created 4 1/2 adult sized meals.

  1. Heat a large pot of water to a boil. Once boiling, add 8 oz Farfalle, and boil for 10-15 minutes until al dents. Strain and place into a 7 x 10 casserole dish.
  2. Heat oven to 350 F.
  3. Add to the pasta 10-15 frozen chicken nuggets and mix. In a large sauce pan, add 1 jar of pasta sauce and 1 can of diced tomatoes. Heat until hot and bubbling.
  4. Pour hot sauce over your pasta. Cover with 1 1/2 cup mozzarella, then bake for 40 minutes. Let rest 10 minutes before eating.

Planting My Garden, May 2020

It’s finally time for me to plant. I spent hours researching plants, finding out what can and cannot work together, researching gardening techniques and styles. I’ve watched days worth of YouTube videos by different gardeners, and I was waiting for now. Memorial day weekend is plating time where I’m from. Before then, there is a constant risk of frost or even snow. I planted my onions, some Parris island lettuce, and my radishes about 2 weeks ago, and they got snow and frost. But, after Wednesday night, we are out of the frost zone! I planted another 1/3 of my lettuce row with seeds, I planted 4 Swiss chard seeds, I planted 5 indeterminate tomato vines, and Josh and I made stakes that are 1 in x 1 in x 6 1/2 foot for my tomatoes. We plated 5 clusters of cucumbers, and added cages around them, because we hope to grow them vertically, and finally, Josh made a trellis for me using chicken wire, and I plated green bean pole beans along the front of that. Our beds are 8 ft by 4 ft.

I did a lot of research leading up to this. Different staking methods, high density spacing, harvest conditions and seeding conditions. I grew some plants from seeds, however, I also purchased many plants. I’ve never really gardened before. Josh grew up with a garden, but I’ve only grown the occasional cherry tomato. I have house plants, but even they are hard for me to manage all winter. I’m hopeful. I put lots of time into this project and I’ve learned so much about these plants. I know I will be disappointed when something doesn’t work, but I’m hopeful, and I hope to share lots of canning posts this summer on here and Instagram.

Things I did differently

According to my plans, it says beets, but it was always radishes. I just say beets sometimes, I don’t know why. The other thing I’ve done differently was how I planted the beans. I wasn’t sure if I was getting a trellis, so I planned for a teepee. Instead I planted the beans 4 inches from the edge of the bed with about 6 inch spacing between them. I still fit 12 plants along the 6 foot of trellis Josh put up. Finally, I haven’t planted my carrots yet. I am currently using their pots to hold a few other plants I still have. I plant to plant my decorative plants soon. I also am thinking of keeping my early crop of Romaine in the pot. The white hanging pot has changed from onions to cat grass, and the 2 other pots in that photo are large cucumbers. Of which, the reason I didn’t plant the carrots is we need for dirt for out fabric pots, and I plan to fill 2 more for my 2 large cucumber plants. This will mean 4 fabric bags of plants.

If I could do things different

I guess I would make the raised beds slightly narrower. Because, I get quite the ab workout leaning into the center of the bed from the side. I would also plant all my onions together, and plant them at the outer edge of the beds. On my cucumber bed, I planted a row of radishes against the edge of the bed. They are doing fine, but I won’t be able to plant anything in it’s spot when I harvest in less than a month. I would also actually follow spacing for the radishes, instead of planning to plant high density like the lettuce.

Korean Curry

I pulled out a pound of ground beef and I was thinking all day what I could do with it. I did some Bing searches and came across curry. Josh nor I have ever had curry, but when I passed the idea by him, he was willing to try it too. Most of these spices I’ve never used, and if I had used them, it was only a tiny bit. I’m not familiar with all the flavors, how they interact, and how they cook. I looked at several Korean recipes for curry and several Indian recipes, and so I decided to add a bit of everything I had seen. This curry was a unique experience. Every bite had a different flavor. As it cooled, new flavors developed. It was delicious! I couldn’t stop eating it; it was so full of flavor. Our curry didn’t have any heat to it at all. It was strange because it was almost sweet at times. You can add more veggies to your curry, such as celery or beans, but I decided on just onion and tomatoes. I also added about 1 1/2Tbsp of cumin, and 2 Tbsp curry powder. We served it with cooked white rice, about 3 cups cooked. And, we’ll probably get 5 servings out of this recipe.

  1. Heat a large dutch oven over medium high heat. Add 2 Tbsp oil, then add about 1 lb of ground beef. Brown and break up the meat.
  2. Dice one onion, about 1 to 1 1/2 cups. Once the meat it browned, add the onion, and cook till it begins to turn translucent. Open a can of diced tomatoes and add to the pot.
  3. Next, you add your spices. Add 1 Tbsp Garlic powder, 1/4 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp ground mustard, 2 tsp turmeric, 3 tsp ground cayenne pepper, 1 tsp red pepper flakes, 1 Tbsp ground ginger, and 1 tsp Paprika. Cook until mixture becomes thick.
  4. Add 3 cups of beef broth. Add curry powder and cumin to taste. Add 3 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce. Remove 1 cup of liquid, whisk in 2 Tbsp flour, then return to mixture. Boil down curry till it reaches your desired consistency and flavor.
  5. Let sit for 5 minutes to cool, then serve with rice.