Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Grapes, yuzu, paw paw, and garlic for planting

78°F, 60% humidity. Where is the cold, the rain, the fog? I'm still wearing tshirts, without a sweater, and no socks. Zero complaints from me but the current climate feels like the earlier part of summer this year, that period when gardeners go into a frenzy at the nursery buying crates of seedlings, plants and what-have-you to fill their yards, flower beds, and vegetable plots. I think we did pretty good staying under 200€.

Dachshund photobombing

Dachshund photobombing...again
We bought a yuzu, paw paw, and 3 table grape varieties: Topazia (white), Black Magic, and Sublime Seedless (white).

Yuzu 39€

We had a young lemon tree in the past that was brought indoors for the winter, but one year it was covered in tiny white pests that exuded a sticky sap. It never recovered and died. I've got this yuzu outside in the greenhouse that faces east.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Last of the summer harvest and totals for the season

There are still a few stragglers on the datterini and cherokee purple vines, but these are the last of summer's tomatoes. With the weather cooling down I thought it best to start harvesting the half-ripened toms but I'm also happy to get 2 iron caps (5 pounds total) out of the 4 vines planted. All in all, an excellent year in the garden!
The total for the summer harvest is a whopping 58 kilos (128 pounds) which is the best sum yet in comparison to previous years. No mirabelle plums or persimmons this time around and hopefully with a bit of hard work and some luck with the weather, 2016 will produce an even greater harvest.

cherokee purple tomatoes: 35 lbs. 9 oz.
paul robeson tomatoes: 2 lbs. 13 oz.
cucumbers: 11 lbs. 11 oz.
bell peppers: 3 lbs. 7 oz.
datterini: 28 lbs.
eggplant: 14 oz.
wild arugula (rocket): 3 lbs. 4 oz.
zucchini: 24 lbs. 7 oz.
gooseberries: 3 punnets
uva fragola: 3 lbs. 6 oz.
cayenne peppers: 1 lb. 13 oz.
cantaloupe: 2 lbs. 3 oz.
nijisseiki nashi pear: 5 lbs 2 oz.
iron cap pumpkin: 5 lbs.

Monday, September 7, 2015

95 pounds of produce and it still isn't over yet

September harvest 2015

And for that we can thank the excellent, albeit at times unbearably hot, summer weather that we were blessed with this year. By my estimate there's about 15 pounds more of produce out on the tomato plants, bell peppers, and winter squash. The highlight though are the Nijisseiki pears (a total of 5 pounds!) which are small but crisp, juicy, and sweet. Even thhe dogs love 'em (yes I am a generous doggie mama!). It will be sad to see the season go, but fall is around the corner and I can only hope that 2016 will be another great year for our garden here in the italian prealps.

Today's high: 78°F

Monday, August 24, 2015

I see the makings of gazpacho...

I see the makings of gazpacho

...and a rustic tomato & goat cheese tart, some stuffed baked peppers, melon and Parma prosciutto, and lots of focaccine! Intermittent seasonal rains may be causing some grief in parts of Italy but so far we've been spared the heavy downpours. On those gloomy days I've been super busy in the kitchen.

Tomato and goat cheese tart

Cherokee Purple tomatoes are always good on their own, sliced up fresh with buffalo milk mozz. But use them in baking and they turn just bad-ass tomato goodness in a rustic tart. Wholewheat flour, herbes de provence and olive oil crust, plus goat cheese and halved datterini added to the tomato mix.


Terra-cotta flan dishes are the perfect size for making focaccine. Datterini tomatoes and grapes for a savory or sweet snack. Excellent picnic food.

Nijisseiki pear

Probably because the tree is still young (we've only had it in the ground for 2 years) and also because I didn't do any thinning in the spring, the nashi (Nijisseiki) pears are the size of tennis balls. So far the tree seems to be resistant to pests and disease.

Gerbera daisy salmon pink
Gerbera daisy in salmon pink

Today's high: 70°F

Friday, August 14, 2015

Finally, a little bit of rain

Just enough to cool things down and freshen the air a bit. After weeks of 90+ degrees, cloudless days and zero rain, the current "tizzle" feels like heaven. I'm up to the gills in summer harvests. When you pretty much pick the same thing 3-4 days out of the week, it's crazy how it all adds up because no matter how good you are at using up produce, a happy, well-tended garden will always give back more than what you put into it.

Summer harvest 2015

I'm always looking for "rescues" in the garden section at the supermarket. When plants are at the stage of being half-dead, they're discounted and I am obliged to save them. A little TLC went a long way with this gerbera daisy that I picked up for 50 cents!

Gerbera daisy

Mister B gets dibs on all garden rejects, like this deformed purple carrot.

I likes me ugly carrots too I likes me some purple carrots

Never thought I'd be able to grow lemongrass/tanglad in Italy, but there's always a first!


Today's high: 73°F

Friday, July 24, 2015

The hottest July in the last 150 years

Or at least that is what the tv says (and there's even a FB page dedicated to this inferno of a month!). I cannot complain too much about the heat because last year was wet and much too cool that it didn't help any in the garden. I put on a smile each time I open the fridge to a growing bunch of zukes collecting in the veg bin. What was I thinking, growing 3 zucchini plants?

Uva spina 2015

L'orto 2015
The grapes are just starting to turn purple and the melon should be ready sometime in late August.

Cetrioli 2015
It gives me great joy to know that my cukes (or any of my vegetables) aren't sprayed with pesticides.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Goodbye June, hello July

With a third of the summer already gone, winter doesn't feel so very far away. There's a lot of good things happening in the garden, lots of blooms and herbs, but the cherry-type tomatoes have another couple weeks to go before they're ready. Weather forecasts say hot, hot, hot beginnng tomorrow as winds from Africa will reach the peninsula. It won't affect us too much at our altitude, but I'm making a lot of ice for Campari cocktails!


Rhubarb-strawberry tart
I only ever get a tiny yield from my rhubarb but added together with strawberry and it makes a delicious tart.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

2015 is looking to be a good year in the garden

Garden 2015

A proper spring season with mild temps made it possible to set out a lot of transplants in late April, and an early summer had done nothing but absolute good for the garden. I hope the weather continues on like this for the next few months! This year I put the basics in the ground - 2 types of tomatoes, zucchini, bell peppers - but there was still some space left for cucumber, eggplant, pumpkin, melon and a ton of basil for pesto.

Violette Parfumee
Violette Parfumee growing in a planter on the terrace.

On the flower side of the garden, I don't think we could've asked for more from the climbing rose plants. Lots of blooms, not such a heavy aphid infestation (like last year), and the bees are loving it!

Friday, March 20, 2015

Welcome spring!

Assorted violas

A mild winter and drier-than-usual transit into spring might pose a problem later on (if we don't eventually see some rain), but for now it's all about the season's first flowers. It is so easy to get caught up in the buying frenzy for dainty spring blossoms, especially when prices are dirt cheap!

And to compliment today's spring equinox, this morning at a quarter past ten I was able to grab a quick shot of the solar eclipse when the clouds parted a bit. A very nice way to celebrate International Day of Happiness, don't you think?