Oh so Okra

Bhindi” , known in many English-speaking countries as ladies’ fingersokra or gumbo, was a member of the garden plot in the summer of 2015for Him and Her. It certainly didnt dissapoint, nor was it easily tamed.

Being a very sturdy plant, except against a frost and colder temperatures, the harvest value is the seed pods.

In cultivation, the seeds can be soaked prior to sowing them. Him and Her reserved two square feet on the garden plot, and seeds were not soaked before sowing them in rows.

Germination occurs between a week to three weeks according to www.

However, waiting and watering the soil, together with keeping a check on any weeds is a good idea.

The plant grows to around 2m tall with significant and pleasantly colored flowers.

The flowers have white to yellow petals,  with a red or purple spot at the base of each petal.

The seed pods rapidly become fibrous and woody, and, to be edible, must be harvested quickly.

Okra is a popular food due to its high fiber, folate and vitamin C content.

The products of the plant are mucilaginous, resulting in the characteristic “goo” or slime when the seed pods are cooked. A dash of lime is known to help reduce the sliminess. Or cook them quickly like a stir fry.Smaller and the more tender ones can be stuffed with some spice powders mixed with salt and lime juice, and pan roasted.

Little Calendar 

Calendula is a genus of about 15–20 species of annual and perennial herbaceous plants in the daisy family Asteraceae.

News is that its aka Marigolds —  Him and Her even bought a few marigold plants separately for the garden plot.

Calendula species have been used traditionally as culinary and medicinal herbs. The petals are edible and can be used fresh in salads or dried and can be used as a coloring agent too.

Calendula oil is still used medicinally as an anti inflammatory.

Reading up , now realize the numerous other benefits of the Calendula plant. Apart from the various medicinal and culinary services, it doubles up as a companion plant too.Best planted between rows of plants, its scent wards of various pests.

The bright yellow colors of the flower is sunshine in the sunshine. This adds so much color to compliment the green surroundings.

Heres the color of summer, started from the seeds sown a little into spring.

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Tomatoes

Tomato is the edible, often red berry type fruit of a tomato plant. The tomato is consumed in diverse ways, including raw, as an ingredient in many dishes, sauces, salads, and drinks. A favorite is the chutney, which involves laborious (and sometimes messy) cooking process, but the outcome is worth it.

The English word tomato comes from the Spanish word, tomate, derived from the Nahuatl (Aztec language) word tomatl.

Use of tomato as a food originated in Mexico, and spread throughout the world thereafter. Its many varieties are now widely grown, sometimes in greenhouses in cooler climates.

The plants typically grow to 1–3 meters (3–10 ft) in height and have a weak stem that often sprawls over the ground and vines over other plants. Often grown outdoors in temperate climates. Him and Her devised a system of stakes and intertwined threads together as a support for the plants as they grew taller.

Heres one of the harvest of 2015-red, organically grown, happy looking and smile spreading bunch!  Thats more than 2lbs of a mix of Roma,big red and small Campari.IMG_0028

 

Info Courtesy : Wiki

Picture courtesy: TheValleyGreens and iPhone

Red Red Beet

The beetroot is the taproot portion of the beet plant, usually known in North America as the beet, also as garden beet, red beet or golden beet.
In indian cuisine, chopped, cooked spiced beet is a common side dish. In some regions, also used with a dollop of yogurt, mildly spiced.
Him and Her got the seed packet and alloted two squares for the beets.
The leaves which are also edible ( as later reading revealed), were easy target for the winged garden visitors. 
About the  beets, there were few harvested, probably 4 per square feet. Though the size of the beets weren’t a match for those sometimes found in the grocery stores, the color and crispy freshness was beyond compare! 
And of course needless to say,organic is the key!
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Organic gardening – weed control

The boon and the bane in organic gardening is the weed/pest control.

Bane in terms of time consuming task of weeding, Him and her spending many sunny weekends bent over the garden plot.
But worth its while and more rewarding is when efforts bear fruits ( or rather -vegetables).
As part of square foot gardening,  draft planning was done to figure out the rows/squares to be cleared with priority.
Also, once the seeds were sown and the saplings say hello, theres another round of exercise that the garden ensures. Weeds grew faster than the plants that were tended to!!
Here, this pic might help to speak a few words about the weekend afternoons….Well,  for Him and Her, it was music, sweat, exercise for the body and more time together.IMG_5552

Deep rooted – Carrots

The carrot (Daucus carota) is a root vegetable, usually orange in color, though also has different other colors at times as seen in markets.

The most commonly eaten part of a carrot is a taproot.

Started from the seeds, Him and Her read up several information sites and decided to have about 16 plants per square feet for carrot. Spacing the tiny specks of seeds wasn’t done to precision, which is quite plausible.

Later readings and www helped to realize that a mix of the seeds with some grains of sand does well to space out the seeds comfortably.

Ensure to thin out once the saplings are out and about. This is required to have a “carrot” shaped “carrot”  harvest !

With the rocky terrain of the garden plot, inspite of a lot of cleaning the stones before start of gardening, there were carrots that grew around and about the stones/pebbles underground and this posed a challenge in cleaning the crop after harvest.

Heres the first bunch of harvest….Cleaned and spruced up for a picture!
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Summer days & ZUCCHINI

One of the few veggies that needs more than a square foot of space, the summer crop ZUCCHINI (Cucurbita pepo).
 
Here are a few points to note , as Him and Her had their debutante harvest of Zucchini in the garden plot. Got to see a lot of this floating on the www, which is very useful.
 
Zucchini :
  • Needs a lot of room to spread out and grow.
  • Days to harvest: 60 days
  • Grows in warm weather and grows best in direct sunlight. 
  • Once the plants have grown to a decent size, their broad leaves will help keep the area weed-free by shading out invading plants.
  • Prone to develop powdery mildew. IMG_8436
  • Zucchinis require pollination before they can begin producing fruit. If there is not a healthy population of bees, hummingbirds or other natural means of pollination, you can pollinate each plant manually. Male flowers have elongated stems with a collection of tubelike stamens inside. Peel away the petals and brush the stamens inside a female flower to pollinate it.
  • Harvest zucchini when the fruits are small  for better flavor and tender crop.
  • Use a sharp knife to cut the zucchini off , to avoid damaging the plant.
  •  Produces fruit throughout its growing season.

And also read up to know that one of the culinary dishes from this crop is the famous ratatouille.

 

Full House – members

In the post, “Full House” , the herbs and plants grown in the raised bed were displayed. To note, they were not pruned and allowed to grow in full splendor, and treated as a kitchen garden.

Heres a list of the herbs/veggies/flora that were part of the raised bed and around it:

  1. Mint
  2. Dill
  3. Basil (Lots of it)
  4. Okra
  5. Chilli
  6. Tomato
  7. Jasmine (Being the friendly neighbor)

Him and Her got a small mint stalk from the temple visited in Peoria, IL and reserved a square in the raised bed . Dill, Basil were from packet of seeds purchased at the nearest Walmart/Meijer. Okra was accompanying the wild one (the tomato). Jasmine was His surprise to Her on a pleasant weekday evening, sapling purchased from a local nursery.

 

 

 

Deep purple

 

 Cabbage is a leafy green or purple plant, grown as an annual vegetable crop for its dense-leaved heads.
It belongs to a broad family of common vegetables that also include brussel sprouts, cauliflower, kale and broccoli.
Him and Her allocated one square feet for purple cabbage.
Since it was a first time, it made sense not to give in to the risk factor and allocate more squares for this vegetable.
Square foot gardening technique usually works more efficiently when you grow what you know you will eat. So dedicate more to veggies that are for sure staples at the dining table.
Moreover, the seed starter process was indoors, and one sapling survived well after being transplanted in the garden plot.
Cabbage structurally consists of clusters of stiff leaves  in compact layers, allowing it to acquire round shape.
The vegetable crop  catches the eye once its out and about during the formation of the layers.
Successful in the harvest of the purple cabbage, it was treated as a star in the kitchen.
Have to admit, the crunchiness was amazing.