Good things to eat

Posts tagged ‘balcony gardening’

Bacon and Egg Potato Salad

I know what you are thinking!

Potato Salad?  This late in the season?  Really?  That’s the best you could come up with??”

Well actually….it is PERFECT season!

Because I needed a vehicle of SOME kind to display the fruit of my labours!!

If you’ve been following along, you know that I have been attempting to grow some things in my BALCONY GARDEN over the summer.   It hasn’t been too good of a year for most things, but one thing that grew very well was the crazy potato plant!

Potato plant

But this last week the Chef and I moved house and I was concerned about moving all of the plants, many of them already in ruin from leaving them unattended while we galavanted around Oregon.  But the potato plant was still okay.

However it was big and unruly and I thought that it might be time to harvest soon anyway.   So I hacked off the plant part and figured whatever was in there could handle the move.  ( We only moved about three blocks down the road so….)

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Everyone kept commenting about just how heavy the container was, but I just poo pooed it, knowing that the bottom was lined with rocks for drainage……..

So a couple of days ago, I took a break from unpacking boxes and HAD to have a look at what might be in the potato bin!

I grabbed what was left of the plant and yanked it out.   There was a few nice little, egg sized potatoes attached as well as some tiny grape sized ones.   But I wasn’t discouraged because I knew that sometimes the break off the stem.

So with my little shovel and my hand I started rooting around in the dirt……

What the……WHAT???

My potato

I pulled out a VERY big potato!!  Bigger than a softball!   And then another and another………I couldn’t believe it!!  Just grown in a recycling bin!  Who knew!!

My potatoes compared to FULL size dinner fork!!

I was SO pleased that I had to make something with them……..I wanted to taste their fresh picked goodness!!

So on the first day I roasted all the little ones.  

And today I made potato salad out of the big ones!

Here’s how I made it, but seriously…..I’m just trying to show off my fabulous potatoes!

Recipe:

  • a few potatoes fresh from your garden (or whatever)

Peel them and dice them in large cubes and boil or steam until tender in salted hot water

Meanwhile in a bowl add:

  • chopped up left over cooked bacon ( if you have some and what to use bacon)
  • 1 chopped green onion
  • 1 tbsp grainy Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • 2-3 tbsp of mayo or olive oil or a combo of both ( to taste)
  • Salt & pepper

Mix all that up in readiness of the potatoes being cooked.   Then drain and  toss the potatoes into the dressing.  Mix well but not too vigorously that you swish the potatoes.

Then add some chopped hard boiled egg if you so desire.

Sprinkle with a bit of paprika!!

Bacon and Egg Potato Salad!  Straight from the garden!

Eat while still warm!

Bacon and Egg Potato Salad fresh from the garden

Growing stuff – July 20

Well the summer is progressing along and things on the balcony garden are still growing.

But the weather this year has been so weird that I’m not sure how things will turn out.

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The potato plant is still growing like gang busters.  I’m not sure when I am supposed to harvest that.   I had trouble last year and so they never got to fruition.

Potato plant

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The arugula is looking fantastic and we hope to eat some of that this weekend!

Arugula

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Bit of trouble with the cabbage.  Seems that some sort of florescent green little worms have been eating their fill of it.  I caught them in the act munching little holes all over, so I “removed” them.   I will have to keep an eye on them.

red cabbage

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The beets are doing great, but again, don’t know when they will be “ready” to pick?

Beets

 

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No tomatoes on the plant

The tomatoes continue to disappoint.  I can’t believe after growing them from seed starting in like January….and coddling them in the living room window all winter and giving them painstaking care…..that there is still as yet not even ONE tomato growing anywhere on the plants!   Sad, very sad.

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And then the Chard is FINALLY doing very well after a challenging start!

 

Swiss Chard

 

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And last but not least, I have a very pleasing batch of lettuce going.   But as usual, I had to move it inside because the BIRDS love lettuce and will keep eating it until they fall over!  Maybe that’s the answer!

Lettuce

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Happy Gardening!

 

Growing things and veggie storage tips

What with it officially summer now and the growing of produce in full swing, I thought I would share this veggie storage chart with you to help maximize the life of your produce!

veggie-storage

Meanwhile, life on the balcony garden is doing as well as can be expected.

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The cabbages are growing like gang busters!  But cabbage is a hearty plant so I suppose we can count on them.

But I don’t know, in the close up I’m not really seeing what will be a head of cabbage some day.  I don’t think that these big leaves suddenly curl up in a ball??

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The beans are still pushing away.  But doubt anything will come of them with their late start in the season!

Beans

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The tomato plants have lots of flowers now but no little tomatoes yet.   The wind lately has just been relentless and so I think it has tired them out.

Tomatoes

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And the potato plant is so big and strong and flowering.  I only hope that the potatoes growing underneath are half as hardy!   And I really have to resist the urge to “look at them”!  Last year I couldn’t help myself and pulled them up way too soon.   But luckily I shoved them back in the dirt and they kept growing until that “unfortunate incident” that occurred last year!  ( click here to see that )

Potatoes going strong

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I have had an unfortunate development with the patty-pan squash plant.  Heart breaking really, for no apparent reason he seems to have given up the will to live.

It was neither over watered, nor under-watered, nor do I see any evidence of foul play when it comes to squirrels or other critters.  The only variable to report is the incessant wind of late.  Maybe he just got exhausted.  He started off so strong and healthy.   Sad development.

Poor poor patty pan

I did however add some arugula seeds to the rest of his box and they are sprouting beautifully!

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The beets are in fine shape, but I guess like the potatoes, I will have to be patient and not yank them out to see “how they are doing”!

Beets

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And last but not least, I am very pleased to say that the Swiss Chard has made a fine come back.  It was touch and go there for awhile.

Although, I must admit, I have not yet let them stay outside.  They continue to be in the living room away from those nasty birds!

Swiss Chard

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Happy Gardening!

Click here if  you would like to catch up on my adventures in the balcony garden.

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Growing stuff – May 25th

Another week on the balcony garden.

Added a few new friends to the mix.

Got some little red cabbage pants but I only had a shallow pan left for them.   I will start them there and if they grow too big and seem unhappy, I’ll have to get them a bigger bin.

Red cabbage

Also added some beet plants.  They got the last available deep pot because they are underground growers after all.

Beets

Got a couple of mint plants to go in the window box with the oregano.  Mint and oregano…..that should go….they live together all the time in Greek food!!

Mint and oregano

And the potato plant literally seems to get bigger every day!!  But the beans I planted two weeks ago have not yet showed any sprouts at all.  Maybe the seeds were bad, but I won’t give up on them yet!

The Balcony Garden

Growing stuff – May 4th

We are rapidly approaching our “Victoria Day” weekend here in Canada.

To some it is to celebrate the birthday of Queen Victoria which is May 24th.

While others use it as the opening to party season and refer to it as “the May two-four weekend” which if you are from around here, or Ontario in particular, that refers to a 24 pack of BEER!

But then there are others who consider the Victoria Day weekend as the kick off to gardening season.   Thought of as…..although this year we can’t be sure…….a safe date to assume it will no longer SNOW!   And therefore safe to plant things!

But luckily here on the West Coast we can get a jump on planting early.

So here is an update on how things are going on the “Balcony Garden“.

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This is the lone flower produced so far from the weird mystery plant that was supposed to be Swiss chard.   As suspected, it seems to be some sort of sunflower.  But the plant is rapidly dying.  Either because the birds are picking at it, or because it is simply too crammed into that pot!

random sunflower

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Sprouting potato plant?

And could it be?  That my little potato eyes that I planted what seems only a week ago is already growing?   How wonderful.

They’ll be French fries for everyone REAL soon!!

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Sad little chard sprouts

And I’m afraid that the “real” Swiss chard pants are progressing very well at all.  Not sure if it is because I have them covered with a basket to keep the birds from taking them, or if they are just slow starters?

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And then there are the tomato plants that I started inside from seed!  Those coffee grounds as fertilizer SURE seem to be working!!  They are almost two feet tall now!  I don’t think they are supposed to grow quite THAT big…..they are only Roma tomato plants!   Hopefully they will stop growing tall and start producing some flowers that will turn into tomatoes!!

Out of control Romas

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And finally as a little treat I really MUST show you a couple of nice Spring pictures from the near by park.

Flowers a bloom

Just waitin around

Last one in is a rotten egg!

Happy weekend and happy gardening!

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Tragedy in the balcony garden

I really don’t know WHAT to make of this one!

For those of you who have been following the progress of my little balcony garden since the Spring will know that I have been having some trouble from time to time with the critters who seem to frequent the area.

The birds insisted on eating the seeds and then chomping away at the mint plant and the young lettuce and chard seedlings and then who ever took a bite out of my one lone tomato……?

But this new desecration is just despicable!

When we last left off I had just harvested one lot from the rogue  potato plant and was anxiously awaiting the right time to harvest the bigger plant.

I was eyeing it yesterday, thinking it looked a little droopy and that it might just be a perfect time to pull it up and see what golden nuggets were attached.  But as I pushed the greenery aside to see where I would be pulling from, I spied the most curious and unfortunate of things!

An ANT TRAP!!

Just sitting there on the dirt!

What’s worse is it was a partially chewed ant trap!

 

Ant trap

I don’t know HOW it got there?  Nor how long it had been there leaching toxic poison into that beautifully composted dirt I had been nurturing all year.  But how could we now possibly eat the potatoes growing beneath?  Could we risk that they hadn’t been contaminated by the ant poison??

I was just devastated!  Who could do such a horrible thing?

I’ll tell you who…..that damn squirrel!   He is always parading around the balcony poking his nose in everything and digging away at the plants!  Not even my well aimed squirt bottle will deter him.  He just laughs at me.

One day I had left the balcony door open and was doing something at the kitchen sink and could see something out of the peripheral of my eye.  I looked down and there he was, the cheeky thing, standing under the kitchen table!!!

So the only thing I can imagine is that he stole the ant trap from someone else, found it to be delicious in some way and had come to stash it in MY healthy dirt!  Perhaps he got poisoned before he could finish the job and staggered off?

Lost potatoes

 

I had HOPED that.

I dug up the potatoes and was sad to see it was a nice little yield, but I’m just not comfortable eating them.

Turns out that wasn’t really a problem because as if things weren’t BAD enough, this morning when I went out to the balcony to check on things, my pile of potatoes that I managed to dig up were GONE!

But the chewed ant trap was still there!

This neighbourhood is getting rough!

Balcony garden update II

There has been a lot of turmoil on the balcony garden.

The cauliflowers were all lost, growing like mutants or just rotting.  Prehaps it was because they were living with the potatoes?  Hard to say.  Maybe I needed to tie them up into balls?  Maybe I was just letting them grow wild!

And then today I found  my ONE tomato with a bite out of it!  Someone must have thought it was good!

Tomato with bite out of it

But they won’t win!  We ate it anyway!  What’s a little bite between neighbours?  I just cut around it!

This tomato made beautiful sweet bruschetta!  Topped with a little fresh basil from the window sill!

Bruschetta from my tomato

Then my curiosity got the better of me and I could wait no longer to see what’s under that potato plant!  Well the smaller one anyway.  The one I kept hacking down to let the cauliflower grow!

I was a little disappointed on first pull.  Not too much came out. 

Potato extraction

 But then I dug around a little deeper and found a few choice nuggets!  I’m not all together convinced that there aren’t still some more down there but I didn’t have time to sift through all the dirt.

Freshly harvested potatoes

Considering I never actually planted any potatoes and the plant just had the will to live, I’m thinking anything I get is a bonus! I roasted them up with a few yam parts and they were all sweet and delish!

Roast potatoes and yam

I need to be patient with the other potato plant and let it keep going awhile but I don’t want them to rot.  Then again THIS plant was just part of the other one that I ripped out of the other box to help make room for the cauliflower, but then when I saw it had a bunch of tiny potatoes growing on it, I quickly replanted it!

Escaped potato plant

This is just one plant taking over the place!!

And then luckily after a rocky beginning of being half eaten to death by the birds, the chard and the lettuce have bounced back nicely!

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Balcony Garden update

Not really sure why things are growing like crazy, what with the dismal excuse for a summer we’ve been having, but I guess the will to live prevails!

Click here to check out how things started  and then on our last update  click here to see where we got.

Now things are just out of control

In the centre of my cauliflower plants grew a big old, unsolicited, POTATO plant!!  I kept chopping at it to try and give the cauliflower some access to the sun but it just kept growing.  So the other day I just pulled it right out of the dirt and low and behold, two very cute little potatoes that I roasted up and we ate.  The were super sweet and delicious!

New potatoes

But then I noticed that there were all these tiny weeny potato like things hanging off the roots so I replanted it in my compost bin and we’ll see what we get come end of summer.  But at least it isn’t suffocating the cauliflower anymore.

Potato plant

As for the actual cauliflower, they somehow have managed to grow in the potato shadow and now we have little baby cauliflowers!

baby cauliflowers

Baby cauliflowers

 There is one tomato growing and it is coming along nicely.  Actually I am impressed by the size. Tomatoes never do well, it’s just too cold for them.

One green tomato

But it is the lettuce  and lettuce like things like arugula that is growing like crazy.

Arugula gone to flower

Remember our little lettuce project……..we are still eating it!

Lettuce

We’ve been enjoying the red lettuce very much.

Red lettuce

And then there is this.  They started out as a pot of random greens that we bought at the garden centre.  I wasn’t really sure what kind of greens they were so I let them grow and they got bigger and bigger.

Whacky big green stuff

I like this stuff though because the birds LOVE it and like to swing on the ends so they can eat the seeds off the flowers, which is great because it means they are finally leaving my mint alone that they chewed down to the bone!

Birds swinging in the greens

There’s always a lot of action out there.  Each day brings new surprises and provides endless entertainment.

You should try it.

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Lettuce lettuce everywhere!

Time to check in on the balcony garden! 

Things are growing like crazy!  Remember how we started?  With just a few seeds and a few tiny plants?

Then they started to grow.

And NOW look at them!

And then we had our little cauliflower plants.

Well not only did they grow, but the craziest thing happened!  Right in the middle of them is now growing, a big potato plant!!  It must have got in there from the compost dirt and is now taking over the place!  I trimmed back some of the branches because the poor ol cauliflower isn’t getting any light!  Not sure how all that will turn out, could be quite a fight under the dirt that no one will win!

Then we have some arugula growing quietly beside that.

The tomatoes aren’t doing that well.  They like hot and sunny, something it really hasn’t been too much of this year.

This is them when they were planted a few weeks ago.

This is them now.

Not much change.

But all the lettuce is doing marvelously!  Lettuce lettuce everywhere!

So what to do with all the lettuce?  Well……when you’re done with salads……no reason why you can’t toss the greens into the juicer or if you want something more, put them in your smoothie!!  Great way to get your greens while you feel like you are just getting fruity goodness!!

One thing I find odd on the balcony garden……the birds keep stealing my mint.  What do you suppose that’s about?  Air freshener for the nest??

Grow your own

In keeping with the whole balcony garden concept, here is something you can get started right now.

Do this project with your kids, they will love it and will be thrilled to watch things grow and chances are, if they grow it themselves, they will love to eat it!

Here’s what you will need:

Get one of those boxes that organic lettuce or spinach or whatever come in. (Clean one)

Lettuce box

Then punch a few holes in the bottom for drainage and then place it on top of the lid……label side of the lid up, or so that it is like the box is sitting in a little tray to catch any water that leaks out.

Then you want to fill the box half way with some nice dirt.

Box with dirt

Now whatever you do, don’t make the same mistake I made when I first started growing things.  Get yourself some REAL dirt.  Don’t just go and dig some old stuff from beside the parking lot or your driveway…..that dirt is dead.  Go to the store and buy and nice little bag of dirt, they are very reasonable.

Or if you are an experienced grower like I am starting to be, I keep my last years dirt, but over the course of the winter I feed it with peelings, vegetable scraps and egg shells and such, that I then keep turning under with my little shovel and it magically turns into beautiful dirt.  Now I’m lucky to live somewhere that I can actually do this, so if you can’t, then just buy a bag of dirt.

Nice composted dirt

Then you will need some seeds.   Today I am using mixed lettuce seeds, but you could use arugula or herbs or any other quick grow leafy product.

Seeds

Sprinkle the seeds evenly over the dirt and make sure you aren’t crowding them.

Sprinkle seeds

Seeds in the dirt

Then it’s time to cover the seeds up with more dirt.

Cover with dirt

And then sprinkle with a bit of water to get started.

A little bit of water

And then sit back and wait for them to grow!

Now if you live somewhere that it isn’t warm enough yet for this to stay outside, then by all means bring it in and set it on the window sill or some other sunny location.  And if you really want to give the seeds a head start, find another lid ( who doesn’t have too many of those!) and just place it loosely on top and create a green house affect.   Water it regularly but be careful not to drowned them.  I find a squirt bottle the best way to water them when they are starting out. 

Let’s check back later!

Balcony garden

Well I’m back home now after my various adventures in Montreal and Toronto and need to get back to living my regular life.

I was so happy to see that while I was away, things have started to grow on my balcony.  Over the years I have experimented with trying to grow all sorts of things and you would be surprised what you can actually grow in unlikely places!

Oregano and mint

This is oregano ( on the left) and mint ( on the right) that I planted three years ago now.  It grows up and I hack at it all summer, using it however I fancy, then around November it appears to die right off, but then in spring it grows right back!  And now the mint seems to be taking over most of the box!!

I started my by balcony garden by combing the garage sales and picking up different kinds of vessels.  Window boxes, buckets, big flower pots, and then things to put them on, like children chairs and tables and little shelves so that things are at different heights.  It is a fun pursuit to furnish your garden.

But my favorite things to grow in are my recycling bins that I brought with me from Toronto.  My “blue box” and my “grey box”.  I got them fresh and clean one earth day when they were giving them out in the park and never used them for actual recycling so they are perfectly food safe and they already have wholes punched in the bottom which are great for drainage.

Then I took my knapsack and went down to the beach and filled it with as many small stones as I could carry……actually I made several trips to get enough stones to fill all the bottoms of my vessels.  You need the stones both for drainage and for the roots to have some space to breath because straight dirt can become too compacted.

Then away you go, you can grow all sorts of things.

Last summer I was so excited because I got some little broccoli plants and was thrilled at the idea of growing my own.  The plants were growing like gang busters and it was so fun watching the little heads of broccoli emerge from the centre.  I watched them and watched them but then had to go away for a week and hoped that they would be ready to harvest upon my return.

Unfortunately they peaked while I was away and by the time I returned they had flowered up like a hydrangea flower!!  I was so sad.  And who knew that broccoli flowered like that??

Broccoli plants

Flowering broccoli

So keep an eye on your garden or things can get out of hand!

One thing I had a great success with was cucumber plants.  I just got four little plants at the store and planted one in each corner of the container.  Two made it and two didn’t.  But the two that did, grew like crazy and we enjoyed many cucumbers well into the fall.

Cucumber plant

I always try to grow a tomato plant or two but it never really gets warm enough for them, so I am lucky if I get a red tomato or two by October.

But now’s the time to start planning.

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