Photo of The Week, Pretty Onions

Who knew onions could be pretty? Yes, this beautiful white ‘flower’ is an onion that sat in the ground too long. We have a few of them that I just can’t get myself to pull because they look so pretty in the garden.

Photo of The Week

In the Garden

I am SO excited for this year’s garden to start producing. So far we have eaten a few artichokes and a ton of raspberries from the yard and we have about 10 jalapenos ready to be eaten. This year is the first time we planted our tomatoes in wine barrels and raised beds instead of directly in the ground and I am anxious to see if they turn out as well as they have in the past. From the looks of it they are doing fairly well so far!

Tomatoes in April

Tomatoes in June

                          This year we tried to make the garden a little less maintenance since we are constantly out of town, so we really didn’t plant as many vegetables as we have in the last few years. We tried to focus on planting flowers and trees that would come back every year and be a little less demanding.

Right now we have fresno chilies, jalapeno peppers, green onions (we have those all year), cilantro, basil, rosemary, tomatillos, artichokes, raspberries, and my favorite, an asian pear tree. We bought the tree last year and it is already producing!! I snapped a photo of it on my iPhone last night to send my friend in New York who loves them as much as I do. I cannot wait for them to be ready for harvest!

We also planted grapes two summers ago and they are now TAKING OVER. I love it! We planted 4 plants, one at the base of each of the posts on our overhang in the backyard. They have been climbing and climbing and now are growing over the top and grapes have started poking out through the wood and hanging down. They have given us some much needed shade on that side of the house and they look green and pretty all summer long. Not to mention the grapes are delicious!

Stay tuned for lots more gardening photos and of course some recipes with all of the delicious tomatoes.

It’s a Bug’s Life

Spring is here and that means the bugs are here! I loved taking these photos because I actually took the time to watch the bees pollinate our flowers and it really is a fascinating sight. I hope this means our garden will be fantastic this year.Thank you bees!

Spring Flowers

I took these photos last weekend when the sun was shining and everything seemed to be blooming. Now it’s rainy and gloomy outside so I thought this might brighten up the day.

Missing Summer

I cannot wait for spring and summer to come so we can get outside and start gardening! Our yard looks so sad and dead right now it’s kind of depressing. And it’s only January! I think I may be in need of a tropical vacation… These are a few photos from our flower garden last year.

Photo of The Week, Week 5

Crazy flower from my backyard.

Tomatoes, Tomatoes, Tomatoes

Our first cherry tomatoes ever. Iphone photo

I love tomatoes. And my husband really loves tomatoes. When we bought our first house about 3 years ago, we decided to plant one tomato plant and one basil plant in the backyard. We didn’t know what we were doing as neither of us had ever had our own garden, but we were pleasantly surprised by the outcome– Fresh tomatoes! And basil!

We had so much fun with that one tomato plant that we decided to plant more the following year….lots more. I let my husband pick out the plants and he became obsessed. He bought a new tomato plant every time he left the grocery store, hardware store, and he even made special trips to the nursery for them. In the end, we had about 15 tomato plants, just for the two of us. We ended up with such an abundance of tomatoes that I began bringing bags upon bags into work to give away. We also planted jalapenos, green onions, zucchini (we had way too many zucchinis and had to give them away by the dozens all summer), bell peppers, and a few different herbs. We made salsa every week, spaghetti sauce from scratch, fajitas with the peppers, and the list goes on and on.

Just some of the fruits and veggies from our yard

Having our very own vegetable supply a few steps away from the kitchen was the coolest thing to us. Why hadn’t we been doing this for years? Oh yeah…because it’s a ton of work. Our drip system doesn’t work very well so in the heat of the Sacramento summer we have to water these plants almost every day. And then there’s the weeding, oh the weeding. It never ends. After a summer of wedding planning and working, and trying to keep our garden alive and healthy, we decided we would scale back a little the following year. This was just too much work.

Before

After

The next year came and we decided to plant some tomato plants from seeds this time around. We would buy seed packets and little containers to start the plants and keep them inside until the weather permitted their move to the outdoors.

This is what the tomato starters looked like in the beginning

We planted tons of seeds thinking only a few would take because that is what we’ve seen in the past. Although we had never planted anything inside. So, to our surprise,  they all took. They all grew into tiny little tomato plants and when it came time to move them outside, we couldn’t bare to get rid of any of them. So we planted them all. Which ended up adding up to well over the 15 we had the last year. So much for scaling back.

This year we have romas, shady ladies, yellow pears, red cherrys, red grapes, early girls, lemon boys, and multiple different heirlooms who’s names I have forgotten. We also have a slow-producing zucchini plant, an overgrown monster-of-a-squash plant, we had lots of grapes before the birds ate them, we have green and white onions, thai chili peppers, a few bell peppers, and a crazy overgrown raspberry that we planted and now wish we didn’t. Oh, and my favorite vegetable of all time, artichokes. We had one artichoke plant that produced about 6 delicious-but-small artichokes. Yum.

Our first artichokes

Here is a mix of what we're growing now!

Spicy Thai Chilis

Little Cherry Tomatoes

We had so many onions!

Grapes..before the birds ate them all!

This year my favorite tomato plant has surprisingly been the roma plant. This is the first year we have planted them and I really love their flavor and texture. They stay nice and firm for days after they’re picked! They are perfect for my homemade spaghetti sauce (with extra basil).

Here is a recipe that I basically just throw together from the veggies I find in the yard-

What you’ll need (amounts aren’t listed because I never measure, I just throw it all in!):

– as many roma tomatoes as you can harvest (you can mix in other varieties as well)

– yellow onions

– olive oil

– fresh garlic

– fresh basil

– fresh oregano (or dried if you can’t find fresh)

– a little red wine

– salt and pepper to taste

What to do:

Blanch washed tomatoes in boiling water for 30 seconds. Remove and cool under cold water while peeling off skin. Saute onions and garlic in olive oil in a large deep pot. Dice tomatoes and throw into garlic and onion mixture once onions start to look clear. Add a little red wine and bring to low boil. Throw in oregano, basil, salt, and pepper, and reduce heat to low and simmer up to 2 hours. I usually do the faster version, simmering only for 30 minutes.

Top with fresh basil and shaved parmigiano reggiano and you’re done! Oh and this next part is mandatory- pair with a delicious glass of red wine.

Homemade spaghetti sauce with angel hair pasta

Actually, a pretty nice little Wednesday

I love Wednesdays! All because of one thing- the farmer’s market. There is a great one directly across the street from my work and I try to go every week. I stock up on way more than I can usually eat, but I just can’t help myself. I love watching the stands change over the weeks and months from the beginning of the summer until fall. I try to get something I’ve never tried at least a few times a month so I can have fun experimenting with cooking whatever new vegetable I choose. I’ve learned so much since I started going to this market 2 years ago. This weekend my husband and I are both going out of town (sadly to two different locations) so I didn’t want to buy a whole bunch this week. Instead, I helped my co-worker carry her abundance of veggies while snapping pictures of all the pretty fruits and veggies with my iphone! I’d say today has been ” actually, a pretty nice little Wednesday.”