More summer fruits: sour cherries

IMG_2811A friend invited me to harvest from her sour cherry tree. It was beautiful and laden with cherries. I’ve enough now pitted for a half dozen pies. Yum.

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Lettuce-free salads


Summer salad with garden ingredients, including strawberries

Now that the spinach, lettuces and microgreens have bolted (flowered) and lost their taste, it’s still easy to make a great salad. I love salads made with herb and young vegetable leaves. Plus there are hot weather greens that make refreshing salads in summer heat.

Herb leaves are wonderful in salads: mint, thyme, tarragon, basil, dill.

Small beet greens, sorrel, baby chard and little kale all add color, nutrition and great flavors to a summer salad. These leaf salads can be chopped or torn.


Chrysanthemum greens

Thanks to a kitchen garden client, I’ve started growing hot weather greens. Shungiku or chrysanthemum greens are a favorite and originate in East Asia. The leaves are delicious and highly nutritious. The plant is in the aster family and produces a small yellow flower which my client taught me to clip off so it never bolts. Excellent flavor and crispness.

As I’ve written about before, I also grow red malabar spinach. Not spinach at all, it is an Malaysian vine with ruby red stems and emerald green leaves. More to follow on malabar spinach.


Nasturtium leaves and flowers

Nasturtiums add color in the garden and perk up salads. The flowers and the leaves can be eaten and add a peppery flavor to the other greens.



Wild arugula

Wild arugula

Finally, there’s arugula! I grow several varieties each with a distinct series of flavors. This year, I’m growing a French arugula as well as the wild one that pops up all over my garden. Once you dress arugula, it is not so spicy and is a splendid addition to a summer salad, harmonizing nicely with the other greens. Arugula combines nicely with strawberries and with balsamic vinegar dressings.

What do you like in your summer salad?

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First raspberries . . .

Ate the first ripe raspberries today. They were the golden variety and so sweet.

Below are red raspberries ready soon for summer feasting.


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Insects in the garden

I was asked a good question the other day about insects. Do I spray?

Actually, no, I don’t spray because I have an organic garden and I don’t want to kill beneficial insects when spraying the destructive ones. That said, I have used a vinegar spray, Dr. Bronner’s peppermint soap diluted and other home remedies to manage destructive insects in the garden with modest results.

The truth is I usually don’t bother. I’ve lost an entire green bean crop to Japanese beetles in three days. I battle earwigs in my lettuces and chard with the ferocity of a native Californian (because I am). Green cabbage worms in the lettuce are annoying. Fortunately, I’ve not been hit with squash beetles and have kept my eggplants free of black fleas. (And then there are the rabbits. . . . )

Such is life. Every year, there is something that does spectacularly well and something that proves a poor crop. Sometimes it’s an early fall and sometimes it’s an invasion of destructive insects.

There are, however, plenty of beneficial insects in the garden. Copious earthworms and spiders (not actually insects, I know) tell me it’s a healthy garden with good, strong soil. Bees, bumblebees and butterflies are welcomed guests because they fertilize squash, cucumbers and many other fruits in the garden. When I gardened at the 61st Street Community Garden, of blessed memory, I always had a praying mantis living and hunting in my plot. Today I saw the largest, most gorgeous dragonfly ever.


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More incredible scapes

IMG_2763As I’ve written before, garlic scapes are such a delicacy. A fine and abundant crop this year. And the promise of good hardneck garlic to harvest and cure next month.

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Summer fruits, part two

The strawberries are red and delicious, ready for daily picking and immediate eating.

The raspberries and blackberries will soon be luscious and ready for eating. Too good sun warmed to even make it into the house.


Raspberries to come

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First peas

IMG_2751The first peas are ready for harvesting.

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Garlic scapes: good eating

IMG_2753Hardneck garlic (as opposed to softneck) makes a curlique flower stalk that is delicious eating. These curlique stalks are called scapes. Right now the scapes are perfect for eating. You can tell because they curl in on themselves. As the season progresses, the stem straightens out and toughens up, and the flower of bulbils emerges.

Click on garlic in the topic cloud to the right for recipes and other ideas of how to prepare garlic scapes.

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Summer fruits

IMG_2732This past week, I was in SoCal visiting family. Here is one of my family’s pet Mohave Desert tortoises (They have two rescue Mohave tortoises and a rescue Mediterranean tortoise.) eating apricots from my sister’s tree.

More on fruit and fruit trees as the season ripens.

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IMG_2704I concocted a new summer drink with rhubarb. With three huge rhubarb plants, I have more stems than I know what to do with. I again pulled out enough stems to thin out the rhubarb, trimmed and washed the stems, and cooked them with some turbinado sugar. Once the syrup had cooled, I pureed it and served it with ice to guests. Huge success even with those who purported not to be big rhubarb fans. Great with a splash of gin.

IMG_1224This is a sorrel vodka tonic. We’ve all enjoyed herb butters. What about herb cocktails this summer?

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