Ground cherries are gooseberries

The ground cherries in bed 9 are beginning to ripen, so be sure to check the lower branches and ground underneath for the yellow husk-covered fruit.

If you’re curious what to do with ground cherries, it might be good to know that they’re also known as Cape gooseberries (long story short: new world plant, cultivated in South Africa before introduction in Britain, and now here). In other words, look for gooseberry recipes. Here, for example, is a recent Guardian recipe for gooseberry chutney. Or see this BBC overview of different uses, including cakes, crumbles, cordials, and more.

Anaheim Peppers

Since I couldn’t find any poblano starters this year, we’ve planted anaheim peppers instead. They’re the only large pepper among our hot peppers. They look like dark green, wrinkly versions of Hungarian wax peppers–those are in our sweet pepper bed, by the way, and the hot wax peppers can be found underneath the overgrowth from the neighboring tomato plants. While you could stuff anaheims much as you would Hungarian wax peppers, you can also use them as a mild substitute for poblano peppers. Here’s how.

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Tabasco peppers

Tabasco peppers are fairly small, about 1-inch long.

Tabasco peppers are fairly small, about 1-inch long.

It’s late in the season, but we have a batch of tabasco pepper coming in. You can find them in bed #5 directly adjacent to the swiss chard. The fruit is exceptionally small, as you can see in the photo, and they are proportionately hot. Tabasco peppers rate anywhere from 30,000-50,000 on the Scoville scale, which makes them hotter than jalapeños (3,500-10,000) or serranos (10,000-23,000), but not as hot as habaneros (100,000-350,000).

We planted tabasco peppers because we had heard that gardeners had taken to making their own pepper sauces. As one might imagine, the tabasco pepper works well in this application, in part because of what makes the chile unusual: it has a juicy, not dry interior. While there are many different kinds of pepper sauce recipes, many of which include an extended fermentation using a starter culture of one sort or another, one very simple recipe consists of pouring hot vinegar with a pinch or two of salt over a handful of peppers and letting the mixture stand for anywhere from one to six weeks, covered. We’ve got plenty of peppers, so give it a try.

Grilled Radicchio

Be sure to split the head of radicchio through the base of the stem.

Be sure to split the head of radicchio through the base of the stem.

While radicchio adds a delicious bitter counterpoint raw in salads, when cooked, it loses some of its bitterness and gains a wonderful depth of flavor. I’ve often quickly sautéd it to use as a pizza topping or as an addition to a winter squash pasta. Grilling, however, is a more ideal technique for dealing with bitter heads of salad greens like radicchio or escarole. The dry heat ensures that excess moisture evaporates and that the outer edges crisp slightly. It’s also delicious.

You’ll find the basic technique below.

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Late summer crops and early fall greens

A full head of radicchio from the garden

A full head of radicchio from the garden.

Our late summer plantings are ready for light harvesting, including young lettuces in beds #4, 5, and 9 (i.e., arugula, romaine, merveille des quatre saisons, and escarole), as well as young kales and collards in beds #3 and 9. Please cut leaves from the exterior edges of these plants. With luck, we should be able to harvest from this crop until we put the garden to bed.

Full heads of radicchio in bed #7 are also ready or nearly so. You can tell if a head of radicchio is ready to harvest when the inner head feels firm to a gentle squeeze. And, yes, the exterior leaves of radicchio tend to rot. Those rotten leaves, though, are the reason why the interior heads are a beautiful red and white–they’re protected from the sun. Just peel off anything inedible and wash thoroughly.

You’ll find what’s ready to harvest below.

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Using cherry tomatoes: Tomato Pesto

Cherry tomato plants can be incredibly productive, and it is better for the garden to harvest tomatoes when they’re ripe rather than leave them to fall and rot into the soil. This sauce is an excellent way to make use of an abundance of cherry tomatoes, and works well on any fresh or dried pasta. It comes together quickly in a food processor or blender, and it can be adjusted to suit your tastes.The recipe below is fairly light, but it can be made richer to suit your taste in a number of different ways. While I enjoy a small handful of almonds in this dish, you could use a nut with more oils such as pine nuts or even pepitas, which would give this an exceptionally rich feel. You can also add more olive oil. Some versions of this recipe will use more than 1/2 cup of oil. You can also add a dry grating cheese to the sauce as you would for a basil pesto. In any case, it is an exceptionally flexible and simple sauce, and one that you can enjoy even when the garden isn’t in season by using a single carton of cherry or grape tomatoes from the supermarket.

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Ready to harvest: tomatoes, peppers, beans, and more

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Tomatoes are in!

We planted a number of different varieties this year, including sungold (cherry), Principe Borghese (small plum), indigo rose (large cherry), and a blight resistant cherry from the Cornell Extension. All of these are in, and more. We also have a few large tomatoes, including the beautiful heirloom pictured above, the pink Berkeley tie-dye.

Since so many of our varieties are not red tomatoes, use feel and smell to judge each tomato’s ripeness. A ripe tomato will feel soft and smell pleasantly vegetal. Overripe tomatoes will pop or ooze slightly when picked and smell strongly.

We also have plenty of sweet and hot peppers, including bell, shishito, pepperoncini, jalapeno, poblano, Thai Dragon, Tabasco, and cherry. Our other hot weather crops are also coming in now, so look for eggplant, try our two different varieties of okra (red and green), and begin to pick some of our wonderful tomatillos.

Ready to harvest:

Bed #2: Tomatoes (sungold and Cornell), broccoli, sorrel

Bed#3: Tomato (indigo rose), beans

Bed #4: Tomato (black krill, Principe Borghese), sweet peppers, parsley

Bed #5: Tomatillo, okra, hot peppers, chard

Bed #6: Tomato (Glacier), cucumbers

Bed #7: Summer squash, nero kale, dill,

Bed#9: Chicory, eggplant, beans, chard

Bed #10: Broccoli, chard, beans

Bed #11: Amaranth