Helpful Tools for the Garden

Vegetable gardening can be intensive. Helpful tools in the garden can make a huge difference. After years of practice, I have discovered some of the tools that set my mind at ease going into every gardening season. Here is the list of my favs:
(1) The Minihooper: This is a neat little device that will allow you to plant your garden earlier in the spring and extend it later in the fall. The minihoop house (by New Dimension Seed) sets up directly in your vegetable garden, protect your vegetable starts from frost. How many times have you guessed when the last spring frost is??? and that is not an easy task!
(2) A "D" ring hoe. This is by far the best hoe I have ever purchased (and believe me I have purchased a LOT!). I like this hoe from a mechanical engineer's perspective: it allows you to use the least amount of force to archive the best result. Buy one that is well constructed so the screws don't fall out on you. I carry it with me whenever I go into the garden, especially when the veggies are still small. Kilis the weeds before they take over.
(3) A Garden Seeder (from Midwest Products, available from This is is a device no serious gardener should go without. If you plant a large garden like I do, this can give your garden a professional look and draw admirers from miles away... The seeder comes with different disks for sowing different seeds. You will get perfect spaced straight rows that not only is good looking, but produce tons of veggies. It is ideal for market gardeners!
Zucchini Pineapple Bread(from the Taste of Oregon cookbook): Cooked in Jars

3 eggs
1 C. oil
2 C. sugar
2 C shredded zucchini
1 can (8.5 oz.) crushed pineapple
3 C. flour
2 t. baking soda
1 t. salt
1/2 t. baking powder
1-1/2 t. cinnamon
3/4 t. nutmeg
1 C chopped nuts or currants
Mix all wet ingredients together, mix all dry ingredients together, be sure to sift the flour, it makes a big difference. Fill quart canning jars half full. Use a canning funnel so you don't leave batter on edges. Bake at 350F for 50-60 minutes. Leave ample space between jars so they cook evenly. Remove jars one at a time, cover with canning lid, screw band on tight. Leave jars in a cool non-draft place until sealed. Can keep up to 6 month. Great for the cold winters!

To make jar-bread

8-25-08 The Garden is in Full Production

Tomatoes are turning red, tons of zucchinis, lots of peppers, giant green onions, even eggplants are producing like mad, and don't forget the delicious Stallion White Cucumbers (from New Dimension Seed)! My watermelons are about 8" across, should be ready in about a week or two. I can't wait. I harvested all my Yukon Gold potatoes. The lettuce is gone, but I picked the leaves and stuff them in a ziplog bag and through them in the fridge, they will last a while. Corns are almost filled, but still on the young side, since I like mine chewy sweet.

Summer is finally here, So many choices of fresh vegetables to use. Here are some ideas of how to use these wonderful vegetables:
Tomato soup made with leftover steak and fresh tomatoes;
Egg Flower Soup with fresh tomatoes;
Fresh salsa with tomatoes, peppers and BASIL! It was delicious.
Zucchini Pineapple bread;
Zucchini pancakes;
Chilli Releno with Estella Pepper;
Cucumber salad
Hot German Potato Salad;

On the fruit side, pears are ready, Akeen Apple, my sure producer is loaded with apples and they are turning bright red. It's a very good fresh eating and cooking apple, tart and sweet. The Italian prune tree didn't do well this year, I guess non of the plum and prunes did good.

08-02-08 Little Apples Big Taste

One of the unspoken pleasure of having apple trees is the apple dessert made with the small, not quite mature apples. These small apples are drop offs, or thinned out ones that are often thrown away, but they make a delicious apple dessert. They are tart like granny smith, but with flavors of their own. I always enjoyed these in the early summer days. Add some ice cream and you'll get a perfect a la mode!
Here's the recipe:
3 C. cutup peeled, cored small apples,
1/2 C. sugar,
1 T. butter,
lime juice from half lime,
2 T. flour
1/2 t. cinnamon,
dash of slat,
A few blackberries (Optional)
For the dessert topping:
1/2 C. instant oat meal,
1/2 C. brown sugar,
2 T. flour
3 T. butter
Heat the butter in a frying pan until melt, add the apple pieces, add lime juice, sugar, salt and cinnamon. Please in a baking dish. Place blackberries on top of the apples. Blend the topping ingredients together, place it on top of the fruit. Bake at 350 F preheated oven for 45-50 minutes. Cool, serve with vanilla ice cream and whip cream. Yum!