Tag Archives: arugula

How Does Your Garden Grow?

GardenIt seems like only a few weeks ago when I was writing about planting seeds, but it was actually March 21.  It’s hard to believe it’s been 3 months, so I thought I would give you an update and let you know how I went about planting everything.

Even though I was on top of the seed planting, my transplanting outdoors was delayed.  Sure, I can blame it on the long winter and the rain we kept getting in the spring, and I can even blame it on the trip we took to Greece in May that took up my time Tilling(more recipes from that trip later), but, really, I was just late! 🙂  I finally tilled the garden and planted everything about a month ago, and, even though things are a bit behind, they are doing really well!

This year, I did try to be strategic about my tilling the garden.  If you turn the soil and then it rains in the next few days, it’s a bad scene.  All of those weed seeds that were just turned get fed with the water and start to grow.  However, if it’s warm and sunny, the seeds will dry out and die.  This year I seemed to time the tilling right and the weeds haven’t been that bad…so far.

Ready for PlantingOnce I got the tilling done, I was ready to plant.  You may remember I had a lovely diagram that I put together for my garden.  And, even though I had the best of intentions, my garden doesn’t exactly look like that diagram.  Things happen!  The beets didn’t quite make it when I took them outside…I didn’t end up with as many squash plants as I wanted…you get the idea.  So, no worries, I adjusted.  However, even Marigoldsthough you may need to make adjustments, I still stand behind the diagram!

After I planted, one trick I always use is planting marigolds around the perimeter of my vegetable garden.  I’ve found that this really keeps the deer away.  The one year I didn’t, the deer had a feast.  So I keep doing it!  I guess it could be a coincidence, but I’m not taking any chances. 🙂

I’m pretty happy with the progress and looking forward to a good yield.  If you’re growing this summer, how are your vegetables coming along?  Here is how things are coming along in my garden…

As you can see from the top picture, my tomatoes are starting to bloom…slow but steady!

The eggplants are coming along!

EggplantThe arugula is doing great…but pay no attention to those weeds growing in there! 🙂

ArugalaThe zucchini is getting huge!ZucchiniBaker Creek Heirloom Seeds was nice enough to send me some complementary red romaine lettuce seeds that are coming along!Red RomaineSince I didn’t have luck with all of my seeds, I did get some spaghetti squash to fill in, and it’s doing great!Spaghetti Squash

A Winter Salad with Figs and a Port Wine Reduction

Figs are one of my favorite fruits.  They are so juicy and delicate, with a firm skin and soft, sweet interior.  If you haven’t had a fresh fig, when they are available in your grocery store, definitely give it a try.  They are more than just the filling of the Fig Newtons…trust me.  I absolutely love them, but here in the northeast, their season is short.  Whenever possible, I love to incorporate dried figs into recipes.  They certainly aren’t quite the same as a juicy, fresh fig, but they are a close second.  And here is one of the ways I like to cook them, reconstituting them in a port wine reduction which becomes a sweet, tangy salad dressing.

Cut FigsFor this recipe, you want to make the dressing early, so it has time to cool off.  Take 7 oz of dried mission figs and quarter them.  You may also need to cut off a small, hard stem that is often times attached.  If you feel a hard piece at the small end of the figs, just cut that off before quartering.  Add the quartered figs to a small saucepan with 2/3 cup of port wine, 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar, 1 tablespoon of honey, and 1/3 cup of olive oil.  Mix everything together, and cook over a high heat until it comes to a simmer.  Simmer for about 10 minutes until the figs become plump and the sauce begins to thicken.  Remove from heat, and, when cooled a bit, stir in 1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard.

The DressingThat’s really it for the dressing…and the salad for that matter.  I like to toast half a cup of walnuts or pecans and toss it all with arugula.  The peppery arugula works well with the sweet dressing.  And if you like your dressing more tangy, add a bit more balsamic.  Just adjust to make it your own.  You could also add some cheese to this salad, maybe a salty ricotta salata or some crumbled Gorgonzola.  You could even add some roasted chicken and make a meal out of it.  Great, now I’m making myself hungry!

Now if only we could fast forward to the spring or summer and get fresh arugula from the garden, that would make the salad even better!  But with a foot of snow on the ground, that seems pretty far off!