Monday, July 06, 2009

the Garden is Sooooo Happy

Although I'm not a big fan of summer...too many hot days...I do love the garden produce of summer.
We have been enjoying chard and grilled summer squash (with extra going to friends...they claim they are thrilled...we'll see if that continues as the plants keep producing more and more and more) and now the beans are blooming so soon there will be lovely haricot verts. Just saw today that the eggplant have set fruit. It will take a while for them to grow big enough to harvest, but probably sometime in August I'll be looking for eggplant recipes.

The fun part is the tomatoes. I grew three different types of heirloom tomatoes from seed, but then got the seedlings mixed up, so it will be a surprise to see what kinds I actually planted. Weeks went by with the plants getting bigger each day. Little yellow flowers were blooming like mad, but no tomatoes were setting up. A little over a week ago I had enough. I went out at mid-morning, pulled off a likely flower, used my thumbnail to open the pollen holding area, then smooshed that flower up into the pollen holding area of some flowers that were still on the plant.

Each plant was treated to pollen from a flower from its own plant, so the varieties should stay true. It worked! Withing 4-5 days, you could see tiny tomatoes, about the size of a raisin. The next day there were far more baby tomatoes than those I had messed with. Looks like the plants got the word that they better set fruit, or else. LOL! Anyway there are now dozens of the little tomatoes, growing larger by the day. It may be September before I harvest any of them, but at least there will BE some to harvest! BTW, I've done this before when Mother Nature seemed to be asleep at the switch, so I knew it was likely to be successful. You can try it yourself if the bees are not doing the job.

Along with the veggie plants, I planted basil this year. Since rosemary grows in a big shrub down the driveway and my newest rose plant seems to be bonded with some oregano, herbs were easily available for a nice marinated chicken dish for dinner yesterday.

Some rice or good bread will sop up the juices and a green salad is perfect to pick up the herbal flavors, but with crunch and coolness instead.

Wine and Herb Baked Chicken

1 cut-up chicken or about 8 pieces - I used boneless, skinless thighs and breasts
1 cup finely chopped fresh herbs, mixed - I used Italian parsley, rosemary, oregano and basil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon grainy mustard
2 tablespoons olive oil
about 1 cup red wine

Rinse the chicken pieces and set aside.

In a non-reactive bowl, combine the herbs, garlic, mustard, olive oil and wine. Pour into a non-reactive baking dish which is just large enough to hold the chicken pieces. Place the first piece in the baking dish. If the liquid doesn't come halfway up the piece of chicken, add more wine until it does. Then place each piece of chicken in the marinade and then turn it over, thus coating it with the herbs. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cover dish with plastic wrap and put in the fridge for an hour.

After an hour remove the dish from the refrigerator and unwrap. Turn each piece over, cover and return to the fridge. Repeat an hour later and let chill one more hour.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Remove the plastic wrap. Replace it with foil to cover the dish, then bake for 35 minutes, removing the foil cover for the last 5 minutes.

Serves 6 - 8


  1. siiiiigh.
    Well, as I cannot garden now, I am reading up on gardening techniques, planning what kind of raised beds we'll have, and... considering getting a goat, for the fertilizing properties.

    You're feeding my dream.

  2. Well done by taking over the bee's duties. :)

    I bought two small pepper plants on a whim at the farmers market some weeks ago. But until now there is one little jalapeno pepper growing on my balcony.

  3. Really ... you pollenated them ... I'm thinking it's too hot here for the fruit to set but maybe I'm wrong ... but the bees seem to be very busy all over my tomato, peppers and basil. I can't keep up with my 7 basils they're like weeds at this point. Pesto some way everyday.
    I did just pick a small eggplant ... it was there when I bought the plant.

  4. Tanita, make friends with someone who has a goat...there is always extra fertilizer and they are usually thrilled that you will come and get some. When you get ready I'd love to share my seed starting tricks with you.

    Andreas, you may have to play bee yourself to get more peppers. Seems that the bees are dying all over the place. We are so hard on our planet.

    Tanna, Yep, artificial insemination isn't just for labs anymore. I see lots of bees in my garden, too, but this is not the first time I've had to give the plants a gentle nudge. Once they get the idea they seem to do the fruiting on their own.
    Envious of your basil...I have some, but only enough for odd bit of garnish or addition to a recipe.

  5. Who wouldn't be happy with that glorious abundance of veggies?

  6. Loving the garden - can't wait for the everything zucchini posts.

  7. Susan, It's true, fresh veggies make me giddy, thinking of all the ways to use them.

    Giz, the first zucchini recipe is up at the Bread Baker's Dog...there is a link at the top right of this blog. More goodies to come.