Sunday, June 26, 2011

Mystery Disease

I went to the community garden for the first time in about a week and was pleased to see that it's mostly thriving. However, a quick examination of my tomato plants showed that a quarter of them are infected with something. At first I thought it was just dirt splashed on the leaves, but unfortunately it's definitely not dirt. I'm thinking it's either septoria leaf spot or early blight, but I've not seen this before and would love some help figuring out what it is. The affected leaves are mostly on the bottom half of the plants.

Other than the diseased plants everything is looking pretty good, although I had a ridiculous amount of weeding to do in the right bed. I'm particularly happy with the bean patch and the kale, which have both shown awesome growth and are looking very healthy.

Before Weeding....

And After!

Donated Kale

The Bean Patch

*Update!* After some help from the people over at gardenwebs and a return visit to the garden I have decided that my mystery disease is indeed early blight. I yanked the 2 plants that were most heavily affected and removed all the infected leaves/branches from the other plants. Now I'm just waiting it out to see how it goes.

Friday, June 17, 2011

The Urban Bean Patch

The Bean Patch

The soil in the community garden is somewhat depleted and crop rotation of any kind just does not seem to happen, so this year I decided to dedicate half of my plot to beans in an effort to break up the tomato/pepper/eggplant monotony.

Black Valentine Beans

Envy Soybeans

I ended up planting Slenderette, Blue Lake, Dragon Langerie, Pencil Pod, Black Valentine, Envy Soybeans, Vermont Cranberry and Jacob's Cattle. I also have plans to plant my Black-Eyed Peas the next time I get over to the community plot. I'm very happy with the germination rates of these beans, even with the storms and tornadoes that ravaged my area shortly after planting. But they've survived and seem to be doing just fine!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Pizza Night: Wheat Crust with Veggies and Ham

Normally I'm the one making pizza from scratch, but this time girlfriend decided to help out and made the crust. She followed a recipe from Italian Cooking: The Definitive Encyclopedia of Fabulous Food by Capalbo, Whiteman, Wright and Boggiano, which is a great cookbook filled with the basics and information about techniques.

The main thing I love about pizza (besides how good it tastes!) is the opportunity to use any leftover veggies from the week's shopping (or the garden) before they go bad. So while girlfriend made the crust, I chopped and sauteed peppers and onions to top the pizza. I also chopped up some deli ham that needed to get finished off or it would likely have ended up in the garbage in the next couple days. Then some fresh mozzarella was shredded and some thin slices of fresh parmesean were shaved off the block.

Here's the recipe for the crust:
Wheat Pizza Crust
1 1/2 Tbsp Active Dried Yeast
1 Cup Lukewarm Water
Pinch of Sugar
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 Tsp Salt
1 1/4 Cups White Flour (We use organic bread flour)
2 Cups Stone Ground Whole Wheat Flour

1. Warm a medium mixing bowl by swirling hot water in it, then drain. Place yeast in the bowl and pour in the warm water and sugar. Mix with a fork and allow to stand until yeast has dispersed and starts to foam (about 5-10 minutes).

2. Use a wooden spoon to mix in the olive oil, salt and white flour. Then mix in about half of the wheat flour, stirring with the spoon until the dough begins to form a mass and pull away from the sides of the bowl.

3. Sprinkle some of the remaining dough onto a smooth work surface and knead the dough while working in the remaining flour a little at a time. Knead for 8-10 minutes and then form into a ball.

4. Lightly oil a mixing bowl, place the dough in the bowl and place a moist kitchen towel on top of the bowl. Leave it in a warm place to rise for 40-50 minutes. When it has doubled in size punch it back down (to release the air) and then knead for 1-2 minutes.

5. You can divide the dough in two for medium pizzas or leave it for an extra large pizza. Flour a smooth surface and use a rolling pin to roll it to the desired thickness (I usually roll mine out to about 1/4 inch thick). Then place the dough on a lightly oiled pan (We usually skip this and just sprinkle cornmeal on the pan).

That is the end of the book recipe, but here's how I finish mine up!

6. Place pan in oven pre-heated to 500 degrees and pre-bake the crust for about 5 minutes.

7. Remove and top the pizza. Return to oven for 5-10 minutes until cheese is bubbly and lightly browned.

I was pretty happy with this recipe as it makes a solid chewy, but strong crust. At the end of the cooking time be sure to keep an eye on your oven. Some pizzas only need 5 minutes, whereas others really need the full 10.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Rural Garden Update

The rural garden plot is doing great! Unfortunately there have been no updates because whenever I make the trek to my mother's house I seem to always be forgetting my camera. But no more! I was there the other day and finally managed to snap a couple of pics.

My tomato babies are looking good!

The tomatoes were planted about a week and a half ago and seem to be really settling in. However they are looking a little close together. I spaced them at 1.5 feet apart in all directions in a stab at square foot gardening, so we'll see how it goes. I can always pull a few plants if it seems like they're strangling each other. As you can also see, the tree my father refused to move is shading the plants from the morning to early afternoon. Hopefully I'll soon be allowed to move it (depending on my mother's powers of persuasion, because mine failed) and my plants will have fewer shade issues.

From left to right, eggplant, tam peppers and a block with cauliflower and lettuce.

I had just transplanted the peppers and eggplant the day of this picture and hear they're still looking good. The tam plant that you can barely see is one that got a bit stunted so I'm not sure it will make it, but I figured I'd try anyways! I put my 17 year old brother on watering duty for the new transplants and the pumpkin, squash and zucchini seeds I just planted. I got a little overwhelmed with the seed starting and apparently forgot these guys so we'll see how they do direct seeded. *Hopefully* he remembers to water and that I told him not to water so much that there are puddles everywhere...