Garden Update – June 2012

It’s June and my balcony container garden is finally looking green and growing seemingly well. However, we are finding that with this summer heat comes the bugs. My mint, which seems to be growing quite nicely, is also being eaten alive by little green caterpillars. I am out there almost every morning, picking them off and squishing the little buggers between my fingers, but they have proved difficult to find. This morning I discovered five of them! Hopefully I can get them under control.

I have a teeny tiny yellow bell pepper growing. The plant is much smaller than last years, but it seems to be producing faster than last year’s.

Planted some new basil in that previous lettuce bin. I think it just might be hot enough for the basil now. The basil I planted earlier in the late spring did not fair very well with  all the June gloom, but these seem to be happy so far. Hoping they last for us to make pesto with!

These are the ground cherries I started from seed. My second year trying these guys out. I didn’t plant as many as I did last year. These seem to be doing okay so far. Just waiting for the husks to turn yellow and for them to fall to try the little cherries.

And here is the first cherry tomato of the season from that crazy Home Depot tomato plant. Jeff was so gracious to model the red beauty and the two of us cut it in half and tasted the first product of the summer season. Nothing like a homegrown cherry tomato! I have about 5 different types of tomato plants this year that I grew from seed, so I am looking forward to all the different types of tomatoes we will get to try this year. Maybe I will even be able to make some tomato chutney.

I found these little wild flowers blooming this morning in the tomato container. It’s amazing they popped up because I do believe these are from our wedding wildflower mix we sprinkled over things almost 3 years ago! Even in container gardening you sometimes have surprises and this was a lovely one!

These mini cucumbers have been touch and go. I had beans planted in this container and they did horrible. The cucumbers are doing a bit better. I haven’t had one grow completely, so we shall see. I don’t think they are getting enough sun in this space, but not quite sure how to fix that on our little balcony. Lots of blooms though, so that is hopefully a good sign.

And I had to end with a picture of my husband’s pride and joy- the Hop plant. It is growing like a weed and we are hoping it slows down a bit so that we can keep it with us. They do get quite large, but it’s been fun to see it grow so quickly and twirl around things like a grape vine. My husband is eager to learn as much as he can about the plant and maybe one day we’ll be growing a lot more of them on a lot more land.

It’s the end of June, How does your garden grow?

A Happy Sunday Blueberry Banner Cake!

I just love Sundays. Every weekend they come around and I know my husband and I get to go to the farmers market bright and early to get our weekly fill of locally grown produce as well as fill up on local artisan food trucks for lunch. We go to this farmers market every sunday and have been eager to get to know each of the vendors and where and how their food is grown. I think I enjoy going to the market so much because we now are known by name by most of the vendors. Today one of them presented us with a new fishnet bag for our berries and peaches. He said he was thinking about us and wanted to add to our collection of reusable bags. I just love that we have finally found some sense of community in this town we so have mixed feelings about. Sundays always make me feel better about living in a place I don’t especially love. One of my favorite bloggers wrote about loving the place you live today too and it really reminded me of the feelings I have for our home right now. Since it is sunday today and that happens to be my favorite day of the week these days, I thought I would end it nicely by using up some of last weeks farmers market blueberries (We were not going to get anymore berries but of course one of the vendors had a new variety that we just couldn’t pass up), so we had an excess of blueberries. I thought I would take a stab at making blueberry muffins with them and ended up with an adorable blueberry banner cake as well. I told my husband is was to celebrate a Happy sunday!

I chose a recipe from http://www.joythebaker.com and changed it up a bit since I didn’t have all the necessary ingredients. Here is Joy the Baker’s originally Oatmeal Blueberry Applesauce Muffins but for me adapted to be,

Oatmeal Blueberry Muffins:

1 1/4 cup whole wheat flour

1 1/4 cup oats (I like steel cut oats)

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1 cup unsweetened applesauce (I didn’t have any so I replaced it with 1 cup plain yogurt)

1/2 cup lowfat buttermilk (I also didn’t have buttermilk, so I replaced it with 1/2 cup milk)

1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar

2 tbsp canola oil (I used regular olive oil)

1 large egg, lightly beaten

Preheat oven to 375

grease a 12 cup muffin tin

In a large bowl combine dry ingredients and mix, in a medium size bowl combine wet ingredients. Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and stir until moist. Fold in blueberries. Fill muffin cups 2/3 full. Bake for 16 to 18 minutes. (I had a little leftover, so I greased up a little ramekin¬†and made a little muffin cake as well and added a little homemade sunday fun day banner I made myself too- that’s a dusting of powdered sugar on top).

These muffins and the cake turned out lovely! They were so yummy, moist and light. What a perfect way to end the weekend!