June 12, 2011

Garden Update

I decided to not start my Salsa Garden during 2011. Between freelance writing and my small business my gardening time has been greatly curtailed. I'm on the road quite a bit and find that I can't find the time to so much as go to the nursery to buy seedlings, much less tend to a little square foot garden. My posts here on the salsa garden blog will be very much absent this year.

I've allowed the two little garden patches to go "fallow" as it were. I keep the weeds out now and then. I have put all my gardening tools and supplies away in the shed. Strangely enough, my one scotch bonnet chile plant refuses to die. I have not so much as watered the plant and it continues to put out leaves and hang in there. I don't have any harvest-able chiles on it as yet, but perhaps it will surprise me as the summer months continue.

I do miss having a fresh supply of exotic chiles to cook with though. Perhaps next year I will return to my little square foot garden plots and start anew.

April 10, 2010

Baja Earthquake Cleanup

We've finally got our backyard somewhat cleaned up from the Easter Day Baja Mexico Earthquake. It was a heavy rolling quake that shook our house for a much longer time than most quakes in our area. Normally, we don't notice quakes since here in California you get used to them, but this one went on long enough and strong enough to start our potrack and hanging lamps swaying at an alarming rate.

About 30 seconds after the quake, our neighbor's pool had a little tsnamni and great quanties of water came over the fence and flooded our backyard. It swept mud from our garden to the patio, covering half the backyard. It took lots of sweeping and hose work to get the mud off the patio, but now all my side beds are covered. My gravel pathways are a mess, the beauty bark around the roses was swept away and my gardens lost some of their composted soil. At least we can go out there with tracking dirt back into the house, but I'm at a loss at how long it is going to take to get things back to normal. It is the start of my work's busy season and other than planting a few peppers and herbs, I don't think that I have time to do much more for now.

Still, we are blessed. If this is the worst we suffer from an earthquake of that size, then life is good.

March 04, 2010

Crazy Winter Weather

Talk about crazy winter weather. Here in Southern California we usually get about six weeks of rain and then the heat returns. This year has been constant waves of rain storms, cold temperatures and even....HAIL. We had to take a photo of the white stuff just to prove to ourselves that it is real.

I seem to have a single chile plant that has survived all the cold, but I'm not taking bets that it is going to make it. My pink jasmine vines are also suffering from the cold. Normally they start to bloom in January. This year they have only now started to bloom and here we are all the way into March. I won't be doing much gardening until later this month due to all the inclement weather. I haven't decided what I will plant this year. My home business is keeping me busy and I've had an offer to teach at a local art studio. So whatever I do in the garden is going to have to be very simple.

February 11, 2010

Manzano Chiles

I discovered that my local grocery got in a shipment of Manzano Chiles over the holidays and I bought around 15 of them to stow away in my freezer. Manzanos are similar in heat to habaneros, but have a sweet, citrus finish that is very distinctive. You only use one at a time, like the habs, so what I purchased should last me a good year.

I'm planning on using them to make jerk chicken, jamacian spicy lamb and a few other dishes.

Meanwhile, I'm sad to say that I lost all my chile plants this year. It has been a far colder winter than anyone can remember and my overwintering efforts were in vain. In a way though, this is not a bad thing. It will allow me to start from scratch this coming spring. I think that this next year I want to grow more bells, milder chiles and perhaps only one very hot chile that I can dry and powder. I'd also like to grow a few more herbs to flesh out my little salsa garden.

July 14, 2009

Garden Cleanup

Since it has been too hot to go outside during the day, I waited until 7pm this evening to go out and do my gardening. I pulled out all the dried husks of chile plants, put away the metal cages and pulled out what few weeds there were. A few of my old chile plants have survived. The fatali, the red scotch bonnet, a half dead cherry bomb, my yellow canary bell and what I believe is some sort of jalapeno. I also have the two blushing beauty bells that I purchased this spring. My salsa garden has never been this sparse before, but then again I haven't been putting in the effort into my garden this year as I normally do.

My husband is requesting that I devote more space to herbs since he discovered this year that he enjoys fresh basil leaves in his sandwiches, so that might be something that I look into over the next few weeks. The only herb that I have right now are the chives. Nothing kills those babies.

Why did so many of my plants die? It was because my soaker hose system has broken. One of the hoses has sprung a huge leak and needs to be replaced. I went to look for a replacement at the Home Depot this morning, but I couldn't find the part that I needed. I will try other hardware stores later. The timer also is not working. It probably needs a new battery. Once I get these two things working again, my salsa garden should be back to taking care of itself once again.

July 03, 2009

Spicy Buttermilk Dressing

I discovered a new chile recipe on a blog called Homesick Texan. I gave it a try with chiles from my garden. I used homemade habanero powder for the cayenne in the recipe and a hot cherry bomb instead of the serrano. It turned out very good. I used it as a dipper for celery sticks and carrots. It is spicy and much better than the hidden ranch dressing I normally use...and far less expensive to make.

Buttermilk dressing, extra spicy
1/4 cup of mayonnaise
1/2 cup of sour cream
1/2 cup of buttermilk
1/4 cup of chopped cilantro
1/4 cup of freshly squeezed lime juice
1 clove of garlic, crushed
1 serrano pepper, finely diced
1 teaspoon of chopped fresh chives
1/8 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
Salt and black pepper to taste

Mix all the ingredients together and let chill for an hour.
Makes 1 cup, keeps for a week in the refrigerator.
Notes: I like my dressing on the thinner side, so if you prefer it thicker use 1/2 cup of mayonnaise. And if you don't want it to be so spicy, feel free to omit the Serrano or substitute a jalapeno pepper instead. Also, you can use parsley instead of cilantro if you're one of those "Cilantro tastes like soap" people, I won't be insulted.

June 25, 2009

Sunshine Returns!

This has to have been the coldest and wettest June that I can remember. It had been overcast every day and it rained as if I were back in Washington State! It was uncanny. However, that cold front seems to have finally left. The sunshine is back and my roses are blooming with gusto. I was outside watering all the plants this afternoon with my sunhat on, flipflops and shorts. The splash of the water on my feet felt wonderful. Little lizards scurried away and butterflies mingle in the brushes of salvia among the flowers. I'm contemplating a few baskets of flowers and to plant up my central whiskey barrel. Right now, the barrel only has weeds in it. Our annual summer BBQ is only four weeks away and I want our gardens to look up to par.

My pepper plants have not fared as well. The cold weather had stunted their growth and I have lost several of the plants this spring. I am going to have to take a survey of the damage and see what I can do to recover my little vegetable garden. The first task will be to fix the broken watering system. The timer is not working and I've sprung a huge leak in one of the drip hoses. I will need to replace a few things before the hot summer heat arrives in full force.