Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Garden Update: Out of control!

You might remember that this year I built my first ever raised bed.

About a month and a half ago it looked like this.

Now it looks like this.

Since we have a farm share this season, we were looking for a smaller garden (this is about 1/4 of the size it used to be) planted with only with favorites we thought we might not get enough of from just our share.

I was also looking for a lot less weeding and hoped a raised bed would be the perfect solution.

The bed has exceeded my expectations in all areas, including food production!

We certainly were able to pack this 4x8 space full of plants and they've done amazingly well. I've never had tomatoes so tall before- they keep falling over they are so heavy, but when properly supported the plants are actually taller than I am. And chock full of fruit!

(See how the angle of this picture is upwards, this plant is almost a foot taller than I am. Which brings it to over 6ft).

Cucumbers, which have never been kind to me, are so far up to more than a dozen all nicely growing on the vines. (Which, incidentally is about 10-12 more than I normally get.)

The eggplant and peppers are huge and flowering, but have yet to set fruit... well except for a few peppers which have been stolen by some critter right off the plant! I'm actually a little afraid that the tomatoes have gotten so huge that they are blocking too much sun from these plants and that's why they haven't set fruit. But we'll see, I still have hope since they are flowering.

And for those of you wondering about the weeding, it's been dramatically reduced. Whichever on of us happens to be watering the garden simply pulls a few while they're waiting for the plants to soak up enough water. They never get too huge or out of control. I don't even worry if I pull around the entire garden while I'm out there, I just do a different spot each time.

It's crazy that entire blocks of my time are no longer devoted to just weeding!

The only thing we planted outside of the raised bed were jack-o-lantern pumpkins (since I'm obsessed with Halloween). So far they are looking like good strong plants, getting regular male flowers, but so far no female flowers with little pumpkins on them. But I did get a late start planting them- so fingers crossed that we'll still get some.

I hope your veggie gardens (if you have them) are thriving. There's nothing like backyard fresh veggies.

Have a great day!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Cupkins July- Toasted Coconut and Dark Chocolate Chunk Muffins

Good Morning! Today Joanne (from Ready, Set, Craft!) and I team up again for the July edition of Cupkins.

This month our theme is Tropical (and it's been so hot and humid around here lately that I feel like I've been living some place far more exotic than New England). I love coconut and decided to use it as the inspiration ingredient.

What I ended up with was a very subtle flavored, kinda fancy looking, very adult feeling Toasted Coconut Dark Chocolate Muffin.

If you've never toasted coconut before just spread about a cup full out onto a cookie sheet and bake it at 350 until it's golden brown (about 10-12 min). I stir it around with a fork every few minutes so it doesn't burn. Once toasted the coconut takes on a nutty flavor that's very different from how it tastes when it's raw. Even people who don't really like coconut sometimes like it when it's toasted (my hubbie for example, although he won't fully admit it).

Here is the recipe:

  • 1.5 cups flour
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • almost 1/2 cup of nonfat milk (I used a scant 1/2 cup)
  • 1 egg
  • 4 oz apple sauce
  • dash of vanilla extract
  • 1/2-3/4 cup toasted coconut (you can use less but I really love coconut!) Reserve some to sprinkle on the top of each muffin before they go in the oven.
  • about 1/3 of a dark chocolate candy bar cut into chunks (about 1 oz I'd guess
I just went with just the subtle nutty flavor the toasted coconut added to the batter but if you'd like to punch the coconut flavor up you could add some coconut flavoring instead of the vanilla extract.

Later today, head over to Joanne's (by clicking the cupkins logo below) and check out her take on Tropical Cupcakes!

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