garden story

Two Sweet Petunias: Homemade Pesto

Two Sweet Petunias: Homemade Pesto 1170 1170 Eco Garden Systems

If you’ve been following along, you may recall me expressing skepticism as to what I was going to do with all the basil that is growing in our garden. You  then too probably recall the resulting laundry list of ways to use basil I received from my sister, the world traveller, cook and honorary family herbalist (yes it’s a real thing, no I didn’t know the term before I just googled it). I’m sure you’ve all been wondering what has become of said basil. Which is good because this post is about its fate. Answer: We made PESTO and it was delicious! We have three types of basil in the garden this year: regular (sweet) basil, lemon basil and purple basil. I will be the first one to admit that this was somewhat of a mistake as I do not like raw basil off the plant. At all. The purple is more bitter than the others, but to me all just taste bad raw. So the conundrum of what to do with it all plagued me. Pesto was one of the first items on the list. And it seemed simple enough. Here’s what I did: Detach leaves from stems and stuff leaves into a food processor. I used both sweet and purple basil. Process leaves on “chop” until a thick pulp forms Add spices. This batch contained: Minced garlic Coriander Sea salt A pinch of Paprika Process mixture on “puree” until blended You’ll notice two things. First, there are no measurements. Partly because the measurements depend on the amount of basil you have. Partly because I never measure spices. Second, there is no oil in this phase. Read on… The recipe above makes a concentrated pulp. Rather than committing to a single oil, I wanted to see how various oils worked with…

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Two Sweet Petunias: The Many Uses for Basil

Two Sweet Petunias: The Many Uses for Basil 768 1024 Eco Garden Systems

My sister has spent a lot of time working on farms throughout the world, and has developed quite the culinary green-thumb. As such, she was the logical “go to” for my question about what to do with all this basil. I knew there was only so much bruschetta with tomatoes, mozzarella and basil I could handle, and figured there had to be more ways to use it. “Assuming you mean fresh basil?” she asked. “Yes.” Well, “fresh” assuming I can figure out something to do with it before it dries up… Ask and you shall be overwhelmed! If you’re like me wondering “what am I going to do with all this basil,” read on. In fact, we might run out of fresh basil at this rate! Basil is a nice addition to any pasta/red sauce combo (tomato based) Basil pairs nicely with feta cheese (eg. greek salads) Make your own pesto! (which is nice as a spread, but also as a marinade on fish, eg salmon) there are endless variations on homemade pestos, and they are suuuuuuper easy to make Strawberry cucumber basil salad (perfect summer salad) Watermelon and basil is a nice combo (think skewers of this as an appetizer) Also nice with peach and peach-like fruit desserts, add a little fresh basil on top before baking Strawberry and basil is also a nice combo for some desserts – depends on the kind of basil you use though..ideally something on the mild side (eg mix it into strawberry shortcake biscuits) I’ve also heard of it in drinks, like lemonade (use honey as the sweetener – lemon honey basil, amazing). basil can add a nice mild peppery note Mix basil (or thyme or rosemary) into homemade bread and/or pizza dough Also fresh sliced basil on top of pizzas / breads…

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Two Sweet Petunias: Day 32

Two Sweet Petunias: Day 32 1024 768 Eco Garden Systems

Day 32: Getting Cozy I talked before about the plants getting “cozy” with each other. This week it’s like venturing into the jungle! Everyone is growing like mad, but despite the close quarters, all are healthy and seemingly happy. We harvested our first meal this week as well! A small (snack-sized) amount of broccoli, and from the herb garden some Romaine lettuce, sweet and red basil, dill and parsley. The dill will be great on fish and “dirty cabbage” (basically cooked cabbage with whatever I feel like putting with it), and the parsley is just going to garnish everything I eat (except maybe my oatmeal). I have yet to figure out what to do with all the basil though. I’ll probably “phone a friend” on this one…stay tuned! Day 32: Getting Cozy originally posted on Two Sweet Petunias, June 20, 2018. Follow along with Two Sweet Petunias this summer as they chronicle their family’s journey in year one of their Eco Garden.

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Two Sweet Petunias: Day 25

Two Sweet Petunias: Day 25 1000 1000 Eco Garden Systems

Day 25: Tendrils & Tenacity One of the most amazing aspects of the garden is how it is simultaneously hearty and delicate. Let me elaborate. First, let’s talk about two aspect of heartiness: space and resources. The actual footprint of the garden is 4 feet by 6 feet, and we have no less than 20 different species of fruits and vegetables living not only harmoniously but thriving in this “cozy” environment. Additionally, because of all the rain we’ve had in Minneosta of late, we haven’t watered the garden once in the last week. And still, it thrives. This is thanks to the advanced air gap technology which keeps enough water accessible in the reservoir for the plants to drink all they need when they need it, without it seeping too deep down through rocky or sandy soil. The wonders of modern technology — or rather modern technology applied to the ways of yore. We should coin something here…”retro techno” gardening? I offer the following Day 16 (left) versus Day 25 (right) comparison below for proof of this heartiness. Ok, now let’s talk about the delicacy. And I’m talking about more the how delicious these vegetables will be once we harvest them. It’s simply awe-inspiring to think about the lifecycle each plant goes through to produce its…well, produce its produce! Each of the little flowers on the plant will eventually become a tasty fruit or vegetable, but the process from germination to proliferation through growth to maturation is so much more. These little plants have journeys of their own, and are so much more than what stocks our refrigerator produce bins and fresh produce aisles at the grocery store. Excuse the blatant anthropomorphism here. Sorry / not sorry. Every aspect of the plant has a purpose. The roots deliver nourishment to the…

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Two Sweet Petunias: Day 16

Two Sweet Petunias: Day 16 1170 878 Eco Garden Systems

Day 16: Growing Gains We have REAL SPROUTS! I would never get this excited about two of the smallest broccoli spears I’ve ever seen if I were examining them at the local farmers market or grocery store, but in our own garden…well it’s a downright cause for celebration — and another post! The gift of rain provided by Mother Nature herself last week was well received by our little garden. With the balancing of water reservoir and the overflow hose no flooding occurred and all the roots are holding firm in the soil! There are numerous tomatoes and lots of flowers on our four plants. In fact I placed tomato cages over them to support their skywards stretch! Beans are ready to blossom, as lots of little flower pods are visible at the top of our bean plants. And oh my the squash plants, pumpkin, cantaloupe and watermelon have more than doubled their size in two weeks! We purposefully planted these little gems on the outer borders of our garden so we can train the vines over the edges and out into the yard. We’ll see how that goes! Somehow I’m guessing the plants will be in charge and let their preferences be known. And that is how it is between a garden and her sweet petunia gals. We try things we think are best and the plants let us know if they are happy. Either they grow or we adjust. A little (or rather a lot) like life itself and our passage through it! I’m trying to be a good listener! Day 16: Growing Gains originally posted on Two Sweet Petunias, June 4, 2018. Follow along with Two Sweet Petunias this summer as they chronicle their family’s journey in year one of their Eco Garden.

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Two Sweet Petunias: Day 7

Two Sweet Petunias: Day 7 1170 781 Eco Garden Systems

Day 7: Real Sprouts! We have REAL SPROUTS! Our pea plants which we planted from seed have sprouted! Emphasis on FROM SEED, and a reminder that this is day 7, that is amazing! I was skeptical because of the imposter sprouts a few days ago, but sure enough these sprouts are the peas. The environment in the Eco Garden really lends to planting from seed. This is attributable to the higher moisture content and warmer temperature of the soil, which results in faster germination. Put simply: they will grow faster! We’re witnessing this first hand, and it is so exciting! Some of the other plants are starting to bud, especially the tomatoes. No other big events, but the garden is still looking great, and it’s obvious that they’re starting to thrive. One of coolest phenomena is the way water droplets form and sit on the leaves. I captured one in the Brussel sprouts that was just beautiful (it’s the featured photo for this post). Day 7: Real Sprouts originally posted on Two Sweet Petunias, May 26, 2018. Follow along with Two Sweet Petunias this summer as they chronicle their family’s journey in year one of their Eco Garden.

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Two Sweet Petunias: Day 4

Two Sweet Petunias: Day 4 1194 795 Eco Garden Systems

Day 4: Looking Green Quick update on the growth in our Eco Garden! The garden is looking so green and healthy. We had a sprout in the area where we planted the peas (from seed), but it turned out to be a false alarm because there were similar sprouts throughout the garden. Probably something in the soil or possibly from the trees in the area. But this “false alarm” doesn’t take away from how well everyone seems to be settling into their new home. Some of the tomatoes had flowers when we planted them, but no new flowers yet. The couple of “sad” looking brussel sprouts have come back though, their yellow leaves turning now a nice young green color. We planted six Marigolds around the perimeter of the garden today as well. This will help keep the critters away, and are also recommended “companions” for the Tomatoes and other plants. Day 4: Looking Green originally posted on Two Sweet Petunias, May 23, 2018. Follow along with Two Sweet Petunias this summer as they chronicle their family’s journey in year one of their Eco Garden.

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Two Sweet Petunias: Genesis of the Garden

Two Sweet Petunias: Genesis of the Garden 900 600 Eco Garden Systems

We bought a garden. Yes, that is a play on “We Bought a Zoo” and I realize it doesn’t have quite the same effect. What I should really say is “We bought Costco,” or “We bought the farmer’s market,” because – just wait – we’ll soon be growing in an abundance that puts places like these to shame. Ok, not really. But one of the goals with our new garden is to grow our own vegetables (and herbs and fruit) so that we don’t have to buy them at the store anymore. With the way our families go through produce, we might actually save enough to buy our Costco…but I digress. Simply put, we’re looking forward to being able to head out back to the garden to “shop” for our produce. So that explains “why” we bought a garden. I bet you’re wondering “what” we actually bought… We bought an Eco Garden (< look them up)! Yes, I’ll explain. The elevator pitch is that our Eco Garden is a raised container garden of mammoth proportion. But the longer, more technical version touting the many features and benefits reveals that it’s so much more than a “container.” Here you go: The container itself is 4-feet by 6-feet and stands 3-feet tall. That’s right, no having to kneel down or bend over to garden! This garden saves knees. It’s the bee’s knees (which, if bees actually have knees, they won’t be needing them because, again, no kneeling necessary in this garden). The garden uses advanced “air gap technology,” that helps aerate the plant’s roots. This is exactly what it sounds like – there is a “gap” filled with air in the container. Quick logistical note: The bottom of the container has a reservoir which is filled with water, and above this is a…

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