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26 May 2013

Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary ...

How does your garden grow?

Quite well, in fact!

Within the last week, zucchinis and flowers have been sprouting all over. Since these pics were taken, almost every squash plant has at least one little baby squash -- be it yellow or zucchini -- growing on it. A few have two. It's always so amazing to me to watch flowers magically transform into fruits and vegetables. The best thing about my garden this year is that I get to share it all with my little 6-year-old EG. She's a wonderful gardening partner!

See the little guy? The flower is still attached. 

The nasturtium is beginning to bloom as well, adding beautiful splashes of orange to a very green garden. 

The tomato plants are starting to produce little baby green gumballs that will eventually grow into juicy red tomatoes. 

The last few weeks of gardening have been quite challenging. It has rained more than it hasn't, and while all that rain is great for my plants, it's REALLY great for all the weeds. I can't really weed the garden in the rain, so there has been no way to keep up with the invaders. Finally, the rain stopped and I was able to tackle the mess this weekend. 

I spent THREE HOURS in the garden on Saturday, pulling weeds like a mad woman. The weather was perfect -- 76 and sunny with a wonderful breeze all day -- and the dogs had fun roaming the freshly mowed lawn while I dug in the dirt. In fact, our lovely little yellow lab puppy discovered a high spot in the garden fence that she can fit under. Two different times she apparently missed beng with me and I turned to find her halfway under the fence. Thankfully she backed out as soon as I yelled at her, so no plants were ruined. 

A few of my seedlings -- spinach and eggplant and peppers -- haven't really grown all that much. It's a little discouraging since everything else is growing like ... well, a weed. You can see the empty spaces in the rows in the picture above. I'm tempted to buy new seedlings from Lowe's and replace them. If I do that, I need to do it real soon. 

This angle looks much fuller. The tomatoes are still a little short but they are producing fruit already. And you can see the pops of orange in the nasturtium plants. 

As an added treat on Friday (which totally encouraged me to tackle the weeding this weekend), I finally got to make chevre stuffed fried zucchini blossoms. I first had them in NOLA years ago, and I've been dying to have them again. Unfortunately it's impossible to buy just the blossoms. Once I was sure that my plants would bear fruit, I plucked off a few blossoms to fry up. 

I mixed up a light beer batter using flour and Abita Strawberry Lager (any lager style works) and a touch of salt and pepper. I slit open the blossoms, removed the stamen (very delicately) and pipe in softened chevre (15 seconds in the microwave is perfect). After filling them, I dipped them in the beer batter and fried them in peanut oil (heated at just under medium). I flipped them once, and they were done in about 4 minutes total. Of course I couldn't wait to eat them, so I scalded my mouth biting into them.

Once I waited for them to cool a little more, I closed my eyes and tasted the familiar flavor that I had been longing for. JD's dad and brother enjoyed them as well. Too bad JD was out of town and didn't get to try them. But I'll definitely be making them again, so he'll get another chance. 

I'm not sure if they tasted so good because they were little cheese stuffed blossoms of goodness or because they were the first fruits of my garden, but they were delicious. And my belly went to bed happy. 

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