Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Long Pie Pumpkins and Bubbles

This was my first year to grow winter squash and Brussel Sprouts. Of course, your first year growing anything is always a learning experience. One of the winter squash I grew is called Long Pie Pumpkin. Sooooo cool . I really loved this one. It has a very interesting history and I love how it is long like a zuchinni.  It has been said that it came originally from the Isle of St. George in the Azores and been brought to Nantucket in 1832 on a whaling ship. Sometimes known as the Nantucket Pumpkin or the Maine Pumpkin. It grows anywhere from 4-7 lbs. You know it's ready to pick when there develops an orange stripe or spot where it is in contact with the ground, as you can see in my photo. You pick and put in storage and it will turn a bright orange all over in a period of weeks and months. I made my Thanksgiving pies with it and it was seriously the best pumpkin pie I have ever eaten. The flesh is almost 90% stringless so no need for a food mill.
If you're looking to grow just one winter squash next year,here's the winner. You have to try it.  
The other newbie for me was Brussel Sprouts. I bought already established plants at the nursery. My variety was called Bubbles. I loved growing them. So pretty. You definitely need to stake them. As they get weighted down with sprouts they will lean. I put mine a little too close together, so another lesson, space them out. We ate them for Thanksgiving dinner and I also froze tons of them for the winter. Not a real time consuming vegetable in the garden so for those that don't like fussy veggies, this is a good one.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Pepper Reminder

Just a reminder for those of you lookin for the Peppadew pepper seed. Please check my store listing with Local Harvest.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Basque region and it's official peppers

Basque Country is a small ethnic enclave located in the heart of the Pyrenees Mountains, which divide Spain and France from one another. The size of Rhode
Island, the Basque region, includes four Spanish regions, known as the South Zone, and three French speaking regions known as the North Zone. The Spanish and French Basque regions share a Union Jack–style flag (green, red, and white), cuisine, and common language (Euskara), spoken by about a half million people.

Basque cuisine is influenced by the abundance of produce from the sea on one side and the fertile Ebro valley on the other. The mountainous nature of the Basque Country has led to a difference between coastal cuisine dominated by fish and seafood,and inland cuisine; with fresh and cured meats, many vegetables and legumes,and freshwater fish and salt cod. TheFrench and Spanish influence is strong also, with a noted difference betweenthe cuisines of either side of the modern border.

Basque cuisine employs the use of not one, not two, but six varieties of pimientos, (peppers) all of which are grown locally.
The pimiento Anglet aka
Doux de Landes (Lapurdi):
The Pepper Espelette - (Lapurdi)
Gernika Pepper (Vizkaia)
The Guindillas Tolosa - Langostinos of Ibarra - (Gipuzkoa):
The Piquillo Lodosa - (Nafarroa)
The Cuerno de Cabra - (Nafarroa)

These are the "Official" Basque peppers. It took me forever to gather all of the information on them and put it all in one place. So here you go and you're welcome!

Doux de Landes (Basque Pepper)
Translates to “sweet from Landes” Also known as Piment d' Anglet. Honestly, it is the longest pepper I have ever seen. It is a sweet pepper and turns from green to red. Also from the Basque region, it is sometimes called a Basque fryer. A delicious, sweet pepper, it is used in many basque recipes including piperade. Can also be eaten fresh or sautéed. It is often roasted, peeled, and stuffed with a variety of fillings like salt cod, tuna, or cheese. Landes is in the South West of France also known as the home of Our Lady of Lourdes. I personally like to use this pepper as a fryer or diced up in my tomato salad.

Piment d’espelette (Basque pepper)
(Capsicum annuum) 85 days
Piment d'Espelette literally means “pepper of Espelette” in French. It is a food product produced around the town of Espelette in Southern France, in the region sometimes known as Basque Country. This pepper is so famous that in 1999 AOC (Appellation d'Origine Controlee), was granted to Espelette peppers, or "Ezpeletako bipera" in Basque language, giving it the same protection as more famous names, such as Champagne and Roquefort . Only ten communities are allowed to use the name Espelette.Piment d’ Espelette is most commonly strung up to dry and ground into a powder and is often used as a substitute for black pepper in the Basque country and in common Basque dishes.Once harvested, they are threaded by hand and hung on the facades of buildings to dry in the sun -- this initial process takes about two months. After being dried a second time in wood-fired ovens, the peppers are ground into a fine powder. Every October, Espelette and surrounding villages hold a festival honoring the finished product -- a celebration complete with parades, dancing and cooking competitions.
Espelette’s hotness falls between sweet bell pepper and Cayenne. It has a rich, round deep flavor with heat present, lifting flavor, but not intrusive.PIMENT d'Espelette is to French Basque cooking what curry is to Indian cuisine.

Corne De Chevre (Basque pepper)
(Capsicum annuum) 90 days
From an area in the north of Spain called Navarre. The name translates to “horn of the goat It is also called “pimiento choricero” Like the Espelette pepper, it is dried on the facades of houses. Then it is re-hydrated and pureed after removing skin and seeds to makes the paste (Carne de Pimiento Choricero). The paste is added to the making of Chorizo sausage. Furthermore, it is so popular in Spanish cooking is not uncommon to find commercially packaged in glass jars.

Gernika Pepper (Basque Pepper)
(Capsicum annuum) 90 days
Gernika or The Guernica is a Spanish pepper similar to the Padrón in flavor but bigger and without any heat, Guernica is the 'proper' Spanish spelling;
Gernika is the Basque spelling.It is often served fried like the Padrón or stuffed with cheese or other fillings. Gernika peppers are grown primarily in Vizcaya Served on a plate all their own, pimientos de Gernika are typically fried in olive oil with garlic until they’re
shriveled and slightly browned. They are finally sprinkled with a generous hand of fat salt grains. Slightly bitter, these peppers are great with steak or on their own as a ración (small plate), eaten with a cold beer.

The Piquillo Lodosa (Basque Pepper)
(Capsicum annuum) 85 days
From "Lodosa" Navarra region of Spain
It is regarded as "red gold" of Navarre. Piquillo peppers are traditionally wood fire roasted and then hand peeled ad seeded to preserve the natural taste and shape of the peppers. Known for their intense red color, wood fire aroma, fleshy texture, and sweet, delicate taste. These peppers are an exceptional addition to any plate. Great in salads, meats, seafood, or lightly sauteed and stuffed.

The Guindillas Tolosa (Basque pepper)
(Capsicum annuum) 90 days
From the Basque area of Spain known as Gipuzkoa. The guindilla is a thin pepper, picked early while it is still greenish yellow. Conserved in white wine vinegar and packaged tight like sardines in glass jars. traditionally eaten with beans or bar snacks as an aperitif.
I grew 4 of the 6 official Basque peppers this year and will be growing the other 2 next season. My next bit of research is to find out about specific tomatoes grown in the Basque region. sigh
Seeds for the four peppers I grew this year from the Basque area are available for sale at my store
whew! that was work!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Next Year and other garden thoughts

I'm tearing down the garden for the year. Working feverishly on seed swaps and sweating "already" over my grow list for next year. I found a cool site for garden shoes in the meantime and thought I would pass on the link. I've owned a pair of their shoes and they lasted a good 4 years. Time for a new pair for next year. I love them because they are waterproof and have a lining that keeps your feet really dry when you're working in wet soil. They sell boots, clogs and everyday shoes and..... mens' designs.

I can't believe how many tomatoes I already have on my growlist for next year. (This is where I would paste a crying face). It's not even January and I'm already up to 65 varieties. A lot of very new varieties for me. Some from overseas and some from the breeders. It's gonna be a tough job whittling it down to something managable.

I will be putting the garlic in soon along with shallots. Thought I would try over-wintering the shallots and see if it does better for me this next season.

In the's a little freethought I found and loved.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Free shipping until October 1st.

Free Shipping on all orders until October 1st. European growers, I can't offer free shipping to you but please feel free to order. I have no problem shipping seeds over-seas. hehe

Thursday, September 15, 2011


I finally have seeds for the Chocolate Ghost Chili and the Peppadew. If you are interested you can go to my store on Local Harvest. Also have Goose Creek seeds for those looking for it.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Friday, September 2, 2011

I told you so

Well.....I've been raving about the tomato Goose Creek for years!! Telling everyone that would listen how it is small but the best tasting tomato ever! was voted best tasting tomato out of I believe 250 varieties at the 5th Annual Buffalo-Niagra Tomato Tastefest. Ha! And who told you first?? I hate saying I told you so but.....I TOLD YOU SO! Yes, if you haven't grown Goose Creek maybe this will convince you.
Edit: for accuracy, the photo belongs to Laurel at

The garden has been super productive this year. Got some early blight but too late to affect the crop harvest.

Another new thing I tried... I made Piment d'Espelette powder. Sold in Europe and a fortune to get here in the U.S. I use it on EVERYTHING. I use it instead of black pepper. Sweet with a little bite to it.
This year I grew Thelma Sander's Sweet Potato Acorn Squash. many of them. Instead of the usual green color of Acorn squash these are a cream color when ripe. The inside is a light sweet potato color. I decided to use them to make acorn squash bread (instead of pumpkin bread). Sooooo gooooood! The flavor reminds me of chestnuts. This is a definate grow again.

Also... I am posting a link to my seed site at Local Harvest. I have so many requests from readers to buy seed that I finally set up a store. I am also setting up an actual site but will use Local Harvest until it is done. So...If you need seed from anything I've ever grown (even if it's not listed in the store) You finally have the place to do it.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Scones and other new obsessions

The garden is on auto-pilot for now with the exception of weeding. So now is as good a time as any to update the blog.

Today I'm going to rave about a few of my new finds. Things I think are totally cool. The first is a French coffee bowl. In Quebec with Sebastien, I saw his sister drinking tea from a bowl. I asked Seb why and he explained the French coffee bowl to me. Used primarily for breakfast so dunking is easier. Had to get some. So while out shopping in Quebec, Seb bought me 6. Merci Beaucoup!!!!!!!

The next thing, also thanks to Seb's sister, is Organic peach juice. I found out the hard way that finding just plain peach juice anywhere is difficult. Why is that? You can find just about any juice you want except peach juice. Seems so simple but there must not be a demand for peach juice. Some juice producer somewhere needs to change that. Pronto.
Annnnnd....Maple Butter or Maple Cream. Ohhhh yes. Also another find from Seb's sister (yes, she's cool). It looks like creamed honey, Same concept except maple. Use it in oatmeal and on toast. So good I'm sure there are a million other uses for it also. Order online unless you are fortunate enough to live near a maple farm.

Then's there's scones. (I feel like I'm doing an "Oprah's favorite things" episode) Yes, we Americans have gotten good at eating scones but...not the real way. With clotted cream. Seb and I stayed and a B&B in Niagra on the Lake and the owner served scones with Clotted Cream. Never eaten it that way before. What a great combination. Made a good scone into a fantastic scone. So today I am going to make maple oat scones. Going to tweak the recipe so it has no dairy. (Trying very hard to eliminate most dairy from my diet. Yes, I know clotted cream is dairy) After I make my scones I can use my French coffee bowl to dunk them.

Just sharing the good stuff
Maple Oat Scones
For The Scones
1 cup oats (quick or old-fashioned)
1 1/2 cups flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 1/2 tablespoons cold butter (small pieces)
1 large egg
1/2 cup half-and-half or 1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2-3/4 teaspoon maple extract
2/3 cup coarsely chopped pecans

Maple Glaze
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon maple extract
5 teaspoons water
Change Measurements: US Metric

Prep Time: 25 mins

Total Time: 25 mins
1 Preheat oven to 425°F.
2 Using a food processor or blender, finely grind oats.
3 In a mixer, mix flour, oats, sugar, salt and baking powder.
4 Add maple syrup and butter and mix well.
5 In a small bowl, beat the egg with the cream and maple extract.
6 Pour the egg mixture into the flour mixture and mix well.
7 Add pecans and mix just to incorporate.
8 Place dough on a floured surface. Knead and pat dough into a 8 to 10 inch circle and cut into 8 wedges.
9 Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray. Place wedges on top and bake for 13 to 15 minutes, or until light brown.
10 Remove scones from oven to wire rack. Let cool about 3 to 5 minutes.
11 Mix glaze ingredients until smooth. Adjust the amount of water to get to the desired consistency. I like the glaze to be rather thick. Spread lots of glaze over each scone and dry about 15 minutes before serving.

Friday, June 3, 2011

All About Beans

I swear I am getting as obsessed about beans as I am about tomatoes. I start researching one bean and it leads me to another and another....and so it goes.
This year, I am growing two new Greasy Beans... Whitey Swanger Greasy and Lazy wife Greasy. Also, a yellow pole bean called St. Fiacre or Buerre de St. Fiacre (Thanks Seb). Pretty obscure bean. I would post a photo of it but they are pretty non existant. You guys will have to wait a couple of months until I can snap a few.
So in my research..I come across 2 beans I had to have. One is called Blue Jay Bush bean. The following is a copy paste from Two Wings Farm:

" a wonderful old Canadian bush bean called Blue Jay. It was brought back from extinction by a couple of growers (ourselves included) and by the work of our friend Shirley Bellows of Seeds of Diversity Canada. When we looked into the parentage of the Blue Jay bean, we found the Comtesse de Chambord a tiny bean from France, and before that Scotland. However, the more I searched, the more I came up with a blank. There apparently is only one source for this bean that I could find –anywhere-in the world! That is very close to extinction,"

So....of course I ordered it for next year. Ha. Also, the Comtesse de Chambord rice bean. A copy/Paste from Mother Earth News:

"Two different beans go by the name rice bean. The one I recommend, Comtesse de Chambord, is a true bean, or Phaseolus vulgaris. (The other rice bean, Vigna umbellate, is a cousin of the cowpea.)
Many people are quite startled by its miniature size when they see a rice bean for the first time. The tiny, young 4-inch pods are so tender and sweet that you can eat them raw or toss them in a mixed bean salad. They make a beautiful garnish, too. The small, dry beans resemble rice when cooked, although the flavor is richer and nuttier, and the texture is much more appealing. Best of all, you dont have to soak rice beans before cooking them, because they take only about 20 to 25 minutes to cook."

Another thing I am obsessed with lately is Mache. A.K.A. Corn Salad or Lambs Lettuce. Sebastien raved about it last season but I have never tasted it. I found some fresh at the new Earth Fare store by my house. Soooooo Gooooood! Has a very mild peanuty taste. The French have been enjoying it since the 17th century. Twice as much vitamin C as normal lettuce and chocked full of other vitamins. Fairly un-known to U.S. growers. If you haven't tried it..a must!

I can't believe I took the time to post today. So much work in the garden still. Good Gardening to all!!!!!

Friday, March 18, 2011

2011 Grow List

2011 Grow list

Pink Tip Greasy
NC Speckled Long Greasy Cut-short
Whitey Swanger Greasy
Lazy Wife Greasy
St. Fiacre

French Rose
Giant from Medina Fair

Ancient Sweets F3
Chocolate Ghost Chili
Doux de Landes
Cuerno de la Cabra
Piment Gernika
Piment Espelette
Piment d’ampuis
Sucette de Provence
Yellow Cherry Pepper

Mirai White
Mirai Yellow

Navet de Nancy
Navet jaune Boule d’ or
Navet Boulette de Champagne

Summer Squash
Benning's Green Tint Patty Pan
Striato di Napoli Zucchini
Grey Zucchini
Winter Squash
Long Pie Pumpkin
Sweet Dumpling
Thelma Sanders Sweet Potato Acorn Squash
Sweet Keeper



Marmande Garnier Rouge
Pepe Jose
Oncle Remi
Zeke Dishman
Stump of the World
Mr. Sids
Pomodoro Banana Marino

Claude Brown’s Yellow Giant
Wisconsin 55 Gold
Chicken Pen Persimmon
Buckeye Yellow
Green Giant
Marmande Verte
Maurine Verte
Norcarolina Pink
Olive Hill
White Mate Giant
Noire Charbonneuse
Indian Stripe
Grosse de Bordo
Spudatula Black

Marizol Gold cherry
Butterball cherry
Black Cherry
Green Doctor’s Frosted

Pamplemousse du Grand Pere
Marzipan Gold
Captain Lucky


Jack White
White Wonder

Fairytale F3
Claude’s Coral F2


Sweet Potatoes


Fairy Tale
Black Beauty
Red Osmin
Poppy Joe’s

French Breakfast radish
Groundcherry Goldy
Brussel Sprouts
Chinese Lanterns

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Mary Gardens

I had never heard of a Mary Garden. Until last night that is. A garden filled with flowers, plants and trees all named after Mary, mother of God. Designed to be a place of beauty and peace.

St. Benedict had a rose garden ("rosary") at his monastery in the 4th c., but the first garden we know of that was specifically dedicated to Mary was one created by the Irish St. Fiacre in the 7th c. The earliest record of a garden explicitly called a "Mary Garden" involves a "fifteenth century monastic accounting record of the purchase of plants "for S. Mary's garden" by the sacristan of Norwich Priory, in England."

I like this idea. I have to admit I consider my garden my church. Feel much more comfortable there than I do in a pew. Hahaha.

Here's a link about them and it includes a list of all plants associated with Mary. Too long to post on the blog.

Monday, January 17, 2011

A Long Winters Sleep

Ok, I'm going to say it for the first time of many. I miss my garden :-( So now I'm doing the next best thing, doing my garden planning... Yea!!!! Thanks Sebastien for the cool winter photo of my St. Fiacre.

Alot of you have asked about my "All-Star list" and I'm gonna make it super easy. There was only 1 that made my list. I've been calling it North Carolina Pink but apparently the correct name is "Norcarolina Pink". I believe it was picked up at a farmer's market in North Carolina by Craig LeHoullier . Probably one of the best tomatoes I've eaten in three years. Very un-assuming to look at, but ohhhhh the taste. See Photo.
As far as the "Waste of Space List".... Can't say I had any this year that bad but a few close.
Going to be adding corn, potatoes, turnips and eggplants to the garden this year. As with every year... it just keeps getting bigger.
I'm excited to be growing many varieties of Basque peppers this year also. So hard to come by the seed here in the U.S. Hoping to be able to offer it for next season.
So, my next goal in life.... to open an organic B&B with Sebastien in Niagra on the Lake.... everyone put out positive energy vibes in that direction.
Peace and Love