Spring Garden Reflelections & Fall Garden Plans YCH#62

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I would like to tell you about some things I learned this past planting season and talk a little about my plans for the fall and next year.

First of all I was thinking about the plants that did best in the HOT Georgia heat with the least care.  I think one would never be hungry here if they grew 2 things.  These are surely way different than what others will say.  I am talking about my garden and what I grew this year.   There are many others.

One is bitter melon.  I have talked about how much I love this before.  It is so healthy for you.  It grows like mad.  Very minimal, if any issues with pest or disease.  I didn’t even plant it.  It came back up from fruits that had fell on the ground from last year.  I made sure to throw ripe fruits all around the place this year.  I have talked about bitter melon before in detail.  I won’t go over all the great things about it, but will tell you about some ways I use it. It is used in many different culture and goes by many different names. I use it in stews, stir fries, fried, pickles, cooked with eggs.  It is so healthy some people buy powder or capsules to use as an herbal supplement. I tried freezing it last year with lack luster results.  So this year I dehydrated it for long term storage.

Two is okra.  If you think you don’t like it, please reconsider.  Okra is wonderful in stews.  The sliminess disappears as it thickens the stew.  I have added it to stir fries also with great results.  I have pickled it, made crackers from it, fried it of course (I am a southerner after all).  Although I must admit; one night I fried okra, eggplant and green tomatoes.  Fried green tomatoes were my personal favorite.  The okra and eggplant (especially cubed)  totally rocked though! The hardest thing about growing okra is keeping up with harvesting.  It grows like crazy.  I like cutting it though.  I have a red heritage variety I grew from seed from some I saved.  It gets tall and I feel like I am in an okra forest (nice and shady) when cutting it.  This is much appreciated on 100+ degree, high humidity days.  You can also prune it if you don’t want it to get too tall.  One big “problem” with okra is it grows so fast, it really does need to be cut every day.  It is hard for busy people to do anything everyday.  It is best when cut 3 to 4 inches long. Young and tender, succulent pods.  But how does one tell if it is too old.  I cooked a few that were a little on the woody side. LOL!  Here is a tip.  Bend the tip (bottom that is) with your finger. If it snaps easily it is still tender.  If it won’t break and kind of splinters apart – too old.    Ughhh, I composted a lot of good okra.

Now is that woody one of no use.  I have a friend that makes Santas out of it with puffy paint.  (It must be nice to be retired, LOL)   But I have read from Sandor Katz most excellent book “The Art of Fermentation”  That fermented okra pickles can be made with even woody okra.  Say What?  Of course I tried it.  They are fermenting as I speak.  I will keep you updated on the results.  I made one Indian style and one hot dill style kind of.

Here is a cool link about unusual uses for okra:

http://www.therainforestgarden.com/2013/07/5-unusual-uses-for-okra.html

http://ruhlman.com/2010/09/how-to-cook-okra-csa-week-14/

http://www.theslowcook.com/blog/2010/07/23/curried-okra-eggplant-stew-with-basil-and-coconut-milk/

I planted jicama from seed this year.  I started it in the winter as it has a long growing season.  I discuss how to grow it and my experiences.  How it tastes and how to use it.

http://www.harvesttotable.com/2007/11/jicama_tuber_vegetable_jicama/

This year is my first time growing groundnuts.  I am having a blast and learning a lot!

http://www.eattheweeds.com/groundnuts-anti-cancer-treat/

http://honest-food.net/2014/02/13/harvesting-eating-american-groundnuts/

I grew yacon once before.  I am growing it again.  I talk about it here.

https://www.greenharvest.com.au/Plants/Information/Yacon.html

http://www.motherearthnews.com/organic-gardening/yacon-root-zmaz06jjzraw.aspx#axzz3CBbD4H3w

http://lorenmurcia.hubpages.com/hub/Yacon-Food-Medicine-Loaded-With-Health-Benefits

http://living-mudflower.blogspot.com/2013/06/yacon-worlds-most-civilised-vegetable.html

I harvested some elderberries this year.  I tell you what I did with them and plans for my future elderberry growing.

I give a few garden updates and plans for the future.

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