Sunday, January 11, 2015

Garden Project 2: Growing Arugula Lettuce

Arugula planted on improvised planter made from an old Pepsi crate.
Behind my arugula are mature Cos lettuces that I am growing for seeds.
 Working in the garden is a task that I enjoy the most. It is therapeutic and also healthy because I can eat organic produce anytime of the day. Around the same time I planted my Black Rose lettuce, I also planted some Arugula seeds that I got from an online seller. Honestly, I have never tasted arugula before but after watching so many cooking shows that featured this leafy green, I was convinced that it must the most delicious leafy green ever.

Young arugula seedling.
Arugula is another variety of lettuce. But unlike its other relatives, arugula has thicker leaves and stalks. It is never a delicate plant and it grows well on any types of soil but it prefers rich loamy earth.  What I love about this plant is that it is not prone to any insect attacks so you don’t have to worry about spraying insecticides on them. You also need to water it at least once a day but twice during the summer months.

The best thing I like about this vegetable is that you can continuously pick the leaves as the plant continuously grows. I never seem to run out of arugula leaves even if I pick them every other day. I have already used arugula for my soups. In fact, I love to put arugula on sinigang (sour soup) or your regular law-oy (vegetable soup). On the other hand,  I would  never dare eat it raw. Well, I did try putting a few leaves on my tomato sandwich but I have to spit it out. I guess I really don’t like its strong nutty taste as it is a bit overpowering for me. I have yet to try making arugula leaves into pesto but I think I will do it once they start to flower. That way, I can save the leaves which will eventually wilt and fall off the plants  but I will also get seeds which I can use to grow more arugula. The problem is, I have to hustle and free more space in my garden for future planting activities.
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Monday, January 5, 2015

Garden Project 1- Growing Black Rose Lettuce

Black Rose lettuce planted on a raised bed and its neighbors
purple sweet potatoes (kamote tops) and malabar nightshade  (alugbati) 
Lettuce is an annual plant that belongs to the daisy family. It is grown as a vegetable leaf and it is not only used as an ingredient in making different types of food.  There are different types of varieties of lettuce and recently, I have planted a variety called Black Rose which is characterized by leaves having deep burgundy color.

The Black Rose lettuce looks very attractive with its colored loose leaves. It has a crisp yet slightly bitter taste that adds interesting flavor in salad dishes. I enjoy the Black Rose as a lettuce wrap which adds crunch to the food.   Aside from using the leaves in salad, I also use them for soups and any kinds of dishes.
Black Rose lettuce seedlings
Close up of young Black Rose lettuce. They first appear green but develop into
deep burgundy after a few weeks.
This particular variety of lettuce is very sturdy and it grows well in any types of soil. I planted several on slightly clay soil mixed with plant ash  and they grew well. They also thrive well on rich loamy soil.   This particular type of lettuce prefers to grow in areas where it can get a lot of sunlight. Although they also grow well in shaded areas, they do not develop that rich burgundy color and are not as bitter as those raised under the sun.
Transplanted stunted Black Rose lettuce (bottom) which were originally planted in small pots. Its neighbors
arugula (upper right) and variegated lemon (upper left) looked very healthy.

Budding Black Rose lettuce. I will have more seeds soon.
Black Rose lettuce  in a pot made from a 5-gallon mineral bottled water. It does not have a deep burgundy red color as it is planted in the shade. I have yet to transplant if I can find space in the garden.

When planting this lettuce, make sure that you do not plant them on small containers. I noticed mine getting stunted so I transferred them on to the my raised bed and they somehow recovered.  Lastly, what I love about them is that they  add color in the garden.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Blueberry Crumb Cake

Blueberries are not common in tropical Philippines and getting them fresh is a rare treat. So  instead of getting them fresh, you’ll just have to contend yourself with those preserved in cans. So what would you do if someone gave you a can of blueberry preserved?  Most people make canned blueberry preserves to cheesecakes. Blueberry is not a common ingredient in Filipino cuisine so the things people make out of them are limited to  cheesecakes  and muffins. There are many desserts that you can make from fresh or canned blueberries. Making desserts using blueberries does not require you to buy expensive ingredients just so you can make something delectable. Here’s  a blueberry recipe that requires very common ingredients that you would want to make one at home today. 

Blueberry Crumb Cake

1 egg
1 cup softened butter
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup white sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
2 cups blueberry preserves, mashed

Preheat the oven to 175 degrees Celsius.

In a bowl, mix together sugar, flour and baking powder. Add the salt while mixing the ingredients together. Blend in the softened butter and egg and use a fork to blend the flour mixture together. The dough should be crumbly. Divide the dough into two equal parts.

Grease a 9X13 inch cake pan. Put half of the dough on the greased pan. Spread the blueberry preserves over the dough generously.  Crumble the remaining dough on top of the blueberry layer.

Bake in the preheated oven for at least 45 minutes or until the crumb top layer turns slightly brown. Cool before cutting them into squares.  Put blueberry preserved on top for added color and flavor.

Note: If you notice, I didn’t put sugar on the blueberry preserves because they are already sweet. This is a very simple recipe and anyone who has flour, sugar, baking soda and butter can make this at home. This dessert is not too sweet that you can eat a lot of them without making your taste buds bored. 

The best thing about crumb cakes is that you can use other types of fruits instead of blueberries. You can replace blueberry with  strawberries or mango puree. I have yet to try mango crumb cake but I bet it would taste divine and it is cheaper too. ^^,

Saturday, September 27, 2014

My Hydrangea Is About To Bloom

My potted (literally on a pot) hydrangea
I am a big fan of hydrangeas which is also called million flowers or milflores by many people. I chanced upon a flower vendor outside the entrance of a large shopping mall in Uyanguren Street selling different kinds of plants including hydrangeas. 

I was at first hesitant to buy it because I am not sure if it will blossom in the kind of weather that Davao City. I testily told him maybe he grew it in the boondocks where the temperature is colder but he insisted that he grew it in the city and that his garden is just near the shopping mall. 

He was really bent on selling me the plant and he kept on pushing me to buy two of them but I declined and only bought one. The thing is, I have never seen a hydrangea successfully growing in the hot lowland regions in the Philippines but I could be wrong with my assumptions. 

Moreover,  I have doubts whether this plant will bloom anyway considering that most literature indicated that it prefers colder temperatures. However, I was so hooked on the idea of owning my very own potted hydrangea that I was willing to be conned. 
Small flowers peeking through the leaves!
I can't wait for them to turn blue.
Now, I regretted for my prejudice against the plant vendor for thinking that he is a conman because my hydrangea plant is about to bloom. If I can see him again during my next visit in that mall, I'll definitely buy potted plants from him and I hope he still has several hydrangeas. This is one of the ways that I can make up to him for thinking something bad about him. Well, he really doesn't know about  it but this is just my excuse to buying more plants. Haha!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Radishes Growing In The Garden

The small radish plot in my backyard garden.
A lot of things have happened since I last posted in this blog. Most of them trivial while some of them were big. But I am just glad to pick up on my writing again. Anyway, I  got a seed packet from a cousin a few months ago and she told me her daughter bought it from a seed vendor who visited her school. Since she does not have any space in her house to plant them, she gave the seed packet to me instead. The seeds were spray painted blue so I was not sure that they would grow. Sorry, I did not have any pictures of them while they were sprouting. 

 Fast forward today, I was able to grow the radishes (both in pots and in a small garden plot) and I am also growing two of them for seeds. Honestly, I never really liked the taste of radishes. They have this strong and spicy taste on them but after eating a handful of  my harvest each day, I can now tolerate the taste.  I have planted my radishes near the compost pile so they grow very big leaves and  ample-sized tubers.But since I live in the tropics and my house is only five meters above sea level, will I ever be able to grow gigantic radishes I often find in cold regions? Nevertheless, I am so contented with what I have.
One of my radishes growing in the dirt.

Two types of leaves my radish seed packet produced: I suspect the right one as a
 Daikon variety but I couldn't be too sure. Radish leaves are also great in
stir fry or, at least, that's what my taste buds said. 

I am growing this radish for seeds. I have yet to try out whether I should harvest
the pods or let them dry up while still attached on the plant.

The flowers and pods of radishes.

I am excited to make seeds from them so that I can continue growing radishes in the future and may harvest everyday. But since my supply is still not enough, I still get radishes from the local market. I just hope I won't get too lazy to continue what I have started and so last week, I bought more seeds from a supplier I found online and I will be busy in the garden from now on (hopefully). I might also be busy with this blog starting today, too, to document my gardening adventures.