Our “feel like” temperature has been between 103 and 110 degrees so little is being accomplished in the garden. We do occasionally brave this heat and try to do some weeding or early fall planting in the mornings but by 8:30 we are looking for shade. The humidity, which is as bad or worse than the heat, is not diminished early in the day so discomfort is often unavoidable in our summer garden. Many people just stop gardening and enjoy the wonderful fall, winter and spring gardens but it just doesn’t seem right to not have something growing so we push on. We are experiencing a strong cool front which has stalled over us and has brought rain. A lot of rain. I understand that we may get 4 to 6 inches in 3 days before a short reprieve from the heat and humidity. Then it is back to the heat and humidity as we watch the weather reports for tropical events. At any rate, we have several greens planted for the fall and winter crops as well as the sweet potatoes, okra, peppers, melons and Swiss chard. I will be planting the collards and cabbage soon. May do beets and several other cool weather crops also as soon as it becomes a little more comfortable.
I have spent time (out of the heat) working on some means to use and enjoy our abundant fig crop. We have produced fig jams (including the strawberry imitation fig preserve) as well as eaten them fresh from the tree but we need other uses as there is only so much jam that we can eat and our production will increase substantially once the fig hedges start to produce. I have found two recipes that I like. Please send me any that you may know of as I will publish them in this blog.
1 (4-oz.) goat cheese log. softened (I used blue cheese)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil (From the garden)
6 large figs ( I had a lot of figs so I used 12 figs)
12 toasted pecan halves (I used pine nuts instead)
12 ready to serve bacon slices (Again, I substituted with regular bacon that I fried 1/2 way)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. stir together goat cheese and basil. cut figs in half and stuff with cheese mixture. Top with nuts and wrap with i/2 strip of bacon. Secure with wooden toothpick and place on wire rack for a 6 to 8 minute bake or until bacon is crisp and browned.
Eat while hot as quality diminishes as it cools. These would make great appetizers or a side addition to a soup and sandwich lunch. I found that the preparation was tedious but the resulting flavors of the cheese, bacon and fig made it worthwhile.
PREPARATION OF BACON WRAPPED STUFFED FIGS
FINISHED BACON WRAPPED FIGS
PANCETTA AND FIG PASTA
1 (16 oz.) package of fettuccini pasta
5 ounces thinly sliced panceetta, chopped (about 1 cup)
2 shallots, minced (I used a portion of a Vidalia onion)
1 garlic clove, minced
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
12 fresh figs, quartered
1/3 cup torn basil leaves (from the garden)
Cook pasta as you would normally do and reserve 1 cup of pasta water.
Saute pancetta, shallots and garlic in large skillet over medium heat 6 6o 7 minutes. add cream, cheese and hot cooked pasta to skillet and cook 2 to 3 minutes (stirring constantly) until cheese is melted. stir in 1 cup reserved pasta water until creamy. season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to serving dish and sprinkle with figs and basil. Serve immediately.
PREPARATION FOR PANCETTA AND FIG PASTA
FINISHED PANCETTA AND FIG PASTA
This was an exceptional dish. Again the combination of the creamy pasta with the Parmesan cheese and the sweet figs was memorable.
ROSS ROUNDS (HONEY)
We have been fortunate to have produced our first super of Ross Rounds comb honey from one of our garden hives. The super contains 32 – 1/2 lb. rounds of the lightest, mildest early season honey you can imagine. Each of our rounds were fully drawn out and capped. I placed each in its own round container and have offered 26 of them for sale at our local markets. They are valued at $9 to $12 each and make wonderful gift items. We are keeping the other 6 for our own consumption.
This is a specially crop in that the bees don’t like to go into the Ross super. They would prefer to store the honey in a standard super where they can put up 40 lbs. instead of the 16 lbs. in the Ross. I have to force them to move into the Ross super by balancing the crowding of the hive with the bee’s instinct to swarm. Once the Ross is capped, I have to pull it and place a regular supper or empty brood box on the hive to keep it from swarming. There was a learning curve associated with this technique as last year, I lost a swarm and ended up with half filled Ross Rounds. I like the fact that I get this wonderful delicate honey inside the comb where it will not crystallize and I don’t have to extract the honey from the comb which is an extremely messy job.
IPOMOEA acuminata THE PERENNIAL MORNING GLORY
This is one of the most striking flowers you will find in the garden. Early morning sapphire blooms open everywhere. And I do mean everywhere. That is the problem. In the past, I never planted a morning glory because they cast numerous seeds everywhere and it was impossible to control or get rid of them. A couple years ago I discovered a perennial morning glory what did not produce seeds. I was delighted and immediately ordered three plants from a nursery in Washington state ($35/each). I did not care what the cost was as I really wanted the plant and the Washington state nursery was the only place I found them for sale. That should have alerted me but it didn’t. The plants arrived and I planted one by the house to climb up the stairwell to the upper deck and two in the small garden arbors on which to climb. I was very disappointed because by last winter, it looked like all three had died. Then it happened. I found a bloom in the top of a live oak tree some 40 feet from the house. There was no sign of a morning glory vine anywhere where I had planted it. Next, I found it blooming in the wisteria arbor between the two small arbors where I had planted it in the garden. Then it was in the Pittosporum tobira hedge and then running in the lawn throughout the eastern garden. It finally made it to the small arbors earlier this summer and is now appearing sporadically up the stairway rail to the first deck. I have since found numerous warning on the internet telling gardeners to stay away from this enticing flower. It can’t be controlled and will take over an area. I now have an ongoing battle with it to join my efforts to control the Pensacola (tifton) bahia grass which comes in on auto traffic from where it grows along the sides of the highways. I have won my battle with the local sandspur (Cenchrus echinatus) and the persistent wild thorny dewberry (Rubus trivialis) but I am not doing well with the bahia and may not do so with the morning glory either. I am controlling it somewhat (or I might just be driving it down deeper to move on to another location) with the mower and am cutting it off the hedges by hand. I may have to resort to the RoundUp herbicide but will put that off as long as possible. Before I discovered the invasive habit of the morning glory, I rooted 20 new plants from a portion of a new vine. My plan was to give them to my neighbors. I have scratched this plan and now have 20 potted vines under my house (my house is elevated 16 feet to avoid flooding caused by hurricanes) where they may perish due to a lack of water and sunlight. I hope so anyway. My wife loves this flower and does not understand why I don’t.
LOOK CLOSELY AND YOU WILL SEE THE BLUE FLOWERS IN THE WISTERIA ARBOR. THIS WAS A DAY AFTER WE HAD CUT THE VINES AT GROUND LEVEL.
The rain has stopped so it must be time to go plant something.