Reaping the tasty rewards

Juices, cocktails, salad - we've been eating really well from our garden

Adventuresingardening LogoEditor’s note: Photographer, and novice gardener, Kendal J. Bush, and her partner with the green thumb, Nate Laing, are taking readers on an adventure this summer via their southern New Hampshire garden. If you missed the July installment of Adventures in Gardening, read it here.

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We’ve already picked quite a few vegetables out of the garden this year.

Last time I checked in with a gardening update, I was leading the battle against the Japanese beetle armed only with a squirt bottle of soapy water.

The beautiful container of basil we worked hard to cultivate was under attack and I was determined to fight the unwanted invader at any cost. At first, the soapy water sprayed directly into the face of the enemy seemed to have little effect. The beetles started to wiggle and squirm a bit, but were not fully convinced that they needed to leave.

The second line of defense in this matter was the garden hose equipped with a nozzle and the maximum water pressure I could command from my squeaky faucet. Once I convinced the grotesque little creatures it was time to go, I covered the rather sad looking basil plant with a bit of repurposed mosquito netting which managed to ward off the beetles and provide an environment where the plant could heal.

Success!

I am happy to report that despite some extremely dry hot days and very chilly nights, the basil continues to grow and provide delicious leaves for salads and sauce. Also, in the container garden are strawberries. While the yield was small, the quality and taste were outstanding. Note to self: plant more strawberries next year.

The in-ground garden is home to the most delicious little orange tomatoes I’ve ever tasted. I don’t think we managed to get any of these fine specimens into a salad yet because Nate and I can’t stop eating them right off the vine.

Next to our tiny orange wonders we have enough cherry tomatoes to last the season. I have zero canning experience, but I am looking forward to upping my gardening game with a few new skills.

The garden-fresh tomatoes and basil are my absolute favorite ingredients to add to salads lately. I am quite fond of a fresh mozzarella, and a tomato, basil and lettuce mix topped off with a balsamic reduction paired with extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper.

A few peppers have popped up too. A beautiful purple pepper made a surprising appearance and we discovered it is a delicious addition to chili.

The cucumbers are maturing and popping out from behind the large leaves and vines. I’ve used several of the cucumbers along with my bounty of carrots to create tasty juices.  After doing a commercially purchased raw juice cleanse earlier this summer, I realized that I could make my own juices utilizing several of the items I had in my own garden.

Less is definitely more

A wise gardener once said that when it comes to planting, “less is more.” I concur, yet it was another lesson learned the hard way.

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The basil and tomatoes have been put to good use. Add balsamic and fresh mozzarella, and this salad is a winner.

I was overzealous in planting tomatoes and squash.  My tomato plants have grown into full-sized bushes and my squash has sprawled across the entire garden. I can’t bring myself to tear anything out, so instead I tiptoe around the squash vines en route to the tomato plants – a minor inconvenience that I will remedy with a more thought out blueprint for next year’s garden design.

I have, however, been religious about watering the container and the in-ground garden. Clearly, this is one area where I failed in years past. I underestimated the necessity of daily watering and the stress that an extremely hot day puts on plants. The eight ball and acorn squash are coming along nicely, but the mint seems like it’s seen better days.

Fortunately, I was able to harvest tons of mint that I used to create a pineapple-mint juice. If you have a juicer, add one cored pineapple, four small apples and a bunch (or bunches) of fresh mint together for a refreshing healthy beverage that contains tons of Vitamin C and potassium.

Whatever mint you don’t use in thejuice, you can save for mojitos!  I harvested clippings from the mint, which are soaking in water to root. I plan to transplant some mint and grow it inside along with the sage, basil, thyme and oregano, which will be making their way inside soon.

Classic Mojito Recipe

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We’ve used the mint from the garden to make mojitos.

INGREDIENTS

  • Ice
  • 1 1/2ounces white rum (about 3 tablespoons)
  • 2tablespoons lime juice (about 1 lime)
  • 2teaspoons granulated sugar
  • Eight fresh mint leaves
  • Club soda

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Fill a 12-ounce highball glass with ice and set aside.
  2. In a cocktail shaker, add the rum, lime juice, sugar and mint leaves.
  3. Using a cocktail muddler or the back of a spoon, lightly press on the mint leaves to release some of the oils until fragrant. Be careful not to overmuddle and completely tear the leaves to little pieces – just keep pressing on them with the muddler until the drink is super fragrant.
  4. Cover and shake to combine. Pour into the prepared glass and top it off with a splash of club soda.
  5. Garnish with fresh lime slices and a sprig of mint.

(courtesy of Isabel Eats: www.isabeleats.com)

Kendal J. Bush traveled the world as an editor and videographer for the National Geographic channel and NBC before moving to New Hampshire. She combines years of experience as a photojournalist with her film school education to yield colorful and creative portraits. Her work has been featured on the cover of ParentingNH since 2009, and also in sister publication, New Hampshire Magazine. View more of her work at www.kendaljbush.com.

Categories: Adventures in Gardening