Friday, May 28, 2010

Seed Starting 101

It's not too late to start your garden by seed this weekend. If you need some information about how to go about starting your seeds, see this article here: Seed Starting 101 for Kitchen Gardeners | Parade.com

Enjoy your Memorial Day Weekend - Be Safe - Stop by the Red Barn for your favorite treat!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Gardening Girls: Preparation

To give you a better look at the gardening options we are following this summer, we wanted to share what type of preparation is required. You can plant from seeds or starts with any method, but those of us who experienced the late Utah freeze may have to replant our gardens with starts to make up for lost time.

Chelsea on the Classic Garden: To prepare a plot of ground, you will need to till it to loosen the soil. You will also want to mix in fertilizer or compost to make sure there are enough nutrients to support proper plant growth. Preparation is pretty easy...Especially when you can enlist some help...
I think it's also important to decide what you want to grow, and to map it out before planting to make sure you will have enough room to grow everything you need. You'll also want to figure out how you will water. Our sprinklers will do the work for us - sprinklers or a drip system would be great for raised planters and trellis gardening as well.


AnaLee on Raised Planters: You will need to buy or build your own planter. Building your own would be the most economical choice, though it also takes a little more effort. There are hundreds of tutorials on how to do this, a simple one can be found here. You will also need to bring soil in to fill your planter and position it somewhere that is easily accessible, and also gets adequate sunlight and water. Make sure you know where you want it since it will be too heavy to move once you've filled it with dirt. Remember that the planter itself needs good drainage or else the roots of your plants will rot.


Paige on Container Gardening: To start my indoor herb garden I first wanted to pick out some pots to match my kitchen, which was a fun excuse to run to Ikea.This may be the easiest type of gardening to set up initially, though depending on the types of containers you use, can also be costly. You could also check a local thrift store for other types of containers to re-purpose as planters (think Tupperware bins, old trash cans, etc.). Remember that when using containers you must use potting soil to allow enough oxygen to reach the plant roots. Also, containers must be watered by hand, so don't let your plants get too thirsty! Make sure to read the container gardening class post here for more tips on effective container gardening.

Janae on Trellises: This type of gardening is a spin on the classic garden, so you will need to do all of the same preparation, as well as purchase or build your own trellises, which can be as elaborate or primitive as you want - I've seen people use everything from sticks to iron pipes.A simple tutorial to create your own can be found here. Remember, trellising is perfect for beans, peas, cucumbers, melons, squash, and any other vining vegetable. I like to build the trellises before planting so I know just how much space I will need between plants. Having everything off the ground also prevents it from being stepped on while my kids and I are working in the garden.

---So no matter what method you use, you'll want to research it further to know what other preparations you might need to make to have a successful garden this year!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Tasty Tuesday: Icecream Pie

Here's a great recipe to cool you down at your Memorial Day Weekend BBQ. (That is, if the weather ever warms up!)

Chocolate Strawberry Crispy Pie

½ cup chocolate flavored syrup
1/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 cups crisp rice cereal
¼ cup dairy sour cream
1/2 to 1 quart Red Barn *strawberry ice cream (however full you want your pie)

*Pick any flavor you want for a different twist to this recipe!

Butter an 8” pie plate; set aside (I used a 9″pie plate). In medium microwave-safe bowl combine chocolate syrup with chocolate chips; microwave on high for 45 seconds or until hot. Stir until smooth. Remove ¼ cup chocolate mixture to small bowl; set aside. Add cereal to remaining chocolate mixture and stir to coat; cool slightly and press mixture evenly into bottom and up the sides of pie plate. Place in freezer for 20 minutes or until firm. Combine reserved ¼ cup of chocolate mixture with sour cream. Spoon half the ice cream into pie, drizzle with chocolate sauce. Top with scoops of ice cream if desired and remaining sauce. (I put the whole amount of ice cream in the pie and then drizzled it with the sour cream/chocolate mixture.) Garnish with fresh strawberries before serving if desired.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Gardening Girls: The Crew

Now that The Red Barn has held a majority of their free gardening classes, those in attendance have learned several methods of gardening. Since we couldn't decide if one method was more successful than another, we decided this year we would put it to the test! We selected four Red Barn fans to follow throughout the summer, each experimenting with a different gardening technique - trellises, traditional dirt, containers, and planter boxes. Although our tracking may not be entirely scientific, we hope we will be able to highlight the pros and cons of each type of gardening so that in the future you will be able to choose which method you think will work best for you. So without further adieu, I bring you our gardening crew!

Janae is an expert gardener, graduating with a B.S. in Horticulture studies from Utah State University. She uses trellises where possible to maximize space and minimize plant disease that is associated with growing on the ground.Chelsea is a rookie gardener and will be doing the traditional dirt digging in the ground garden. She’s from Virginia, where trees are a plenty and no one has to water their grass. Last year when she came back from vacation (ok, labor isn’t a vacation) her garden was shriveled up and dead. She just didn’t understand why. “You mean you have to water it too?” Thankfully she’s a much better mother than gardener! She's hoping to grow a successful garden this year now that she's been empowered with so much useful information from the FREE Red Barn classes.Paige is a busy junior high teacher with limited space to plant and will be demonstrating how to do container gardening. Obviously she won’t be planting corn, but has decided on a lovely indoor herb garden as well as a few smaller vegetables in outside containers.AnaLee uses her garden to supplement her grocery shopping and to teach her children the responsibilities of gardening. She will be using raised planters or “grow boxes” for her herbs and vegetables.Now that you have met our crew, stay tuned for pictures, updates, and handy gardening tips throughout the summer! I can't wait to see what happens!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Tasty Tuesday: Chicken and Asparagus Roulades

Ingredients

    • 1 1/4-lb pkg thin-sliced boneless chicken breasts
    • 12 thin sandwich-sized slices Swiss cheese (from an 8-oz pkg)
    • 1 lb Red Barn asparagus, woody ends snapped off; spears simmered in salted water until tender, then cooled

Directions

Heat oven to 350°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil.

Place 1 slice chicken on each of 4 sheets of plastic wrap. Cut extra chicken in pieces; place, overlapping, on slices so each is about equal size. Cover with plastic wrap; pound to fuse pieces to slices and until evenly thick. Uncover; sprinkle with 1/4 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper.

Top each with 3 slices cheese to 1/2 in. of edge. Place 1/4 the asparagus at narrower end. Tightly roll up; secure with a wooden pick. Roll roulades in 1 1/2 Tbsp flour.

Heat 1 Tbsp oil in a large nonstick skillet. Add roulades; brown on all sides. Place on baking sheet. Bake 10 to 15 minutes until chicken is cooked through. Carefully remove picks and slice.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Tasty Tuesday: Roasted Asparagus

Since asparagus is now in season, I thought I would give you a delicious recipe to try, and some nutritional facts about this awesome veggie. Asparagus is one of the most nutritionally well-balanced vegetables in existence. It leads nearly all produce items in the wide array of nutrients it supplies including folic acid, potassium, fiber, vitamin B6, vitamins A and C, and thiamin. When selecting a bundle to purchase, look to see that the spear tips are tight, and approximately the same size so they will all cook evenly. The larger the diameter, the more tender they will be upon cooking. Use asparagus as soon as possible after purchasing, making sure to keep them cool or wet to maintain freshness. Asparagus can also be canned or frozen for future use. For more information, recipes, or other questions, visit The Red Barn or asparagus.org!

Roasted Asparagus

  • 1 pound Red Barn asparagus spears (the thicker the better for roasting)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Kosher/Coarse salt
  • Black pepper
  • Parmesan cheese
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. While the oven is preheating, gently break off the lower ends of the asparagus. This is the tough part that isn’t so great for eating. The asparagus should break naturally when you bend the asparagus about 1-2 inches up the stalk. Discard the lower, tough portion.
  2. Lay the asparagus in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with the olive oil. Using your fingers, gently roll the asparagus to evenly coat with the oil. Sprinkle the asparagus with cheese, salt, and pepper. Again, lightly roll the asparagus so the seasoning gets evenly distributed.
  3. Bake for 10-12 minutes, checking often the last one to two minutes of baking, until the asparagus is tender when pierced with a fork. Serve immediately.
*The first time I made this I forgot to set the timer, and it was in the oven for about 20 minutes so it got a bit crispy, but truth be told, it was so delicious that way that now it's my preferred roasting method! You can use any seasonings you want to change up the flavor of this recipe. Asparagus is also great on the grill!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Class Tips and Secrets

Last week we were fortunate enough to have two classes at The Red Barn. The first, taught by Meredith Seaver was for container gardening, while the second, taught by Adrian Hinton was for warm season gardening. After attending the classes I am excited to get out in the dirt and start growing! Meridith shared with us 9 Common Container Gardening Mistakes that I would like to pass on to those who are trying this method of gardening for the first time.

Nine Common Mistakes
  1. Using undersized containers
  2. Using undersized plants
  3. Plants and container are out of proportion
  4. Over or under watering
  5. Incompatible plants in the same container (full sun vs. part shade, etc.)
  6. Forgetting to fertilize
  7. Neglecting to cut back, prune, deadhead, or trim
  8. Hanging on to sickly or poorly performing plant
  9. Assembling a large container before it's in its final place
I also learned that you should not use regular garden soil from the ground (opps!). You must use potting soil in order for your plants to get enough oxygen. If making a flower container, try arranging the flowers while still in their container before planting so it's easier to rearrange until you find something you like. For the most aesthetically pleasing arrangements you will want to pick a "Spiller, Filler, and Thriller". A spiller, or hanging flower will soften the edges of the container, while fillers take up the majority of the basket. Thrillers provide a stunning draw to the container, as they are usually the focal point that adds height and dimension to the basket. (Note, if you are making a hanging basket, you don't need a thriller since the hanger itself gives it the height it needs). Adding soil moisture crystals and fertilizer to your basket maximizes your basket's producing potential. Make sure to water frequently and completely, making sure to water the soil without getting water on the foliage if possible. Containers should have some water run out of the bottom, and need to be able to drain completely. If your container does not have holes in the bottom for drainage, drill your own! Also remember to break the root balls of the plants before planting.Adrian also provided ample information about warm season gardening. He informed us of the best varieties of vegetables for our area, as well as information about watering, planting, fertilizing, and controlling pests. To learn more information about when to plant, or how to control pest, please visit http://climate.usurf.usu.edu or utahpests.usu.edu/ipm.
A special thanks to USU, Meredith, and Adrian for the wonderful classes and for providing tomato plants and demonstrations for those in attendance.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Tasty Tuesday: Fruit Bars

It seems like it's that time of year again when you are required to make something for a bake sale or provide a snack for the baseball team. Next time you are wondering what to make, try these fruit bars for a new twist on an old favorite. Its a basic shortbread with jam topping. Easy to make! Recipe and photo provided by Kathryn Michalik.

Ingredients:
2 1/4 c flour
1 c old fashioned oats (NOT instant...)
1/2 c sugar
1 tsp baking SODA
1 tsp salt
1 cold egg
1 1/2 sticks ICE COLD BUTTER, unsalted
1tsp vanilla
1 c Red Barn jam

Preheat oven to 350*

Mix flour, oats, sugar, baking soda and salt until well combined. Then pulse in (you can do this by hand or food processor) diced butter until its crumbly (size of peas). Lightly beat egg and add vanilla then pulse until combined.

Place 2/3 of mixture into a 8x8 or9x9 pan that is lined with foil and sprayed with Pam. Press down into a crust. Top with 1 cup of any Red Barn jam that you want (Apricot and Raspberry are our favorites for this recipe). Spread into an even layer, then top with rest of the crumbly mixture.

Bake 35-40 minutes, you will smell oats by the time it's done. Take out and allow to cool 2 hours before removing. Then carefully remove foil. Cut into 16 squares and enjoy!

To cut:
Cut in half, then cut each half in half again to make 4 cuts across, then turn 90 degrees and do the other side so you get 16 even bars.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Warm Season Vegetable Gardening


Warm Season Vegetable Gardening Class Tomorrow
May 4th 7-8pm
Adrian Hinton is a USU professor and Utah county’s extension specialist. He will bring his extensive expertise in warm season vegetable gardening to help you optimize your garden production.