Garden Update

September is in full swing and summer is miraculously still here. Usually we’re moving into fall by now, but we’ve had such an incredibly hot and dry season here in southern Vermont that everything normal is up for grabs. But with a sprinkler to make watering my garden a breeze, I haven’t minded the heat at all, as long as I’ve got rivers to swim in. I’m that kind of gal.

As far as the produce goes, I’m still picking basil, peppers, sugar baby watermelons, kale, and tomatoes. My butternut squash are just starting to turn yellow, the carrots are thickening (if I leave them in the ground, they’ll stay fresh till a hard frost), and the bunching onions are at a respectable size of about three inches across.

I’ve been able to use up everything as it grows except for the nasturtiums and the basil. Just too much. I pick whatever basil is ready, blend it with olive oil in the food processor and freeze it in ice cube trays. When it’s hard, I eject them into a zip lock freezer bag and whenever I have a recipe that calls for fresh basil, there it is! If it lasts till the winter, I’ll melt it into minestrone, polenta, salad dressings, and vegetable sautes.

As it turns out, sunflowers love dry heat so the ones I planted are extremely psyched. They cheer up any space you put them in and if I want, I can let them go to seed and then eat them. They’re so easy to grow, I’m going to increase the plot size from 15′ by 15′ to 15′ by 40′ next year. I read an article in Local Banquet, a locavore magazine about small scale sunflower oil proudcers here in Vermont. Three of them make food grade oil, and the other grows them in order to produce biodiesel. I’m pretty sure I’ll just be cooking with mine.

Here’s a great recipe for Sunflower Dressing from the Ghost Ranch Conference Center in Abiquiu, New Mexico located in the unworldly Painted Desert. Amazing on salads, hot rice, and cooked veggies. Puree all the ingredients in a blender, except the water. Add enough water to make the consistency pourable, less if you want to use it as a dip.

  • 1 1/2 cups toasted sunflower seeds, unsalted
  • 1/4 cup tamari or soy sauce
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons dried dill
  • 1/2 cup fresh, washed and dried parsley
  • 1/2 cup sunflower oil
  • 1 tsp dried mustard
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • salt to taste *maybe none
  • enough water to thin to proper consistency