One of the best presents that I got this past Christmas was a garden machete. I was expecting something like socks or other boring necessities. One year my daughter found one of my old hockey pucks in the garage and wrapped that up for me. But opening up a garden machete on Christmas morning was definitely one of the most unexpected treats of the whole year.
So what do I need a machete for anyway? Beside killing zombies, I also plan to get a lot of use out of the machete in the garden. Every spring I usually split a dozen or so hostas. In the past I’ve used an old kitchen knife or a shovel but now I can yell, “Hassan Chop!” and look much cooler doing it. Every year the hostas keep getting bigger and I keep splitting them. And now I have the proper tool for the job.
Another great use for my garden machete will be chopping down my musa basjoo every fall. I like to grow hardy banana trees that need to over winter in my garage. For banana trees they’re pretty hardy but New Jersey winters would be too much for them. So in the fall, I chop off the leaves and if necessary I chop the pseudostem (the trunk) to fit them in my warmer garage.
The machete I got is made by Gerber. They make pretty good multitools so I would think that this machete should hold up well. It even comes with a sheath. I checked some of the reviews on Amazon for this particular machete (Gerber 31-000758 Gator Machete with Sheath) and there were a few people who gave it one star. That worried for until I read between the lines and saw that these people were trying to cut down trees and chop firewood and crazy stuff that you’ll see Bear Grills or Survivorman do. For use in the garden I don’t think that I’ll have any problems with it snapping in two. I don’t have any rock hard hostas so I should be okay.
When I was young I really hated vegetables. I have way too many memories of hiding vegetables in my shoes after being given the standard dinner time ultimatum, “You can’t get up from this table until you finish everything on your plate.” Yes, after a few years of therapy, I can now admit that I was a vegetable smuggler.
As an adult, I can’t get enough vegetables. And as a gardener, I love trying to grow different types of veggies. And when I saw these cool looking Chioggia Beets in a seed catalog, I knew I had to try them.
Chioggia Beets are an Italian Heirloom beet that has red and white rings inside of them. Slices will look like a bullseye and who doesn’t want a bullseye in their salad? Often when I’m eating a salad, I say to myself, “I wish that I had something to shoot this carrot at.” Chioggia Beets were the answer that I was looking for. Plus as a added bonus you can add the beet greens to the salad too.
As far as taste goes, this beet has a more smooth, mild flavor to it. Besides slicing them up in a salad, my favorite way to eat beets is roasted. Cut them into bite sized pieces, drizzle with olive oil, add salt and pepper, dried basil and garlic and let them roast for about an hour at 400 degrees. Yum! A lot of people like to roast them with rosemary but I’m not a big rosemary fan. But if that’s your thing, then give it a try.
Definitely going to grow these beets again this year. And this time I’m going to plant them in a few different batches about two weeks apart so that I spread out the harvest.
Handling most beets will make it look like you murdered someone. Your hands get all red and suspicious looking. As a reformed vegetable smuggler, I don’t want to draw too much attention to myself. But since these Chioggia Beets are only half red, there’s only half the mess. So I only look half guilty. Which is always a good thing.
One of the best parts of vegetable gardening is trying to grow new things. The first time that I tried to grow pak choi, it was totally new to me. I didn’t know how to grow it or even cook it but I knew that I like to eat it and that was enough to give it a shot. I’m glad I did because I’ve been growing pak choi in my vegetable every year since then.
The type of Pak Choi seeds that I picked were from Burpee. From what I understand, Bok Choy, Pak Choi, Joi Choi are all the English language names of small Chinese Cabbage. There’s a larger cabbage that’s grown mostly in Northern China but I don’t think they refer to it by the same names. Please feel free to correct me in the comments if I’m wrong.
Here’s how the Burpee catalog describes it:
Also known as bok choy or Chinese white cabbage. Pak choi is grown for its stalks which are used in oriental cooking. It is also delicious raw. Each plant bears 10-14 erect stalks, 8-10″ long. Grows best in cool weather. Can be grown as a spring or fall crop.
And here’s how I describe it:
Pak Choi is another early spring green that’s pretty easy to grow. All you have to do is pop the seeds into my highly compost raised garden beds and then water regularly.
If you’re looking for a different cool season crop to try in your vegetable garden, pak choi might be what you’re looking for.
I keep garbage on my counter and I’m proud of it. Used coffee grinds, tea bags, vegetable peels, left overs and even some of my junk mail. No, I’m not a disgusting slob, I’m a kitchen composter.
During the winter, it’s not always fun to take food scraps out to the compost bin. My bins are at the far end of my property so I can’t just poke my head outside and toss stuff in. It’s definitely a shoes and coat required affair. That’s why I bought a Compost Crock.
It’s nice to have a container right there on your counter to toss garbage into. Mostly I use it for coffee grinds and egg shells but other stuff would be fine too. The crock kind of looks like a cookie jar so I don’t mind having it on the counter. And there’s a carbon filter in the lid so it doesn’t smell before I eventually take it out to the compost heap.
Since I’ve got a lot of free space in the vegetable garden lately, I’ve been on the look out for something interesting to try growing. Sometimes I’ll go to the store to buy something like tiki torch fuel but
I wind up coming home with a new plant. That’s exactly what happened this week and now I’m going to try growing kohlrabi.
Kohlrabi definitely seems like an interesting vegetable to try growing. So what exactly is Kohlrabi? Kohlrabi is also known as a German turnip. It doesn’t taste like a turnip though. People say it has a taste that sort of is a cross between a broccoli stem and an apple. I think technically the vegetable is related to cabbage but it must be a third cousin or something because I just don’t see the family resemblance.
I planted them a few feet apart but only because of all that space in the vegetable garden that I’ve mentioned before. You can put them a lot closer together if you’re short on space. The rest of the planting instructions are pretty typical, well drained soil, amended with a lot of compost, heavy feeder.
So what can I do with this Kohlrabi? That’s a good question. I’ve looked up some recipes to try and they seem pretty simple. You can eat it cooked or raw. You can fry or grill kohlrabi with garlic and oil but that’s not very exciting. You can cook and old shoe with garlic and oil and it’ll still taste good. I also found some coleslaw recipes that use kohlrabi instead of cabbage. That sounds good. I’ll definitely give that one a shot.
Well I hope to be able to try these recipes, but that depends if the plants don’t get eaten by a woodchuck or get bombed with several inches of hail. It’s been a decent gardening season so far but hopefully I’ll be able to remember it as the first season that I grew kohlrabi.