How is Your Lawn? + Late summer garden edibles
On the radio this weekend discussing the whole reason some of us live in Kansas: GARDEN VEGETABLES (and all those other summer edibles). And then of course-- LAWNS!
It's not time to overseed and get grass seed to grow yet. In about two weeks, we suggest starting your lawn renovation. Now, we like to present a program for you that will make you a happy camper. It includes core aeration, verticutting, seed and starter fertilizer. It's important to know that this doesn't include any grading or new soil. For the homeowners who have nice thick turf but a few dead patches, this will work really well. Fall is a good time to seed because with regular water and cooler nights, the seed can germinate and get good roots put out.
One of our Facebook friends posted this picture of her grass. Anyone know what is wrong?
Hint: It's a really complex name. It's called Brown Patch. I know. I know. Anyway, brown patch is a fungal disease. It happens when the lawn is watered in the evening or early morning and the water stays on the leaf blade too long. The recommended treatment is to change watering times to early morning as the sun is coming up. Also, fertilize in fall with a Nitrogen dominant fertilizer. The fungicide that we would apply is useful but should be a last resort. If you change your watering and allow it to dry between waterings, the grass should begin to recover. Here is the K-State info sheet on it!
So, we may not have mountains or an ocean but we do have good soil and sun to grow plants!
Here are some highlights for us home gardeners.
Let’s talk about Basil:
Do you use much of this? I usually plant as many plants as I can, at least 6-8. Right now I have two varieties: Lettuce Leaf and Genovese Basil (the most widely used, the best flavor for Italian cooking and pesto). The varietal offerings vary but the main types are Thai basil (for use in southeast Asian food, minty flavor), decorative basil (like purple ruffles, tastes pretty good for most food!), Genovese (the gold standard for Italian and pesto recipes) and Greek or globe basil (I use this for drying, tiny leaves, dark oregano-type flavor).
Tips for harvesting basil: basil will turn brown quickly when cut. I use my thumb nail and cut only the top 1/3 of the plant. That first rosette should be tender and flavorful. Don’t use the thicker stems or super whangy-fiery tasting parts. Never take more than a third of the plant! Wash/ rinse dirt off of the leaves and pat dry. Or use a salad spinner to dry. Refrigerate. Some people take long stalks of basil and put them in a vase to keep them fresh. I usually just refrigerate and use as quickly as possible- within 12 hours!
Eating it: infused olive oil. Just stuff leaves in a bottle and fill with good quality olive oil. This stuff is a treat- drizzle on your tomatoes and mozzarella. Use it to sautee onions or in stir fry. I use it as a base for my Mediterranean cooking!
Schiffonade (thin strips) with mozzarella, garden tomatoes and balsamic/ olive oil is amazing!
Pesto (literally the word for “paste” in Italian): this is a summer staple for us! Simplest recipe ever, leftover will freeze beautifully. Add nuts, basil, cheese and blend. Drizzle in oil until consistency is soft, paste-like. Measurements: I go by the handful. Dress pasta, bake chicken with it or spread it on italian bread!
3 parts- Lots of fresh basil. (If you want a milder flavor, use half fresh basil, half Italian flat-leaf parsley)
1 part- Pine nuts or good quality English walnuts (Mild flavor is key. Use unsalted almonds if you want.)
1 part- Peccorino romano, grated.
A few cloves of garlic. Make a wise choice! What is your mood?
Olive oil to desired consistency.
Salt. Always need more than you think!
Garden favorites: How are your vegetables doing? Are your tomatoes split from too much water? Here is what is on for harvest right now!
Peppers- from mild bell peppers to spicy jalapenos and wax pepper to HOT cayenne, these are coming on strong. Due to the cool weather, my hottest peppers are not very hot right now and aren’t ripening. I just the milder ones off and eat them, regardless. The hot cayenne I am letting redden on the bush. I also put the wax peppers in vinegar for a spicy addition to soups, salads, etc.
Tomatoes- If yours are splitting, you want to make sure you aren’t watering any more. That’s too much rain right there! Adequately fertilize (not more than every 4-6 weeks for garden grown). Mulch with newspapers and compost or just compost. I have been picking mine green and allowing to ripen inside. Tomato pests are HUGE right now. The best defense is mulch, clean up all litter and use an organic spray. I choose Captain Jack’s Dead Bug Brew- it’s good for worms, caterpillars. These are attacking my Kale and cole crops as well as my tomatoes.
Tomatillos- These little guys are also called ground tomatoes. Same family but different taste. Excellent for green chile, Chile Verde and salsa. Mine are producing SO many!!