Serendipity Discovered, My Banister Garden and Butternut Squash and Bacon Quiche

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As you stroll through my garden’s you’ll notice many unusual things sprinkled here and there… peaking out of a cluster of tulips or bowing over a rash planting of zinnias… Friends say that I have a flair for mixing my passion for plants and garden junque, marrying them together into welcoming and intriguing garden rooms. As I place these abandoned and unappreciated objects throughout my gardens it allows me to express my passions using my innate creativity.

Recycling things that no one else wants is something I enjoy doing… I can see the ‘practical’ and artistic use of an old fashioned metal canner… a rusty old wagon wheel… wooden crates or drawers… a wash tub or even more exciting, a derelict water trough… tin buckets, old wheel barrows… garden bikes, chairs… oh the list could go on and on! In my last post I talked about that discovered element… stumbling upon some tiny treasure you’ve been unknowingly looking for. My eye has become quite keen to spotting usable junque at estate sales, thrift shops and even along the curbside. My minds eye is in tune with what I love in my gardens. I’ve been to sales and there and behold an old wooden crate and tin bucket cast off in a corner… yes that will sit beautifully on my porch topped by that tin bucket over flowing with double petunia’s in it!

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As my friends and I walk and talk meandering here and there I watch their faces… I delight in seeing the shocked look at how cute 'they think' my antique metal canner's look planted up with purple pansies… how whimsical that old banister appears in the garden surrounded by a cascade of nasturtiums… and the 'wow' when they see hot pink geraniums in a white enamelware bucket that now sits on a rickety old chair… I love inspiring people, especially in the home and garden.

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I name all of my gardens. When we bought our home the upstairs railing was kicked in and totally destroyed by the previous owners… but a beautiful, old white banister still stood. As the men were removing what was left of it and getting ready to toss everything in a ‘junk’ pile, I was quick to say, “Hold on to that! That’s not junk… that is going in a garden!”… and so was born my Banister Garden.

Legend for The Banister Garden
Here is my rendition of my Banister Garden. This garden is just under 200 square feet.

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1. Knock Out Rose Bushes- 2 pink
2. Daylily- 2 orange
3. Creeping Phlox- 3 lavender
4. Burning Bush shrub
5. Lavender- Hidcotte
6. Peony- 2 pink
7. Bee’s Balm planted behind Antique Two Burner Antique Canner filled with geraniums. The Banister stands behind the Bee’s Balm
8. Hydrangea- old fashioned white- just planted last summer
9. Iris- purple
10. Purple Bell Flower
11. Varrigated Sedum
12. Purple Ruffles Basil
13. Spirea- pink
~I have a garden chair that sets in the garden and I usually have a tin bucket planted up on it.
This garden like the Side and Bistro was dug up and replanted as well. I didn’t do all of these gardens in one year, it has been a process going on since 2009. This garden has had many faces as you will see in the photo’s at the end of this post under the recipes.

I’m a bargain shopper when it comes to plants as well as for garden junque. If I can’t grow it myself, swap or get from a family member or friend then I wait for stuff to go on clearance. In 2011 I ‘stumbled’ upon a great deal at a big box store on a couple Knock Out rose bushes. They were discounted 75%… now I never would have paid the full price for these even with all the hype about them… I can’t say that anymore! They are worth every penny… honestly, they don’t stop blooming except for about two weeks in mid summer. I would like to get several more and make a hedge with them in another garden… I always have a garden plan in mind!

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Here are some idea’s for things to combine in your gardens!
*Tin or Enamelware buckets with either geraniums or double petunias.
*Wash tubs- I purchase nice big hanging baskets and plant them right into them… instant wow! I have also planted them with cascading nasturtiums. (see photo).
*Wooden crates and drawers- I like to incorporate right into my gardens. I will take the bottoms out bury part way, fill with dirt and then plant herbs or again hanging baskets. I also like to use crates on my front porch as both planters and as objects to place other pots on.

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*Tea Kettles, coffee pots, old oil cans, any other type of metal container plant worthy. I have planted succulents like Hen’s & Chicks in these, pansies and petunias.
*Mailboxes- I have not done this, (yet) but I have seen some really cool ones done up. You need to use a ‘top’ door type- one where the top opens and the mail drops in (see photo at my blog 😉 )
…here are a few other ideas of some things I have seen, but haven’t done and don’t really fit into my garden scheme, but may be of interest to others…
*Old fashioned claw foot bath tubs- I would plant something tall down the entire center- zinnia’s, cosmos, cleome or all and then have something that trails out all around the edges- Wave Petunias, trailing nasturtiums.
*Row boat or other nautical piece- I would bury it and then do as with the bath tub- height and cascade
*Antique Metal Bed frame- Plant the bed’s legs or just set the frame down on the ground and then using appropriate flowers, plant a design of a quilt block- obviously not too detailed- maybe a Bow Tie, Diamond, Nine Patch or something along those lines.
… there are many other ‘found’ objects that you can use… be creative, you know what you like!
~The key to using any type of container is proper drainage!

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We are still in the grips of winter and here is Michigan we just got another six inches of the white stuff… so today I thinking comfort food! Enjoy friends!
Butternut Squash and Bacon Quiche

All purpose flour for rolling
1 recipe Flaky Pie dough (below)
8 slices bacon (Off course Garden Gates!)
1 medium yellow onion, halved and thinly sliced
Salt & pepper
3/4 pound butternut squash, peeled, halved and very thinly sliced
8 large eggs
1/2 c whole milk
1/2 c heavy cream
6 fresh sage leaves

1. Preheat oven to 350 digress. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out dough to an 11×15 inch rectangle. Transfer to a 9×13 inch baking pan. Fold edges of dough so sides are about 1 inch high. Prick dough all over with a fork and freeze until firm, 15 minutes. Press on dough, draping over rim of pan. Bake until crust is firm and edges are lightly browned, about 35– 45 minutes or until bottom is dry and light golden.
2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, cook bacon over medium until almost crisp, 10 minutes, flipping once. Drain bacon on paper towels. Add onion to skillet, season with salt & pepper, and cook, stirring often, until golden brown, 10 minutes. Spread mixture evenly in crust. Top with squash, overlapping slices and adding a piece of bacon every few rows.
3. In a bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, and cream; season with salt 7 pepper. Pour enough egg mixture over filling to just reach top of crust. Top with sage. Bake until set in center and puffed at edges, 45 minutes. Let cool 15 minutes.

FLAKY PIE DOUGH:

In a food processor, pulse 1 1/4 c all purpose flour and 1/2 tsp slat to combine. Add 1/2 c cold unsalted butter, cut in 1/2 inch pieces; pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal, with a few pea size pieces of butter remaining. Sprinkle with 2 tbsp ice water; pulse until dough is crumbly but holds together when squeezed (if necessary, add up to 2 tbsp more water, 1 tbsp at a time). Form dough in a 1 inch thick rectangle, wrap tightly in plastic, and refrigerated until firm, 1 hour or up to 3 days).

“So… what are you going to do with a rickety old wooden chair with chipped paint Jean?” my husband asks me…”It’s serendipity Neil….”
Happy Day,
Jean
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This photo was taken in Spring of 2009. This was the first ‘face’ she had… the tulips were beautiful and the creeping phlox looked stunning. Notice the lattice on the side of the front porch… The wisteria that now covers that side of the porch was just a baby in this photo.

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Here is a photo of the same garden, same spot but taken in 2012. You can see it is deeper and quite a bit different. The burning bush in the far left corner is larger and now there is the spirea bush in the front right corner.

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This photo was taken in Summer 2011. You can see the black ground cover still laying around the edges from the ‘re-do’ that this garden received early in the spring.

PART 1: Autumn’s Bounty in the Root Cellar and Two Yummy Storage Crop Recipes!

Sunflower heads that Ryan and I harvested from our back field
 to feed the birds this winter

The Season of Autumn…
This is Neil’s and most of the children’s favorite season… I like it too, but I am all about Spring and Summer. I do love Autumn for the harvest though… the smell and crunch of the leaves under foot… the caa-caa of the Blue Jays feasting on the sunflowers in the front garden… the sound of the wind whistling through the leaves still hanging onto the branches… not quite ready to sail away…watching our can shelves, freezers and root cellars start to fill up to over flowing… Oh the bounty of Autumn, how thankful are we!  The children enjoy the slower pace that Autumn leans into… once the fields are plowed and all that is left is the hoop house and animal care duties, life seems to take on a slower pace… more relaxed and peaceful.  Now the boys and Neil are in full swing of making firewood to both heat our home and to sell at market. I love to hear the chainsaws roaring and the smack of the axe. I get to start using the cook stove again now… oh that smell of wood burning so close lends to a feeling more cozy than words can describe. I love our cook stove… it reminds me of when we would go way up North into Canada to visit my dad’s folks. They didn’t have electricity or indoor plumbing until I was about 12 years old… I loved the smell that rose into the upstairs when grandma was frying up fresh eggs and bacon for breakfast… covered and cozy under her quilts… not really wanting to venture out into the cold… the heat would start to move slowly through the old farm house upstairs and then I would jump out of bed and quick get dressed and run downstairs.  Everyone else was always up and moving long before I. It was a happy feeling… a cozy, homey feeling that I had there.  Now I have a cook stove of my own and although I only use it in the cold months, I can’t think of doing without it. 

Life is good right now and quickly moving by… We are trying to get all the last things done around the farm before the snow flies.
Harvest time is in full swing for most farmers right now. We are expecting some freezing temps here the next couple days so many of us are picking all the tomatoes~ green and all and everything else that will not sustain a frost or freeze.  Ryan and I got all the sunflower heads harvested from the back field this past week. They are drying out nicely in the barn (see photo’s on my blog spot or web site). The back field is ready to be plowed up now for the season.  We still need to get all the herbs from the Sausage Garden in though… Much of the Fennel is still green; I need to harvest the heads that are dry to save the seed. This will be what Neil uses in our farms Italian Sausages; Parsley will be harvested for our Italian Herb & Cheese; Sage will be dried for our Breakfast; Marjoram, Summer Savory and all the others will need to be brought in as well. Garlic needs to be planted within the next two to three weeks for next years harvest; spinach, lettuce, sorrel, and parsley need to be transplanted into the hoop house for winter production. Life keeps us busy, even in our slower time.

This is the hoop house right now. We just
pulled out the majority of the cherry tomato
plants, leaving only a few until they are killed
by a hard freeze. We will plant spinach, lettuce,
chard, sorel and parsley transplants from the sausage
garden. We will direct seed radishs beside them
for winter production for our winter markets. 

As I have been mentioning for the last several months, I will be discussing how to keep all this beautiful Autumn bounty in Root Storage as well as drying and freezing herbs.  The bulk of the info will be taken and adapted from “Root Cellaring- Natural Cold Storage Of Fruits & Vegetables” by, Mike and Nancy Bubel; published by Storey Publishing.  This is the best book out there and gives the most concise information on this topic.  It is a must have for anyone looking to store what they have grown.  Be sure to check my blog spot at http://www.fordragonfliesandme.blogspot.com for lots of great photos to go with this post! 

There are several aspects to consider when planning for a root storage crop and keeping it.  Much of this planning is done in January and February for the home gardener when the garden is being planned. The seed catalogs are abounding in the mail box and it is a thrill to sit with notepad and pen and jot down all the new things you want to try to grow… but you must take into consideration what you want to do with your crops~ simply have a small garden that you can snack on through the season or are you planning on feeding your family all that good stuff through the miserable cold days of winter when that beautiful garden is layered with white stuff and stone hard frozen.  Well, if the later is your intent, then planning is key & crucial… plus it’s just plain fun to page through those beautiful catalogs and plan that garden. Before I had my green houses and hoop house this was my only way to keep it together through the non-gardening months… now I am happily spoiled! 

Here is a list of the considerations that are crucial:*Choose crops that are meant for winter storage along with all the fresh eating crops during the growing season.
*The amount of moisture required for each particular crop.
*Temperature required to hold the crop.
*Where are you going to store your crops?
*Learning what can & can’t be kept together.

Today we will look at what crops are Good Keepers and Temperatures and Amounts of Moisture Required for crops.

 


~So here is a list of vegetable that keep well; I have not listed anything that I have not tried myself, the above mentioned book has a much more extensive list of thier successes.
*Beets- Detroit Dark Red and Long Season
*Brussels Sprouts- Long Island Improved
*Cabbage- Late Flat Dutch, January King and Danish Ballhead
*Carrots- Danvers and Chantenay
*Celery- Utah
*Kohlrabi- White Vienna and Purple Vienna
*Leeks- American Flag, Lexton and Bandit
*Onions- Copra and Red Zeppelin
*Parsnips- All American
*Sweet Potatoes- Beauregard
*Potatoes- Russet (White baker), Yukon Gold (yellow), Kennebec (white) and Red Norland (Red)
*Rutabaga- Laurentian and Purple Top
*Winter Squash- Acorn, Sweet Dumpling, Buttercup, Butternut and any Hubbards.
*Turnips- Purple Top White Globe
*Apples- any late season hard apples will do well.
~ This is such a minute list of what is available, but I don’t feel comfortable telling you things that I haven’t personally experience. You can get really good details about crops and their holding qualities in Johny’s Seed Catalog along with our topic book.  Have fun with your garden and try two or three varieties of each crop to do your own testing and see what you & your family like. 



The next important factor to take into consideration when you are planning your crop choices is your location for storage and the amount of Moisture and Humidity that you are going to be dealing with.  This will help you determine which crops and varieties as well.  

Here is the list of “Storage Requirements of Vegetable and Fruits” that is in the above mentioned book which can be found on page 51-52. (I have adapted slightly).
*Cold and Very Moist- (32-40 degrees F and 90-95 % relative humidity):
Carrots, beets, parsnips, rutabagas, turnips, celery, Chinese cabbage, celeriac, salsify, Winter radishes, kohlrabi, leeks, collards, broccoli (short term), Brussels sprouts (short term), horseradish, Jerusalem artichokes, Hamburg rooted parsley.
*Cold and Moist- (32-40 degrees F and 80-90 % relative humidity):
Potatoes, cabbage, cauliflower (short term), apples, grapes (40 degrees F), oranges, pears, endive, escrole, grapefruit.
*Cool and Moist- (40-50 degrees F and 85-90 relative humidity):
Cucumbers, sweet peppers (45-55 degrees F), cantalope, watermelon, eggplant (50-60 degrees F), ripe tomatoes.
*Cool and Dry- (32-50 degrees F and 60-70 % relative humidity):
Garlic (keeps better in even lower humidity, around 50%), onions.
*Moderately Warm and Dry (50-60 degrees F and 60-70% relative humidity):
Dry hot peppers, pumpkins, winter squash, sweet potatoes and green tomatoes (up to 70 degrees F is OK

In the next post I will go into more detail with where to store all this wonderful bounty… keep posted!


Butternut Squash and Bacon Quiche

All purpose flour for rolling

1 recipe Flaky Pie dough (below)
8 slices bacon (Off course Garden Gates!)
1 medium yellow onion, halved and thinly sliced
Salt & pepper
3/4 pound butternut squash, peeled, halved and very thinly sliced
8 large eggs
1/2 c whole milk
1/2 c heavy cream
6 fresh sage leaves

 

1. Preheat oven to 350 digress.  On a lightly floured work surface, roll out dough to an 11×15 inch rectangle.  Transfer to a 9×13 inch baking pan.  Fold edges of dough so sides are about 1 inch high.  Prick dough all over with a fork and freeze until firm, 15 minutes.  Press on dough, draping over rim of pan.  Bake until crust is firm and edges are lightly  browned, about 35– 45 minutes or until bottom is dry and light golden.
2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, cook bacon over medium until almost crisp, 10 minutes, flipping once.  Drain bacon on paper towels.  Add onion to skillet, season with salt & pepper, and cook, stirring often, until golden brown,  10 minutes.  Spread mixture evenly in crust.  Top with squash, overlapping slices and adding a piece of bacon every few rows. 
3. In a bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, and cream; season with salt 7 pepper.  Pour enough egg mixture over filling to just reach top of crust.  Top with sage.  Bake until set in center and puffed at edges, 45 minutes.  Let cool 15  minutes.

Asian Chicken Slaw

 

2 chicken breasts, deboned & skinned, cooled & diced
4 c cabbage, thinly sliced
1/2 c  onions thinly sliced
3 tbsp rice vinegar or regular
2 tbsp peanut oil
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tbsp fresh ginger, peeled and minced
1 tsp sugar

 

1. in a large bowl, combine chicken, cabbage and onions.
2. Add remaining ingredients and toss to blend.  Add salt & pepper to taste.
3. Serve as a salad or fill pita pockets

Happy Day,
Jean