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What to do in the Garden this weekend!

Good news! This weekend is the day that Burpee says is the average date of last frost here in Union County, NJ! That doesn’t mean, of course, that we’re out of the woods yet, but odds are that your plants will be fine outside now. Plants may need to be covered if a frost is forecast, so pay attention to the weatherman for at least another few weeks!

What can you plant in the garden? This week, it’s safe to directly sow the following seeds into the ground:

  • arugula
  • beets
  • broccoli
  • broccoli raab
  • brussel sprouts
  • carrots
  • cauliflower
  • endive
  • kale
  • leeks
  • onions
  • peas
  • salad greens
  • spinach
  • radish
  • turnips

If you want to grow eggplant, tomatoes, or peppers this year, it’s time to start the seeeds indoors if you haven’t already. It’s also time to get the planting beds ready for those vegetables!

Happy Gardening!

What to do in the Garden this week!

Every spring, my thoughts turn to the garden. This is the year my flowers beds will be immaculate and my vegetables will be abundant! Here’s what to do in NJ:

Perennials:File:Hosta sieboldiana Elegans2UME.jpg

  1. This week, I divided up all of my hostas. Hostas can be split right down the middle with a spade and then half can be removed and planted somewhere else. They’re so hardy, and fantastic in shady areas. Just keep the newly planted half well watered for at least the first few weeks.
  2. It’s also time to divide the tubers of irises. Before the stems get too big and leafy, dig in with the spade and bring up a few tubers. They start to get crowded after a few years, and this is the second time I’ve divided them since planting about a half dozen seven years ago.
  3. It’s rose pruning time. Before new growth gets a chance to sprout, take away leggy stems and shape the plant the way you want them. The cuttings can be rooted in soil – water frequently – some people even cover them with a clear glass jar to keep evaporation low if the weather is warm.

Vegetables

  1. Peas, lettuce, spinach, and potatoes can all be sown directly into the ground now.
  2. Tomatoes, cucumber, and peppers can be sown in pots indoors.
Cleanup and Miscellaneous
  1. Sharpen your tools.
  2. If you need to build raised beds or put borders around new beds, now’s a good time.
  3. It’s too soon to put down mulch because it will trap cold and moistness next to roots and seeds and kill them. But it’s not too soon to clean up leaves and debris that got left behind over the winter.
  4. If you haven’t started a compost pile yet, what are you waiting for? Take a $5 plastic storage bin, drill a few holes in it, and then place it in a corner of the yard. Add fruit and vegetable peels, as well as coffee grinds and loose tea (no meat or dairy products, please!) whenever you have them. By the summer you’ll have nutrient rich soil to place around plants.

This is my favorite time of year to plan the garden. What do you want to plant this year?

Turkey Soup and Dumplings

Here’s my favorite Thanksgiving leftover recipe!

Turkey Soup:

1 turkey carcass

10-12 cups water

2 large onion, diced fine

12 ribs celery, diced fine

8 carrots, diced fine

4 Tbsp. olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

2 tsp. baking powder

1 cup flour

1 tsp. sugar

1 Tbsp. ice cold margarine

1/2 cup ice cold milk

Directions:

1.  Heat half of  the olive oil in a large soup pot. Add half of the vegetables, salt, pepper,  and saute until the onions are translucent.

2. Add the turkey carcass and cover with water.

3. Don’t let the water boil – allow it to simmer for at least an hour, but I usually let it go for 2-3 hours.

4. Strain, discarding the vegetables and carcass and saving the broth.

5. Heat the remainder of the olive oil. Add the remainder of the vegetables, salt, pepper, and saute until the onions are translucent.

6. Add the turkey stock.  Allow to simmer, adding whatever vegetables you want (I like zucchini, yellow squash, larger chunks of carrots) and all of your leftover turkey.

7.  In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt to taste.

8. Add the margarine and mix it into the flour with your fingers, breaking up the margarine by coating it with flour.

9. Add the milk and lightly stir to absorb the milk.

1o. Using a teaspoon, scoop some of the dumpling mixture  and drop it into the soup. Continue until all of the dumpling mixture is used.

11. Cover the soup. Allow it to simmer (don’t boil, or your soup will be cloudy!) for about 20 minutes.

12. Serve and enjoy!

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