Zucchini Noodles aka Zoodles

Summertime means excess zucchini. If you’re looking for new recipes then try this- zoodles. Zoodles are strands of zucchini cut in the shape of pasta noodles. They are highly nutritious, gluten free, and much less caloric than regular spaghetti noodles.

zoodle spiralizer

To make your zoodles you will need a spiralizer (google it). These can range from $10.00 at Bed Bath and Beyond to $49.95 from Williams Sonoma. In the photo above I am using the $10 version.

Once the zoodles are made it is then important to salt it and let it drain all the excess moisture. You can place a plate on top and weigh it down to force all the moisture out. This will take approximately 30-45 minutes. This is key! Do not skip this step or you’ll zoodle dish will be a watery mess.

zoodles

Once that is completed you can then make your dish and add whatever you want. For my first attempt I added chopped tomatoes and freshly made basil pesto.

For ingredient amounts figure 1 medium sized zucchini per person, a half cup chopped tomatoes per person and about 1/4 cup pesto per person.

Add a little shaved parmesan cheese at the end and voila, you have a healthy meal for your kids or a show-stopper for company. It’s that good.

Zoodles with tomato and pesto

Grasshoppers in the Garden

Grasshoppers are a nuisance. They feed on the green leaves of young plants and can defoliate an entire plant if left unchecked.

Barriers can be used to keep grasshoppers aways from your plants. One remedy is a cage made from window screen. The holes are small enough not to allow the grasshoppers access, but large enough to allow sunlight and watering.

Another type of barrier and great for larger areas is floating row covers. Floating row covers are made from a very lightweight material that lays right on top of your  plants. Water and sunshine get through easily, insects are kept out, including birds who may try to eat your freshly planted seeds.

floatingrowcover

Floating row covers can also extend a season by protecting plants from frost down to 28ºF.

For more info about floating row covers see info sheet from Washington St University Extension

Pickled Purple Cauliflower

A few months ago I wrote about the health benefits of purple cauliflower. Today I want to share with you one very tasty and visually beautiful way to enjoy it.

cauliflower-pickles

This is Purple Pickled Cauliflower or Pickled Purple Cauliflower (which name do you like best?). It is extremely easy to make with no special equipment needed. The finished product looks more magenta than purple. Fun for the kids!

cauliflower-pickles2

Simply cut the cauliflower into pieces. Place them in a clean jar and cover with a vinegar brine. In 3-5 days you’ll have pickled cauliflower. This is the recipe I used for the brine. Feel free to experiment with your own recipe.

Introducing Beanstalk Seeds

beanstalk_logo_TM_color

Are you looking for a fun way to get your kids outside? Do you want to engage them with nature? Teach them how to love fresh vegetables?

Beanstalk Seeds is a new seed company specializing in seeds for children’s gardening!

With exciting seeds, including those in our Plant a Rainbow kit, and resources such as our Garden Guidesheets, Beanstalk Seeds makes it easy and fun for you to engage your kids in the growing process.

What Are Beanstalk Seeds?
Previously only available at our office in KC, Kansas City Community Gardens’ specialty seeds are now available to families, youth groups and schools throughout the country at www.beanstalkseeds.com.

Skinny Plants

Why plants are so skinny

Please share.

Purple Cauliflower

purple cauliflower

Ever hear the dictum, Eat Your Colors? The reasoning is that colorful fruits and vegetables contain various nutrients that are vital for good health.

According to Wellness Today:
Green foods contain chlorophyll;
Yellow foods are rich in Vitamin C;
Orange foods are high in beta-carotene;
Red foods are rich in the phytonutrients lycopene and anthocyanin; and
Purple foods contain the most antioxidants of all the colors.

Cauliflower is a cool weather crop in the Brassica family. Cauliflower can be white, green, orange or purple.

The great thing about purple cauliflower is that it retains its color even when cooked.

I see a colorful stir-fry in your future!

Butterflies and Caterpillars in the Garden

If you want to attract something like this, a swallowtail butterfly,

swallowtail-butterfly

your going to have to put up with caterpillars, which are swallowtails in the larva stage.

adultcat01

Caterpillars can do enormous damage to a vegetable garden. They are voracious eaters. In this photo the host plant is a 3 foot fennel bush. This particular specie also likes dill and parsley and other members of the carrot family. The caterpillars will eventually strip all the fronds from the stems.

You can identify different butterflies and caterpillars in your backyard or school garden with this great tool from gardenwithwings.com.

If you are not interested in saving the caterpillars then ridding them from your garden can be done in two effective ways:
1. Pick them off by hand and put into a pail of soapy water;
2. Spray the plant and underside of leaves with Bacillus thuringiensis, commonly known as BT.

Photographer Bob Moul has a great slideshow showing the morphing of a caterpillar into a butterfly.