Radish Stew

A Central Texas Gardening Journal

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

New Row

Digging a new row in the garden requires breaking through the caliche shelf below the topsoil. First, the soil is removed, then the caliche is broken up with a mattock and removed. Caliche is dirt, not rock, but it is so very dense that drainage is slow. After the caliche is removed, we will add soil and treat the row with compost, fertilizer, and greensand.

Two days ago, I made vegetable stock with tomatoes, onions, celery, and carrots. I then made soup with frozen vegetables and rice. Yesterday, I made Tomatillo Sauce with fresh tomatillos, dry onions & garlic, and frozen cilantro, all from the garden. Two pounds of tomatillos made one quart of sauce.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Tomatillos are a wonderful part of the summer garden. The golden colored tomatillos are very ripe and have a sweet tangy taste that is different from the flavor of the green ones. The sweet tomatillos have to be harvested when yellow. That's a little tricky because the plants like to sprawl and lots of times the fruit is accessible to greedy insects.

I have searched for some interesting and new ideas for recipes with tomatillos and have found very little. The tomatillo and green tomato relish which I canned recently has already become a favorite of mine. It is teriffic in tacos or quesadillas. I also made a salsa with tomatillos, ripe tomatoes, corn, peppers, comino, and lime. It was a little dry, so I added some of my fresh tomato catsup.

Yesterday, I cooked 4 pounds of Roma tomatoes with a whole head of garlic,a large onion, and a little salt. This combination made 6 cups of delicious tomato sauce. I used 3 cups to dress 1 pound of fettuccini. I thought it was a little dry, so I added about 1 cup of fresh tomato catsup.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


Birds are constant companions in the garden. Every year we allow the sunflowers to grow in the yard because the goldfinches love them. We provide a water source for all the birds to share, such as this white wing. The mockingbirds love the chili petins. Today, the house finches were eating basil seeds and the hummingbirds were buzzing around.

Yesterday, I canned 6 pints of Tomato Juice with pureed tomatoes, citric aicd, and salt only.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

This is a picture of all the tomatoes in the house today. There are quite a few green tomatoes because I have been pulling the tomato plants. I have removed one row of Romas and one row of 4th of July. I will continue to remove the three 4th of July plants and eight Romas as they ripen most of their fruits. The "volunteers" will probably be the last to go. I have a row of 4 young tomato plants which will stay. Today I finished planting a row of 8 small tomato plants. I am also ready to start seedlings for the fall garden.

Saturday, July 11, 2009


Today, I found a cicada which had just emerged from its old shell. Within two hours, it moved only an inch from the original spot. Notice that the tomato plant has continued to set new tomatoes.

Yesterday, I canned 6 pints of catsup and 2 additional pints for the refrigerator.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Today I purchased a scale, shown in the photo with some of the "volunteer" tomatoes. I will be able to be much more accurate with my recipes.

I also canned 4 pints and 3 1/2 pints of Tomatillo Relish. The red bell pepper and onions (not pictured)were purchased, but the tomatillos, green tomatoes, and 5 types of peppers came from the garden. I used the Picalilly recipe from Joy of Cooking to make a sweet relish. After chopping the vegetables and brining them overnight, I canned them today.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Chili Sauce

Yesterday, I canned 6 pints and 5 half-pints of Chili Sauce. This is very similar to Catsup, but thicker. I simmered it for over 5 hours before canning. I first learned of this sauce from Fredericksburg.

Monday, July 6, 2009

On July 4th, we catered a barbecue meal for a friend. Two of the big hits (besides the meats) were a direct result of gardening and canning. The guests loved my Bread and Butter Jalapenos and the Black Bean and Corn salad. The recipe is simple.

3 cans Black Beans, drained
1 large bag frozen corn
1 medium onion, diced fine
1 cup homemade catsup

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

July 1 rain

Happy July! These are the vegetables currently ripening in the garden. The 4th of July tomatoes are producing less than before, but the Roma tomatoes ripen 2 dozen or so a day. Both types continue to set new tomatoes.

All of the peppers are producing well. The mung beans and black eye peas are really cover crop, but they are also good eating. I hope to have okra soon. The melons are not doing well this year, possibly because of the location weather, or being planted too late.

Today we have received a very good rain. After weeks of over 100 weather, we felt fortunate to get .2 inch yesterday. Already today, we have .8 inch! This will make a big difference in the summer garden.