Sunday, October 7, 2012

Growing Garlic in an Urban Backyard

Our backyard gardening efforts are winding down for 2012.  Today I harvested the last 50 - 60 jalapenos, 20-25 cubanelle peppers, 10 small to medium sized bell peppers, and 5 smallish butternut squash. We emptied, cleaned, and stored 5 of our 10 Earthboxes along with cleaning out pepper, mint, and spinach plants in half of the in-ground bed we have in the backyard. But lest you think our gardening for the year has ended, sit tight for additional details.

Several weeks ago we visited the Plymouth Farmer's Market and purchased some garlic scapes from Michigan Garlic Farm. My wife loves garlic and we cook with it a lot (although she did not particularly like the scapes). After talking with Les and Donna for 15 - 20 minutes at the farmer's market, my excitement for growing garlic was ignited. The Abel Family talks about garlic with so much energy and vitality that it's contagious. We purchased a few varieties from them for planting, although I forgot to ask specifics, and I also purchased another 1 lb from another source a little later on.

With some of the Earthboxes moved out of the normal "flower" beds that the previous homeowner installed, we now have room to plant some garlic! I planted most of our beds with the Music garlic variety and the remainder with the garlic we purchased from Michigan Garlic Farm.

Here are a few pictures (please excuse the picture quality from my cell phone):

It's my first attempt at garlic, so I am not really expecting spectacular results. If we have a few small successes, I'll be happy. The soil is supposed to be worked 18", but for my backyard I couldn't achieve that without some type of mechanical tiller (I don't own one), so I had to settle for a 7-8" base of worked soil, and another 4 inches of mulch on top. I planted to garlic about 5" inches deep.

We also have a second bed on the opposite side of the deck that was planted and mulched also.

For any of the garlic pro's that might read this post later, I apologize if I have violated any written or unwritten laws of growing garlic successfully. Sometimes when conditions are less than perfect, I employe the Nike strategy and go into Larry Cable Guy mode of just getting it done. Most of the time, I achieve some level of success in spite of myself. I've got my fingers crossed! :-)

Is anyone else growing garlic this fall?

Monday, October 1, 2012

Chili Verde

Looking for ideas to use my current abundant supply of jalapenos I decided to make some "green" chili today. is the home page for the International Chili Society's (ICS) competition information. In ICS competition, beans are not allowed so my chili would be something a little different than the typical "home-style" chili I'm used to eating this time of year.

My attempt at chili verde was loosely based on Gambler's Chili as published on the ICS website.

1. I started with 2 lbs of pork loin chops purchased at Meijer that I cut up into small 3/8 inch sized pieces. I browned it in skillet with a small amount of olice oil for 10 minutes and then drained the liquid.

2. I added 1/2 a jar of Green Salsa, 2 cups of chicken broth, 1 cup of finely chopped onion, and 1 cup of finely diced green pepper to the pork and continue cooking for 1 hour.

3. I added the spice mix (see below) and continued simmering.

Spice Mix

1 medium sized clove of minced garlic
2 ½ Tbsp Watkins chicken base
1 tsp celery salt
1 Tsp Arrowroot
2 tsp Mexican oregano
1 Tbsp cumin
1 Tbsp jalapeno pepper - diced
1 Tbsp dried cilantro

4. Then I added 14 oz of canned chopped green chili's and simmered for another 30 minutes.

Green chili made with pork loin aka chili verde

For my personal tastes, the results were pretty good. Some might like a little more heat or salt, but that's easy to regulate by adding a dash here and there for your personal tastes.