The April Garden

Is it really May already? I’m already looking into June and it’s hard to believe that April was just here not long ago. When the early spring season starts to silently awaken the life in the mountains, the garden starts to come alive.

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Plants are bursting with new growth and blooms- The raspberries get their leaves in what seems like overnight, the strawberries are running everywhere, and bulbs flower with an array of colors.

Gram's spring bloom

This is the time of the year when the “to do” list is ever growing. Each time you cross one chore off the list, three more grow. April gardening is full of cleaning up and prepping spaces- hauling fertilizer, turning and tilling, mulching, thinning, and planting early seeds.

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The cold cops all go in the ground after their transition period to the outside world. This year I grew 5 different kinds of kale- Scarlet, Starbor, Nero di Toscana, Dwarf Blue, & Dwarf Siberian, 2 kinds of cauliflower- Amazing & Romanesco, and 5 varities of broccoli- Packman, Calabrese, gypsy, Atlantic, & Arcadia.

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Peas are always in early, along with the Swiss chard, beets, onions, escarole, lettuce, spinach, carrots, parsley root, and radishes. I love the snap peas, as well as oriental & snow peas, and pod peas. My favorite Swiss Chard variety is probably the bright lights, but I also grow individual varieties spanning the full color spectrum. This year I’m growing 7 varieties of beets, 11 types of carrots, 16 kinds of lettuce, 11 varieties of onions, 3 types of spinach, and 7 kinds of radishes.

Early seeds and plants just coming up

Early seeds and plants just coming up

The garlic is growing great. They look like strong and healthy stalks.

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The bed of leaves and pine needles keeps the weeds down, ads mulch, and insulates in the winter.

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The Swiss Chard is still growing strong from last year’s crop. The thick bed of leaves really keeps the root base alive  through the winter and they just flourish in the spring. I love having the chard, kale, collards, escarole, and radicchio greens to seek out for early spring meals.

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A goof friend of mine recently was telling me about her garden and all the wonderful greens, lettuce and onions she was picking and enjoying with her husband. With a big smile, she added, “Well, you know, things just grow good with all that love.”

Happy Gardening with Love!

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Jaclyn’s Smoothie Recipe

Fresh and frozen fruit is such a big part of my everyday life. Especially in the winter and spring when I am really craving for the fruit to be back in season. I love to make smoothies and eat berries with breakfast, yogurt or dessert; which means I pick A LOT of berries and fruit when they are ripe for the picking.

A morning of picking at the local orchard

A morning of picking at the local orchard

I make smoothies almost every day with lots of berries and fruit, mixed with an assortment of yogurt, peanut butter, flax oil, hemp seeds, almond & coconut milk, etc… Use my recipe to as a guideline and  share a yummy and healthy part of my day.

The Smoothie making spread

The Smoothie making spread

I know a lot of people add greens, protein powders, etc…, but I don’t. I love my greens on their own, and eat enough greens and protein in my diet. But please feel free to be creative and add whatever you like to my recipe. That’s what it is for, a place to start and inspire!

Fruit, yogurt, peanut butter

Fruit, yogurt, peanut butter

Ingredients:

  • Cherries, frozen- 5-10 Bing Cherries, 10-15 sour/pie cherries & a handful of black cherries
  • Raspberries, frozen- one handful
  • Boysenberries, frozen- one handful
  • Blackberries, frozen- one handful
  • Peaches & Nectarines, frozen- one of each, medium size (more or less depending on size)
  • Bananas- one and a half
  • Oranges & Tangerines- one half an orange & juice from one to two tangerines
  • Grapefruit- one third
  • Peanut Butter- approx. 1/2 cup
  • Hemp seeds- approx. 1/8 cup
  • Flax Seed Oil- approx. 1/8 cup
  • Yogurt- approx. 1/4 cup of low fat & 1/4 cup whole milk yogurt
  • Milk or juice of choice- I typically use 1/3 unsweetened almond, 1/3 unsweetened coconut & 1/3 dark chocolate almond milk, plus a splash of grape juice

Put fruit in blender, starting with those at the top of the ingredient list (harder, frozen fruit first), pour liquids of choice over the ingredients. Blend until desired smoothness. It is best to use at least half frozen fruit to create the right consistency. Serve & enjoy!

Ready to blend

Ready to blend

Make enough for one meal to serve 2-3 people, or put a portion in a glass jar and refrigerate for the next day; which is great if you have a busy or travel day coming up. My husband also enjoys having a smoothie to-go in the morning, so I make enough for him to take to-go when it works with his schedule.

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I use a mix of fresh fruit and stock piled fruit in the freezer or store room; all harvested or purchased in season (with the exception of bananas; which I buy year round). Here are a few tips on how to stock up on the above ingredients, and a few possible, additional ingredients:

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  • Berries- pick in season, put on trays, freeze & store in bags for later use
  • Nectarines & Peaches- pick in season, remove stone, halve, put on trays, freeze, & store in bags for later use
  • Citrus- we get a lot of citrus in the winter from Nature’s Table (a local supplier that goes down to AZ orchards and picks) and I like to freeze the juice in ice cube trays for later use
  • Melon- cube up when in season, put on trays, freeze, & store in bags for later use
  • Plum & Pear- puree plums and pears when in season and freeze in ice cube trays for later use. Puree the skins and all. Then add how many cubes you want to the smoothie.
  • Apples- use fresh in season or store certain varieties your store room from fall to early summer
  • Mango, Pineapple & other tropical fruits- use fresh in season & freeze on trays when available
  • Carrots- I love to add carrot juice to the mix. It’s so sweet and refreshing. Maybe even a little ginger!

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Use what other fruits and vegetables you have and like in season, and put away for the off season. Mix it up throughout the year to keep it different. Variety is the spice of life!

*Use your citrus peels to wipe off your cutting board when the task is done; plus it refreshes your cutting surface. Be amazed at how sponge-like a grapefruit peel is!