Vegan Potato and Turnip Green Balls

Thanks to Shop.Cook.Make for this wonderful recipe.  I’ve modified it several times over the last 6 months, sometimes using turnip or mustard greens (instead of spinach), green onions (instead of chives), and/or cilantro (instead of cumin).  I finally arrived at that point in summer where it could be made using just ingredients from my garden (except the cumin).  With this batch, I also added a Jalapeno pepper to give them a little more kick.

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Vegan Potato and Spinach Balls

3 Potatoes (any type)
3 cloves of Garlic
2 or 3 cups of Spinach fresh or frozen (or any other leafy green) – I used turnip greens
1 tbsp Basil
2 tbsp Chives – I used green onions
2 tbsp Parsley
1/2 tsp Cumin
2 tbsp Nutritional Yeast (optional)
3 tbsp White Wine (optional)

Chop the potatoes in big chunks and boil until done but very firm (about 6 minutes). Add some salt to the water if you want. You can use frozen spinach. Just make sure to get all the water out before cooking.

Chop the Spinach (or other greens). Cook in a pan with the chopped garlic and the wine (or substitute for water) for 3 or 4 minutes until it’s soft.

Chop the herbs (if fresh). Dried can be used also.

Mix everything in a bowl, (including the nutritional yeast if you have it on hand) and let it rest until it’s cool enough for you to touch it without burning your hands.

Then proceed to make small balls (like meatballs). Use cooking spray in the pan.

Bake for 15 minutes at 450 degrees.

Spring 2013 Lessons Learned

It’s been an eventful 2013 spring for the Snarky Gardener.  He has learned humility and patience, especially since it’s taking forever for everyone to know how wonderful he truly is.  Mother nature has given many lessons this year, and it’s possible the Snarky Gardener won’t make the same mistakes next year.  Here’s the summary of highlights and lowlights (is that really a word?) for this spring.

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Fenced Back Yard Garden – 6/13/2013

Starting my own plants

This year started with much (probably too much) enthusiasm as January can make a gardener in Ohio a little nuts.  Overall it went well, with lots of tomatoes, and basil plants to plant and trade.  I do need to improve on starting dates, labeling, and hardening off.  All of these issues come down to one thing – patience.  I tend to want to start seeds earlier than they should be, forget to label and/or record properly, and to rush plants outside too soon.

Spinach was a little hard to get germinated (maybe one in two seeds actually sprouted).  I used the AeroGarden starter kit, so maybe spinach just doesn’t do very well with that system.  I’ve done some research on soil cubes and could go that direction for spinach and others next year.

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Frosts and freezes

Last year we in Northeast Ohio got spoiled with an early spring with warm weather in March and April.  This year we had freezes and frosts into late May and I lost quite a few tomatoes and peppers.  I’ll make a concerted effort not put out the majority of my frost intolerant plant until late May next year.

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Frosted tomatoes – 5/25/2013

Groundhogs

This is the second year I’ve had issues with groundhogs in my garden.  Last year in July, a little guy (named him Woody) terrorized my garden for a week or two until I finally caught him in the act of trespassing and theft.  He took out half my early corn and green beans before I was able to finally capture him.  Let’s just say that he’s in a better place now.

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Woody – 7/15/2012

This year the fun started earlier in late May as a momma and her little one moved into Woody’s old house, which is a burrow under a stacked pile of pine trees 5 feet behind my garden. It began with a few carrot tops missing and culminated with the loss of spinach, peas, kale, broccoli, and even Jerusalem artichokes. I called in the experts this time as my own trapping efforts were getting me nowhere. First morning we had a raccoon, who had been stealing my trap bait of corn and apples. My trap is obviously cheap and worthless. Since the raccoon, we caught two more raccoons, Mama and another baby groundhog.  On July 4th, I added some 3 foot chicken fencing to the north side with 1 1/2 feet on the ground and 1 1/2 feet attached to the current fence. This will keep future groundhogs (there will be more) from digging under (crossing my fingers).

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Bucky – 6/20/2013
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Mama caught fleeing the scene outside my garden – 6/21/2013

My long-term plan is to remove the wood either by having the landlord move it or by acquiring a chain saw.  The cleared area will make a good place to expand my composting efforts.

Overwintering and collecting seeds

I overwintered several different plants this year, mostly because I wanted early spring produce.  Carrots, kale, onions, mache, and turnips all made it back for 2013.  I let the kale, mache, and turnips go to seed with a concerted effort to collect the Seven Top turnip green seeds.  I ended up with a giant bag of turnip green seeds on 7/14 (more than I’ll ever use), so if you want some, just let me know and I’ll figure out a way to get them to you.  I’m still planning to collect tomato and bean seeds for sure, with a possibility of collecting peppers and eggplants this year too.

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Seven Top turnip greens flowering with plans to go to seed later.

 

Top Ten Best Vegetable Crops to Plant in Northeastern Ohio

The Snarky Gardener lists the best vegetables to plant in Northeastern Ohio gardens

I developed this list by asking, “If I was starting a new Northeastern Ohio garden today, what would I plant to guarantee success?”  Planting at the right time and place is an important factor in producing an abundance of veggies. Some vegetables can withstand frosts and prefer spring or fall. Others love the heat of July and August.  Some can handle some shade where others must have at least 6 hours of sun a day to grow well.  All these variables (plus a few more) are noted below.

Note:  Some links shown here are Snarky Gardener affiliates.  We do use and/or buy these varieties unless otherwise noted.  With your purchase, the SG receives a small percentage that helps our site with overhead costs like Internet hosting and graphic design. Since you are already here and need to buy seeds anyways . . .

1.  Tomatoes

Tomato, Fourth Of July Hybrid 1 Pkt. (50 seeds). Click here to purchase.

Tomatoes are a garden staple and usually a great success in any garden I’ve ever had.  They should be started inside from seed or purchased from a reliable grower.  Cherry tomatoes produce a lot and are less picky than other varieties. Most tomato plants (except for Roma varieties) will keep growing until the first frost of the fall (the technical term is indeterminate) and will need extra support .  I’ve used 6 foot steel fencing for this purpose as you can also grow peas up them. Plant tomatoes deep so the first primary leaves are touching the soil as the buried stem will put out roots. Tomatoes do need full sun – the more, the merrier.

When to Plant Tomatoes in Northeastern Ohio: around the middle of May after all danger of frost has passed.  You can plant determine varieties (like Romas) later in June or even July since they produce all their fruit at once and then die off.

2.  Onions

Egyptian Walking Onions. Click here to purchase.
Egyptian Walking Onions. Click here to purchase.

By onions, I mean the bulbs you buy at the garden store and use as either green onions (tops and all) or later as full onions.  Perennial onions (like these Egyptian Walking Onions) come back year after year.  Onions (and other related plants – garlic, leaks, chives) are also mammal resistant, as deer and rabbits and groundhogs will usually leave them alone.

When to Plant Onion in Northeastern Ohio: These can first be planted in March or April and can be continuously planted through the fall.

3. Green Beans

Jacob's Cattle beans can be eaten as green or dry beans. Click here to purchase from the Snarky Gardener.
Jacob’s Cattle beans can be eaten as green or dry beans. Click here to purchase from the Snarky Gardener.

Easy to grow (once the spring frosts are over) and will help to improve the soil with their nitrogen fixing. They also produce food quickly (under 60 days) so they can be planted later in the season (through the beginning of August here in Ohio).  Dry beans, used for soups and chili, are just green beans that have not been picked before the pods are brown (like these Jacob’s Cattle beans). Beans are a favorite food of groundhogs and rabbits though so you’ll need to fence them in if you have either near your garden.

When to Plant Green Beans in Northeastern Ohio: around the middle of May after all danger of frost has passed until August.

4.  Zucchini

Squash, Summer, Sure Thing Zucchini Hybrid 1 Pkt. (25 seeds) Fruits early even in cool, cloudy conditions. Click here to purchase.
Squash, Summer, Sure Thing Zucchini Hybrid 1 Pkt. (25 seeds) Fruits early even in cool, cloudy conditions. Click here to purchase.
The Snarky Gardener's 2014 award winning Sure Thing zucchini
The Snarky Gardener’s 2014 award winning Sure Thing zucchini

Very prolific, zucchini are always welcome in my garden.  I tend to go with the all-female varieties – like Burpee’s Sure Thing Zucchini – because they don’t need to be pollinated by insects to produce fruit.  Plant zucchini in mounds with 2 or 3 seeds per mound.

When to Plant Zucchini in Northeastern Ohio: around the end of May after all danger of frost has passed and the ground has warmed up.

5.  Potatoes

Yukon Gold potatoes (my favorite). Click here to purchase.
Yukon Gold potatoes (my favorite). Click here to purchase.

Planted in spring, potatoes are really easy.  Just put in the ground and hill up dirt or mulch (leaves or straw) as the plant itself grows up.  Just wait for the plant to die off and then dig up your taters.  You will need store bought seed potatoes as grocery store potatoes are usually sprayed with chemicals that keep them from sprouting.

When to Plant Potatoes in Northeastern Ohio: as early as St. Patrick’s Day through June.

6.  Garlic

Early Italian Garlic. Click here to purchase.
Early Italian Garlic. Click here to purchase.

Garlic, like potatoes, are super easy.    I did find out the hard way, you must split the bulbs up into cloves before planting.  But after they are in, you are good to go.  Garlic can be strategically planted to help deter critters (deer, rabbits, etc) from eating other crops.  Many animals do not like the smell of garlic.

When to Plant Garlic in Northeastern Ohio: mid October to be pulled in July or plant in March/April though this will grow smaller bulbs.

7.  Turnips

Seven Top Turnip Greens
Seven Top Turnip Greens. Click here to purchase from the Snarky Gardener.

Easy to grow and very nutritious (a so-called “super food”), though the greens are somewhat bitter to eat sometimes (colcannon anyone?). I’ve been going with Seven Top turnips over the last year or so, which are grown mostly for their greens. The standard Purple Top White Globe turnip is also good for it’s greens, though you do have to worry about the roots getting tough and dried out as the summer temperatures spike. Turnips prefer cool weather and can be sown in early spring or fall and will overwinter (and then promptly go to seed if not harvested in time). They can also handle partial shade. As for pests, I have found turnips to be relatively pest free from both mammals and insects.

When to Plant Turnips in Northeastern Ohio: March through May and then again in August and October.

8.  Carrots

Carrot, Red Cored Chantenay 1 Pkt. This all-purpose carrot is a real beauty!
Carrot, Red Cored Chantenay 1 Pkt. This all-purpose carrot is a real beauty!

Carrots are an issue for some gardens as rocky or clay soil can make for forked roots.  Red Cored Chantenay is the 6 inch variety I commonly grow that’s just perfect for Northeast Ohio’s clay soil.  They also overwinter well, coming back up for a special spring treat.  The tops are loved by fuzzy animals, both mammals and caterpillars.

When to Plant Carrots in Northeastern Ohio: April to August.

9.  Peas

Oregon Sugar Pod II peas. Click here to purchase.
Oregon Sugar Pod II peas. Click here to purchase.

Think of peas like green beans (i.e. they fix nitrogen) for the spring and fall.  They can be planted as early as St. Patrick’s day in Northeastern Ohio.  And like green beans, they are loved by bunnies and groundhogs, so you’ll need to fence the peas in and the rodents out.  Also, they are tasty right off the vine, so there’s a chance they never make it back to the kitchen.

When to Plant Peas in Northeastern Ohio: March through May and then again in August and September.

10.  Kale

Red Russian Kale
Red Russian Kale

Kale is a relative to cabbage and broccoli but easier to grow.  Red Russian kale seems to be a winner as I know several other local gardeners who also raise it. You’ll need to keep an eye out for little green worms as they love kale.

When to Plant Kale in Northeastern Ohio: April through September.

11.   Spinach

Spinach, Bloomsdale Organic 1 Pkt. (400 seeds) HEIRLOOM. Heavy, continuous yield of thick-textured, crinkled, glossy, dark green leaves.
Spinach, Bloomsdale Organic 1 Pkt. (400 seeds) HEIRLOOM. Heavy, continuous yield of thick-textured, crinkled, glossy, dark green leaves.

I tossed spinach in because it’s one of my favorite “super foods”.  I like it better than most other greens (including lettuce and kale). But it’s a little hard to get started and will bolt (go to seed) once the weather gets hot (but loves the cool).  Also, spinach can handle some shade, so if you have at least 2 to 3 hours of sunlight a day, you’re good to go.

When to Plant Spinach in Northeastern Ohio: April / May and again in August/September.