September 10, 2010

What's Growing on an Iowa Acreage?

I mentioned in my last post that we had decided not to move from our acreage, and that DH had put in some fall crops for the sheer pleasure of it. Pictured below is a nice crop of heirloom lettuce, and if you click on the picture to enlarge it, you'll just be able to see that a second crop is coming up too. We finally made a point of doing some succession planting!

In this shot, the succession planting is easier to see. This is tatsoi, a leafy green that grew beautifully for us last year and has done so again!

Here's the first picking/thinning of tatsoi that came into the kitchen. I think it's just a beautiful vegetable as well as tasting great and being so good for you. Like most leafy greens, these are high in beta-carotene, plus vitamins A, C, and K. Throw in a good concentration of calcium, phosphorous, iron, and potassium and you have a winner.

My first use of this nice leafy green was to simply wilt it into a pork stir-fry. It's not really worth posting the recipe since I did cheat and use a bottle of Kung Pao sauce! I browned some pork, onion, and our wonderful elephant garlic from food coop. Then I added shiitake mushrooms, frozen garden green beans, some peanuts, and the sauce. Wilting the greens on top at the last minute is as simple as placing them on top and covering your pan for a couple of minutes, then stir them in and serve right away. Obviously this could be done with any sort of stir-fry. Last year we made some great Chinese soup with tatsoi greens - this will be on this weekend's menu too!

Some other kinds of growing are going on around here too. We recently hit three fall clearance sales at different local nurseries, and added some fantastic plants to our landscape. Most of them are in place, but I'll wait to take photos when it's all in. This is a wonderful time of year to put in new plants and you just can't beat the deals. The only down side is that you may be forgoing a warranty if it's on clearance, but you have to weigh the pros and cons and consider your skill in planting - as in "What are the odds that this plant will live after I'm done wrestling it into the ground?" Pictured here are a couple of beautiful varieties of daylilies and a flat of pansies. We have one daylily plopped out front already, and it will be moved to form a trio with these two. The pansies will last throughout the fall and I'll pair those up with some mums, pumpkins, and hay bales on the porch.

We wanted three new foundation plants (the ones that get planted near the foundation of your home so that it ties into your lawn), and we had some lively discussions about what could go in there, since I'm not a fan of many of the evergreen varieties and how they would look as a backdrop to my perennials. Our daydream was that it could be holly bushes, but we never imagined we could find them. Lo and behold, there were three lovely, large bushes just waiting for us at the second nursery we visited, and they were half price - fantastic!

This next lovely bush is called a beautyberry - Early Amethyst variety. I saw one of these a couple of years ago and just fell in love with it. These purple berries just knock me out and they appear in the fall. Again, imagine my surprise to spot some of these on sale!! We placed it out front in a grouping with a smaller variegated bush and a stand of lavender from my aunt and uncle's home. The lavender was established in another location out front, and is one of many, many plants that DH has been moving around. Now that we're staying here, we are a little more picky about the overall scheme out there!

And last, but certainly not least - my hyacinth bean vine is growing!! I didn't plant it this year because DH had just re-painted the porch railings and we didn't want the plant to mess it up, plus of course - we thought we were moving. But this is a determined plant and it came up on it's own and is thriving as always. It's only been up for about 6 weeks now, but looks like it's had all summer to flourish. We'll see if it sets on any beans - may be too late for that, but I'm enjoying it anyway.

Growing on this Iowa acreage is a blessing and a joy. We are content.


  1. Never had or seen tatsoi before. They look like baby spinach. I love green leafy vegetable. They are so good for you.

  2. It is yummy stuff and we have more coming up. You guys should take a drive down with Mom and take some home. Anytime!

  3. We should. I'd like to show my mom the country living too.