Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Reader's Questions: Onions, Goutweed & Tomatoes

Fairest of the months! Ripe summer's queen, the hey-day of the year with robes that gleam with sunny sheen. Sweet August doth appear. ~R. Combe Miller

I hope everyone is having a great week. We were without power for a couple of days while it was hot and VERY humid. My tomatoes and cucumbers were happy with the heat and the rain though! I have some more questions and answers today. Stay cool:)

I was told by a neighbor to take the ground away from my onions so that the onion is exposed to the sun. I tend to put ground around my onions to be sure the sun does not hit the onions. What is the correct method? ~Debbie

When it comes to garden methods it's often hard to say who is right and who is wrong. What I do know is that the bulb should be in soil that is loose enough to let it grow as it needs to. You shouldn't pile extra soil on top of the bulb, but I haven't read that you remove it either. I find it's better to start with good, fertile, loose soil, then let the onion "move" the dirt as it grows. Remember though, if you try something and it works for you, then keep doing it!

I have recently moved and have a question about what is growing in my flower beds. My friend calls it gout weed and says it is impossible to get rid of. Is this true? I was wondering if there is possibly a way to get rid of it and what is its original name? Any advice would be greatly appreciated. ~Chrystal

Gout weed is also known as bishop's weed, ground elder and snow on the mountain and its botanical name, which is Aegopodium podagraria L. I personally found it to be invasive and not that attractive, but many people use it as a low maintenance ground cover. I see it for sale all the time at nurseries. It spreads by rhizomes--stems under the soil. I was given some of it years ago by a relative and the next season pulled it all up. It wasn't that difficult to get rid of BUT it was a small patch and I watched for it, so when I saw it sprouting I pulled it up. Many of my neighbors grew it and it took over areas that weren't kept up. If you find it attractive and it's serving a purpose for you in your landscape, then leave it till next season and make a decision then. If you don't like it, then tear it out. I personally don't always listen to everyone that gives me advice. Sometimes I regret it, and other times I'm glad I followed my instinct. It's the fun of gardening!

I was wondering if - in your vast collection- you have a recipe for "Soufflé Tomatoes. Somehow, my recipes went missing and I would love to make them again. ~Lorraine

I'm not sure this is the type of recipe you meant, but I thought it was worth sharing!

Tomato Cheese Soufflé

6 large ripe tomatoes
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3/4 cup milk
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 cup sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 cup chives
3 egg whites

Cut 1/2-inch from the top of each tomato scoop out seeds and core. Sprinkle the inside of shells with salt and pepper invert onto paper towels to drain. Heat butter in a small pan, over a medium to melt. Whisk in the flour until bubbly. Now gradually whisk in the milk. Heat while stirring, until the mixture is thickened. Stir in mustard, cheese, and chives. Mix well and continue to heat and stir until the cheese melts. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly. Gently fold in the egg whites. Spoon into the drained tomato shells set into a greased baking pan bake at 400 degrees F for 15-18 minutes, until tops are lightly browned. Remove from oven and serve hot.

Helpful tips on those pesky fruit flies:


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