Thursday, October 18, 2007
Lettuces are doing fine and the beets and carrots are making great soups. I even found a few onions I didn't know I had. The cover crops are thriving and the chard is looking better than it did all summer.
I pulled the pumpkins in out of the rain. I got 3 big ones a few little ones and lost several to rot. 6 acorn squash.
Still waiting for the radicchio to sprout.
It's windy too today so the leaves are dancing and spinning in tiny twisters.
Fall has it's charms.
Thursday, October 4, 2007
I remind myself, that most of these cover crops are extremely hardy, survivors, weeds almost. They'll be fine.
I grudgingly brought in the rest of the green tomatoes. They'll have to complete their ripening in the comfort of the kitchen. I took out the pepper and cucumber plants. And planted Spinach, Radicchio, and Giant Radish from New Dimension Seed.
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
So here is the chicken coop, almost finished. It's all made from scrap and recycled wood. I'm trying to get the caging finished around the bottom, so I can plant some cover crop around it. We are supposed to get rain in the next few days, so I'd like to be finished by then.
The hens will be able to go in and out of the coop as they please, while still secure. And they will have access to dry ground under the house, even when it its raining. And I plan to build a chicken tractor that can be moved around the yard to let the hens work in the raised beds.
Monday, September 17, 2007
Cover Crops are plants you can grow in the off season. The goal is to protect the soil from errosion and to enrich the soil with organic matter. Many cover crops will also fix nitrogen, which means add nitrogen which has been depleted during the growing season back into the soil.
The idea is that you grow the cover crop in your gardening beds and before it goes to seed you till the cover crop into the soil. In just a few weeks the soil will be ready for seeds or starts.
Suitable cover crop plants include:
Clover (especially white clover and crimson clover)
Annual Rye Grass
Fall Cereal Rye
or a blend of several cover crop plants
Try it in part of your garden to start. You will probably find that you can use less compost and fertilizer by using cover crops as part of your sustainable practice.
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
Here's the coop under construction. I'm making it out of pallets and recycled wood. I hope to house 3 happy, productive hens. It sits at the back of the yard.
So you see not all of the zucchini have ended up as bread. Meet Grave Digger or The Widow Maker, I haven't settled on a name yet. It's almost 2 feet long...so far.
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
I have one in the backyard right now that has totally gotten away from me so we're just going to see how big it gets. It's as big as a thigh now. I'm calling it WIDOWMAKER. I intend to set the record.
But for the zucchini that don't get to epic proportions what can you do? Well you can give them to your neighbors. My neighbors are nice people, but these days they draw the drapes and turn off the porch light when they see me coming.
Zucchini bread? Yeah, that's another god way to get rid of it. But how about something you can pull out of your freezer in the dead of winter? Something that will make you feel like you are out in the garden on a warm day harvesting nature's bounty. Something that will warm you from head to toe?
Inspired by Viana La Place's Cucina Rustica I whipped up a batch of summer vegetable stew. I sauted onions, zucchini, eggplant, green beans, garlic, tomatoes, basil and oregano, salt and pepper. I let the mixture cook together for a little while, then cooled it and divided it up in freezer bags.
I envision pulling it out of the freezer and serving it with crusty bread, a piece of cheese, and a glass of wine. Or as a pasta sauce, or stirred into risotto right before serving, or as a topping for bruschetta, or as the base for a rustic soup, or with Italian sausages, or for slow cooking chicken in, or...
I love having versatile, delicious, healthy foods on hand. Now is the time to put some goodies like this in your freezer or in canning jars.
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Wednesday, August 1, 2007
Without exception the coop owners were a gracious, gregarious bunch. Most of them had a whole sustainable, green gardening scene going on in their backyards.
Here are some of the highlights.
This Japanese / Craftsman coop was ingeniously constructed and the hens seemed to love it.
And not just hens, but ducks too. Runner ducks and French geese.
All hard working employees of this remarkable mini-farm. They all help control kitchen leftovers and slugs. And they all contibute fresh, delicious eggs.
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
Once it goes to flower it is bee heaven, hundreds of them swarm on it all day.
Bees like small flowers, like the ones on dill and fennel and this oregano has tiiny white flowers in abundance. So I let it go to flower for the bees and then I let it go to seed to make sure it will come back next year by reseeding itself.
Before it flowers I harvest lots of the leaves and dry them so I will have oregano to cook with all through the winter.
So plant some herbs for yourself and for the bees they will undoubtedly attract.
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Unless of course you think ripe, juicy peaches taste more like summer.
For me it's tomatoes, the smell of the plant as you brush against it, moving the leaves aside to get at the hidden treasure. The aroma of the rip fruit as you bring it up to your nose.
All my tomato plants are loaded with fruit, some are ripe and some are not yet. I just hope I am able to keep up as the ripening speeds up. Don't worry, I have some strategies fo dealing with an abundance of delicious home grown delights.
I pop the cherry toms like candy as I walk the garden, but my absolute favorite way to enjoy ripe tomatoes is on good bread with home made mayo and lots of salt and pepper. If the tomaotes are really juicy, you may need to enjoy this treat while leaning over the sink.
Hope you are hip deep in tomaotes by now.
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Tuesday, July 17, 2007
Monday, July 16, 2007
I settled on borage as an experimental addition and bee bait. It took a while to get going, but now I have several of these beautiful plants throughout my garden and they are always full of bees.
The other plant the bees seem to love is Oregano once it hace flowered. I have a large patch of Oregano that was planted last summer. This hardy plant wurvived the winter and is now host to hundreds of bees on it's tiny white flowers. I will always make a place for this Oregano in my garden.
Friday, July 13, 2007
Today I harvested my first tomato of this season. It came from my tiny, but mighty Siletz plant. This plant has the most fruit on it of all eight varities I grew this year. It was delicious and captured all of the thrill and anticipation of watching the miracle of a plant making something for you to eat.
Yellow bush beans are starting to appear. I better get my canning plan together before I am swimming in them.
Everything seems to have survived the 100+ temps on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week, so from here on out it should be fast and furious food production.
More soon, and hopefully some picutres.
Thursday, May 3, 2007
But the new sprouts have gotten hammered just as they peek thier heads out. Maybe next year I won't try to start so early, hah.
Friday, April 27, 2007
Here's one possible answer. The mysterious disappearance of bees (aka pollintors) is a problem we must solve. It's not just about the honey. Without bees flowers go unpollintaed, and that means much lower crop yields.
|Fungus may be behind the loss of bees|
Diana Cox-Foster of Pennsylvania State University said the pathogen was one of the many being studies for possible role in the annihilation of bees. ...
UCSF RESEARCH: Fungus Killing The Nation's Honey Bees
Experts may have found what's bugging the bees
Monday, April 23, 2007
You really can do a lot with a little. Urban gardeners everywhere are growing their own food.
Be determined to grow at least some of your own food.
Be creative in looking for growing opportunities around your yard or patio or even indoors.
Be flexible, be resourceful.
The payoff is tremendous. It's relaxing, it's meditative and the feeling of eating food you have grown yourself is enormously gratifying. And good for you.
Ithacans embrace urban gardening - Ithaca Journal
|Ithacans embrace urban gardening|
Ithaca Journal, NY -
ITHACA — As spring planting season begins, some Ithaca gardeners say they don't need big plots in the country to grow vegetables, fruits, nuts and herbs. ...
Tuesday, April 17, 2007
Bees in danger - Champion Newspapers
|Bees in danger|
Champion Newspapers, UK -
Mobile phone masts have been blamed for the death of millions of bees and Cllr Jones says we should heed this finding. "I had heard a year ago that certain ...
Report links phone masts to cancer
Wednesday, April 11, 2007
Here is the best reason to start your own seeds. Sooner or later you'll covet plants that you just can't find already growing at the nursery.
If you get really carried away, you'll end up like the woman in this article, with your own greenhouse. I have a feeling this is where I may be headed.
Start seeds for exactly plants you want - Chippewa Herald
|Start seeds for exactly plants you want|
Chippewa Herald, WI -
Start seeds in a specially formulated “germinating mix,” a soil-less mixture that’s pulverized to a fine texture just right for small seeds. ...
Out with the lawn, in with edibles - Seattle Post Intelligencer
Seattle Post Intelligencer
|Out with the lawn, in with edibles|
Seattle Post Intelligencer, WA -
"We've seen that growth (in gardening interest) and added so many more programs recently," said Kathy Dang, a teacher at Seattle Tilth, an organic gardening ...
Monday, April 2, 2007
Monday, March 26, 2007
So it had to happen sooner or later. The monster in the backyard had been appeased and ignored long enough. it had even been coaxed and cajoled to no effect. Today was the day.
No more negotiation, no more Miss Nice Girl.
I called in the big guns, the tree service. Three young men with chain saws and a giant chipper. The Laurel Hedge, aka, the beast, needed to be tamed. It had claimed 3 or 4 feet of our backyard as well as 3 feet and all the sun from our neighbors. It stood at least 25 feet high and showed no signs of stopping.
So in a couple of hours it was turned into a sedate swath, a polite wall. I hope I'll be able to keep up with it. I know it will try to recreate all the mass it lost today. Everyone will get more sun. The power lines and cable will no longer be in peril. We'll have more planting area in the backyard and maybe a place to sit and enjoy the winter sun.
Now we just need to get rid of the creepy hot tub and the rotting deck.
Upwards and onwards.
Friday, March 23, 2007
Borage and Brussel Sprouts are up too. I'll move them to slightly larger pots and start acclimatizing them to the outside world soon. Yes, yes, I know it is probably too soon, but it just feels like it is time.
Yesterday I planted Sunflowers and Foxglove, as well as Cilantro and some Lettuces.
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
These are San Marzano Roma tomatoes from last year's garden. These plants were prolific, even though I crowded them a little. The tomatoes were not great for slicing, but made wonderful sauce and were fantastic for drying. I have started seeds for a few plants for this year.
Eggplant from the 2006 crop. Beautiful, tender, fresh. These were great grilled and stir fried and cooked to soft perfection in curries.
Monday, March 19, 2007
I couldn't have said it better myself.
Farming in the City
I spent most of this past weekend moving compost around the farm. I really enjoyed it and I am even more excited about the coming growing season. Even though this part was mostly just hard labor it was good food for the soul. Now I have rich, black mounds of new compost adorning my raised beds and new flower beds in several spots around the yard. I split a 7 yard load with 2 of my neighbors, which made it really economical.
Thursday, March 15, 2007
Hopefully the fruit will taste as good as the names sound. All 4 trees will take about 3 years before they begin to bear fruit
Persimmon is particularly underrated. The orange orbs decorate the tree late into fall after the leaves have fallen. The fruit can be enjoyed crisp like an apple in salads or with cheese. Once it is more fully ripe it can be used in baked goods and puddings.
Persimmons have a rich, deep flavor, maybe like a combination of melon and pear. And when you slice them laterally they have the most beautiful star pattern inside.
Friday, March 9, 2007
A scion is a piece of wood from a particular variety of tree, let's say apple. When that piece of scion wood is grafted onto a rootstock a tree is made. I've been wanting to add fruit trees to my garden so a few weeks ago I learned how to do a simple whip and tongue graft. I made an Empire Apple Tree on dwarf root stock. The apples will be normal size, but the tree will be small, appropriate for my small yard. Dwarf trees will bear fruit sooner than full size trees too.
The main problem is choosing from hundreds of varieties of apples, pears, cherries, figs, persimmons, and berries. I know I want unusual varieties, heirloom varieties, beyond that I'll have to let the experts guide me.
Like most big scale agriculture fruit production is limited to a few mainstream varieties. But it is important for biodiversity to preserve the lesser known varieties. Home orchardists help to keep obscure or forgotten varieties in existence. Who wouldn't want to be able to offer their frinds and family something unique, something you can't find in the grocery store, maybe even a piece off history.
Tuesday, March 6, 2007
chard (Bright Lights)
I have been so anxious to start gardening this spring, and with the unseasonably warm weather it was just too much to resist. Hopefully we won't have too many more frosty nights. I can't wait for the sprouts to start coming up. This is addictive.
Wednesday, February 28, 2007
This story appeared in the Daily Telegraph recently.
Fears For Crops as Bees Vanish
Check out my squidoo lens on Orchard Mason Bees. I am trying to attract more bees to my garden. These little guys are hard working pollinators. It is just about time for the Mason bees to emerge from the house, mate, and produce larvae for next year's bee population.
Bees may be like the canary in the coalmine. It is important to find out why they are disappearing and to figure out how to stop them from diappearing. We need the bees. They are an integral part of a sustainable garden.
Tuesday, February 27, 2007
The snow is jsut a reminder that maybe it is still a little too early to get carried away planting. But the few warm days we have had in the past few weeks have deifinitely lit the fire.
Friday, February 23, 2007
Sprouting is so easy and sprouts are soooooo good for you. Sprouts are living food. Sprouts have all the concentrated nutrients that the seeds uses to grow into a plant. Sprouts contain proteins, vitamins, minerals, and enzymes.
You might not want to switch to an all raw food diet, but adding sprouts to your diet is a great way to add raw foods with all the benefits they bring.
Here is my favorite source for sprouting seeds and accessories.
Monday, February 19, 2007
The weather has turned cold again and a little too wet for planting, even though I am itching to get started. So I am planting on paper instead, and using lot of eraser. Some plants help each other and should be planted in close proximity. Others are not good neighbors and you should try to keep them apart.
Which plants are good companions? Here's a quick reference from the folks at GardenGuides.com
Monday, February 12, 2007
Monday, February 5, 2007
This is a great idea because most seed packets give you way more seeds than you can use in a year or 2 and after that the germination rates may decline, so the seeds you have may not all sprout.
I scored corn (Peaches and Cream), swiss chard (Bright Lights), sunflowers ( Red Sun and Infrared Mix), Zucchini (Romulus), and lovage. I shared some of my tri-color beets, edible pea pods and soybeans (Black Pearl) with her. We still managed to circle about 10-12 items from the Territorial seed catalog that we could live without.
Territorial Seed sells seeds for varieties specifically chosen and tested for the Pacific Northwest. Their seeds would probably grow fine in other climates, but if you have the choice to buy seeds from a local company in your area, that tests and chooses based on your specific conditions, I would recommend that you do so.
We both plan to buy plants already started for tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant. These vegetables can be safely planted in May. I can't believe we have so long to wait. I'll just have to make do with some early spring lettuces, kale, chard, beets, etc.
Thursday, February 1, 2007
Tomorrow is Groundhog Day so we will wait for the Oracle of Punxsutawney devine whether we will have an early spring or not. I'm pretty sure I will be tempted to put some poor plants out too early. But I'm also certain that I will have some plants from last summer still alive and still producing. Thus I can claim "crop overlap". In my first year on this new farm, to have something growing year, is a feat I am not too humble to proud of.
Of course, what I have growing currently is a shadow of the summer cropload. Most of the arugula, except fro the stuff on the south side of the house succumbed to the frosts. I can still rustle up enough for a small, coarse salad every few days. But the kale and the stunted beets are povided feedstock for the juicer. Rosemary is fine and robust, although that's kind of a gimme, as is the lavender. Survival of the oregano was a surprise, it actually looks pretty good. And the parsley suffered a little due to the frost, but is already showing signs of new life.