Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Potato Harvest

These potatoes were planted on February 24th
Yellow Finn, Colorado Rose, and All Blue

All Blue

Colorado Rose

We left a few plants in the bed to let them continue growing. And I still have my other bed of Yukon Gold, that got planted a month later, so I will let them continue for a while longer.

I am going to try and store a few potatoes for replanting next February, so I don't have to continue ordering in the mail. I am going to put them in a mesh bag, and hang them under the house from one of the rafters. It's always so cool under the house, so hopefully they will be happy and protected. We'll see. I wonder if I could just leave them in my refridgerator? Any one have any suggestions? I guess I should have planted them in succession. I could have planted them throughout March in my area, instead of planing all of these variety in February. Live and year.

For more info on growing potatoes see my March 27th post, You Say Potato

So now I have an (almost) empty bed....I think I may plant that "catch crop" Amaranth, since I already purchased some seeds, and wanted to give that a try. It's supposed to be very ornamental, and a good carbon crop for the compost.


3 large Baked Potatoes
3 T Olive oil
3 - 5" sprigs fresh rosemary
3 - large cloves of garlic
1 can canneloni beans

When potatoes are baking, chop rosemary and garlic and saute in olvie oil for 2 minutes. Remove from heat, and let infuse, pan covered till potatoes are done.

Remove potatoes from skin, mash, add infused olive oil (leaving a little in the pan), salt and pepper.

Heat drained canneloni beans in same pan that you infused the garlic and rosemary. Serve over the mashed potatoes.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

White Beans with Sage and Garlic

I found this interesting recipe on a new way to prepare beans in a book called, My Brother's Farm: Reflections on Life, Farming, and the Pleasure of Food.

How cool! I'm testing it today, so I will report back on how they came out.

I soaked 2 cups of white beans last night. Rinsed and drained them this morning. Layered them in a very large canning jar...1/3 of the beans, lots of fresh elephant garlic, lots of fresh sage, and fresh ground pepper and a splash of olive oil, continuing for a total of 3 layers. Fill with water. Place the jar in a large stock pot 1/2 full with water. Simmer for 2 to 3 hours.

It sure looks pretty cooking on my stove.


I cooked the beans all day, not just for 3 hours, and they still never got quite tender enough (but the kitchen smelt wonderful), so I finished them off in the pressure cooker adding a little more water, 15 minutes at high. Then added salt to taste, and removed the large peices of garlic and sage.

Maybe a bigger jar would have worked, they were pretty tightly packed. Or I could try cutting the recipe in 1/2 and use the same jar, since I don't really have a bigger one. The recipe in the book called for a fish bowl (would that really be able to stand the heat?).

They are delicious! Great flavor. And the water base has become like a rich gravy. This would be perfect served over egg noodles. I think it would be a great vegan substitute for turkey gravy on Thanksgiving, with all the sage, and it turning out so thick, its exactly like turkey gravy.

It's the perfect time to try this recipe, with garlic and sage in abundance.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Sunflower and Bee Balm

I started this sunflower from seed on 2/6. On 4/8 I transplanted it into a bare spot in the potato bed. It just started to bloom this week.

This Bee Balm has just started to bloom this week as well. It is an edible perennial flower that can be added to your salad, or used with the leaves to make tea.


The show goes on........more sunflowers and bee balm blooming

July 12:

Miriam Edible - Massive seedhead!

Friday, June 16, 2006


After our really rainy winter, which we did not cover it, it got way to wet and stopped cooking. But now its working really well.

Ideally, your compost should be 2 parts mature material (carbon, woody, slower to decompose stuff), 2 parts immature material (green, quick to decommpose stuff), and 1 part dirt, water and oxygen. If you had space in you garden, you would make a few piles, consisting of multiple layers of these materials, and let it sit for 3 to 4 months, being sure to keep it evenly moist and then it would be ready. No turning required.

Our compost is made up of a combination of kitchen scraps, weeds, clippings, prunings, straw, and chicken manuer. Every time I double dig a raised bed, I remove a row of soil (to make room for adding fresh compost), and keep that in a pile near the compost, so it can slowly be added when needed. Usually we might put a shovel full on the top, to cover all the green kitchen scraps, trying to keep to the formula. As home gardeners, we only have room for one pile, and we add to it daily. We turn it to give it oxygen and water it frequently in the summer. Most items decompose fairly quickly within 4 - 6 weeks.

This winter I am planning to focus on cover or carbon crops, so I can work towards keeping my home mini-farm sustainable, not having to depend on outside sources of compost, keeping a closed system, which is healthier for the whole environment, not just my backyard. Goods winter cover crops in my area are cereal rye, fava beans, oats, wheat, one variety in particular I am intereted in trying because of its unusual beauty is Black Emmer.

Good summer carbon crops would be comfrey, corn, sunflowers, amaranth, quinoia, sorgum or broom corn. One I am particularly interested in trying is Amaranth. It is what you call a "catch" crop. In the middle/end of summer, when your summer crops are done, and it too late to plant a new summer crop, but too early for fall crops, you can plant amaranth for your compost. It grows very quickly.

Garlic Harvest

When the garlic turns brown and looks dead and dried up, its ready to harvest.

I am real happy with the harvest from this bed. I got some really good size heads of garlic. Now I will leave it in the shade to cure/dry for about 2 weeks. Then I will invite my mother over to make some garlic braids for me. She's done it for me before and is pretty good at it.

I'd really like to try and save a head or two to replant next fall, so I don't have to keep purchasing it. Does anyone know the best way to store garlic so it will keep till Fall? This is one of those times I wish I had a cellar for cold storage.

This is one head of elephant garlic that was given to me to plant last fall. I'm not sure what to do with it, so I haven't pulled it out of the ground yet. It has developed this huge seed head, so I was wondering if I let it go to seed, maybe I will have some seed to increase my yield for next year? Does anyone know anything about growing or harvesting Elephant Garlic?

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Successive Gardening Beds

In hope of having a continuing harvest this year, I refrained myself form filling all my beds in the beginning of the season, and left them open for trying this successive gardening. The plants I am trying to have a continuing harvest with are squash, cucumbers, and annual basil and dill.

I need to plan out my successive plantings of cilantro and parley as well, right now I just one patch of each, and actually have no parsley harvesting right now, only whats going to seed.

I'd really like to fit successive scallions in as well, I can grow them year round.

This bed was planted on April 21st and has tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, and a sunflower.

This bed was planted on May 3rd, and has tomatoes, squash, cilantro, calendula and nasturtium.

This bed was planted on May 31st, and has tomatoes, cucumbers, basil, sweet marjaram, calendula, chives and nasturtium.

This bed was planted on June 17, and has tomatoes, cucumbers, scallions, dill, cilantro, thyme, coconut geranium, and nasturtium.

I did the same with my lettuce beds. I have three, one is currently going to seed, one is just starting to pick, and the last is not even planted yet, but I have seedlings that will be ready in about 3 weeks to transplant.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Summer Squash Success

I was so excited this morning to see the first Summer Zuchetta Squash on the vine. This is my experiment this year with vegetables in the front yard (I wasn't sure if there was enough sun) AND my first try at saving squash seed last summer (doing the isolation and hand pollination, etc). I am so happy to see they have grown this year TRUE TO FORM. Which means it is possible for anyone to save seeds...............if I can do it, you can do it!

Squash seeds will remain viable for six years when stored in cool, dry, dark conditions.

For more info see:

My April 8th post, The Cucurbitaceae Family

My May 2nd post, Vegetables in the Front Yard..........

Golden Bush - already picked a few of these.
* This variety liked to sprawl, at least 8', and probalby would have kept going if I didn't pull it out. It was not a vine, that I think it would grow vertically, it was just one huge main trunk, sprawling forward on the ground. It took up way too much space. It really needed a bed all of its own. Maybe I could try growing it verically up a tomato cage. It sure was the most delicious, very nutty tasting.

Crookneck - first on the bush to pollinate. This one is a sprawler as well.

You may notice that the first squash on your bush/vine does not mature, it rots. You would also notice that it was because your plant didn't produce any male flowers yet, to pollinate the female fruit.

Friday, June 09, 2006


A little here, and a little there.......spread it around the garden.

Snuck some in the corners of the Strawberry Bed, where strawberry plants were lost to chickens.

Transplant some in pots.

Same pot a few weeks later...the chickens got 2 of the I stuck a few nasturtium seeds in place, waiting for them to sprout.

Sharing a bed with mostly lettuce.

Lemon Basil diretly sown into pot about 2 weeks ago.

A few basil plants sharing this bed with tomatoes and cucumbers.


I love this plant. I planted a very small seedling in a 2" pot last fall, and now it is huge. I think I will try and save the seeds, so I can spread it around the garden. It is a medicanal herb used for migraines and arthritis. I was told you can just eat a leaf for relief. The taste is very bitter, and is almost like eating a christmas tree. The fragrance is very strong.

Roman Chamomile

This plant is just starting to bloom, and it smells so good you just want to eat it, or drink it, or wash you hair with it or something. I started it from a small seedling in a 2" pot last spring, and it is spreading like ground cover. And I love it, so thats OK.

Thursday, June 08, 2006


with Cilantro

My cilantro is ready to start harvesting. I have been craving a bowl of Kitcheree, waiting patiently for the cilantro to be ready. I seem to make it mostly when I can go out a pick the fresh cilantro for the garnish.

Kitcheree - the "chicken soup" of Ayurveda.
Great cleanse to remove toxins from the body, or while recovering from illness. I enjoy it anytime I'm in the mood.

1 T ghee (clarified butter) or butter
2 tsp ground cumin (or used seed if thats what you are familiar with)
1 tsp ground turmeric
1/2 cup mung bean (soak for 4 hours)
1/2 cup brown basmati rice
5 cups water
grey sea salt to taste

fresh chopped cilantro leaves

Saute the spices in the ghee for a minute, then add the beans and rice and saute for another minute, then add the water. If using a Pressure Cooker, bring to high pressure and cook for 12 minutes. Or else, bring to a boil and simmer covered for 40 minutes. Add grey sea salt to taste. Serve with fresh cilantro.

If your ever in the Santa Cruz area, stop in Dharma's for a bowl. They serve it with a salad, try the Lemon Tahini Dressing. Its the best.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Community Supported Agriculture, June 1

My 1/2 Share Basket
"as we always caution, the baskets may look skimpy early on, but my mid-summer they will be so heavy and full you will need help getting them in the car!"

I was so excited, today was my first pick-up out at the farm. My basket was a work of art, as you can see from the photo. The lettuce was beautiful, the fava beans (filled the bottom) were the best I've had this season, and garlic and onions were so fragrant!

I only discovered Fava Beans this year, and I am addicted now. Some say they are labor intensive, but to me, it's more exhausting to drive to the store for some convenience food. The gal at the farmers market told me the easiest way to prepare/eat them. You first remove the beans from the pods. Then you drop them in boiling water for 4 minutes (to remove the skin), drain and cool. They pop right out of the skin, and you pop them right in your mouth. Try some.

This is the very simple salad I made with the lettuce and green garlic from my basket. It was especially delicious, these farmers really know what their doing.............

Large bowl lettuce
1 large head/stalk chopped green garlic, tough leaves discarded
1 can mandarin oranges
1/4 cup candied pecans

Sweet and Sour Dressing:

1/4 cup oil
2 T vinegar (I used cider, but red wine is great too)
2 T sugar
salt & pepper

We had never eaten green garlic before. We grow garlic, but never picked it green. It was amazing.........really great in this salad.