Thursday, April 29, 2010

No sleep, lots of rain.

I haven't been out in the garden much the last few days. Between the rain and the lack of sleep (teething? ear infections? both!) I've just barely had time to pick spinach for dinner. The dishes have been washed on as-needed basis. So, that's where I'm at.

Maybe the moon has something to do with it too?

The forecast is calling for a week of sunshine. I need that! Yay!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


We harvested the first strawberries and first peas from the garden yesterday!

Upon checking how things were looking last year I see both are several weeks behind this year than they were last! And last year at this time I was complaining about a heat wave. It's raining today :)

Sunday, April 18, 2010

the weekend

We were all busy bees this weekend. Despite a fairly vicious rhino bug (they all seem particularly vicious when a nursling is involved don't they?) we had a fairly good, productive, food growing kind of weekend.

My big boy and I planted Potato Beans. These seeds are HUGE! They were super fun for my boy to help plant in our black compost.
As for the tomato beds: I kept filling in with new home-grown seedlings, some much too young and their disappearance is making me feel greedy and humble as I start new seeds. Cyrus got all the drip irrigation hooked up for them so that is a boon! We're mixed on what we'll be using as supports: It will be an interesting mix (think diatribe at harvest) of things! We're really invested this year in not investing in the garden hardwares per se. We do have so many materials at our disposal thanks to the hubby's construction profession and because he hates to see good lumber and such go to waste. He's a GREEN BUILDER through and through and boy do we have the stockpiles in our skyline to show for it. .... And oh how we love to use those piles!

Here we have the mature cover crop on the left foreground, the growing chamomile for our year of tea on the right foreground and the tomato rows in the background.

I planted some new corn in our patch this weekend and moved the bird cover back to protect it. I also threw some new rice straw (which is super seedy and I'm not happy about it but I had to get it in so ... there we go for some new weedin' A TIP (which the hubby didn't listen to btw hence this seed infested stuff) be sure you are getting spring cuttings for straw and hay. Invest in them now if you think you will need them later because they will have WAY LESS seeds than the fall-cut stuff. I read this years ago and always find it to be true.

The corn seedlings are looking good! I hope the migratory birds leave them alone at this stage. They are a mere month old after all.

In the new area I planted Oaxacan Green Dent Corn from Seed Savers. The seeds were like gems, again. I think I may have a thing for corn seed.

Interplanted went some Papa De Rola Pole Beans. Again, BEAUTIFUL beans! I'm doing a green theme in that area this year: Green Amaranth, Green Envy Zinnias, and Green Centered Sunflowers. Ya Baby!
I have a few magical iris as well. One snapped off.. (oh the carefree nature of a 3 year old) so I had some time to play with it before it began gracing a container of water on the kitchen sink shelf.
And the rest of the weekend was spent like this: Admiring my family in the warm sun of a summer-type day. And I had to include this photo. Here I have some weekend harvests that have yet to be processed. So, tonight, as I type this post I have this ahead of me. They looked lovelier in the afternoon sun than they do on the dark of my deck I assure you. But the afternoon sun was precious and beautiful and simple and I'm so very glad I took it in.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

In the garden right now: Bed 2 of 6

Freshly weeded and thinned and mulched! The idea of doing a post for each bed is really fantastic motivation! Love it. In this bed on the left is an heirloom lettuce mix that I can't find the name of, interplanted with broccoli. The lettuce is already becoming a tad bit bitter (which I like), even under the shade cloth. I've been cutting them to about an inch above ground and the leaves grow back in! They were terrific while it was so cold and rainy. There would have been a few more broccoli plants in there had the chickens not ransacked the freshly seeded bed back in late January. On the right side there is really beautiful Purple & White Vienna Blend kohlrabi. I tried planting kohlrabi last year with really poor results but decided to give them another try. I interplanted with Bordeaux spinach which is really tender and beautiful. It was a first for us of this type and it has become my new favorite green, I find myself fishing around for it in salads.

Bordeaux Spinach Leaf

Kohlrabi beginning to bulb out

Heirloom Lettuce

Friday, April 16, 2010

A Broody Hen Makes Good, Again.

Our Golden Laced Wyandotte hen just hatched her first chicks of the season! I had written on my calendar they were due to pop yesterday so I went to check on her as I hadn't seen her yet for her daily puffy/noisy 4 minute jaunt for food and water. We had ourselves a pretty nice rhythm going. I decided to remove the eggs she had laid herself for fear they wouldn't be fertile as she is a wanderer and replaced them with some good stock of blue egg layers my sister-in-law gave me and we knew to be fertile. I put 6 beautiful blue eggs in her nest 22 days ago so I'll be curious to see how many chicks she ended up with. We have a brooding house set up for her and her chicks to keep them safe, moving her should be interesting.... I'd leave her be but we have skunks and opossum and fox and mountain lion and coyote, all for which she and her babes would make a tasty treat.

My last jar of tomatoes = Shakshuka

Well there it went: My last jar of home-grown, home-canned tomatoes. Sigh. It was a jar of Green Zebras and it looked so lovely sitting on the shelf in my pantry. I was saving it for something special and what's more special than finding out my husband will be home on a Friday!
It feels like the weekend but it's not! YAHOO!
I had seen this recipe on the Smitten Kitchen blog and had to try it: Shakshuka it is! It was a hit. And fun to say.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

In our garden right now: Bed 1 of 6

I decided to spotlight one bed per post in the next week or so. I need the motivation to get them filled in and dressed up ;)

This first bed is packed with goodness. Tatsoi, peas, mache, broccoli, carrots, and radish.

The mache greens are new to us and FABULOUS. They are hands down my husband's favorite right now.
They make a nice dense mat of leaves so they stay fairly clean and are really easy and quick to cut and prepare for harvest. If I only have a split second to gather greens I find myself going to these first because they really won't even require much of a rinse and we eat them whole so no cutting or tearing is involved.

This photo is not a great representation, but upon a concentrated look you can see the mache gets regular haircuts.

The peas have just started to bloom. My 3.5 year old is on a daily patrol waiting for le first pea pod to arrive.
I just checked my calendar and see this entire bed was planted January 8th. That seems forever ago.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Cauliflower Greens are Edible Too

We've cooked cauliflower greens before but I found them a bit... eh just OK. I wanted more than OK from these blue-green beauties that I harvested as I pulled the last of the cauliflower from the garden. I went searching for ideas and found a few here, here, & here

I really enjoyed reading different cultural uses and views of the leaves and it led me to come up with my own spin on things which turned out pretty dang good! Now I wish I had more leaves!
Here is the spread I came up with using stuff I just had on hand, feel free to spin it and suit your own fancy. Had my can opener not broken into pieces I would have added some coconut milk instead of water and coconut oil but I think the lightness of the water is better.
6T coconut flour
1/4t cinnamon
1/4t nutmeg
1.5t turmeric
1/4t yellow mustard
1t curry powder
6T yogurt
1T coconut oil
1T minced garlic (or pressed would be good too)
splashes of water to make it spreadable (takes several tablespoons)
Spread onto cauliflower leaves that have had the spine cut out.I spread mine on one side of the cut leaf, then flopped the clean side onto it and spread on the top of that one too. Then rolled it up starting at the blunt end.
Steam for a few. The cauliflower should look pretty like this, not a drab over-cooked green color.
Allow to set for a few minutes and then either pick up like a burrito or cut into slices. Although slices work better if they are chilled fyi.
I think the possibilites are endless here. Ground or shredded meat if you are so inclined, hot pepper flakes (I left out for our kiddo), various preserves.... And a boon is that leftovers are great sliced and fried in the cast iron with some fat of choice. I used butter.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Ahhhhh Choooooo!!!

Our deck is covered with pollen. Covered. The kind Live Oak tree who shelters most of our home and was my birthing inspiration (my husband kept reminding me of the strong beautiful oak and it worked) the first round and is who we built our deck around, well she is in bloom. Rain or no rain or more rain, the pollen factor is off the hook so to speak.
The Live Oak blooms are really... understated. I'm amazed how much pollen they produce.
While I was admiring the fresh new leaves and insane bloom patterns, I saw this little dude cruising about. It's amazing to me that this little caterpillar can have such a anti-climactic finish to life seeing how gorgeous the little bugger is in his youth. It's really quite unfair I think. If you recognize and want to see more of his stages, this link has some great Western Tussock Moth photographs.
I think this youthful stage is really quite magnificent! For both the baby leaves and the caterpillar that is :)


What an exciting time in my California garden right now. I love looking around at all my little seeds to see who has popped up. This afternoon I went around and found some new ones.

Corn! Yay! I was afraid that the cold storm we had which dumped over an inch of hail yesterday was going to prevent my corn from germinating at the last moment. What a relief to see some cheery little heads popping up today.
Scarlet Runner Bean