Sprout

DSCN9417I meant to post this over a week ago, before we went camping. Now that we’re back, and past the last frost date, it’s time for a second round of planting (after it stops raining!). A quick peek in the garden revealed that the seedlings are growing so fast you can almost watch them unfurling their leaves.DSCN9414The same lettuce (Black Seeded Simpson), just days later. You should see them now!

DSCN9533Carrots (scarlet Nantes ), and (edible pod) peas along the fence line for support….

DSCN9531DSCN9535                            A couple of mysteries sprouted up too, like this bunch of ?. At first, I wondered what they could be, I certainly wouldn’t plant so many seeds so close together. Then I recognized them….radishes, ah ha the kids planted those!DSCN9425Yay, the rhubarb crown made it through the winter! I’m looking forward to getting a few perennials growing around here. No sign of the asparagus yet, but I’ve read that their germination is quite slow and can be spotty.

DSCN9530Now to upload those camping photos….

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And so it begins….

DSCN9408 DSCN9385 DSCN9411 DSCN9409 DSCN9405 DSCN9364Finally, the sun is shining and we’re out working in the garden!

The garlic bulbs we planted last fall are sending up their green shoots, and the leeks and spring onions I left mulched are quickly reviving themselves after an icy slumber. Interestingly, three kale plants down at the end also made it through. These are a nice head start to having fresh greens but I don’t think I should plan on having it happen every year.

Mostly I’m digging out dandelions and pulling small weeds the wind blew in as seed last fall. A few sections are planted: peas, lettuce, carrots, turnips, cabbage, broccoli, leek (seeds for next year and about 50 transplanted for this year), celery, swiss chard, arugula, radishes,parsley and (finally I just did it) planted a bed of asparagus from seed. It’s the three-year plan.

Soon I’ll plant a few more things, do second plantings and (after the last frost) warm weather things like beans, cucumbers, sweet corn etc.

 

We also expanded the lower garden area and Struggling_along fenced it all in (very nicely I might add).

As for the cold frame, this year I’m going to try growing watermelon in there. Hopefully, this will keep them warm enough and will give them a head start. I’ve also noticed a few tiny celery plants have sprouted in there!

And so it begins…we tuck a few tiny seeds in the ground and wait.

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Cold Hardy Veggies

The fall gardens are thriving, but it won’t be too long before the ground freezes. Until then I’m relishing every trip to the garden. Fresh (and free) veggies! I let the chickens into the gardens to help clean them up and give the top layer of soil a stir (to help kill off insects  that over winter there, like flea beetles). They did a surprisingly zealous job, pecking most of the greens down to the stems! It’s a trade-off I’m willing to pay. Still lots of carrots, celeriac, kale, beets and leeks to get in before it’s too late!

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In the Kitchen {Herbs}

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use Rosemary sprigs as flavorful skewers

 We’ve been enjoying fresh herbs from the garden, mainly parsley, thyme and basil right now, and drying some to use during the winter. They’re flavorful and it’s much cheaper than purchasing them at the store. When cooking just remember that dried herbs are about 3 times as strong as fresh. During the summer I use fresh herbs and during the winter I use dried; substituting one for the other as needed.

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  Parsley was one of the first things in the ground and it’s still going strong. I grow it in mini rows then I cut it and let it grow back again. This method is super easy and prolific!

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This year I tried planting thyme in amongst the carrots while Noah planted some thyme indoors. It’s astounding to compare the two. The outside plants are robust, dark green with large leaves; the indoor plants just don’t look like they’re doing as well. They are small, scraggly and pale. I pick as much fresh thyme as I like whenever I need it during  the summer. When I harvest the carrots I’ll harvest the thyme too and dry it. I use thyme a lot, especially on roasted meats and veggies. I use oregano nearly as often. I have a  container of oregano and two rosemary “trees” indoors too, and while they’re not quite as robust as they would be outside, they’re doing well enough until I can decide where I’m going to transplant the oregano (the rosemary I keep indoors because of our low winter temps). It’s a hard decision because, like mint, oregano has a tendency to spread and the longer it’s there the harder it is to remove.

As for the basil, I only pick a few leaves here and there so it will keep growing strong. Eventually, I’ll make some pesto and I’ll ferment a jar full (at least) as basil takes on a wonderful liquorice flavor when fermented. I also planted some sage and dill this year. It’s not ready for harvesting yet but I look forward to having some on hand for pickling, stuffing into fish, and maybe making up some gravlax!

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Slowly, I’m expanding the list of seasonings I grow instead of purchase. Other than salt and pepper the herbs above are my most used seasonings. I’ve also made onion and garlic powder by dehydrating them and then processing the dried veggies in a blender. The flavor is fantastic! I’d like to get some perennials going (maybe alongside those chives?)  and I wouldn’t mind trying to grow some chamomile (soon!)

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The Gardens

This year we have a small collection of gardens. I tend to refer to them as the Upper Garden, which were 2 former pig pens, and the Large Garden. The Large Garden was a section of field I covered with the goat barn’s contents when I cleaned it out last fall. I covered it with plastic over the winter. Definitely much easier than double-digging!

Here’s section 1 of the Upper Garden as of last week (see this post for an early May view):

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We’ve been enjoying a lot of kale….

DSCN6810and several plantings of radishes out of here. The boys love to pretend they’re rabbits and raid the garden. They like the kale but radishes are the rabbits’ favorite. Thank goodness they grow so fast.

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This section also has broccoli (which I’m in the process of thinning and planting into the Large garden) and peas.

DSCN6849 DSCN6847 The second section of the Upper Gardens has carrots, spinach, bush beans, lettuce, beets, parsley, cucumbers, basil, onions and a few tomatoes. The lettuce, parsley and onions need to be thinned soon. DSCN6796 DSCN6797 DSCN6798 DSCN6799As for the large garden, well, I had to fence and replant it due to the chickens.

DSCN6504The kids and I had a garden party and planted a bunch of starter plants my MIL and a family friend gave us. I’ve seeded a few areas too. In the blue plastic we’ve planted a bunch of pumpkins from my folks.

Singapore’s pen borders the Large garden. She’s good company and her roof is a great hang out spot for little ones.

DSCN6820 DSCN6821 Now we have tomatoes, peppers, celeriac, potatoes, basil, swiss chard, arugula, carrots, bush beans,cauliflower, broccoli, pole beans, melons ( watermelon & ? from the worm compost bin) and a whole mess of pumpkins. A few more things need to go in, like the celery from the cold frame, and of course, the fall plantings.

Everything is growing fast!

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Nourishing Traditions: Latin American Sauerkraut {with pineapple vinegar}

DSCN9544 I’ve been on the look out for recipes using pineapple vinegar. I noticed one in Nourishing Traditions for Latin American Sauerkraut which isn’t necessarily a recipe I’d normally make.  I happened to have a small head of cabbage left from making stuffed cabbage- which works best with the large outer leaves. So I figured why not?

DSCN9542Now, as you can see below, the original recipe calls for onions. I left them out because the last few times I added raw onions to, for example, pickled beets I found the raw flavor way too strong. Also, there are two versions: one with salt (and optional whey) and one with pineapple vinegar. Since all of the shredded cabbage and carrots didn’t fit in one jar I made both. The fuller jar contains the pineapple vinegar version, while the lesser jar is just salt.

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DSCN9560The salt only version packed down significantly more. And already appears softer. Following the instructions I left both out for three days before transferring to the fridge.

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Fermenting

Now that we’re getting settled I figured it was time to get the ferments going again. I had brought a few things along that were “in progress” such as apple cider vinegar, preserved lemons, preserved limes (which are all rather low maintenance), and some much neglected dairy kefir. But it was time to attend to them and venture once more into fermenting veggies.

I had tried making fermented carrots before from Nourishing Traditions but they where so salty I couldn’t eat them. I even made another batch halving the salt but they were still too salty and more of a chore than a joy to get through. So I was feeling a little leery about wasting the time and effort and veggies. Then I read (parts of) The Art of Fermentation by Sandor Ellix Katz. I also have his book Wild Fermentation but I much prefer The Art of Fermentation; it really made me want to get in the kitchen and get a jar going. And the next thing I knew there I was with a jar full of chopped veggies. And the best part is that even though I wasn’t able to have a garden this year every single vegetable was given to me by a friend who grew it in their garden. How sweet is that?!

Here’s what went in: carrots, radishes,yellow summer squash,garlic (some fresh picked, some   that was starting to sprout), chard stems, a small green tomato, basil. How heavenly it smells, how delicious it tastes!

I immediately started another jar this time zucchini spears with garlic.

Again, success! As my oldest Noah said “they’re just so good. I want to eat them all up.(followed by a lip-smacking slurp I can’t replicate)”. So I did it. I started a batched of shredded carrots.

And for a little compare and contrast I started a jar or pickled beets with onion in raw apple cider vinegar.

We haven’t tested these last two yet but the beets look lovely and the carrots, with a little help of the brine from the first batch of mixed veggies, are smelling wonderful. Next up? A jar full of basil! Seriously, it tastes like licorice once it’s fermented. Divine!

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