Thursday, April 30, 2015

Spring Greens Continue

As spring unfolds, there are more and more greens and fresh food to harvest.  This week we add lambs quarters, a European import that grows in rich soil and is a nutritional power house.  It is a mild green and I usually pull the leaves and add to salad or chop the whole plant and braise - lightly cook.

The sorrel we harvest is a semi - perennial from France.  It is a lemony flavored green high in vitamin C.  I like it in salad, added to braising mixes, and warmed in butter in place of any recipe that calls for lemon butter - like fish.

Claytonia or miners lettuce likes cool spring weather.  That is its season.  It is a mild flavored succulent that delights many people for its juicy texture.  Some families call it "that water lily green."
It is a great addition to any green combination - raw or braised

Monday, April 27, 2015

Moving the Mobile High Tunnel

Ken spent part of Saturday getting ready to move the mobile high tunnel to its summer location.  As the temperature rises, the greens no longer need protection and will do better in the cooler air out side!  The more carefully Ken prepares, the easier the move goes.  He pulls weeds along the track, pounds down t posts, and finally takes up all the clips and anchors.  Then he calls me and I head down.

We had a slow spot when one of the eighteen wheels came off the track.  Once righted it was smooth rolling to the new spot.

Then Ken has to reinstall all the anchoring clips, posts, etc.

Now we are putting fiber on the greens on cool nights and Ken has the mobile high tunnel closed up so the soil warms up for the heat loving crops that he will transplant soon

Harvest Newsletter

Greetings from the Garden!  This week's CSA box has salad and braising greens, spinach, arugula, potatoes, parsnips, carrots and the first radishes

Field Notes.  Sunday we moved the mobile high tunnel off the spring greens as they no longer need the heat and protection from cold temperatures, and Ken wants to heat the soil in the summer location for the tomatoes, peppers, etc.  It takes time but soon the heat loving crops will be in the soil.

Ken is also working soil for beds for full season crops like onions.  Onions grow based on length of day and once the days shorten they slow down - no matter what size they are - so early transplanting is crucial.  He is also working on perennial crops like raspberries and asparagus.

And he is planting and transplanting.  It is a busy time

I have been washing and pricing pottery for our spring opener this coming weekend Saturday and Sunday May 2nd and 3rd 10 - 5.  In addition to pottery we will have produce.  And honey and maple syrup.  You can come out and self tour the gardens and fields.

From the Kitchen.  Today marks an auspicious day - our first solid vegetables that were planted in 2015!  As much as I love the spring dug roots like parsnips, I find the first radishes magic.  I like radishes in salads.  And radishes make a great salad on their own.  Slice, salt let sit about a half hour.  Drain any liquid, rinse if you are concerned about salt  then combine radishes, chives and a dressing of sour cream or yogurt, a bit of honey, pepper and lemon juice or vinegar - voila!

Each year I give my basic salad dressing recipe - a tart like lemon juice or vinegar, a fat like olive oil or yogurt or sour cream, a bit of something sweet like honey, maple syrup or sugar, a pinch or salt and pepper.  For mild greens I use light oils and maybe a fruit vinegar like raspberry vinegar.  For robust greens like the mustard in the braising mix I like to make a more robust dressing by adding  chives or garlic, and apple cider vinegar  in place of lemon juice or a light vinegar.  Of course there are infinite combinations - I love feta cheese with spinach, and blue cheese and cottage cheese in dressings.  I really like to pair my dressing with the greens - lighter dressing with milder greens and more robust dressing for more robust greens.  Experiment to see what you like and continue to experiment as the greens change with the season.  Enjoy!

'Til next Week, Judith

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Harvest Newsletter

Greetings from The Garden!  This CSA box has salad and braising greens, potatoes, carrots, potato onions, sun chokes, burdock root, and parsnips

Field Notes.  We are actually excited to see this late season snow.  This moisture will all soak in and the peas and oats green manures should take off!  The cool weather will slow down the greens.  When we get those really warm days the greens have a tendency to want to set seed - bolt.  Greens like it cool and damp, and since everyone likes spring greens we are pleased when weather helps the greens flourish.

Ken has started preparation to move the mobile high tunnel so the greens will be cooler and also so the soil in the next area will warm up for the crops that like heat like tomatoes and peppers and eggplant.

Last week Ken moved the egg mobile from near the garden to near the mobile high tunnel.  He will renovate where they wintered, and the hens like their new grassy location.

He also taught the first of his monthly garden seminars.  They will be the third Saturday from April through  October.  The first class feed back was really positive

I have been wrapping up the weaving.  Our spring opener is the first weekend in May and the rugs will available then - as well as pottery, and produce.

From the Kitchen.  Greens!  In addition to salad, I have made some broth soup these cool mornings and added greens just before serving.  They shrink and we eat lots! If you find the braising greens a bit strong, a quick wilt in hot oil or soup stock will make them seem milder. 

I am also serving parsnips and they are so sweet we don't see much need for treats, so neither of us have been baking!  Although most years Ken makes a parsnip pie, and often at the end of the season I make some parsnip wine. The wine is very sweet and concentrated almost like a cordial.  I use it in place of sherry or mirin - Japanese rice wine -in cooking.  It adds a caramel sweetness and seals in flavors.

'Til next week, Judith

Friday, April 17, 2015

Spring Flowers - Wild in the Woods and Bulbs I Planted

The spring flowers are early this year.  There are crocus 

and dafs
and scilla

Then in the woods there are small flowers Ken calls May flowers Some are purple

And some are white

They pop up in the leaves

and move with the breeze

Moving Day for the Hens

Ken moves the portable coop near the garden each fall so the hens are near the house for winter chores.  Then in spring once the ground is firm he moves them down the hill to a grassy spot or a spot with green manure.

Today was the day.  First he moved the "Hog Hilton" where he had housed cockerels and later the turkeys during the winter.  He took it down the hill for the pigs.

Then he hitched up the egg mobile and started out

Oscar was trying to herd those hens inside the coop to make sure they all made it!

And here are some of the hens in their new, grassy spotKen will keep moving them as the season progresses

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Taking Down the Oak

This weekend Ken took down an oak tree. We live in woods;  Ken moves through the property section by section, and takes out dying or competing trees so the woods is healthy.  While doing that he also leaves some standing dead trees for wildlife. 

After decades here, Ken sees that several trees are shading growing areas.  Ken is forced to decide between oaks and their shade or a sunny productive growing space - the garden, the orchard, by the mobile high tunnel, in the field.  This oak shaded flowers.  And neither of us are overly fond of the hosta alternative.

This oak and Ken have a long history.  When Ken bought the land, this tree was tall and skinny.  Once Ken cut other trees this oak filled out and spread over the driveway and shaded the flower bed.  Ken has chosen to get the flowers some sun

I was working in the yard and felt the tree hit the ground.  Ken was glad it fell just as he had hoped it would.  

He limbed, and cut and stacked bigger pieces of wood. 

I picked up smaller wood for the wood stove and cook stove.  I have moved most of the brush and will continue to do so.

We will use this tree for several things - the trunk will be lumber, some logs will grow shiitake mushrooms, the bigger pieces will heat the house and the smaller pieces will cook our food.  The brush will provide habitat for animals.

Thank you, oak

Rug Progress - my Deadline Approaches!

I make rugs as I find time during winter and spring.  Once I move to outside work, I usually don't make time to weave.This year I tackled some cleaning and clearing, and spent less time weaving.

Here is progress - here is the end of the third rug and the start of the fourth.  No fringe.  Will cut where the white t shirt is.

And here is progress on the fourth; I am doing same colors in a different stripe to denim ratio.

These will come off the loom and I will finish them for our Spring Opener the first weekend in May

Harvest Newsletter

Greetings from the Garden!  This CSA box has salad and braising greens, potatoes, carrots, onions, sun chokes, burdock root, celery root, and parsnips

Field Notes Ken added a new project this week.  He took down an oak that was shading a flower bed.  Many people cannot imagine that we need to cut down trees to keep enough sunlight for things to grow.  This is part of living in the woods.  Ken will use the trunk for lumber, some branches will be for growing mushrooms, and we will cook food and warm the house and studio with smaller pieces.  we are grateful for our wood resource and work to use as much as possible as wisely as possible.

Ken planted the first of the potatoes this week.  These are in the garden.  Later season potatoes will be in the field. Planting continues in the greenhouses and in the garden under hoopettes.  Ken has also been working up the field for planting green manures and crops.  

This Saturday Ken starts a monthly garden class.  He will feature what he is doing each month - some soil prep and planting, maintenance, harvest and more.

From the the Kitchen.  I didn't light the wood cook stove this morning.  Spring must be here.  And I am still lighting the oven!  We had a baked chicken stuffed with sauerkraut and roasted vegetables.  

Ken has been trimming onions and I have been using the trimmings as one would use chives.  And soon there will be green onions and chives.  These pair so well with eggs - and this is egg season!  I make custard, sponge cake, omelettes.

Spring roots continue.  I had a request for another burdock root recipes.  Ken cuts the roots length wise and puts them on a cookie sheet in the oven to dry them and lightly toast them until they snap .  He also does this with dandelion and chicory root  and sometimes dock and elecampane roots to make a blend he runs through the coffee grinder or blender  for a toasted rood tea for cleaning the liver, kidneys and blood.  It is a nice evening roasted tea that has no caffeine.

'Til next Week, Judith