Garlic Scapes

Today we sold our first garden plants from the farm – garlic scapes.  Ray cut them yesterday and I took them today to the very cool Chinese grocery around the corner – Welco on Fruitridge Road.  The greengrocer was a young dad named Alvin, who was patient with me when I showed him the name of the veggie in Vietnamese – tỏi xuất phát.   He smiled and said, “We’re Chinese here.”   I should have written: 大蒜莖   Dàsuàn jīng

While he told me about his 6-month old baby and the joys of living next door to his parents, his employees were plucking stems and chewing them.  Alvin smiled and said, “They’re my taster goats.”  He said, “All the old people will know what these are and will appreciate their value.”

curly-whirly

curly-whirly

Alvin paid me for the garlic scapes, said next year to cut them a little earlier so they’d be more tender, and then asked me to please grow shiitake mushrooms in our oak logs.  Which made me really happy.  He said that he sells mushrooms like crazy, and he likes it when farmers come straight to him so he can judge the value and make an offer.  We’ll do that again Alvin – you can bet on it.  He unwrapped them and placed them with the vegetables, then went to make a price tag.

Our garlic scapes for sale in the neighborhood market.

Our garlic scapes for sale in the neighborhood market.

You can make pesto with garlic scapes.  Here’s a recipe from the Food Network:www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network-kitchens/basil-pesto-recipe2.html

Tuesday Book Review – The Worm Book

I’m always looking for ways to be more efficient and consistent in my farming.  I like water timers that ensure we deliver an even amount of moisture to the soil.  I like grow lights that deliver the right amount of lumens to help my seedlings sprout and stay happy.  One other way to set a system in motion that will support a healthy garden is to cultivate worms, both to put into the garden, and to create compost and worm “tea” to feed your plants.

The Worm Book: The Complete Guide to Gardening and Composting with Worms

The Worm Book by Loren Nancarrow and Janet Hogan Taylor shows how to begin vermiculture – the process of multiplying worms, and then using them to eat your garbage and give you gorgeous worm casting compost and worm tea.  Important measures of health are provided in the book, such as pH levels, moisture, and aeration, and a large section is given to troubleshooting. I didn’t know that moles will raid your worm bins, but apparently, moles love them.  Yum yum.

 

Red Wigglers

Red Wigglers

Not every state has native earthworms, but in California, they’re essential.  I’m not talking about nightcrawlers, a destructive worm.  I mean red wigglers, the hardworking worm that can “mix and aerate the soil, improve soil structure and water infiltration, help moderate soil pH, bring up minerals in the soil, make nutrients more available to plants, break down plant and animal materials into compost, and increase beneficial microbial action in the soil.”

Simple Vermiculture Bin

Simple Vermiculture Bin

My friend Lynda enjoyed a small vermiculture bin in her suburban backyard like this one.  My aunt Clara had large beds of worms at her ranch in Watsonville.  I look forward to doing the same, and reaping the rewards.  Loren Nancarrow’s book provides me the details to make it happen.  –Allison

Tuesday Book Review – Farmer Jane

My son Bernhard gave me this book for my birthday awhile back, and it’s a keeper.  Farmer Jane: Women Changing the Way We Eat by Temra Costa includes profiles of 31 leaders in farming, female leaders.  Their wisdom is splashed all over the pages, and my pink highlighter makes the wisdom pop.

Farmer Jane: Women Changing The Way We Eat

Jessica Prentice writes, “Traditional peoples ate freshly ground or whole grains that were sprouted, soaked, soured, or leavened before being baked or cooked.  Once you understand how much more digestible and nourishing grains can be if you approach them that way, it’s hard not to follow suit.”

Sprouted Bread

Sprouted Bread

Deborah Madison writes, “You see plums – black plums and red plums.  You might not know there are hundreds of varieties in all colors – purple, green, yellow, blue.”  Consumers should be able to say, ‘This is a Blenheim; this is a Royal; this is a Katy; these are great for eating fresh; these for canning and pies.  What you’re looking for in an apricot are the speckles; these are better dried.’ etc.”

Green Gage plums

Green Gage plums

Marion Kalb writes, “Nearly 30 million children eat school lunch five days a week in the United States.  For many, it is their most nutritious meal of the day.  Studies show that without the nutrients that come from “real” food, kids can’t learn as well.  It’s as simple as that.”  Then she goes on to discuss a study of students in Wisconsin that tied fresh nutritious food to a marked decline in behavioral problems.

School Lunch - the most nutritious meal of the day?

School Lunch – the most nutritious meal of the day?

I hope you pick up a copy and enjoy!  –Allison

Tuesday Book Review – Seed to Seed

Yesterday I was watching Antique Roadshow.  Someone brought in an Anasazi pot, a big bellied thing with a tiny hole in the center of the top.  What was that for?  The curator said it was a seed-saving vessel.  I always wondered why some pots were made with small openings.  They certainly weren’t vases, or cereal bowls.  Now I want to collect little pots like that for my seed collection.

Seed to Seed: Seed Saving and Growing Techniques for Vegetable Gardeners, 2nd Edition

Are you interested in saving seeds?  The seeds of hybrid vegetables and fruits don’t produce offspring similar to the parents – the genetic work falls apart, and you can get some freakish food.  If you want to save seed and have the same food grow from it as you enjoyed last year, you need heirloom varieties that aren’t hybridized or GMO.  Seed saving is a skill, and though it’s not hard, there are some things to know.  This book by Suzanne Ashworth treats it as a scientific skill giving step-by-step directions to help you save seed simply and practically.

One of my favorite spices is paprika.  I don’t like hot peppers, but I love the warmth and the earthy aroma that comes with paprika.  When I include it in food, I get a sensation in my palate, upper cheeks and sinus that is so wonderful. When I searched for paprika seeds, they were nowhere to be found.  I could find hybrid paprika, or bell pepper, jalapeno, habaneros (eek), but not paprika.  Why is this?  Every supermarket has paprika in the spice rack.

Smoked Paprika

Smoked Paprika

Further research taught me that the word “paprika” means “pepper” in Hungarian, and that the country of Hungary is known for its exquisite peppers.  I asked at Lockhart Seeds in Stockton (where I buy my heirloom seeds), and they gave me their contact person in Florida for peppers – The Pepper Gal (www.peppergal.com).  She has over 130 varieties of hot pepper in her list, and nearly another 100 sweet peppers.  From her, I was able to purchase three tiny envelopes with these varieties: Pimento L Sweet, Apple Sweet, and Round of Hungary Sweet.  These heirloom varieties have seeds that will be true to the parent, and I’ll be able to save them from the best fruits to plant again next year.

Pepper Gal Paprikas

Pepper Gal Paprikas

How am I going to save them?  Ms. Ashworth is excellent in her directions.  On page 153 it says, “Peppers can be cleaned in a blender if the flesh is not going to be eaten.  Cut the stems off of the fleshless seed cores, adding enough water to cover the cores.  Blend at low speed until the cores disintegrate and the seeds are free.  Gently stir the mixture, and the good seeds will sink to the bottom.”  Isn’t that neat?  I want the best seeds, and right at the start, I’ll be able to filter for them. Then she describes how to clean, dry, and store these seeds.  She also describes how to save seeds for beans, lettuce, melons, etc.  Everything you’d want to plant.  You’ll never have to buy seeds again, and will have seed to swap in Springtime.

Our ancestors knew how to save seeds.  The seed storage was carefully protected, so good food could be grown next year.  I’m relearning something my great-grandparents knew, and did routinely. –Allison

Green green, it’s green they say, on the far side of the hill…

How about, “Green green, it’s green in my greenhouse!”

seedlings ahoy!

seedlings ahoy!

It’s only been two weeks for the top row and one week for the lower row, but whoa Nellie!  We’re selling seedlings if you want cucumbers, pickles, luffa, borage, and bachelor’s buttons.  $3 per plant organic.

Friend or Foe – Thorsday Tool of the Week

Yesterday at the farm I got to use one of Allison’s favorite tools, FIRE. Oh I shouldn’t shout that should I?

With the summer fire season starting today, May first, new restrictions have come into play. On a DOF “burn day” we could burn as much as we wanted whenever we wanted as long as we did it safely…until now. Currently, and until further notice, burn piles maybe no larger than four feet long and four feet wide, with a cleared area of at least ten feet. These sound like the same rules I learned as a Boy Scout.  Two missionaries came to help me.  This counted as their “service hours” but it was all fun.

We set about to build a fire by clearing an area that was ten feet across. One of the missionaries found a spot that would be perfect. All we would need to do was remove a small manzanita bush right in the middle. While I went to get a shovel and a hose, the Elders started gathering debris to be burned. When I got back it looked like the missionaries had already taken care if the shrub. I couldn’t see it anywhere. They simply piled the junk on the bush. It needed to be burned anyway, so why not?

Burn Day

Burn Day

I love to watch water run and fire burn. There is something about the unpredictability about them that fascinates me.

After the fire lay was ready we turned on the spigot and discovered that there must be a valve that was turned off.  So we gathered buckets, filled them, and let the missionaries have fun with the firestick.  –Ray

Keener Corn

Hallelujah!  The Keener Corn arrived:

A handful of Keener Corn

A handful of Keener Corn

The Hunt:

Last year on March 7th I wrote a book review about The Seed Underground by Janisse Ray.  This amazing writer met farmers who save seed from generation to generation, capturing their family stories and information about these plants that each family claimed as their own.  When she met Bruce Keener, the farmer told Janisse that the corn had been in his family for generations.  It was the amazing grits she’d eaten with her breakfast that morning.  The Keener Corn stuck in my mind.  I couldn’t stop thinking about it.  Here is a corn that only produces one ear per stalk, but that one ear produces the most amazing cornmeal and grits.  I had to have some.  I contacted the farmer by email (we can do that!!) and he said he had grain for eating, but if I wanted to plant it, I should wait until winter.  I called in winter, but only left messages.  In the springtime I got to talk to Bruce Keener himself, (I am a little star-struck) but he said bad weather had destroyed  most of his crop, so he was saving the good corn he had to replant this year.

A little Star Struck

A little Star Struck

So I got through to the mill in Georgia that grinds it.  They only had 6 pounds.  Six.  I bought it all.

Today it arrived with the note: “Send me some in the fall please.” –Woody Malot (the miller)

A whole bag of Keener Flint corn

A whole bag of Keener Flint corn

It’s here!  It’s here!  A whole bag of it.  I’ll plant it at the farm, and at home, in order to ensure I have plenty.  Some for me, and some for Woody Malot.  And in the future, some for you.

–Allison

 

 

Tuesday Book Review – How to Grow More Vegetables

This beautiful big book by John Jeavons was a present to me by my daughter Jenna.  It is so helpful.  In the foreword by Alice Waters, the renowned chef of Chez Panisse, she says that this book “may be one of the most important how-to guides ever written.”  Chef Waters is known for pioneering California cuisine, and for starting the locovore movement in Berkeley ages ago.

How to Grow More Vegetables, Eighth Edition: (and Fruits, Nuts, Berries, Grains, and Other Crops) Than You Ever Thought Possible on Less Land Than You … (And Fruits, Nuts, Berries, Grains,)

Mr. Jeavons focuses on building soil tilth and then moves into the left-brained methods of charting and planning.  If you are a math geek, an engineer, an accountant, or a list-maker, the information provided here will give you a thrill.  –Allison

Double Delight

What’s your favorite rose?  Adrienne Turpin gave me several cuttings last week, and I also went to Green Acres nursery http://www.idiggreenacres.com/ to get a Double Delight rose.

Here she is!

Double Delight 2014

Double Delight 2014

Grandma Alice had one in her backyard that was beautiful.  Hi Grandma!

Double Delight - awhile back!

Double Delight – 1994

Fertilizer * Black Gold * Texas Tea (oh – that’s oil, sorry)

🙂

This morning I made up a brew to feed the sprouts and my roses.  It’s a simple thinning of fish emulsion and kelp.  Plants don’t just need air, water, and sunlight, they need FOOD.  Sometimes they can get their food from the soil, but in many cases, it’s up to the husbandman of the garden to feed plants.  Here’s what I used:

fish emulsion with kelp

fish emulsion with kelp

You can also use worm castings diluted in water, called Worm Tea, or you can mulch with horse manure or well rotted chicken manure (careful – it’s hot!) or steer manure.  Go for the real stuff, not for synthetic, because in the long run, you want to build up your soil, and synthetics don’t help with that.  Many thanks to Lynda Pesquera for teaching me about worm tea.

In the Amazon, an amazing fertilizer was found called BioChar. See http://www.biochar-international.org/biochar
This amazing charcoal type dirt also called “Terra Preta” was able to hold the nutrients from fertilizer and to become a very very long-term rich soil. One farmer in the Amazon said he’d never used fertilizer in the 40 years he was farming there. Now you can buy bio-char from a firm in Sonoma http://www.sonomacompost.com/biochar.shtml
What an amazing opportunity. We’ll be adding this as funds allow, because our goal is to be a permaculture farm, where the cycle of health and growth is permanent. Fertilizer is certainly a part of this plan.

  • Tuesday Book Reviews:

    "The One Straw Revolution" by Masanobu Fukuoka
    Our review or Amazon:

    -
    "Grow Your Own Fruit" by Carol Klein
    Our review or Amazon:

    -
    "Hobby Farms Magazine"
    Our review or Amazon:
    Order Hobby Farm Magazine
    -
    “The New Self-Sufficient Gardener” by John Seymour
    Our review or Amazon:

    -
    "Water Storage: Tanks, Cisterns, Aquifers, and Ponds for Domestic Supply, Fire, and Emergency Use" by Art Ludwig
    Our review or Amazon:

    -
    "The Woodwright's Guide: Working Wood with Wedge and Edge" by Roy Underhill
    Our review or Amazon:

    -
    "The Forgotten Skills of Self-Sufficiency Used by the Mormon Pioneers" by Caleb Warnock
    Our review or Amazon:

    -
    "City Chicks" by Patricia Foreman
    Our review or Amazon:

    -
    "Making Your Small Farm Profitable" by Ron Macher
    Our review or Amazon:
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