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Showing posts from August, 2011

Sunflowers

"Earth laughs in flowers." ~Ralph Waldo Emerson~

How about a little history lesson? Recently my wife started reading a book on herbs that was originally printed around 1933. In it there is a list of the crops that were grown one particular year by Charlemagne (Charles the Great), King of the Franks and Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire. I bring this up because it lead to an interesting conversation. We live in a world of constantly changing technology. On some level I am sure every generation has felt like they are moving further and further away from so called primitive lifestyles. But underneath all the window dressing of technology we are still very dependent on some very consistent and basic ideas and practices. One of which is the food that we grow and eat. Though you can buy all sorts of artificially flavored foods in your grocery store some of the cornerstones of our diets are rooted in the fabric of human existence and if we are lucky will continue to be a part of li…

Fall Planting

"As the gardener, such is the garden." Hebrew proverb

Once again the garden has come in really handy as far as providing healthy meals for our family. In an attempt to make the most of the space and get a little more time in the patch before the season ends my son and I went out and planted some seeds for a nice fall harvest.

We actually started prepping the garden for this planting a few weeks ago by adding organic matter from the compost bin to "feed the dirt", as we say in our house.

We had a few spinach seeds left over from the initial planting this past spring that we started out with. Our neighbors, who have a fantastic garden themselves, were kind enough to give us three different varieties of lettuce seed. Needless to say we planted a few rows of each to mix things up a bit at the dinner table. We also had a ridiculous amount of Yellow Snap Peas from our own seed stock so we decided to plant about a hundred pea seeds to get a little late season treat in …

Collecting Seed (Lettuce)

Funny how things tend to sneak right up on you in regards to garden work. All of a sudden it is time to harvest seed and to get a short season planting in for the fall.

This is the first year that I have attempted to save lettuce seed. It is actually quit easy. Lettuce will bolt once the weather hits 85 degrees or so on a regular basis. Simply choose a few heads that you are going to allow to become seed stock and let them go to flower. Eventually the heads will look like tiny dandelion flowers with the white plume attached to the seed waiting for the wind to carry them away. Pick the seed pouch from the plant and crack it open, inside you will find an abundance of lettuce seed. Set them in a dry spot with some mild air circulation to dry and you will be set for the coming year, or better yet use them for a fall planting of your own!

Recently I had a friend make a comment while I was harvesting pea seeds that it takes a true Buddha to do such patient and diligent work,(*authors note …

Cherokee Purple

The Cherokee Purple is another of the seven heirloom tomatoes that we are growing this year. Only one of the seven happen to be a plant we have had in the garden previously so we are still trying to determine which tomatoes are right for our garden in regards to disease resistance, harvest and so on.

Visually they are really beautiful fruit. They caught my wife's eye right off the bat. Last week was the first time I have eaten one and when I first cut it open I was a little hesitant, it looked like a soggy mess to be completely honest with you. With that said though I ate it raw with some chicken breast and it was absolutely amazing! It was meaty,sweet and delicious and I simply could not stop eating it. So far the Lemon Drop cherry tomatoes and the Cherokee Purple (both from the Seed Savers Exchange) have made the cut.

Tobias Whitaker blogs for Mother Earth News and Grit Magazine. Click on the Mother Earth News logo at the bottom of the page for all of his post. You can also fin…

Adirondack Blue

Though stereotypes about potatoes usually revolve around Ireland the potato can be traced to Peru. The potato was being cultivated in Peru around 8000 to 5000 BC.

This year we grew four different varieties of the nearly 8000 tubers available but the one that I will focus on this year is the Adirondack Blue. Blue, or purple potatoes can also be traced back to the people of South America. Adirondack Blue though is a product of a local Ivy League University. It was created by Cornell University potato breeder Walter De Jong in 2003.

We found this potato to grow really well in our garden, which should be no surprise since we are only an hour or so from Cornell. It produced nice size tubers and seemed to do the best of the four varieties.

When cut open the blue flesh is as intense as a Sapphire, it really is beautiful. One of the interesting things I have to point out though is that you don't realize how programmed you are in regards to your food visually until you get ready to eat …

Collecting Seeds (Bush Beans)

It is that time of year again. For the past two or three weeks the kids and I have been working over the bean patch in an attempt to gather seed. We basically have been growing three main types of beans over the past three years and added in a Lima bean variety this year.

The Pencil Pod beans are probably the easiest to get out of their shell. For the most part the pod will dry and become brittle and you can just work it out with your fingers with little difficulty. The other two varieties, the Dragon's Tongue and the Royalty Purple, are a bit more "fleshy" for lack of a better term and you have to keep an eye on the plant so that it does not rot before you get to the bean. So in essence it is a timing game with those two variety's because you need to work the bean from the shell after they have become ripe but before they are lost to mold. Due to this the Royalty Purple has been slow in regards to a solid build up of seed. The Dragon's Tongue on the other hand …

Lemon Drop Tomato

"It's difficult to think anything but pleasant thoughts while eating a homegrown tomato.” Lewis Grizzard

To tell you the truth tomatoes usually rank pretty low on my chart of must grow garden veggies. For one reason or another certain people are drawn to growing certain items due to their ease or difficulty, their appearance, their demand and so on. I enjoy eating tomatoes but up until recently did not realize how much I had been missing out on.

Last year I had gotten a yellow cherry tomato from our local farmers market, Frog Pond, and it was really delicious. I had wanted to try to save seed from it but never got around to it. This past winter while reading through my seed catalogs I started thinking back to that yellow tomato and thought I would give something a bit more exotic a try and see what the big deal was/is with heirloom tomatoes.

The Seed Savers Exchange, whom I love, offered a 6 pack of random starter plants for both peppers and tomatoes so I decided to order t…