Sow: friendly harvest

Today’s weather has been very ominous, but no rain at the office during work today. Hopefully at home, we got some free plant water this afternoon—there was a 30% chance, but that’s turning to 70% later tonight. In any case, tonight (or tomorrow morning if it rains before I get home) I’m going to do something that I absolutely love to do: pick stuff for my friends.

 

Filling a grocery bag with gallon Ziploc bags of freshly harvested stuff from the Urban Farm and knowing that other families will enjoy it makes me really happy. It’s a great gift that I’d love to receive (hint to all of you local readers with gardens and/or chickens). Hopefully soon I’ll be able to better predict what will be available so that I can give people a heads up of what’s coming. This week, they’ll get lots of leafy green stuff: red romaine, red velvet lettuce, green leaf lettuce, beet greens, rainbow chard.

Sometimes I accompany the produce with recipes. Here’s one of my favorites to give when I share kale and/or chard since many people aren’t too sure if they’re going to like those hardcore green leaves: kale and rainbow chard salad with peaches, blackberries & pine nuts.

kale and fruit salad

Photo from Napa Farmhouse 1885 blog. It’s a great source for ideas of what to do with a bounty of produce.

I’ve made it in the winter with pears and apples instead of peaches and no blackberries. The other day, I ran out of pine nuts so I used sunflower seeds (quite good). Experiment with the fruit and seeds/nuts you have and I’ll bet you come up with a great combo—let me know what you do and any fruit/nut combos that work especially well. I bet pomegranate seeds would be a good addition or different dried fruit. I like to make it before work on weeknights when we have dinner guests—it’s a big time saver since it’s supposed to marinade all day. Delicious with things from the grill or even by itself. Yum!

Since we’re eating so many salads, I’ve started making a salad for dinner when I make our work lunches. Wash and cut once, eat twice! Another huge timesaver when throwing together dinner on a weeknight. Tonight’s salad will be 85% from our garden. Only the goat cheese, sunflower seeds and vinaigrette are not from the land in our backyard. That gives me lot of happiness (although I’d love to have goats, but that’s a story for another day). And since it’s already done, there’s no post-work thinking involved.

Can you tell that I need a little break? Yes, me too. It’s definitely time for a mini-vacation. While the long weekend was fabulous, this weekend’s wedding in Niagara-on-the-Lake will be more of a getaway and bigger break from day-to-day reality. And the plane time will give me some uninterrupted reading time. I’ve been hording magazines and downloading books. I hope to cruise through lots of words. And not be online very much. So, if you don’t hear from me for a few days, please don’t worry. I may not have wifi and I’m not paying for international data roaming.

But if you have a moment, let me know your favorite green leafy salad recipe. As I mentioned we have a lot of green leaves to eat and George is the only four-legged family member who helps.

George: the newest member of the 3G Network

George: mouth full of tennis balls, not salad

 

Sow: turbo harvest

Whew! Is it bad that I’d like another day to add to my long weekend? Or at least to today?

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thank you to those who have served, are serving, and will serve

We got closer to final on two large-ish DIY projects:

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Cabinets in the dining room in progress

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Cabinets in dining room finished! Just need a countertop

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Cabinets installed in lounge. Temporary countertop from previous cabinet in place for now.

After all that, Bruce quickly cut the grass (with all the rain it grew 4 inches this week) and I headed to the urban farm to do a little grocery shopping.

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Rainbow chard

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mixed greens

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red romaine

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carrots

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chili peppers

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beets

One special thing for today besides feeding the composter tons of rain wrecked lettuce: purple beans

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not sure why one was green

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they turn green when you cook them (blanched them with a few peas)

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see how green they got?

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just a few peas tonight

I also planted basil, pulled up the last of the spinach, found some rouge basil that must have seeded itself from fall’s crop, and staked one of the pepper plants.

Sure was nice to spend a little time digging in the dirt. See why I’d like another day?

Sow: overnight

It’s amazing how quickly plants grow in optimal conditions.

Here are the tomatoes today:

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They have overtaken their cages. Bird net is eminent since our bird friends are checking out the plants. The Gs are fine with the birds looking, but not visiting the beds.

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Everything is looking pretty awesome. Fingers crossed for the zucchini:

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I am hoping that the squash borer of last year was only last year’s pest! Fingers crossed that the metal stock tank high above the ground keeps the zucchini going and that the yellow squash that is somewhere under the tomato forest is immune to pests.

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The watermelon has doubled!

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I took a photo of baby bells but we have an impressive habanero forming also. A photo for another day.

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I’m amazed that the peas are growing so fast.

So far this week we’ve had snow pea salad, chard salad, stir fried bok choi (on the bitter side so it’s on it’s way out), salads galore.

I’m thinking we are not going to be buying many veggies for the next little while. There will be salads. There will be peas. There will be beets. And soon beans. Anyone got okra recipes to share?

Besides enjoying the growth in the garden, I grew too. We had a fantastic presentation training course today. The main message, of course, was simplicity. But it was also this, a quote I have loved for a good chunk of this year:

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Sow: huge harvest

It was a good day at the Mortroski Midcentury. George got braver. Bruce installed more trim. We all have a very packed fridge.

George is very afraid of sounds of the air compressor and the chop saw. That’s why we decided that I’d spend time outside with the Gs (Godiva and Guinness could care less about tool sounds) while Bruce installed trim.

Of course I spent the time on the urban farm. Here’s the harvest:

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1/2 lb snow peas

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English peas

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First carrots plus a second crop radish

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First real harvest of chioggia beets

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Spinach, I ended up harvesting another container the same size as these two

And here are some harvesting shots:

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Picking chard

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Lots of chard

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The urban farm today

The fridge is packed with gallon size bags of spinach, chard, mixed greens, beet greens. It looks like I barely made a dent!

Sow: photo essay

Not writing much today because the urban farm looked so pretty this morning. So I captured it for you.

Enjoy the views:

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dePierre spinach (heirloom variety)

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Purple pole bean seedlings

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Spinach

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Arugula flowers

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Mixed lettuce

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Ladybug on chard

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Chard

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Snow peas

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Zucchini

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French breakfast radish

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Gratuitous 3G photo (thanks Bruce)

Sow: inspiration

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I’ve taken to snapping photos and pinning garden ideas for inspiration–and future experimentation. The shot above is from Savannah’s Owens-Thomas House. It’s rainbow chard being treated as a decorative patio plant.

It got me thinking: what if all of our patio pots and planters held edibles?

I’m still thinking about it.

You see our ancient oak tree makes a lot of shade. And while I do like growing food much more than most people do,I also love flowers, like this dwarf canna:

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Last spring, our pal Mack gave us three transplants he grew from seed. Two survived the Texas surface of the sun summer and they now reside in the flower beds in the front of the house. They are very beautiful, yet hardy and they make me want to learn more about native Texas plants.

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And then there was last winter’s indoor experiment of growing mushrooms. And as a CAL graduate, it made me snicker that this oyster mushroom kit came from Berkeley and the growing medium was coffee grounds from Peet’s. I was inspired to do it after reading an article about the guys who started the company (and it sounded like a neat thing to do). It was a lot of fun especially since my coworker Lisa and I did it together. The mushrooms were quite delicious but I was not moved to do it again. Still, it may have been the catalyst for the urban farm’s raised bed.