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How does your garden grow? This year, I must say I am pretty pleased with my garden. In years past, it has either been too big and gotten out of control by this time of the year or we have been away or busy and it has gotten overgrown and weedy to the point of disgust. This summer we are enjoying being around here and consequently, we have been tackling a lot of yard work. I enjoy popping in my headphones and getting out there and weeding or just sitting down and weeding without the tunes, enjoying the sunshine and the summer breeze that always seems to exist in our neck of the woods.
Here are some garden pictures I’m happy to share with you.
Purple Habanero Peppers
Corn – This will be a first, thanks to the generosity of a friend and neighbor who shared his seedlings.
The Garden looking east
The Garden looking west
We try to compost our food scraps around here, although I will tell you that it’s a lot easier to get psyched about composting when it’s nice and sunny and warm out. When a trip to the compost pile is a welcome walk in the summer breeze, taking time to literally smell the flowers along the way. During winter and particularly of late, with our sub-zero temperatures and dangerous wind chill, composting is a whole lot less desirable. There is something about the thought of bundling yourself up and walking across the wind swept tundra that we call our yard to the compost pile that just doesn’t make it all that appealing.
So, what’s one supposed to do when you are saddled with the guilt of not composting and the real fear of freezing to death while doing it?
Recycle your food scraps! Okay, I know you are going to say that composting your food scraps is recycling and perhaps this woman’s brain has already been affected by those sub zero temperatures she was talking about just now. No really, there are different food scraps that you can recycle by re-growing them. Scallions, leeks, fennel, garlic (for scapes), lemongrass, bok choy, romaine lettuce, ginger, potatoes, onions and cabbage.
The last time I bought bok choy from the supermarket (for sadly the farmer’s market had none) I decided to take the bottom that I cut off and place it in a shallow container with a little water. I added to it two leek bottoms that I had used for potato leek soup later in the week.
The bok choy started to show green growth pretty much the next day which surprised me a little since it was from the grocery store and God only knows how old it was when I bought it. The leeks took longer, in fact, I was pretty sure that they were going to rot and was ready to remove them from the bowl when I noticed that one had a little green stalk poking up from the center. The second one has yet to show any green growth but it has roots that are now about 1/4 inch long almost all around the base.
They will remain in the water for a while longer and then when there are real roots, I will plant them in some soil and see what happens. In the dead of winter with frigid temperatures it is very nice to see some green growing around the house.
So, Sunday was a beautiful day. My garden was tilled (thank you Justin) and ready for planting. I put in two whole long rows of potatoes (from ones I had kept from last year) and a row of shallots and onions from seed (yes, I know, onions from seed grow really slow — but if it’s a warm fall I’m set, if it’s not, it was only a couple dollars worth of seeds I already had lying around). I also planted two long rows of various lettuces, iceberg, simpson, romaine, different types of mesclun mixes including fire lettuce as my neighbors’ boys call it. Much more to do, but it was a good start. Creme was watching me the whole time, they love the garden because they get the weeds and the bolting lettuce.
To give you an idea of how nice it was, here is a picture from the porch — did I mention that I love our porch?
Today, this little one was hanging on the screen door all day long. I have no idea what it is, but it is quite colorful. Anyone have a clue?
Here’s the ingredients for our stir fry dinner tonight.
Chicken breasts chopped into bite size pieces
Baby bok choy and sliced red bell pepper
We picked up our weekly veggies from Evening Song Farm yesterday and I was thrilled to get some beautiful basil and cilantro. There were also baby beets and fresh garlic that I took too in addition to our usual lettuces and salad fixings. Here’s the haul this week……
I stopped by the Wallingford Locker this afternoon and picked up some great looking fresh chicken cutlets — and the jasmine rice is the rice cooker now. Can you guess what’s for dinner tonight? S-T-I-R F-R-Y! Dicing and chopping makes me feel like I came from culinary school and the actual cooking part takes but a few minutes. Tim’s not in the house, so even sesame oil and sesame seeds might find their way into this stir fry tonight.
By contrast things are growing …slowly….. in the garden, but at least they are not (as of yet) being eaten by any bugs or critters — and I do already have tomatoes on the vines thanks to my awesome oldest son’s biology project.
I am however very proudly nursing along some rosemary from seed — which I understand isn’t the easiest thing to grow. (Read: Yay me!) Don’t anyone of you tell me that it’s easy to grow or I will cry. I’m proud of my efforts and I love rosemary so I am one very happy girl.
Yesterday, we picked up our second week of CSA from Evening Song Farm. My goodness, I am just amazed at how things are growing so close to our house and I have, with the exception of tomatoes, essentially just seedlings in the garden. Plus, it was nice to meet Kara’s mom – also a fellow New Jersey-ite – and chat over the farm, the old Jersey neighborhood (since I grew up in the town next door to where she lives) and Vermont. I also ran into another acquaintance while I was there and we had a nice chat about the yoga class in town, which I am now going to definitely give a try. I probably could have been there talking for at least another hour, happily chatting away, except Tim was with me and after he was chatting for a while, politely reminded me that he did have to study for exams. Not only do I get my veggies, but I also get to talk to a bunch of very interesting people. Oh well, off we went.
This week I chose a beautiful head of lettuce, baby bok choy, spinach, green garlic, scallions, arugula, and chard. The variety that you can choose from is widely assorted – there were also radishes, salad turnips, mesclun mix, baby lettuce, parsley and kale – although I am sure that I am missing a choice or two.
For dinner last night, we enjoyed the lettuce in a salad. Today, I am sure that I am going to make sauteed baby bok choy again. That was delicious.
Sauteed Baby Bok Choy
1 bunch baby bok choy – with ends trimmed
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon Sriracha sauce
Saute the garlic in the olive oil at medium heat. Add the bok choy and Sriracha sauce.
Saute, stirring constantly until bok choy is tender crisp.
Today was our first CSA pickup! This afternoon, we ran over to Evening Song Farm to chat with Kara and Ryan and Echo (who was behaving himself very nicely with all those potential playmates coming and going) and gathered our first CSA of the season.
After spending a nice chunk of time speaking with Evening Song Farm owners, Kara and Ryan for my article that I did on their farm a month or so ago, I feel a connection to them. They are a genuinely nice couple that make you immediately feel at home. I was so very happy today to see so many people coming and going from the barn that is the CSA pickup location. They are a great addition to the community and I was so looking forward to the first pickup today.
Since I grow my own garden, and quite a large one at that, many people questioned my sanity at joining a CSA. Why would I do that? Simple answer, my family and I use more produce that I can produce and those that know us know that we have a lot of company. Since I usually go to the Rutland Farmer’s Market and purchase at least as many items as I am getting in my weekly CSA pickup, why wouldn’t I want to get a discount (yes it’s cheaper than purchasing the same items at the farmer’s market) and have the convenience of being able to pick it all up within five minutes of my own door? To me, these are good reasons, along with the fact that I’m helping a new local business get a leg-up in a less than desirable economy.
Since Evening Song Farm provides its members with a free choice CSA, I can tailor my weekly pickup to my needs which is another great idea in my opinion. This week’s pick looked like this:
Another good reason for joining was that my veggies are merely little seedlings right now and I’m certainly not growing a lot of what they have to choose from at the farm. We chose broccoli rabe, lettuce, baby lettuce, pea shoots, baby bok choy and these beautiful long and amazingly delicious garlic scallions that are at least two feet long.
Thanks so much to Kara, Ryan and Echo for some beautiful, fresh and delicious local veggies.
Needless to say, tonight’s dinner was angel hair pasta with sauteed broccoli rabe, garlic scallions, olive oil and crushed red pepper. It was delicious!
There are some very amazing people I get to meet as a result of writing for the Rutland County Express.They are inspirational to me. People often comment that I’m industrious with all the plates I appear to be spinning at the same time, but when I get a chance to interview other people, it really isn’t all that industrious or amazing.What some of my interviewees are up to is far more interesting and inspiring than anything that I appear to be doing.
The reason that I love the writing, (well, besides the fact that I love writing) is that I’m not a very outgoing person on my own, so if it weren’t for “having” to find something or someone to write about each week, I might not have found some of the nicest and most inspiring people in our area. It forces me out of my shell and I’m lucky to have a great deal of leeway in what I choose to write about each week, I can be flexible and go along with what catches my eye or something interesting I’ve noticed.
For instance, this morning I had an opportunity to sit down with Ryan and Kara of Evening Song Farm which is located just down the road (Vermont-style, of course) on Route 103 by the Cuttingsville/Wallingford border. I have been passing this plot of land which was home to a lot of stuff on the lawn before Kara and Ryan purchased it for the better part of almost a year and watching the transformation of this property. Little by little, fields have been tilled and hoop houses set up, manure was spread, more tilling and then recently, lots of activity and green things growing.
The 20-ish couple (Kara is originally from Teaneck NJ – geez– it’s really a small world) purchased the land and started their own farm. They previously ran a successful small vegetable farm with CSA in Pennsylvania. Originally looking to start a farm in northern Vermont and unable to find a suitable spot, by sheer luck they found this property right on the bank of river, which they now call home, along with their adorable puppy Echo.
The couple are selling CSA shares for their farm which is really rather neat, since there aren’t any local CSAs close to us. CSA is community supported agriculture and essentially you buy a share, entitling you to a portion of the harvest from the farm during the growing season. The member picks up their share once a week on a designated day. The shares are usually a fixed assortment of whatever is ready for harvest that week, along with accompanying recipes. Evening Song Farm is offering a different twist on CSA – a “free choice” share. Essentially instead of getting a fixed basket of veggies and be damned those of you who hate broccoli or tomatoes, etc., Kara and Ryan will give their CSA members choice of what items they want to fill their share for that week (barring some unusual circumstance where a specific crop is very limited). So, the salad lovers, can fill their share with all salad fixings, the broccoli lovers can gorge and the adventurous souls can load up with all sorts of goodies that they’ve never tried before. It’s a great idea even if you have your own home garden, since, let’s face it, we all can’t grow everything that we’d like to.
They are also going to sell at the local farmer’s markets five days a week.
Today, after our interview and photos, they offered me a bag of pea shoots which I most gratefully accepted. I then rushed home, wrote my article, submitted it and broke into the pea shoots.
Damn. They are good. Here is how they were transformed by me into lunch.
I mean, seriously, look at how nicely Kate & Ryan’s delicious pea shoots fit in with my fried rice mix-together lunch.
Lunch was delicious and my morning conversation with Kara and Ryan certainly was amazing and inspiring. I hope that they have a very successful year of farming.
By the way, that awesome sign in the picture was designed and painted by Kara and the frame was crafted by Ryan from timber from his father’s grove. Talk about inspirational!