Saturday, March 26, 2016

Losing Track

I've let six months go by without posting a single entry. I was completely consumed by school for 10 weeks last fall where in every spare moment, I was studying. The holidays came and went. The seed catalogs filled my mailbox making me pause and realize "I better get my orders in!" My seeds are now on their way to growing into starts that will be ready to plant in a couple of months.

I also managed to make it to Seattle Tilth's early spring plant sale a couple of weeks ago held at the Rainier Beach Urban Farm and Wetlands. I bought two blueberry shrubs and a persimmon tree to replace the one I lost two summers back. A wonderfully sunny day signaling spring has arrived!

I am looking forward to trying a few favorites from last year: Espresso Bicolor corn, Honeydrop cherry tomato and my favorite pink variety 'Odoriko' which is from the Japanese seed company Kitazawa.

Sunny days like today can fool us into thinking winter is over, but we're not out of the woods yet. According to Dave's Garden, April 6th is when we should expect out last frost date. You can search based on your zip code here.

This weekend, I'll be clearing out weeds and figuring out where to plant the first fava beans and snap peas. I have a couple of  plants to rearrange as well to make sure my blueberries are easy to water this summer.

In the meantime, I'll reflect on the great harvest we had at the end of last season.






So many good things to look forward to in 2016! 

Monday, September 21, 2015

Baby Fruit

I love a good challenge. A gardener friend of mine tried growing corn awhile back (she wasn't successful) and ever since I wanted to give it a try. I looked at my go-to source for cooler growing, short season varieties: Fedco. I grew Espresso Bi-Color. I was super excited to have two whole ears! And this was a decent season for my first attempt given how warm it was.
Corn!
I also grew Charentais melons again. This time the Alvaro type from Fedco. Considered one of the "sure bets" for short growing seasons, I thought why not? I had several promising fruits. I'm not sure I started them early enough or have them in the hottest spot possible to ensure a decent crop. But these babies are the best I've done yet. Not to be discouraged I'm willing to try again next year. It will be so rewarding once I get it right!


Melon Baby!

Next post will be the start of the harvest and summer review as I start to put the garden to rest.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Annual Green Tomato Pie

The chilly fall air is already here. With that first sign, I knew it was time to to cut my losses with my Odoriko tomatoes. The plants were healthy and huge and the fruits looked promising. But I tried a new place to grow them that didn't take full advantage of the afternoon sun. Disappointing given the amazingly warm summer we've had.

So turning my lemons into lemonade, I made pie. When I first looked for a recipe I expected a savory pie; a kind of twist on fried green tomatoes. But when green tomatoes are super green and haven't even thought about ripening, they are crunchy and tart. I dare you to bite into one! The recipes were not far off from a regular apple pie. I like to add lemon juice and zest, cinnamon, clove, cardamom and a dash of ginger powder. I use a "1, 2, 3" pie dough using all butter, no shortening. I also use an egg wash sprinkled with lime sugar.

I shared it with coworkers who were willing to try it and pleasantly surprised. It was fun to watch their reactions. I almost didn't want to tell them what the filling was because of the expectation of how it would taste.

Half eaten in the lunchroom
Until next year and another green tomato pie...


Friday, September 4, 2015

Birthday Dinner

Despite a blown out fridge and temperatures in the 90's, I managed to pull off a decent birthday dinner. The basil for my pesto, the eggplant I slow roasted in the convection oven and the fresh tomatoes all came from my garden.

Though I do enjoy eating out, I was reaching my limit. It was satisfying to cook and enjoy friends' company and share what I've been growing.


Roasted Eggplant in the Cast Iron Pan

Buccatini Pesto with Sun drop Cherry Tomatoes

Monday, July 20, 2015

Apples!

Last year I opted not to cover my apples for two reasons. 1) To see if my apples would actually get codling moth or apple maggot and 2) shear laziness. Apples trees have an alternate bearing cycle where every other year is a low yield. Since last year was the "off year" for my trees, I thought it was a good time to try out my experiment. Sure enough, I ended up with a lot of wormy apples.

I finally got around to covering my apples last week...after seeing this sign from City Fruit about covering your apples. I'm hoping for better late than not doing it at all. I make my own barriers out of cheap nylon stockings I found at the dollar store.

I cut 2-3" long sections and tie a knot at one end. Then I wrap it around the apple and tie a double knot at the stem end.
Before


After



 
I noticed some apples did have a mealy frass-like substance at the bottom or blossom end. I gleaned those and tossed them into the yard waste. I also gleaned any fruit that was small or if the clusters seemed crowded. I wanted to give the others that are further along enough space to grow to their full size.

I think next time I'll start even sooner. It looks like City Fruit gives away free fruit barriers. I'll be sure to contact them next year!
                                                                            



                              

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Community



I'll be frank...the use of the word "community" can be overused. But this last week, I've regained faith in it during two separate events that happened as I prepared to attend my grandpa's funeral.

The first was on my way to the light rail station headed to the airport. I realized I was strolling through the farmers' market set-up. My favorite farmers, Jim and Carmella from Little Wing Farm, were at least two weeks early given the unseasonably warm weather. Jim gave me a hug and I explained my suitcase, sorry that I was missing their first appearance of the season. They insisted I take a handful of cherries and apricots which I promised to pay when I see them again. Sweet, warm cherries most likely picked that morning. Such a small gesture yet was such welcome comfort food as I waited for the train to arrive.

A handful of cherries from Little Wing Farm

 

The second event was who I will call My Rescue Hero Watering Friends! It hasn't just been a little warm. It's been as my friend says "stupid hot." We've been at least 10-15 degrees warmer that usual for at least a month (sorry...I'm not fact checking this right now!). I couldn't just abandon my tomatoes, eggplant, corn, fava beans, beets, cucumbers, squash, melons, Shishito peppers, and a few others I'm sure I'm forgetting; all planted in my garden. When I asked for the favor to water while I was away, there was no hesitation. So thank you, thank you, thank you friends...for keeping my veggies alive during some of the hottest days on record.

I am forever grateful to have this community. It kept me going and lifted my spirits during this time.



 

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Spring Get Away April Fool!

I'm usually much better at keeping up with posting entries. My goal is at least one per month, yet it's been almost three months since my last one.

I blame the weather...

We've had an incredible winter. It's been super mild which isn't great for our snow pack and water supply. But, it's been great for gardening. I even took the risk of seeding my lawn a few weeks ago. A bit of seasonal denial. I am fully aware at any moment we could enter a cold snap as we haven't passed our frost free date yet. And if we do freeze, I worry about every plant out there that is blooming or finished and leafing out as though it's May!

I found my invoice and letter from CR Lawn of Fedco Seeds, one of my favorite seed companies. His letter analyzed seed orders as of January 19, 2015. While seed orders have been slow, they had an increase of their tree orders (sorry, you have to be local in Maine to take advantage) by 20%. His reasoning is that people think long term and there is an increase in permaculture resulting in more tree sales.

Their biggest seller is Swiss Chard 'Bright Lights' followed by cilantro 'Caribe'. CR Lawn can't but help make a political jab connecting a poor selling spinach 'Donkey' to the GOP's motives.

This is the first year Fedco designated codes for their seed sources. It was too early to tell at the time of the letter, but it will be interesting to see if the codes affect the seed sales.

I realized today, it being the last day of March, I better get on to sowing! And...oh...wait! I forgot to place my order with Kitazawa! Argh! Maybe this is a good thing given my eyes are always bigger than my garden. It will help me narrow down my choices. Do I want to try again with winged beans and edamame? Probably not. Should I try something new like corn? Go back to growing kohlrabi? Yes and yes! I love broccoli raab but have struggled with bolting so I'm thinking of trying 'Zamboni'. Oh and of course our beloved 'Odoriko' tomato.

Hope you're all taking advantage of this weather...seasonal denial or otherwise!