Sunday, May 31, 2009


Would you believe that both of these lettuce plants are the same variety? For some reason, one is forming a nice head, as advertised, and the other is all stalky and tall. Does anyone know why? Mark's theory is that since this lettuce was grown from heirloom seeds, the outcome can be unexpected. While this is certainly true, could there be another explanation?

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Garlic, For Julie

The other day, our friend Julie wondered aloud how a clove of garlic transforms into a whole head of garlic underground. It was one of those questions that seems obvious, but I realized I didn't actually know myself. While cutting up some of my favorite green garlic today, I noticed the interrupted process was right before my eyes. I'm not sure if you can see the baby garlic cloves forming in this photo (you can click to enlarge), but damn, they're tasty.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


Today was our first pickup of food from our summer share at Genesis Farm. It was all I had hoped for, and more: arugula, chard, bok choy, spinach (no surprises there); but also baby turnips, radishes, carrots, sweet potatoes, beets, leeks, loads of herbs, and my favorite, green garlic, which is like a cross between a scape and a scallion. When I saw the mountain of fresh baguettes and country French bread from a local baker, I was in heaven.

So forgive me if I can't resist talking about the perfect meal we ate for dinner tonight. I made a simple frittata by sauteeing four stalks of sliced green garlic in olive oil in a large frying pan for 5 minutes before adding a heaping cup of chopped chard and a tablespoon of fresh thyme. While the garlic was cooking, I whisked six eggs with 1/4 cup of cream, some salt and pepper, and about a cup of grated Jarlsberg leftover from Mother's Day brunch. Poured the eggs over the veggies and cooked until firm over medium-low heat; when I got impatient I slid it under the broiler for 2 minutes at the end. We sliced it into wedges and ate it with copious amounts of chewy, crunchy whole wheat baguette. Delightful doesn't even begin to describe the meal, plus I get to feel smug because the whole thing is sustainable, organic, local, and ethical (SOLE). Score!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Green with Frenzy

We're eating garden-fresh greens pretty much every day now. Still can't decide what to do with the rhubarb, much like the difficulty we're having deciding where to live. Mark is still busy in the garden even though we're leaving in just a few weeks. Looks like the new folks will appreciate the fruits of our labors. Also adopting out plants and concocting elaborate schemes to bring as much as possible with us. Stay tuned.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Papers Out, Pencils Ready

A couple of weeks ago we attended a seed-starting workshop at Genesis, where they showed us how they do things and then let us help with a few tasks. Kate's favorite tool was the pegboard that pops out all the seedlings in a tray at one time; we've got to make one of those for ourselves. No more mangled seed trays!

Gardening is a perpetual learning process for us, an intentional foil to our stubborn goal-oriented personalities. We're trying to train ourselves away from instant gratification and enjoying the journey. Here are a few things we've learned so far this year.

Things we learned on the farm

  • Broadcast tomato, pepper, and eggplant seeds in a shallow pan of starting mix rather than planting in individual cells. Then see what sprouts and use a nitpicker to transplant them early to 4.25x4.25" pots.
  • Sow all onions & leeks in soil blocks, 4-6 seeds per block. For onions, allow any plants that sprout to grow and transplant in a clump. For leeks, thin to one plant per block or transfer extras to blocks with no sprouts. For leeks, you want one plant per block.
  • Maybe build a watering station next year--just a free-standing tub with water supply.
  • Save & dry hot peppers and beans by pulling up plants at the end of the season and suspending, then clip and use when completely dry or as needed.
  • Store seeds in a dedicated cool, dark cabinet.

Things we learned on our own
  • Seed-starting shelf system greatly improved results and accelerated growth rate for plants. Onions, shallots, leeks, scallions, lettuce, greens, basil, broccoli, marigold, calendula, eggplants, & peppers were all planted at the right time. New Zealand spinach & tomatoes were planted 3 weeks early.
  • Broccoli grows very rapidly and needs space. Should be started in broadcast fashion like tomatoes, then potted in 3" pots.
  • Soil flats worked great for onions, shallots, scallions, lettuce, & greens. Not so much for broccoli.
  • Definitely expand irrigation.
  • Need cold frames.
  • Hoop houses accelerated season by several weeks & protected against hail. Plants outside hoop house fared much poorer; lettuce is smaller and some was lost, broccoli is still so small it probably won't form heads.
  • Scallions & leeks from last year successfully overwintered. Scallion is going to seed, leek may do the same. No mulch was used; mulch would likely improve results. Same technique should be used for saving carrots, chard seeds.
  • Johnny's seed-starting mix worked outstandingly, with some modifications. The following recipe makes 3 (cat litter) buckets' worth:
  • 2 Buckets ProMix
  • 1 Bucket compost
  • 1 C Greensand
  • 1 C Rock Phosphate or Bone Meal
  • 1 C Blood Meal
  • 1/4 C Lime
  • Try adding 1/2 Bucket bagged topsoil next year as per instructions.
  • Also, buy/build compost tumbler for easy mixing.

Monday, May 4, 2009


Here are some recent eggplant photos. We started them a little early this year since last year's showing was a disappointment. The plants seem to really love the new seed starting shelf setup. Check out the thorns!