Friday, October 28, 2011

a snow bouquet

we are bundled up here and ready for the snow.
yes you read right, SNOW!
i know for some of you this is no big deal.
but where we are snow in october is rare.
and possibly 10 inches, well that now is unheard of.
to say the little people around here are excited would be an understatement.
and the big people, well they are excited too.
we have brought in the potted plants,
harvested what was left,
stuffed the chicken coop with straw,
and put the walls on the rabbit hutch
to give the bunnies a bit more insulation.
but a little gnomey in our garden thought it most important to pick "a vase" as she calls it or a bouquet before the snow comes.
she chose a nasturtium (hard to believe nasturtiums are still growing when snow is on it's way),
a small chard leaf,
a sedum,
an anise hyssop flower
and a begonia.
so sweet, and quite beautiful
as it sits there on our windowsill
waiting for the first flake to fall.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

late october in the garden


snow is in the forecast for tomorrow. we keep having false alarms in the frost department, but we felt it was time to harvest our tomatillos. did you know that we didn't think we planted tomatillos this year? we were sent tomatillo seeds instead of the husk cherry seeds that we ordered. i'm not complaining. more salsa verde in our very near future. we also pulled out our matt's wild cherry tomato plants (finally!) and have an entire colander full of various shades of cherry tomatoes sitting by the sink.


it's time to plant garlic. many of you wrote to tell me that you are a bit intimidated by garlic. don't be! it's super easy to grow and doesn't have many pests. just simply break the bulb into cloves. don't peel them.

garlic planting

and plant them with the tip pointing up. i've read different opinions about spacing. 4-6 inches sounds good to me. at the farm, we plant them 8 inches apart because we have the room to do so. push the entire clove into the soil and cover. pat the soil down when you finish planting.

if you have a chance, enhance your soil with some aged manure or compost. at the farm, we add cheep cheep, which is supposed to be good for any plants in the allium family.


our hives are wrapped and ready for winter weather should it truly arrive tomorrow. mouse guards are in place, too. we're all set whether it snows or not.

Monday, October 24, 2011

an accidental abundance of gourds

freddie apparently likes gourds 

so here i am, with a pile of gourds.  i didn't intend to plant these, you see. this plant was supposed to be a crazy productive zucchini grown from seeds that my coworker saved from his crazy productive zucchini last year.  but, apparently it was some sort of hybrid and got cross-pollinated because this is what we both ended up with this year, instead of a boatload of zucchini. 

so i ask you, gardening friends, what in the world am i supposed to do with all of these gourds?  just put them in a bowl and let them look pretty? i'm gathering that's pretty much all gourds are good for, but i'm open to any and all suggestions.

(alternatively, i could feed them to my dog, because apparently he thinks they look mighty tasty!)

Sunday, October 23, 2011

backyard chicken workshop

chris and i have taught several different kinds of workshops, all related to our backyard.
but one of our favorites is backyard chickens.
we taught one on tuesday night at a local high school through a community class program.
we give a really fun slide presentation with all of our own photos.
we talk about coop designs, breed selection, chicken care basics and the wonderful benefits of keeping a small-scale backyard chicken coop.
this time we thought it would be fun to give a two part workshop,the second part being in our backyard.
we wanted people to see how small our space really is and what you can do in such a tiny space.
today participants came for the second part.
some brought their kids (who got the biggest kick out of petting the girls and feeding them sunflower seeds) as well as partners and spouses.
two women even went home to get their husbands and bring them back to talk to chris more about how to build themselves a coop like ours:)
it was such fun showing every one around
and sending them all off to come up with their own little backyard operation.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Pepper harvest


Last night in anticipation of autumn's first frost, we covered tomato plants, brought in the potted plants, and harvested all the peppers. There are five bags of sweet and hot peppers! So now I am on the hunt for pepper recipes. Do you know of any to add to the list?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

autumn garden notes

gilfeather turnips
I took a walk down to our field garden today. It's the garden that's so far away that we often go a full week without checking in. We have some gilfeather turnips that are ready whenever we are, but i'm waiting for Thanksgiving. I love looking around our gardens and seeing things that will end up on our thanksgiving table: tiny brussels sprouts, leeks, sage, and kale.

The winter rye cover crop we planted is doing well. You can see it in this photo growing all around the turnips. I have to say that the morton oats we broadcast on the left side of the garden did not germinate as well.

Next week, we'll plant our garlic. We've been holding out because it's been warmer than usual and we don't want the cloves to germinate and grow too much before the winter snow cover. I recently came across this article on garlic and really enjoyed it. Everything you need to know right in one place. Our seed garlic from Fedco arrived recently too. We're planting five different varieties as we want to do a taste test and find our favorites. And we really would love to be garlic farmers one day. Here's what we're planting:

Georgian Fire
German Extra-Hardy
Russian Red

How about you? Are you planting garlic this year?

cherry belles

I couldn't leave the garden without taking back a snack. three pretty little cherry belle radishes. a nice treat.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Matt's squash boats

When my husband cooks he gets creative, and never tells me what he's making. It's always a surprise. :) Last night he grilled these squashes, filled with an array of garden goodness. When I asked him what he did (since I was going to report it here today!) he said he sauteed onion, garlic, shitake mushrooms till tender. Then added fresh tomatoes and spinach till the spinach cooked down, just a few minutes. I did see him splash a bit of wine into the pan. Then he spread the sauteed veggies into the halved and hollowed out delicata squashes, sprinkling on Vermont cheddar and fresh dill. Or I think thyme would also taste good. He said he was going for a spinach pie kind of flavor. Then he wrapped them in foil, putting two halves together, and grilled them about 30-40 minutes and I can tell you they were yummy! 

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

cherry tomatoes

when planning our garden this year, we knew that we only needed one type of cherry tomato, matt's wild. it is a sprawling, unruly tomato that's so prolific it's almost ridiculous. the tomatoes are tiny but flavorful, and the plant is a little more resistant to blight and other tomato diseases than most.

we've had two frost warnings so far this autumn but neither really amounted to anything, so the matt's wild cherry tomatoes keep coming. this is not a bad thing.

last summer i was obsessed with local kitchen's cherry tomato confit. i made the recipe numerous times over the course of the summer and the fall of 2010. this year, however, i had not made it once. this past weekend i set out to remedy that.

i had plenty of tomatoes so i doubled the recipe.

our italian parsley is still going strong, sprawling everywhere in fact, so i was happy to snip a large bunch for this recipe. as for the other herbs in the recipe, i substituted our own dried oregano for the basil.

you need to set aside time for this recipe as the tomatoes are cooked at a low temperature for around two hours. my husband and i were getting hungry so i pulled mine out a little on the early side.

as i'm a southern girl, i spooned the cherry tomato confit on top of grits and added plenty of cracked pepper. i also love the confit spread onto a slice of warm homemade bread or as a filling in a grilled cheese sandwich. this time, i threw the leftover confit into a broccoli and cheddar quiche. also amazing. so many uses!

thanks local kitchen!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

bok choy in the autumn garden

bok choy


bok choy

i believe that just about anyone, black thumb & all, can grow lettuce greens & radishes. in my opinion, those two are perfect for beginning gardeners & even the most skeptical. well, there's a third kid on the block & his name's bok choy. this is my first year to grow bok choy & i cannot believe how empty my life was before this vegetable & my garden became one. i think it had something to do with the name bok choy or its mysterious uses in the kitchen, but let me tell you, now i'm a believer. it is super easy to grow & in no time at all, you will have big beautiful bouquets of green, leafy stalks to enjoy.

i even have a killer recipe for tomorrow night's dinner.

thai coconut bok choy & salmon soup // serves 6

heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. add one chopped leek, half a large onion, 4 cloves minced garlic, & 1 small, diced thai or chili pepper. cook until fragrant, around 3 minutes.

once fragrant, add your spices- 2 teaspoons cumin, 1/2 teaspoon coriander, 1 teaspoon paprika, 1/2 teaspoon salt, & a pinch of freshly ground pepper. add one can of skinless, boneless salmon or two small, chopped fillets. combine & add two large, chopped bok choy. stir in 1.5 cups of coconut milk & 4 cups of water. combine all ingredients & bring to a simmer for fifteen minutes. add salt to taste. serve with an autumn salad & enjoy.

Friday, October 7, 2011

rabbit friends

so i know i have mentioned and even shared some glimpses of our two little friends that have made a new home in our backyard.
well today i am happy to make a more formal introduction.

titch, a chocolate, orange tri mini rex named after a favorite book of hannah's by pat hutchins
and harley, a blue fawn harlequin mini rex, nicknamed by norah simply after it's variety harlequin.

sadly, we lost hopper, our sweet french lop ear rabbit this summer.
we loved him dearly, as did the whole neighborhood.
we all knew however that he was not to be our last
and chris and the girls began to do some research on a new rabbit.

which quickly turned into rabbit(s)!
and not to mention a boy and a girl rabbit.
yes there will be baby bunnies at some point around here.

they decided on the mini rex.
their small size, plush coat and friendly personalities make them one of the most popular rabbit breeds in the united states.
and boy are they cute!
we just can't stop snuggling them.

they do add such warmth to our garden space
and the new hutch that chris built to match the coop is quite lovely if i do say so myself.
he made sliding wooden doors for easy access and lots of hugs.
and hand carved name tags to remind everyone who stops by just who is who.
and of course there is a living roof to grow succulents, herbs and greens.

it's hard to believe sometimes we have four chickens and two rabbits living in our tiny little backyard.
next year? definitely some bees.

and maybe,just maybe a dwarf nubian goat!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

an autumn bouquet


joe pye


red zinnias

just yesterday i took a quick walk around the yard surveying what was available for an autumn bouquet: fading ferns, pokeweed, asters, zinnias. three of these not cultivated by me. only the zinnia seed was scattered by hand, planted in memory of my grandfather. he loved them so and i will always have them in my garden.

also enjoying this interview/garden tour with andrea of heavy petal. love the whole idea of lawns to loaves!