Give Peas a Chance- week 4

Yes there are peas on earth here at Goodness Grows, and we are ready to share the peas with everyone.

Friskers Peas
Friskers Peas

Minty Peas and Onions

2 green onions chopped 2 cups peas 1/3 cup fresh Chocolate mint chopped 1 t salt 1/2 t pepper 2 T sugar 2 T apple cider vinegar Mix ingredients and serve fresh and raw…. super easy!

Caramelized Cauliflower

Ingredients:

  • 1 head cauliflower, about 1 1/2 lb., cored and cut into florets about 1 inch in diameter
  • 2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt

Directions:

Preheat an oven to 400°F. Arrange the cauliflower florets in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle the olive oil evenly over the florets, then sprinkle with the salt. Toss to coat the cauliflower evenly, then spread the florets out evenly. Roast the cauliflower, stirring 1 or 2 times, until golden brown and crisp-tender, 25 to 35 minutes. Transfer the cauliflower to a warmed serving bowl. Serve immediately. Serves 4. Variation: To make caramelized curried cauliflower, in a small bowl, stir together 2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil, 1/2 tsp. kosher salt, 1 tsp. curry powder and 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper. Drizzle over the cauliflower, toss to coat evenly and roast as directed above. When the cauliflower is done, in a small bowl, stir together 1/2 cup plain yogurt and 1 Tbs. Dijon mustard. Pour over the hot cauliflower and serve immediately.
So what will we find in our CSA this week?
1.   Peas
2.   Onions
3.   Mint
4.   Cauliflower, Broccoli, Cabbage or Kohlrabi
5.   Yes, our yummy salad mix
6.   Strawberry Cream Cheese
7.   Garlic, the last to be picked, but we are already planning a super crop for next year!
I have been seeing zucchini and other summer squash starting.   Very soon we’ll be getting enough to fill csa’s, probably next week.    If this rain gets things going, we may be able to get some summer squash to you this week:)
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Week 2 CSA

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Garlic

Yes, that’s right, we are picking garlic for this week, and you get stems and all.   Before you throw out the stems, don’t do it, they are good to eat, no lie!    I like to slice them and fry them with eggs, or meat and the flavor and texture is superb!   This will possibly be one of the first experiences with fresh food.   The super markets don’t have tops because they don’t store, or ship well.   But really, they are great, and a bonus for getting fresh picked produce!

 

Turnip Greens

Turnip greens top the list in vitamin content, and are among the highest containing calcium of all leafy greens.   Here is a quick and simple recipe to help you use your turnip greens.   For those with half shares, just cut the recipe in half, and those with large families, you can double it.   I have also added small amounts of bacon and maple syrup to this recipe as a variation.

Ingredients
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 1/2 pounds turnip greens, washed, stemmed, and chopped
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup chopped pecans, toasted
Directions
Heat olive oil in Dutch oven over medium heat.

Add shallot, garlic and red pepper flakes and saute until tender and fragrant. Add the washed and cleaned turnip greens. Mix together. Cook until they have wilted down, about 3 minutes. Add pepper to taste.

In a small bowl, whisk the Dijon mustard with the chicken stock. Add to the wilted greens and cook until the liquid has all but evaporated. Add the toasted pecans and serve immediately.

Pea Shoot Walnut Pesto

You will receive pea shoots in your CSA this week too.   This may be another new food to try, they taste just like peas, and contain the very same nutrients as peas do.

1/2 c Walnuts

1/2 Garlic clove

1 T Parmesan Cheese

1/2 c Pea Shoots

3T Olive oil

Salt and Pepper to taste

Place the garlic and pea shoots in a blender and process until smooth.  Add the toasted walnuts and blend briefly.  Do not over process, as the nuts will take on a floury consistency.  Turn the pea shoot mixture into a bowl then add the Parmesan.  Gradually add the olive oil until you have reached a thick coating consistency.   Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with cooked pasta.

 

Salad

We’ve got some wonderful salad blend coming your way too-yum!   The salad is again a blend of lettuce and greens we started early this spring.

 

Yogurt

Remember this recipe from the farm meet and greet?

Yogurt and Chive Dressing

2 cups of yogurt

2 T fresh chopped chives

2 T lemon Juice

2 T sugar

Salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients and refrigerate for 1-2 hours before serving.

 

I am also including Chives so you can make it.

Our Iris garden is ready to share, and our peonies may be popping out this week too!

We have some exciting things coming on, again on a first pick status.   I will try to make sure that all of you get some asparagus and now we are picking small quantities of strawberries, and kale is coming to those who received asparagus last week.

Another rotation I need to make are eggs.   Rob wanted to squeeze the chickens last week to get enough for everyone, but I wouldn’t let him.   Instead, we will be rotating the weeks by location and our first rotation will be Goodness Grows and Frostburg for this week.   Bedford will be next, and Cumberland will follow.

Also, we can reuse the bags from last week for week 3 delivery, please return them for reuse.   Thank you in advance for helping us recycle the bags!

Till then take care!

Plants are growing even though it’s snowing.

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One for the onions, one for the carrots, or something like that. Really, though I’m a little anxious to get planting, this weather has been a really good things for our future fruit this year. Last year at this time, everything was blooming, and as a result we were left with out some of our favorite fruits including service berries, cherries and grapes. Other trees that took a hit last year were the walnuts. Mother nature knows what she is doing, and I feel it’s going to be a great year for some of the early bearing fruits….can’t wait!

Garlic in the Cold Frame

Garlic is growing in the cold frame along with some other tasty treats…. like cauliflower!

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Strawberries are blooming in the greenhouse.   It takes an average of 21 days from bloom to berry.

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Cabbage, Kale, Broccoli and Kohlrabi patiently wait for the ground to warm up so they can go outside.

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The Pepper plants will need to wait longer, but they are not ready to go yet.

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Elderberry buds!!!!

I really am looking forward to a great season full of yumminess!

Beets abound!

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Beautiful day today, mild and sunny.   I went for a walk with Liane and we happened across some lovely beets!   We were giddy picking for supper near the end of winter!

 

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We boiled the beets just long enough for the skins to peel easily, about 10 minutes.   While the beets were boiling, I added some olive oil to a skillet and diced 1 onion to saute in the skillet.   We peeled and cubed the beets adding them to the skillet with a cup of the beet water and the following ingredients.

2T tahini

1t seasalt

1/2t white pepper

2T curry paste

1/4c sesame seeds

1 stick of cinnamon broken into large pieces

I sauteed these ingredients in the skillet with the beets.   Then I added 1 1/2 c yogurt and stirred the yogurt with the beets and onion.

 

Everyone had seconds!

 

 

Using Compost in the Organic Garden

Using Compost In Your Garden

The NOP has recognized raw compost as a potentially hazardous material.   One of the reasons why it could be hazardous is because raw compost may contain food borne illness that could spread to garden products intended for food.   If you intend to use raw compost on your garden, please refer to the standards the NOP has placed.   Think about it, if you tossed food into the compost, it was probably inedible, or close to it.   Would you eat or want to eat food that has come in contact with other inedible foods?   There are methods to discern weather or not compost has fully decomposed, and these practices are thoroughly followed on our farm, but it takes time and record keeping that most people just don’t do.   To be safe and not spread food borne illness to your veggie garden, you should heed the reccommendations implied by the NOP for compost your gardens.

  • Amend soil intended for leafy greens and vegetables that grow in the soil at least 120 days before harvest.
  • Amend soil intended for above ground crops that do not come in contact with the soil at least 90 days before harvest.
  • When starting seeds, pasteurize the compost by cooking to a temp of 160 degrees Fahrenheit for a period of 30 minutes.

For a complete article of using compost in organic gardening please visit- http://www.extension.org/pages/18567/making-and-using-compost-for-organic-farming.

 

Pasteurizing compost can also help prevent other problems from occurring.

  • Pasteurizing composted materials eliminates risk of food borne disease from contaminating crops.
  • Pasteurizing compost prevents soil borne plant pathogens from contaminating the plants.
  • Pasteurizing compost kills a majority of weed seeds that may have entered the compost pile.

Pasteurizing Compost does have its disadvantages too.

  • The effects of the heat may damage soil structure, requiring further amendments.
  • The pasteurizing process can kill beneficial insects and organisms.
  • The pasteurizing process may deplete essential nutrients for plant health requiring further amendments.

Worm castings are not considered to be raw compost material, and therefore may be used at any stage of plant growth for plants intended for human consumption.

I use our outdoor wood furnace to cook our compost.   I have a few barrels around that were once used for drinking water for the military.   I set the barrel on the wood fire and fill it about a third of the way full with moist compost.    I use a shovel to keep it stirred, kind of like soup.   If I don’t keep it stirred, it will burn, and burnt compost is not very good to use.   After it has reached a temp of 180 degrees, I take it out and let it cool.   It is a sort of pasteurization.   The soil that comes out is nearly sterile.

I pasteurize my compost just for germinating seeds.  I use compost all over my farm for other purposes, and I don’t bother to heat it.

Some times, weed seeds can blow onto or get into the compost and they love it.   The heat seems to stop most unwanted seeds’ viability.

If any plant pathogens are present in the compost, they are taken care of during the sterilization process.   Some seedlings are particularly susceptible to soil pathogens and this results in damping off. Damping off is a term used to describe seeds that do not germinate, or seedlings that suddenly die before they get their true leaves.   There are other conditions that contribute to damping off such as cool or cold soil temperatures, and too much moisture, but there are also tiny little monsters existing that cause damping off as well.    Some of the pathogens which I am referring are botrytis, pythium, fusarium, and rhizoctonia solani.  While I don’t know if my compost contains these pathogens, I’d rather not find out the hard way.   Usually, with transplants, signs show up in time to take care of the affected plants. With seeds, I may never see them germinate without this vital precaution.

I use cooked compost to mix into my seed starting medium.

Worm Compost

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We are using Silas’ worm castings to mix in our seed starting soil.   Silas has been raising composting worms for a year now, and he has quite the collection of red wigglers to show for it.

Last year, Levi and I did an experiment to see if worm castings improved the quality of the plants we were starting in the green house.   We experimented with sunflowers, because that is Levi’s favorite plant to grow.

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We used 4 different mixes and preparations to start the sunflowers, and were happiest with the soil mix that included worm castings.   From that point forward, we have been using worm castings to start our seeds.   The top left corner are seedlings with worm castings in the soil.   Clockwise we have plain peat moss mixed with vermiculite, down from that is uncooked compost (note the weed issue, among other things)   and at the bottom left is plain sterilized compost without worm castings added.

 

What a difference worms make when you are trying to grow healthy plants for food!

Subscribing To a Farm Share Of Goodness Grows

This is such a lovely time of year!

Tomato plants snugly tucked in the greenhouse warmth.
Tomato plants snugly tucked in the greenhouse warmth.

 

Totally filled with anticipation, I am truly excited to meet our newest shareholders this year.   People are beginning to introduce themselves to our farm, with interest in subscribing to our products during the growing season.   We have many medical professionals getting their entire offices involved this year, which really hits home to me that what I’m doing for my community is really beneficial on so many different levels.   The concern for a healthy nutrient dense lifestyle with freshly harvested food items has been a buzz in our community, and I’m one of the few you can find available.

Of course, I am also very glad to see our loyal return shareholders renewing our agreement, I have missed seeing you all on the weekly basis.   I am looking forward to working with you all again this year.   It gets quiet during the winter, and the preparations for the growing season bring to mind the weekly interactions of friends that can enjoy our products season long.

So things are picking up on the CSA front of our farm.   I have promised all those who wish to renew from last year that they have a spot for 2013.   We have also had some new people join us this winter.   That leaves 18 spots available for the 2013 growing season.   I wish I could provide more, but I feel that I need to make absolutely certain that I can provide top notch quality and variety for everyone, and this is the limit I have set for our farm.

The 18 spots will be filled on a first come first serve basis, and our deadline for signing up is March 15, 2013.

So if you are reading this with interest in signing up for our 2013 CSA share,   You may print the following forms, fill them out and mail or drop them off to us at the farm.

https://goodnessgrowspa.files.wordpress.com/2012/11/goodnessgrowssignupsheet.pdf

https://goodnessgrowspa.files.wordpress.com/2012/01/goodnessgrowssurvey.pdf

https://goodnessgrowspa.files.wordpress.com/2012/11/goodnessgrowscostpershare.pdf

https://goodnessgrowspa.files.wordpress.com/2012/11/goodnessgrowswhat-to-expect-1.pdf

 

Now it’s time for me to get back to it, sorting, starting and sprouting seeds for our yummy veggies this year!

 

Planning the Garden

Timely enough, we have seed catalogs pouring in through the mail box and lots of great old and new varieties are grabbing my attention.   From artichokes to Zucchini, I have a hard time deciding what to grow that’s new, and looking over my notes from last year, where to place my favorites, the best performers.

Site selection

Some are very limited on space, and may even be limited to what can grow in containers.   While others have yards that they can turn into gardens.   Some cities are developing community gardens, that for a small fee you can plant a small garden.   What ever the location, observe it.   How much sunlight does it get in a day?    Does water flow over it, or soak into the soil?   Is any vegetation growing now? I highly recommend taking soil samples and sending them for analysis.   You can find a lot of information about who does this through your local Cooperative Extension Office, and there are offices all over the country.

If your site is shady, don’t let this discourage you, many edible plants grow in the shade.   Some people will say that a site for a garden needs at least 6 hours of direct sunlight, but I have grown plants in as little as dappled, diffused light all day long.   You won’t get the prize pumpkin in this type of garden, but the sweetest strawberries grow in shade as well as many members of the mint family, alliums, ginger and ginseng too.

Plant what you like!

This seems obvious, but for the longest time, I was the only person in the house that liked tomatoes.   I only needed one tomato plant on my back porch garden when I was just growing for my family.   Planting 12 plants was sort of silly, and most of those tomatoes went to compost.   Think about what you buy at the store.   If you always purchase peas, plan on trying to grow your own instead.   Are you a salad eater? Onions and garlic are common kitchen staples, and are also very easy to grow in our climate.  Make a list of veggies that you always eat, and you will have a good start on what to plant this spring.

Know your plant families.

This is something that I teach all of our interns.   As we are going through the season, I always refer to sections of the garden by plant family, so at least they can walk away with this very necessary info for a successful garden.   Why is this important?   Well, plants that are related often require the same type of growing conditions such as; light, water, nutrient requirements, soil conditions as well as attract the same types of harmful insects and disease.   By knowing the plant families you can plan your garden for the most efficient use of water, insect and disease control.   Also you can easily avoid consecutive plantings in the same area, thus extending and aiding the life of the soil through crop rotation from year to year.

Here are just a few examples of plant family categories:

Allium- Onion, Leek, Garlic, Chive

Brassica- Cabbage, Broccoli, Kale, Turnip and Mustard

Cucurburitaceae- Squash, Melon, Gourd, Pumpkin, Cucumber

Legume-Peas, Beans, Alfalfa, Peanuts

Solanaceae-Potato, Tomato, Peppers, Eggplant, Tomatillo, and Okra

Obviously this is short list of some of the most planted veggies in our area.   There are so many more and there are volumes of books available for more detailed list of plant families, I’m only hoping to cover the basics here.

Map it out.

Once you have an idea of what you would like to grow and how much space you intend to use, make a map.   Research your favorite veggies to see what type of soil they prefer, and check with your soil test results to see if you need anything extra to help your garden do it’s best.   When you get your plan map, you can adjust the quantities to fill the space.   Most seed catalogs tell you how many plants will fit in a given space.   I like to use Johnny’s Selected Seeds because the information they provide in their catalog is very detailed as far as how many seeds I need to purchase.   Besides, I have also found their seeds to be top performers in our greenhouse in side by side comparisons.

Keeping plant families close is a sure way to help with garden maintenance.    It also helps with the very next step, companion plantings.   Companion planting is combining different plant varieties in close proximity to help aid in the desired crop’s growth.   Companion plants may assist in nutrient uptake, as well as pest management.

Here is a short list of companion plants-

Allium- Lettuce, Carrot, Strawberry

Brassica- Legumes, Aromatic herbs, Cucumber

Cucurberit- Legumes, Aromatic Herbs, Brassica

Legumes- Brassica, Corn, Cucurberit,

Solanaceae- Basil, Celery, Beans, Spinach, Radish

I simply fill much of the empty space with companion plants, to help with biodiversity, plant growth and insect resistance, and efficiently use my garden space.

Selecting Varieties

You can use seed websites and catalogs to explore new varieties.   The best seeds in my garden are always free, or at least collected from previous years, but I always love trying something new.   I recommend reading reviews from other gardeners about the plants you want to try.   Some don’t yield as much, and other top performers aren’t as tasty as I would like.   I have found that I can learn so much from reading the reviews of particular varieties before I invest my money and my back to it.

Cattails-Nature’s Buffet

Cattails

Cattails are truly a gift to have on our farm.   Year round nutrition can be found with these native plants in all forms from roots to shoots, pollen and pods too.   Comfort and function accompany cattail lore as the fluffy seeds insulated clothing and blankets, while the reeds and leaves were used for making baskets and containers.

Where cattails are found it is said that no man will go hungry.   Perhaps if we started with this time of year, and throughout winter, the roots can be dug and eaten in a variety of ways.   I recommend that young roots are used.    The larger they get, the more fibrous and woody they become.   I have stir fried cattail roots with dandelion roots and wild garlic for a satisfying and nutritious root skillet.

In the spring, the young green shoots are tender and tasty in all sorts of ways.   I eat them raw in salads, and cooked in everything I can add a little spring green to.   It goes well in rice, pasta, soups and stews.

As summer emerges, the young pods that will later become the notorious “cat tail” shape that we all know can be picked while still green.   They can be roasted or boiled and husked like an ear of corn and eaten much like an ear of corn.

Later on the brown cat tail blooms start to pollinate.   The yellow pollen can be gathered by simply shaking the yellow dust into a bag.   Golden cattail pancakes can be made with any amount of cattail pollen, add flour to the pollen to make 2 cups.   Add 5 teaspoons of baking powder, 2 cups of milk and 2 tablespoons of oil.    Mix well then drop 1/4 cup of batter at a time onto a hot skillet with butter or oil.   Turn the pancakes when they start popping bubbles on top.   Serve with your own syrup or apple butter.

After the pollination the fertile seeds will emerge from the spires with white tufts.   These fluffy seeds can be used for stuffing pillows, blankets, mittens and slippers.   This is also just about the right time to harvest the reeds and stems for making baskets with.

What a great plant!

Week 19 Patchy Frost Hits The Valley

I awoke this morning to a patchy frost, I am still waiting to see exactly how much was damaged.   We still have a good deal of produce to distribute, I’m not concerned for this week’s distribution.   Though, some varieties may have been taken out of production from the frost.   We were definitely prepared for the end of season as far as cold hardy veggies are concerned, and we have harvested and stored a few varieties for such an event.

What’s coming in our shares this week?

1.   Tomatoes

2. Salad blend of lots of leafy greens, radishes, and cherry tomatoes

3.   Beets

4.   Turnips

5.   Squash

6.   Apples

7.   Peppers

8.   Lima Beans

 

 

Looking Ahead

 

I have been checking our late season carrots, and they are just about ready.   You may even expect to see some next week!   Until then, take care and stay warm!