Sunday, July 10, 2011

Vermin 1, Me 0

I've been really sad about the garden.  We're still getting masses of cukes and have had several tomatoes. 

However, a bunny has found it's way into the garden & eaten my radicchio and some of the bean plants.  This actually happened over a week ago & I'm just now able to talk about it without feeling simultaneously furious and sad. (Pathetic?  Probably.)  I've surrounded the lettuces with a barrier of marigolds & plan to replace the mesh upper with wood that can't be chewed through. 

It's so sad when you lose living things that you've nurtured over months & months, ya know? 

What a Rotten Day, So I Made Jam & Booze

Know what's not fun?  Getting your purse stolen at your neighborhood grocery store while you're strapping your baby into their car seat.  It's just unnerving when something like that takes a place you felt safe, ya know? I'm trying to think of this thief as someone that really needs the money and not someone targeting a mother distracted by her child which would just be heartless.

This trip to the grocery was to buy almond extract for Blue Chair Jam's Brandied Cherry Conserve. After all the required calls to credit card companies, filing a police report, and reporting my license stolen, I found comfort in the familiar and repetitive movements of making jam.  (And, the Blanquette I had bought to celebrate overcoming an obstacle certainly helped as well, although this instead became a night of celebrating my blessings.)

Do you have the Blue Chair Jam Cookbook?  If you've mastered basic jam making, I highly recommend it.  The jams are a bit more time consuming and the ingredients are a bit more expensive but the result is a very interesting combination of flavors that turns the most ordinary morning toast a special treat.

My variation of her Brandied Red Cherry Conserve is meant to slap you in the face with cherry flavor.  And, it certainly does!  Besides being awesome on toast, try swirling this into your morning yogurt, top a bowl of vanilla ice cream or top a pound cake (especially a chocolate one!).

Brandied Cherry Conserve (makes about 6 half pints)
My variation of a Blue Chair Jam recipe

3 lb pitted and stemmed sweet cherries
1 1/4 lb sugar (make sure it's cane sugar...the cheap stuff is usually GMO beet sugar)
3 1/2 oz lemon juice
zest of 2 lemons
2 oz dried currants
1/2 lb dried tart cherries, chopped
2 1/2 oz cherry brandy
3-4 drops of almond extract
3 cloves

1. Prepare your canner & jars (wash & sterilize them in 10 minutes of boiling water).  Keep them in simmering water to stay warm.

2. Combine half the cherries with 10 oz of the sugar & half the lemon juice in a non-reactive pan.  Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring often, and cook until the cherries are softened (about 5 minutes).  Turn off heat & let the cherries rest for 5 minutes.  Using blender/food processor/food mill/immersion blender, puree the mixture & put through a fine mesh sieve, discarding (or eating!) any solids that won't pass through.

3. In a large bowl, mix your cherry puree, the rest of the cherries, the rest of the sugar, the rest of the lemon juice, the dried fruit, lemon zest, brandy and almond extract (so, everything remaining except the cloves).  Let sit for 45 minutes at room temperature.

4. Put the macerated mixture back into your non-reactive pot & add cloves (preferable in a tea ball that you can easily get them out). Boil mixture, stirring to prevent sticking.  Cook until jam reaches gel point (testing either checking temperature to see if it's 220*F or using frozen spoons/plate).  This will be about 20 minutes.  When jam has gelled, remove cloves.

5. Fill jars leaving 1/4" head space, wipe rims, screw on lids & process in boiling water bath for 10 minutes.  Let sit in bath for 5 minutes, off heat, afterwards & then remove.  Check seal after jars have cooled.

Boozy Cherries/Cherry-Infused Brandy (makes 1 quart)
After making above jam, I still had oodles of cherries left over, thanks to Whole Foods' wonderful $2.99/lb organic cherries sale!  After the day I had, more booze was necessary.  Cherry-infused brandy it is!  This will be great to drink as a cordial, spoon over ice cream, use in baking, give as gifts, etc.  Plus, it's significantly easier than making jam.

1 lb stemmed cherries (you can pit too, but then you'd need more)
1 3/4c brandy (get mid-grade)
1/4 c sugar
1 thin strip of lemon peel (optional)
Amaretto (optional)

1. Clean & sterilize jar.  Wash cherries.

2. Put cherries in jar.  Pour over sugar & brandy.  If using, add lemon peel and a splash of amaretto (note: Amaretto doesn't, according to my research, have enough alcohol to preserve the cherries, so just use a splash & do not replace the brandy with it).  Make sure cherries are completely covered; if not, add more brandy.

3. Place lid & shake to dissolve sugar.

4. Set in a cool dark place for at least 3 months to mature.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Under $2/lb!

After harvesting 4.75 oz of beans, 15 oz of lettuce and 2 lbs of cucumbers I'm at 41.66 lb harvested for the year and $1.97 cost/lb!

Those beans are sitting in the fridge waiting for inspiration, the lettuce is for lunch & dinner side dishes and the cucumbers are destined for pickles.

Recipe: Dill Bean Pickle

I'm a lover of all things vinegary and salty.  If it's a bit garlicky and a tad spicy, all the better!  Thus, I've been really wanting to try pickled green beans for awhile now.  When I was faced with a pound of unneeded green beans from the garden, pickles it was!

For me, these are the perfect pickle, but you can add/subtract any dried spice (remember, though, it will get stronger as it sits) or leave out the garlic.  Just make sure to keep the water/vinegar/salt ratio the same (this recipe is tried & true from the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving).  You can also just store these in the fridge instead of doing a boiling water bath if you're going to eat these relatively quickly. 

Dilled Bean Pickle (makes 6 pints)
3 tbsp pickling or canning salt (*not* kosher or table salt)
3 c distilled white vinegar
3 c water
4.5 lb of green and/or yellow wax beans trimmed & cut into jar-length pieces
18 whole black peppercorns
6 cloves of garlic
dill seed
crushed red pepper flakes

1. Prepare jars & lids.
2. In non-reactive pot combine salt, vinegar & water.  Bring to a boil over medium, stirring to dissolve salt.
3. Add green/yellow beans.  Return to a boil & then immediately remove from heat.
4. In each jar put 1 clove of garlic, 3 peppercorns, a scant 1/2 tsp of dill seed and 1/4-1/2 tsp of crushed red pepper flakes.  Pack in beans, leaving 1/2 in headspace at the top.  Pour in liquid (keeping the headspace).
5. Wipe rim, place lid and ring and process in boiling water bath for 10 minutes.  They are best if they are let to sit for at least a week (ideally more) to absorb the flavors.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Lots of Basil (and More Beans!)

I really need to get better at using the garden produce.  It always comes as a surprise to me when something needs to be used & it really shouldn't be.  I vow from this point forward to take stock in what will likely be ready to harvest *before* I go grocery shopping and meal plan accordingly!

The big disappointment is my onions.  I think it's a little too shady for them & I planted them too close.  They haven't really bulbed much and the leaves are dying back.  The same story with my garlic!  Alliums, what's with the hate?!?

Luckily, I have basil, beans & cucumbers to cheer me up!  My cukes are taking over despite having a 6' tall trellis.  There are probably a dozen or more baby cukes just on the tee-pee trellis.  Pickles here I come!  The beans are also doing well.  I can't believe how much they produce.  Of course, the lettuce & Swiss chard makes it hard to find them which means they are often a little too mature (but still edible).  Oh, well.

The real hero, though, is basil.  Good gracious, the basil!  It was like 2' tall and definitely time to do a hard harvest (taking 2/3 of the plant).  It ended up being over 10oz!  I'm freezing most of it for winter use as there's no way we could eat that much basil in a few days (I need a break from pesto).

Totals for the past week are:
Basil 10.75oz
Cukes 4oz (not all pictured)
Beans 7.25 oz (not all pictured)
Onions 7.5 oz (not pictured)
Lettuce 2 lbs (!!! and there's still more...not pictured)
Kohlrabi 3 lb (this is all of it. not pictured)

Grand total for the year: 37.55

Not too shabby!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Garden & Harvest Update

The garden is looking awesome right now.  The cukes and pole beans are filling up their trellises, the lettuce hasn't bolted yet and the tomatoes seem to be growing a foot a week.  Oh, and the zucchinis!  The zucchinis!  I think at least 1 plant is going to need to go.  I planted a bunch b/c I didn't label & I was concerned one could have been a winter squash.  I'm just one person...that can't eat the output of 5 zucchini plants.

Also exciting?  I realized that some green beans need harvesting.  So I picked.  And picked.  And pickled.  Over a pound!  There were also 2 cucumbers (weighing over 5 oz total).  This brings my harvest this year to over 30 lbs.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Strawberries and Roses

I came across a recipe for strawberry and rose geranium flowers in the Blue Chair Jam Cookbook, it inspired me. I have a rose-scented geranium (note that I'm talking about the bedding plants...these are different) but it's not yet big enough to produce enough flowers.  Instead, I shoved a few leaves in some sugar to infuse.  The result?  Delicious, mildly rose-scented sugar.

After a hot day of strawberry picking, I threw a handful of fresh berries, a teaspoon of the rose-sugar, a tiny bit of water and a few ice cubes all together in a blender.  The result is a refreshing way to use a lot of berries!  Adding a splash of rose water (available in the middle eastern aisle of most grocery stores) just intensified the rose flavor.

All fortified now, I went on to make 2 batches of strawberry-balsamic jam!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Climbing out

I know this has been a trend this season, but it's true: I've been unbelievably occupied.  I've been, essentially, working 3 jobs: one at a plant nursery, one as a stay-at-home mom and one freelance job.  Plus, I'm taking classes.  Don't get me wrong, I love all these things, but it barely leaves me enough time to keep up with the garden, let alone post about it.  If you haven't deleted me from your Google Reader yet, you're a saint.

So, here I am, climbing out.

I'm happy to report that garden harvests have been epic in my blogging absence.  EPIC. I've harvested 5.7 lbs (!!!) of lettuce and 9.4 lbs (!!!!!!!!!) of kohlrabi.  Can you believe it?  Those this harvest alone is about half the total harvest of last year.  Yay for spring gardening!

Thus far, I've harvested 29 lbs and my cost per pound is $2.82!  I'm already under my goal of $3/lb!  SQUEEEEE!!!!  Plus, one bin of my compost is "finished" so I won't have to buy any of that for the rest of the year.

I apologize for the excessive use of exclamation marks in this posts, but it's taken me basically 3 years to get to the point where the garden is really paying for itself...even the fixed costs.

I promise to do a proper garden update (the plants are so big already) and post ideas about what to do with 16 lbs of this:

Recipe: Mulberry Jam

One of the great things about being married to my husband is benefiting from his youth climbing up trees. When most people walk by sidewalks dotted with purple crushed berries, they think "What a mess!"  Instead, my husband swings open the door and announces "It's mulberry season!"  At my job I noticed a tree loaded with berries and watch the horror on the faces of my coworkers as I walked over and put a few in my mouth. These trees are definitely thought of as a nuisance and not a food source for humans.  Silly humans.

I am a mulberry novice.  I wasn't entirely sure what a mulberry tree looks like (when they aren't fruiting), which is why I count myself fortunate that my husband does.* These are quite delicious berries; I can see why the birds adore them too.  They are intensely sweet and have an almost watermelon-y taste. And, now that I know what to look for, I feel like I'm seeing these trees everywhere. I'd be a fool, though, to tell you my favorite mulberry foraging spots...I get enough competition from birds!

*Please verify the ID of any berry before sampling.

Mulberry Jam (makes 6 half-pints)
(From Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving

3c crushed & stemmed mulberries
1/2c lemon juice
1 package of powdered pectin
6 c granulated sugar

1. Prepare canner, jars & lids.
2. Combine mulberries & lemon juice.  Whisk in pectin.
3. Boil over high heat.  Add sugar & return to boil.
4. Boil hard for 1 minute.  Remove from heat; skim off foam.
5. Fill jars/wipe off rim/tighten lid; process in boiling water bath for 10 minutes

Mulberry hands.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

May Local Eating Challenge: Recap

The Last Few Days
The last bit of my Local Eating Challenge left me with these thoughts: "Just a few more days to go!  I'm craving tomatoes so badly.  And watermelon."

I didn't buy much at the farmer's market because I went to the McLean one which is smaller and I went without a very coherent plan for the week.  I just needed to make it to Wednesday.  I spent $46 at the grocery store and $35 at the farmer's market (asparagus, 2 bunches of onions, a few cucumbers, ground lamb, 4 zucchini, 1 bunch radishes).  We also went strawberry picking so we're all set on fruit.

Plan for the rest of the challenge:

Saturday: Leftovers

Sunday, Tuesday: Burgers with grilled vegetables (lamb or beef, lettuce from the garden, asparagus, zucchini)

Monday: Neighborhood BBQ

Wednesday, Thursday, Friday: Black bean tacos (lettuce, onion, radishes)

My lunch: Quinoa & black bean salad (onions, radishes, cucumbers, parsley from the garden)

Husband's lunch: Pasta carbonara (leftover bacon from last week...don't was put in the freezer)

Where the last Local Eating Challenge left me feeling encouraged & uplifted, this one left me exhausted and frustrated.  Part of it certainly was the less interesting, IMO, produce for much of the challenge.  Greens of all sorts are indeed delicious, but one can only endure so many stir-fries, pestos, salads, braises and soups.  Add to the fact that greens take a lot of time to clean and prep as well as are relatively expensive (several bunches cook down to nothing) and aren't terribly filling left me constantly annoyed that I couldn't buy things already washed & prepared.  Another part of the picture, of course, is that I'm working 3 jobs and have less free time to search for recipes and cook.

I'll certainly stick with the next challenge month (August), but if I wasn't blogging about this experience, I would have bailed after the first week.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Why Bother?

I was on a gardening forum recently when a women posted that she wanted to grow an organic garden in raised beds built out of cedar. Her husband balked at the cost of cedar and shorter-lifespan of untreated pine.  He wanted to use treated lumber.  When I said I didn't understand using treated lumber in an organic garden, another poster didn't understand why anyone would pay 8x the price for a garden...why bother gardening at that point.

For decades pressure treated lumber was...well, treated...with chromated copper arsenate as a preservative.  Everyone thought this was the answer to all our problems...until research came out that arsenic leached into the soil.  Now, some studies said that there wasn't horizontal leaching (meaning, only the contact area near the wood was contaminated...not 20 feet away), others said there was more of an issue.  As far as I can tell, both sides agree that the soil is containmented for a very, very long time.  There was also some debate over how much arsenic the veggies absorbed and whether or not repeated ingestion of higher (but still small) levels of arsenic was hazardous to human health or not.  Regardless, the EPA banned it's consumer use several years ago.

The new pressure-treated-kid-on-the-block is ACQ: Alkaline copper quat.  There is no arsenic in this, just more copper, which does leach.  I've been to several ACQ lumber-manufacturer websites and they all say in the "safety" information

Do not use pressure-treated wood in circumstances where the preservative may become a component of food, animal feed, or beehives.

I'm having a hard time finding the USDA's official ruling on whether pressure treated lumber can be used in organic farms (maybe for hog pens, for example).  I have found that Ohio Ecological Food & Farm Association, a National Organic Program (NOP) certifier, does not allow pressure treated wood on new construction on organic farms. Because NOP certifiers are the ones that inspect USDA organic farms, I'm suspecting it isn't allowed.

Personally, I don't see the point in building a new raised bed with pressure treated lumber.  I can see the argument of just using a barrier if you inherited a pressure treated bed on your property.  However, the basic premise of organic gardening is to nourish your soil.  Having copper (a fungicide & insecticide) needlessly leach into your soil, in my opinion, isn't's potentially killing beneficials.  I don't really care if it's just on point of contact or not.  Leaching is leaching and it's the principle of the thing.

I'm not some elitist, though, that says you need to spend thousands on building raised beds instead of a few hundred.  Untreated pine is CHEAP and lasts about as long as the average homeowner plans to stay in their house.  Freecycle and Craigslist abound with cheap and free options for raised beds like cinder blocks, broken pieces of cement and scraps of cedar/redwood.  Then there's also the option of using hay bales.

So, why do I bother gardening with my pricey composite lumber boards? Because *not* gardening isn't an option.  Over the past few years, my garden has given me so many precious moments and delicious meals.  I remember when my first seeds sprouted-- it gave me the inkling of how a proud mama feels.  I remember our precious few strawberries which were the tastiest I've ever had (the chipmunks agreed).  Chocolate-dipped ground cherries remind me of being hugely pregnant, with empty cupboards, and needing something chocolate-y *right now*. 

I also garden to know where my food comes from...and to teach my child that baby carrots have tampered ends like "big" carrots and are not shaped like chubby thumbs.  Nothing tastes better than a home-grown tomato too!

And, finally, I garden to create a better environment around my house and my neighborhood.  I suppose this includes my ornamental garden as well.  Walking around my block it becomes clear that my neighbors don't have nearly as much wildlife in their yards. I see gold finches (and crazy looking birds I don't know their name!) in addition to the robins and crows and sparrows, a praying mantis climbed up my leg last summer and ladybugs are far more common now than when we first moved in.

These things make gardening worth more than the cost of my raised beds for me.  Your mileage may vary.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

May Local Eating Challenge: Week 4

We're nearing the home stretch!  To be honest, the lack (and expensive) of onions and garlic has been what is killing me.  I was so thrilled to see both garlic scapes *and* garlic at the farmer's market that I bought both in some sort of garlic-induced frenzy.  Then, of course, I forgot to buy onions (mine are still quite small).  I also long for some of my pantry meals that mostly rely on frozen vegetables, so there's none of this washing, chopping, and cleaning a cutting board business.  It's been a very busy month for me and being able to pull something out of the pantry or freeze would be so welcomed right now.  Just another week!

Review of last week:
Well, I didn't burn my lunch, so that was a plus.  I'm really getting sick of washing greens though.  All that damn pollen from maples and oaks and other trees gets lodged and stuck to the leaves.  So time consuming!

Week 4:
As I've already mentioned, garlic had arrived!  I'm so excited.  I feel kinda exhausted from all the meal planning lately, though.  I just want to go on autopilot a bit and buy some frozen corn and canned tomatoes for chili which we can eat off of for days & days & days.  But I will resist.

I spent $45 at the grocery store & $50 at the farmer's market.  Note, however, that $10 of the grocery store trip was in arborio rice because the bulk bin lever let the rice flow faster than usual.

Here's what I did get at the market: bacon, tongue, pork shoulder, lots of apples, garlic scapes (!), garlic (!!!), 2 bunches of asparagus, tunips, & 2 broccoli crowns.

Meal plan:

My lunch: Kohlrabi pasta (kohlrabi from the garden, garlic scapes)

My husband's lunch: Tongue braised with turnips (tongue, turnips, garlic and some stock made from the carcass of the chicken I bought a few weeks ago).

Saturday: We ate leftovers

Sunday, Monday, Tuesday: BBQ Pork with Kohlrabi & Apple slaw (pork shoulder, kohlrabi from the garden, apples.  Also served with baked beans)

Wednesday, Thursday: Vegetable Risotto (asparagus, broccoli, bacon and e more stock from the farmer's market chicken)

Friday: either leftovers or hummus flatbread sandwiches (with salad from the garden)

Friday, May 20, 2011

Garden Planted!

Well, mostly planted.  As of Mother's Day weekend.  Which was awhile ago.

Thing are lookin' fierce right now.  The kohlrabi really needs to be harvested and the beans are no longer laying on the ground.  Also, the potatoes I planted wrong (apparently no piece should be under like an ounce or two.  I cut them in much smaller pieces.  Oops) are looking like they should.  I direct sowed some winter squash (delicata) and slugs have taken down teh seedlings so I need to replant that.  And finish harvesting the Deer Tongue Lettuce that spilled in the tomato/nightshade bed so that I can finish planting peppers and eggplant.

Ground cherries, tomatoes & mushrooms from all this rain!

Onions, kohlrabi & potatoes are dwarfing my carrot seedlings.

Squash & cukes...still babies.
How's your garden growing?

Sunday, May 15, 2011

May Local Eating Challenge: Week 3

Review of last week:
I totally burned my dal.  Like, so bad we had to throw the pan out because there was just no way to recover it.  Given no farmer's markets on Monday (at least near me) and my overall lack of time, take out it was.  I ordered a week's worth of steamed chicken & vegetables from the Chinese restaurant down the street.  I'm kind of angry that I wasted some home-grown kohlrabi and even angrier that I ruined a pan.  So, my lunch wasn't very "local" unless you count supporting a local business. :)  Otherwise, we basically followed the plan.

Week 3:
Egads, this week has been Insane.  The capital "I" is intentional.  Between work and final projects and having houseguests, I have no idea how much I've spent at the grocery store or farmer's market.  All I know is that I bought a bunch of food, usually forgetting what I actually needed.

But, overall, I'm more excited about what I'm seeing at the farmer's markets.  Strawberries!  Baby zucchinis!  Yum.

So, I don't have any pictures of the haul this week (forgive me!) but I can remember almost everything I bought: 5 onions, 1 bunch of scallions, 1 basket of baby zucchinis, 1 quart of strawberries, 2 bunches of asparagus, whole chicken, ground beef, pork roast, apples, 3 bok choi heads, lots of broccoli crowns, and 1 bunch of tiny carrots.

Meal plan for the week:

My lunch: Lentil Salad with Tomatoes and Goat Cheese (minus cukes) (local tomatoes from grocery, herbs from garden)

Husband's lunch: Ricotta Pasta with Sauteed Greens, Mushrooms and Bacon (local mushrooms from grocery stores, greens from the garden, bacon from farmer's market)

Saturday: Date night out!

Sunday: Moosewood's Chili Burgers, roasted vegetables & oven fries (baby zukes, asparagus, carrots, onion and --leftover from last week-- potatoes from the farmer's market, lettuce from the garden)

Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday: Chicken Mole Enchiladas with salad (chicken from farmer's market, lettuce from garden)

Thursday, Friday: Cashew Stir-Fry with Rice (bok choi, scallions, broccoli from the farmer's market)

Recipe: Lamb Pitas with Radish Raita

This is what my husband said after eating 2 bites of this meal: "Ya know, sometimes with this local eating thing I feel like we're just making do with what's available, but this is fantastic!  I'd eat it even if we could eat tomatoes from Chile."

Gee, thanks?  I guess?

To be honest, I have been uninspired at the farmer's market.  We're both getting really bored of greens and there's not much variety beyond those and the occasional brassica or root vegetable that look awesome.  But this week I decided to embrace the challenge with all the vigor I did back in October.  We had ground farmer's market lamb in the freezer to use as inspiration.  And, after making some quite delightful radish tea sandwiches for a Royal Wedding Viewing Party, I wanted to do something with them too.  Enter spiced lamb meatballs tucked inside a warm pita with home-grown lettuce and a radish raita.  I served this alongside a modified tabbouleh (the usual bulgur, but made with parsley, onion, olive oil, red wine vinegar instead of lemon juice, oregano instead of mint and leaving out the tomato/cucumber.)

Spiced Lamb Meatballs (Serves 4)
(Adapted from Nigella Lawson, goddess of all things yum)

1 lb ground lamb
1/4 c finely scallions
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp salt
1/8 c parsley
Crusts from 3 slices of bread (tea sandwich leftovers!)
1 egg
Vegetable oil, for frying

1. Pulse the scallions, spices and bread crusts in food processor until a paste forms. Add this paste and egg to the lamb and gently mix until just combined.
2. Form meatballs (I made about 20 balls).  Place in fridge for at least 1 hr to firm up.
3. Heat oil in skillet and cook eat ball for about 1 minute per side or until done & golden all around.  Place on plate lined with paper towel to drain.

Radish Raita
(Adapted from

1/2 c plain yogurt
1/4 c diced radish
1 tsp diced scallion (white part)
1 tsp fresh lime juice (I cheated and used fresh lemon because we had one that was going to go bad).

Mix everything together & chill. 

Friday, May 13, 2011

Recipe: Kale Colcannon

Ah, the quest for new ways to make greens!  For some reason the Cooking Channel is showing vintage episodes of Tyler's Ultimate. You know, back when the premise of the show was him travelling to see how different "experts" used an ingredient or made a dish.  One episode stuck in my mind: Potatoes.  A woman in Ireland was sharing her recipe for colcannon, a potato dish made with boiled cabbage & ham.  But I don't have cabbage and the farmer's market doesn't have cured ham.

So, I improvised and the recipe below is still 100% delicious if not a bit blasphemous.  I did, however, leave the potatoes unpeeled as I boiled them, which the Irish woman recommends.  Probably something more suited for fall (this is seriously comfort in a bowl), but even my little baby licked his bowl clean.

Kale Colcannon (Serves 2)

3 medium-large potatoes (at least the size of your fist)
1 lb kale, de-stemmed and chopped
4 slices of best-quality bacon, diced
4 scallions, finely chopped
1 tbsp butter

1. Place potatoes whole in a pot and cover with cold water.  Bring to a boil and cook for 30 minutes or until done.  In the last 15 or so minutes, add the chopped kale & a good pinch of salt to the boiling water & cook until tender.  Drain.
2. In now-empty pot, render fat from bacon & cook until crispy.  Take off heat.
3. Add potatoes (peeled if you like) & kale to bacon.  Mash with potato masher.  Add butter and enough milk to reach desired consistency.  Stir in scallions, adjust seasoning.  Eat.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

May Local Eating Challenge: Week 2

I actually did most of my farmer's market shopping on Thursday and then I forgot to take a photo of everything.  So, you get a view of my dinner + some of the other stuff I bought.

Review of last week:
We followed our meal plan pretty well and had one apple and some scallions leftover!  However, no one at the market had garlic and garlic scapes aren't up yet.  This is a Big Deal in my family as almost every dish begins with a clove or two of it.  Also a Big Deal is $20 for a whole chicken.  Ouch.  I love making soup with greens and chorizo, but sinking $20 to make stock for it (yes, I realize I'd have meat for something else) is daunting.

Week 2
I spent $38 at the grocery store this week (mainly yogurt for the kiddo, lentils, lots of grains, local mushrooms, milk, pita, tortilla and cheese).  I spent $35 at the farmer's market (3 broccoli crowns, 4 medium-sized bok choi heads, 5 lb bag of potatoes, 4 sweet potatoes, 5 apples, 2 onions, 1 qt. strawberries, 1 bunch radish and 1 bunch parsley).  Grand total for the week is $73, which is under the $100/wk we budget.  However, my pantry is pretty well stocked currently and we still have meat from our last big farmer's market meat purchase (we'd go once every other month in the winter & stock up).

Meal plan for the week:

Weekend lunch: Wheatberry Salad with mustard greens (kinda like this recipe, but with greens instead of root vegetables. Mustard greens from the garden & onion)

My lunch: Dal with Kohlrabi (kohlrabi from the garden, onion)

Husband's lunch: Moosewood's sweet potato and black bean burritos (sweet potatoes, onions, cilantro from the garden)

Saturday, Sunday dinner: Vegetarian Stir-fry with rice (broccoli, bok choy, scallions from last week, mushrooms & cashews in a sauce of oyster sauce, soy sauce, green part of the scallions, brown sugar, and lots of dried hot peppers...from last year's garden!)

Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday dinner: Lamb meat balls with salad on pita, hummus & tabbouleh (lamb is from our last big farmer's market meat purchase, onion, radishes, parsley & lettuce from the garden)

Thursday, Friday dinner: a kind of Colcannon except with kale (from the garden) instead of cabbage (bacon from last week and potatoes)

Friday, May 6, 2011

The Garden is on a Roll- Harvest Update

It's taken 3 growing seasons, but I think I'm really hitting my garden stride.  What used to seem so difficult is now easy-peasy and...dare I say it...I'm having trouble keeping up with the harvests!  (It does definitely help that this has been a glorious spring.)

Since my last harvest update post, I've picked the rest of the arugula (over 3 lbs), all of the kale (over 1.5 lbs), some more mustard greens (12 oz) and just 4 kohlrabi (2 lb 2 oz)!  My total for the season is

::::::::::::::::::::::::::drumroll please:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

13.94 lbs!!! 

If I didn't have a food scale, I'm not sure I'd believe it, but it's true!  In the whole of last year I only harvested 26 lbs to put in perspective how monumental this is for me and my little patch of dirt. But, as I said before, as exciting as getting these big-for-me harvests are, the lingering question is: How can we possibly eat this many greens?  I'm getting over greens & I haven't harvested *any* lettuce yet, btw.  Yikes, right?

Worse case, we'll blanch & freeze.  Or see if mustard greens pesto is any good (and freeze that). 

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Local Eating Challenge: The May Edition

It's that time again when my family only consumes local fruit, vegetables and meat.  As you may recall back in October of last year, I had my first go at it and set up the rules of my game.  Overall, I didn't feel like I was ultimately spending more money on food (and, in fact, I was eating more fruits/veggies, less junk). I kept up with the local eating or at least seasonal eating as much as possible until the winter really set in.  Then I turned to frozen vegetables a lot. My life was getting busier as the baby got more active and my classes started getting more time consuming.  Convience became key.  I didn't revert to eating processed foods all the time, but I became less focused on where my fruits and vegetables came from.  However, I am proud that we've continued to buy organic (albeit non-local) dairy and, aside from chicken, our meat has mostly been local too.

Back when I started this challenge, I was convinced that by the time May hit, we've have something other than greens to eat. And, I was right.  There are greens, potatoes *and* onions at the farmer's market!  Hahahahahaha.  I suppose there are also tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers, but those must be greenhouse or cold frame grown, so not exactly "in season" as I personally define it.  Damn me & my principles!! But, it's OK.  Greens we shall eat.  They are good for us, at least.

Here's what I bought at the market (total cost: $41.50):

3 apples & 2 asian pears (not shown), 2 bunches of spring onions, 1 bunch of young onions, broccoli, buffalo chorizo, bacon, 1 pint of new potatoes, a block of cheddar

And, I'll be using arugula, mustard & kohlrabi from my garden to supplement. I didn't really buy anything other than ricotta, yogurt for Sprouter, and pizza dough at the grocery store this week; our pantry is pretty stocked.

Here's the meal plan:

My lunch: Chorizo, greens & bean soup (I'll use most of the chorizo, onions and some garden greens)

My husband's lunch: Beef tongue braise with rice (He'll use some onions. We got the tongue from the market a few weeks ago)

Breakfast: Oatmeal with apples

Sunday, Monday, Tuesday: White & Greens Pizza (I'll use some of the cheddar with some store-bought ricotta and make different pizzas using 1 link of the chorizo, the broccoli and arugula.)

Wednesday, Thursday: Frittata (I'll use the new potatoes and some greens.  We'll also have a salad)

Friday: Take out night! (aka, I'm tired of cooking)

Snacks: Asian pears, salad

Note: The baby just eats what we do at this point, so he'll be having what we're eating this week.

Friday, April 29, 2011

My New Pets

I'm not the crazy cat lady, I'm the crazy plant lady!

I've been wanting to try air plants, but the ones sold in the nurseries around here aren't terribly exciting. I found a store on Etsy that sold really cool specimens and jumped all over it. To say that I'm thrilled with the purchase is perhaps the understatement of the year.  I'm IN LOVE.

These ladies don't need soil to grow...they get everything they need from their leaves.  A bi-weekly dunk in water, apparently, is all they require.

Are air plants going to be the new hypertufa? They are certainly easier to "plant" and  require less light.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

More Harvests...

There have been several garden harvests already this week!  We picked some arugula for dinner salads and then sandwiches over the weekend (9oz total).  I also picked one full square of mustard greens and yielded 1.6 lbs!  I also thinned the radish patch and that yielded a respectable sized bunch weighing about .4 lb.

With all this heat, the rest of the arugula is starting to bolt, so I'm going harvest that & make pesto and something else. I'm really excited to see how much that yields!  It's time to move the Swiss chard outside anyways. 

All & all, I think I may actually reach my goal of under $3/lb of produce this year!  This time last year I had only picked 0.25 lb of arugula...

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Garden Update- The Inside

With Sprout's new-found mobility, it became obvious that my seedlings needed to find a new home.  This also meant, however, that they weren't in a highly visible location.  Thus, they got a little neglected and some casualties have occurred.  My sweet peppers had sprouted, but then got dried out & died.  The Purple Opal Basil, nasturtium & Thai Basil haven't germinated yet...not sure if that's a result of old seed (in the case of Thai Basil & nasturtium) or not having consistent moisture.  I've replanted all but the nasturtium in hopes of not having to purchase these.

The good news is, though, that the tomatoes, and everything else that has germinated, are looking awesome.

Just under a month until these babies go outside, so I'll start a weekly fertilization of a diluted solution of fish emulsion.  As April 15th is technically the last frost date for my zone, so I've already directly sowed some carrots outside.

I'm starting to dream of grilled eggplant and tomatoes eaten raw with just a bit of salt and pepper.  Those days are still a few months off, unfortunately.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Garden Update- The Outside

Guess who has a job?!?  This girl!  It's part-time, but it's a great start.  I'm doing manual labor at an independent nursery and loving every minute of it. It's not only nice to have an excuse to be outside (and get paid for it!) but I'm also getting an excellent opportunity to meet and mingle with a bunch of plants I haven't dealt with before.  The downside, of course, is less time for my own garden...and this blog.  My apologies for not posting more this growing season thus far.

In comparison to the summer garden, the spring garden requires less watering (thanks to the spring rains), less seed starting (most of what I planted was directly sown) and less pests (although I anticipate this will soon change). I'm wondering why it took me so long to actually implement a proper spring garden. 

The kohlrabi is really taking off and a few are even starting to bulb up a bit.  The onion sets I planted are doing better than the seeds I started but I suppose that is to be expected?  I planted radishes on a whim and those are starting to really go crazy too.  In the photo below you can see all this, plus one of our blueberry bushes leafing out & blooming (yay!).

Last week I thinned the arugula and now you can't even tell!  I'll do another thinning/harvest this week to give them more room to grow.  However, in just a few short weeks it will be time to plant the summer vegetables, so a few squares of the arugula and mustard are going to have to make way for beans.  I'm looking forward to a sizable harvest for that!

Which reminds me that this weekend I need to start my cucumbers and squashes.  Shortly, I'll do an update of the summer vegetables I've already started indoors.  It's been a mixed bag there.

Monday, April 11, 2011

First Harvest!

And I forgot to take a picture of it!

Close your eyes.  Imagine a bunch of baby arugula.  Said arugula weighs 11 oz.

Voila!  You have a very good imagination as that's *exactly* what I harvested as I was thinning out my arugula planting.  There is still more thinning to do, but I didn't need so much arugula.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Postcard: Royal Botanic Gardens Kew

To be honest, one of the primary reasons I wanted to go back to London was to visit the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.  In my last visit to England, we saw a documentary on the BBC about how Kew Gardens were instrumental in creating the British Empire.  That cemented my desire to see the place for myself.

 I'm sure it's even more amazing in the warmer months, but there was more than enough to occupy us for 5 hours as it was!  And we didn't even get to see everything.  My husband said: "It's so easy to find things here.  And the walks are really pleasant."  I'm guessing that those 2 things were not, in fact, accidents and are indeed just good design.  Kew is certainly worth a trip, in our opinion!

The greenhouses are really beautiful buildings.  Overall, the plants inside didn't personally knock my socks off, but then again I'm living in the 21st century where air travel makes it easy for me to visit exotic locales and I grew up in a tropical climate.  I can imagine, though, how amazed Victorians would be at their contents.  All the exotic palms from all over the empire!  Chocolate trees!  Coffee trees!

In addition, the Order Beds (at least the ones with stuff above ground) were fascinating.  Each bed contains plants from the same family & then those beds are grouped by order.  The similarities and differences between plant "cousins" was really interesting.  I hope to go back to explore this a bit more at some point.

My favorite bit might have been the Davies Alpine House and the rock garden near it.  Perhaps because they both contained so many unusual flowering plants (who isn't a sucker for flowers?).  I love how they were all grouped too!

This is definitely a place we'll go back and visit in the future.  We didn't see everything and we'd like to come back in a different season to see how the gardens change.  Next time I'll remember my sketch book and we'll take their little trolley to save a bit of walking.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Postcard: St. James's Park

As alluded to in my previous post, I'm recently back from a London "mini-break."  While someday I'd love to visit England during the summer, late March isn't a terrible time to go.  Sure the deciduous trees are still mostly bare (although a few--like magnolias--are blooming) and most perennials are still asleep, the daffodils where in full splendor as were other bulbs.

On last visit, we strolled around Regent's Park quite a bit.  On this visit, we found ourselves particularly exhausted after a long walk from our hotel near the Marble Arch Tube Station to the area near Buckingham Palace.  We followed a random road which lead us to St. James's Park.

Obviously popular with locals, the park was quite the haven and a perfect place to spend a half an hour resting our feet.

There are, I'm sure, many extraordinary things about St. James's Park.  It's bordered by 3 palaces, after all!  However, what I found most extraordinary was the daffodil plantings.  They were, of course, in drifts as is the usual practice.  What was striking was that little pockets and harbors were created that could fit 1, 2 or 3 more.  Nothing is quite as lovely as being surrounded by cheery daffodils on an overcast day!  In the photo, you can see 2 heads just above the sea of yellow enjoying it.

The brilliance is in the scale. Pockets too small for one person to lay down would look ridiculous in such an expansive drift as would really large gaps.  But a little harbor where 3 friends can be almost surrounded by sunshine and share a picnic or a little pocket where one person can read a book?  Cozy.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Seed Organization Perfection

I recently celebrated a milestone birthday.  My adoring & amazing husband surprised me with a kid-free vacation to London during my spring break.  Obviously, the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew was definitely on the agenda...and more on that later.

However, what I want to talk about now was the Kew gift shop.

The English have certainly merged their practical nature with their love of gardening with this seed organizing box.  First of all, the slots for seeds are taller than they are wide because...HELLO...seed packets are taller than they are wide.  I dunno why the seed organizers I see 'round these parts are basically converted recipe boxes.  This is of course fine if you don't mind your seed packets being on their side, but that's a spilling hazard for me.  Second of all, the dividers in this box aren't "tomatoes," "peppers," etc. or even A, B, C, etc.  They are January, February, March, etc.  Brilliant!  It makes so much more sense to organize your seeds by when you sow them, doesn't it?  I've been having a gazillion zip-top bags trying to keep my seeds organized by planting time which is just ugly and wouldn't allow me to keep them in groupings of vegetable type unless I added even more baggies.  I already had to open 3 bags before getting to my desired seeds as it was!

Because I only really do like 3 groups of planting per year, I'm going to use each slot as a planting time and then use the dividers to separate vegetable families. The larger slot along the side will hold my planting plan, seed label sticks and markers.

I am more excited about this purchase than the tins of biscuits and tea I got at Fortnum & Mason.  This is saying a lot, y'all!

There was lots of other awesomeness from Burgon & Ball at the gift shop.  It made me wish I had brought a bigger suitcase (and that the exchange rate wasn't more favorable!).

Sunday, March 20, 2011

2011 Seed Starting, Part Deux

After doing a braggy mcbragerton post about being on the ball & doing a spring garden this year, it's time to start those summer vegetables and herbs.  Already!  Spring is full of such insanity.  I mean, one day it's 40*F with snowdrops and the next it's 80*F with daffodils just like one moment you're dutifully sowing arugula and the next you're onto tomatoes.

Today I've got tomatoes, sweet peppers, hot peppers, eggplant, thai basil, purple basil, sweet basil, nasturtiums, marigolds, ground cherries and a few more swiss chard to get underway.  I'm hoping the sweet peppers do better than last year imparticular.

This means it's time to pull out the second grow light from the closet and to break out the seed starting mat.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Put to Bed

After 2 years of swearing that I would have a spring season to my garden, it looks like I'm finally making good. 
Yesterday I put the kale, onions and kohlrabi I started in early February. In addition, I stopped by the garden center and got a few scoops of onion sets (one red, one super sweet yellow) to augment my cipollini onion seedlings.  It was just $1.50/large scoop so I figured why not?  Especially since I hadn't started enough onions from seed to fill that portion of the garden.  Of course, 2 scoops was too much and onions are now overflowing into the flower beds, but whatever.  We eat an alarming amount of onions.

In addition, my arugula and mustard have sprouted in abundance and the lettuce is coming along too (I think I sowed some of that a bit too deep).  I've not had good luck with direct sowing thanks to digging critters, so I'm really excited that thus far this is working out!

Speaking of critters.....

As I was planting, I heard a rustling sound of a animal.  You should know I'm terrified of most small-medium garden animals (mice, moles, voles, rats, chipmunks, etc.).  I remained calm & quickly finished up only to spy the source of the sound...a very fat bunny.  I'm happy to report that either the bunny is too full feasting on my heurcheras, crocus and toad lily sprouts or is adequately deterred by my taller raised beds.  The kale and kohlrabi are nibble-free...for now at least!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Garden Update

The nice weather has certainly been a lovely change, hasn't it?  Between enjoying the great outdoors, homework and general life I haven't been able to sit inside & blog (in fact, this post has been sitting on my computer waiting for me to hit "Publish" for days), but the garden is getting busy. 

I sowed some lettuce, arugula & mustard seed last Sunday in the raised beds.  No sprouting yet (to be expected) but I do need to set up my watering game on the non-rainy days.  I've noticed some digging by squirrels in the planted area, so I'm thinking some row covers will be put on soon for protection.

Here are the latest photos of the onions, kohlrabi & Red Russian kale I planted indoors. The onions, for some reason, are having really spotty germination. In some cells, multiple seeds will germinate but in others none will.  I'm trying to carefully separate the seedlings that are in one cell and put one in another cell.  I've also started some Swiss Chard.

The Red Russian kale will definitely be ready to put out next weekend. Just in time to make room for the summer veggies that will be started shortly thereafter!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Snowdrops Have Arrived!

For some, the recent warm temperatures have been a signal of spring in the DC area. I have encountered one too many random warm snaps only to be followed by more winter while living here to use that as my litmus test.

Instead, I use snowdrops. This year they are a bit spindly. Not sure if it's due to a drier winter or the weather turning warm very fast. But they are here and spring should follow soon.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Purple Kohlrabi: First Out of the Gate

Or, erm, soil. However you want to say it, I've got spouting!  Hurray!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

2011 Seed Starting...Already

I'm starting seeds several months early this year and, yet, I'm already late!  According to my favorite planting calendar, I'm a week or so late in starting my onion seeds. To be fair, I had every intention of starting them last week but USAir cancelled my flight home (oh the joys of being in the airport for 8 hours with an infant!) from Florida and I arrived home too late to start the process.

To revisit how to start your own seeds, here's a concise overview of  the process (more details & photos are in my previous post on the subject):

1. Sanitize pots/yogurt cups/whatever in a 9:1 water/bleach solution. This keeps any nastiness away from your impending babies.
2. Wet potting mix & put it in pot/yogurt cup/whatever. Don't use dirt from your yard.
3.  Plant seed at depth listed on the package.
4. (Optional) Sprinkle milled spaghnum moss over top. This, along with adequate air circulation, prevents damping off. I've also heard that cinnamon has some anti-fungal properties so you could try that.
5.  Keep the soil moist & wait.

I started onions, kale, two types of kohlrabi and some cilantro.  I'm probably early for everything except the onions, but my kale and kohlrabi grew so slowly under the grow lights last year that I decided to give them more of a head start. Overall, I filled an entire flat with just these 4 crops!  And, I plan to start another round of onions in a few weeks.  I've only got 2 grow lights so it will be interesting to see if I can make my ambitious plans happen.

Monday, January 24, 2011

In the 2011 Garden

Despite the below-average-temperature today, I'm getting ready to start my 2011 garden. I'm finalizing the planting plan and will start my first seeds (onions, kale & kohlrabi) early next week.  Here's what my 2011 garden has in store:

Eggplant (Early Black Egg)
Eggplant (Ping Tung Long)
Tomato (Sungold)
Tomato (Black Cherry)
Tomato (Eva Purple Ball)
Tomato (Amy's Sugar Gem)
Tomato (Siberian)
Ground Cherry (Cossack Pineapple)
Sweet Pepper (Tequila Sunrise)
Hot Pepper (Cherry...need to still buy this)

Winter Squash (Delicata Zeppelin)
Summer Squash (Dark Green Zucchini)
Pickling Cucumber (Edmonson)
maybe another kind of pickling cucumber

Lettuces & Legumes
Pole Bean (McCaslan)
Pole Bean (Louisiana Purple Pod)
Bush Bean (Fin de Bagnol)
Bush Bean (Provider)
Lettuce (Deer Tongue)
Lettuce (Red Velvet)
Swiss Chard
Corn Mache
Mustard Greens

Root Vegetables
Onion (Yellow Borettana)
Potato (need to get this)

Annual Herbs & Flowers
Purple Opal Basil
Thai Basil
Sweet Basil

And, I'm starting all of this from seed. My grow lights are certainly going to be working overtime this year!  I'm slightly concerned about not having enough room for everything under the grow light (well, everything that is not direct-sown), but I'll cross that bridge when I come to it. I'm also a little concerned as I'm growing a ton of stuff I've never tried before (onions, potatoes, winter squash, beans!, borage, lettuce, turnips), but that just keeps me on my toes, right?!?

Note: I will be keeping track on the money spent on the garden this year. I got a bunch of seeds for Christmas this year. The approximate total for these, plus the Sungold & Black Cherry seeds I bought, are $32.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Houseplants: A Reminder of Warmer Days Ahead

Currently, the ground is frozen here in Arlington. Thus one has 2 options: Be content with dreaming about next year's garden or get your hands dirty inside.  I choose the latter option. Nothing cheers up the indoors like a bit of living green things around too.  Now, some claim that certain plants clean the air. I am not able to either confirm or deny these claims. Instead, for me, they brighten my day--especially in the winter months--and any air-cleaning effect is just a bonus.

Here are the plants that call my house their home:

African violets.  Now, Mabel featured in my previous blog post, has since died.  I accidentally left her in our unheated porch during a hard freeze.  Poor girl.  However, I have since replaced her with 3 other African violets: Priscilla, Duchess and Violet.  What is lovely about African violets is that they bloom year-round and have a wide variety of petal colors, petal shapes, leaf colors, etc.

Pothos. Yes, these are the ubiquitous office plants. And they are ubiquitous for good reason too...doing well under very low light conditions and infrequent watering make these suckers tough to kill. However, if you look around hard, you can find cultivars with unusual leaves. Best of both worlds!

Bonsai. I don't really groom my ficus bonsai (his name is Newton) like I should. Instead I enjoy have a little tree in my house.

Pilea glauca & Dwarf Philodendron. Remember my post on landscaping inside?  As I predicted the Centarium scilloides died (probably too dry and was crowded out by the aggressive Pilea glauca), but the rest of the planting is thriving in a location with virtually no light--artificial or otherwise.

Gerbera daisy. My husband got this for me probably around October and it is amazingly still blooming!

Plants I'm considering:

Dwarf citrus. The hiccup here is that I'm not sure I get enough sun indoors to ever get fruit.

Scented geraniums. These aren't actually geraniums...they are part of the Pelagornium genus. Importantly, these can be used to make flavored simple syrups or tea (actual geraniums are poisonous). I'm thinking about acquiring a rose scented one. Sandy Mush Nursery in North Carolina has an impressive selection, but locally DeBaggio's selection isn't too bad.

Lichen. I killed a beautiful terrarium purchased from Etsy and would love to try another one.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Winter Farmer's Markets: Still Full of Awesome

I've sporadically been visiting the Falls Church Farmer's Market on Saturdays.  While it's currently less than half it's spring and summer size, there is still lots of local yum to be found. For me, the most exciting has been the pickle purveyor.  He must just come in the winter, as he was there last winter (but not spring, summer or fall) too.  You can choose between kosher dills, half sours, sours, full sour and something non-cucumber.  A few weeks ago I scored some amazing sauerkraut (that I cooked with a local pork roast from Valentine's, roughly following this recipe); this week he had pickled beets.  I also noticed someone that had non-fermented cucumber pickles and some other home-canned goods (maybe pickled?) like carrots and green beans.  There are still some produce vendors and of course the meat, dairy and baked goods vendors.

There is certainly more gourmet, prepared food to be had as well, even from the produce vendors. And, perhaps because of this, there are many samples to be had. Sausage, soup, pickles, oh my!

Thus, while it probably isn't possible to get all your grocery needs from the farmer's market in the winter, there are plenty of reasons to go.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

2011 Garden Resolutions

Well, that's another year gone.  In the span of 12 months, I quit my job, expanded our dining room, birthed a baby and (with ample help of my husband) completed 2 large yard projects: smothering grass on half the yard and re-doing our raised beds.  It's been a busy year.  And I expect 2011 will be just as productive.

I resolve to:
1. Plant a greater diversity of edibles.  Typically, I plant nightshade vegetables (tomatoes, peppers, eggplants), assorted herbs and ground cherries.  Last year I added in garlic, cucumbers and summer squash.  This year I plan to do proper crop rotation and add in: green beans, onions, lettuce, winter squash, potatoes and new-to-me herbs like borage.  I'm hoping to put in a grape vine or two as well.

2. Incorporate more native plants.  Santa got me Armitage's Native Plants for North American Gardens for Christmas and I was kind of surprised how many native plants I already have, but with a now grass-less patch in the front yard and a newly cleared backyard, lots of planting will be happening in 2011.

3. Be better about turning the compost.  I kind of resolve to do this every year & then get lazy, though.

4. And, not strictly about gardening but rather the results of edible gardening, I hope to do a lot more pickling and will, of course, continue the Local Eating Challenge.