Friday, July 22, 2011

Farm to Table

While our own garden is slowly coming along, I got a bit impatient and decided to find out more about a farm stand I saw in my travels. Doing a bit more research, I found that the stand was owned by a CSA named Lincoln Spring Farms. LSF is a collective of small farms that, are working towards being a Certified Organic farm. They deliver fresh produce to your door as well as operate this farm stand that is open on Fridays only. THey had a great selection of in-season fruits and veggies.

Their Truck

The Stand

The farms grow strawberries all year long.

They also have a labyrinth on site (although it isn't very labyrinthian, but it's cute).

A few more shots of the farm:

Cute sunflowers made out of wood "plates" and clothes pins:

This is what I ended up bring home (for $23).

And this is what I created for dinner tonight:

3 peppers (I would have done better just using 2)
Purple Onions (from my garden)
Organic Black Beans
Black Olives
Toasted Cumin Seed

and a dressing made of
Lime Juice
Red Wine Vinegar
Chile Powder
Lemon Pepper
Olive Oil

It was fresh, delicious and very spicy.

Chris made a "Garden Gibson" for himself:

I still have those baskets of strawberries......I may be trying out a Strawberry Tart on Sunday. I also have fresh asparagus! It is still growing strong at their farm in Cypress. Amazing to get fresh asparagus this time of year!

I'll be taking some pictures of my own garden very soon. We've had some great successes and some rather odd difficulties. More on that later.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

What movie would you live in?

My good friend, Heidi, has a great blog named "Finishing the Hat". She blogs about her experiences with weight loss (50 pounds so far!!!), fun activities in Los Angeles and cooking. She has shared some fabulous recipes thus far - the latest is for grilled peaches.

Mondays are always Friend Making Monday for her and this week's question got me thinking....

If you lived in a movie, which one would it be? And which character would you play?

Going with the first thing to come to mind, it would be Tracy Lord (played by Katherine Hepburn) in The Philadelphia Story. Hepburn plays a strong-willed woman who is discovering her true self along with her true love. Plus, the fashion is amazing!

Somewhere, I think there's a picture of me in Palm Springs that looks something like this:

Besides, she ends up with Cary Grant (swoon)

So, what would you answer be?

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

First Garden Meal

The garden grows slowly in this winter/spring/should be hotter weather, but there are are few things doing well enough to use for a meal. I harvested some sugar snap peas, a radish, Swiss chard and sage and decided to make a "Hippie Hash". A Hippie Hash is what I call a bunch of good things thrown together haphazardly in one pan, It is always different and always includes grains, legumes, or beans; veggies, and often a bit of meat and ALWAYS garlic.

Tonight's Hippie Hash Ingredients: Our "bounty" plus garlic, lentils, and chicken andoulle sausage

I Chopped the garlic and sage, heated in a bit of olive oil, added the sausage and sugar snap peas.

Added the cooked lentils and heated for a moment:
Then added coarsely chopped chard, turned the heat down low, and let it wilt just a bit.

On to a plate then put sliced radish and Parmesan cheese on top (what else what I going to do with a radish?)

YUM! The radish actually added a nice bit of crunch and flavor to the combination.

That's what I love about Hippie Hash - there are no mistakes!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Of Tomatoes and their Worms

The first cherry tomato is showing it's true colors. I'm actually surprised the tomato plants are doing any producing. Our weather has been not the best growing weather for those hot weather loving veggies like tomatoes and squash. While the plants are growing and blooming, we haven't had much fruit form. It still feels like winter around here and certainly not spring! Considering it was snowing in Mammoth 2 days ago, I think this is just one of those odd weather years. Come on out, Sunshine! My garden needs you.

We've also go one pepper struggling to be the first pepper of the year.

And a sugar snap pea!

The slow growth has also been "enhanced" by hungry beasties. I suspect tomato worms cause this bit of damage (although I haven't seen one yet (thank goodness).

So, along with other natural pest prevention, I got out the food-grade Diatomaceous earth. DE is the fossilized remains of diotoms. The fossils are made into a fine powder that has microscopic sharp edges. The DE scratches the outer layer of an insect's body and causes them to dehydrate and die. It doesn't sound like a fun way to die! So far, it is the only thing I have found that is both organic and edible - and works. I've been using it as a flea treatment on the cats for a while now and it works great - although it does take time to work.

I also got six more tomato plants from my next door neighbor. Karl has started them from seed but can't be digging in the dirt at the moment - Doctor's orders. So, he gave them to me, along with some greens, to add to the Urb-Garden. We may have to build another box or move the decomposed granite to the parkway and turn that area into tomato heaven.

That will be next week's heavy labor. Maybe I should actually be wishing for more cool weather for another week or two!

I'm off to make the world's tiniest salad with my bounty!

Until next time!

Monday, May 9, 2011

We Have Potato Sprouts!

If you look closely at this picture right in the center you'll see a bit of purple. Those are the first signs of the All Blue potatoes peeking out. The other two potatoes haven't appeared yet, but we have high hopes that they will follow in the blue siblings footsteps..

Keeping Snails, Slugs and Other Slimy Creatures Out of the Garden.

This is an idea that we got from Mother Earth News. Buy 80 grit Drywall Sandpaper at your local hardware store. It comes in 4"x11 sheets. Cut the sheets in 1/2 lengthwise (which we discovered is easy to do if you just fold a sheet.) Staplegun the strips of sandpaper to the top edge of the bed. Use stainless staples (if you can find them). Overlap the sheets and don't leave any gaps. We bought a package of 25 for 4-4x4 beds. Snails and slugs won't crawl over the sandpaper to get to the green goodness growing in the beds. The application of sandpaper should last for a couple of years.

We have also been using crushed egg shells to prevent slugs and snails, although they don't last quite as long. However, they decompuse and add extra nutrients to the soil. So, save your eff shells, wash them out, microwave them for about a minute to kill the bacteria, then crush them up and sprinkle around the edges of your raised bed.

Finally, our new fence/gate is done! (Well, it's built, but not painted yet). It is so nice to have an operable fence once again! One weekend soon, we're going to have to paint it though. My neighbor, Jayna, took the old wood and is going to use it for some beds in her yard, so we had virtually no trash from this project.

Next up - the new compost pile, making compose tea and trying worms again.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Of Seats, Sprouts and Fences

The garden is coming along nicely and we're getting our first bits of produce forming. During the week, Amy and I "built" a little seating area under one of the awnings. There is room for 2 vintage folding chairs that Amy found at a garage sale, a tiny folding table I had in the back yard and a dog bed for the pups. We put down some leftover plastic, covered it with mulch, added some old step stones that used to be near the driveway and - Voila! It's a perfect place to relax.

Today it was time for the old, termite-ridden gate to come down and a new redwood fence and gate to be put in it's place. Our friends Brendan and Cynthia came over and Chris and Brendan became tool-type guys . The got a great portion of it done before dark and should be finished tomorrow. Hopefully I'll get some good shots of the masterpiece tomorrow. It will be painted green at some point, which is the color I want to paint the trim when we get to that project.

Chris and Brendan hard at work

The old fence. Termites had definitely had their way with it.

We haven't gotten any potatoes sprouting yet. I'm not sure what the gestation period is for these guys, but I hope I see some green soon. All of the other seeds we planted are sprouting and we've got little tomatoes and peppers forming. I haven't found anything but snails in the garden yet, but something is eating the tomato plant leaves. It may be time for and application of Diatomaceous Earth.

We will also be installing a little trick to repeal snails and slugs. More on that next time.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Start of the (Very Public) Urban Garden

I live in in a Spanish bungalow in a historical section of Long Beach. Our lot is on a corner and only a 1/2 lot. The backyard is is our oasis, a place of serenity, over grown vines, lounge chairs and our compost/worm farm. That leaves the South facing side yard which also faces the street, and our west facing front yard for any urban gardening. After years of wishing I had a 3' wall surrounding the property (but never having the extra $15k to spend on one), I decided last year to built a raised bed. Just one. I started late and grew only a few herbs, a cucumber, a zucchini and a cucumber. I got a few things out of it, but, with the late start, it was just an experiment.

In January of this year, I was diagnosed with breast cancer (second time in 7 years). As I fought the medical/insurance system for 2 months and my blood pressure went up, I realized I needed to do something else besides make jewelry - which was my main relaxation. I guilt another raised bed. This one higher and better than the last one. I finally got a surgery date (March 29th) and orders to plan on a 8 week recovery (bi-lateral mastectomy with immediate DIEP reconstruction). The weekend before surgery, I built and planted a 3rd bed.

By the time I got home from a 5 days hospital stay, there were little shoots of goodness coming up in all of the little squares. One of my good friends, Amy, had just moved into an apartment and proposed that she add a 4th raised bed. My very first outing 2 weeks after surgery, was to Home Depot and Armstrong. I did light gardening and seed planting (so many restrictions!) while I instructed Amy on her raised bed building. We covered up the lawn with a covering and bark mulch, installed a stupid little fence which would keep out no one, and watched it grow.

This little garden is VERY public. You can walk right by it, easily get over the fence and harvest away if you so choose. It also is decidedly NOT your traditional landscape plan. But, it is what we have to work with, so work it we will.

There will be some challenges - kids, dogs, cats, inscrutable people, raccoons, opossums, skunks, and coyotes, but we will persevere with our little urban farm.

Last weekend, we built 3 potato towers with fingerlings, blues and cranberry red potatoes. We covered them with bamboo and let the jokes about our pagan Wicker Man rituals begins.

This will be our blog about our adventures, our failures, and our successes. We've probably done a lot of things wrong, but I would expect that from myself who hasn't had a real garden since I was a kid.

We're also doing this completely organically. The closest we will get to bug killers is Diamatecous Earth and Sand Paper (more on that later). Otherwise, it is compost, worm castings and compost tea.

There's still a lot we could do to make this into a better space, but I think we've got a start on good things for this year and will learn a lot in the process.

I'll add pictures soon and Amy and I welcome any feedback.