Friday, April 23, 2010

What We Did, in Pictures; Join Us, Market Lovers!

Wow, I can't believe a week has gone by already. I've been re-reading my last post, and thinking, "Gee, that's kind of boring. If I were reading it on someone else's blog, I'd wonder, 'Why didn't they put up any pictures?'"

So here they are! Above, our precious radishes in their "native" habitat. I brought one in for the receptionist at work, whose husband grows even more food than we do. She found it amusing, that I brought her one wee radish. But then she ate it, leaves and all!

Here's a shot of the whole garden at the end of March:

And here we are, three weeks later:

You can see the peas are starting their climb up the trellis. That fine mesh at the bottom is what I added last weekend. The bigger plants by the edge on the right are broccoli, and behind them are peppers.

You can't really see the 'maters at the far end, because they're almost as small as those radishes! We planted them up to their necks: the cells in the stems (the stem cells, I guess) are apparently undifferentiated enough to change into root cells, so the whole thing can give the plants a good start underground. The leaves have hardened off nicely, turning back to a nice deep shade of green, but so far they must be too busy growing roots to put out more leaves.

One thing we've always done in my family is pour a little epsom salts around the plant, at the surface, before watering it in. Dad, the biochemist, says this gives the plants some minerals important to "making tomatoes." Does anybody else do this?

Miss Chef added some herbs to her little herb garden. I have to say, for a relative neophyte, she did pretty dang well when she put this in last year:

About a month ago, I cleaned out all the dead stuff for the new growth that was already sprouting, and I'm glad I did. Not only does it look better, but it gave Miss Chef some room to put in things like lemon verbena and...I don't even know what else.

Those flowery, bushy things growing over the edges are thyme, and the big broad-leaved plant in the center is sage. We didn't know these were perennials until we planted them elsewhere! Although I suspect the thyme may be a 2-year plant. We'll see.

Do you remember our poor little broken broccoli plant after the hailstorm a couple of weeks ago? I had every faith it would come back, and it did!

You can see that it's now battling the bugs. I haven't had a chance to spray yet, though I already have the bacillus I need. It's a naturally-occuring bacteria that gets into the cabbage moths when they chomp on my broccoli, and kills them.

You probably also notice all those little weeds in most of these pictures. Last year I cleverly bought straw as mulch, to retain moisture and inhibit weeds. Ha! I inadvertently planted the entire garden in wheat! By the time they sprouted this year, we had already planted half the garden. I've tried to hoe around the plants, but they're packed fairly tight, so every few days I get out there and hand-weed a square foot or two. Needless to say, the weeds are still winning.

And there's one last stop for every good organic's Miss Chef's new compost bin!

We emptied what was left in our compost tumbler, which wasn't getting hot enough to "cook" the weed seeds from garden clippings. This pile will hopefully get things started, and the new system is supposed to be: kitchen scraps in the tumbler, yard scraps in the open bin. We'll see if we have any more discipline about it this year than we did last year!


On a related note, Liz at Eternal Lizdom has suggested a great idea: I'd like to host a regular weekend celebration of farmers' markets. I know most of you regular readers enjoy visiting your own markets, and many of you enjoy reading about other peoples' markets. So let's all visit each others'! I have to figure out how to set it up, but I'll do a Mr. Linky, so you can come add your link to your own farmers' market post.

Now, Liz said she's got a few weeks 'til her markets open up (I kind of forgot how blessed we are down here with this long growing season). And I'm not sure how long it'll take me to figure out what I'm doing. So I don't know if I can get this off the ground this week, or next week...or the week after. But in the meantime, leave me a comment if you're interested in participating.

And, even if you're not, it'll be worth tuning in next week: we're taking a friend to her first visit to our favorite market, then we're going strawberry picking!

Until then...


Update: Here are a few pictures from Saturday's farmers' market. I was volunteering at the chef demo, which turned out to be Josh, the sous-chef from our fave, Passion8! Just a few pics to whet your appetite for next week!

Josh's assistant Casey tries tempts a young market-goer with local shitake mushrooms. She considered it, but decided against. (In the background? Oh that's Lea and Carl, of Carlea Farms, who grew us our Thanksgiving turkey last year, chatting with a customer. Talk to your farmers, they're passionate about what they're selling you! )

Josh demonstrates the not-so-correct use of butcher's twine on a pork roulade. The "correct" way is shown in the foreground of the picture.

The finished dish: (local) pork roulade, stuffed with (Bosky Acres) goat cheese and (New Town Farms) bordeaux spinach, with a (local) shitake hash and (local) broccoli rabe, finished with a beurre rouge (that's a reduced butter & red wine sauce).

Hungry anyone? *evil grin*


  1. You're never boring m'dear! I am impressed by your garden - great post with cool photos!

  2. You've got me eager to get out and get my own garden started- but it's a rainy weekend here. We'll see if I get a few hours of possibility. I bought some starter plants for brussels sprouts and banana peppers. I need to get them planted so I might end up doing a large pot with those 2 veggies and maybe I'll do some herbs, too. It could be a nice porch pot!

    Can't wait for Farmers Market posts! I'm going to try my darndest to get to the big market that opens next weekend... if I get there at 8 (without the kids), I can get pics, food, and head home before soccer at 10.30.

  3. wow, wow, wow! Your garden looks fab! I am quite thoroughly jealous and mine is way behind because I have no time. But you have no time either. So. What is my problem?

    Re: epsom salts - some people use it to prevent blossom end rot (BER) but the scientific jury is out on whether it really does prevent it. Doesn't hurt though!

  4. wow, you've been busy on the garden, looking good. Up here, we can't get going on a veggie garden until midMay. I'm so envious of how well y'all eat!

  5. Liz, I hope that's a big pot; the b's sprouts will get 3 ft. high!

    Claire, your "problem" is, you live in Iowa! We've had gardening weather down here for over a month, so we had plenty of time for procrastinating.

  6. The garden looks great! I love the idea for the farmers market posts.

    I had never heard of using Epsom salts until last year when someone at the farmer's market mentioned it to us. Maybe I will try it this year if we ever get any tomato plants in the ground.

  7. Wow! It's so green and pretty with so much growing there.

    But for making me drool over those delicious artistic platters, I am sending you a pox of snow!



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