Saturday, August 29, 2009

Florida Natives Survive Minnesota

When Granddad B sent seeds from his garden in FL to ours in MN there were some skeptics. But the acorn squash is growing! and the melons are growing!

And the marigolds . . .

Thanks, Granddad. Save some tomato seeds for us.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Pixie in a sleeping bag?

Check out this crazy looking pepper. On first glance, I thought it looked like a witch's nose. My husband saw a pixie in a sleeping bag. What do you think it looks like?

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Harvest Still Life

A few teams of volunteers had already harvested yesterday and this morning, but a couple of us needed a break over lunch today so we walked down to the garden.

Most of the produce had been picked but we found a few veggies ready to go. Actually it ended up being a full bag weighing over 20 pounds because Susan really wanted to pick a cabbage.

From the veggies we found Susan composed a beautiful harvest still life pictured above.

Pollinating by paintbrush?

According the the National Agroforestry Center over 100 crop species in North America require a visit from a pollinating insect. Many of these crops are the kinds you would find in a kitchen garden. When the crops don't get the visits they need, what you will see are a plethora of blossoms that never turn into fruit (or veg). We are seeing this in our garden, especially with our pumpkin and squash crops.

In an article written by individuals leading up the Forgotten Pollinators Campaign, I read that "there are fewer beehives today in the U.S. than at any time in the past 50 years." I also read that there are over 40,000 species of bees in the world. Pretty amazing, and sad at the same time. It reminds you how the smallest change in our eco-system can have a major impact.

Tamara, one of our squash crop gardeners was talking to her dad - a long-time farmer - about the lack of squash, and he recommended helping the pollination process along by gently twiddling a small paint brush around inside the head of each flower.

For squash, you start with the male blossom (a flower with no swelling or bump where the stem attaches to the plant) - gently touch the center of each flower with the brush. Then move to the female blossoms (the flowers are attached to the end of a small ovule that will grow into a full sized fruit) and dab the paint brush inside the flower. Voila pollination is complete!

Another option - if you are not into painting - that will help draw the bees to your garden is to plant white clover.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Kale and Hearty

We delivered 33 pounds of produce to the food shelf last week, and another 12 to Lewis House.  The garden is giving now!  Our old friend kale is coming back, along with all the tomatoes and onions and peppers.  I've become a real fan of kale, sauteed with garlic and olive oil, or in soup

Friday, August 21, 2009

Blackeyed Peas

When Grandmom Stone found out we're going to plant blackeyed peas in the experimental garden next year, she was pretty pleased. During WWII, she helped her grandfather grow blackeyed peas in their Victory Garden. When the peas were ripe, she helped her grandmother snap them and can them to send to her father was overseas. Her advice to us is to toughen up our thumbs - snapping peas is hard work!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The British Contingent

My British Mother-in-Law was just here for a visit and was eager to see the garden. My husband and I took her over to the garden one Sunday and like all garden-lovers she was full of compliments, curiousity and culling fingers - weeds beware!
As she yanked weeds she told us that the White House garden was often mentioned on their newsprograms. As you can imagine, gardening is a popular activity in England. The English are well known for their lush, rolling countryside. They also have "allotments" - small parcels of land that individuals can rent from the government to grow food crops. The concept of allotments are popular throughout Europe and Scandanavia. To learn more about allotments follow this link:

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Sharing by any other mode.... still caring.

Even if you aren't privvy to a huge lot of land to develop a caring garden, you can still grow and provide fresh food for others in need. Take my neighbor. When she bought her house, she inherited multiple raspberry and blue berry bushes, grape vines, 4 plum trees, 3 pear trees, an apricot tree, 4 cherry bushes.....and that's when I stopped counting. And believe it or not, she lives on a city lot that's no more than about 50 x 110.

Her plants produce so much more fruit than she can use, her choices are to either give it away to neighbors, donate or let it go to waste (which could also be considered a donation to the local urban wildlife).

She mainly does the latter two.

You don't have to go that crazy. But imagine what we could do together if each person took on the goal to add just one plant to their garden or home with the sole purpose of donating the produce. There are tons of local shelters, food banks, and other community groups that would appreciate donations of fresh and HEALTHY local food.

Imagine how THAT could be a change to the overall health and care of this country.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Powdery Mildew on the Pumpkins

Late summer a common time of year for powdery mildew to show up and it's spreading quickly on our pumpkin leaves.

A quick Google search netted a couple possible homemade solutions:
1/4 of an ounce of baking soda mixed with 1 gallon of water and sprayed on the leaves
50/50 solution of milk and water also sprayed on the leaves

We're trying the baking soda solution and Liz, our master gardener, started the treatment today.

Crossing our fingers that it at least slows the spread of mildew long enough to harvest some pumpkins.

If anyone else has had success with another remedy, we'd love to hear it.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Land of 10,000 giving gardens??

Minnesota has been long known to be the land of 10,000 lakes. But what if we could also be known as the land of 10,000 giving gardens? Minnesota has the perfect environmental and social climate to support an idea like this. Just think of all the good we can do - all the healthy, local food and friendships that can be grown. Gardening is fun and rewarding, and can be done just about anywhere - a school yard, church land, corporate campus, roof top, containers, raised beds... A few friends, a few strangers (who will become friends), a handful of seeds, a little dirt, a little water, and a little TLC can result in 100s of pounds of food for those in need. It truly is amazing.
We challenge you Minnesota to become the land of 10,000 giving gardens!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Walk Like an Egyptian Onion?

Liz, our master gardener, picked up these funky perennial plants at a Master Gardener plant swap. They are called "Egyptian Walking Onions." The plant grows straight up and sprouts a head of little onions. The weight of the clustered onions causes the stalk of the plant to bend down (or walk) and the little onions plant themselves and grow a new stalk. Fascinating!
It has been a lot of fun to watch, and the onions are very tasty, too! The cool part is you can eat either end of the plant and they re-seed themselves so you don't have to save the bulbs. Deadead if you don't want volunteer seedlings next year.
They are also called "tree onions." Their species name is "proliferum," but are very similar to "Allim cepa" (cultivated onion, garlic). Despite their name, they are actually thought to have originated in India or Pakistan and were later introduced to Europe by the Romans.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Fruits of Abundance

Even with the generally cool summer we've had, the fruit has been prolific. Raspberries, strawberries, rhubarb, blueberries, plums....the crops have been amazing.

Of course one of the best and simplest ways to eat these fruits are to pick and pop directly in the mouth. But sometimes it's nice to "switch things up" particularly if an abundance of fruit has ripened at the same time. And using the fruits in recipes provides another vehicle by which to share the goodness of both fruit and other healthy ingredients with others.

One recipe that I've been experimenting with lately is crisp or crumble. There are tons of good recipes for this but one additional challenge that I've been working with is gluten-free. Below is my version of fruit crumble -- please feel free to enjoy and share.

Fruit Crumble

Fruit Filling
  • 6 cups of fruit -- either use on fruit, or try mixing them up: rhubarb and cherry, rhubarb and raspberry, rhubarb and apple, or triple berry (blue berry, strawberry and raspberry)
  • About 4 Tablespoons of sugar -- more or less depending on the fruit.
  • About 2 Tablespoons of lemon -- more or less depending on the moisture content of the fruit
  • 2 Tablespoons of cornstarch
  • Cinnamon, vanilla or other baking spices you enjoy to taste

Preparing the filling:

Mix the fruit together in a large bowl. Add the lemon juice to cover. Add the cornstarch, sugar and spices and mix together thoroughly. Put the mixture in a baking pan (any size that is appropriate for the mixture) that is large enough to allow for about an inch clearance. Bake in an oven pre-heated to 375 for about 30 minutes (or until bubbly).

Crumble topping

  • 1/4 cup almond flour
  • 1/4 cup cornmeal
  • 1/4 cup oatmeal flour
  • 1/4 cup white rice flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking power
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • Cinnamon to taste
  • 1/2 cup butter (melted)

Note 1: If you can't find the flours listed about try others. As I'm learning, the key with gluten-free baking is that you typically can't use just 1 of any type of flour -- because no one flour "fits the bill" like white/wheat flour. If you go in with the attitude that the worst that can happen is that the crumble won't quite meet your expectations -- but the results of the dessert will still be tasty -- what's the worst that could happen?!

Note 2: The above portions can be increased or decreased depending on the amount of filling you have and the amount of topping you enjoy on your treat. OR you can also make extra and freeze for another day!

Preparing the topping:

While the filling is baking and the butter melting on a burner set to low, combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Slowly pour in the melted butter into the dry mixture and combine completely. The mixture will look a little like a moiste cookie dough. When the fruit is done baking, add the topping, spreading out evenly across the top of the fruit. Return to the oven and heat for another 15 minutes (or until the topping takes on a nice golden brown color). When you take it out of the oven, you can also add a little demerara sugar (i.e., raw sugar) on top for a nice little added touch. Let it cool for at least 15 minutes. (Personally, I think it tastes even BETTER the next day.)

ENJOY! Eat well and live beyond yourself.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Cool, Cucumbers are Ready

Just got word this evening that the Tomato Team found over 7 pounds of cucumbers ready for this week's deliveries. Our first big cucumber harvest!

Cucumber Raita


* 1 medium tomato, diced
* 1 small cucumber, peeled and chopped
* 1 scallion, finely chopped
* 1 t fresh mint, finely chopped
* 1/4 t toasted cumin seeds
* 1 1/2 c firm plain yogurt
* salt and pepper

Combine all ingredients. Chill for at least 30 minutes before serving.

From: Sundays at Moosewood Restaurant by The Moosewood Collective

Monday, August 10, 2009

We Dig Potatoes

Ready for potato delivery! We have three rows of different varieties to harvest over the next month, so should be able to provide for mashed and boiled and baked and fried and hash browned. Add our onions and herbs and that translates to a tasty treat.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Eat Local Challenge

August is the "Eat Local Challenge" month here in Minnesota. We encourage you to take part. Check out the "the Minnesota Project" website ( for more details and links. Home gardens, community gardens, farmers markets, community supported agriculture initiatives (CSAs) and natural food co-ops are all great options for local food. Just think of all the wonderful heirloom varieties bursting with flavor and nutrients right around the corner. Eat local, eat happy!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Peas and Thank You

One of our gardeners donated her entire CSA box this week for us to deliver to Lewis House, so most of our Thursday harvest went to the food shelf. Thank you, Pat!

Our peas and lettuce have been producing in abundance! Lettuce has been replanted twice already - so we won't complain about the cool summer. How about lettuce and pea salad? Saute fresh peas in some olive oil, stir in baby lettuce long enough to wilt, add your favorite fresh herbs (we're growing thyme, oregano, dill, chives - but herbs are a matter of taste, aren't they?) and throw a little salt and pepper on.

Can't keep a good Dill down

We are not lacking in dill this year. It has happily rooted itself throughout the annual side of our garden and is flourishing right along side the pumpkins, squash, eggplant, carrots, broccoli... The funny thing is we didn't even plant dill this year. Luckily, it has lovely colorful blossoms and we can eat it, too!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Spot the toad

Can you find Mr. Toad in these photos? Click on the photos for a closer look.
Many people may not know this, but toads are actually good for a garden. They eat an amazing number of pesky insects. Surprisingly, they also eat slugs and snails (yuck). The majority of insects you would normally use chemical insecticide sprays to get rid of are what make up Mr. Toad's normal diet. You're friendly neighorhood toad can save you money and save your health.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Sharing the Harvest

Too many beans, tomatoes, or zucchini? Donate to a local shelter or food shelf.

Apples, plums, or cherries just falling to the ground and rotting in your yard? Join the Fruits of the City - Fruit Gleaning project or again donate to a local shelter or food shelf. The best part about the Fruit Gleaning project is that they coordinate volunteers to harvest the fruit and get the fruit to those in need.

So do you have a tree that needs picking? Sign up a tree

Would you like to volunteer as a gleaner? Sign yourself up

Monday, August 3, 2009

Garden Babies

The babies are here! This Summer has been a bit cooler (which I have to admit I like) but that also means it takes a little bit longer for the garden to mature. But that is okay with us. We love our babies. Check out our beautiful little eggplant, melon, pumpkin, and zucchini. Aren't they adorable!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Happy Bugs

While the primary purpose of the garden is to produce food, it has also proven to be a veritable oasis for happy bugs. What a better way to spend a sunny Sunday afternoon than having a swim and a snooze in the shade?

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Lettuce Deliver. We're Bean Good.

Bountiful harvest! Our lettuce, onions, peas and beans are producing like crazy! We delivered more than twenty pounds this week to the food shelf and to Lewis House.