Sunday, April 26, 2015

Pea Shoots

A few weeks back I explained peas. We had way too many shelling pea seeds until …I realized I could plant them intensively and harvest them for shoots! Which I did. One very long row of peas spaced about two inches apart. They all sprouted, thrived and then there were too many shoots for garnishing salads. Internet to the rescue. Turns out Asians eat them sautéed with garlic and a dash of soy sauce. And that is what I did with these. Yummy.
The newest super food! 

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Food, my food.

Food. A four letter word. Sun, water, seed, soil and time with no small amount of work thrown in.
I know, really know, what it means to make food and it is a beautiful thing. A mostly satisfying endeavor. Mostly.
 There is a term floating around in the commercial local food scene here in NC. A product is called "value added" when food is processed or packaged in some way for sale. It's the difference between goats milk and goat cheese more. Say what? Code for processed in some way. Above is a picture of the value I added to my potatoes. They are of no value if I don't dig them. The value is added when I harvest them, wash them, prep them for cooking and do just that. 

Friday, March 27, 2015

Potted

Here are pictures of pots of plants I have taken over the years. Today is rainy but summer pots are just days away here in the sunny (sometimes) South. One more week and last day of frost will be o-o-ver.
Black Mountain, NC

Raleigh, NC


Grove Park Inn, Asheville, NC

Black Mountain gift shop courtyard

College of Charleston Library

T Rex in cork forest

Fairy Garden, Mine

Downtown Cheraw, SC 

Pansy pot

Brooklyn Brotanical Garden, Lettuces with Dill 

Mixed pot with basil
Goofy color combo turned out great! 

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Pea Lesson-A Letter To My Children

Shell, snow and snap…
Dear Children,

Your father grew up northwest of the Mason Dixon line. I am Southern through and through. Peas to southerns are brown, pea-nutty flavored, cooked in a broth. They were the staff of life here once, filling, hearty, protein packed and brown. Served with corn bread or biscuits a filling enough meal. I am NOT talking about blacked-eyed peas here I am talking crowder or cow peas. They were once reserved for animals and used as cover crops to lock nitrogen into the soil. Then, we had the Civil War and food was food people. My grandmother always had a pot of peas on her stove. Always. If you needed a snack, have a bowl of peas.
The peas of Dad's youth are round and bright green. As far a I know, broth is not part of the cooking method. I did not grow up eating them. My mother served them from a can occasionally and I hated them. Mushy and scanky-tasting I could only get them down whole with a big gulp of milk. This is a truth: many nights I would excuse myself to the restroom to spit them out, until she got wise.

I digress. Here's the lesson on green peas.
1. They grow in cool weather unlike field peas which like it hot, hot, hot. Plant green peas in late winter, field peas in May, then again in late July.
2. There are THREE varieties of green, cool weather peas. I know this now because Dad wigged out when I bought the wrong variety. Folks. He wigged. I do not like his wigging.
3. The three varieties are: shell, snow and snap. Do not mistake snap for shell or Dad will... wig. ( I will not go into the, "Well, if you don't like what I bought why don't you go out and buy your own damn seeds?" thoughts I was having because he was losing it and could not be rational. It happens to all of us.)
4. Shell are the prize! They are sweet, like candy. They must be eaten soon after picking and go starchy. Then they are just like canned. Yuck.
5. Snow peas are Asian varieties and are flat. They are also sweet and nice steamed or stir-fried.
6. Snap peas?  I am using them for pea shoots in salad, because garden friends I bought lots…

Creatively yours,
Mom
Closely sown snap peas for salads :)
PS They all look the same before their pods mature…The Same. Alike. Identical.


Monday, March 2, 2015

WHAM! BAM! OOF.

February was tough. Really tough. Wet, grey, cold days for days on end. Man. Or, changing a single syllable word into two as Southerns do for emphasis: Ma-Yun! I can only shake my bowed head in hopes that the worst is over.
Yesterday, the 1st of March was also a loser of a day. I am sure March had not gotten the memo that it had arrived, but today? Ma-Yun. It's been a perfect gardening day and that's exactly what I spent the day doing.
We struggled and planted onion sets in the cold Saturday, hibernated in frustration Sunday, and planted broccoli, cabbage, and lettuce seedlings today. I soaked pea seeds for shoots overnight and planted them this afternoon. I potted up dill and Swiss Chard seeds, moved pots around so they can be in the sunniest spot and flipped through seed packets for more planting tomorrow.
The mach, spinach, bok choy, arugula, carrots, and tiny lettuces were uncovered for optimal sun this morning. Turnip seedlings survived the cold and kale is limping along. OOooo baby, the garlic is looking good.
Now, as I finish typing, I remember I promised myself I would put out cornmeal in jars as slug lures. Cheaper than beer ya know. Must do. Asap.

Friday, February 20, 2015

What is chitting?

It's when you, the gardener, take potatoes out of storage in a cool dark place, give them sunlight and they begin to sprout. It supposedly gives the plants a head start on production. Potatoes bought for garden plantings will begin to sprout right away when given sleight because they have not been treated with chemical to inhibit growth. Store bought potatoes are some of the most heavily chemically treated produce, along with apples and tomatoes. That's why you grow your own if you can. Also. Fresh potatoes have not converted their energy to starch yet. They have a very different taste from store bought a sort of nutty sweetness about them. The same is true for brassicas-cabbage, broccoli and turnips. They are sweet when freshly picked without that gacky sulfur taste of store-boughts. Garden grown gives a different eating experience.

Waiting for the soil to warm up...

Ready to be eaten. 

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Winter Vegetables

Almost too pretty to eat :)

This Fall I planted cabbages, broccoli and kale in The Middle Garden. The broccoli was taken out by extreme cold and I learned my lesson about picking. As in, pick, even though things aren't perfect. Savoy cabbage has a well earned reputation for being cold hardy and kept going and growing through temperatures in the teens. They were very nice. So nice that our dog ate three of them just as they were forming heads before we wised up to her greedy ways.
Today, knowing that it is going to be in the single digits for the next two nights I went a'harvesting. I ate pea shoots straight from the garden (yummy). Tonight there will be Japanese chicken soup with soba noddles.  Kale stands in as seaweed. Elephant garlic in for leeks. Tomorrow there will cabbage casserole. And then we will start eating down turnips and sweet potatoes. Did I mention I try to cook what's currently growing in the garden and what I've saved.
Spinach has withstood so far. We had as much as I could pick in a salad last night with pretty little pansies as garnish. Under the row covers the mache, bok choi, turnips and peas are just up. They were planted weeks ago when we had a warm spell. In the house there are lettuces, broccoli and kale sprouts waiting on warmer days to be transplanted. Potatoes are chitting, lined up in egg cartons on the kitchen windowsill. Hurry spring! Cold winter can't last. Me? I am having trouble lasting also.
Good eats from our winter garden!