Monday, July 30, 2012

Farmers markets are all open

Linda Torovny of Nature Harvest Organic Farm at the Clarkston Farmers Market
The Chamberlain family shop at the booth of Farmer Fred of Hadley. He had corn, tomatoes, onions and more at the Clarkston Farmers Market.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Time to plant AGAIN

If you have any room left in your garden, now is a good time to plant for fall harvest. You can plant peas, spinach, lettuce, parsley, green onions, leeks and cabbage. Also cilantro,  for making salsa in September. The seedlings will need some extra care; cover with shade cloth or plant them near taller plants. Be sure to water frequently, especially due to this heat wave and drought that seems to be affecting most of the Midwest.
My beans are finally coming in, thanks to my husband, who really saved the garden this year. With lack of rain and onslaught of insects and woodchucks and rabbits and deer. He kept things watered and uses Captain Jack's spray on the insects and set up some traps for the Japanese beetles in the nearby trees. Eddie the garden troller, took care of the woodchuck along with a mole or two.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Picking herbs keeps them young

This is great weather for tomatoes, sunny and hot just how they like it. We should get a bumper crop of very red tomatoes, packed with flavor. But herbs are taking the heat. Watering is very important now. Picking herbs and greens helps prevent them from forming seeds. The best way to pick parsley, and many herbs and leafy vegetables, is to snip the whole leaf and stem from the stock. Sometimes you can twist them off, when you pick parsley and Swiss chard.
Basil's a little different. You should cut the stock or branch, just above leaves, well below the leaves you want to harvest. Picking in late morning is the best time of day, especially for greens and herbs.
Pick leaves often to prevent the plants from going to seed. Because once they go to seed, many of the plants lose their herbiness flavor.
For Rosemary and sage, cut 5 inch branches and hang to air dry or chop and freeze in herb ice cubes or clumps in a freezer bag.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Weeding can be a full workout

Weeding can really do some damage to the back. I overdid my limit on bending over last weekend and had to use ice, then heat and ibuprofen for several days.
My friend Mickey told me her trick to weeding which I had forgotten to use. It's the three poses of weeding, (no kidding).

Bend over and pull. If you do that too many times, you'll feel it for a week.
Squat down on your haunches. I can only do this for a few minutes.
Kneeling. This works great until you need to move.

You can add various yoga poses, like crossing your legs while stretching over to pull weeds, maybe meditate a bit too while you're down there. You can spread your legs and do a leg stretch in between weed pulling as well. The main thing is to change positions to prevent repetitive motions.

Back exercise. Here's a quick back exercise that is like the reverse of bending over. Lean back against a flat wall, press the small of the back against it with feet flat on the ground and hold for a minute or two. Repeat a few times everyday.

Weeding tips. It's best to weed when the soil is not too dry. You will need to water after weeding. A tool like the hula hoe which looks like a hoop on a stick or the mini rake or a pronged tool can help loosen the soil. You can use a hand trowel to dig up the big weeds.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Swiss chard blues

I picked our first batch of Swiss chard.  It was so tender and delicious, just heated with a bit of water and salt and pepper. Then, we went on vacation and the deer came and cleaned out our crop.  Deer love Swiss chard, just as much as I do.
I need to plant it in the maximum security garden and leave the raised beds for parsley and other herbs. Deer don't like smelly stuff. We need to break out the Irish Spring too, so they can at least stay clean while they eat our garden. I also need to look up a previous post on back treatment, because I am suffering after weeding yesterday.

Here's my favorite Swiss chard recipe.

Swiss Chard
olive oil
1/4 red onion, diced
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/8 tsp. dried crushed red pepper, to taste, optional
1 bunch of Swiss chard, washed and chopped

2 Tablespoons water
salt and pepper, to taste

Saute the onion, garlic and red pepper. (You can use a large saucepan or large skillet.) Then add the rest of the ingredients and heat on medium heat for 10 minutes. As a variation, substitute 1 tablespoon of water for vinegar and add smoked turkey or ham pieces.