What’s the best organic-matter gift one can smuggle in from Amsterdam? Tulip bulbs from the floating flower market, no doubt. These are going in the ground today, and because I’m not sure what variety they are (maybe parrot?), I’m already looking forward being surprised in the spring. Thank you, FK!
At last! I can tell you about my recent week away in VT now––I was here, at Luna Bleu farm in South Royalton, “wwoofing” (willingly working on an organic farm). For anyone looking to learn more about growing food and raising meat and dairy animals, this is the way to do it. Find a host farm through Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms (wwoof.com) and go get your hands dirty. I can say without hesitation that the experience changed my life. Most profoundly, it changed the way that I think about food, and how much work goes into growing it, and the great amount of energy that can be gotten from it…Not to mention how much of that energy we waste in our country everyday, which taught me a great deal about what I can do to be less wasteful and more energy-efficient in my every day. Simply put, I’m finishing my dinner these days. And what I can’t consume, I try to pack-up and preserve, or re-purpose. Heck, I’ve asked for a compost bin for Christmas, haven’t I? I’m canning. I’m making small-batch sauce and freezing it for the winter. When I think about it, I’ve never eaten better.
Below are scenes from my week on the farm.
heirloom house and lettuce rows at luna blue
heirlooms and red slicers
cabbage patches, corn, and the cherry tomato house
renegade spinach seedlings
luna bleu farm before a full moon
coming to you from austin, tx
Down in Austin, TX Lucas Brower and Jesse Kamm have started a genius company making and delivering Home Grow Micro Farms––self-watering garden boxes that yield a variety of seasonal, organic vegetables over the course of 3 months.
It works like this: You pick a box from their site’s monthly planning menu (in November, for example, you have a choice between 4 boxes; one’s filled with salad greens, another has beets and Chinese cabbage, etc.), then order it online, or by phone. Brower and Kamm deliver your box in their veggie oil-powered car, and do all of the installing for you (you need only to provide them with an outdoor water spigot, or, maybe you collect rainwater, and would prefer to hook it up to your well? Even better.). Give your box a lot of sun and reasonable TLC, and in approximately 30 days it will be ready for harvest.
Then, when 3 months has passed and you’ve eaten through your Micro Farm, Brower and Kamm will come collect the exhausted box and replace it with a newly seeded one. 1 box is only $30/month! Get your rotation right (i.e. have a new box returned and delivered every month), and you’ll have fresh, seasonal vegetables everyday, year-round.
Really, it’s so easy. It waters itself. It’s already seeded. It’s harvest without the hassle. And home-grown without a required green thumb. Get in touch with Brower here.
long john cayenne peppers
Look what finally decided to join us, at last! To be honest, I wasn’t expecting to do another Growth post this year. These past few weeks, little by little, JB and I have been dismantling the H&O garden. Most of the raised bed is clear, and in an effort to use as much of the mint as is humanly possible before winter strikes, I’ve been continuously picking and consuming it (mint in my tea, mint in my salad, mint with my tomatoes, mint in my rice, mint bouquets all over the apartment…a girl can only use so much mint). The tomato trellises are all that’s left, but before we take those down, I needed to gather the last of the kinda ripe ones (look up), and the abundance of green ones that don’t stand a chance in New York’s now 40-degree days (winter in October? Seriously?). But look how many:
Seems I’m in for some more green tomato pickles. Thank goodness for Mrs. B’s recipe!
p.s. The chili pic is my very modest ode to the late, very great Irving Penn (1917-2009), still-life photographer extraordinaire and inventor of fabulous picture dreams. No one’s done food better than you, Mr. Penn.
The tomatoes went berserk! JB and I harvested 9 lbs of them when we got home:
austin red pears, jersey devils, slicers, and tommy toes
And then, after the almost 4 hours of driving, 3 ferry rides, and a delayed red-eye that took JB and I back from the remote island in BC where we’d been for the past week, we made a most delicious lunch. It’s nice to be home:
the perfect plate
It’s called Lavatera, and when I saw it from across the farmers’ market in Brattleboro, VT this past weekend I fell in love. Thankfully, the farmer didn’t think there was anything strange about me wanting to take pictures. “Notes for your own garden?” he asked, sweetly. I hadn’t even thought of growing these at home (so focused on edibles I’ve been), but now that you mention it…
Filed under Flora, Gardening
Just harvested: squash blossoms, mint, oregano, basil, and arugula. What can simple city farmers and part-time home cooks do with this? How about a green salad, and prosciutto-and-squash blossom pizza! The blossoms, which essentially dissolved into the cheese (amazing), lent an earthy, flower flavor to the salty di Parma. I’m sorry I don’t have pictures, it was too dark in my kitchen to take any good ones, and I’d rather get your imagination going than post an ill-focused image. I promise that if you think hard enough about a salty-savory homemade pizza topped with San Marzano tomato sauce, garden herbs, ham, and mozzarella, you will get hungry.
I have to give JB the majority of the credit for these. If not for his love (in the form of water, pruning, staking, and general tending to), I’m certain these beauties wouldn’t be what they are today. A man who can grow tomatoes is a man worth keeping, I’ve decided. Just look:
austin red pears
Seeing that some were ripe and ready, we picked just enough to make the most obvious salad:
picked for dinner
caprese with H&O tomatoes and basil, and caputo's mozzarella
Delicious! In fact, the mozzarella (a perennial favorite of ours) was disappointing compared to the fresh (and free!), homegrown garden fruits and herbs, which were still warm from the sun and the dirt that they came from.
“Have you read Farm City?” This was the subject heading of an email I recently received from a good friend. “I know you love a bit of urban homesteading,” was all she wrote, implicating a recommendation.
Trusting this friend’s taste above almost all others, I had the highest hopes for Farm City: The Education of an Urban Farmer by Novella Carpenter, and so far (i.e. 157 pages in), they’ve all been exceeded. Born into a hippie family who lived off of their land in Idaho, Carpenter, who is NOT a hippie like her parents, but IS deeply connected to her mother, moves to a ghost town neighborhood in Oakland, CA and starts sewing seeds in the abandoned lot behind her apartment (she quotes Thoreau when she writes, “I enhanced the land by squatting on it.”). What ensues––no doubt considered pure insanity to some, gorgeous bravery to others––is delightful, compelling, and heartwarming to read. It’s got me thinking that even in the ghetto, Northern Californians can have it gooooooood: “In California, it’s just-add-water gardening,” Novella writes about growing vegetables like cucumbers and corn (without giving it away, I will say that the poultry proves to be a bit more challenging). Sigh.
william morris "cray" print hand tool set
Who knew that the New York Botanical Garden has a most amazing online shop! Sure, no one needs a trowel and cultivator covered in 19th-century William Morris chintz, but need, schmeed. I want them!