Ripening fruit

Here are some photos taken at the estate.  The various fruits are ripening nicely; the pears always come first, followed by the grapes, then the apples and quince.  The pumpkin vines are robust but no fruits yet.  I have never grown pumpkins so I am not sure what the timing should be.

Mid Summer Garden

The garden is nicely producing with not too much work on our part at this point.  We’ve harvested probably close to 8 maybe 9, gallon size bags of mixed greens, arugula and kale.  We’ve had 2 rounds of radishes and expect to plant another group soon.  The tomatoes are coming along well and the eggplants and cucumbers are starting to take off. So much abundance to be thankful for!!!!

Summer = Strawberries

By the calendar, summer came one day early (the leap year added one day to February).  But in truth, summer arrives when the strawberries are ready for picking.

And go picking today we did!

So now our household is all about whipped cream and shortcake and berries-a-plenty.  Alice Waters’ “The Art of Simple Food” has this recipe for Cream Biscuits – a/k/a shortcake; just add strawberries and whipped cream!

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Stir together in a large bowl: 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 4 teaspoons sugar (optional), 2 teaspoons baking powder.

Add 6 Tablespoons cold butter, cut into small pieces  then add the butter into the flour using your fingers or a pastry blender until they are the size of small peas.

Measure 3/4 cup heavy cream then remove 1 tablespoon and set that tablespoon aside.  Lightly stir into the flour the remainder of the cream with a fork until the mixture just comes together. Without overworking it, lightly knead the dough a couple of times in the bowl (this is pretty vague and not sure we hit the mark) turn it out onto a lightly floured board, and roll out about 3/4 inch thick (ours was about 1/4″ thick).

Cut into 1 1/2 inch circles or squares (we ended up with three or four times as many, but they worked fine all the same).  Reroll the scraps if necessary. Place the biscuits on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and lightly brush the tops with the reserved cream. Bake for 17 minutes, or until cooked through and golden.  Let cool, then top with strawberries and whipped cream.

…and we hope you find a field to forage…

Little Green Thumbs 2012

We made a late but serious dent in our community garden plot this weekend planting sugar snap peas, arugula, spinach, kale, radish, carrots, tomatoes, cucumbers and eggplants. Looking forward to a collective gardening experience this year! 

David found some great wood scraps for stepping stones


Spring blossoms

Here are photos of the apple orchard, taken April 18th.  With the very warm March weather, we are about three weeks ahead of a “normal” spring.  The buds are currently in the “half inch green” and “tight cluster” stages.

Blue Oysters

I went to a mushroom cultivation class today at the Urban Farm Fermentory and came home with a “log” of straw inoculated with spores of a Blue Oyster Mushroom.

It is all new to me…but E loves to eat mushrooms, (and truffles someday, I’ll bet!) so I thought, why not try growing our own?

At the class we learned about sterilizing winter rye berries in a pressure cooker, then, inside an air-sealed glove box, using a syringe to inoculate the berries with spores.  Within a few days the spores will develop, and within a few weeks you have a jar full of mycelium – the vegetative part of a fungus – using the berries as a host.  After the mycelium develops, the berries are packed, along with pasteurized straw, into a plastic bag poked with a series of small holes to allow the fruit – the Blue Oyster Mushrooms in our case – to emerge.

So home I arrived with the straw filled bag, which I am storing in the basement – a dark warm, preferably humid place.  In a few weeks I expect (hope, may be more like it) the bag will become engorged with tiny white strands of mycelium.  At that point I will bring it out into the light, and keep it plenty moist, and it should form a fruiting body: the edible mushrooms.

Fungi are a separate kingdom, distinct from both plants and animals, with an estimated more than 5 million species.  With over 32,000 sexes of spores (don’t ask) only need two to combine to grow into a mycelium mat.  Paul Stamets, in “Mycelium Running” describes a “2,400-acre site in eastern Oregon had a contiguous growth of mycelium before logging roads cut through it. Estimated at 1,665 football fields in size and 2,200 years old, this one fungus has killed the forest above it several times over, and in so doing has built deeper soil layers that allow the growth of ever-larger stands of trees. Mushroom-forming forest fungi are unique in that their mycelial mats can achieve such massive proportions.”

Seems like science fiction to me, but it’s just another part of the wild world of nature.  Incredible.  And edible.  For the most part.

Community Garden

Our family has one of 35 plots at the new community garden site in town.  This summer we helped build the beds for the 10′ x 10′ plots.  In addition there will be 2 handicap beds, a children’s garden and 3 sites for composting.

We expect to plant carrots, tomatoes, kale, spinach, arugula, eggplant, snap peas, cucumber, and patty pan squash. I took E to visit the site as it’s important for her to see it during the different seasons and phases.

Today’s Harvest

Thanks Farmer Dan



a gift from a good farming friend – rosemary, parsley and basil

a batch of pesto and loaves of potato/rosemary focaccia bread coming soon!

August means Blackberries

On our way to the beach we foraged…