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This year's Kale planting grid

  • Monday, October 26, 2009

  • Here is my planting grid so I won't forget what I planted where!

    Cherry Crisp Pie Recipe

  • Sunday, October 25, 2009
  • So an odd time to post a recipe for cherries, but since this is my garden blog and its purpose is to keep my most important thoughts organized - I am posting a recipe I would like to try.  It is coming into winter and I froze alot of cherries from our tree this year- so hopefully this recipe will be a hit in January!

    Cherry Crisp Pie (adapted from Michigan Cherry Marketing Institute)
    • 1/2 a stick of butter
    • 3/4 cup old fashioned oats
    • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
    • 1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
    • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
    • 2 cans (21 ounce) cherry pie filling (I plan to use my frozen cherries abit sweetened with sugar and some cornstarch)
    • 1 graham cracker crust (premaid or make yourself)
    Melt butter is saucepan.  Add in oats, flour, brown sugar, and cinnamon.  Spoon pie filling into graham cracker crust.  Sprinkly oat mixture over top.  Place pie on bakcin gsheet and bake 375 degree until topping golden brown about 45 minutes.  Cool and refrigerate at least 4 hours before serving.  I may also try this with a normal crust as well..... Will post the review once I make it!

    Growing Garlic- Easy as 1,2,3

  • With some help from Organic, here is how to grow garlic, easy as 1, 2, 3!  My aim is to break things down to their basic parts and to simplify the process so EVERYONE realizes that they can do it too!  So many people think gardening is hard or that they need a green thumb, but you don't.  You just need the basics and some confidence.,7518,s1-5-16-231,00.html#

    OK- how to plant garlic:
    1. Prepare the garlic cloves: Plant garlic form mid-September through mid October.  Break the garlic bulb apart into individual cloves and soak them in a jar mixed with water, one tbsp baking soda, and one tablespoon of liquid seaweed (to prevent fungal disease and encourage vigorous growth). 
    2. Prepare bed for planting:  Garlic grows best in rich, well-drained soil.  Push cloves down 3 inches and space 6-8 inches apart.  Plant fat part of bulb down so that the slender tip is on top.
    3. Cover the garlic bed:  Cover the cloves with 2 inches of soil and cover with 6-8 inches of compost, straw, or leaves.  Shoots should poke through the mulch in 4-6 weeks.  It will stop growing in winter and will resume in spring.
    This year I had a great garlic harvest..... Nothing like fresh garlic.  It may be the variety, but my garlic was super concentrated and wonderful!  I am actually using my harvest for planting.  I think this is a good cycle: plant many cloves, harvest the scapes (the flower of the garlic plant...makes wonderful garlic pesto) harvest the bulbs, eat garlic to your hearts content, use the rest for planting for the next season!

    Speaking Engagement- November 13th!

  • So I am speaking at the Sustainable Loudoun Green Living Forum on November 13th( !  I will be presenting on Food Gardening: Easy as 1, 2, 3.  How perfect for me!  Here is the description:
    Have you always wanted to grow your own food but felt overwhelmed at where to start? Do you think you don't have enough space or time to have a garden? In an easy and straighforward discussion, Linna will outline what elements are critical for food gardening, as well as provide some creative approaches to raising food. She will focus on methods that maximize both space and time to prove that anyone can raise their own healthy food.

    Learn how to incorporate sustainable practices into your everyday lifestyle,
    improve your quality of life, and save money while saving resources.

    Yogi Tea!

  • Friday, October 23, 2009
  • So a good friend made some Yogi tea for me during my maternity leave. I wanted to list the recipe and the background behind it.  Here goes:

    Yogi Tea is also available in pre-mixed packages and in tea bags. Yogi  Bhajan says about the tea, " If you take a really good amount of Yogi tea, it will keep your liver very well. It is said to help the liver.  And when we started in the sixties, people who had drug habits, who couldn't even move, we put them on Yogi tea.  Yogi tea is actually a combintation of foods.  It is a tonic to the nervous system.  It can help to balance your system when you are feeling out of balance.  It has been used often as a remedy and a preventative measure colds, flu and diseases of the mucous membranes. 
    • Black pepper is a blood purifier. 
    • Cardamon is for the colon.  Together they support the brain cells.
    • Cloves help support the nervous system. 
    • Cinnamon is good for the bones. 
    • Ginger helps strengthen the nervous system and is very good if you have a cold, flu, physical weakness.
    It can help women when they are experiencing menstrual discomfort, such as cramps of PMS symptoms. You can try making Yogi team with extra ginger when you are feeling a cold or the flu coming on.

    Steak in a spoon- GROW MORE BEANS!

  • Sunday, October 18, 2009
  • So I read this article in Mother Earth News ( and just loved it, so I am sharing it here. I tried my hand at growing beans (dried beans) and I loved it.  They grew all season, dried on the vine, and then I just picked and put them in jars for wonderful soups all winter long.  DEFINATELY going to try more varieties next year!

    The October beans and most of the Flagrano flageolets are in the freezer, but still my garden is full of beans. As I gather pale pods of black-and-white Yin Yangs, I am amazed at the generosity of the sturdy little plants. Certainly I expected a nice harvest when I planted them, but their giving nature takes me by surprise.

    And it's not just the 'Yin-Yangs.' Looking around, I find a bounty of forgotten beans worth gathering: abandoned French Duet pole filet beans holding blue-black seeds, and a few Peking Black crowder peas that reseeded themselves in a back corner of the garden.

    Some of my finds seem too beautiful to eat, for example the nickel-size seeds hidden inside the long, leathery pods of Emperor scarlet runner beans. I toss them in the soup anyway. As they simmer in the company of summer's last tomatoes and peppers, their meatiness will make them seem like little steaks on a spoon.
    The petite green limas are so precious that we eat them like garden caviar, slowly and in small amounts. They take forever to grow and are equally slow to shell, but there is no doubt that they are worth it. Besides, the bumblebees love them.
    The biggest and best beans get set aside for replanting, but still it feels extravagant to be eating hundreds and hundreds of seeds. Satisfying, too, in a way that cannot be felt unless one grows the beans. You give them a home, bring them water when they need it, and step in when foxtail and crabgrass threaten to take over the planting.
    It is a partnership in which you must keep up your end of the deal, and now you can claim your prize. As you run your hand through a bowl of drying beans, they might as well be gold coins. But what is the prize – the beans themselves, or the feeling of wealth that comes with having them? Either way, bean season is worth savoring.

    Winter Garden Update- kale, kale and more kale!

  • So every year I try to grow something during these cold and dark winter days.  I have decided that I really love Kale and Tatsoi to blend into smoothies all winter long. This year I am trying some new varieties, here they are.  I love buying seeds from Southern Seed Exposure (, they are 'local' to me and I really like supporting small shops like these.
    1. Vates Kale: 55 days. [Selected from 'Dwarf Blue Curled Scotch' by the VA/AES.] Planted spring or fall. Overwinters well in the Mid-Atlantic region. Resistant to yellowing due to frost or heat. This is our most flavorful variety of kale, best when steamed, and good fresh as a garnish or salad ingredient. Pkt.
    2. Red Russian Kale: 40 days. 'Red Russian' is an unusual and beautiful variety that grows 2' tall. Leaves are bitter-free, very tender, and are intersected by purple-pink veins, lightly tinged with purple on the margins. In cold weather the leaves turn reddish-purple and are very attractive. 'Red Russian' produces an early crop of very tender leaves. Pkt.
    3. Hanover Salad Kale: 30 days. An extra early, fast growing Siberian variety with large smooth leaves. When used fresh, this variety has a strong, but good flavor, mild when steamed. Harvest leaves when small and tender. Best for early spring salads before other varieties mature. Pkt.
      "This is great variety for adding to salad mixes and overwintering." -Radish Bruce
    4. Premier Kale: Replaces 'Smooth Long Standing'. When over-wintered, the plants remain compact while developing new growing points on the main stem. This results in a higher production of foliage for spring harvest. Plants resist bolting 3 to 4 weeks longer. A vigorous growing, smooth-leaved variety with deep green foliage and scalloped edges. Pkt.
    I am also getting Tatsoi, which I love for the mild flavoring and great use as a spinach substitute:
    1. Mustard Tatsoi: 43 days. Rosettes of dark, thick green, oval-shaped leaves. Very attractive, easy to grow and long lasting. Excellent for stir-fry or salads. Pkt.
    I am such a sucker for good seed descriptions. Just like information commercials, I just want to buy them all!  I will keep track of which ones I really like this season. Last year I did kale, tatsoi and mustard greens- and I did NOT LIKE THE MUSTARD GREENS, so I am now just focusing on what I did like!  For the record, strawberry kale smoothies are my ultimate FAVORITE! (recipe to follow once my kale is ready to eat!)

    UPDATE: Here is a recipe from a friend for Kale and Bean soup!

    • olive oil
    • 6 garlic cloves
    •  onion
    • 1 bunch of chopped raw kale (about 4 c)
    • 4 c chicken broth
    • 2 cans Italian beans (great northern, cannellini, navy), drained and washed
    • 1 can of tomatoes (stewed, diced, whole)
    • 1 can tomato sauce
    • Italian herbs, salt and pepper to taste
    • parmesean or romono cheese to top soup

    In a large pot, heat olive oil. Add garlic, onion, and tomatoes. Saute until soft.
    Add kale and saute until wilted.
    Add broth, beans, herbs, salt and pepper. Simmer for 10 minutes.
    To serve, ladel into bowls and top with shredded cheese. Enjoy your Tuscan farmhouse cuisine! Serves 6 - 8

    Capturing the Autumn Harvest- APPLESAUCE!

  • Friday, October 16, 2009

  • So I always talk about taking advantage of what veggies and fruits are in season - this year I decided to try my hand at applesauce! My three year old son loves it, and I just had a baby girl who will want some healthy food in a few months.  So with abit of help from a Mother Earth News Article on baking with applesauce( and my handy-dandy book, Busy Person's Guide to Preserving Food, I went at it.  What I didn't realize it is the SIMPLEST THING EVER and so delicious!  Also, in-season apples are a super price!  $10 for a peck which makes ALOT OF APPLESAUCE.  Here goes:
    1. Wash apples - no need to peel.  Make sure to scrub them well.
    2. Core them and drop apple pieces into a heavy pot with an inch or so of water.
    3. Cook until tender - keep heat low so not to scorch the pan or apples.
    4. Puree the soft mixture (Vitamix works PERFECTLY).  Return puree into the pot and add sugar or honey to taste. You can also add seasonings like cinnamon and cloves etc.
    5. You can then freeze this and unfreeze as needed, but I like having it on my shelf so I hot packed them.  I sterilized my jars and lids and put the hot applesauce in the jars and boiled them for 15 minutes.  Once cooled the are good to go on my shelf!  For more details on this, get the book Busy Person's Guide to Preserving Food, it rocks!  (you can find it on my amazon page
    **Note if you have a vitamix, which is a specialty blender, you don't need to core the apples. The blender will literally blend the seeds and core into your sauce.  Great source of fiber! But please, don't try this with other blenders....the vitamix is one of its kind! (

    Pictures from this growing season...

  • Tuesday, October 13, 2009

  • Harvesting Sweet Potatoes

  • So for the second year I am growing sweet potatoes.  For the record here are the tips for harvesting them:
    When to Harvest?  Frost and cold weather can hurt sweet potatoes at harvesttime even though you might think they're insulated underground. When frost kills and blackens the vines aboveground, decay can start in on the dead vines and pass down to the roots. If your sweet potato plants suffer a frost one night, cut the vines off right above the soil first thing the next morning. This may let you leave the potatoes in the ground for a few more days without injury. Try to dig the sweet potatoes on a dry, overcast day. Leaving them in direct sun for long can open pathways of infection that will damage the crop in storage. Dig gently around the hills, starting from a few feet away, so as not to slash any wandering roots with your shovel or fork.

    Let Them Cure: Let the potatoes dry on the ground for a couple of hours. If you dig late in the day, don't leave the roots out overnight; you risk damage from cold weather and moisture. Don't wash the potatoes after the harvest, either. Sort any badly cut or bruised potatoes to eat first (they won't keep) and sort the rest according to size in boxes or baskets to cure before storage.  Curing can be done in 10 to 14 days by keeping sweet potatoes in a warm, dark place with some ventilation. The temperature should be 80° to 85° F with high humidity. Under these conditions, bruises and wounds will heal quickly, sealing out rot organisms. After curing, put the containers of sweet potatoes in a dry, well-ventilated area at 55° to 60° F with a relative humidity of 75 percent to 80 percent. Under ideal conditions, you can keep a mature crop until the next early harvest. If you can't store your sweet potatoes under these conditions, you may want to cook and freeze your harvest. Sweet potatoes bruise easily and can suffer quickly when handled in storage. It's best not to pick through them too often.

    Silence now Broken......

  • So my life has been filled with ups and downs .... all things that have taken me away from writing, but not GARDENING  :)  So here is my attempt to catch up.  Gosh, I have missed writing about the entire 2009 Growing season!  During the season I thought my garden was a failure, but putting everything in context I think it was just a 'unique' garden year.

    Here are the highlights:
    • Bugs, bugs, varmits, and more bugs.  Such a loopy season of bugs.  The season started out wet and cold....stayed cool, got very hot.... kinda like a roller coaster
    • Varmits caused alot of my crops to not make it on first attempt, I had to replant squash, beans, and endamame a few times.
    • Corn.  I grew it and it was beautiful.  I was so excited to have fresh corn then a big wind blew in and knocked them all down!
    • Squash bugs - they got my butternut squash AGAIN.
    • Tomato blight- got me this year.  Only enough tomas for eating -- not much for preserving.
    • Expanded the garden ALOT.
    • Grew dry beans and am so happy I did, a must for next year!
    • Enough swiss chard to feed an Army!
    • Grew a 'kitchen garden' right outside the front door and it was a huge success! More veggies closer to the house is a great idea.
    Ok- as more comes to me I will post!