Thursday, March 8, 2012

You Can Grow This! Part Deux (with recipe!)

Last year, Tiny Tim's Garden looked like this in mid June:

Nothing like morning light to show off plants, right?

Isn't "Bright Lights" Swiss Chard almost shockingly beautiful?

Broccoli rabe looks good enough to eat at 7:00 a.m

Here's what all the glorious vegetables, herbs and annual flowers had in common.

 They came from this:

Started life in my unheated mudroom, and 

Moved to roomier digs before they got planted outside after the ubiquitous "all danger from frost has passed."

MWH (my wonderful husband) built a 6 x 8 greenhouse last year and just put together a retro two tier plant stands with two grow lights on them.  Both treasures came from the Craig's List "farm and garden" listings and were CHEAP! (Check it out daily - you'll never know what you'll find).
With these additions, you can imagine that I'm going a little nuts, but I do have method in my madness.  My goal is to give spinach, Swiss chard, lettuce, cabbage, kale, tomatoes, beets and herbs starts to a low-income housing community here.  The residents have well made raised beds on the property and do a great job raising vegetables, but since they're on fixed incomes, free starts will save them a bit.

Here's where you might help out.  Have you been collecting 2" pots and transplant six plants in your garage or potting bench area?  Let me recycle them for you!  I will gladly meet you and take them off your hands.

If you haven't seen it yet, here's a link to The Farmers Almanac, showing when we can start seeds inside, when we can transplant or sow seeds directly in the ground. Enter your zip code and The Farmer's Almanac will graciously give that information specific to your locale.

Are you growing starts this year, and what are your favorites?  How do you do it?

For your dining pleasure, may I offer an easy St. Patrick's Day recipe for a variety of Irish Colcannon that has a few extra goodies in it from  Talk about comfort food!  



Mashed Potatoes with Kale and Leeks



    • 8 medium red potatoes
    • 2 cups kale, chopped (not packed too snugly)
    • 1 medium leeks, thinly sliced
    • 4 cloves garlic, minced 
    • 1-2 T. lemon juice 
    • 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
    • 1 cup potato water
    • salt and pepper


  1. Cube and boil potatoes (with skins) in lightly salted water.
  2. Drain, reserve 1 cup water.
  3. Saute garlic and leek in 2 Tbs oil until translucent.
  4. Add kale, saute  until wilted.
  5. Squirt some lemon juice, about 1T. to maintain color and add flavor
  6. Mash potatoes with reserved water, 2 remaining Tbs of oil.
  7. Fold in sauteed veggies.
  8. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

You Can Grow That! (And a mouthwatering recipe, too)

Today, I'm joining noted gardening gardening expert C.L. Fornari and garden bloggers around the world to create a collection of various garden blog posts on the 4th of every month that can serve to raise awareness of the joy and importance of gardening and planting.

Today, I want to talk about garlic, and how easy it is to grow.  It starts with friendship.    Years ago, I met Mike Finger, of Cedarville Farms at his stall at the Bellingham Farmer's Market and I instantly respected his commitment to organic farming.  He and his wife Kim are warm, caring and informed, and never seem to forget a customer's name.  If I was going to start growing garlic, then I was going start by supporting a friend, and make a great experience even better.

So back last September, I went to the Farmer's Market, and made a beeline for Mike's stall.  Sure enough, there was a beyootiful head of Rojo garlic.  I brought it home, separated the cloves, and stuck 15 in the ground.  Here's the result, today, March 4, 2012:

Aren't they pretty? 
My friend Jackie had me thinking about Garlic Soup this week since she'd had a great bowl in Coupeville over the weekend.  That sounded so good after all our grey, rainy days!  Last night I adapted a recipe from The Novice Chef  based on what I had on hand.   It was terrific!  My Wonderful Husband (MWH) and I finished it all, making  involuntary little mewing sounds of contentment with every spoonful.   
 Tiny Tim's Roasted Garlic Soup

2 heads of garlic,                                  1/2 C. Sauvignon Blanc wine
 top sliced off                                       1/2 C. water
1 garnet yam, peeled                            1/2 t. Salt
1 acorn squash                                     1/2 fresh cracked pepper
Olive oil                                               1/4 t. dried thyme
Butter                                                   1/4 t. Cajun seasoning
1 large sweet onion                              2 C. organic chicken broth
 sliced thinly                                         Sour cream or yogurt
2 T. Flour

Set oven to 400.  Put both heads garlic on a piece of foil, drizzle olive oil on them and seal them into a packet.   Cut the yam and squash into small pieces, place them in a large baking dish, and drizzle olive oil liberally over all.  Put both the baking dish and the packet of garlic for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, melt butter and olive oil (whatever amount you want) in a large, deep frying pan.   Over medium high heat, cook the sliced onions for about 15 minutes, until browned and crispy.  Sprinkle the flour over the onions, and deglaze the pan with the wine, scraping all the good bits up.  Add the spices and remove from heat.

Turn off oven and remove garlic and baking dish.  While the garlic and squash cool a bit, add the yam to the onion, turn to medium heat and stir.  Squeeze the garlic into the mixture, cut the peel away from the squash, and add them to the mixture, stirring to mix them in.  Add the water and broth and bring to boil, stirring constantly.  

Carefully put the pieces and liquid into a blender or Cuisinart and liquify.  Repeat the process until you have a thick soup that smells outrageously good.  Taste, correct seasoning (the Cajun seasoning is awfully good), ladle into bowls and top with sour cream or yogurt.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

A Time To Laugh

 My apologies for being absent these three weeks.  Life has been busy, especially in the garden and more to come about starting seeds, preparing the garden, etc.

However, I wanted to share this great poem from Geoffrey B. Charlesworth that I'm reblogging from A Way To Garden.  For every gardener who's lost a plant, a row of seedlings, a tree, whatever, this poem will make you laugh through your (frustrated) memories!

Why Did My Plant Die?
Geoffrey B. Charlesworth
(reposted from A Way To Garden)

You walked too close. You trod on it.
You dropped a piece of sod on it.
You hoed it down. You weeded it.
You planted it the wrong way up.
You grew it in a yogurt cup
But you forgot to make a hole;
The soggy compost took its toll.
September storm. November drought.
It heaved in March, the roots popped out.
You watered it with herbicide.
You scattered bonemeal far and wide.
Attracting local omnivores,
Who ate your plant and stayed for more.
You left it baking in the sun
While you departed at a run
To find a spade, perhaps a trowel,
Meanwhile the plant threw in the towel.
You planted it with crown too high;
The soil washed off, that explains why.
Too high pH. It hated lime.
Alas it needs a gentler clime.
You left the root ball wrapped in plastic.
You broke the roots. They’re not elastic.
You walked too close. You trod on it.
You dropped a piece of sod on it.
You splashed the plant with mower oil.
You should do something to your soil.
Too rich. Too poor. Such wretched tilth.
Your soil is clay. Your soil is filth.
Your plant was eaten by a slug.
The growing point contained a bug.
These aphids are controlled by ants,
Who milk the juice, it kills the plants.
In early spring your garden’s mud.
You walked around! That’s not much good.
With heat and light you hurried it.
You worried it. You buried it.
The poor plant missed the mountain air:
No heat, no summer muggs up there.
You overfed it 10-10-10.
Forgot to water it again.
You hit it sharply with the hose.
You used a can without a rose.
Perhaps you sprinkled from above.
You should have talked to it with love.
The nursery mailed it without roots.
You killed it with those gardening boots.
You walked too close. You trod on it.
You dropped a piece of sod on it.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Women, Farms & Food Conference, 2012 and First Free Seed Start Giveaway Contest!

Imagine a large, comfortable room filled with 90 women on a sunny Saturday morning in Mount Vernon, WA.   They're young, they're middle aged,   they're retired and raising sheep to mow their lawns. It's a multi-cultural group. Actually, these women are from as far away as British Columbia and Duvall, though most are from Whatcom, Skagit, Island and northern Snohomish County. They are here with a purpose:  to learn as much as they can about successful strategies for sustaining small farms.

The energy is palpable.  The women understand that there is a big gap in the market for small and midsized farms. The question is how to be successful, and during the morning we are blessed with excellent speakers who tackle that huge question succinctly:

  • Lyn Garling (Over The Moon Farm)

  • Shelly Muzzall (3 Sisters Family Farms)

  • Serena Hedlin (Hedlin Family Farms)

  • Patricia Lovejoy (Arlington Garden Treasures)

  • They encourage us:  The public wants to know where their food comes from, they want to know their food is safe, that they are eating "real food."  Communities like ours support their local farmers, and want to know their farmer.  Their comments included: "You have to know your numbers," "Remember to be grateful every day," "Direct marketing must include social media, including Facebook, your website, a blog and Linked-In."

    This conference also had audience breakout groups, and these terrific women shared great information (start your peppers and tomatoes now inside or in greenhouses to have vigorous healthy plants when it warms up), the best farmer's markets, how getting certified as an organic farm, etc.

    After a very delicious lunch catered by Cafe Burlington (check out their website and try them-great philosophy and food), "recovered procrastinator" Rita Emmett shared invaluable tips to make us more productive. 
      I loved this slide with a quote from Michael Jordan.
    Thanks to WSU, we all took home an autographed copy The Procrastinator's Handbook; Mastering the Art of Doing It Now.
    So I've come home to Tiny Tim's Garden determined to give back the generosity I received today--and try out my greenhouse.  So, I'm announcing my First Whatcom County Seed Starts Giveaway Contest.  Here's how it works:  Monday I'm going to plant spinach, Swiss Chard, cabbage, chives and the other plants recommended by The starts should be nice and strong and ready to plant by mid - late March.

    To win, leave me a comment with the three starts you'd most like to have ready to plant in your garden.  Tiny Tim and I will pick the winner at random. So good luck, and if you're a gardener, don't forget to check out the WSU Extension website for great info.