Sunday, November 21, 2010

radishing radishes.

I know, I know. All of my attention has been focused on The Mini-Farm. So much so that you thought I'd forgotten my humble radish and carrot plot right outside my own front door. Not so! I've been checking on it almost daily (and watering as often).

Here's what I've found:

radish poster child. 
I'd say this one is almost ready to be picked!  It is also the most normal looking radish of them all; the rest of the stems are long and horizontal to the soil as they reach for the sun. Even growing sideways, they are beginning to swell!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

We christened it...

(by "it" I mean our little plot in the community garden)...J&M's Mini-Farm. Or The Mini-Farm for short. Yahoo!

J and I began work on our plot 6 days ago. Here is a chronicle of the events:

Step 1: Bought all of the seeds and took hours planning where each plant should go. See my last post for all of the details.

Step 2: Measure and mark off the the 1 foot by 1 foot squares using stakes and twine.

J tying twine to a stake

The grid takes shape

 Step 3: Study the "map" and start planting!

 The map. A little hard to read, but you can sort of see that I have a place for each crop and how many of each crop can grow in a square foot. The map is based on the websites I shared with you in my last post. 

Step 4: Get really bummed because I forgot that some of the seeds had to be soaked overnight before going into the ground. Hence the beans, peas, beets (much to J's disappointment), chard, and parsnips had to sit out planting day. Boo! 

Step 5: Shrug it off and plant the rest of the crops. Leeks, carrots, kale, broccoli  and turnips are in the ground! 

Step 6: Water, water, water. 

a watering pro

Step 7: Go home. Place the beans, peas, beets, chard, and parsnips in ramekins of water and let soak.

Top row: beets, peas, chard
Bottom row: Beans, parsnips

Step 8: Return to plot a day and a half later, plant the remaining crops, now happily primed for germination. 

pea in a hole

Step 9: Water, water, water. Then proudly stand over your plot, beaming in the sunlight. Photograph it.  

  The Mini-Farm. In all of its glory. 

Oh, and in case you're wondering, those two craters you see in the front corners of the plot are where the leeks are planted. As the leeks begin to grow, we'll fill in the dirt around them to blanch the stems.

So, there you have it! Our first planting endeavor. I went to water the Mini-Farm yesterday (which would be Day 5 post planting) and I saw little turnip sprouts! So far, so good!

Will keep you posted on the Mini-Farm's progress. 



Wednesday, November 10, 2010

I bought the seeds.

:) :) :) :)

I bought the seeds for our little plot in the community garden! Here's what I got:

Shelling Peas (Progress #9)
Broccoli (Di Cicco)
Beet (Early Wonder)
Spinach (Bloomsdale)
Turnip (Purple Top White Globe)
Swiss Chard (Five Color Silverbeet)
Kale (Dinosaur!)
Fava Beans
Oh, and I'll have a patch of carrots (and radishes, duh).

All of my seeds are from Botanical Interests. Mainly because this is what my grocery store (Henry's Markets) sells, and because they have plenty of heirloom and organic varieties.

I was aided in choosing my crops by this helpful planting guide, specific to Southern California.

I've decided to use the square foot gardening method since our garden is so tiny. It seems to be the most space-efficient (and organized) gardening approach. This website is incredibly helpful - it tells you how many plants will fit in a square foot, and how to figure that out based on what the seed packet says. Genius!

And then I made a little map of our 4'x6' plot on a piece of paper, with each square inch representing a square foot of our garden. I plotted out where each plant will go, because I'm anal like that. Once I figured out how many squares each plant would take (for example, in one square foot you can only have one broccoli plant but can get as many as 16 carrot plants) I looked up companion planting because heaven forbid I plant two varieties that don't get along right next to each other.

Figuring out where each plant would go was like solving one of those annoying math/logic problems they had us do in elementary school. You know, the ones that go something like "Jimmy is twice the age of Mary. Mary is four years younger than Bob. Bob is two years older than Jimmy. Kelly is seven, and is half the age of Mary. How old is Bob?"

Ok, don't try solving that because it doesn't really have an answer. (I just made it up) But you see my point. You remember those third-grade math meltdowns and getting all anxious because the problem was taking too long, and you just wanted to solve it and get on with the rest of your homework so you could go out and play. Except in my case (the what should be planted next to what case), it was a little more fun because I knew there was an answer and a point to my "figuring out" where everything should go, in spite of all of my erasing and re-writing, erasing and re-writing, and then finally! A finished plan!

Did I mention that I'm anal like that?

Can't wait to start planting in t-minus four days! Don't you worry, I'll take lots of pictures.


Tuesday, November 9, 2010

What to do with sage.

Our church hosts a monthly produce exchange, where the community is invited to come and give excess fruits, veggies, herbs (and I've even seen books) and take what they wish. You can even come and just be a taker, no one minds, and even with all of the takers there are plenty of leftovers.

In fact, the produce exchange is such a wonderful event that I'll even abandon all of my former obsessions with privacy and tell you that the produce exchange meets the first Saturday of every month at the big, pink Methodist Church (hosted by Mountainside Communion Church, which meets there) on Palm Ave. So if you're local (or if you're not), don't say no one told you.

ANYWAY! All that's to say that I missed this Saturday's produce exchange because I had to work, but on Sunday morning there were all sorts of leftover goodies - limes, persimmons (personally, not a fan), and a beautiful glass jar full of sage and parsley!

I took four limes and the herb jar.

And I carried my little treasures home, all the while contemplating what on earth I would do with so much sage. There wasn't that much parsley, and parsley's not so hard to contend with.

So the herbs sat on my counter, looking all pretty like this for a couple of days:
isn't that lovely?

Of course, sitting around on my kitchen counter looking pretty can only last for so long. So today, I did some sage research (and here and here also) It has all sorts of culinary and medicinal properties, which these links can further explain. I decided to make an infusion of the sage leaves, some of which to be used on my hair as I am dandruff prone and the rest of which to be ingested as a warm tea, which has properties as a dietary tonic, memory booster, and mucus buster (helpful for allergies and asthma). 

I put about 2 cups of leaves in a small saucepan, fired up the teakettle, and then poured the just-below-boiling water over them and let them steep for about 1/2 hour. I strained the tea through muslin cloth into mason jars. There was enough for two jars. I tasted the tea - it is super strong, just as every website warned. I'd agree that it's an acquired taste. Quite bitter. Apparently the addition if lime juice and honey makes the infusion more palatable. And since I have limes (yay produce exchange!!) I'll have to try it. 

Be warned! Sage is not to be consumed in large quantities! One of it's essential oils (thujone) can build up and become toxic, causing convulsions. So don't drink sage tea with every meal every day and you'll be fine (this is purely anecdotal advice. I am not an herbalist). Oh, and don't take it when you're pregnant (thujone is an abortifactant) or nursing (unless you're weaning and want help with drying up your milk). 

Now that you've been fairly warned, a photo of the final product! 

two jars. leftover leaves to be frozen. used leaves and muslin. 

Do any of you grow sage? What do you use it for?