Saturday, January 26, 2008

The Mushroom Plot Thickens

Last Sunday Robin, Holly and I drilled and plugged 1100 dowels of mushroom spawn into sweet gum logs given to us by our fabulous neighbors Rodney and Charlie. Our potential for future mushrooms is steadily increasing. We now have shitake, lions mane and oyster mushroom mycelium gobbling up some wood getting primed to pop out some 'shrooms. We still have 100 more lions mane dowels and 100 reishi dowls to go.

Run mycelium run!

Monday, January 7, 2008


The Funny Farm Orchard is taking shape with the addition of 5 apple trees and 2 cherry trees. Yesterday i planted 2 arkansas black apples, 3 freedom apples and 2 black cherry trees. In a few years we'll begin harvesting our own tasty fruit turning it into pies, cobblers, sauces and preserves. Yum!
Today I transplanted a beautiful bay laurel from the garden center which will provide us with a never-ending supply of fresh bay leaves for our soups and stews. Fresh bay leaves are so much tastier than the dried ones from the store. I've got some blueberries, blackberries, kiwk and pineapple guava still to transplant from the community garden. In a few years we'll have quite a menagerie of fruits throughout the year.
I can't wait to learn from my friend Robert how to turn some of our harvest into delectable hooch.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Making Stock

Sometimes I'm a little slow in the head. I use a lot of vegetable stock when i cook. It adds a richness to soups, beans, rice. I've been buying organic vegetable broth made by Pacifica Natural Foods. It is very tasty, not overly expensive and comes in a 4-pack of 1 cup containers. And that is the problem i have with this product. Over-packaging and packaging that cannot be recycled. Use a can!
Then it came to me. Ding-dong you grow your own vegetables. Make your own stock, put it in reusable containers and the problem is solved.
So that is what i'm doing now. I've put in the pot some of just about every vegetable and herb we are growing now or are storing. Each time i make a new batch the ingredients will change as we have different things available to put into it. As a general guide i use some root vegetables, some alliums (onions, leeks, garlic, shallots), some greens, and some herbs. Here's today's list.

kamatsuna greens
tatsoi greens and flowers
purple cabbage that didn't head up
broccoli leaves
beet greens
pea vines ( the frost was going to kill them tonight anyway)
lettuce (i don't like raw lettuce but like to cook with it)
black pepper
ground cloves

Roughly chop everything. You don't need to peel the garlic or onions since you are not going to eat them, just extract the flavor. Put everything into a big pan. Fill it with water, bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer for 3 hours. After it cools, empty the pot by pouring through a colander or sieve to remove the rough stuff. Use the some of liquid to make something and put the rest into convenient sized containers ( 1 or 2 cup is good). Keep a couple in the refrigerator (will last for a week or so) and freeze the rest.
Be sure to put the cooked vegetables in the compost or worm bin or let your pig eat it.

We Have Winter?

I just about forgot it was winter. The climate has changed so much in Georgia over the last 20 years. I remember when we'd get temperatures below 0º frequently the temperature would stay below freezing for a couple of weeks. It hasn't gone below 17º in many years and we don't get many days at all when the temperature goes below 32º. That is good for gardeners. We can grow vegetables year round with a little protection. The temperature is supposed plummet below 20º the next couple of nights so we covered our tenderest crops (lettuce and other greens) with frost cloth to protect them. Many people don't understand how frost cloth works to protect the plants (particularly the weather people who should stick to forcasting the weather because as bad as they are at that they are much worse at giving gardening advice). They goal is to trap the heat from the soil under the blanket to keep the temperature a few degrees warmer than it is outside the blanket. The edged of the blanket much be in contact with the soil all the way around to keep the wind from blowing under it. Use heavy objects to hold down the edges. We use bricks and rocks.