Winter Salad

Walking by a tub of cold weather greens, I noticed something I have not seen since last autumn. Thick rosettes of Beaujolais (red) Spinach. Since I planned to make a salad anyway I ran and got the salad spinner basket and scissors. It was not long before I had a basket of baby mustards, spinach and Kalette. Fantastic early February find…. and it was not covered!

February 6, 2016 (1)

The color came from Trader Joe’s but the crunch is all Toy Box!

Eating from the garden doesn’t make it spring by any stretch. I let the dogs out at midnight and noticed that the deck was covered with frost. Bundled up, grabbed a flashlight and brought in the trays from the greenhouse. They would have been fine. It was 4o degrees inside the greenhouse last night, and still 40 when I brought the trays back out this morning. Oh well.

This is the last night of the Wolf Moon, but as if to remind me that no matter what happens with the ground hog (what is a ground hog anyway?), the new moon is called The Snow Moon. Because often it does snow while this moon sits in the night sky.

February 7, 2016 Weather Going north for a potato hunt today.

Ridgezilla might not be as tough as predicted but it is still too early for some tender plants. It is cold at night and I am not quite ready to make the daily trek back and forth to the green house to gather up trays of babies.

Happy day to you from Everett Washington.

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Filed under Fresh from the garden, In the greenhouse, Urban Farm

Root Division of Tarragon

Spring at The Toy Box Suburban Farm means dividing Tarragon.

So many tarragon lovers take cuttings of mature stems. Honestly I’ve never tried that because early in February, when there isn’t much to do on a NorthWestern urban farm, dividing up a pot of Tarragon is a pleasant way to count down the days until Spring. It is a simple, no fuss way to spend a chilly day in an (almost) warm greenhouse.

The video starts with the onions getting their first hair cut… hang in there for the Tarragon.

February 6, 2016 Weather February Garden To-Do’s

  • Make a tray of “soil-blocks”
  • Start blocks of broccoli, cauliflower and peas
  • Plant Fava Beans
  • Start a mini tray of lettuces
  • Finish (or start) garden plan

In Everett, Washington we are less then 15 minutes shy of the “ten hours of daylight” time. Assuming the weather co-operates, things start growing in ten hours of daylight! Whoot!

Debs…. off to make a Leek Tart with a few of those fat leeks standing proud in the garden and the eggs the chickens are still laying (Thanks Foodie Laura).

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Filed under In the greenhouse, Urban Farm, Video

Last weekend of January

January 30, 2016 (2)
January was good for a weekend farmer, bring on February.

Actually it is nice to only have to sweat over my journal. This last weekend in January is cold. Not back east cold, but I’m not back east. It has been raining buckets. The ground is squishy and the chicken run, usually low maintenance with a thick layer of straw to turn into spring compost, stinks because of the mild weather and rain. I’m going to need to take care of that well before spring. Fava beans are here and waiting for the crocus to show, broccoli, cauliflower and peas are all ready to plant!

From the Winter Garden

January 29, 2016 (2)

Flowering Brussels Sprouts a.k.a Kalette

Did I mention that the local gang of thug deer have been eating my winter crops? They knocked down an artichoke and topped all of the leeks. Not a huge deal, but it still gets my goat!

Those spicy winter greens have been growing in the mild PNW. A good poppy-seed-balsamic dressing seems perfect for their winter heat.

We have kalette… now what? The seed was very expensive and it took forever to grow. Now I need to do something with it. Any ideas?

January 29, 2016 (4) Garlic on purpose! I do not remember what happened in 2014. School I think. But if it had not been for forgotten, unharvested garlic, left in the ground, there would not have been any garlic for 2015. It got planted on purpose and I have neat rows of our favorite seasoning for 2016. Whoo-hoo!

In the Green House

January 29, 2016 (8) It is starting to look like a sanctuary again. It also smells better. No matter what the weather, Ray’s potting bench is pleasant to work at. The weather has been so mild that the onions are already living in the greenhouse. Every day I make at least two trips out there to carry the chamomilelobelia, and alyssum out and back in again at night. I grow most of my chamomile as winter sown plants, but I thought I’d try some on the heat mat… no difference, might as well save some energy and winter sow them.

January 29, 2016 (5) The onions are ready for their first hair cut. They look cute with their little black seed caps but if they are cut (a little less then half… do not go below any visible brackets) then they put more energy into girth rather then height. Trust me, they will do more then survive if you trim them back. Thicker onions are easier to transplant then threads.

January 29, 2016 (7) This pot of tarragon is about the perfect size to divide into more plants. I just need to collect and wash the pots they will go into. Like mint, tarragon spreads underground. It is not as aggressive as mint and it will not survive really cold temperatures. About April there will be a handful of stone pots filled with graceful boughs of licorice scented tarragon. What happens to it after that is up to me… or you if you happen to get one of them.

January 29, 2016 (6) Every year I worry that the seed that I have saved is not going to do well. Seed companies always talk about superior viability. I don’t know what makes them superior. All I know is that the pods of seed heads that I leave in the greenhouse to finish drying before I thresh them always do well for us. This is the little greenhouse bed I planted earlier in January. The French Breakfast radishes and the red (beaujolais) spinach from seed that I saved shot right up. I’ll take it! By the way, that is not mildew or mold on the bed, it is slug bait.

January 30, 2016 weather The farm is still looking seriously bleak. We have our bright spots and tend to focus on them but April-May still seems like a long way away.  After the “River of Rain” that invaded Everett, we have already had to empty the rain gauge. On this last weekend of January we have measured about 7.5-inches of rain and 0 of snow. Very unusual. The Almighty bless you!


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Filed under Fresh from the garden, Urban Farm

Potato Chitting

Every March I remember that there was one more thing I should have done in January.

January 19, 2016 (9)
Have you bought your seed potatoes yet? I have not. Potato Chitting can take four to six weeks. Potatoes do not have to be chitted (letting the eyes develop the nubs that will become roots and stems) but they do seem to develop faster if they are chitted.

May 21 Potatoes

Stacking potato towers … made by Chris

The rest of the potato eating world might yawn at our choice, but Ray and I love Burbank Russets. For such a popular potato they can be a little difficult to find, especially if I want organic seed potatoes. Burbank Russets are the only potato we have had success with growing in a potato tower. Peeps swear by those things, but every other potato we have tried has only grown potatoes on the lowest level of the tower. Burbanks grew at every level for us.

May 31 Potatoes

Summer potatoes in a half barrel

Potatoes are the hidden treasure in our Everett Garden. You may think you like potatoes, but, like sweet corn, there is nothing like a fresh potato that went from dirt to dinner in less then an hour.

We like the Russetts for fries and baking. We make space for fingerlings, red skinned and yellow flesh potatoes every year. Our main crop, meaning grown for storage, goes in a raised bed, but our summer potatoes are usually grown in blue barrels cut in half the long way. Six potatoes per half barrel allows me to harvest potatoes for summer meals without breaking out the shovel or disturbing the whole bed searching for spuds. Grab the stems and lift. The soil ball comes up from the smooth surface of the barrel. Finding the potatoes from that plant is easy. When a barrel is empty I replant with another quick crop.

May 24, 2015 (28) Frog I guess I had best get my order in and my shopping done… tomorrow. Today is Sabbath and I have been waiting all week for this rest. But I promise, I will be googling “Irish Eyes” and driving out to Sunnyside in Marysville, Washington to look for potatoes to Chit.

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Filed under Back to Eden Garden, Urban Farm

More on the Hebrew Word ‘Esher

From Proverbs 29:18

Where there is no vision, the people perish; but he that keeps the Torah, happy is he.

May 31 'esher (1)

From front to back, your bible is a revelation from the Almighty. There is no other book like it. Who told Moses, or even Adam, how the world came to be? Who told John how the world will become new again? Only the Almighty knows these things. Without this knowledge, people will perish.

January 19, 2016 (2) - CopyThis will not be popular, but in keeping the Torah we will have bliss at the return of the king. If you hear me telling you that Torah is The Way to Salvation (Y’shua) then you are missing my point. Torah is The Way believers are to live once they have new life. That is The Way of Bliss.

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Filed under Bible Study, Morning Devotions, Word Study

Last of the January chores done!

January 19, 2016 (3)

Right to left, two rows of spring onions, Long standing spinach, Red spinach and french breakfast radish.

There should be fresh greens by the first day of Spring.

January 19, 2016 (6) Onion Seedlings

Most of this years onion plants.

These are the onions I started when we made that first giggle-box video from this year. If I do not look at that first pot, they look alright.

January 19, 2016 (5) Tarragon, Rosemary

I always find some kind of surprise. If you look very carefully, you will see tarragon springing up. Won’t be long before it will be time to divide it all up and start new plants. I do not use much of it, but I like that I can keep it up after all this time.

The other “green” is Rosemary.

January 19, 2016 (9) I’ve quite being surprised when I find a potato. Now when I find one I just look for more. Sadly this is the only one I came across in the greenhouse box.

I think last year I dumped a pot of potatoes in the greenhouse box to make sure I didn’t miss any spuds. Guess I better get my glasses fixed.

January 19, 2016 (10) Yep… 100% chance of rain in Everett today. It was a great day to have a greenhouse to work in.

That sound on the roof of the greenhouse? I love it! That’s why the first blog was called “Rainsong”

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Hebrew Word Study: ‘esher (happy)

May 31 'esher (1)
Blessed are you if…

If? Sometimes I have the odd thought. I wonder things like, isn’t “if” a flag word for a cause – effect relationship? So I wonder, aren’t blessings by the “grace of God”? Was Y’shua-Jesus telling us that there are conditions to blessing?  And why do some people insist that the word translated “blessed” should be translated “happy”?

Back to Hebrew. Did you know that there are two Hebrew words that we translate “blessed”? The one most of us are familiar with is barak something given to another in worship. It means to kneel, to praise. It is the exact opposite of curse. The other word for blessing, the one that is often translated “happy” is ‘esher.

‘Esher is an action verb. You are doing something if you ‘esher. It is something you do with a goal in mind. The reason it is sometimes translated “happy” is because you do something that leads to bliss. It is a human (believer) word about our choices and the bliss-joy that follows those choices. While it is not “unmerited favor” it is important.

Here is today’s sample ‘esher verse.

Proverbs 8:32   Listen (shama) children, bliss–joy comes to those who guard The Way.

What choice must we do to be happy? Guard The Way, the path of life. Do not let anything into your life that is not of the Almighty.

Does that mean you will feel joy not watching the movie that everyone else is going to see? Maybe not. But when you see Y’shua face to face , the joy you will experience because you do not need to hang your head in shame will be bliss!

January 24, 2009 It is a good day to work in the green house today. 100% chance of January rain. I have a place ready to start onions, spinach (red and green), radishes (pink and french breakfast) and even some mustard that I finally got around to coaxing out of its pods.

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Filed under Bible Study, Morning Devotions, The Way, Word Study