Category Archives: Fresh from the garden

Canning Beans, thinking of Thanksgiving

October 24, 2017 (1)
Circumstances have not been good for my pantry. Don’t get me wrong, I am thankful for every little bit of, well, everything that we have this year. There just isn’t much to put up from the garden. I think this is the first autumn that I have more empty canning jars then I do full jars. It is a weird feeling. Nothing got planted until August 1st this year. We are counting our blessings having ANYTHING to put up. Yesterday Ray and I put up 4 (yes four) pints of snap beans. FYI; a “normal” year yields at least three dozen pints.

Generally I sort my beans by color and size but this year I had to put everything together just to fill four jars. Even the Dragon’s Tongue that usually is strictly for Bentos went into the jars. Since I’m not working and therefore not making Bento anymore that should be fine.

October 24 (1) Giving Thanks. Everyone has their traditions, one of mine is making a Sabbath (Friday after Thanksgiving) night Thanksgiving dinner featuring food that we have grown on our urban farm. It started as a way of having plenty of left-overs for Ray’s lunches when he was working in the woods. That was such a physical job, I couldn’t get enough calories into him to keep his pants fitting snug. These days it is a night to celebrate our harvest. Besides beans there were homegrown potatoes, fresh (frozen) corn, pumpkin and apple pies, jams for the rolls made from (store bought) organic flour and our own eggs, pickles, dilly beans, fresh salads with the tomatoes that were picked green at the final harvest, and if we the frost held off, artichokes. Even the turkey we bought (organic or Kosher) was seasoned with herbs and apples grown at home.

October 24, 2017 (3) This year? Four pints of snap beans. Does that worry me? Honestly? It does worry me a little bit. But I know the story of the first Thanksgiving.

Psalm 55 My prayer time was from Psalm 55. Trouble overwhelmed David. He was not sure that the Almighty would be able or willing to hear his prayer. The opening words, “Give ear…” are from a Hebrew word that pictures putting your open hands behind your ears so that you can hear something from far away. He says he is “restless” (I’m reading the NAS) from the voice of hate (the enemy), there is a grudge against him, he is overwhelmed with everything going on around him. The very walls of the city, meant to protect those within, feel like a cage. He longs to just escape. Someone he counted as a dear friend in the Lord is the worst hater. David is so unsettled by circumstances that fear has become the controlling factor of his life.

Been there.

Like David, I’ve thought that my circumstances were my reality instead of my challenge to stand firm in the Almighty. God is not controlled by circumstances. Walking in the shadow of his wings (the edge of the prayer shawl, and thus aware of His presence in prayer), I should know by now that circumstances are just chances to Trust in the LORD with a heart that belongs completely to Him (Proverbs 3:5-6). One more opportunity to know that I am safe with Him instead of on my own to sort life out. By the close of Psalm 55, David figures this out. It takes me longer then the length of a poem-prayer. But the Almighty loves me and opens my eyes to see what is real instead of what is meant to control my emotional state.

Cast your burden upon the LORD, and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken. Psalm 55:22

Even in my emotions I am not on my own. For Thanksgiving dinner we have snap beans. But there is bounty from other years too. Quarts of apple pie filling, homemade canned Brandied Cranberry Sauce, frozen pumpkin, jars of jam. The yard is still filled with herbs. Remember the story of the first Thanksgiving?

The most important element wasn’t the abundance, it was remembering the days of having nothing. Seriously, nothing. There was a season of having two kernels of parched corn EACH…. TWO KERNELS! Each. If they ate more then that then there wouldn’t be enough to plant in the spring. They chose to receive those two kernels of corn with Thanksgiving, and the LORD sustained them to a time of abundance. On the day of abundance, that first Thanksgiving (that is what we call it, they were celebrating Sukkot) the table was set with the best linen, tableware, the best of everything that makes a festive dinner party. They were seated to their finest, and on the plates? Two kernels of corn to remind them of the fruit of Thanksgiving. Thanking our LORD in all things and for all things is powerful. Before they indulged in the feast, they gave thanks for what God had done for them, He did the impossible and sustained them with food that probably required more calories to eat then it provided. I have four pints of home grown snap beans. Fear can control me or I can rest in YHVH. My challenge is really simple, What are you facing? Have you laid it into the lap of the Almighty with thanksgiving?

Debs in Everett, WA ….feeling peace about the coming winter (Proverbs 31:25b)

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Harvesting what I did not plant…

September 12 (1)
I missed the my spring chore season. The tomatoes I started in March, for the most part, did not get planted. Squirrels ate the pea sprouts. I was so busy with school in May that the beans did not get planted, corn did not go in, there wasn’t even a good row of salad greens. The Fava beans I planted while Ray trimmed fruit trees got lost in a weed patch. Depressing. Even so, there seems to be an abundance.

September 12 (2) bean August 1st I was feeling an urgency to get out and plant… AUGUST 1st! The garden is usually on a “harvest only” schedule. It is late for winter crops and I am too busy putting up baskets of tomatoes, beans, cherries, peppers and cucumbers. But I missed my planting target dates this year for different reasons.September 12 (4)

Just add water and seeds. My soil had become hard, disinclined to embrace seeds in the dusty soil. We needed to re-hydrate while it was still drought season. Running sprinklers is not something we like to do, but there was no other way to bring the life back to the garden. Jade II green beans, Soleil yellow beans and our favorite Dragon’s Tongue beans, each got a row of garden space on August 1. Honestly, I was not expecting to harvest beans from such a late planting. It was a roll of the dice. Today I saw tiny beans developing. Hallelujah! We prayed for God to glorify Himself in the garden, but I sort of suspected He was very busy elsewhere. There are moments in life when I feel like the Almighty is showing off His love for me. We also put in cucumbers, as of this morning, they have blossoms that I dare to hope that the Almighty will show off his love again and make ripe cucumbers.

September 12 (5) Volunteer Tomatoes. Like many of you, I am a collector and saver of heirloom vegetable seed. I have a greenhouse and a great collection of tools for seed starting, but the tools only gathered dust this year. Even so, I am eating sweet, Sweetie Cherry Tomatoes by the apron full. I did not plant any this year, so how do I know what they are? They grew in this spot last year. Heirlooms reseed themselves and come back the next year true to type without any fussing from me. God gave them one job, “Be fruitful and multiply” They seem to be really good at glorifying God.

September 12 (6) orchard Apples, pears, strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, plums, raspberries, loganberries, cherries, herbs (both medicinal and culinary), cut and come again greens and the best eggs ever. Even if I do not plant another seed, God willing, we will have fresh food. I love reading about Eden. God put the man and his wife into the garden to work it and tend it. That is what we do. We can work it, crowding every unused space for plants that are beautiful and good for food. But we can also have seasons like this one, where we only tend to what is already growing. We still eat, knowing we are loved.

Debs in Everett, Washington… tending this years garden. There is sweat on my brow but it feels good.

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Moments of Doubt

Tuesday, the day before school starts and I was not getting up to go to a teachers meeting. That is never going to happen for me again. I almost couldn’t breath. This is no way for a warrior to start her day.

20170907_061744 Strong coffee and a little bit of time on Face Book. Does anyone care about me? The Almighty answered me… FROM FACE BOOK! His answer came from “Hebrew For Christians” by John Parsons, who posted…

What are you seeking today? The Lord says, “Seek Me that you may live” (Amos 5:4). If you feel empty today, ask God to feed you with His life giving food. Ask Him for energy, power and strength. Seek YHVH and His goodness. He is faithful and true and will surely answer the sincere heart. You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:13)

Well that was nice.

Into the word, which happened to be John chapter 4; I thought it was about some woman at a well. Turns out that it is about Y’shua (Jesus) and the food he eats. “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to accomplish His work.” (John 4:34)

I was back to thinking that being a teacher was my work, but that is only how I got a check. That isn’t God’s will for me. I was looking at things all wrong. I need to be about the work the Almighty wills me to do. I am not exactly sure yet what that IS but I do know what it isn’t. There was a time, not so long ago, when I sat in my Garden, praising Abba, telling him that I loved the life he had given me (an urban homestead), in fact I loved it so much that if He wanted me to do anything else He would have to drop it into my lap. He did just that, one day later. Now he has lifted it from my lap. I’m picking up from where I was that day. My garden needs some attention, but if this is the Almighty’s will for me then I’ll get it back in order.

20170908_112625 It is September. I am very limited on planting options. Ray is in the midst of making a hoop house for some VERY late winter crops for our farm. (If you look carefully you can see the structure out my office window.) Today, just to start getting dirty, I bought a tiny little philodendron, a small pot and cord to make a hanger (for the plant hook Ray put above my office window.) Before I had children (was that really 40 years ago?) I discovered that this little plant was always forgiving. A good place to start. Even as a tiny baby plantlet it seems cheerful. The next job, straighten up the green house.

20170908_113048

Me oh my! I had a jungle full of weeds growing in my beautiful green house. The outside walls and roof need a good cleaning, but while I build up my energy levels (there is a whole lot of sitting down when you are a teacher on a computer) I settled for cleaning  up the mess inside. I worked my way back, foot by foot. I knew the measurements because one square foot is the size of the bricks that make the path down the center of the green house. Bit by little bit I weeded and straightened my way down the aisle. There was color in the planter box to my right. Could it be? Tomatoes I had started from seed? When my hip hurt too much to get up and down to plant those little baby plants outside, I sat on my garden stool and planted my little tomato plants in the green house planter box. They had not been touched all season long, though Ray told me that he did water the box during the summer. I got the vines under control and harvested the pretty basket of tomatoes in the picture. Persimmons, Brandywine, Black Plum and Stripped Romas. We feasted on Pesto Pasta with some amazing tomatoes. All because the Almighty said, “Be fruitful and multiply” They live up to their calling. Ray was thinking Tomato Sandwiches sounded really good.

September 8, 2017 OAYSE - CAFeI even finished my next Ephesians study.

The will of the Father Ephesians 1:7-10

Debs… praying for Mexico (8.1 earthquake), Huston (still recovering), Everyone in Irma’s path, the firemen and citizens of the NorthWest while everything burns, and for the wisdom and wise counsel of those in DC who need to respond to N Korea. May God have mercy on America and Americans. ….Are you saved?

September 8, 2017

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Hello September!

September 1, 2017 Hello I love September! The scent of the air, the birds getting ready to travel and, finally (!), the weight of blankets while I sleep. September mornings are chilly but the afternoons are usually hot. Most of my apples and pears are ready to harvest. Their scent fills my kitchen with perfume that inspires favorite old recipes for pastries and pies that mom and grandmas used to bake. I just need remember to do my baking early in the morning while it is still cool.

September 1 flowers My September garden is usually just winding down but for different reasons I was not able to get a garden planted last spring. No peppers or corn this year. I did plant some beans and cucumbers on the first of August. We might get some green beans this fall. I was out weeding them this morning and noticed random flowers growing in the garden. I did not plant them. They are Fever Few and Snapdragons growing with the beans. I am so blessed. We are also getting chard and purple peacock kale that I planted in February (the last time I still had time and energy to plant) that look lush and inspire cheesy pasta dishes. I also put in two kinds of carrots, leeks, salad onions and cilantro on August 1st. All are doing well. I’ve been clipping a lot of cilantro. Surprise! if I look carefully in the mess that is my berry garden (Ray calls it a berry big mess) I can find some Autumn Gold Raspberries! (the plums from our young tree were amazing!)

September 1, 2017 lunch No more Box Lunches. Snohomish County in Washington State does not allow me to start a food business in my home kitchen. (I’ll keep my thoughts about that to myself, they are not as kind as I want to be). We are eating up our test recipes. I’m also trying new recipes for home. I made a big pot of Hawaiian Baked Beans in my Instant pot that are very close to what Grandpa Ray used to make. Shhhh! I did not read the directions very carefully and made a couple of mistakes that I think I will keep making with this recipe. Yum! Served the beans with left-over PNW Coleslaw with Spicy Lavender Dressing, Parmesan – herbs de Provenance bread sticks and ate up the Pumpkin Fairy Cakes. We still eat well!

September 1 2017 Par ici et par la... Debs in Everett, Wa, doing a word study on “In Him” for my Ephesians Study (the first of many In Him word studies on my other blog)… word study or a fun rabbit trail? Either way, YHVH speaks.

September 1, 2017

Praying for the rescue workers in Huston. 

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November Project 2: Micro Greens

Late Autumn on an Urban Farm. The garden has been canned, dried, or frozen and we are ready for our long winter rest. At least that is the theory. Fresh greens are still possible with micro greens. The first batch of the year was recorded on a two minute teacher (I’m a little loose with my time)

When the light is low and you need a little bit of time in the word, let this word from Mark kick start your day.

Mark 2:19 and Beauty for Ashes

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The Raw ingredients

July 29, 2016 (2)Spring planting season was simply a blur. Maybe I am starting to feel my age, or maybe it really was that busy at school. I hardly got anything planted. My potted plants all died of neglect. Ray kept the puppies, the nuggets and fish healthy, but my pots! me oh my oh! Deer took out nearly all the leaves and fruit from the trees in the front garden, and some kind of bug ate the salad out front. Those are what I see everyday. Yesterday, I ventured out a little farther.

In the midst of all the schoolwork I had to bring home to score, I vaguely remember popping a few seeds into the soil on the occasional Sunday night. I am overwhelmed with Joy!

July 29, 2016 (6)Green rows of lush Swiss, Peppermint and Rhubarb ChardThis is Peppermint Chard

July 29, 2016 (9)Volunteer Broccoli. No Idea what kind it is. We grow open-pollinated Thompson’s, Solstice and Umpqua.

July 29, 2016 (11)Joy! I had forgotten that I put in a few rows of snap beans! This is the blossom of a pink podded snap bean, simply called, “Pink” I also see evidence of yellow French beans, Jade, Purple and I think there might be a few Dragon Beans. We like a pretty plate of tender raw beans with a ranch dip.

July 29, 2016 (15)I love seeds! This is a thick row of lush summer lettuce. Most of it is different kinds of Roman (Green, Red and one of our favorites, Flashy Trout’s Back) I’m also seeing Grandpa Admire’s and a butterhead called Divina. They are growing in a bed with some randy snap beans and the peppers that I didn’t think would get so crowded… but I always think that in spring.

July 7, 2016 (24)I also found potatoes ready to harvest, loads of apples, herbs, sweet peas, tomatoes (wow do they need some attention!) garlic and shallots, even a very few summer onions. I just had to get myself past the disaster that is my back porch. Maybe it is time to clean off the porch so that I feel more like a farmer and less like a failure.

The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases, his mercies never come to an end;  they are new every morning; great is thy faithfulness.
Lamentations 3:22-23 RSV

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Spring means Peas

On a suburban farm in Everett, Washington.

We have been eating raw peas for a couple of weeks. More are on the way. Our peas do not like hot weather, and we sure have been having unusual heat. The main crop is just coming on.

June 5, 2016 (3)

Cascadia Snap Peas…. about the best snap peas I’ve ever had.

Golden Sweet sno-peas

Golden Sweet sno-peas live up to their name. Though they are small for a flat, Chinese style pea, (traditionally used for stir-fry) they are sweet and golden. The flowers are a pretty lavender and purple that age to a deep blue and magenta. When I first saw them years ago, I thought, “If all these are good for are the pretty flowers, then they will always have a place in my garden.” Then I nibbled my first crisp golden pod. They live up to the “sweet” part of their name. I bought my original seed from Uprising Organics. It is nearly impossible to harvest all the pods, even though they are easy to find with their sunny yellow pods, so saving seed from these heirloom vines is really effortless.

June 5, 2016 (7)

Golden Sweet sno-peas

Purple Pod Shelly Peas

Just for fun, I picked up a package of Purple Pod shelling peas from Ed Hume Seed Company. I have not seen any pods yet, just a load of beautiful flowers. Like Golden Sweet Sno Peas, these are full size vine peas, meaning they need a good support for the six foot-heavy vines.

June 5, 2016 (1)

Purple Pod Shelly (English) Peas

The original: Sugar Snap Peas

These are the peas that turned my pea-hating husband into an enthusiastic muncher of peas. We have tried dozens of different types of snap pea in the 20+ years since growing our first crop of snap peas. With the exception of Cascadia, none of the short vine snap peas come close to being as tender and sweet as a plump Sugar Snap in our seldom humble opinion. The six foot vines require strong support. It is still a little early for sugar snaps, the pods in the picture (June 5th) will plump up before they are ready to harvest.

June 5, 2016 (11)

We have been eating tiny Dakota, and our favorite early pea, Maestro, for a couple of weeks. I only planted a taste of the early peas. Their vines are starting to dry up, ready to pass on to the chickens. Working full time, I only have time to tend to short rows. School will be out June 8th, and if the Almighty is willing, there will be time for me to be a farmer, field-to-table epicure and prepper. Still to come out on the pea frame are  Tall Telephone Peas. An heirloom that will hopefully go into the freezer. (I’m am not a fan of canned peas).

May 23, 2016 Bento

Maestro Peas for a sweet treat in my bento

The pea frame

Early morning at The Toy Box Suburban Farm. Because we are making a transition from Square Foot Gardening to Back to Eden, we seldom need to water. But after a stretch of unusually hot days, I ran the sprinkler for 20 minutes in the morning, just to keep the vines from prematurely drying out. You can make out the pea and bean frame Ray put together (the Tomato tree can also be seen.) Climbing beans are just getting started on the other side of the frame. The legs of the frame are set about 18 inches into the ground. We hope that is enough to survive July storms. The plant in the foreground is parsley that I am saving seed from.

June 5, 2016 (18)

Late Spring at The Toy Box Suburban Farm

June 5, 2016 (15)Blue Sky Sunday. Very surprising after the black smoke that rolled through the valley from a fire that ate a recycling center and two other big buildings on the water front. Thanks to the fire men who put on hot bunker gear to fight those fires !!

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