Tag Archives: Celeriac

The First Half of April in the Garden

April 2, 2016 (2)
April at The Toy Box. I cannot say that I have been working hard to get where we are this month, I like to putter about for a couple of hours after school every day. Maybe it would be better to proclaim, I have been diligent. Yep, that’s it, I am going with diligent. We have been checking off the jobs that need to be done in the days working up to where we are. Getting trees planted or trimmed, adding wood chips, running flats of seedlings in and out of the weather, protecting them from frost and floods of rain. April is when the “diligence” comes together. We are already eating some of this years salad with the last of last years herbs, leeks and kale.

April 1, 2016 (7)

Morning Prayer

Just when it seems like Ray can sit back and enjoy the beauty of our Suburban Farm, I come up with another major, pain in his back, plan. This season it involves moving two established SFG’s (square foot gardens) to make room for more BTE (back to Eden) growing areas. As subsistence farmers we want to get as much food from our little bit of land as we are able. I (Debs) started out as a foodie/hobby farmer. Best use of space was not part of my plan.

April 1, 2016 (2)

Winter Sown Artichokes (up-potted)

Seedlings: We have soil blocks of tomatoes waiting to be potted up. I have been saving that job for a rainy day. As of today (April 2, 2016) I am on the last weekend of Spring Break from school. The weather has been beautiful so I keep putting that job off. I am reading that rain is coming. The job will get done. The salad greens (romain and mixed reds) have been planted in the front yard SFG, one of the pots of sweet-pea starts were planted in the front garden. Our broccoli and cauliflower are huge and ready for planting out. (suddenly I am feeling just a little bit overwhelmed).

April 2, 2016 (8)

Swiss Chard makes a comeback

Everett, Washington had a very mild winter. We are not quite safe from a “last frost date” yet so I am still holding my breath. We garden just north of “don’t worry about killing frosts in spring” land. I stand amazed watching winter food become beautiful plants. The Swiss Chard in this picture is one example. Light frosts and heavy rain reduced is to an unappetizing mess that I was sure I would be digging out; but look at it. Instead of digging it out I need to dig out my recipes! We have grown the white stem type of chard ever since we have grown it. I have not learned to enjoy it raw yet so the beautiful colors available have not found a place in my chard patch… until this year. I am looking forward to a new variety labeled “Peppermint Chard”. It looks like it has a red-pink base and white upper stem and veins. Am I the only goofy ol’ woman who gets excited about a different color of chard?

April 2, 2016 (5)

Spring Artichoke

One Artichoke survived winter 2015-16 in our Everett, WA garden. In truth we have had roots survive to send up fresh growth but we have never had a whole plant survive the winter. One hard frost could bring it down so I am trying to not get too attached. But I cannot help thinking how totally kewl to have 2nd season artichokes this summer! I also have a beautiful, thick stand of delicious red celery growing in the same garden. It smells awesome! I have not read any good reviews about red celery yet…. here is mine. YUM.

April 2, 2016 (10)

Leeks and (umm) chicken food

The last of our leeks and celeriac have been lovely! This year the guys did not get out to gather fallen leaves so I never did get leaf mulch piled around my root crops, they were fine. There was only one day that I went out to harvest for a winter dinner that turned into a fail because of frozen ground. The last few leeks I have harvested have had woody centers, a sigh that they are getting ready to bolt so I need to use them as quickly as possible. The garlic I planted last October is beautiful. I made such a dumb mistake.

April 2, 2016 (9)

Green Roman and Valentine Mix Lettuce

I remember Paul Gautschi of the BTE film saying that I should put my very best potatoes right back into the ground for the next harvest; which I did. What I missed is that they will come up the following March, which they have. Mean while I thought the replant of potatoes was a total fail and planted my garlic over the former potato bed. While the potato sprouts are still fairly small, both are doing fine. Last year all of my garlic was volunteer. The garlic I planted was from the best of those cloves. This season I found dozens of new garlic volunteers while cleaning up a bed for early pea plants. I should have plenty of garlic this season (assuming everything goes well in my garden world). We have made so many soups and put up so much stock that we are plum outta garlic already! Lately we have been clipping green garlic with our parsley (another winter survivor) when we make a dish that needs a spicy boost.

April 2, 2016 (11)

Climbing pea and bean frame

For the first time since moving to Everett, I will not be planting my main crop of peas in a SFG. We have a whole system of support to attach to the SFG beds. Back when I planted tall peas in Robe Valley (east of Granite Falls, WA) I quit planting tall peas because they were too difficult to keep upright when the vines were heavy with our famous rain combined with the occasional wind storm. Ray has built a frame for the BTE garden that we have high hopes for. The legs of the frame go a little more then a foot into the ground. I have planted peas on the port side of the frame and plan to plant green beans on the starboard side in late May. There will be a short season when both are growing on the frame, but the peas should be done by mid July when the beans are just taking off. We are hoping for a fantastic harvest (knees bent, fingers laced!)

April 2, 2016 (12)

Fava Bean sprouts

Strawberries are coming up through the wood chips, raspberries are making buds, the logan and marian berry vines are already looking lush. Still no sigh of Asparagus, but I guess it is a little early. I have spotted early leaves of Rhubarb and it is beautiful. The comfrey is fixen to take over the berry beds. I’ve also seen early signs of deer damage. Gurrrr! The fava beans (also known as broad beans) we planted in February are looking great, except for one little problem. The garden looks so empty in February that I tend to plant far too many of , well, everything that gets planted early. Good thing we love Fava beans! (they are not really a reason to drink Italian wine… or so the  theory goes).

April 2, 2016 (13)

A living grid in the SFG

A living grid of carrots, radishes, spinach, mixed greens, fennel, scallions, bok choi, and I forget what else; was the plan for one of the tomato beds. Somewhere in the planting, I forgot that I was making a grid and started squeezing in as much as I could. Looking at the bed now, if everything grows, it will be a tight fit but I am sure I can still get those tomato plants growing and keep them happy. Some mistakes are happy accidents. That is what I am hoping for this one.

April 1, 2016 (5)

First, a cuppa jo, then we work

We have entered a time of year when there is a new check list every two weeks instead of every month. We are still looking for a multi-espaliered sweet cherry tree. Does anyone even make those? Beds need to be moved, seedlings planted out, framework put up for the tomatoes, maybe a new tomato tent if we have a sudden cold snap. The pepper bed needs more soil mix and the kitty kover should go over that bed. I really need to get busy on the new herb garden since Ray has terraced the hill side with the stones his mother chose for her porch so many years ago. It just needs a good weeding and the plants I’ve been growing for it. Beet seeds need to go in…. somewhere. So many happy puzzles to figure out.

April 1, 2016 (1) For as long as this post is, this is the short version of how my garden grows. How about you? Be sure to include where you garden and let me know how you are feeding your self (or making the world a beautiful place with your flowers!) where you live. I hear that the strawberry harvest is already over in Texas.

Debs… who only has time to sit because it is Sabbath. Tomorrow we will be getting out and getting dirty, with joy!

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What’s a farmer supposed to do on Rainy Days?

I’ve be waiting for a rainy day to get my starts going.

2014 in the greenhouse

2014 in the greenhouse

Late February, and I’m starting….

  • Artichokes (usually winter sown, so I’m crossing my fingers)
  • Parsley, both curly and Italian
  • Celery
  • Celeriac
  • Onions, Italian Torpedo, Cipollini (need to buy more yellow storage: New York Early)
  • Salad, (we have a lot to choose from!)
  • Leeks and Shallots
  • Kale
  • Spinach
  • Maybe a few peas in soil blocks instead of pots.

That’s what springs to my mind, what are you planing to start indoors this month?

Robins have returned to Everett, WA

Robins have returned to Everett, WA

Every grove of trees in Everett is alive with returning robins arguing over the best camping spot until they can get a permanent nest built. They will be building those nests in the rain today, Friday, February 20, 2015. The chill in the air probably means the rain will soon be replaced by blue sky, but today the forecast is at 70% chance of rain, 51/39 Sunrise at 7:06, Sunset at 5:39 giving us 10 hours and 33 minutes of wet daylight!

 

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The Snow Moon

Dull day, bright crocus. The yellows are already done.

Dull day, bright crocus. The yellows are already done.

Known as Adar in Hebrew, this last moon cycle allows impatient souls like me to begin the transition into the coming growing season. It is the time to be thankful for what was tucked into the pantry and freezer last season, a time for fresh appreciation of hardy vegetables that overwinter in the garden. The hens lay their eggs again. The grass is growing but the rain is too constant to mow. Daffodils and crocus renew my hope that spring will come again.

Top shelf veggies. Spring greens and 4 kinds of onions.

Top shelf veggies. Spring greens and 4 kinds of onions.

In the new greenhouse skinny little onions are just starting to get stocky. Water from the fish tank is all they need to grow straight and strong. My spring potatoes are chitting on a lower shelf. I have noticed that the tray of greens growing by the onions has a few no-shows. My favorite lettuce, Flashy Trout’s Back, did not sprout. Neither did the Australian Yellow. Both are from seed packets that were bought in the first season of the Toy Box. Only a few spinach, red and fordhook, have sprouted but spinach is always slow. But the Flashy Trout’s Back! Insisting that Ray take me downtown (Everett) to the Natural Food Co-op, the only local place I know of for Uprising Seed, I bought a fresh packet of Flashy Trout, but there was no Australian Yellow to be found on that small rack. Instead I bought a packet of butter head with a seductive description of silky leaves wrapped around a buttery, crisp heart. If I follow the moon phases then these will get a start when the next moon, The Worm Moon, is still dark.

Potatoes Just when I begin to wonder if I bought potatoes that have been treated to not sprout, I notice the first bit of tiny green swellings in the eyes. I need to remind myself that even old farmers don’t know everything. Patience is called for. It is still too early to plant even though this new practice of chitting starts so early in the season. Maybe it is just to give me something to do while I wait for spring to properly arrive.

Winter Sown purple cone flower

Winter Sown purple cone flower

No progress in the winter-sown containers. Even the sweet peas are still asleep.

In the garden the first 4×8 box has been planted with an abundance of all kinds of peas, fava beans too. They went in under the increasing light of the 2nd quarter of the moon before it became full. There is a row of squares that I plan to plant with carrots in this 3rd quarter, while the moonlight is still strong but daily waning.

Leeks, Celeraic, parsley, chard, kale and a bit of fennel.

Leeks, Celeraic, parsley, chard, kale and a bit of fennel.

Spring eggs are here! They smell amazing in the morning. Just in time for spring eggs, parsley and chives put out tender green shoots. Winter food gets a fresh taste with hardy kale, fat leeks, celeriac and the last of the winter carrots growing in the garden. Occasionally a bit of precious green garlic finds its way to the table. Tiny baby fennel adds a sweet licorice flavor when there isn’t any basil. There are even a few small potatoes volunteering in the old potato patch.

-I want to start a batch of wild yeast for biscuits. I have so much jelly to use before summer. Should be perfect with green omelets (from all the spring herbs!) Sourdough starter is one of those low maintenance, high return projects that should be perfect for a farmer with a day job.

Fixen what the wind blew down.

Fixen what the wind blew down.

March came roaring in on the South Wind. Had a few repairs to make in the morning. Saturday, March 2; how can the sky be as gray as Rays sweater but the sun still be shinning through? It is a blustery day, rain, shine and back to rain again. 55 to 60 degrees today and back down to the upper 30’s tonight. Sunrise at 6:47, setting 11 hours and 8 minutes later at 5:55. Fantastic!

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Under the fading Wolf Moon

The last two weeks of January and the first two weeks of February tend to be the most winter like in Everett, Washington. I read about snow in Robe Valley, home to us for nearly 25 years. Everett proves to be more wet than cold in 2013. We have not said good-by to the fading Wolf Moon, it could still get cold.

Still dreaming and planing

Still dreaming and planing

The Toy Box is keeping winter food ready for us. Celeriac, leeks, and kale. The hens have been resting, molting, but the occasional egg can be found in the nest box. Spring is coming but the pile of blankets on the bed tell me it is too early to plant or bring home chicks. Even so, I hear bird song on dog walks. My soul is ready to leap into farm girl life but my head tells me to rest a while longer. Maybe that is my right brain and left brain interacting. The flat of onions in the kitchen window smooths the gardening itch. Their spring green and black crowns give me something to fuss over while the days are still short and the school day is so long.

Seed from 2010, looks like the crisper drawer is a good place to store seed.

Seed from 2010, looks like the crisper drawer is a good place to store seed.

Peas will be the first seed into the garden, but not under this moon. That does not let me off the hook. The box they will live in is still full of leeks and celeriac that I hope to harvest this weekend. If I can get one of the boys to help me I’ll move the chicken tractor to that box so that the girls can work their magic. They will eat the weeds and grubs while turning and fertilizing the soil. Chickens are amazing. City birds connect me back to my roots.  Maybe while the girls do their work I’ll find the strength to turn that compost or make soil blocks for salad greens.

Anticipation

Anticipation

Season 4 coming soon. Today (February 1, 2013) at the Toy Box: Clouds still wintering overhead but not weeping. 50/36. Sunrise at 7:35, nine hours and 34 minutes later comes sunset and Sabbath at 5:09

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Cold, cold July (until today)

The Toy Box

Suburban Farm Episode #25 (Season 3)

I have no idea why or how you-tube chooses a cover picture. This looks liked my pumpkin vine growing outside of the fence. By the way, I did finally get my lawn mown. Sorry about the mess.

Is that a dragon fly sitting on my corn?

Today was warmer outside than it was inside, we have not had many days like that. Blue sky, 75/57 sunrise at 5:37, 15 hours and 15 minutes later the sun set at 8:52. I am missing my late walks with the dogs.

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Potato, Leek, and Celery Root Soup

Adapted from, “Fields of Green” by Annie Somerville

Add two Tablespoons of cream and serve with fresh, hot bread.

Early March of 2012 at the Toy Box in Everett, Washington was plagued with chunky rain. Too cold for regular rain, too wet to be snow.  A moment of warm breeze overcame the rain on Saturday afternoon (March 3). Not warm enough to ditch my jacket. I was out just long enough to breathe in the brisk air and harvest the one remaining celeraic from the precious vegetables of the winter garden. Something special was called for, a recipe that was more than everyday fare. I knew were to look. From the book shelf came my trusted “Fields of Green” by Annie Somerville. She gardens and cooks in sunny California, heaven for rain-soaked North-west gardeners. She writes with love about fresh ingredients freshly prepared. The way I like to think of my kitchen garden if only I had her skills and the money to pay the people who fill in the gaps (no one can do it all …at least not at 54)

First make a “Light Vegetable Stock” (keep it warm)

Next, harvest or gather from the pantry…

  •  1 celeraic (celery root)
  • 2 pounds yellow potatoes, peeled and sliced
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped

Prep these vegetables. Add them to a quart of hot “Light Vegetable Stock” with salt and pepper and the bay leaf.

To a hot sauté pan add;

  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon butter
  • 2 large (or as many small as it takes) leeks, sliced and washed (3 cups)
  • 1/4 cup white wine

Melt the butter with the olive oil. Add the leeks and saute them for 3 to 4 minutes.

Next, cover the pan, turn down the heat and let the leeks continue to steam in the pan for 10 more minutes.

While the leeks steam: remove the bay leaf from the pan. Puree the soup using a food mill or stick (hand) blender. Return the soup to low heat.

Remove the saute pan lid, add the wine and continue to cook the leeks until the wine is completely reduced leaving only scent and taste. Add the leeks to the puree potato-celeric soup. Cover the soup and continue to cook for 20 to 30 minutes. Taste for seasoning.

Just before serving stir in 2 Tablespoons of cream (half and half is fine)

Suggested serving: add a swirl of “Orange Creme Fraiche” (sour cream and yogurt curdle).

Annie’s tip: Celery root discolors like an apple. If you precut the celeric, set in lemon water to prevent discoloring.

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Spring 2012 countdown (20 days to go)

Chives

The transition is beginning. Life is showing optimism in the garden. Every shade of green has begun to assert themselves. To be sure, any green that I see in the garden today has to be tough enough to survive the last hurrah of winter. Hard frost glistens on the green leaves during the transition time. But make no mistake, spring is coming. The frogs in the pond are singing a song of praise to the creator. Birds spend their afternoon gossiping about it. I listen to their music and it ignites a gentle flame of energy in my soul.

New strawberry growth

In the Northern Hemisphere spring starts on March 20th this year. Why March 20th? On that date the daylight hours will be equal to the number of night-time hours. It is known as the equinox. In the beginning, at the creation of the sun and the moon (and the stars) YHVH/The LORD gave one of the very first commandments to creation. On the fourth day, before the creation of men, YHVH, Elohim set the moon and sun in their place. The moon to rule and light the night and the sun for the day. He decreed that these lights be for “signs and seasons,” the “genesis” of our reason for measuring seasons by the hours of the sun and moon. When the hours from sunrise to sunset are equal to the hours of night, we welcome spring.

Blueberries in bud

First I noticed the daffodils. Every year, along a path that I stop seeing, one day there will be a stand of daffodils insisting I pause to see them. They are not in bloom yet, but the promise of swollen buds bursting out of cold ground has returned. There are other earth signs. Days before I come with my tools and bucket to tidy up the herb garden the chives offer their goodness to my kitchen. Even this early, snipping them down brings more. From under the piles of straw and leaves come green spears of garlic, shallots and strawberries. I am sure the grass is growing and will soon need a trim.

Mixed greens started in January

My garden plans have been loosely made. Peas, my personal start to spring, have been pressed into the ground. There are two trays of sprouts that commute daily from my window to the porch and back. One tray of mixed greens for my late spring salads and one tray of broccoli and cauliflower to plant out come April. The compost has been turned and the trees trimmed.

Red Kale from the 2011 garden

Saint Patrick’s Day is my next big day outside. If the weather co-operates, potatoes will be started (they should be planted but often I just get around to cutting them up) on St Patty’s Day. Mel’s Mix (Square Foot Gardening planting mix) will need to be made; enough to fill the two new 4×8 boxes and maybe enough extra for my large pots of summer vegetables. The chicken run will need to be mucked out which means I might (as Ray suggested) need to start another cylinder for compost. With two smaller plastic bins of compost and one large cylinder I thought I might have enough already but those are full before I muck the chicken yard. Soon I will need to find a place for grass clippings and weeds from the herb and flower gardens. The boarders of the new gardens need to have a weed barrier laid that I can cover with beauty bark (it looks tidy that way).

Frosted cleric from 2011

Speaking of chickens, it is time to decide if I want any chicks. I can only have a total of 6 chickens in the city (four is plenty) and my girls are only a year old but I need to start thinking about eggs next year. I think I can wait another year for chicks. My girls should still lay enough eggs every week for the four of us.

Jason and I have been talking about bunnies this easter. We raised California Rabbits when we lived in Robe Valley. They are the best meat rabbits. Better than New Zealand in temperament. They are cute like a siamese kitten. If we get bunnies it would be nice to have hutches ready BEFORE we bring them home. They can live in the house for a short season like the chickens did. In fact, it is probably good to handle them like pets while they are young. Their poo is garden gold. Rabbit meat is loved by all three of my guys. I am a little worried about my terriers, Bomber and Rudy, who kill rats for a living. Actually Rudy only tries to kill them. Mostly he nips at them on the run. Bomber was created with the powerful jaw required to humanely kill a rat with one chomp. He is very good at what he does. I do not want them to mistake bunnies for rats. When I let the chickens out for a scratch in the compost they watch the girls with interest. Unfortunately they still get too excited if the girls have a fuss with each other and start flapping their wings.

Bomber reminds me of Bruce the Shark on Finding Nemo. The one who has to convince himself that “fish are our friends” and goes out of his way to prove it. But let one drop of blood enter his nostril and who he was created to be asserts itself. Bomber is that way with the nuggets. I watch him follow them about, fussing if one disappears to lay her egg, worried until once again all four are together. “Chickens are our friends.” But let them start squawking and flapping at each other and the heart of a good terrier takes over. So far he has responded quickly to my firm, “NO Bomber!” Good boy that he is.

Cole sprouts already getting "leggy"

Aquaponics has been moved back from spring to late summer but it would still be kewl if we could start a test pond of one or two barrels. Unless a killer deal for a greenhouse pops into our lap we need to wait until late summer, when hope is telling us Ray may be working again, to buy a the greenhouse. My spring fava beans, garlic and shallots have all been planted where we plan to put the greenhouse. We could sacrifice those but we are in no hurry.

Ray’s other project is bees. Not honey bees but mason bees. He has his “milky way boxes of bees” in the crisper drawer with my seed stash. We attended the free class on Mason Bees at Sunnyside Nursery last week. He has his book, an awesome web-site and starter straws. Now all we need is spring to sprong and the fruit trees to blossom to start the mason bees outside. Twenty more days.

Have rats will hunt. Bomber and his little pest Rudy

Winter Advisory in effect. Mostly that means that it is going to be really wet with a good chance of chunky rain (snow and rain mixed). That will keep the high temperature down to 46 degrees (the low is projected to be 36, cold but above freezing). As of today we get 11 hours and 5 minutes of daylight, wet and cloudy but day light none the less. Sunrise at 6:48, Sunset at 5:54. I’ll take it!

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