Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Watercress and Garlic

I have been out twice this week harvesting watercress. I am not sure why it is, but the spicy taste of wild watercress catches me by surprise each spring. Last night I added it to a little red cabbage and bacon for a tangy green delight over quinoa.My garlic in the garden is coming along nicely. But my harvested garlic is showing signs of age. The little green sprouts are now like Howard Hughes' fingernails ... easy to call this garlic "long in the tooth." So I decided to gather up about fifteen heads or so and slice them for the dehydrator.

First I sliced them in half
then I pulled out the sprout and sliced each half in threeI had a plate full when I was done and laid them out on the trays. I have never dehydrated garlic before. I read temperatures from 90 degrees to 400 degrees (yikes !!!). I settled on 125 for 12 hours in the dehydrator.the dried chips will be sealed away for later use ... maybe some home-made garlic salt?

Saturday, March 26, 2011

A great day to plant peas

Well the ground DID thaw enough for me to build a pea structure. I had been to a bamboo structures workshop last summer where we built and disassembled about five different kind of structures under the guidance of Art and Marlene Cameron. There are links to photos of some of their structures here.

I wanted a structure that would take my peas high enough. It seems I am always under estimating their vertical needs. BTW did you ever note that it is only after the 21st side shoot that you actually GET a flower? So armed with my plastic zip ties, a chair to stand on and some bamboo poles (and a little help from Mr. Pea-buddy) we had a structure in no time. As the peas come up I will add more bamboo for them to crawl up. It seems that each year in my eagerness to get the peas in the ground, I fail to read the package instructions until AFTER planting. Usually I stick a thumb into compacted soil and drop the seed down the hole. This year I followed the instructions ... I loosened the soil, then made a shallow trench, then covered the seeds with no more than an inch of soil. I think germination will be a little easier for the peas this year.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Spring stirrings

I awoke to 3 inches of snow yesterday morning. It is what folks in the north country would call a sugar snow ... big white fluffy flakes that stick to branches like cherry blossoms. By 2 PM it was gone ... evaporated like melted sugar on your tongue.

I am near the garden a little earlier this year and thought that maybe I would put in a pea trellis before I headed back to DC for the real cherry blossoms. I was chagrined to find the ground still too hard to secure bamboo poles deep enough. But maybe I will put the pea seeds in anyway.

Last fall, determined to start 2011 with only fresh seed in my seedbox, I put all my old spinach seed in the ground. Well lo and behold, we have lift off. I planted it on the interior of the bed that will hold the trellised peas. Just maybe there will be a spinach crop.Now to the artichokes. It was a very cold winter. I happened to be here for some of the very coldest days, and I am not ashamed to tell you that I filled milk cartons with hot water and and placed them inside the wall-o-waters on the nights we had single digits. I THINK it paid off. I cannot tell for sure yet, but I think at least one of my artichokes survived the winter, maybe three. Meanwhile, I have dutifully started seedlings again this year ... my version of a hedge fund.Pretty soon I will get some Big Zacs and some morning glories under lights. Step by step.