Article

Leeks

My approach to gardening is benign neglect. The outcome of such loving disregard is that sometimes things behave in an unexpected and undocumented manner. Leeks, apparently, are not supposed to self-propagate.
Leeks
I bought perennial leeks from Southern Exposure Seed Exchange in November 2012. Those original leeks self-propagated and I replanted those pups. This past fall, I planted the now THIRD generation of those original bulbs. Yesterday, I harvested the remainder of the leeks and pulled away many of the pups.
Leek pupsI replanted some for myself. I had such an abundance, I shared with two people in the Grow Gainseville! Facebook group. The leek lives on. I spent a fair amount of yesterday harvesting, trimming, cleaning and cutting leeks in preparation for freezing.
100_1714
I love my Seal-a-Meal contraption.
Leeks for the freezer
I also took the chopped off root structure and suspended them in mason jars to see if I could regrow leeks from those roots in the way we all regrew carrots from cut off carrot greens.
Leek roots

Article

Beehive

Late Wednesday afternoon, I added a second box to the beehive. The boys and girls are active and the hive seems to be thriving. I encountered bees in the garden on the tomatoes and cucumber blossoms. The are all over the asters and wild daisies. But more than anything they are all over the blackberries.

100_0505

Article

Raspberries

When I stumbled across raspberry canes for sale at my local Lowe’s store, I was intrigued because everyone kept telling me that raspberries don’t grow here. So, I defiantly bought three canes. I then did a bunch of reading and research and discovered that there are raspberries that will grow here. Now, these three canes I purchased might not be the right variety for my zone, but it set into motion the need to build a trellis for the raspberry canes to grow. This was my prototype, discovered on Pinterest.

Prototype and model I made my supply list and my sons helped me get all the lumber and concrete home from Lowe’s. Yesterday, in about four hours I built my own raspberry trellis. You first need to select an area that stays shaded. Raspberries aren’t great fans of intense full day sunshine, especially this far south. I selected the flatest area of my lot so as to not have to make that much adjustment for slope. I had bought 8ft pressure treated 4×4 beams. I dug 24 in, 22 in and 18in deep holes, respectively.

Posts in holesI needed only two bags of concrete mix to anchor each hole. I took care to level the posts.

Check for levelVerify level

 

 

 

 

I learned that anchoring the 5/8 x 6in x 8ft planks was difficult as a single person job. I had to improvise a second set of “hands”.

Improvise for 1 personDrilling pilot holes made an easier job of getting the 1st screw anchored.

Pilot holesI then used heavy gauge wire cutters to cut out sections of the coated wire fencing to set down over the 4×4 beams and onto the cross planks. I anchored that with U nails.

U nails I then added wrought iron hooks and two bird feeders to better mark the corners of the unit so that when the yard man is mowing he doesn’t run into the green coated wire that protrudes from the sides.

100_0229I amended the soil with compost from my own bin and plants the raspberry canes. I MIGHT get berries in the fall. If not, I will order new canes next fall for planting.

 

 

Article

Thanksgiving table

Back in the heat of the summer, I arranged to foster a turkey at Laughing Chicken Farms. Robin Popp is at the Alachua County farmers’ market on Saturdays with chickens and eggs. I made my down payment for my Thanksgiving feast. Two nights before Thanksgiving, I drove out to Trenton. The Laughing Chicken Farms is straight west about 13 miles. On Tuesday night it was storming and a squall was coming off the Gulf into Cedar Key. There were tornado warnings. I drove in my little sports cars down limerock roads in pitch darkness to get our turkey.

It was a very good turkey. Freshly slaughtered the night before. 22 lbs. We put it in a brine with apple cider vinegar, garlic, onions, fresh sage, clementine orange rinds, pepper and a stick of cinnamon. I wanted to set a table with as much fresh, local or nearby foods. I bought my yams at the farmers’ market along with peppers. I pulled my own carrots from my garden about an hour before we sat down for dinner. Garlic honey carrots

We made sweet potato biscuits with the yams and flour freshly milled from grains I bought from Breadbeckers in Woodstock, GA. I use honey collected last spring from my own hives. I use pure Vermont maple syrup I recanned from a gallon I was gifted by a patient last year. I ordered cheeses from Nature’s Harmony Farms in Georgia and their Georgia Gold (cheddar) was excellent. The Fortsonia was also yummy, like a hard Swiss. I will order from them again. My niece brought a fresh bottle of Richland Rum, distilled from sorghum grown in Richland, Georgia.

Richland RumEverything set upon the table was made from scratch (except the pie crusts…we cheated on the crusts). I believe in slow food, scratch made food, simplified and real. Real butter. Real cheese. Wheat flour. Farm eggs. Hand made. Home made. Yes, it takes more time. Yes, it cost more money. But….it’s real. It’s fresh. It’s live (or very recently was alive). I believe that these things matter.

Article

Returning home

Being away from home is hard because home is so truly awesome and amazing. I planned it that way. I planned it to be my little castle; a place I can retreat to, pull up the drawbridge and unwind, relax and be at ease. But, sometimes one must leave town and last week I truly felt the need to bolt like a jack rabbit. I wanted to run away. I NEEDED to run away. I had a “boutique” runaway planned: hotel reservations, giant home decor and antique festival, a populated Google map with foodie sites bookmarked and cash to spend. This was a no credit weekend. All prepaid.

But, after a couple of days and two no so comfortable nights in a hotel with mediocre pillows and no late night access to chocolate and peanut butter, I elected to go home. Home is awesome. Home is my refuge and my happy place.

I came home with a rented Chevy Suburban chock-a-block full of stuff I bought, plus a new coat and “market bag”. I came home to a garden abundant with beans and lettuces. I had purchased locavore vinegars and oils and killer Ikea salad bowls. After a run to The Fresh Market and the aquisition of shallots, an aged cheese and ciabatta rolls…..(along with Hollandaise sauce, sweet sausage and puff pastry intended for breakfast tomorrow) I spent less money than had I eaten the next 2 meals in Atlanta. Dinner was two hours out of the soil, uber fresh, very healthy and all cleaned up. Plus I ate it in my comfy clothes while watching a DVR episode of Elementary.

Garden picks for today

Cold bean saladThe beans were blanched and then chilled. A shallot was thin sliced and sauteed with walnut oil, capers and fresh cracked pepper. The salad was finished with fig balsamic.

Bibb saladThe salad was one head of butter cos bibb lettuce with a slice boiled egg and shaved aged cheese with a simple dressing of avocado oil, peach balsamic, dijon, mashed garlic and fresh cracked pepper.

Rum CocktailAdd a cocktail (or two): 1 3/4 oz rum, 3/4 oz lemon juice, 1/4 oz grenadine in a shaker filled with ice cubes. Serve in a cocktail glass.

Article

Blueberries 2.0

Blueberries in bagsI bought eight new blueberry shrubs at the farmers’ market yesterday. At $5 a piece, it was a great deal. I have spent the morning digging, planting and setting up irrigation. Blueberries want acidic soil and I am fortunate with my land.

Wheelbarrow berriesI dug the $50 dollar hole for each of my $5 plants, adding 3 double handfuls of Black Kow compost. I filled each hole with water, making a sloppy dirt soup and cut each plant out of its pot. Blueberries don’t like their roots disturbed. I broke up all the soil and filled the trench around each plant.

The $50 hole with Black KowI planted Misty, Sharp blue, Springwide and Gulf Coast.

Sharp blue

I then encircled each plant with pine straw, even adding more straw around the blueberries 1.0 line.

Pine straw skirtsFeeling very accomplished with the planting, I drug out all my irrigation supplies and tied into the drip line I made for the 1.0 line. I plugged a individual drip line for each of the eight new plants.

L-juntionT-connectionDrip connection

Now when I attach the hose to the end of the 1.0 line, the 2.0 line will get watered too. Next year’s blueberry season should be great.

Article

Totally Homemade

I picked the first growth of our cucumbers, grown from seeds for Ellen’s Family white pickling cucumbers.

Ellen's Family white cucmbers

The cucumbers look like yellow squash but smelled strongly like cucumbers. I used the recipe on the back of Mrs. Wages Pickling Lime and made Old South Cucumber Lime Pickles. I make my own pickling spice as a variation from the Rodale’s whole pickling spice. Mrs. Wages’ recipe calls for a lime brine instead of a salt brine. It was far more labor intensive with lots of soaking, rinsing and steeping.

Vinegar sugar syrup with spices

I will be pulling cucumbers off these vines for many more weeks. They are fat and healthy and seem very resistant to borers and pests plus the bees have loved the blossoms. I bought the seeds from Southern Exposure Seed Exchange.

Hot jars with pickles

Sealed jars