full swing ahead

At the plot, this week my carrots have started to come on!  I’ve also harvested more zucchini, cabbage, tomatillos, okra, beets, kohlrabi, lemon cucumber, basil and onions.  My eggplant, peppers, crookneck squash are coming along but not quite there.  And then there’s the tomatoes, oh poor tomatoes.  I’ve captured a horn worm chomping on tomato leaves.  And then, there are tomatoes with blossom end rot.  I suspect that it was watering – drought followed by heavy rain.  I removed the fruit with rot and time will tell if they recover, I’m hopeful! I have tasted a few black cherry tomatoes and they’ve been delish.

fresh picked carrots

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farm tour

I went on a farm tour last week at Seeds of Hope Farm.  Located on the St. Francis campus in Tiffin, OH, this small-diversified farm produces vegetables, herbs, flowers, poultry and eggs.  They work very hard to use sustainable farming methods.  On the tour we explored the greenhouses, pasture, compost pile, raised beds, tool barn and CSA pickup.  They also shared and demonstrated some of their most useful tools such as their planter and picker tools, various hoes, and raised bed materials.  After the informative tour they provided a delicious lunch sourced from the farm including pulled chicken, quiche, salad greens, zucchini crisp and carrot cake.  This tour was part of the 2010 Ohio Sustainable Farm Tour and Workshop Series sponsored by Innovative Farmers of Ohio (IFO), Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA), and The Ohio State University Sustainable Agriculture Team. You can find a complete listing at OEFFA website.

seeds of hope farm

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you say courgette, I say zucchini

I picked my first two zucchini yesterday!  Once they start producing they grow fast.  At our community garden some zucchini plants have been producing for at least a couple of weeks now.  I saw one of mine a couple of days ago and decided to wait and it just doubled in size.  They are also good at hiding.  I’ve seen them trellised low and grown through wide cages which might help make the fruit a little more visible.  With my first zucs I made muffins and a loaf of bread.  There are tons of recipes out there… and you can chop, slice, grate, or stuff ‘em to grill, saute, bake, roast, or fry ‘em.  What delicious recipes have you made?

zucchini/courgette

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radish bouquet

I was cleaning some stuff up at my plot last week.  My planting of radishes around May 16th didn’t give me too many usable radish.  It was really too late to put those in the ground.  The April 24th planting worked out well and probably the latest I would try them again is May 1st.  Radish can be left in the ground and will self seed.  Or you can save the seeds by letting those little pods dry out.  I left that late planting in the ground until they started to flower and picked a few for a little flower and pod radish bouquet.

radish flowers and pods

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three sisters

I am trying a three sisters garden (corn, beans, squash) in a 10’ x 10’ space in my plot this year.  I first planted four corn seeds in seven mounds.

3 sisters corn, 6/15/10

Once they sprouted and grew a few inches, I planted beans around the corn and then I added eight more mounds in between the corn and bean mounds and planted squash.

My squash includes: butternut, spaghetti, delicata, acorn and pie pumpkins.  I am also trying a luffa and sugar baby and moon and stars watermelon.

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kohlrabi in the raw

My kohlrabi has been doing great!  Kohlrabi is part of cabbage family and it grows above ground.  Some describe the taste as a broccoli stem or cabbage heart – but I think jicama and mild radish.  Kohlrabi should be harvested when the stems are two to three inches in diameter.  The leaves can also be harvested and cooked.  On most varieties, the larger bulbs can get a little tough and woody.

kohlrabi

When this happens, you might find the top part of the bulb still tender.  I had a few that grew large, like the one pictured.  One had a fibrous taste while the others were great.  The most common varieties in my area are: early white and purple vienna and grand duke.  Those are what I am growing.  There are many other varieties out there including: korist, kolibri, purple/white danube, express forcer, kolpak, to name a few.  And there are some giant varieties that grow large without becoming fibrous including superschmelz and kossak.

Many people ask me how to cook it.  I say, don’t – eat it raw.  It is so delicious raw.  I just peel off the tough outer skin, chunk it up and eat it.  I love it with roasted red pepper dip.  My dad sprinkles lemon pepper on his.  I also shred it in my salads.  I think it would be delish topped with some type of vinaigrette or shredded to make a little kohlrabi slaw.

To be fair, I have never tried to cook it.  Some day I will try to sauté kohlrabi and maybe add a little garlic, onion and herbs. Or I might try to roast it or boil it. But really… I just like it raw!

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when life gives you sour cherries… make whiskey

I was telling someone about the fate of my swiss chard and he shared that he was planting some fruit trees.  Got on the topic of sour cherries, they seem to be a rare find in Columbus, OH.  He said, we have tree in the back and it is ready… do you want any cherries?  Umm…. YES!  He even offered me a paper bag and a ladder!  So now I am in cherry heaven.

sour cherries

Tart cherries are so great for pie, breads, muffins, jam, sauces, ice cream, wine… and whiskey!  Cherry bounce is the first thing I make with these little babies.  After picking, these cherries need to be used right away or refrigerated.  I pick out the best 40 cherries, wash and de-stem them.  I have a wide mouth quart jar ready, cleaned and boiled.  Next, I prick each cherry with a toothpick about five times and put the cherries in the jar.  I dump ¾ cup of sugar over the cherries and pour rye whiskey on top.  I gently turn the jar over once or twice to mix everything but it’s not necessary.  The jar then goes in a cool, dark place for four months.  Every three weeks, I turn the jar.  I save the whiskey bottle to rebottle when it’s finished.  Although last year, I forgot to save the whiskey bottle so I bottled it into small wine bottles and that worked just fine.

Technically my recipe calls for: 6oz sugar (¾ cup), 750 ML rye whiskey, 40 cherries (1 cup).  The quart jar doesn’t quite fit this recipe.  I have about a half of cup of whiskey left and that’s ok!  I’ve seen this recipe with more sugar and more cherries, you can adjust to your liking.  Or, you can try it with vodka or brandy.

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