Less Noise, More Green: May 2014

Friday, May 30, 2014

British Food: Rhubarb Crumble

This is the recipe I created for this month's URI Master Gardener Produce Donation Project newsletter.

The first harvest of rhubarb in the spring is a much anticipated event in my house. This is because the first rhubarb pulled from the garden is destined to become possibly the best dessert ever made - rhubarb crumble.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

My garden this week

This last week we've had days of very hot, sunny weather and days of steady rain. This had made my vegetable beds very happy and there has been some dramatic growth going on!

I planted out my indeterminate tomatoes in pots and put them in a row against the house. This spot gets full blazing sun all afternoon and I'm hoping with the additional radiant heat from the house and the driveway, I'm going to get a great tomato crop this year!

Seven of the eight potato bags have sprouted and need to be topped up with soil. I also have several volunteer potatoes growing in the bed I had potato plants last year - I love volunteers, they are little gifts.

The peas are flowering, as is one of the tomatillo plants. Buds are forming on the blackberry bushes. Despite the best efforts of the slugs, heads are forming on the cabbages and radishes are thriving. Bush bean seedlings are breaking through the soil in their neat little rows.

Inside, zucchini seedlings seem to be growing an inch a minute and the peppers are taking off. The most fun arrivals under the grow lights are the peanuts in all their alien-looking glory. I'm looking forward to growing these again this year.

What's happening in your garden?


Monday, May 26, 2014

Edible Landscaping: Using perennials to prevent soil erosion

Edible Landscaping

One of the consequences of turning so much compost into the soil in my front yard is the beds are now raised! If you look at the beds from the side you can see  what I mean - quite the mound! This will settle over time - I turned a lot of air in as I dug and that will eventually escape, but I am left with the problem of soil erosion. With nothing to stop it, water will run off the sides of the beds taking the soil with it. What to do?

Friday, May 23, 2014

Planting begins in my edible landscaping project!

A lot of the hard work is done on my edible landscaping project. The shrubs and hostas have been removed, the lawn is gone, compost has been turned in, mulch applied and stone paths laid. Now the fun part begins - finally I can start planting!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Edible landscaping project and garden update

Edible Landscaping, path design

This week was a productive one as far as our edible landscaping project goes. The house is painted so there are no more painters walking on the soil, the final decisions have been made on the shrubs and the purchasing has begun and the brick pathways have been laid.

Some of the plants waiting to be planted in the new garden.
I am growing a lot of the plants I am going to put in these beds from seed and some of them I've been struggling to keep alive while all the work is being done.My hope is that the shrubs and ground cover will go in this week so I can start planting the rest of my transplants and seeds!

Edible Landscaping Path design
The path I designed is quite formal, reminding me of a traditional herb garden layout. It is actually quite a practical design, allowing me easy access to all sections of the garden. In the middle of each diamond I will place a large ceramic pot which will be filled with lavender.

Lady Lavender, edible landscaping
Lady Lavender

I'll share information on each of the plants going into the garden as they are planted. This weekend I planted lavender in two pots to be placed on the front steps along with three containers of geraniums - just for some color! Lady Lavender is a compact perennial great for pots or borders. I'm excited to grow lavender this year and use it in recipes and dry it for potpourri.

Urban Farming
What's growing right now in my back beds.
 My back garden beds are looking more and more productive and full. I am harvesting radishes and rhubarb, as well as lots of dill which is all volunteer, sprouting up from the bed it was in last year. My cabbage and broccoli starts are settling in and potato leaves have appeared above the soil in six of the eight bags. It looks like we are in for another bumper year for strawberries ( I have to net the plants this week) and the garlic I planted in October is thriving!

Planted so far, in addition to what is mentioned above are scallions, beets, carrots, peas, sweet potatoes, bush beans, lettuce and arugula, cilantro, chives, blackberries and blueberries.

Indoors I have peanuts, leeks, tomatoes, tomatillos, ground cherries, peppers, eggplant, cauliflower, swiss chard, sage, rosemary, oregano, thyme, New Zealand Spinach, marigolds, nasturtiums, zinnias, asters, violas, black eyed susans, geraniums and calendula, bee balm, and milkweed getting ready to be planted out.

Yet to come are the summer and winter squashes, brussels sprouts, tuscany kale, poppies, sunflowers, batchelors buttons, morning glories and basil.

I get to rest in November!

How are your gardens progressing?


Thursday, May 15, 2014

Fermented ginger beer

fermenting, fermented ginger beer

Two of my culinary goals this year are to learn more about fermenting and to begin making drinks,  both soft and alcoholic. I recently bought the book Wild Fermentation by Sandor Ellix Katz and tried making his recipe for fermented ginger beer - hitting two goals in one recipe!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Installing bees

Installing a nuc of bees, master gardeners, urban farming
How many bees can you fit in a box? Thousands!

This weekend, a 'nuc' of bees arrived at one of the Master Gardener projects I volunteer at - the Edible Forest Garden. Located in Roger Williams Park in Providence, the Edible Forest Garden is a permaculture project and mimics how plants grow in a forest environment. Last year, the project won a hive and a 'nuc' of bees from Whole Foods Market. The arrival of the bees has been highly anticipated and I was lucky enough to go to Bee School to prepare to be a beekeeper as part of the prize!

Friday, May 9, 2014

Edible landscaping project update

Just a quick post to show you the progress we've made on our front yard edible landscape project. Last weekend we turned over the grass and removed all the roots. Yesterday, we had compost delivered which I spent all day turning into the soil.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Raising grass fed rabbits for meat

Raising grass fed meat rabbits, urban farming

On a recent trip to New England Grass Fed to pick up some beef, Pat Beck, the Rhode Island based company owner, showed me his grass fed rabbit farm. Pat has an interesting business model for his meat rabbits. Passionate about promoting the benefits of humanely raised, grass fed rabbits as a viable meat source, he hopes to overcome modern attitudes towards rabbits as only being appropriate as pets.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Foraging at home for dandelions and wild garlic

foraging for dandelions, recipes
This weekend, we finished the next step in our front yard edible landscaping project. We dug up the grass and turned over the soil removing all the roots. This was back breaking work but the soil is now ready to have compost added.

Before we began, I harvested two edible plants growing in the lawn - dandelions and wild garlic. If you have never tried cooking with these two wild edibles I encourage you to give them a try.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Potato Bags: the good, the bad and the spudly

This was my first harvest from last year.

Last year, my bountiful potato crop was one of the highlights of the season. This year, I want to repeat the success but I made the decision to try a new growing method. Here in New England we are not plagued by potato blight - yet. It is working its way up the east coast and I fear will be with us before too long. This disease lives in the soil and once you have it, you face a very hard journey ahead to save the soil. Better to be safe then sorry, I decided to not grow potatoes in the garden beds this year.