Less Noise, More Green: July 2014

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Getting fruity - preserving blueberries and red currants

Red Currants, red currant jelly, preserving
Red currants

Here in New England, July means ripe berries and we are lucky to have many Pick Your Own fruit farms in Rhode Island. My favorite place to get blueberries is Rocky Point Blueberry Farm. Located in the middle of a suburban area, this small farm has great berries and is a local tradition for many Rhode Islanders.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Summer harvesting and menu planning

Ready to harvest in July, urban farmingSummer meals have a rhythm all of their own. I usually like to have all my meals planned for the week ahead but this just doesn't work over the summer months when fresh produce is coming into the kitchen every day and our schedules are constantly changing. Add preserving to the mix in July and August and  meals become more free flowing and are reaching the table later in the day!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Busy Bees

Honey Bee on Batchelor's Button, pollinators,urban farming
Since taking both Beginner and Intermediate Beekeeping Classes and helping to take care of a hive of bees that are part of a URI Master Gardener project, I have become much more aware of pollinators in my own garden. As I do my tasks in the beds, I'm noticing which plants are attracting pollinating insects and admiring their amazing work ethic. I have at least three kinds of bees in my garden: bumble; honey and a tiny bee that is unknown to me, as well as other pollinating insects. I even saw a humming bird checking out my edible flowers. The highlight of my week, for sure!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Preserving like a Shaker

Sauerkraut, preserving, fermentation, urban farming
This spoon is so mighty, it needs a name, like the swords of old.

Each year I try to preserve more of our summer abundance for the coming winter. With the addition of my new front yard edible garden, I'm hopeful we will be eating homegrown food well into the new year.   I love cooking almost as much as gardening and I get a real sense of accomplishment when I put food up, either in the pantry or in the freezer. Finding their way into the kitchen for preserving right now is Swiss chard, cabbage, rhubarb,  basil and other assorted fresh herbs.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Curing Garlic

Curing Garlic, urban farming
Since returning from my trip to The Berkshires, my focus in the garden has been on preserving. This part of the growing/harvesting/preserving cycle is a lot of work but I get so much enjoyment from preserving what I grow.  Before I left, I knew harvesting the garlic was going to be on the 'to do' list when I got back. With the bottom few leaves already dry and the tops still green, the garlic was ready.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

New Zealand Spinach Recipe: A succesful spinach replacement?

New Zealand Spinach recipe, urban farming
Last winter I wrote several posts about my failed attempts to grow spinach both in the garden and under grow lights. The soil in Rhode Island is too acidic and the summers too hot resulting in weak plants and early bolting. We eat a lot of spinach and I was quite frustrated by my lack of home grown greens! Enter New Zealand Spinach.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

My Local Writing and Radio Master Gardener Projects!

RI Local Magazine
I am proud to be a URI Master Gardener. I have shared with you some of community projects I am involved with and the wonderful people I have met and continue to learn from. I am also helping to fulfill the most important mission of the Association which is public education. Here are two media projects I am currently doing!

Monday, July 14, 2014

My gardens didn't get the "on vacation" memo...can I get paid overtime?

Batchelor's Buttons, edible flowers
I came home from my trip to my edible Batchelor's Buttons in bloom. The bees love them!

I had such a great time on my trip to The Berkshires in Western Massachusetts with my BFF Roda. We did a wide variety of activities and they were done at "Mom" speed not "kid" speed. If you are a parent, you know what I mean! I have lots to share from the trip but first I have to deal with gardening reality. I think I forgot to tell my gardens to take the week off. I cannot believe how much has changed in just a week! My son did a fabulous job watering everything and 95% of the plants look great. The day after I got back, pad and pen in hand, I walked the beds and made a list of everything to be done. Welcome home.

Monday, July 7, 2014

See yah!

This is me and my BFF Roda.

 We're going on a hair-raising adventure....and we're a little excited, can you tell? 
It's going to be Thelma and Louise in a mini van.
It does not involve husbands, children, dogs or weeding,
and if that was all it consisted of, it would still be AWESOME.

You can see what we are up to all week on my Less Noise, More Green Facebook page

Have a great week everyone and I'll be back here (maybe) next week.


Sunday, July 6, 2014

Here comes the sun...

Zinnia, July garden

June has rolled into July and with this inevitability comes change in the garden. There is a handing off of the baton between spring and summer plants and the rise of the sun worshippers who grow tall, spread their leaves and petals wide and announce to the world they have arrived.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Elderflower Cordial

Elderflower Cordial, foraging, Edible Forest Garden
Elderberry bushes can be found in every British hedgerow, park and farmer's field. Growing up in the British countryside, their waving blossoms and distinctive fragrance were a part of my summers. Elderberries are steeped in British folklore and legend, being long associated with warding off evil and possessing magical qualities (did you look under an elderberry bush on Midsummer Night's Eve and see the King and Queen of the Faeries?). Country lore has always seen the benefits of the plant. Elderflower tea is a curative for colds and flu, the crushed leaves are a natural insect repellent, and the flowers and berries make delicious and nutritious drinks, syrups, jellies and jams. Here in the US, however, the merits of the elder have yet to be widely recognized.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Chicken and Pea Pod Stir Fry

Pea Pods
I created this recipe for Chicken and Pea Pod Stir Fry for the June issue of the URI Master Gardener Produce Donation Project Newsletter. Now at the end of June, the peas in my garden are ready for shelling, but we are still enjoying using the young whole pods in stir fries and for dipping.