The weekly, local Farmer’s Markets are coming to an end. My Dad and I went to his town’s market and I was excited to see that almost everyone there was selling organic produce . I got some squash, giant apples and tomatillos . I never tried tomatillos before. The lady selling them said they are very easy to grow and make a good jam or green salsa. They’re also nice just as a bit of tang in a salad. I fermented mine with some of the last pickings from the garden.. red peppers, green tomatoes and garlic. I fermented some carrots with grated ginger too.
The local Garlic Festival was held this past weekend. I try not to miss it because I buy my planting garlic from the same farmer there every year. Besides ordinary cloves there is every garlic thing you can imagine…garlic ice cream, pickles, breads, kimchis, oils, vinegars, cheese, relishes, spreads and jellies. They also have vendors selling their crafts, honey, maple syrup, soap and produce. Did I mention lots of food trucks ? Our Garlic Festival started out with about 15 tables and a few curious people poking around. Now it’s huge, attracts more than 10,000 visitors and even has an official Garlic Queen.
I like having a little fruit orchard in my back yard. I get fresh, organic fruit all summer and lots in the freezer for later. It doesn’t take much space . Berries are easy to grow and come back every year on their own. I’m not sure how hardy and easy he dwarf fruit trees will prove to be but so far, so good. “The Old Fashioned Fruit Garden” by JoAnn Gardner was a big inspiration for me to get started. The book has a lot of nice anecdotes. It’s instructional but not overwhelming and contains lots of recipes and preserving techniques along with fruit growing and harvesting methods.
Marie’s Balloon Flower is blooming now. I love the way the blossoms are so puffy before they open.
I think I planted some of the garlic too deep. It never sent up scapes and the leaves dropped and started to dry. The bulbs look okay so I’ll spread them out on a rack on the porch to dry.
I made Julia Child’s “Queen of Sheba” cake this weekend. She is my favorite chef. Her recipes are always accurate and easy to follow. I love her positive, happy attitude. This cake is almost flourless. Ground almonds replace some of the flour and it’s delicious.
The first daffodils opened today! The garlic has poked through and is looking nice and sturdy. Seed potatoes are coming in tomorrow.
I lost all the fish in the pond this winter. Talking to the girl at the pet store, I found out that many pond owners here lost their fish. The winter was just too cold for too long. I’ll be introducing a few fish at a time into the pond for the next month. These are feeder fish. People buy them to feed other pets. They cost a dime each. I feel sorry for the fish that froze over the winter but living for 8 years in my pond was a better fate than what they may have met as turtle food.
Schools are already being cancelled for tomorrow because another foot of snow is supposedly on its way! Milk sold out today at the grocery store but they have plenty of cactus seeds.
May 31 is the date here when we are deemed safe from frosts. I save all plastic containers that can be used to start seeds indoors. A large, screw in hook is a handy device to create drainage holes. It easily makes a hole in thick or thin containers without cracking the plastic. It’s too early to start seeds for my garden but I thought it would be fun to try sprouting some cactus. (cactusses?, cacti?)
There’s been a lot of cold and flu remedies, natural antibiotic and ‘master tonic’ recipes floating around on the internet. I’m not sure I would subscribe to those claims but the ingredients looked interesting so I made a quick vinegar tincture with garlic, ginger, horseradish and a little bit of hot pepper. That combination will surely open the sinuses but I’m thinking a couple spoonfuls would give a good punch to a smoothie, dipping sauce or salad dressing.
I think our dog Harvey might be feeling a little depressed over getting another snowstorm.
This morning, I had a few chores that had to be done before I could go outside. I dug up Valerian root yesterday and wanted to get it cleaned and tinctured. After a lot of soaking and rinsing, it was ready to be cut, crushed and set into grain alcohol. Valerian is a great herb, one of the few sedative herbs that is actually nutritive for the body. In rare cases it can cause excitability but I find it to be a good sleep aid. That may come in handy as I’ll be helping my Dad move out of my childhood home very soon and possibly in with me. Valerian has a bad smell, sort of a sweet, decaying scent. The whole house smelled of it, kind of disgusting.
Next was kombucha. The batch I made 10 days ago was ready to drink and a new brew started. I grew my first scoby from a store bought bottle of GT kombucha almost a year ago. Since then, I’ve accumulated a lot of scobies and compost them in the garden.
Elephant garlic needed separating before being planted. These came from a local farmer that I met last weekend at our annual garlic festival.
home grown scoby
Once outside, I started some fall cleanup in the garden. I picked a couple of things and then began prepping the garlic patch. Suddenly, the sky got dark and rain came pouring down. ugh