Monday, August 13, 2012

Some Garden Pics Because I Can

Cheery Cherries! Yum yum!

Pumpkin blossom. Nature is so perfect!

Top pumpkin: sugar pie. Bottom pumpkin: Jack-o-lantern.

Heirloom: Mr. Stripey

Heirloom: Green Zebra

This is the most updated picture of the summer veggie plot that I have. 

Fall Greens

I have been turning, working and enhancing the soil in our new fall greens plot for two days now. Let me tell you, nothing says sexy like the smell of rotting alpaca manure smeared all over your hands, legs, and feet!

I sowed seeds for peas, carrots, red lettuce, green lettuce, chard, kale, english breakfast radishes, broccoli, cauliflower, and celery.I think that's it. With the help of Jen at Native Plant and Seed, here in town, I chose all short season varieties. They are also organic and even some are heirloom, grown and harvested in Cornville, AZ. I will be plopping in a few herbs for pest protection later this week.

Here are a few pics from the soil amending fun!
Me turning the soil. Apparently, Tris needs to clean her camera lens. 

The soil is finally turned!
That's alpaca poop on my foot. 
The seeds have been sown. Notice that the rows are crooked? That's because I do nothing straight! 


Borage is a flowing herb. I planted it in the strawberry bed to bring pollinators to the garden and hopefully to use it for it's herbal properties. I did not expect it to be one of my favorite plants in the garden. It's quite beautiful. 
You can see the foliage looks weed like. 
The flowers are indigo and star shaped. 
It's pretty nerdy how much I think this flower is amazing!
Since I have been wanting to use borage, so it doesn't die in vain, I did a bit of research. I will cite the book I used at the end.

  • The Romans steeped the flowers in wine. They believed that it gave them courage. (I think it gives my beans courage to grow big.) 
  • To reduce a fever, you can steep a tablespoon of chopped leaves in one cup boiled water and drink. 
  • Edible flowers used by colonial woman to decorate soups and salads. 
  • American colonial people relieved back pain with a syrup of yarrow, borage, and brandy and then drunk with gun powder (Seems like enough of this would cure any pain). 
  • Also called comfrey
  • To enhance mothers milk, drink a tonic of 1 Tbsp. crushed fennel seeds, 1 Tbsp. red raspberry leaves, and 2 Tbsp. chopped borage leaves. Steep in 2 cups boiling water for 15 minutes. Strain and drink a cup daily. 
  • For relief from varicose veins, use a compress made from witch hazel bark, marigold flowers, yarrow leaves, borage leaves or roots, burnet root, and horse chestnut. (If you want the exact recipe, leave a message and I will post. 
  • Ancient greeks also believed that borage cleaned the body after illness by eating the leaves. They grew three different varieties. 
  • Leaves and flowers steeped in wine to drive away melancholy (hmmmm....duh.)
  • Leaves made into a poultice to help heal bruises.
  • Flowers are made into conserves to alleviate hoarseness
  • Roots, after a thorough cleaning are steeped in oil and applied to gangrene or staph skin infections. 
  • The Asians used herbs in fortune cookies instead of little papers. Getting borage meant that you would have the courage of your convictions. 
  • Self seeding
  • Seeds can be used in a compress to heal the skin
  • Attracts bees to your garden
  • The affirmation of encouragement that borage symbolizes is, 'I learn to stand on my own.'
The book I used is called Mother Nature's Herbals. I am in love with the book and the borage. I learned a bunch writing this and I will be gathering all parts of the plant to dry and use as the need arise. I am super happy I got to share this with you!!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Words to Live By

"The more we penetrate the spheres of nature, the more we become aware that what surrounds us in it is of an overwhelming wisdom. What we call scientifically an ecosystem, is penetrated by wisdom so that all parts serve the whole in the most economic way." ~ Farms of Tomorrow Revisited (Steve McFadden and Trauger Grow

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Slow Cookin' My Food

It's been cool enough in the evenings to have a warm meal, so this week, in anticipation of my semester starting, I have begun to experiment with crockpot meals.

Sunday Night: Tomato Basil Parmesan Soup. The basil for this recipe came from the farmers market and was super flavorful. Plus I blendered the rest of the basil with some olive oil and froze it in ice cube trays so I could use it later.

Monday Night: Crockpot Mac and Cheese. I paired this with streamed broccoli and a salad.

Tuesday Night: Black Bean and Sweet Potato Chile. The only crock pot portion of this recipe is the black beans, but making them in the morning will be healthier than opening up a can, plus, I can freeze the extras or can them. Since it is Tuesday, I have not tried the chile, as it won't be even made until later today, but the house smells divine, as it has the last few days, from the beans cookin. The chile recipe is coming from a book called, The Vegetarian Family Cookbook.

In anticipation of using the slow cookers for many meals this semester, I bought a second one at the trift store yesterday. It is the one my mom had when we were coming up. It is much smaller than the one I have been using, so I plan to use it for oatmeal or Strawberry French Toast Casserole. Mornings are the hardest in the winter because nobody wants to get up, plus making a hot meal is super time consuming and I don't want to get up that early. Lazy mom moment.

I have been getting most of my recipes from a blog called 365 Days of Slow Cooking. There is a section for meatless and one for desserts and sides. Yum.

The boys biological father wants to start feeding them meat, regardless of the health risks, and I cannot stop him, but I can feed them a shit-ton of nutritious foods when they are here. I am excited to try more things. I have them all pinned on my Life Force board on Pintrest, if you are interested in following me. My pintrest name is jencody. I should start a Two Queer Hippies one, but i already don't have enough time. Peace and full bellies to you all!

Summer Gardening

It's been a summer packed with work, gardening, work, kids, work and cooking. In June, Number 3, Tris and I planted our plot at the Izabel Street Community Garden. I did a good deal of research about companion planting to produce the biggest yield.

Number 3 and I weeding before we sow

Number 3 wielding a pick ax

I split the garden into two sides. In the smaller side, we planted strawberries, green bush beans, borage, and marigolds. The marigolds are the only non-edible, non-useable plant in the garden, but they bloom all summer, attracting pollinators and they ward off unwanted pests. The beans fix nitrogen and deposit it into the soil, where the producing strawberries, in need of a ton of nitrogen, pick it up and make more sweet delicious berries. The borage is an herb that I will use once it has run it's life cycle, but it also has beautiful blooms that attract the pollinators. We added a barrier of chicken wire to separate the two sides.

The day we planted. We sowed some seeds and planted some starters.

Week Two respectively. You can see the chicken wire at the top to prevent the pickling cucumbers from taking over the strawberry patch.
In the larger side, we planted non-native sunflowers (the big ones with yummy seeds), pickling cucumbers, patty-pan squash, pie pumpkins, jack-o-lantern pumpkins, zucchini, tomatoes, jalapenos, onions, and marigolds. I am finding out that our soil lacks nitrogen, so today I will be adding some blood meal to get the pumpkins growing. (The plot next to ours, that is almost all alpaca manure, is making amazing pumpkins! Luckily, it's a community plot, so we can harvest our fall pumpkins from there.) 

Week 3-4. The beans and borage have sprouted and the sunflowers are taking off!

Week 4-5. Taken from the sunflower side, so you can't see the strawberry side.  I will post a more updated pic later today.
The monsoons have been doing most of the watering, but they are also watering the weeds. The whole family went out to the garden for some weeding fun last Saturday. I love them all so much. We started with our own plot, then we weeded the paths in the whole garden. Number 3 and I went out yesterday and cleared a whole section of the garden that was over run by an invasive weed, called Dispersed Knapweed. It's a prickly SOB. My arms are beat up, but I am looking forward to another two or more hours of weeding today. I want that garden to look amazing!!! 

Green beans that started in the last few days. I think we will actually be able to make more than one meal from this yield. 

Our home garden is also growing beyond expectations! We have six varieties of organic and heirloom tomatoes that are fruiting right now. The cherries are starting to get red, so I am thinking this weekend we will be feasting. We will have to save some for Number 3 or he will be really sad. I learned at one of the gardening seminars supported by Foodlink, one of the sponsors of the Flagstaff Community Gardens, that our tomatoes need more room and more soil and that they are perineal. After they are finished fruiting, we will transplant them into 5 gallon buckets and move inside the mudroom for the winter. They can tolerate 40 degrees F cold. I am looking forward to an even bigger crop next year!   

She's all grown up.

The Brussels Sprouts are starting to form. They are so cool looking!! I will be planting more of them in our fall garden, at the second plot I acquired at the community garden. I will also be planting lettuce, spinach, kale, chard, broccoli, cauliflower, peas, cabbage and more beans. My hope is to build cold frames so that I can continue to garden these greens throughout the winter. I will keep you posted on what the plan is for that. Last, but not least, I harvested last years pearl onions a few weeks ago. I have to confess, I haven't used them yet, but I will in my salad tonight. 

Brussel Babies. They are a smidge bigger now.  

Some of the onions I harvested. 
Looks like we will be homesteading on city property for the time being, but I don't mind. In fact, I love it. I get to meet other gardeners, attend seminars, and eat at potlucks. Plus I get to walk to the garden every day and get a bit of exercise. Life is good.