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After having added Fox Farm Planting Mix (1 cu. ft./25 sq. ft.), having single-dug, and de-weeded, previously, of course, I sowed the following: two varieties of garlic, “Elephant” garlic, which, evidently, is ideal for roasting whole in the oven, “New York” yellow onions, and leeks. I’ve learned through the years that it’s important to purchase only as many starts as you are capable of planting immediately! (Otherwise, they dry out and go to compost). Just like logging my food intake daily, buying only what I can immediately plant is a work in progress–but, I am getting better!

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I transplanted several varieties of kale (from Harmony Farm Supply) behind the lettuces already in Bed 7. Notice the bird netting protecting all of the tender leafy young starts. Without the bird netting, these tender leafy greens would be decimated in no time by the hungry local bird population!

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It may not look like much, but more than half this bed is now sown with fava beans, which help fix nitrogen in the soil for uptake by future crops’ roots. The stubs in the background are Jerusalem artichokes (whose roots I’ve already harvested, broiled in the oven, and eaten). Behind the sunchoke stubs are three celery plants (which are finally, after more than a year, starting to come into their own–I wonder if these, too, are biennials?). Behind the celery are a few arugula, broccoli, and brocolli raab–which had to be bird-netted–and, at the very back, are garlic I sowed about a week ago. I did add about a bag of Fox Farm planting mix for the garlic’s and broccoli’s benefit. No soil amending was done before sowing the favas in the bed. I’m going against John Jeavon’s (of How to Grow More Vegetables fame) advice on this, and sowing the favas directly into the growing bed,
instead of sowing them first in a flat, then waiting till I have transplantable starts, and then
transplating the starts into the growing bed. In practice, I’m finding that the amount of time
used up, first, in getting the starts going over several weeks, and then transplanting them, often
ends up in the favas either not being transplanted at all, or being transplanted way too late (i.e.,
months) due to my lack of time/motivation for such a tedious job and, therefore, procrastination. I’m listening to my hubby’s advice, instead, and planting the cover crop directly into the growing bed. Favas are important for replenishing the soil, hence they are being planted where a summer sweet corn crop had been harvested, corn being a heavy feeder. Hopefully, it will rain tomorrow, as predicted yesterday.

Broccoli Raab, Spinach, Celery, and Harvested Jerusalem Artichokes

Bed 8: Freshly Planted 24 November 2013

Since we can grow crops year ’round in Sonoma County, I spent most of today on just half a growing bed, taking out old plants, harvesting beautiful radicchio (which is sweet, not bitter like the store-bought kind), and Jerusalem artichoke (cutting the dead tops back to stubs just an inch above ground).  I then dutifully single-dug the newly exposed ground and amended 25 sq. ft. with 1/2 cu. ft. of Fox Farm Planting mix, before transplanting two varieties of spinach and some broccoli raab, purchased in six-packs at our local Ace Hardware in Santa Rosa (at the corner of Guerneville Rd. and Fulton Rd.) where they sell locally grown veggie starts.  Believe it or not, this took me over 3 hours!!! Tomorrow, I’ll have to place bird-netting over these young starts, otherwise they will be decimated by the local bird population, much like the lettuces I planted a few weeks ago in the adjoining bed, that is now protected by bird netting.

Lettuces, Brusssels Sprouts, Radishes

Bed 7 as of 24 November 2013
Bird netting is in place, to protect the tender young starts.

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I prepared this smooth, yummy, creamy polenta from scratch. Here is the recipe:

  • 3/4 lb. (400 gm) coarsely ground yellow cornmeal
  • 6 cups of boiling water to start, will have to keep adding 4 more cups of boiling water as you cook
  • salt to taste (1/2 tsp.)

Preparation: Bring the 6 cups of water to a rolling boil. Add the cornmeal in a slow stream, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. Now, you’ll have to keep stirring for 40-45 mins., adding boiling water as necessary. Polenta is done when it peels easily off the sides of the pot. The longer you stir, the better the polenta will  be.  Finished polenta should have the consistency of firm mashed potatoes–not watery, like in many restaurants!

CAUTION:  You can easily burn yourself if the heat is on too high, and the boiling polenta pops up and out of the pot onto your bare hand. On the other hand, if the heat is not high enough, you’ll get lumps.  I just pick out the lumps with a fork as I go.

 

Arete

Mary’s Homemade, No-fat, No Dairy, Vegan DELICIOUS Asparagus Soup Recipe (Makes 4 servings)

Ingredients:

  • 2 big bunches of fresh asparagus
  • 2-3 leeks, white portions only
  • 2 medium potatoes
  • 4 cups of water
  • Salt to taste (1/2 tsp.)
  1. Chop asparagus into 1-1/2 inch lengths. Separate into woody stems, tender stalks, and tips.
  2. Cook woody stems for 30 mins. Remove & discard the woody stems, saving the broth.
  3. While broth is cooking, peel and dice potatoes. Also, slice whites of leeks into thin slices.
  4. Add diced potatoes, sliced leeks, and tender portions of asparagus stems into asparagus broth.  Cook another 20-30 mins., until all vegetables are very soft.
  5. In the meantime, steam the asparagus tips for 5 mins. Then plunge them into icy water to preserve their brilliant green color and crunchiness. Reserve these separately for garnish.
  6. Once the vegetables have cooked, pour the entire contents of the pot into your blender. …

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