Thursday, March 8, 2012

You Can Grow This! Part Deux (with recipe!)

Last year, Tiny Tim's Garden looked like this in mid June:

Nothing like morning light to show off plants, right?

Isn't "Bright Lights" Swiss Chard almost shockingly beautiful?

Broccoli rabe looks good enough to eat at 7:00 a.m

Here's what all the glorious vegetables, herbs and annual flowers had in common.

 They came from this:

Started life in my unheated mudroom, and 

Moved to roomier digs before they got planted outside after the ubiquitous "all danger from frost has passed."

MWH (my wonderful husband) built a 6 x 8 greenhouse last year and just put together a retro two tier plant stands with two grow lights on them.  Both treasures came from the Craig's List "farm and garden" listings and were CHEAP! (Check it out daily - you'll never know what you'll find).
With these additions, you can imagine that I'm going a little nuts, but I do have method in my madness.  My goal is to give spinach, Swiss chard, lettuce, cabbage, kale, tomatoes, beets and herbs starts to a low-income housing community here.  The residents have well made raised beds on the property and do a great job raising vegetables, but since they're on fixed incomes, free starts will save them a bit.

Here's where you might help out.  Have you been collecting 2" pots and transplant six plants in your garage or potting bench area?  Let me recycle them for you!  I will gladly meet you and take them off your hands.

If you haven't seen it yet, here's a link to The Farmers Almanac, showing when we can start seeds inside, when we can transplant or sow seeds directly in the ground. Enter your zip code and The Farmer's Almanac will graciously give that information specific to your locale.

Are you growing starts this year, and what are your favorites?  How do you do it?

For your dining pleasure, may I offer an easy St. Patrick's Day recipe for a variety of Irish Colcannon that has a few extra goodies in it from  Talk about comfort food!  



Mashed Potatoes with Kale and Leeks



    • 8 medium red potatoes
    • 2 cups kale, chopped (not packed too snugly)
    • 1 medium leeks, thinly sliced
    • 4 cloves garlic, minced 
    • 1-2 T. lemon juice 
    • 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
    • 1 cup potato water
    • salt and pepper


  1. Cube and boil potatoes (with skins) in lightly salted water.
  2. Drain, reserve 1 cup water.
  3. Saute garlic and leek in 2 Tbs oil until translucent.
  4. Add kale, saute  until wilted.
  5. Squirt some lemon juice, about 1T. to maintain color and add flavor
  6. Mash potatoes with reserved water, 2 remaining Tbs of oil.
  7. Fold in sauteed veggies.
  8. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

You Can Grow That! (And a mouthwatering recipe, too)

Today, I'm joining noted gardening gardening expert C.L. Fornari and garden bloggers around the world to create a collection of various garden blog posts on the 4th of every month that can serve to raise awareness of the joy and importance of gardening and planting.

Today, I want to talk about garlic, and how easy it is to grow.  It starts with friendship.    Years ago, I met Mike Finger, of Cedarville Farms at his stall at the Bellingham Farmer's Market and I instantly respected his commitment to organic farming.  He and his wife Kim are warm, caring and informed, and never seem to forget a customer's name.  If I was going to start growing garlic, then I was going start by supporting a friend, and make a great experience even better.

So back last September, I went to the Farmer's Market, and made a beeline for Mike's stall.  Sure enough, there was a beyootiful head of Rojo garlic.  I brought it home, separated the cloves, and stuck 15 in the ground.  Here's the result, today, March 4, 2012:

Aren't they pretty? 
My friend Jackie had me thinking about Garlic Soup this week since she'd had a great bowl in Coupeville over the weekend.  That sounded so good after all our grey, rainy days!  Last night I adapted a recipe from The Novice Chef  based on what I had on hand.   It was terrific!  My Wonderful Husband (MWH) and I finished it all, making  involuntary little mewing sounds of contentment with every spoonful.   
 Tiny Tim's Roasted Garlic Soup

2 heads of garlic,                                  1/2 C. Sauvignon Blanc wine
 top sliced off                                       1/2 C. water
1 garnet yam, peeled                            1/2 t. Salt
1 acorn squash                                     1/2 fresh cracked pepper
Olive oil                                               1/4 t. dried thyme
Butter                                                   1/4 t. Cajun seasoning
1 large sweet onion                              2 C. organic chicken broth
 sliced thinly                                         Sour cream or yogurt
2 T. Flour

Set oven to 400.  Put both heads garlic on a piece of foil, drizzle olive oil on them and seal them into a packet.   Cut the yam and squash into small pieces, place them in a large baking dish, and drizzle olive oil liberally over all.  Put both the baking dish and the packet of garlic for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, melt butter and olive oil (whatever amount you want) in a large, deep frying pan.   Over medium high heat, cook the sliced onions for about 15 minutes, until browned and crispy.  Sprinkle the flour over the onions, and deglaze the pan with the wine, scraping all the good bits up.  Add the spices and remove from heat.

Turn off oven and remove garlic and baking dish.  While the garlic and squash cool a bit, add the yam to the onion, turn to medium heat and stir.  Squeeze the garlic into the mixture, cut the peel away from the squash, and add them to the mixture, stirring to mix them in.  Add the water and broth and bring to boil, stirring constantly.  

Carefully put the pieces and liquid into a blender or Cuisinart and liquify.  Repeat the process until you have a thick soup that smells outrageously good.  Taste, correct seasoning (the Cajun seasoning is awfully good), ladle into bowls and top with sour cream or yogurt.