Tuesday, July 22, 2008

the sky was

Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge, July 2008

the sky
was can dy
lu mi
nous ed
spry pinks
shy lem
choco lates
un der
a lo
mo tive s pout
o lets

- e. e. cummings

I'm leaving tomorrow for two weeks for a family vacation/wedding in Greece! Eeeeeeeeeeeeee!

CSA box in my belly

I got home last week and the contents of the CSA box were in the midst of being chopped, boiled, sauteed, and roasted. No "before" pics, unfortunately. But here's the "after":

I'm not complaining, certainly. Who could complain after dinner with three lovely ladies (and a dog)?

I just got back home from another trip to Nevada, pics to come.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Trash to Treasure

My house-mate Crystal is a dynamo. She just finished her first year of vet school and every time she has a break from school something fabulous happens to the yard. Here's the latest:

She bought the old tub and window from a place in Berkeley a while ago and it's been sitting in our yard for a few months. But after school was over for the summer, she filled the tub with empty plastic bottles. She added a layer of mulch, then potting soil, then she planted it with herbs.

She also mulched the whole yard and the garden. It was basically hard-pack dirt before and now it's gorgeous!

Bravo Crystal!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

The Salad Bowl Garden - Winter/Spring Season

This past spring I was a busy little bee. Almost literally. I worked on my research, worked as a botanical consultant, volunteered with the Kids in the Garden program, and helped design and plant a garden on campus.

The PES Salad Bowl Garden.

My friend Mags came up with the idea and got the grant money from UCD to carry it out. She has a lot of experience with "biointensive" food gardening, having lived and worked in Willits, CA learning mini-farming from John Jeavons. (We used his book, "How to Grow More Vegetables and Fruits, Nuts, Berries, Grains, and Other Crops Than You Ever Thought Possible on Less Land Than You Can Imagine," and it was indispensable).

The concept of our garden is based on French-style potager gardens which are basically kitchen gardens with an emphasis on vegetables that are designed for aesthetics. Our goal was to grow ready-to-eat food for the students, staff, and faculty who work in the PES building.

We were given six large beds in the courtyard of the PES building (Plant and Environmental Sciences), which was five more beds than we thought we would get! The beds have an irrigation system and we were assigned a groundskeeper, Bryan, to help us with weeding and keeping everything tidy.

We designed the garden in the winter and had a whole weekend planting party in March to double-dig the beds, put in the concrete paths, and plant the seedlings.

It took us 6 hours to put in these paths! The paths are designed to make the largest beds at the end of the path more accessible, so people won't have to step into the garden to harvest the veggies. They also allow us to divide the garden into sections for different colors/varieties of vegetables.

We decided to make the facing beds mirror image. In the smallest beds closest to the door we planted spinach, bunching onions, and snap peas.

In the middle beds we planted bok choi, Asian mustard, fennel, cilantro, and arugula.

In the largest beds (with paths) we planted many different types of lettuce, with different colors in each diamond. We also planted pak choi and snap peas. Throughout the gardens there are edible flowers like calendula, nasturtium, and pansies, as well as herbs and chives.

The garden is entirely organic, and we took shifts watering it by hand for a long time. We also put bird netting over it for a while, because of a healthy fear of rabbits.

Here are the small and medium beds after only a month or so of growth!!

We put informative signage up so everyone knew what was growing. That was mostly for me because I'm always looking at plants and wishing there were signs so I knew what I was seeing. I guess going to college on an arboretum does that to you.

When the garden was ready, we had harvest days where everyone from the PES building was invited to come pick and eat a salad for lunch. We supplied buckets of water for washing, a salad spinner, dressing, salt and pepper. They brought their bowls and forks. And we all ate up.

YUM! I've never been one to eat much salad to be honest. But I am now a devotee. I also found my new favorite dressing: Annie's Lemon and Chive.

We tore out the bolting plants in May and planted a spring/summer garden that is going strong. I've taken lots of pictures, so look out for a post about that garden soon!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Veggie Renovations

A few weeks ago I pulled out those bolting cilantro and celery and planted some yummy summer veggies:

'Ambrosia' Cantaloupe

I bought some great new gardening gloves, too. Pink, of course.

'Tasty Green' Cucumber

Here's the cucumber after a few weeks:

On the left, Zucchini. On the right, 'Klondike Green Striped' Watermelon!!!

After a few weeks, the zucchini is doing quite well. The watermelon, notsomuch.

I decided that my veggies were looking a little peaked, so I bought this fabulous organic fertilizer: "Tiger Bloom"

My tomatoes are much happier for it:

My peppers and eggplants are producing (you can see why I needed the fertilizer).

My first harvest!!!

Friday, July 4, 2008

Carrot Frame

CSA box, July 2nd, 2008.

Happy fourth of July! I'm gonna go grill a bunch of these veggies now.

Savanna Green Beans, Carrots, Globe Eggplant, Garlic, Basil, Parsley, Potatoes, Summer Squash.

Newsletter info of the week: The best way to store basil is to put it in a glass of water and cover the glass with a plastic bag. Then put it in the fridge and change the water regularly. I've also found that you can revive wilty basil by running it under cold tap water, shaking it dry so there's some water still left on it, and sticking in the crisper drawer.

My Little Laughing Hyena

Sammy got his summer cut today. Now we match!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

It's a Cake Stand, Baby

My wonderful room-mates (well, one is now an ex-room-mate, sniff) got me this fabulous cake stand for my last birthday. I love it to death and it gives me an extra reason to bake (so I can fill it with yumminess).

We've had a lot of carrots coming to us via the CSA box recently, and I finally got around to making these carrot-spice muffins which were delicious. The recipe comes from the blog Fatfree Vegan Kitchen, though I used full cream yogurt and sugar so the muffins were neither fat free nor vegan.

Here's another glamour shot of the cake stand. It has a belly full of coconut birthday cake from last fall. Aah, domesticity.