just a few reminders
these are hyperlinks, click on ’em
sometimes you might be tempted to sit the bench
in your crate
scapes (final week)
chinese cabbage (see recipe below)
MAJOR broccoli (blanch & freeze! see usage below)
share crate: summer squash, cukes, cauliflower, beets, broc, scapes, chinese cabbage, happy rich
It’s getting to be that time of the season. You know what I mean: “That” time of the season. Enough time has passed, I can see some results, try to glean some conclusions, etc, etc, etc. And I really wanted to share two changes and two successes with you all. Actually it might be three, they’re so intertwined it’s kinda hard to tease them apart!
First, I made a very simple, very straightforward modification to our rototiller. I’d been thinking about doing exactly this for quite some years now, at least a few in a row. I knew it’d simplify and streamline things for our planting routine. I knew it’d be so simple, so minimal, and yet so effective. So I just tinkered with it in my mind (and now I’m wishing I had a picture of it on the camera to show you…)
I added row markers to our rototiller. Nothing revolutionary really. But such a great aid to just get ‘er done. So when I rototill through with our tractor and rototiller I leave two tracks right where we then need to plant. All in one pass. One foul swoop. Done.
This has both simplified and speeded up our planting process. With no real out-of-pocket expense whatsoever. WOW.
Here’s the result: very linear, very exact, very neat and tidy… much easier to weed frankly. That’s the point.
This has allowed us to really stay on top of some of our weeding. No, not all of our weeding. But a good portion. A really good portion.
This is Lucky, our dog, looking for the next rain cloud. Never far this passed month.
We’ve not kept up in any way, shape, or form with some of our weeding in the front heavy clays. Our direct seedings have been surprisingly slow to germinate and establish. The weeds have not. The rains have come so regularly (and irregularly too). The heavy clay soils maintain such moisture that new rains, and heavy rains, and additional rains all so close create a very moist, sometimes soggy, slow-to-dry out soil.
The weeds are so opportunistic. Terribly opportunistic. Amazingly opportunistic.
The soil has gotten so wet, and stayed so wet, that we have often been unable to get into those gardens and weed. The soil behaves like a mud. It does not flow. Does not respond to the weeders “correctly”. It pushes or pulls instead. The weeds simply stand back up. The moisture’s enough, the temp’s so cool, the weed does not desicate, it just stands back up. And then it is stronger, bigger, gnarlier, a greater survivor the next time you can ever get at it…. This has been very challenging this year.
Two growers, both much larger, more equipped, more staffed have both re-planted because of so much water and so many weeds.
But, yes, I was trying to discipline myself to celebrate a few of this year’s successes. Let me get my head back into that:
The second thing I did this year, which I view as successful thus far, also has to do with the rototiller. When we purchased our rototiller, which attaches to our tractor, I purposefully paid a whole lotta extra money to get one with variable speeds. It has gears which you can arrange to modify the rpm of the tines spin. I just knew this would be handy, necessary, valuable, important, etc, etc, etc. Well, we’ve modified certain steps in how we work our soil, and how we build our soil through these years. Some of the changes have been especially noticeable in the last three years. I’ve felt the soils were ready for a much slower revolution from our rototiller.
I adjusted our rototiller to a very slow speed. It’s creeping. The tines revolve almost silly slow. (This is the feature I paid much extra for!) This is gentler on the soil. Less impactful. Less pulverizing (the main critique of a rototiller in the first place: too “violent” on the soil structure.) The rototiller is much more like a disc now, turns some soil, moves some soil, aerates, incorporates green manures…. just gently.
The third thing I’ve noticed this year is great improvements in our big hoophouse’s soil structure (yeah, that’s what we call it, our “big hoophouse”. Because, well, it’s big.) We’ve worked this soil and worked on growing this exact soil for 8 years. We’ve amended with many slow release organic minerals, with peat moss, with organic compost. We’ve even cover cropped with oats, buckwheat, rye, and clover (all at different times, that is). All according to soil sample recommendations. This year, this spring, that soil had some gorgeous tilth… just so nice. There was an airiness, a lightness, some kinda sponginess.
Really exciting for a gardener knowing that the soil is the basis of all growing!
recipe: Chinese Cabbage: Kimchi:
this is one chinese cabbage’s worth of kimchi – oh so yum!
this is a hyperlink to a scape pesto document: check it out!
recipes, usage: broccoli
Major broccoli week this week. Blanch and freeze your broccoli!
to blanch & freeze broccoli:
There are more than plenty of very, very detailed directions online. Check ’em out if you’d like.
Here’s what we do.
Scrub and sanitize your sink’s basins. Pour salt onto the bottom of each basin, thoroughly. Run the water, COLD, and dissolve the salt thoroughly. Put all that Beautiful Broccoli in. Let the basin fill thoroughly with COLD water. Let it soak.
Start some water boiling in some big pots. Big enough to dunk all the broc, or big enough to steam all the broc.
Separate the broc into florets, or small mini-heads of broc. Look into the nooks and crannies, make sure it’s clean and free. Slice these somewhat smaller, into just bigger than biteful bits.
If you’re gonna dunk the broc into boiling water it’ll need 3 minutes blanching, minimum, in rapidly boiling water.
If you’re gonna steam blanch, 5 minutes, minimum.
Empty your sink basins and re-fill with COLD water.
Dunk your blanched brocs into the COLD sinkfuls of water. Soak. Cool thoroughly.
Bag the blanched, cooled broc in FREEZER bags. Or vacuum pack. Freeze!
This is just part of what we meant when we described extending your eating season. Also, extend your dollars and sense.
Broccoli & Tofu, in Spicy Peanut Sauce
Begin cooking your rice about 10 minutes before you begin your stir-fry.
for the sauce:
4 teaspoons peanut butter (or 4 tablespoons roasted peanuts ground to a paste in a clean coffee grinder)
4 teaspoons soy sauce
4 teaspoons distilled white vinegar
2 teaspoons Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
1 teaspoon oriental sesame oil
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon chili paste
4 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro leaves
you also need
4 teaspoons finely diced fresh cilantro stems
Combine all ingredients for sauce, except cilantro leaves, in a bowl and mix well. Hold aside until the broccoli is bright green and just tender (about 5 minutes), see below. You will pour the heated sauce over the saute. Toss gently until everything is coated with everything else. Serve over rice.
1 1 lb bunch of fresh broccoli
3 Tbs peanut oil
2 tsp freshly grated ginger root
4 med cloves garlic, minced
1 lb tofu, cut in small cubes
a few dashes of salt
2 cups thinly sliced onion
2-3 Tbs tamari sauce
2 freshly minced scallions
1.) Cut off the bottom half-inch of broccoli stems. Shave off the tough outer skins of the stalks . Cut stalks diagonally into thin slices. Coarsely chop floweretts. Set aside.
2.) Begin heating wok or heavy skillet. When hot, add 1 Tablespoon of peanut oil. Add half of the ginger and half of the garlic. Salt lightly. Saute over medium heat 1 minute, then add tofu. Turn heat up little, stir-fry tofu 5-8 minutes. Transfer it, including liquid, to saucepan of peanut sauce. Mix together gently.
3.) Wipe pan with paper towel, return to stove, begin heating again. Add remaining oil to hot pan, then ginger and garlic. Salt lightly. Add onions, grind in freh black pepper. Saute, stirring frequently, over medium heat, until onions soft (about 5 minutes).
4.) Gently re-heat the sauce, just warming, no more.
5.) Add broccoli and chopped peanuts to wok. Add 2-3 Tbs. tamari sauce, stir-fry over medium-high heat until the broccoli is bright green and just tender(about 5 minutes).
6.) Pour heated sauce over saute. Toss gently and add cilantro leaves as you toss.
Serve over rice.