Wednesday, May 20, 2015

BHF ~ Photo of the Day 5/20/15

Clarke's Beltony Blue Shelling Pea blossom
I was getting pretty impatient to finally see a blossom on our peas and today was the day - times three! This is the Clarke's Beltony Blue in flower. We also had a pair of blooms on our He Lan Dou snow peas. Today was a good day in the garden!

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Garden Update - Mid-May

We finally finished planting in the garden today. Whew!

Some of the earliest stuff we put in is getting big and beautiful, but so far, we haven't harvested anything yet with the exception of a few pounds of rhubarb. Our pea and onion plot is looking lovely, but the pea plants, for all their vigor, have yet to set a single flower. It seems to me like we should have had our first peas by now.

Clarke's Beltony Blue Shelling peas and Yellow Rock onions
The Watermelon radishes were also a disappointment. They started to bolt before they ever even began to form a bulb! I pulled a few and found that they were all scraggly and sad looking, so I pulled the lot. We have another succession planting of them already about 2 weeks in, so we'll let those grow and see if they come out right, and if not, I guess the bunnies will have a second feast. At least they get to enjoy them!

The carrots are starting to worry me too. No signs of life from that bed yet. :( I'll be hugely bummed if our carrots don't work out, since they are one of the veggies that we go through tons of year-round.

The potatoes finally seem to have gotten a foothold. The Purple Majesty are clearly the front-runners, with Rose Finn Apple and Yukon Gold well behind, in terms of foliage. Weird, since the Purple Majesty's are a mid-season variety, but whatever - progress is progress - I'll take it.

Seeded/Planted out today -
*Cucumbers - Addis Pickle
*Pumpkins/Squash - Small Sugar, Oregon Sweet Meat
*Corn - Dakota Black (popcorn)
*Beans - Robert's Royalty (bush)
*Sunflowers - Giant Greystripe, Honey Bear
*Peppers - Pimento
*Melons - Minnesota Midget Melons (cantaloupe)
*Ground Cherries - Aunt Molly's
*Flowers/Herbs/Botanicals - Hungarian Blue Breadseed poppies, Resina Calendula, Hyssop, Bachelor Buttons, Bouquet Dill

I had planned on putting in a bed of just cutting flowers, but food plants come first, so they didn't end up fitting in. I think we're going to try to find some room somewhere to shimmy in some borage though, since the bees go absolutely nuts for it. Besides that, I daresay we're about done planting stuff, with the exception of a few succession plantings (cilantro and radishes).

Done with the seeding! Now begins the watering/weeding/cursing-at-hungry-bugs phase of the garden. 

Monday, May 11, 2015

Mother's Day Weekend in the Garden - Sunday

After a good, late wake-up and a lovely Mother's Day breakfast prepared by my youngest kiddo, Bill and I managed to get back out to the garden today to chip away at the nightmare that is reed canary grass, and weed and put in another bed's worth of plants.

What we accomplished today -

*Weeded and re-seeded empty spots in the beet and radish plots
*Thinned out and cleaned up the rhubarb
*Planted out 18 Bodegold chamomile cells (started indoors back in March), one 4" Flora Plena chamomile, one 4" spearmint, and about a half a packet of Resina Calendula seeds.
*Sowed about 1/4 of a packet of Bear Necessities kale in the greens bed, amongst the volunteer Russian Red kale babies from last year.

Ok - writing that down makes it seem like I/we didn't get much done. I tell you though, trying to rid the raised beds of the canary grass roots and rhizomes is a battle without end. If the goats didn't enjoy eating that grass (and it didn't make such nice free hay), I'd hate the stuff altogether.

Regardless of how much I managed to get done -or not- in the garden today, it was a nice way to have spent my special day with some of my most favorite people and critters. And eventually, maybe, I'll get some tea and salad out of the bargain as well. :)

Penny, aka Princess Pickle-butt, sampling some of our pasture.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Mother's Day Weekend in the Garden - Saturday

We had a very productive day in the garden today, planting out a few starts that we got from Spring Creek Nursery, as well as some of our seed stash. Started today -

*Cabbage - Copenhagen Market, Mammoth Red Rock
*Lettuces - Red Leaf (romaine type), Buttercrunch (bibb type)
*Cilantro - Standby (the fist of several sowings)
*Basil - Thai, Genovese, Sweet
*Thyme - Lemon, standard
*Tomatoes - Sungold, Roma, Black Prince
*Peppers - Anaheim, Purple Jalapeno

If I'm not too achy tomorrow from today's exertions, I plan on planting out my German chamomile, hyssop, spearmint, calendula, breadseed poppies, borage and assorted cutting flowers. We have only just passed our average last frost date, but I'm feeling pretty under the gun about getting everything in and started ASAP.

I really need to get the corn, beans and squash in the ground as soon as can be managed as well, but I feel less guilty about putting them off by a few days in favor of crops that are either less heat tolerant (and more cold/cool/generally-crappy-weather friendly) and those that have a longer growing season (90 days and up). I suspect that we will have an Indian Summer this year, but if living and gardening in Western Washington for 40 years has taught me anything, it's that the weather and seasons defy logic and predictability the vast majority of the time.

There isn't much to do except wait and see, and so I will. :)

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Recipe: Duck Egg Noodles

These simple and delicious, homemade egg noodles, made using our Muscovy and Black Swedish duck eggs, were a hit with the whole family! I added 1/4 cup of blanched, finely chopped stinging nettles to this batch as well, as I had them on hand. You can take or leave the addition, or substitute your family's favorite fresh herbs, kale, citrus zest or a bit of beet or pumpkin puree to mix things up a bit. 

Fresh duck egg and stinging nettle noodles

An eggy windfall - where it all begins!

Duck Egg Noodles

-3 cups all purpose flour (plus extra for rolling out)
-2 whole eggs
-4 egg yolks
-2 tsps salt
-2-3 tbsps water, more or less*
-1/4 cup blanched, well drained, chopped stinging nettles (or chopped herbs, kale, etc.) *optional*

Start with your flour and salt in a large mixing bowl. Make a well in the middle for your eggs & yolks. Gently scramble the eggs with a fork, slowly beginning to incorporate the flour/salt mixture. Once the eggs and dry ingredients are well mixed, begin adding water in small increments, kneading and squeezing the dough together after each addition. Continue adding water as needed to the dough to reach your desired consistency. Now it's time to fold in the nettles. Knead them into the dough well, until the are mixed evenly throughout. Allow the dough to rest for at least 10 or 15 minutes before rolling out. I run my dough through the pasta roller attachment on my Kitchenaid mixer, rather than rolling the dough out by hand.** 

After rolling out into sheets, I let the dough rest/dry again for at least 10 minutes or so before cutting into individual noodles.

I most often use the fettuccine attachment to make the final cuts, but rolling and cutting by hand with the kiddos is just as good a method (if a slightly messier one) for getting 'er done. 

I freeze any pasta that I don't use immediately by laying the finished (uncooked) noodles in a single layer on a parchment-lined cookie sheet and popping them in the freezer until thoroughly frozen, then transferring them to gallon freezer bags for storage. If you skip the cookie sheet step, and put them straight into the bag, you may end up with a giant noodle octopus rather than nice, individual noodles. ;)  I've had mixed success with drying them, but you're welcome to give that a go if your freezer space is at a premium.

*Because duck egg whites are significantly more viscous than chicken egg whites. You will likely need more water (or other optional liquid/puree, if using) than the 2-3 tbsps called for here.

**If you'll be using a similar pasta making attachment, I recommend starting at thickness setting #1, and running the dough through again on setting #3, and lastly, #5. Eggs noodles are meant to me a little beefy and chewy, so thinning them out further is just not necessary, and makes a lot more work, in my humble opinion. ;)