Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Gorgeous Sunset

Have a lovely evening!

Selling our produce, a Journey

I mentioned that one of my goals this year, was to find a way to sell some of our extra produce.
Well, this:
just fell into my lap! This is so awesome!
Basically, they are allowing us to sell our produce, as long as there is no pesticides or herbicides on the crop.
I just wrote them an email so, we shall see how this goes. Unfortunately, it's held on a Sunday...and I attend church....hmmm. It is a once a month event.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Gluten and Egg free Gyoza (Potstickers)

Today was my Mom's birthday. She is also gluten free. So...that means we can't just "go to the store" and pick up the dumpling wrappers like everyone else, yes...we MUST make it from scratch!  So, with the help of my brother Paul, who flattened the dough balls into flat round wrappers using the Tortilla maker, I made these for our Mom's birthday. :-)
You can see some of the flours that go into the gluten free dough: Sorghum, Millet, Tapioca, Xanthan Gum, Brown Rice flour, etc.  If we could use egg, the gluten free dough would be MUCH more pliable, but our son is allergic to egg as well, so I used Ener-G brand Egg Replacer powder.  Here they are before cooking.
Here's a batch all done and crispy. Next time I'd like to make the skins a tiny bit thinner, to accomplish this, I may need to add another tsp of xanthan gum for pliability
I used homegrown Garlic Chives and some Broccoli stems chopped up in them too! Yummy with a dipping sauce made from gluten free soysauce, homegrown Lemon juice, and toasted sesame oil.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Front Garden Updates

The front Garden is starting to wake up from the winter slumber already
This area is the long strip that is planted with Asparagus (Jersey Knight). I planted some Peas and Fava Beans and they have started to sprout, but I noticed these mushrooms before the Pea sprouts, mushrooms are so cute. :-) Does anyone know what these are called? I wouldn't eat them, but I wish I knew what they were called.
Here you can see the Pea sprouts on the sides of the mushroom trio
Pansies grown from seed, they just sprout where the parent plant was, we'll move them sometimes so that they'll line up in a nice ring around the Persimmon tree.
Lupine seedling
Rose and Rock
Succulent Blossoms
"Alauria" our front garden peach tree
Pretty asparagus berries...the neighbor's wall looks almost like sky or snow, ha!
wildflowers on the east-side of the house
Wintering (Fuji) apple
Sleeping beauty, (Akane) apple
Avocado (Haas)

Avocado (Haas) blossoms

Plants growing under the Avocado tree are pretty much self-sown right now. Cosmos, Edible Ice Plant, Johnny Jump-ups, Royal Purple bush-beans and Purple Orach. Along with the Blue Basil pictured at the base of the tree in the full-tree picture above

Garden Updates: January 17, 2012

Spring is just around the corner and we have a NEW raised bed!!! This is the 5th bed that has been completed in the expanded 20x20 area. We're thinking of growing some Burdock here since the soil is very soft because it was double dug.
Here I planted some Peas and Pole Beans. The reason why we did both: Mom thought that since the weather is so erratic, we should try to do both types in one bed, one that is heat tolerant (pole beans) and one that is cold tolerant (Peas). Then, if the weather leans to one way or another, we'd have something growing instead of nothing (in case of a crop failure from either too hot or too cold). I said, "What the heck, let's give it a try". We're always experimenting with things, to learn what works and doesn't work. Last week was hot, now this week has been cold and we had a bit of rain.
Mitsuba grown from last year's seed. It's self sown, see the larger Mitsuba on the left side (the pot is barely in the pic) That's the parent plant and it dropped it's seeds on the pot centered here.
Daikon Radish on the side of the Broccoli plants are starting to mature
Found a chrysalis on the broccoli leaf! I snagged the leaf and took it indoors and placed it in an aerated jar, as a Biology instructional tool for homeschool!
Loquat blossoms, it's really early this year
Kumquats just about ready
The "Chard that won't quit", Daikon Radishes and some Spanish Black Radish in the pots

Monday, January 16, 2012

Annual Scion Exchange at the California Rare Fruit Growers Mtg!

I was very excited to go to the Annual Scion Exchange at the California Rare Fruit Growers meeting at the Arboretum. My Mom and I learned the basics of grafting. We also got a LOT of new types of scion cuttings! For peaches, we got Pilgrim, Eva's Pride,  Stark Saturn, Red Baron and also a Goldmine Nectarine. We got a Mutsu apple scion, and for persimmon, we got the Fuyu, as our tree is a Jiro(although the tag said Fuyu!) We also got some Chaya and Dragon Fruit cuttings along with a pink Amaryllis bulb. I also got a Cuban Oregano, which I've tried growing before, but it was killed by frost. Perhaps, I'll try to keep them alive like the Basil, keep them in a vase of water until the frost is over.

Chaya and Dragon Fruit cuttings along with a pink Amaryllis.
Chaya has some beneficial properties, but it must be cooked for at least 20 min to break the glucoside which can release the cyanide.

wikipedia: "Chaya is a good source of proteinvitaminscalcium, and iron; and is also a rich source of antioxidants.[8] However, raw chaya leaves are toxic as they contain a glucoside that can release toxic cyanide. Cooking is essential prior to consumption to inactivate the toxic components; in this chaya is similar tocassava, which also contains toxic hydrocyanic glycosides and must be cooked before being eaten."
Fortunately, I had a spare peach tree we had grown from seed, sitting in the back against the house, so I took it as an opportunity to practice this new-found knowledge! I grafted 8 branches with 4 varieties, 2 scions of each: Pilgrim, Eva's Pride, Stark Saturn(white fleshed, donut type), and Goldmine Nectarine. I'll do the Red Baron tomorrow. I hope at least some of them take! The peach tree we grew from seed is a mystery tree, it hasn't borne fruit yet as it is just turning 3 years this spring. In Japanese proverbs, they say, "Peach, Chestnut 3 years, Persimmon 8 years" 「桃栗3年柿8年」 So, we're hoping to get some blossoms this year from both peaches, this one and Alauria, the front yard peach, which we didn't touch for this grafting.

They showed us by using Medical Parafilm and wrapping that on the young scion-wood first (this keeps the scion from drying out), then cutting a wedge on the end of the scion, and making a cut on the parent plant and splitting the cut and shoving the wedge in and making sure the green live parts are matching, and taping it some more with the Parafilm. Once that's done, they told us to use a rubber band the split parent wood so that the joining tissues are tight. The tip they gave us about the Parafilm: "Don't cut holes out for the new buds when the graft takes! It will dessicate the scion and kill it! The new growth will push out without any help and by then the graft will be well established. The rubber band will fall apart on it's own about the same time as when the branch growth would need more expansion."

I'd like to hear your grafting tips, what works great for you and what doesn't. :-)

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

This is an OUTRAGE! Government punishing productive Hobby Farmer

Government punishing productive Hobby Farmer

"His crime is growing too many crops for the property’s zoning in Clarkston, GA."

Say WHAT????

"Miller is not an illegal alien, isn’t growing anything illegal, isn’t asking for government hand-outs or bail-outs, works with his own hands and skills on his own land to provide food for himself and others… so yeah, punishing the productive is the bullying government’s narrow path of action."

Everyone of you just trying to be good stewards out there, WE ARE IN DANGER of the same crime imposed on us!
We need to find a way to help him and fight this madness.  If you are trying to grow more food for health, or for the earth's health or both,  he is one of us.
So here it is! The hole for the grape vine!
After planting, and proud daddy.
Here's the opposite angle
Now for some backyard news: We decided to keep the Russets as they seemed to tolerate that nasty frost-kill much better and look how they've recoverd! I'm planning on planting another row of Russets and it'll be ready a bit later than these.
Mom cut half of the Feijoa Guava tree, since it's always blocking one of the beds and it's not a great fruiter. Or that the fruit will not be very tasty. It can produce as a compact bush, so we shall see this year.
The Guava tree is the same size as the fence now, on the ground you can see the cut branches
The bed closest to us is now a little more sunny. The middle front bed is growing Garlic and some Carrot seedlings. I just planted some lettuces as well. The far left front bed is growing Bulb Onions and Carrots. The back left bed has Spinach, Beets and Chard, although the latter 2 are still very small seedlings. The middle back bed has Bulb Onions that we started last year and some Lettuces. The right back bed has Daikon Radishes, one Chard plant that survived all torture, and Spanish Black Radish seedlings in pots waiting to be planted (not shown)
Lori found something in the orange tree, and was curious enough to climb a rock to take a closer look. Maybe it's a butterfly... I couldn't see it from the angle I was in, from the inside the house.  I thought it was interesting that the shadow on her face looks like a swallowtail butterfly with an extra long tail.

Indoor plants. These are the plants in our dining room window sill. The far left plant (it has a tiny 2" pot) is a Vanilla Orchid climbing on top of the flowering Christmas Cactus. I really have to repot that thing, but I've heard that orchids flower better under stress. Do you know anything about orchids? Next to the Cactus is a white Phalaenopsis.
We've decided to try the lazy way of preserving heat loving plants, taking the cuttings and keeping in them water, indoors.  The Blue Basil responded wonderfully with tons of new roots and is blossoming(it had small buds when I picked them)! The Sweet Potato was just started this week, so we'll see if they'll root. The far much has a leek and chinese celery bought from the store. I'm trying to see if they'll root so I can grow them and harvest seeds. These are the lazy ways of acquiring seeds or starting new plants. It WORKS! Raising Basil this way is by far the easiest. Instead of fiddling with tiny seeds that have a low germination rate, rooting the cuttings is almost a sure fire way. Plus, it's pretty in the window. :-)  These are sitting on the ledge of our front window. Lazy farming is the way to go when you have so many other chores to do around the house!

Monday, January 9, 2012

New Year's Plans, Goals & Dreams

Tim was able to dig and plant the Kyohou Grape vine in the front garden this weekend! (pics to come) Yaaaaay!!! This has been a long awaited event and I'm so glad he did so this weekend as the weather has been EXTREMELY HOT this past week, and I'm afraid if this keeps up, the trees will break dormancy. Now we can breath a short sigh of relief as this grape can grow to it's potential this year and hopefully produce a decent crop. (And maybe we can make grape juice or.....even wine!  Wine-making...sheesh...another project in itself!)

I've been pondering about what I want to accomplish this year in 2012.
In keeping with the self-reliance train of thought, I've always wanted to learn more about solar panels.
So, this year, I'd like to do just that: Learn how solar panels work and even make some.
They may be crude, but if it works, I can make them for a LOT less than if I were to purchase them from a vendor.
It'll also make for an excellent Science Project for my son's on-going homeschooling.
Plus, it's just RAD(ha! who uses that word anymore, right?) to know you have the "power", yes...cheesy pun intended.
So, hopefully by the end of the year, we'll figure out how to convert Photons into Electrons with charge!

Another goal I'd like to pursue, is to learn the ropes on selling some excess fruits from our garden at our local Farmer's Market.  I've never been business oriented, but we have plenty of fruit and if it helps our income, that would be AWESOME!

We're also planning on raising rabbits. You may be wondering, what for? As pets?
Well...we're trying to figure that one too. We are all city-slickers. We've never been raised on a farm (including my mom). So raising animals for meat does make us somewhat queasy.  So, we're going to raise them initially, then decide if we have the "guts" (oh no, another pun) to do the dirty work.
Meanwhile, they do make excellent manures that can be used almost immediately in the gardens, since they are not as "hot" as poultry or cow manures. If we feed them to the worms, it would make the richest soil EVER as well.

If push comes to shove on food becoming scarce, we have a backup plan for a protein source.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Harvest Updates: Jan 4th, 2012

Here's some Mitsuba about to be thrown into the hotpot full of veggies and thinly sliced pork, right before we eat!

Chayotes and a Valencia Orange
Baby Broccoli and the last eggplant
our first ever Luffa (not for eatin'!) for scrubbing dishes with. :-)
Avocados were gifted by Tim's brother, from his dwarf Haas tree. Thanks!
Another gift, apples from a home garden
Our lettuce greens
Our seasonal fruits: Guava, Orange and a bit of Strawberries. The Strawberries are a treat, since they don't produce much at all this time of year.
Now for some root crops: This one is a harvest of Sunchokes
Sweet Potatoes of variety
Below are some very tiny baby potatoes, we decided that the red potatoes were beyond saving after the frost kill. The long tubers are Gobo, or Burdock.
More lettuce
Dandelion Greens
Tree Collard
And a load of Navel Oranges we gave away.