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Category: Food

Ramps

by Robinson

I have heard lots about eating ramps ever since I started paying attention to some food blogs this spring (I love Food in Jars and envy the genius of the blog title). I found G-N Ramp Farm, the world’s only ramp farm, online and might just order a pound for planting next spring to go with my planned stand of ferns for foraging fiddleheads. I have to wonder though, how do ramps fare around black walnuts?

Plant Guilds

by Robinson

Food Desert Locator

by Robinson

Crock-Pot Yogurt | The Girls’ Guide to Guns and Butter

by Robinson

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I adore this blog (especially the name) and plan to try out these instructions for both the yogurt and the ricotta in the near future!

Tomatofest **UPDATE**

by Robinson

UPDATE: I just checked my mini-greenhouse. There are sprouts in nearly all of the cells!

I decided on a whim to try and start some tomatoes from seed. I’m taking a big gamble on some OLD seeds my mom gave me from Tomatofest. I seeded each cell pretty heavily hoping at least one seed in each will take off.

I included black cherry, orange strawberry, brandywine, and flamme (supposed to be good for sauces and eating). I’m trying to show some restraint and develop some balance in our garden this summer.

http://www.tomatofest.com/index.html

They also have some interesting, water efficient container instructions here.

Inside Out Berries

by Scott Smith

I love this video on the Eleagnus family I’m planning on adding to the property from “FeralKevin.”

Inside Out Berries

His website has a lot of great informational stuff, and I especially love the one of him eating ants off of his artichokes.

Black Walnut

by Scott Smith

I’ve decided to give up on trying to force a spot that does not want to be a traditional vegetable garden a traditional vegetable garden. For three seasons I’ve struggled to make a spot work that doesn’t want to do the work I’m asking of it. Each season I blame myself for not enough time to weed, not enough attention to irrigation, just generally not enough commitment to the garden. But I’ve neglected other gardens and been rewarded with abundance none the less.

This evening I’ve been thinking about the patch of black walnuts not far from the top of the bed (the garden is on a slope). I started thinking about them because while I’m giving up on the traditional vegetable patch in that spot I’m not giving up on that particular spot providing me with some food. I want to plant a fruit tree at the top of the bed and maybe some berries below that. Knowing that not everything will grow amongst the juglone producing roots of the black walnut I made a mental note to look up the varieties with which I might be successful. When I did my google search I had that “aha” moment.

Turns out, the plants that do poorly in the root zone of black walnuts are pretty much all of the plants I’ve been asking to grow in that area. Tomatoes are particularly susceptible. The most success I’ve had with tomatoes here have been the ones planted furthest away from the walnut trees. My asparagus does beautifully, but is also planted well outside the drip line of the trees. While I knew vaguely about the juglone, I wasn’t considering how large the root systems of those trees might be. So next year, the traditional tomatoes, zucchini, peas, and eggplant will have to find a new home (maybe I will mix some among the perennials like I’ve considered doing in the past and keep a small patch right outside the back door).

My plan for the edges of the black walnut patch is to plant a cherry tree – two if I decide on dwarf or semi-dwarf varieties and some transplanted black raspberries. If I have the space I’d like to fit in a serviceberry as well. I don’t want to rid my property of mature trees, so I’m stuck with at least a few [black walnuts] up near the house but I may also go ahead and thin out a couple of the smaller trees to reduce the amount of juglone in the soil.

Black Walnut: The Killer Tree
The Wild Vegetarian Cookbook

Useful Info

by Scott Smith

I get this email newsletter from Dr. Mercola. I don’t remember signing up for it, but I’m sure I did at some point. I usually glance through it and delete it, but today I read How the Government is Causing the Global Food Crisis. Among several tips to use your dollars to avoid being a part of it is this:

Look at Produce Stickers. The PLU code for conventionally grown fruit consists of four numbers, organically grown fruit has five numbers prefaced by the number 9, and GM fruit has five numbers prefaced by the number 8.

I read labels and try to buy as much organic food as possible. I now have a useful tool for avoiding genetically modified crops.

Salmonella Hot Pepper?

by Scott Smith

Can a jalapeƱo pepper really be the culprit for a salmonella outbreak? I mean, the little buggers have antibiotic properties and I’ve read that, in very large doses, some peppers even have antiviral properties.

And anyway, as Scott pointed out, how can one be sure what is happening to them is the salmonella or the pepper?

The Pears of Lives Past

by Scott Smith

The very first house I owned as an adult was in Wabash, Indiana. It was built just before the Great Depression and had been quickly sectioned off to make the upstairs a rentable apartment. We were the first people to own it not direct descendants of the original builders. The house and yard were a mess but there were a couple of fruit trees. There was a Transparent Apple that was a prolific producer in spite of much neglect from previous tenants and no care from me. I was too ignorant to appreciate what I had until I described the early drop of the apples, overripe in late July and the mushy texture to an elderly woman at Garden Club. She explained to me that what I had was an heirloom, a treasure that not many were graced with anymore. Of course, the next year, when I was ready for a harvest the tree produced nothing as if to spite me for my inability to appreciate her goodness. The year after that we (Madeleine on my hip, Coleman in the womb) were off to Indianapolis.

The greatest treasure that yard contained, in my opinion, was a pear tree that most people would have cut down. Most of the trunk was rotted. I remember examining it to see what was keeping the top alive and found a section of the trunk that was about an inch or 2 in diameter. That tree wanted to live. We left it alone and were rewarded with the most delicious pears I have ever tasted in my life. They were tart and sweet and rich with a texture like butter and the juice ran down your chin no matter how neatly you tried to eat them. Even canned they retained that indescribable sweet-tartness that I’ve never found a match for. That was about 15 years ago and my mouth still waters when I think about them. Of course, there was no one to tell me what variety of Pear that was and while I look through catalog offerings of all manner of heirloom pears, I know I will never find the right one.

We have a pear tree here that produces like a trooper, but it cannot satisfy my desire for a truly delicious pear. The texture is grainier, the flavor is watered down… They are merely adequate. I want something spectacular.