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Cilantro Up!

March 24, 2012


Hey Girl…

March 8, 2012

I love this so much!

Now this is a meme I can get behind!



First Seedlings: Cabbages

February 21, 2012

They’re here! These little cabbages just emerged, and I’m very excited. The first seedlings of the year are always a cause for celebration.

cabbage seedlings

I’ve never grown cabbage, nor onions and celery, which are in nearby trays.

I have 20 cabbage seeds started: 10 Copenhagen Market and 10 Chinese.

Have you started any seeds yet? Are you growing cabbage this year?

The Great Backyard Wheat Experiment

February 14, 2012

OK, it’s not that great. It’s actually pretty small.

This is wheat, planted in early October.

red winter wheat

It’s a small supply of hard red winter wheat berries raked into the soil.

back yard wheat patch

What I find interesting is the punch of green, even in the dead of winter.

I have no idea what’s going to happen. Will it come out of dormancy in the spring and produce an early summer crop?

If you’ve been reading for a while, you may remember the first time I tried planting wheat. Sadly, that experiment was short-lived because we moved. These seeds come from that same supply.

Many of you are coming to The Suburban Farm because you want to know more about growing wheat in your yard. Have you tried? I hope you’ll share your experiences.

How Cold is It?

February 10, 2012

How do you know when it’s cold? Like, really cold?

When the rhododendron’s leaves are curled.

curled rhododendron leaves

This is more fun than looking at my thermometer.

rhododendron full

It was 23-degrees Fahrenheit when I took these photos. The leaves open up when the sun warms them.

Here’s a little bit of reading on this thermotropic phenomenon. Interestingly, it’s an indicator of  leaf temperature, not the air temperature. A good explanation for why the leaves relax in sunlight, despite the persistence of low air temperature.

Do you pay attention to rhododendron leaf curling? What other plant phenomenon do you find interesting?

It’s OK to Get Dirty

February 7, 2012

Last night I read something that made a lot of sense:

The soil biota may affect human health. A 2007 study by Christopher Lowry and Graham Rook suggests a reason why gardening feels so good: a bacterium naturally found in soil, Mycobacterium vaccae, stimulates the human immune system to release serotonin. This hormone is used in antidepressants increase feelings of well-being. Some scientists even believe that our ever-increasing desire for cleanliness and our distance from farming activities are leading to health problems such as asthma and allergies. Perhaps doctors will prescribe gardening for a healthy life.

-Sarah Hayden Reichard, The Conscientious Gardener.

carrots pulled from the soil

Now I won’t feel awkward when I show up somewhere with dirt under my nails. You know the kind, that dirt that stains your hands and refuses to be scrubbed away.

Dig in! For your own health’s sake.

Good Food Begins Early

February 6, 2012

I have two small children, and I involve them in the garden as much as I can. Aside from letting my four-year-old pore over seed catalogs with me and giving him projects that involve dirt, I keep it simple. Have fun, make it part of the everyday, and good food will come naturally.

One everyday thing I like to do is make homemade baby food. Even if the food didn’t come from our garden, it’s still an easy everyday thing. Or every other day. Once per week?

We’re busy and both work full-time, and aren’t shy about cracking open a store-bought jar of organic peas or squash and lentils. But, if there’s time, breaking out the blender is an easy option.

I pick simple fruits and vegetables to make into baby food. If you have a steamer and blender, you can make baby food. You don’t even need those things. A pot, some water, and a fork will do.

peeled sweet potato

Peel it. Compost it.

steamed sweet potato

Steam it.

blender sweet potato

Blend it. Add a little cooking water from the steam pot.

velvety sweet potatoes

Like velvet!

11 oz homemade baby food

One medium sweet potato yields 11 oz. of baby food.

If you’re keeping track of costs, that’s about $3 worth of store-bought baby food jars for the price of one potato (approximately $1.30).

Not only is it cost-efficient, but I can guarantee the ingredients, including whether it’s organic. When it’s food I’m growing, I can also guarantee the source.

Bigger batches can be frozen, and smaller batches can live in the refrigerator in small containers or recycled baby food jars. Our daycare loves it, too.

Do you make your own baby food? How do you involve children in good food?

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