It’s Garden Time!

We did It!!

We did It!!

Now is the time to start planning and planting you summer and fall harvest and your medicine cabinet for the year.  Yep, that’s right, you can plant a lot of the medicinal foods that will help keep you healthy year round, how’s that for a health plan?!

Last weekend Dana and I recruited my sister Elise and her boyfriend Dan to help us prepare the garden for the growing season.  Jen and Jeff at Green Meads Farm in Richmond, MA have once again generously loaned us some of their prime farmland.  Last year we accidentally killed our whole garden by using contaminated mulch.  It was free mulch, so at least we didn’t pay to ruin our garden, but still, I really missed having a garden last year.  So I was really excited to get out in the sunshine last Saturday with the horses in the paddock and everyone in the garden, including three dogs and at least one field mouse!

We started by ripping up all the weeds, by the roots, there were quite a few burdock plants and a lot of invasive comfrey too.  Comfrey is an awesome medicinal plant so plant it in a pot or somewhere it can safely take over if you want to grow some.  Once the whole area was cleared, Jeff used his tractor to bring in manure which we raked out evenly from edge to edge.  Dana used the rototiller to turn over the top layer of soil and the rest of us broke down all the cardboard boxes we’d saved up.  Cardboard is a great ground cover to keep weeds at bay, it biodegrades after a year or so,  it’s free and minimally processed.  Make sure to remove any staples and tape from the cardboard, and don’t use anything with lots of printing on it.

We laid the cardboard out in one big layer and then covered it with a lot of hay.  Once that was done, we gave everything a good soak with the hose to make sure the cardboard would start to break down and the wet hay was heavy enough that it wasn’t going to blow away in the wind.  Then of course it was time to relax and enjoy the afternoon sunshine!

Dana and I will be back on Sunday to plant some starts, we’ll pick up a bunch from Jaeschke’s in Pittsfield.  For more exciting heirloom varieties we get seeds from Johnny’s Seeds in Maine.  Here’s the short list of what we are going to plant:

Cabbages: easy to grow, easy to care for and you can turn your harvest into sauerkraut, which you can enjoy all winter long!

Lettuce and spinach: nothing like picking salad greens straight from the garden!  Plant spinach again once the warmest months have passed and enjoy another harvest.

Winterbor Kale:  as the name suggests this kale will keep on producing long into the colder months and sometimes through the winter!  Fresh garden greens in November?  Sign me up!

Herbs:  fresh basil is so delicious but you can also turn it into pesto which freezes well so you can enjoy it, you guessed it, all winter long!  We usually grow a few varieties of basil including Tulsi or Holy Basil which can be dried and used for tea.  Tulsi is an adaptogen that supports digestion, respiratory health and is very soothing when you feel stressed out.  I also love to grow lots of parsley and rosemary.  Herbs grow easily in pots and are perfect for your sunny porch.

Flowers:  sunflowers are easy to grow in all sizes and colors and you can harvest the seeds to eat or hang the heads to dry for an instant bird feeder.  Grow what you love and encourage the bees to visit and pollinate your garden.

Happy planting everyone!

 

 

Broccoli Fritters and A Garden Update

Ok, how about the garden update first and then the recipe for Broccoli Fritters that John found for me on Smitten Kitchen (love the name and the recipes, thank you thank you!).

Our garden at Green Meads Farm in Richmond is growing like crazy; veggies, weeds and that invasive comfrey too.  Last night Dana and I harvested carrots, lots and lots of lettuce: baby romaine, red sails and black seeded simpson as well as spinach, it doesn’t like the heat but it’s hangin’ in there.  Here’s a shot of the garden, the back third is still pretty much all weeds but we’re doing what we can with our hand tools.

There are a couple of hops plants in the foreground and off to the right with our 5 veggie and herb beds in the middle.

Dana harvested a bunch of Holy Basil and is drying it inside on some old print screens Crispina donated to us a few years back, can’t wait to make tea with it!

Holy Basil!

We have been eating salad non stop since the weather turned and I think in about a week or so we’ll be picking chard and kale.  Can’t wait to make these broccoli fritters with our home grown broccoli in another few weeks!  Here’s the recipe from Smitten Kitchen, I only changed one thing: the flour.  Her recipe calls for a half cup of regular wheat flour which easily swaps out for 1/2 cup of chick pea flour or about 2 tablespoons of coconut flour.  Enjoy!

Smitten Kitchen’s Broccoli Fritters

“There’s a lot of broccoli and very little pancake in this fritter. The broccoli is not grated or pureed, but left in small, recognizable bits that are bound lightly, faintly, to their batter of egg, parmesan and flour. And when you cook them right — that is, to a crisp, in a preheated, heavy, oil-slicked skillet — they get a fantastic crisp edge to them.

To serve: I like these with a dollop of the garlicky lemon yogurt I share here, roughly 1 cup plain yogurt, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 1 tiny minced clove of garlic, a bit of zest and salt. It would also be good with this homemade ricotta, with or without additional lemon juice. They’re also good simply, with just a squeeze of lemon juice. I think I’d also enjoy them with a little crumbled feta on top. Oh, and of course, you can put a runny fried egg on top of it. But I don’t need to tell you that.

Yield: nine 2 to 2 1/2-inch fritters

8 ounces (1 small-to-medium bundle, 225 grams) fresh broccoli (3 cups chopped)
1 large egg
1/2 cup (65 grams) chick pea flour or for almost no carbs at all, 1-2 Tablespoons coconut flour
1/3 cup (30 grams) finely grated parmesan cheese
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
A pinch of red pepper flakes or several grinds of black pepper
Olive, coconut or vegetable oil for frying

Prepare your broccoli: Separate the florets from the biggest stem(s). Cut the florets into 1-inch chunks. To prepare the stems, I like to peel them, as the skin can be thick and doesn’t cook quickly, then slice them into 1/2-inch lengths. You should have about 3 cups of chopped broccoli total.

Steam your broccoli until tender but not mushy: Use whatever method you prefer. My quickie, lazy method is to bring a 1/2-inch or so of water to a boil in a small saucepan, then add the broccoli, place a lid on it and simmer it for 5 to 6 minutes. Drain the broccoli, then set it aside to cool slightly.

In the bottom of a large bowl, lightly beat your egg. Add the chick pea or coconut flour, cheese, garlic, salt and pepper. Then, add the somewhat cooled broccoli and, using a potato masher, mash the broccoli just a bit. You’re looking to keep the bits recognizable, but small enough (1/4- to 1/2-inch chunks) that you can press a mound of the batter into a fritter in the pan. Once mashed a bit, stir or fold the ingredients together the rest of the way with a spoon. Adjust seasonings to taste.  If it seems like there is not enough batter simply whip up another egg, add some more grated cheese, it’s a pretty flexible recipe!

Heat a large, heavy skillet over moderate heat. Once hot, add a good slick of oil (I usually use a mix of olive and vegetable oil), about 2 to 3 tablespoons. Once the oil is hot (you can test it by flicking a droplet of water into it; it should hiss and sputter), scoop a two tablespoon-size mound of the batter and drop it into the pan, then flatten it slightly with your spoon or spatula. Repeat with additional batter, leaving a couple inches between each. Once brown underneath, about 2 to 3 minutes, flip each fritter and cook on the other side until equally golden, about another 1 to 2 minutes.

Transfer briefly to paper towels to drain, then to a serving plate if you’ll be eating them shortly or a baking sheet in a 200 degree oven if you’d like to keep them warm for a while until needed. Repeat with remaining batter, adding more oil as needed. Serve with some of the suggestions listed in the head notes, above.”  Freezes and reheats well so make a big batch and save some for later!