December 05, 2013
When I wake up to a rock-solid frozen world as happened today, I know my winged garden visitors will appreciate it if I fill frozen bird baths for them. Sure, they’ll peck at frost covered leaves and rooftops, but there isn’t much in the way of liquid water to slake their thirst. And this week, as cold air from the North Pole continues to seep southward into much of the US, there’s little likelihood they’ll find much liquid in the neighborhood. Even ponds at sea level are beginning to freeze up around here — not a common occurrence.
So, in addition to providing seed and other bits of food to supplement their diets, I add fresh water to our basalt dish stone bird bath. Weeks ago, I stored ceramic and glass dishes that are otherwise out for the birds. These have a tendency to crack or just plain shatter during a freeze — especially if they’re filled with water. But the frozen rock isn’t as likely to break in cold weather — even if it has contact with water. Sure, over time rocks do break, but this one has held together for who knows how many hundreds of years, so I’m trusting it’ll continue to do so.
Still, I take care when I melt the ice that froze over night.
To provide the birds with some liquid refreshment, I pour cold tap water over the ice. I focus the slow stream into the center of the ice, which is thickest. By using cold rather than hot water, I reduce the risk of a rapid, crack-inducing temperature change. Plus, when it’s 20F outside, cold tap water is relatively warm. So, adding it will defrost a bit of the giant ice cube resting in the bird bath.
Tomorrow, after another below-freezing day and way-below-freezing night, everything will refreeze, so I’ll be adding in a little bit more water again.
Today, the birds will drink and maybe even take a quick, chilly dip to refresh themselves during this very dry, very cold time of year.
December 02, 2013
As the sun was rising this chilly December morning, I was gathering our last, tender edible garden harvest morsels from our beds. While I was out there, I could feel the temperature dropping as frigid air seeped southward. The rising sun did little more than give a sense of warmth to the dawn.
It was time to harvest like a brute before the arctic air turns everything above ground into blackened mush. If you haven’t gotten out to reap what remains, you probably have a few more hours. But when the temperatures drop into the 30s…and then the 20s…and then stay there day after day after day for the foreseeable future, there’s little hope your more tender greens will survive exposed to the elements.
Take a tour of how we harvested, what we left behind (protected or not), and what we’ll be eating from the garden in the days ahead…
My dear friend Willi Galloway’s fantastic book Grow Cook Eat has a lot to say about Fava Beans — including recipes for how to eat any tips you might snip to eat. And Favas aren’t the only edible she’s got covered in this — one of our favorite — books on growing food & eating from your garden. Get your copy here!
November 26, 2013
It’s that time again to talk about Thanksgiving herbs in the garden! We’re digging through our garden beds, foraging for herbs and other edible bits to serve on our Thanksgiving table. It looks like our yet-to-really-freeze garden will easily yield a bounty of fresh herbs to season our turkey, stuffing, and no-tater-mash, which will include freshly dug sunchokes from our beds.
Too, our garden has enjoyed a light brush with with frost, which has sweetened carrots that continue to grow. But, the chill hasn’t bothered baby greens flourishing in our Hugelkultur cold frame. Those will be extra tasty as our first course.
Before you put “poultry seasoning” on your last minute grocery list, consider our list below of what your garden may already have growing to flavor your holiday meal. (more…)
Looking for ways to use up summer’s bountiful zucchini & summer squash harvest? Try our options for freezing your crops & enjoying them in lower carbohydrate latkes come Hannukah (or anytime)!
Original article published 8/23/2012
When I played garden sitter for a friend last weekend, I was rewarded with a big harvest of veggies. If I’d left them intact, much of her garden would stop producing soon. So, I picked half a gallon of cherry tomatoes, a few green beans and a couple of enormous zucchini. That was the same day our CSA box came with zucchini and the same day our patty pan squash started coming in. So, what to do with all those extras?
Freeze them, of course!
One of our favorite ways to eat zucchini is to whip them into zucchini latkes. There are loads of recipes out there for making these; our recipe follows. What’s common to those I know is calling for shredded zucchini, so that’s how I prepped our squash for freezing.
I began by shredding the zucchini with a grating blade in the food processor. For the older, tougher fruits, I peeled them first and removed any larger seeds inside. Then, I blanched the shredded bits in boiling water for about 3 minutes. Immediately after cooking, I drained the zucchini and plunged it into ice water to stop the cooking. Then, I drained it to remove a lot of the moisture. (Next time, I plan to put the cooked bits into a clean tea towel and squeeze out even more moisture).
Because the cooked and shredded zucchini was so wet and because we only use about a cup or two at a time when cooking, I had to come up with a way to pre-freeze it in globs before vacuum sealing them for longer storage.
My solution: fill muffin tins with about a cup of the zucchini. Pop the tray in the freezer for several hours to harden. When these “freezer muffins” were hard, they easily popped out of the tray. Then, I vacuum sealed them for the deep freeze.
In winter, I’ll need to defrost the clumps and then wring them out before cooking up our new favorite latkes.
Zucchini Latkes Hagbert Style
These tasty cakes cook up quick! Serve them with a tomato side salad or bit of guacamole and salsa for a fast, delicious breakfast, brunch or even dinner.
1 garlic clove, crushed with sea salt
1 small onion, minced
1/4 cup flax seed meal
1 cup shredded zucchini (moisture removed by wringing it out in a tea towel)
salt & pepper (to taste)
olive or coconut oil
Combine onion, garlic, zucchini, eggs, flax seed meal and a bit of salt and pepper.
Warm 1 teaspoon of oil in frying pan over medium-high heat.
Scoop about 1/4 cup of mixture and add to hot oil, pressing down lightly with a spatula to spread out and create a pancake form. Fry on each side until crispy. Before removing from pan, be sure to confirm the interior is cooked through.
Add additional oil to the pan, as needed to fry additional batches.
November 24, 2013
It’s easy to DIY bird feeders using scraps from your kitchen and your garden. Here’s how I created a bird feeding station that had hungry chickadees, sparrows & towhees bellying up to the counter within an hour of the time I hung these tasty treats made from by-products of cooking our meals and detritus from the garden.
I also hung a few smaller cones, slathered with nut butter and rolled in seeds. The cones were yard waste, but the nut butter and seeds were fresh from the pantry, so those don’t totally count in the recycling world. But, the birds really love them. If I can catch a shot of the birds on them, I’ll try to share them later.
So far the squirrels (and rats) haven’t found them. Our hope is that by putting out only a little at a time, the songbirds will polish them off long before any rodents get a chance to take a bite.
November 22, 2013
This frigid Friday morning, I captured a few garden photos to illustrate what happens in the garden and in our view when the night temperatures dip into the 20F’s & the sky is clear & sunny at the break of dawn.