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Celt M. Schira's Blog (66)

Celt's Garden - California Dreaming in a Drought

It's time to pull out the seed starting trays. Onions, scallions, tomatoes, and perennial herbs first, then as March gets on, Asian green stuff, salad greens, brassicas and flowers. Some delicious green stuff, such as spinach, is essentially water. Water that is becoming expensive and possibly unavailable to California farmers. Even the cute plastic bags of organic salad greens are water piped hundreds of miles from rivers, sprayed on 10,000 acre lettuce patches in the desert and then…


Added by Celt M. Schira on February 24, 2014 at 7:10pm — 2 Comments

Here's a Guy in Texas Hanging on with Native Grasses

This rancher is managing his cattle by managing his forage of native grasses. It's working for him. It's interesting that he has only 200 head of beef cattle and he's making a profit. Usually cattle operations in Texas are much bigger. It supports my theory about small business, that there are many sweet spots at different scales. it's all about making it work at a scale that is comfortable for you.

A Stubborn…


Added by Celt M. Schira on April 6, 2013 at 11:25am — No Comments

Celt's Garden - Thoughtful essay on urban agriculture in Boston

" The third reason, she said, is that we’re paying more attention to the structure of our cities. Rust Belt cities that formerly relied on manufacturing, such as Detroit and Cleveland, “were in a state of utter catastrophic fall.” The land in Detroit is relatively inexpensive because there is no market for it, Tumber said, making agriculture a viable use. Another appeal of urban farming is that “people are losing confidence in the food system,” Ladner said. They are “realizing how perilous…


Added by Celt M. Schira on December 22, 2012 at 11:30am — No Comments

Celt's Garden - Gardening as Self-Unemployment Insurance

The single mother in New York City told her story to the NY Times: She's a self-employed writer, illustrator and marketing materials designer. She lives modestly with her two half grown boys in a tiny apartment. "Sometimes, my clients pay late. Sometimes, they don't pay at all." She relies on the food bank to get through the month, especially that last grim week. All of which just highlights how difficult subsistence activities are in a tiny apartment in the middle of NYC, dependent on cash…


Added by Celt M. Schira on November 12, 2012 at 9:30am — No Comments

Celt's Garden - Four Hundred Pounds of Potatoes!

That's right, four hundred pounds of potatoes from 400 row feet with 33 pounds of seed potatoes. Which sounds very organized, but actually it was 15 different varieties and the yields were highly variable. German Butterball, 5 pounds of seed potatoes, over 60 pounds harvest. That's the second year of stellar performance. Krista and I got the same result last year in our variety trials. The German Butterballs also had the most gaps in the row, so the yield was from 2/3 of the plants. I think…


Added by Celt M. Schira on October 26, 2012 at 9:30am — No Comments

Celt's Garden - Squirrel Time

It's time to run around like crazed squirrels. Summer's bounty is upon us. Trim those herb bushes and dry them ASAP, as they may winter kill if cut back any later. Dry, pickle, and freeze the excess from your garden. All sorts of random fruits and veg can be dehydrated with an electric dehydrator: blueberries, prune plums, green zucchini slices (the yellow dries to vile due to its gourd ancestry), small young winter squash slices,  green beans, broccoli leaves, mushrooms, green onions,…


Added by Celt M. Schira on September 5, 2012 at 12:00pm — No Comments

Celt's Garden - Time to Plant Your Winter Garden and WSU Mt. Vernon Research Update

Summer having barely arrived, it's time to plant the winter garden that will sustain us through fall, winter and early spring next year. Summer gardens are mostly fruits: zucchini, tomatoes, green beans, cucumbers. Cool season gardens are mostly leaves and a few roots: carrots, beets, cabbage, bok choi, chicory, hardy lettuce, parsley, leeks, kale, radishes. It's OK to start with purchased starts. Look for varieties that say suitable for fall planting, or have "fall" or "winter" in the name.…


Added by Celt M. Schira on July 18, 2012 at 1:34pm — No Comments

Celt's Garden - Food From Around Here

The Winter of Eating Locally just sort of happened around my house. No plans, no resolutions, no rules about only sourcing from within the state or 100 miles, no soul searching about coffee or bread wheat, no life changing decisions. It was life changing anyway. The Winter of Eating Locally was a by product of a great gardening year followed by a long season of underemployment. Good thing that I planted a winter garden.

In addition to my home garden, Krista Rome (the Bean…


Added by Celt M. Schira on March 11, 2012 at 2:00pm — 5 Comments

Celt's Garden - Hamster Does Taxes Redux

Tax time is here again. Many people have already filed and already received a refund. A large number have filed and wonder where their refund is. The short answer is... delayed. The IRS put out the word that they wanted everybody to e-file. Mostly, folks did. The computers promptly crashed and the IRS is still digging out. 

Refunds go to people who paid too much in taxes, or to people who are due what is called a refundable credit, a credit that exceeds the tax paid in. The major…


Added by Celt M. Schira on February 27, 2012 at 10:00pm — No Comments

Celt's Garden - Reverse Planning Your Cooking

The garden catalogs are arriving, seducing the gardener with glossy food pornography of next year's harvest. Now is the time to sit down with pencil and paper, recipe notes and old shopping lists and think through what you are going to eat next year. We are conditioned to think in terms of a week's shopping. Stop for a moment and think of a year's eating. Most people have family favorite dishes, repeated several times throughout the year.

What do you need to grow to have the makings…


Added by Celt M. Schira on December 19, 2011 at 2:30pm — No Comments

Celt's Garden - Cook vs. Free Range Bird

In my childhood, people the age that I am now would double over at rubber chicken jokes. Some geezer on the Art Linkletter show would pull out a rubber chicken, a lovingly painted rubber likeness of a plucked and eviscerated chicken with the head and feet still attached, and my greying babysitter and her skinnny sister would start laughing. Merely waving the chicken around would cause them to have difficulty holding on to their glasses of beer (no lady drinks beer out of the bottle.) With…


Added by Celt M. Schira on November 28, 2011 at 2:30pm — No Comments

Celt's Garden - Bellingham Blue Sweet Corn

Bellingham Blue corn was given its name by the elder who showed up at the First Annual Bellingham Seed Swap in 2009 and shared the treasure that he had saved in his backyard for decades. It's blue, a deep blue-black, it's small (the ears are 3" - 7" long), and it grows on bushy 4' - 5' plants with 2-3 ears per plant. The blue tastes a bit different from white or yellow sweet corns. Bellingham Blue is early, always a good trait in corn in these parts, and it's open-pollinated, so you can save…


Added by Celt M. Schira on November 1, 2011 at 3:00pm — 5 Comments

Celt's Garden - Hard Cider and Brew Sludge Bread

Time to get the winter squash in. Collect the squash, wash them off, and then go over each squash completely with a wash cloth soaked in clean water with a little bleach added. Allow your squash to air dry and store in a single layer, not touching. They keep well at cool room temperature, 50 - 60 degrees F. Eat in reverse order of keeping qualities. Check the seed catalog or on line. The small C. pepos don't keep as well as the big C. maximas, so plan on Sugar Baby pumpkin pie and baked…


Added by Celt M. Schira on October 12, 2011 at 1:00pm — 3 Comments

Celt's Garden - Community Emergency Readiness is All About Attitude

It took quite a while to get the fake blood out of my hair. Then I went out and planted the winter garden in the gathering gloom of approaching heavy weather. It's late, I should have planted turnips, beets and rutabegas in August, but it didn't work before. The deer ate it, dry gardening doesn't work on roots around here, take that Steve Solomon, I was unable to keep the little sprouts that I replanted watered, which just demonstrates the limits of my capability to keep it all together. If…


Added by Celt M. Schira on September 25, 2011 at 6:30pm — No Comments

Celt's Garden - Adventures in Microfarming

I have moved up from nano-farming. I am now learning micro-farming. Like all transitions, it has its moments. Eating snow peas off the vine was a good one. Breaking into the first row of potatoes and coming home with the best, freshest potatoes ever, that was great. Half a bucket of fresh snap beans to share with my family and friends, yah. Most of the moments so far have been intangible joys: Navajo Grey squash swelling on the vines, corn tasseling, soup peas in exuberant bloom, looking…


Added by Celt M. Schira on August 5, 2011 at 12:30pm — No Comments

Celt's Garden - Fried Radishes for Breakfast and Other Tales of the Recession

I'm becoming quite partial to fried radishes for breakfast, particularly the big fat ones that get a bit hot for fresh eating. Slice radishes thinly, saute in a little oil until translucent and the edges begin to brown, drop in a couple of scrambled eggs, top with green onions and slivers of chilies. Serve with a side of warmed leftover beans. For low cholesterol eating, skip the eggs. Fried radishes out of the the garden are sweet and juicy. Radishes are a frequent volunteer in my garden. A…


Added by Celt M. Schira on July 9, 2011 at 10:30am — No Comments

Celt's Garden - What does growing 10% of your food look like?

Walter Haugen from F.A. Farm recently said that he was on a farmer's panel and the current trend is to encourage everybody to grow 5, 10 or 15% of their own food. That's a goal which is totally doable, although if a lot of people get serious about it, a whole bunch of little scraps of lawn all over town will disappear under potato patches and square foot gardens. Even a modest number of people producing 5-15% of their own food will change the visual character of…


Added by Celt M. Schira on May 29, 2011 at 8:00pm — 5 Comments

Celt's Garden - What's a Fanning Mill and Why Do We Need One?

Great question. A fanning mill is a winnowing machine. Winnowing is the step of cleaning the grain to separate the considerable chaff, dust, weed seeds and whatnot from what you want to eat. Winnowing is done after the thresher knocks the grains loose from the head. The most basic technology for winnowing is the shallow baskets that can be seen in traditional Chinese paintings of pretty girls tossing the rice harvest up and down in a breeze. This gets old, I'm just here to tell…


Added by Celt M. Schira on May 7, 2011 at 9:00pm — 4 Comments

Celt's Garden - Hamster Does Taxes

There are three Volunteer Income Tax Assistance sites in Bellingham this year that I know about. AARP is running one at the Central Library. There is a site at Western buried in Parks Hall, run by the Business School. Gotta love em for doing it, even with Western's Parking Zombie Patrol. Don't bother parking on campus, take the bus. They don't have enough business at the WWU site, while the Central Library has a line out the door. The third site is Monday and Tuesday evenings and Friday…


Added by Celt M. Schira on March 1, 2011 at 2:00pm — 1 Comment

Celt's Garden - Sacred Carbohydrates in the Fourth Corner

Our relationship with our staple carbohydrates is celebrated in story, song, prayer, myth, family traditions and local recipes. Food is so intertwined with culture that it is impossible to discuss food without bringing up culture. What may be less obvious, surrounded by 1500 mile Caesar salads and take out Chinese food, is that the sacred carbohydrates are…


Added by Celt M. Schira on December 17, 2010 at 3:00pm — 3 Comments

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