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Celt M. Schira's Blog (66)

Celt's Garden - Local Eating in Winter

It wants to be temperate rain forest around here. Winter is when the pioneer dandelions, dock, and blackberries get on with the job of reestablishing the forest. When a break in the weather lines up with some time you aren't at work at your day job, it's an opportunity to run out and weed your winter garden and perennials. Onions and garlic are particularly poor competitors with weeds. Your overwintering beets, turnips, radishes, cabbages, brussels sprouts and your perennials are next. The beds… Continue

Added by Celt M. Schira on December 4, 2010 at 1:00pm — 3 Comments

Celt's Garden - Hamster's Holiday Tips

After a holiday is a great time to stock up on staples. Snarf around at local supermarkets and grocery outlets and see what you can find. Whole wheat pastry flour, olive oil, shelled nut meats (freeze, they go rancid quickly), molasses, spices, winter squash, often a great deal on chocolate chips and whole frozen birds, especially if the bird has been dropped on the floor. Allow the bird to defrost in the refrigerator until it is thawed just enough to cut up. It will keep better if it doesn't… Continue

Added by Celt M. Schira on November 27, 2010 at 8:00pm — 1 Comment

Celt's Garden - Garden Dreams and Pumpkin Soup

The glossy garden pornography has started to arrive. The Pinetree catalog was first. Pinetree sells small packets for modest sums, with a good selection of heirloom varieties and a focus on small-space gardeners. Best to start with a garden plan. Then the catalogs are more of a reference and less of a temptation. Inside on a snowy day, we can dream and plan next year's garden. Now is the time to think about adding a raised bed, or putting in a trellis, perhaps some herbs in pots. What worked… Continue

Added by Celt M. Schira on November 23, 2010 at 5:30pm — No Comments

Celt's Garden - Gingerbread and Apple Muffins

Time to fire up the sprouter. If you don't have a sprouter, Terra Organica sells a set of three cheerfully colored plastic lids for a widemouth canning jar, with holes of different sizes for alfalfa seed through soy beans. A tad pricey, but after fooling around with scraps of screening and rusting lids, I found it a worthy use of hydrocarbons. The nifty lids also make it easy to wash off the outer skins of the seeds. Sprouts do best in non-chlorinated water. I keep a jug of water sitting on the… Continue

Added by Celt M. Schira on November 20, 2010 at 12:00pm — No Comments

Celt's Garden - Hamster Reviews "The Witch of Hebron"

Lemme start with letting my alter ego, Hamster, review the narrative in the style of my fellow Vanderbilt alumnus, Joe Bob Biggs of "Joe Bob Goes to the Drive In" fame, then the geek engineer can get to appropriate technology. Breasts: 12 (I think, I lost count), dead bodies: I definitely lost count; gallons ketchup: 17; corpse in the onion wagon; special points for panther mauling; sword fu; pistol whipping fu; head pounding fu amid chaos in brothel; goat butchery; horse appreciation; very… Continue

Added by Celt M. Schira on November 8, 2010 at 11:30am — 4 Comments

Celt's Garden - Korean Comfort Food

It's a great year for winter radishes. They are still coming up in the intermittent warmth, so go ahead and plant some daikon, Black Spanish, Rose Heart or Purple Plum. It might work. Since the radishes are looking so strong, maybe a few turnips or mini carrots will make it, even this late in the year. All the roots are sweeter just out of the garden. I've been crossing winter radishes for years. Breeding is perhaps too strong a word, since my program consists of pulling up anything too puny… Continue

Added by Celt M. Schira on November 7, 2010 at 12:30pm — No Comments

Celt's Garden - Cabbage, Potatoes and Sausage

Gardeners will routinely cheerfully eat produce that they would refuse to pay money for. Those undersized, lumpy, be-spotted potatoes that appeared after shoving a fork into a supposedly vacant row? Trim, steam and mash, or make cottage fries. The ragged cabbage sadly loved by slugs? Drown it in salt water to stun the critters and surreptitiously wash out mud, intense green caterpillar frass (bug poop), slime, earwigs, pill bugs and all four kinds of gastropods when the rest of the household… Continue

Added by Celt M. Schira on November 1, 2010 at 12:30pm — No Comments

Celt's Garden - Corn Tortillas and Skagit River Produce

Winter squash stores well at cool room temperatures. If you didn't grow any winter squash, feel free to buy some from your local farmer. To prepare your squash for storage, wash off the soil, scrubbing gently with a soft brush, then go over the clean squash again with a wash rag soaked in cool water with a shot of bleach added. Allow to air dry. Then store your squash in cardboard boxes in a single layer, not touching. I keep mine in the basement, but any coolish place where it doesn't freeze… Continue

Added by Celt M. Schira on October 29, 2010 at 3:00pm — 2 Comments

Celt's Garden - Mother Corn and More Hot Sauce

It's time to get the garlic in. For the organized, the cover crop of summer buckwheat is already grown, tilled in, and broken down and the garlic patch is ready to go. For harried folks with day jobs, me for example, it's a rush to get the summer garden pulled out to make room for garlic. Planting garlic comes on the heads, to protect the cloves until planting time. When you pop the cloves off the head, take care not to injure the base plate at the bottom. The clove's roots will grow from the… Continue

Added by Celt M. Schira on October 8, 2010 at 11:00am — 3 Comments

Celt's Garden - Easy Seed Saving

Here's how to save tomato seed: slice a very ripe tomato through the equator. Using the point of a knife, scrape and squeeze out the seeds and surrounding jelly into a glass. Add a half cup of non-chlorinated water. Take some tape and make a label with the variety and date. Now, leave it sitting around 2-3 days. The jelly will disintegrate. The top may grow a layer of mold. The good seeds will fall to the bottom. Take a mesh tea strainer and pour the lot through the strainer. Run some tap water… Continue

Added by Celt M. Schira on September 28, 2010 at 3:00pm — 3 Comments

Celt's Garden - Walking the Talk, in Baby Steps

Watch the weather now. When the nights start to drop below 50 degrees F, it's time to get the green tomatoes. If you have your tomatoes on stakes, you may be able to drop the stakes and cover the vines with row cover (Remay, Gro-Therm.) Mine are a happy sprawl of vines and cages, so I'm going with Plan B: go out this weekend and harvest all the tomatoes. Packed in shallow fruit boxes with newspaper above, below and between layers, they will keep indoors. Keep it to two layers deep maximum, as… Continue

Added by Celt M. Schira on September 24, 2010 at 5:00pm — 1 Comment

Celt's Garden - Healthy Korean Food

The Koreans are mad container gardeners. Everywhere there's a bit of sun, there are greens in pots, squash scrambling up walls, hot peppers and medicinal herbs tucked into corners. In the summer, Korean apartment buildings take on a shaggy look. Apartment buildings in Korea invariably have balconies, a miniature version of a traditional Korean courtyard. A courtyard house has an outside kitchen, a place to store big earthenware jars, a large sink, usually sunken below ground level, a bit of… Continue

Added by Celt M. Schira on September 16, 2010 at 9:30pm — No Comments

Celt's Garden - Rotations and Smelly Garden Concoctions

A crop rotation is just following say, a bed of tomatoes, when it comes out in October, with a fall cover crop, perhaps a handful of small fava beans and oats, or that nifty cover crop mix from the Bellingham WFC. The solanums (tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, eggplants, tomatillos and wild relatives including the nightshades) are the worst for building up diseases and pests in the soil, followed by the cole crops (broccoli, cabbage, kale, radishes, cauliflower, turnips, etc) and the alliums… Continue

Added by Celt M. Schira on September 6, 2010 at 5:30pm — 5 Comments

Celt's Garden - Green Tomatoes and Sweet Onions

Ah, the tomatoes are finally ripening, and the Walla Walla sweets are in. Even before the tomatoes ripen, they can be eaten green. Look for tomatoes that are getting close to turning color, past the hard and sour stage. Slice the tomatoes along the latitude lines (the fat way), about a quarter inch thick. Dip in beaten egg and then cornmeal or finely squished bread crumbs. Fry up gently in a little butter or oil. Fine, fine with your sweet onion omelet.

Green tomatoes also make… Continue

Added by Celt M. Schira on August 31, 2010 at 1:00pm — 5 Comments

Celt's Garden - Beanburger in Paradise

But first, fennel pollen, and the shug recipe. Fennel, a great companion plant in the right place, otherwise obnoxious, shoots up seven feet in a cluster of branches. It is hard to believe that a tiny fennel seed turns into... that. So, sensible Italians eat the fennel stems if caught young, the ferny foliage in salads, and drop the head of flowers, laden with yellow pollen, into the marinara sauce. Take the head out before serving. It looks a bit prehistoric over noodles. Pollinators love… Continue

Added by Celt M. Schira on August 16, 2010 at 3:00pm — 5 Comments

Celt's Garden - Summer Frenzy and the Farm Stand on Railroad

Scrape up that pile of horse poop you left usefully rotting last spring and dump it on the winter garden beds. They will need the nutrition to get through the winter. Then plant fall vegies in the beds: kale, broccoli, Asian greens, cabbage, beets, chard, spinach, carrots if you have the soil for it. You may need the nutrition, also. It's official, some 50% of us are un, under, other, or less employed than they would kinda like to be. Tell this to a bunch of Hamsters, and they say, "unnh...… Continue

Added by Celt M. Schira on August 6, 2010 at 12:30pm — No Comments

Celt's Garden - Reverse Engineering Hot Sauce

It's a good year to make your own condiments. Not because the peppers and pickling cukes are overflowing, in fact just the opposite. A month of cold and rain in early summer delayed planting the summer garden. Gardeners have been telling me, with cautious optimism, that their tomatoes are finally fruiting. Folks seem a bit on edge, hoping for a warm September and the city water supply holding through the summer.

Your own condiments are always better, cheaper, and more wonderful. They… Continue

Added by Celt M. Schira on July 18, 2010 at 11:00am — No Comments

Celt's Garden - Favas and Everson Farm Stands

The green fava beans are swelling in their pods. Ah, shelly fava beans simmered with garlic scapes or green garlic. Harvest the bottom favas first. If you leave them, they will turn into dry beans, but it will take until late August. As they age, the beans first develop a tough outer skin, which slides off after cooking. Then they harden into dry beans. The pods dry and shatter, so you want to get your favas in as soon as the beans are hard and let them finish drying under cover. Then you can… Continue

Added by Celt M. Schira on July 12, 2010 at 6:00pm — No Comments

Celt's Garden - Start with a Live Chicken (Rated NV)

That would be rated NV for No Vegans. No 12 year old girls either, who are shocked, just shocked, to find out that meat comes from DEAD ANIMALS and spend the next ten years living on spaghetti with plain Marinara sauce and Cheetos. Vegans, perhaps you would like to check out "That French Feeling" which is a nice earlier post about growing herbs.

To go from live chicken to dead chicken, first you have to catch the chicken. This can be tricky, as chickens are telepathic about being… Continue

Added by Celt M. Schira on July 3, 2010 at 10:00pm — 1 Comment

Celt's Garden - Cheap Garlic Tricks

It's time to go out and snap off those cute curly garlic scapes. You want the plant to be frustrated in its reproductive mission and direct its photosynthesis into making a bulb. The bulb stores energy for another try next year, unless you get there first and put it into the spaghetti. The scapes have become quite the high priced delicacy, a side benefit of growing your own. It's also time to hill up the potatoes. This means burying the stems so that the plant will grow more tubers. Otherwise,… Continue

Added by Celt M. Schira on June 24, 2010 at 12:00pm — 4 Comments

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