What to do in the Garden in April

What to do in April

* The average last frost date in Portland, OR is April 26.  Try to hold back from planting warm season veggies until then….

Planning Ahead

  • Watch the weather.  Check air temperatures and soil temperatures.
  • Prepare beds for the garden 1 – 3 weeks before planting.
  • Weed while the ground is soft, wet, and warm and the weeds are young.
  • Mulch to prevent weeds.  Rake back mulch and warm the soil before planting seeds.
  • Compost and collect organic matter for the compost pile.
  • Compost and amend your soil.
  • Patrol for slugs.
  • Protect your plants from deer and other wildlife.
  • Ensure good air flow around your plants to prevent fungal disease.
  • Inoculate soil with mycorrhizae.
  • Build trellises for vining plants.
  • Dry herbs for tea.

In The Vegetable Garden

  • Direct sow cold-tolerant vegetables outdoors, such as arugula, beets, broccoli, brussel sprouts, kohlrabi, parsnips, carrots, lettuces, parsley, leeks, radishes, spinach, turnips, quinoa, and shallots outdoors.
  • If you have starts, transplant arugula, broccoli, brussel sprouts, kohlrabi, lettuces, and spinach in the garden.  Transplant cabbages by the end of the month.
  • Soak your pea seeds in preparation for planting.  Just before planting, cover in legume inoculant.
  • Start tomatillos, ground cherries, cucumbers, pumpkins, and squashes (summer and winter) indoors.
  • Pre-sprout your potatoes for planting outdoors after they harden off.
  • Plant perennial vegetables.
  • Fertilize overwintering crops with nitrogen to perk them up.
  • Harvest spring ephemerals such as rhubarb, ramps, and spring garlic.
  • Harvest Leafy Greens and other remaining crops from the winter garden.

Fruit Trees and Berry Bushes

  • Finish planting bare root trees and shrubs.
  • Prune woody plants. Prune azaleas, rhododendrons, forsythia, and other flowering shrubs when they are done blooming. Prune summer flowering shrubs before they put on new growth.
  • Control foliar diseases using compost tea on roses, apples, pears, cherry, etc.
  • Watch for currant worms.  Ideally, feed the worms to your chickens.
  • Graft fruit trees.
  • Fertilize and prune your berry bushes.
  • Divide and transplant strawberries and raspberries.
  • Check your trees and shrubs for insect or disease problems.
  • Spray fruit trees for fungal diseases such as scab and mildew.
  • Inoculate mushrooms in woodchip mulch, straw, or logs.

Perennials

  • Label the locations of your bulbs for dividing in the fall.
  • Divide, transplant, and fertilize perennials.
  • Transplant any potted plants into larger containers.
  • Direct sow hardy flowers, such as Borage, Calendula, Feverfew, Love in a Mist, Mallow, Nasturtiums, and Flax.  In late April, sow half-hardy flowers such as Blazing Star, Canna, Chinese Aster, Cosmos, Flowering Tobacco, Lavaterra, Pincushion Flower, and Sunflowers.
  • Plant summer blooming bulbs or tubers including Gladiolas, Crocosmia, Dahlias, Calla Lilies, etc.
  • Take cuttings of early flowering perennial shrubs and bring indoors for forcing into bloom.

*** As always, please let me know if there is anything that you do in April in your garden that I have omitted from this task list. ***

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“Weed” Plant ID

Here are a few pictures that I have taken of some plants considered “weeds” in my area.  Fortunately for me, and unfortunately for this post, I do not have many typical “weeds” to photograph at my house.  I went to the neighbors yards to take some of these pictures.  This list is in no way exhaustive and I hope to add more pictures for identification over time.  You can help by sending me pictures of some in your yard!

A weed could be defined as a plant that is thriving beyond what the gardener desires, such that it is experiencing a great ability to reproduce itself.  I just made that definition up but I hope that you catch the gist.

When I think about “weeds”, I think about opportunistic plants and I think about the seedbank that lies within my soil.  “Weeds” express the conditions of the site.  In a disturbed area, certain plants are the ones that germinate to build nutrients for the soil.  That is why many plants that are considered “weeds” are also dynamic accumulators (plants that help build nutrients for the soil and other plants in the community).  In my garden, I increase the seedbank in the soil by scattering lots of seeds.  This way the opportunistic plants that germinate in an available space are plants that both respond to the conditions of the soil and are plants that I want to grow.

If you are trying to get rid of a plant in your garden, it is important to learn how that plant reproduces so you can remove it at the appropriate time and in the appropriate way.  Most “weeds” spread by seed.  You need to remove these plants from the garden before they flower to avoid any potential of having seed either in your garden or in your compost pile.  Sometimes, hot compost piles can kill weed seeds.  Just to be safe, I try to break the seeding cycle of unwanted plants in the garden by pulling them before they seed and composting them or feeding them to the chickens or rabbits.  As weeds are nutritious for the soil, they are often nutritious for us or our animals.  Make sure you have identified a plant correctly before you eat it or feed it to your animals.   i will indicate how the plants pictured below spread with their image.

Through careful observation over time, you can learn how to identify plants shortly after they germinate.  I hope these pictures aid you in identifying some plants in your landscape.  Please feel free to send any pictures of weedy plants in your yard.  Hopefully, I can identify them and I will add them to this compilation.

blackberry snapweed

Blackberry seeds are often deposited by birds.  The canes of Blackberry are mineral rich but need to be composted in a hot compost to prevent the canes from sprouting.  If you are trying to eradicate Blackberry, make sure you dig out the root ball for that is the concentration of energy underground for this plant.

Snapweed, also known as Bitter Cress or Shotput, is an edible weed that has spring action when the seeds mature.  My chickens love to eat this one.  Beware, if you wait too long to take this one out of the garden, it may hit you in the eye with a seed as it explores with the action of your touch!

bull thistle

Bull Thistle also spreads by seed.  The flowers turn to seed quickly so I try to pull this one as soon as I can, especially because it is so thorny.  Canadian Thistle is different and it spreads by horizontal runners which are difficult to remove.  Canadian Thistle needs to be pulled regularly (or mowed) and it will eventually lose energy and go away.  Both of these plants are dynamic accumulators of iron.

cleavers

Cleavers is a sticky vining plant the spreads by seed.  It is related to Sweet Woodruff or Lady’s Bedstraw.

dandelion

As many of us know from making a wish on a Dandelion seedhead, Dandelions spread by seed.  They are very nutritious.  You can eat the greens, roots, or flowers.  I have a whole cookbook dedicated to the Dandelion.

hairy cat's ear

The plant known as Hairy Cat’s Ear looks alot like Dandelion but it has a hairy leaf.  While Dandelion tends to flower in the spring and the fall, Hairy Cat’s Ear flowers in hotter weather, in the summer.  Hairy Cat’s Ear has multiple yellow flowers on its stalk and while they look like Dandelion, they are often a little bit smaller.  The stalk of Hairy Cat’s Ear is not as milky as Dandelion.  Both have similar seedheads that fly through the wind poetically.

ivy dead nettle

Dead Nettle spreads by seed.  It is easiest to identify and to pull once it is flowering as shown here.  It does not sting like Stinging Nettle.  The seeds (berries) of Ivy are spread by birds.  It is a vine that tends to strangle trees and other neighboring plants.

japanese knotweed

Japanese Knotweed can spread by crown, stem, or root rhizome.  You need to remove all of the plant material to completely eradicate this plant from your garden.

morning glory

Morning Glory has a flexible root.  It can spread by seed and its roots tend to break off in the soil when pulled.  Each of these broken roots will generate new plants.  To get rid of Morning Glory, you need to remove all plant material.

nipplewort

Nipplewort spreads by seed.  I find that Nipplewort is easiest to pull just before it begins flowering.  Little Nipplewort plants can be tedious to pull since they are so abundant.  As they grow, some plants die through competition.  Once they are large enough to pull, they are easy to remove and make great compost.

oxalis snapweed

Both snapweed and oxalis spread by seed.  Each of these plants have a pod that is filled with seeds that will pop open when it is ripe.  Ensure that you pull these plants before they create the seed.

oxalis

Oxalis can have red leaves or green leaves.

wild geranium

Wild Geranium also spreads by seed.  The groundcover habit of this plant becomes increasingly sprawling as it gets older.  I find it easiest to pull at this size.

herb robert

Herb Robert is a type of Geranium, also known as Stinky Bob.  It looks pretty when it is young but as it grows, it expands quickly and drops alot of seed, which is why it is often considered a weed.  Some consider it’s smell foul as a mature plant.  Since it spreads by seed, you can prevent rampancy by pulling it out before it flowers or forms seed.  In my experience, it is quite easy to pull out of the soil.

yellow dock

Yellow Dock has a deep taproot and spreads biennially by seed.  If you cut off the seed, Yellow Dock will regenerate from its roots.  Yellow Dock is a great dynamic accumulator and it makes good compost.  It is also a great medicinal herb.  It can spread rapidly so you may want to keep an eye on it.

Favorite Heirloom Vegetable Seed Companies

These are my favorite seed companies.  All of them have taken the Safe Seed Pledge.

Adaptive Seeds:  http://www.adaptiveseeds.com/

Baker Creek Seeds:  http://www.rareseeds.com/

Nichols Garden Nursery:  https://www.nicholsgardennursery.com/store/

Peace Seedlings: http://www.peaceseedlingsseeds.blogspot.com/ 

Seed Dreams:  http://seeddreams.blogspot.com/

Siskiyou Seeds:  http://www.siskiyouseeds.com/

Uprising Seeds:  http://uprisingorganics.com/index.php

Wild Garden Seeds:  http://www.wildgardenseed.com/index.php

For more seed companies who have taken the Safe Seed Pledge and further information, visit:  http://www.councilforresponsiblegenetics.org/ViewPage.aspx?pageId=261

Make a Zone Map

Now that you have assessed the flows on your site, check out your overlays.  You may notice that there are areas that are used more frequently and areas that are not interacted with often.  A zone analysis is a map that divides a property into areas based on their frequency of use. Frequency of use helps to determine management plans for building soil, planting strategies, necessary structures and tools, watering strategies, etc.

A zone map can convey current interactions on the property.  As you develop your design, you may find that zones change over time as your system becomes more complex.  Your zone map will enhance your efficiency so hopefully, you will be able to get more accomplished.

Below are some common guidelines for zones:

Zone 1 – Areas you visit everyday.

Zone 2 – Places  you visit a couple times a week.

Zone 3 – Places you visit once a week.

Zone 4 – Areas you visit less than once a week.

Zone 5 – Places that you hardly ever visit/interact with

Each person’s zone map is unique.  Zone maps may change in different seasons.

zone map

If you live on a small site, zone 1 may be areas that you visit often throughout the day.  On a small site, zone 2 may be places you visit less frequently throughout the day.  In an urban context, you may not have all of the zones on your site.

If you live in an apartment and do not have a car, zone 1 may be the property where your apartment is located.  Zone 2 may be defined as areas that you walk to.  Zone 3 could be a bike ride away.  Zone 4 would be places where you take the bus.  You would need to borrow a car or drive with a friend to places that would be considered zone 5.

The goal is to divide up the property based on frequency of use as a methodology for design. Naturally, we will interact with the areas that we frequent.  A zone map can inform us where to plant tasty berries for frequent harvest or where to place the compost for ease in bringing it outdoors.  You will interact with your landscape more frequently if you pass by the elements that appeal to you often.

The management plan for your landscape changes throughout the zones.  It is most intensive in zone one and decreases in intensity as you progress to zone 5.  You may have different soil building strategies, mulching strategies, and important elements based on frequency of use.

* A zone map should assess how you interact with all spaces on your landscape.  Every spot should be indicated as a specific zone.

On the macroscale, Zones can be considered as you design your life.  I want my food supply to be in zone 1 and a good store for purchasing food to be in zone 3 (a bike ride away) of my macrolandscape.  I like to have my yoga center in zone 2 (an easy walk).  As you look at this concept on the larger scale, think about where you work, where your friends and family live, where you food comes from, and other things that are important to you.  On the microscale, you can create a zone map of your kitchen to help you design the placement of your kitchen supplies or a zone map of your desk to enhance your efficiency.

 

Assess the flows on your site

Take a minute and write down all of the different things that may move throughout your site.

The first thing that you may consider is your own movements throughout the site.  Where do you go on your site and what do you do there?  Do you have seasonal patterns of movement throughout your space?  Do you have places you visit in different times of the day?  You can make an overlay on your base map to represent this analysis.

Next, you may consider how other people in your household move about the site.  Do you have animals?  What do they do throughout the day?  Are there wild animals that visit your space?  You may want to use a different color to convey this analysis on your overlay.

Another flow to consider is water.  Your rainwater falls throughout the site.  Does it pool?  Do you have wet spaces on site?  Are there spaces that you would like to be wetter?  Sometimes, you need to make an overlay just to convey the information about water onsite since it is such an important resource.

Resources are something that moves throughout a site and can create efficiency or clutter.  What are your resources onsite?  Hopefully, you see many resources to work with.  Some things I think about are compost, tools, potting supplies, nursery plants, etc.  Of course, most of these resources are traveling with a human companion.

I like to remind myself that “a resource is only a resource if it is available for use.”  By assessing the flow of resources throughout your site, you can place them in areas where they are accessible with ease.  In permaculture design, we strive to create designs that are efficient and productive.  This practice helps us have more time for enjoying other things.

How to make a rough working Base Map

It’s time to plan your garden for the coming growing season.  To maximize your plot, I find it helpful to make a base map as your foundation for site analysis.  To do a complete analysis, you will want to survey your property and have accurate measurements.  Here is how to make a rough working base map using google maps.

1) Go to maps.google.com and enter in your address.

2) Zoom in until the boundaries of your property are as big as possible in the map.  Make sure the map contains all of your boundaries.

3) Do a screenshot.  Hit shift, command, 4 (at the same time) and a cursor will appear. Move the cursor to the top left corner of the map.  While continuing to hold down the keys, move your mouse to the bottom right corner of the image that you want shown in your map.  Lift up on the keys when the box contains the scope of your base map and some margins.  Margins are helpful for any information that you may want to write on the document.  Make sure you include the scale in the screen shot (found on the bottom left of the screen).

4) Print this image.

5) Trace the outlines of your property and any features that will not change as you design your landscape, such as your house, large trees, driveway, etc.

6) Make sure to label your map with your address and include a north indicator.

7) If you want to take this a step further, visit suncalc.net to figure out the solar aspect on site throughout the year.

Below is a picture of my screenshot of my house.

Screen shot 2013-02-03 at 10.42.43 AM

This is my “to scale” basemap, created by measuring the exact dimensions of the property.

DSCN0480

Food Based Permaculture Business: Turning Problems into Solutions

A business in local food production truly embodies the permaculture principle of “turning problems into solutions”. As I travel to teach permaculture classes, I have seen a common billboard that states that one in six Americans is hungry. This situation is due to poverty and inadequate distribution of food (http://feedingamerica.org/ ). As I pass these billboards and drive into neighborhoods, I am struck by all of the underutilized spaces, including front and backyards, parking strips, parks, and common spaces that could be used to grow food and solve this problem. Even the smallest piece of land could potentially be contributed to be a piece of the mosaic of land in suburban and urban communities used for local food production.

Local fruits and vegetables tend to provide the highest in nutritional values for consumers.   The fruits and vegetables that are highest in nutrition and easily incorporated in the daily diet are the best choices for the home and neighborhood garden.    Produce grown on large farms is selected for ease of marketing, rather than for nutritional content.  Produce degrades in nutritional quality from the time it is harvested until it is eaten, and various handling methods can cause a degradation of nutrients (http://chge.med.harvard.edu/resource/local-more-nutritious).   Fruits, vegetables, and eggs tend to have the most volatile prices (Source:  ERS calculations using Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Consumer Price Index data).    As the price of food rises, these food items become increasingly unaffordable for low-income individuals. A solution to this situation is to increase local food production in communities.  Often called  “food deserts,” many low-income communities have more convenience stores and limited locations that sell fresh, nutritious fruits and vegetables.  However, locally grown fruits and vegetables are affordable as they have minimal transportation cost.  Local food production in “food deserts” can be increased with community groups stewarding abandoned lots, green spaces, front yards, and available public lands with fruit trees and vegetables.

Patricia Menzies  helping to maintain an Urban Food Forest in Portland, OR.

Patricia Menzies helping to maintain an Urban Food Forest in Portland, OR.

Our global food system becomes more precarious as climate extremes have been reported in communities all over the world.  Unpredictable climatic conditions make it difficult to depend on single crops as commodity.  Increased natural disasters, record highs and lows, and record rainfalls have all been reported in many bioregions. Growing your own food and supporting local agricultural businesses are  solutions for deepening your community’s resilience. By developing local skills in food production, you can increase the knowledge of how to grow food in a changing climate.  Heirloom is a term for vegetable varieties that have been developed over hundreds of years in specific bioregions.  These types of vegetables tend to be adapted to the climate as it changes over time and better suited for local production. Most importantly, a gardener can save seed from the heirloom crops that perform the best in their unique microclimate, use less water, need less fertilizer, and use that seed for the garden in the following year.  Through this process of growing heirloom crops and saving their seeds, the gardener gains valuable knowledge on how to grow that variety and saves money on purchasing seed the following year.  As a bonus, the gardener has extra seed to share with their community.  Perhaps a business in providing seeds will be created from this endeavor.

In many communities, there is increasing interest in eating organic, local foods providing the perfect opportunity for local food entrepreneurs (http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2011/11/14/142306970/local-food-is-no-small-potatoes-farmers-rake-in-almost-5-billion).   Local agriculturists tend to diversify their crops, reducing their dependence on a single yield.  Marketing opportunity for local foods tends to favor diversity, as well.  Farmer’s Markets, Community Supported Agriculture  (CSA) farms, Farm to Table Cafes, and locally processed food items are experiencing an increase in sales across the country (http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/money_co/2011/11/farmers-markets-double-local-food-sales-to-hit-7-billion-says-usda.html,).   All of these markets benefit from the local food entrepreneur who can provide multiple crops to their customers. Diversification solves the problem of specializing in a particular crop in a changing climate.

People who rise to the occasion to develop a niche market for their local foodbased business may have a surplus to share.  Produce or products that are not top quality are often discarded, rather than being sold to customers.  These items can be donated to local food banks.  Many communities have gleaning organizations that will harvest any surplus produce from orchards and fields and deliver it to a food pantry.  Recently, food banks and food pantries have been receiving less fresh produce while experiencing a greater demand (http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/local/neighborhoods-north/food-banks-coping-with-cuts-in-funding-drops-in-donations-of-food-higher-demand-663099/).  Entrepreneurs who choose to pioneer an enterprise in their local food system create meaningful skilled employment for themselves while being able to invest unmarketable surplus to contribute food towards the hunger problem in the United States.

If this sounds appealing to you, the most important thing to assess is the type of business that best suits your talents, experience, and enthusiasm.  What are the needs in your community?  Are there any underutilized resources that you can incorporate into your business?  What type of market do you prefer?  Would you like to be working directly with customers or do you prefer to work in food preparation?  What hours of operation would you like for your business?  Permaculture design is based in creating beneficial connections in local environments that reflect caring for the earth and the people.  Any surplus generated through permaculture design is reinvested in the local community.  These ethics are reflected in businesses endeavors responding to the problems of food insecurity with solutions for a resilient local food system.

Food based permaculture business will be a key topic at the Financial Permaculture and Local Business Summit, January 21- 25, 2013 in Miami, FL. Keynote speakers include  Jude Hobbs, Eric Toensmeier, Jonathan Cloud, Emily Kawano and David Rose.  For more information, visit http://www.financialpermaculture.com or email info@financialpermaculture.com.  If you plan to attend, mention this code and get a discount:  HRBNW.  Hope to see you there!

More Squash!

Well, I still found more squash in the refrigerator so I found another recipe.

This time, Squash and black bean enchiladas.  I made the enchilada sauce from tomato paste from this past summer’s tomatoes.  It sure was fabulous!  I found this recipe on the internet.

Squash seeds are easily saved by scooping out the seeds from the inside of the squash before you bake it.  Next, I let the seeds sit briefly in water as I separate them from the slimy innards.  Then, I dry them on a screen.  This time, I took a screen from my dehydrator and placed it over the heating vent in my house.  I elevated it with lots of jars of pear butter so it had good air flow.

This year I finally learned a crucial fact about saving squash seeds.  Only the squashes that share a species name (for example C. pepo – pepo is the species) will cross. Unfortunately, that means that all summer squash will cross pollinate and they will also cross pollinate with pumpkins.  But squash from different species (like C. maxima, C. moschata, or C. mixta) will not cross pollinate with each other.

This year, if you want to save squash seeds, grow one from each of the varieties.  To avoid cross pollination with your neighbors, make sure that your squashes are separated from others of the same variety by a quarter mile.

Here are some examples of the differences.  My last post was about the glorious Lower Salmon River variety of squash (Cucurbita maxima)

I chose the Lower Salmon River Squash for its excellent winter storage qualities, its great taste, and the fact that it is an endangered variety.  Click here for a reference on other endangered varieties of vegetables that you can grow this year in your garden.

 

 

Winter Squash – a plant that generates lots of meals!

Lower Salmon River Squash

The warm orange glow of a winter squash is just like sunshine in the winter!  There are many different varieties that one can chose to grow in your garden.  I tend to select winter squash for flavor and for a long shelf life so that they will last throughout the winter.  If you grow different kinds of winter squash, pay attention to their capacity for winter storage.  Ensure that you eat the ones that have the shortest shelf-life first.

I have grown many different varieties of winter squash.  Some of my favorites include:  Delicata, Acorn, Spaghetti, Butternut, Pumpkins, and more.  This year I grew only one variety of winter squash:  Lower Salmon River.  I chose this squash because it is fabulous for winter storage.  In fact, it will store so well that my partner says that we need a bandsaw to cut through it (we can process it with standard kitchen utensils too).

There are many different ways to cook a winter squash.  I used to just cut it in half, scoop out the seeds (save for later, how to save squash seeds will be in a future blog post) and place the halves face down on a cookie sheet filled with water.  They bake in a oven at 350 degrees.  You will know your squash is cooked, when a fork slides through the skin nicely.  Then, scoop out the innards and use in cooking (recipes below).  This way seems to take the least amount of work, and more cooking time then some other ways.

Another way to cook squash is to chop it into pieces after you have scooped out the seeds.  You can bake the squash in smaller pieces or you can cook it on your stovetop in a steamer basket.  Recently, I think that the least energy intensive way to cook squash is to chop it in smaller pieces and take off the rind before baking it in the oven.  It cooks fast this way and you already have the skin removed.

I have also tried cooking it in small pieces in a pressure cooker after the skin has been removed.  This cooked in 10 minutes but it was quite watery.  This way is best for soup.

Once my squash is cooked, I puree it in a food processor.  Usually I have so much squash puree that I freeze some and cook with some.  This week, I had so much squash puree that I made three cakes and two soups.  Below are the recipes

Winter Squash Chocolate Chip Muffins (or Bread)

  • ½ cup chocolate chips (or raisins, aronia berries, or currants)
  • ½ c. warm apple cider or other fruit juice
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 c. sugar
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground ginger
  • ¼ tsp ground nutmeg (fresh ground is best)
  • 1 ½ c. squash (or pumpkin) puree
  • 2 c. brown rice flour (or other all purpose flour)
  • 2 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1 tsp Baking Soda
  1. Soak dried berries in the cider for 20 mins.  (omit if using chocolate chips).  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Combine the eggs, sugar, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg and beat until smooth.  Beat in the puree.
  3. Mix together the flour, baking soda, and baking powder.
  4. Sift the flour mixture into the squash mixture, alternating with the chocolate chips or dried fruit, and cider.
  5. Grease the muffin tins or bread pan and spoon in the batter.
  6. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until puffed up and firm.  When they are done your kitchen will smell divine and a toothpick inserted in the center will come out clean. Let cool.

Winter Squash Cake

  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 ½ c. sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 ½ c. cooked and pureed winter squash or pumpkin
  • ½ c. apple cider, or other fruit juice
  • 1 ¾ c. brown rice flour (or other all purpose flour)
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp ground ginger
  1. Preheat the over to 350 degrees.  Butter a 9×13 pan or a 9 or 10 inch bundt or tube pan.
  2. Melt the butter and combine with the sugar and eggs.  Add the squash and apple cider and beat until well-mixed.
  3. Combine the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger.  Add to the creamed mixture and beat well.
  4. Pour into the pan and bake for 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  5. Prepare the glaze if you want it extra sweet.

Apple Cider Glaze

  • 1 ½ c. Powdered Sugar
  • ¼ c. Apple Cider

Combine the sugar and the cider in a bowl.  Whisk until smooth.  Use right away before it crystallizes.

Squash Soup

  • 2 Carrots
  • 2 bulbs garlic
  • 1/2 c. dried peppers
  • 1 golden onion
  • 1 celeraic
  • 1 parsnip
  • 3 c. Winter Squash Puree
  • 1 Quart Chicken Stock
  • 1 c. tomato puree
  • 1 lb chicken (can substitute for 1 cup of cooked garbanzo beans)
  • 1 tsp curry paste
  1. Saute the chicken and onions until cooked.
  2. Fill a crock pot or large pot with the stock, and purees.  Bring to a boil, then turn down to simmer.
  3. Chop the vegetables and add to the liquids.
  4. Add curry paste and any other desired seasonings.

Coming soon…

Brussel Sprouts ~ a delicacy in the winter

I have been enjoying my three Brussel Sprouts plants so much this year!  So far, we have had about 6 meals from the three plants and more to come!

I love how Brussel Sprouts taste slightly like horseradish. When you harvest your Brussel Sprouts, pick them off the stem and bring them inside to clean them.  Peel off the outside leaves and cut off the base.

My favorite way to prepare Brussel Sprouts is in a gratin.  Lightly oil a glass baking dish and preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Cut the Brussel Sprouts in half.  Cut up two cloves of garlic (or more) and scatter over the Brussel Sprouts.  If you do not have enough Brussel Sprouts to fill the baking dish, you can add other vegetables.  I like to add parsnips or potatoes.  Once the baking dish is filled with vegetables, add a bit of cream to cover the bottom (or milk, soy milk, or water), and top with parmesean cheese. Lightly add salt and pepper and place in the oven to bake until your vegetables are tender.  Enjoy!

I planted my Brussel Sprouts from starts in mid June.  They were started by seed in March.  These plants developed large root systems all summer and the Brussel Sprouts were ready to eat in December.  They are still producing now in January.

Yum!