Our family had a great time this morning at the Freeschool event in Erin, run by the Transition Erin group. They are a chapter of the larger Transition Town movement that emphasizes local food and an independence from fossil fuel as much as possible. I presented an ‘organic gardening overview’ as part of the virtual space workshops event. More on virtual space here.
I’m putting my whole workshop online, for those who missed it and for those who might want to refer back to it.
Here’s the slideshow from the workshop:
OGO freeschool ppt
And here’s a white paper, 1 page PDF that contains all the same information plus more detail about the topics in the slideshow:
Enjoy! Please feel free to contact me with any questions you may have. There’s a contact form here on the website, which sends your questions and comments right to my email.
AND – please join the Kitchen Garden Club – by SKG facebook page for more community support! There are lots of experienced gardeners and people who are willing to help out with questions and who will celebrate with you about anything related to gardening. Please join us!
Today is the first day of spring! I took pics of what’s coming up in my garden, so this post will be full of them. Above are ‘walking onions’, also known as winter onions because they can be planted in the fall like garlic. Yet another name for them is ‘Egyptian onions’. They are cool because they form heads of little onion bulbs on a stiff middle stalk. And sometimes from there you get more stalks growing more bulbs… and so on…. they are fun to watch.
This is probably a familiar sight, although a little early this year: chives are quite tall already!
Oregano. This is not the only clump. It’s taking over my front garden.
Sorrel. Tangy sour leaves that I still haven’t exactly figured out what to do with. I’ve been told it’s great in soup. I guess I’ll have to try that soon! The leaves taste best when they’re young.
Tiny little rhubarb leaf! I can’t imagine having a yard without a patch of rhubarb in it. It’s not my favourite food, and I really don’t do much with it, but it just needs to be there. It’s like the stuffed animals I have. They stick around for sentimental reasons, not practical ones. Plus it’s fun to watch the kids taste it again every spring!
Thyme, coming along. Quickly, I hope. I’m almost out of the dried thyme I saved last fall! This is a super easy one to save for winter, if you want to try drying your own but are unsure of the process. It’s a plant that is already almost dry! In the fall just bundle stems together and hang upside down to dry. It’s that easy. Not all herbs can handle that kind of drying, but thyme does well with it.
Lavender grown from seeds pinched from my Grandma’s lavender plant. Grandma isn’t with us anymore but she left her gardening legacy in her grandkids. She is the same grandma from this previous post.
Horseradish. You can tell by the dead stalks around the shoots that these leaves will be HUGE when they are full size. They are massive leafy plants that send up flower stalks that are so delicate it almost seems like they don’t match. Plus, the scent of the flowers is so beautiful! You’d never know it was horseradish if you just had a stem of flowers in a vase.
This is delicious. Sweet and sour, freshly fermented and crunchy cabbage. And it’s pink. Hence the name. We have a lot of girls in our household, so the word ‘princess’ is often used as an adjective. As in, ‘princess cauliflower’ (dyed pink from beets), ‘princess rice’ (same), ‘princess soup’ (my attempt to copy my mother-in-law’s borscht), and my new favourite, ‘princess sauerkraut’ (a head of red cabbage made its way into the crock).
I documented my first attempt at making sauerkraut in a large crock, just in case it turned out…. and it did! Many thanks to my Grandma for giving me her very heavy 5-gallon-or-so crock.
So anyway, the first thing I do is buy a container of balkan-style yogurt. The purest one, with bacterial cultures and 6% fat. Then I suspend it in a fabric in a jar, so all the whey drips out. This whey helps seed the bacteria. You could also use goat if you have cow dairy allergies. I have a container of goat yogurt in my fridge, waiting for the next batch, just to try it out. What’s left in the cloth works well as a stiff sour cream.
Once that’s been sitting for a day you’ll have lots of whey. What’s in the photo is what I’ve used for 3-4 heads of cabbage plus other stuff. There’s really no exact recipe here…. but the princess sauerkraut contains 2 green cabbages, 1 red cabbage, 3 large carrots, and a bunch of radishes.
I use my food processor to shred the veggies, then put them in the crock.
Between each head of cabbage, I sprinkle about a tablespoon or a bit more of salt. Don’t use iodized salt. Sea salt works well, or the pink rock salt (princess household, I tell you…) works well.
And… mix it up.
The salt works to release water from the cabbage, which is what a good batch of sauerkraut needs. Everything under the juices stays well-preserved, even if there’s mold growing on the surface (although I don’t leave mine that long, I could if I wanted to). I help the process by mixing, punching it down, squeezing it in my hands, and pressing down. In the next photo you can see how nicely the juices have started coming up.
To keep it under the water, I put cabbage leaves around the outside edges and a plate in the middle.
And a big jar full of water on top of the plate to weigh it down.
And covered it to protect from RFCs.*
Then: the waiting. 5 days of waiting. Checking every day to make sure the water level was above the cabbage level. Sometimes a few times. Smelling it, making sure it smelled right. Trust me, if it goes bad, you know. It smelled good and sour the whole time, and made my mouth water waiting for it.
I thought 5 days was good enough and decided to taste test.
It was delicious, so I put it in jars and into the fridge. Yum!
Not long after (maybe an hour or so?), the crock looked like this:
SPICY kraut!!! 4 green cabbages, 3 lbs carrots, 2 bags radishes, 1 chunk of ginger, 4 jalapenos and 4 chili peppers. Plus whey and salt. Oh baby. It is good. (It’s now in my fridge too.) I would add more hot peppers next time though.
*RFC: Random Flying Contaminant. You never know when your 7-year-old is going to sneeze up long-distance gobs. And 9-year-olds doing dishes tend to create projectile suds somehow. And when hubby clips fingernails in the kitchen…. well…. you get the idea….
When I had these t-shirts printed for myself and a few friends who were helping out with the business, I got lots of comments about how sweet they were and people wondering if I was going to sell them.
So I’m throwing this out there, wondering how many would order one. I would charge $20 per shirt. You can email me to let me know your size and I will make sure you get what you need.
Let me know!
sarahskitchengardens @ gmail . com
I’m freshening up the blog a bit – please bear with me as I change things around a bit and hopefully make it a bit more useful in terms of finding content!
It’s all still here, but I want to alter some category names and adjust pages etc….
In the meantime, if you came looking for something please ask me about it if you can’t find it.
At this time next week, I will have had my first market day – Thursday May 5 – and I will be planning for my next one – Saturday May 7 – and hopefully will be paying off some bills! Hubby is working to get the trailer ready for the babies. I can’t wait to see it, because it’s going to look like a little mini-greenhouse on wheels!
Speaking of mini-greenhouse, how are your seedlings (if you’ve started some)? This grey weather has slowed the progress of mine considerably. I’m really hoping May is a very very very sunny month. There are a few that I will be seeding today, for more batches, and I will also be taking cuttings from my mint in the front herb garden. Another crossing-fingers moment for me, because normally I would already have them rooted! This year has been so grey that things are really slow. I’m hoping a stint in the greenhouse will speed up the mint, though. At least enough to generate a good root system for each of them.
In other news, I’m also getting ready for a workshop I’ll be presenting at Little City Farm tomorrow, about ‘Garden Potions’. All about concoctions you can mix up at home to help your babies along. And the larger ones in the garden, too! I’m really looking forward to the workshop.
So much going on! I love to be busy with this kind of work. It’s great meeting new people and sharing knowledge. If you ever have a question, please don’t hesitate to introduce yourself and ask.
I made a new pin for the occasion – because maybe I’m a geek that way. I’ll be doing a whole series of mini-workshops, casually, throughout the day under my tent at Kitchener City Hall. One of them is about edible flowers, so I made a new pin just because I’m pretty much addicted to getting pins printed and I will use any excuse.
I’m planning to run the Edible Flowers mini-workshop at 10am, and give away pins to everyone who attends.
Other mini-workshops (and times) under my tent include:
11 am – All About Honeybees
12 Noon – Seedling Tips
1 pm – Veggie Growing Tips
2 pm - Compost Advice
There will also be garden aprons and Seed Starting Kits for sale, and maybe a few other things.
I’m really looking forward to this event, it will be a fun day.
Hope to see you there!
Just a quick note to let you know that I’ve taken down my seedlings catalogue for now. It seems it’s been giving scary warning messages, so I want to find out what’s wrong before I put it back online.
Sorry for any inconvenience, if you were planning to look through it. But if there’s something seriously wrong, I don’t want to be spreading viruses or anything….
According to hubby, it’s “an experiment worth repeating”. This is a compliment, in case you missed it. It means he liked it, which makes me happy. The girls liked it too and want it in their lunches tomorrow – yay!
Would you like the recipe? Here it is:
Potato Lasagna (Grain-Free!)
It’s the love child of scalloped potatoes and lasagna. Measurements are approximate; everyone likes their lasagna a bit different so don’t be afraid to change it up, add spinach, that sort of thing. Make it yours!
6-8 medium or large waxy potatoes, like Yukon Gold
1 can of spaghetti sauce (or make your own!)
1 large tub of cottage cheese
300-400 g shredded mozzarella (1/2-3/4 of a large block)
1 pound ground beef (or so. your tastes may vary)
Peel, then slice the potatoes very thin. I used a mandolin slicer set at 1.5 mm, but you could go thinner.
Rinse them under cold running water to remove any excess starch. Let drip dry while you prepare everything else.
Cook the ground beef.
Add the 2 eggs to the container of cottage cheese and mix well.
Layer the ingredients in a 9×13 pan, starting with the spaghetti sauce and moving on to the cottage cheese mixture, meat, mozzarella, more sauce, and a single layer of sliced potatoes. Repeat until the pan is full or you run out of ingredients. The very top should be a good layer of mozzarella cheese.
Bake at 350 degrees, covered in foil, for at least 1.5 hours, taking the foil off for the last half hour of baking. If you have a pan with a lid you could also use that.
It will seem like the potatoes never cook; they will still feel a bit crunchy if you poke them with a fork. I found I actually had to taste them in order to determine readiness.
Let cool for 5-10 minutes before cutting and eating.
Here’s the printable version:
Tomorrow is the Organic Stone Soup event. If you have time to come and learn more about local organic food with fun hands-on activities and family story-telling time, plus yummy organic soup, please come to Guelph! The event is sponsored by the Canadian Organic Growers. There will be a mini farmers’ market, plus some demonstrations/take-home items for the kids.
I’ll be there doing some organic gardening demonstrations. My take-home activity is a planted bean seed. In the photo above you can see my daughter modelling her trial run. I have a jar of “Surprise Me” bean seeds, which is a mix of purple, green, and yellow beans. Children will get to fill their container with soil and plant one or two of the seeds, then guess which colour the beans will be. The containers will be taped shut with masking tape so nobody ends up disappointed when their lid pops off and the contents spill all over the inside of the van.
Come if you can! Saturday, March 19, from 11 am until 2 pm at St. George’s church in Guelph: 99 Woolwich St.