Garden, Plant, Cook!

Saturday, December 27, 2014

2015 Get Your Growing On!

Dear Folks,

As we wind down out of 2014, time for moral support and ideas for getting you into a garden or adding to.

First a recipe:  Most of us know how good brussels sprouts are for you - but a lot of folks don't know how to make these mini-cabbages taste good.  I have enjoyed them roasted - the baking makes the sugars caramelize, but I've been intrigued with the idea of eating them raw.  Bingo a shaved / shredded idea I adapted for Christmas dinner.  I'm in love with this, and hope you enjoy it too.

Shredded Brussels Sprouts Salad

Proportions of ingredients are approximate.  You can add or subtract the ingredients of the  salad itself but keep the dressing ratios together.  You want a bit of tang from the juice.

1 pound of brussels sprouts
2 tart sweet apples like Gala or Sundowner
1/2 cup slivered or sliced almonds
1/4 cup dried cranberries

3 tablespoons lemon or lime juice (juice your fruit, save 1 teaspoon of juice and rind)
3 tablespoons avocado oil or olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
crushed black pepper

 Make acidulated water:  Place reserved lemon juice and rind in bowl with water - this is for the apples.

Core apples and dice into cubes and immediately place in the lemon water while you prepare sprouts.

Prep the brussels sprouts by removing any damaged outer leaves, split in half length wise and cut out the core/stem.

Slice each half in fine layers, essential shredding.  Place in large bowl

Drain apples well and add.  Add almonds and cranberries.

Make dressings from juice, oil, salt and pepper. Shake well and pour over salad.  Toss and fold to mix well.

This salad keeps well for a couple of days in the frig. - it it lasts that long.

. . .

Time to plant potatoes.  I always save some potatoes from the spring harvest for replanting next season, and they almost always sprout in the frig during the summer/fall 'sleep' period.  This year's crop went a little wild!  But going into the ground a little earlier than my traditional potato planting on January 1st.

Bury an inch or two below ground in a prepared area.  Have leaves ready to cover and to add to, as the plants begin to grow up.  This ensures the 'taters are never exposed to sunlight, which can produce toxy solanine (that excess green you sometimes see on potatoes).

This is a mix of purple, red and white potoates.  I'm hoping for a good crop in April.  Mine are usually ready to harvest around Easter when I have fun with purple potato and Organic deep orange-yolk eggs from the market for a lovely and tasty potato salad.

. . .

Early starts to late January / early February planting out.

Since I've lost so much time this past year with health distractions of family and mine, I decided to get seeds going early for tomatoes and other going-into-warm planting season things like tomatoes and basil.  Later I will start out cantaloupe, watermelon and sunflowers.

This strange looking idea is my experiment with germinating seeds, quickly so I can see which are viable to pop into my jiffy peat pellets (these discs expand in water).  In the past I've had to wait to see if something germinated in a plug before trying a different seed.  A big waste of space and time.

As I recommend pre-soaking seeds to speed up germination time and increase germination rate, I decided to go one step further and germinate in a little container which allowed me to keep each of the seeds separated so I could easily pluck them out and gently put into the jiffy pellet.

This worked amazingly well and FAST!  This is 6 days from start to ready to put in the plugs.  Typical germination rate without soaking is about 10days to 3 weeks, less if you pre-soak, but 6 days - I'm amazed.

I hope to have what I call "starts" available at the Mesa Farmers Market the first week in February.

I use the plastic containers produce etc. comes in from the store for mini-greenhouses during the cool time of the year.  The rest of the year when I'm starting things I just put out in trays on my racks in direct sun.

Once these are in the jiffy pellets in their mini green houses, I will put them out during the day and move them back into our water heater area to keep them cozy at night.

I will try to remember to post a picture of the next step in jiffy pellets.

. . .

I will be hosting another seed share at the Mesa Farmers Market end of January / beginning of February - date to be determined later.

Permaculture ideas are becoming more and more available both online and in person.

Here is a great 13 reason list of why you should grow some or more of your own food.  I like the short and to-the-point notes;

For hands on - you can take a class and tour with Don Titmus over as Rio Salado Permaculture.

He has a one day event coming up the end of January at his Mesa permaculture home.  I have been there and he offers great advice for the beginner gardener as well as some great concepts for those already growing their own.

Finally, you can join the Valley Permaculture Alliance and participate in forum conversations (free), and check out their classes offered on wide ranging topics of growing food and raising livestock like chickens (small fee).

Valley Permaculture Alliance

You can see some of my conversations at the VPA here.

. . .

My books are available in print or ebook form.  I have a beginner's guide to gardening more successfully in the desert. The heart of the book is a month-by-month planting calendar.

I also have a recipe book to guide you on maximizing flavor with herbs and spices.


amazon - print

Barnes & Noble - print and Nook ebook



May Your New Year Be Wonderful, Your Family Healthy and Safe, and Your Garden Productive!

-- Catherine, The Herb Lady

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