Beautiful Beginnings….and a little trouble.

Moreau6.7.2015_2

I was in the garden enjoying how fresh and lovely it looks. Flowers blooming. Seedlings sprouting. Moreau6.7.2015_5207

The garden is beautiful.

But I did notice a problem. Something ate the tops off tomatoes and a pepper plant. It also pulled some plants out of the ground. I suspect it was a deer . . . but I’m not 100 percent certain. It might have been a woodchuck. If you see a critter in the beds, please let us know.

Thank you.

This is what the damage looked like. Anyone have experience to know what troublesome varmint feasted in our garden?Moreau6.7.2015_3

Family Gardening Program- Week Six

This week there was a long list of things that needed to be done.

mulhcmoverChores for the older participants included moving wood chips into the flower beds, learning how to save the seeds of bachelor’s button flowers, harvesting and cleaning out the purple bean bed and weeding.

savingseedFortunately, the young gardeners took their chores to heart and completed the work in time to enjoy a special treat…watermelon lemonade.

This lemonade is so easy to make and there wasn’t a single gardener who didn’t like it.  You make it by pureeing two cups of watermelon in a blender and then pouring the watermelon puree through a strainer and into the pre-made lemonade. It is delicious and a very pretty pink.

KALE CHIPS

kaleharvestIn an effort to try new and different vegetable recipes, I researched how to make kale chips. And, I found an easy recipe.

The youngest gardeners, five and six-year-olds,  were responsible for harvesting all the kale, washing it and carrying it back to the kitchen where Miss Laurie baked the kale chips.  She reported that some liked them, others didn’t but that’s OK. They all had the opportunity to try something they hadn’t tried before.

Kale chips are easy to make.

Here’s how, preheat oven to 275 degrees. Remove the rib and then cut the washed kale into two inch pieces. Dry.

Spread kale on a baking sheet and toss with the olive oil and salt. Bake until crisp about 15 to 20 minutes.

Note: curly kale takes longer to crisp then lacinato kale. Kale chips have a nice crunch, like potato chips.

The young gardeners also harvested a huge and heavy zucchini!

bigzucchini The next two groups of gardeners were really busy. They harvested green beans, cucumbers, tomatoes and moved more mulch.

Some gardeners drew pictures of what the garden meant to them.  I’m thinking we may do an art show in the Spring!

It was another great day in the garden for the participants in the Family Gardening Program.

 

Family Gardening Program – Celery Harvesting and Tasting

CeleryThis was a busy, busy morning in the garden. The young gardeners pulled weeds, trimmed the herbs, moved mulch, harvested green beans and then trimmed the plants for the experiment. See previous post for more on the experiment.

They also tied tomatoes to the support stakes, removed spent flowers from a plot and collected Batchelor’s Button seeds for next year’s flowers.

But that’s not all!

Every group harvested celery. It wasn’t easy to pull from the ground but all ages showed teamwork and strength and got the plants out, shook off the soil and placed them in a wire basket.  Next, we trimmed off the roots, washed the stalks and ate them with a yogurt based ranch dressing.

Almost everyone agreed that this was good tasting celery. It couldn’t have been any fresher and it certainly had better flavor than the pale stalks we buy at the supermarket.  Even gardeners who thought they didn’t like celery, tried it and found they did.

Some of the young gardeners ate multiple stalks with and without the dressing.  The rule in the garden is you can take a small bite of a vegetable and if you don’t like it, you can politely spit it out.

“But if you are adventurous enough to try something new, you may be surprised you like it.” That is what I say every time a new vegetable is presented.

We also added freshly harvested and chopped parsley to the yogurt dressing and that also meet with approval. The willingness to try new things is terrific.

This was a great day.

I’m looking forward to next week…I’ve got something unusual planned.

 

celery4

Cool as a Cucumber

Family Gardening Program – Week Four

Copyright Natalie Walsh

Copyright Natalie Walsh

Great day in the garden.

The participants in the Family Gardening Program from the Moreau Community Center’s camp spent time putting down mulch, harvesting beans, sugar snap peas and nasturtiums, an edible flower.

Although I didn’t know ahead of time, there were plans in the works to make a garden salad with the campers later in the day.  How perfect that we had radishes, Swiss chard, cucumbers, zucchini, yellow summer squash, an edible flower, and bags full of green beans, some purple beans and some sugar snap peas to send back for the salad.

Just so you know, the harvest of the sugar snap peas was plentiful this year.  There were many for each camper…but they are very tasty and so well received that only a few made it into the bag.  This is one of the delights of teaching gardening. Eating right from the plant. Once you know how good it tastes, you want to grow sugar snap peas for yourself.  One camper kept repeating what they were to herself – “Sugar snap peas, sugar snap peas” – so she could remember and tell her mother later. “I like these,” was a common refrain.

The nasturtiums aroused curiosity. The more adventurous gave them a taste. And all were happy to add them to a bag for the garden salad that would be served later that day.

Harvesting beans always brings an enthusiastic response. The beans are easy to find, and easy to break from the plant. And then there’s the “How big a one did you find?” comparisons.  The campers measure the beans from their wrist to the edge of their longest finger and declare who had the biggest.

The older group learned how a bucket brigade worked as we  moved wood chips down the line and onto our new flower bed of day lilies.  I told them how historically a bucket brigade was used to move water and put out fires.  I can tell you that a bucket brigade made short work of mulch moving and the new flower bed was covered in chips in no time at all.  Thank you campers!

It was a hot and humid day, so I made mint lemonade for the 70 or so people in the garden. Earlier in the day I had prepared the recipe and it was good that I did. Many campers asked how I made it.  We talked about what they liked more, the basil lemonade I had made previously or the spearmint lemonade they were drinking today.   The majority said they enjoyed both but given the option of one over the other would choose the mint lemonade.

If you’re curious about the recipe, it is easy. Make your favorite lemonade. In a blender add a cup of mint leaves and a cup of water and blend. Pour this through a sieve and then add the liquid to the lemonade. It’s not only easy, it is very refreshing.

Just ask the kids!

 

Blueberries by Robert Frost

“You ought to have seen what I saw on my way
To the village, through Mortenson’s pasture to-day:
Blueberries as big as the end of your thumb,
Real sky-blue, and heavy, and ready to drum
In the cavernous pail of the first one to come!
And all ripe together, not some of them green
And some of them ripe! You ought to have seen!”

It’s good year for blueberries. My sister is bringing some berries from her garden today and some eggs from her chickens.

For lunch we are having a vegetables and pasta. The peppers, peas, beans, tomatoes, parsley, basil are all from my garden.

The tomatoes are the first of the season and fresh off the vine this morning. I held them in my hand and inhaled the aroma.

I love growing our own food.

Life is good.