Here in Ohio, there will still be snow on the ground for many weeks, but already visions of a green garden are swirling in my head. Continue reading
In “permaculture” language, this is an area planted with mainly perennial plantings of differing heights including trees, bushes, herbs and flowers that are arranged so they all benefit each other. The idea is that the grouping provides a good assortment of food, mulch crops, insect pollinators, etc. with minimal outside inputs or on-going planting. I’ve had this project in my head for years and even had an area set aside and cover cropped with rye for two years. Finally, I’ve started in with the shovel to make it into reality.
The area I chose on the farm already had a snow peach tree, a young sweet yellow cherry and locust tree growing so that gave me a foundation to start with. I may add a few more small fruit trees in the future as I see how the space develops. Continue reading
During my Thursday garden demos in Lehmanâ€™s retail store in Kidron, Ohio, I stock my table display with conversation starters and educational tools from our farm. Churning butter prompts stories from folks who churned many a batch in their youth. On the plate of freshly harvested veggies, people often inquire about the bright yellow pattypan squash or the unique Mexican Sour Gherkins and in the bouquet of flowers, Bells of Ireland are the main attraction.
Even with all these fun things, the most popular display is likely my humble plate of edible weeds. Unless you have a perfectly landscaped and chemical-sprayed yard, everyone grows weeds and is curious to learn which ones they can safely put on the supper table. Continue reading
Itâ€™s time for a tasty and versatile seasonal goodie – kale! Cold weather is when kale comes into its glory and following our recent holiday feasting, it is a healthy addition to the menu.
Kale, like most greens, is happiest in cool weather and a frost will make it much sweeter as starches turn to sugars. As late as last December, the Red Russian Kale was still flourishing in my various cold frames (see photo) and depending on the temperatures, I normally can continue harvesting this hardy green through the dead of winter. Continue reading
I am a big fan of letting our food be our medicine and winter is a great time to put that into practice. When dealing with minor ailments for family members, my first choice is searching for things in my kitchen cupboards or from the garden rather than unpronounceable chemicals found in drug store aisles. Since it is the season for â€œwinter yuck,â€ I have gathered some of the basic remedies our family uses this time of year. Continue reading
Our organic gardener, Karen Geiser, is sharing this recipe during her frequent seminars at Lehman’s in Kidron, Ohio. For those of you who might not be able to make it to the store, here’s her easy recipe for flavorful fermented sauerkraut. If you’ve been curious about fermented foods, but aren’t sure where to start, this is the ideal recipe for you!
The other evening our family made a quick trip to Italy. No pricey airline tickets, just a quick ride around the corner to the home of one of my veggie customers who built an outdoor cement oven. But the food tasted like we were an ocean away. Continue reading
Here on the farm, our life revolves around the seasons. Our work attire, job list and even what is on our supper plate is determined by the weather and the time of year. Even the way we celebrate birthdays is dictated by the seasons.
Our family doesn’t give birthday presents but our tradition is to serve a birthday supper where the honoree chooses the menu. Most of the food for these birthday feasts comes right from the farm and our children dream and plan their menus months in advance. Continue reading
It has been an unseasonably warm winter here in Ohio and my hoe and trowel got their first work out in early February this year. Even though I fear that a myriad of bugs survived in this mild winter, I also realize that I am not in control of the weather so I need to gracefully adjust to what comes my way. I am starting some of my spring planting earlier than normal which is a bit risky as there is still potential for real winter temperatures. By using my cold frames, I have some control over the temperatures to safely give my plants a head start.
A cold frame is basically any unheated structure to protect your plants. I have a small high tunnel I can walk into plus an eclectic assortment of smaller structures, many constructed from recycled materials. So under my low tunnels made with wire produce hoops covered with heavy plastic, my fall planted spinach and Swiss chard are beginning to grow again. On a balmy day in early February the ground was dry enough to work and I enjoyed an afternoon of weeding my low tunnel plus transplanting baby lettuces to empty spaces. Under my plastic white barrel halves I have kale ready to pick and parsley growing again and I will soon be planting several rows of radishes. My cold frame made from old trampoline legs on wooden skids and covered with plastic is protecting some lovely mache and once that is harvested the next occupant will be 100 lettuce seedlings. This early head lettuce is usually ready three weeks before my unprotected lettuce. Continue reading
It’s that time of year–when we’re not quite ready to give up our garden bounty, but Mother Nature has other ideas. How to bridge the gap? Cold frames! Lehman’s organic gardener, Karen Geiser, uses them at both ends of the growing season, and gets great crops of hardy things like peas, lettuces, beets, carrots, kale, spinach and Swiss chard. Continue reading