Sunday, March 15, 2015

Wood Streets Gardens: The Exit Strategy

Wood Streets Gardens growing food for health and posterity.
Wood Streets Gardens growing food for health and posterity.
Yes, we do plan on leaving Wood Streets Gardens behind us.  Truth be told, it is going to be a tough move. If I could I would pick up the gardens, load them on a truck and take them with us.

We - I - really want out of the city. I want more open space. I want freedom to do what I want on my property. I don't want to hear our neighbors flush their toilet. I don't want to smell the perfumed dryer exhaust when they are doing laundry or the scent of their freshly, over-chlorinated pool.  I want the freedom to have as many chickens and roosters as I choose.

It won't be this year. We have a five year move-out plan. In five years we are outta here! Sooner if things go well, and that would be a welcome change. At the end of the term Tom will be able to retire, we will be able to sell the property with cash out and move to our dream destination, wherever that is. Somewhere cool, but not cold, with plenty of water. 

We have much to do to prepare.  While 5 years seems like an eternity, it will go by quickly. It will. It has to or I will go insane. Keeping busy will help preserve my sanity
.
It is a bit ironic that our move- out plan is the impetus for starting a real garden business with products and marketing and profit or loss statements. Though our little postage stamp in the city may not produce a full-fledged farm income, every bit of cash it generates will fund the move. A bit of ingenuity and creative use of space and resources just might bring in more cash than even we think possible. And I tend to dream big.  

The business will rely on the gardens we have grown. We have several products in the development stage which I hope people will love so much that we can't keep them on the shelves. The best part is none of these products require cooking or baking for people. Been there, done that. Not again.

Teas, tisanes, and a variety of specialty products from our gardens will be hitting the market soon, and I sincerely hope they are all huge hits. We really need to be wildly successful now so we aren't the proverbial burden on the kids when we are old and decrepit. Not that I plan on becoming decrepit, but stuff happens. Who knows?

It is time to get to it, get serious and get out of the city. Wherever we go, we will take with us our belief and practice of growing food for health and posterity.

I hope you'll follow us on our journey. I would love to hear your comments and suggestions.

Happy gardening,


~Julie

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Recipe: Beets That Don't Taste Like Dirt

Roasted, chilled beets with blue cheese.
Roasted, chilled beets with blue cheese.
Finally! Beets that don't taste like dirt. My kids say it all the time. Beets smell and taste like dirt.

Beets, although they are among the vegetables highest in carbs, are still incredibly healthy and a food you should consider eating on occasion.

But I get it. They taste like dirt.

Beets do have a rather earthy aroma and flavor. And some people are just not into eating dirt or anything that tastes like it. But there are ways to make beets delicious. Well, at least one way.

Here is my version of the best way to cook and eat beets. No added sugar, no salt, no pickling. And so delicious.

Chilled Beets with Blue Cheese Recipe



Beets
Balsamic vinegar
Crumbled blue cheese
Black pepper


1. Roast beets, covered or wrapped in foil, at 350 degrees until tender, about 45 minutes to 1 hour.
2. Remove beets from the oven and peel.
3. Cut beets into half-inch thick slices. 
4. Place beet slices in a covered container and chill for 1 to 2 hours.
5. Drizzle beet slices with balsamic vinegar. Top with crumbled blue cheese or blue cheese dressing. Season with black pepper. 


Enjoy!

~Julie





Friday, February 27, 2015

Planting Tomatoes and Companion Plants

It's Tomato Time - Get your seeds now

Yes, I really am planting tomatoes in February. I already have about 20 in the ground, nice and cozy with plenty of mulch, and lots more to plant. This is part of my 2015 Tomato Strategy - get them in before I plant myself out of tomato growing space.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I have had zero success with growing tomatoes the last few years. They will be growing fine and then, wham! Something happens and wipes them all out. The whammo usually occurs when the weather starts heating up and the plants have been in the gardens for months. Our biggest problem, besides the heat has been red spider mites. I hate them. 

I could use sprays and kill every living creature on the plants, but that is so counterproductive and completely against my philosophy. But there are still things I can try, like planting short season tomatoes, succession planting and companions. Planting lots of companions for my tomatoes will, fingers crossed, be effective. 

Here is the list of the companions I am planting for my tomatoes:


Garlic. My research has led me to believe that this may be the magic bullet to keep the tomatoes clear of spider mites. Again, fingers crossed. 

Basil. Also deters spider mites, aphids, white flies, and horn worms. They may also attract pollinators and improve tomato flavor.

Marigolds. Deters nematodes, slugs and tomato worms. 

Nasturtium. An edible flower (eat the leaves too) that deters white flies, aphids, squash bugs and beetles. Nasturtiums reseed every year in my garden and they are so pretty. They are also a good companion for tomatoes because they don't need much care or water. 

Parsley. This extremely healthy herb attracts hover wasps which feast on tomato worms. 

Chives and borage are also good companions for tomatoes, but I only have so much space. 

All Together Now

The best defense is a good offense. I am going on the offensive from the start this year. No waiting for the problems to appear, or lagging in the planting schedule. Every tomato plant is surrounded by a variety of companions. Garlic, for sure. I even put a tomato plant in the middle of a garlic stand I planted last fall. 

I started the seeds for the companions one to two weeks before the tomato seeds. I wanted to make sure there were plenty to go around, because I am planting just a few tomatoes. About 90, I'm hoping. And more through the growing season.

Here's to a successful season. Happy gardening,

~Julie



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