something (three–or is it four, things!) blue. Momma robin has kept these beautiful eggs warm and cozy all night through some frigid wind and violent rain. It’s thunderstormed and temperatures have been way below normal, but these eggs are warm and dry.
Monthly Archives: May 2011
This robin has been working very diligently over the last 24 hours. I don’t think this is the best location for the birds, but it certainly gives me and the kids a great opportunity to watch the birds as they build their nest and have babies. I just hope we can all get along since they are perched right among our outdoor living space.
I was a CSA member for 3 years. I first sought out a CSA program when I lived in a house with no garden plot. I had read about CSA programs in a magazine and thought that sounded like a nice alternative to the grocery store.
The CSA I choose was certified organic, and included strawberry and tomato picking in the share. Organic chickens could be added as an option. There were multiple pick up locations… I choose to pick up right at the farm which was about 20 minutes from my house.
I was very impressed the first year of the CSA. Our boxes were filled with so many great things, many varieties were new to me. I had so much fun cooking with these fruits, veggies and herbs. There were surprises sometimes too. At the beginning of the season they gave us a Sun Gold tomato plant. During an abundant pepper harvest they set out boxes of peppers, we could take as many as we wanted. There were frozen tomatoes early in the season, preserved from last year’s harvest and just right for a spring spaghetti sauce. I enjoyed the surprises so much.
For two more years I subscribed to the CSA. I saved every newsletter they sent me, trying the suggested recipes and soaking in all the great information. When we moved, we continued to subscribe, changing our pick up location to a farmer’s market in the city. Good things continued to come into our home via the CSA.
There were some disappointments along the way. The second year a frost destroyed the tomato crop prior to the self-pick date. We missed out on tomato picking that year. The third year a perfect storm of weather, publicity and timing found us in line to pick strawberries and being told they were all out. As a paying CSA member we felt sort of cheated. By whom, I’m not sure. You can’t predict how these things will go–if the crop will grow, if the weather will cooperate, if people will hear about your farm and show up to pick berries. It wasn’t the strawberry event that led to our ultimate decision to part ways. But in some way I’m sure it contributed.
One year we got so many brussels sprouts (something my stomach can’t handle) and cauliflower (my husband won’t eat it) that we became the crazy people of the family, trying to pawn off veggies we didn’t want on unsuspecting relations.
I have a short list of other things my stomach won’t accept–green peppers, zucchini, mushrooms–even though I would eat a mountain of these things if I could. When we’d get these in our CSA box I’d just have to sigh and prepare them for my family, feeling a bit left out.
Perhaps the turning point came when I realized that if I put even half the money we spent on the CSA into my home garden I could produce just as much food and none of it would have to go to waste… or relatives. Besides, I loved gardening. And now I had a wealth of knowledge from my years of preparing food from my CSA box, reading the newsletters and visiting the farm. In a way, the experience of doing the CSA led me to stop doing the CSA. I had gleaned what I could and was ready to move on.
I felt a little bit like one does when it’s time to switch to a new hair stylist. It’s a bit awkward. When you see the person after the split has become official you feel like you might need to explain. I was honest with my farmer, and also promised I’d be back at the farm stand for strawberries in June and other favorites throughout the season. Still, I felt a little tinge of guilt about leaving our CSA. And I knew I’d miss it a little bit.
Sometimes severing ties is the best way to move forward. When we say no to one thing we are free to say yes to something else. The money saved from the CSA was put into our home garden and the results continue to amaze me. We harvest plenty of food from our garden, but now we also get the satisfaction of growing it ourselves and the joy of living with a garden.
Now I grow things I can eat, that my family loves, that relatives don’t mind receiving when the harvest is more than my little family needs. It’s for the best.
But I wouldn’t take way those three years of CSA eating. It was delicious, educational and fun. Not to mention nutritious!
I found my CSA by searching Local Harvest.
I’ve been to Disneyland once, on a gorgeous fall day in October. We took my then 1-year-old son on the Casey Jr. Circus Train ride in Fantasyland. What struck me most about it were the charming gardens and miniature villages and storybook castles. It was very “old school” Disney and was noticeably void of today’s overly pink princesses that seem to permeate all things Disney.
Take a ride on Casey Jr. and see for yourself what a pleasant trip through nostalgia awaits you!
The first thing to be harvested from the garden each year are vibrant green chives. I love to see these poke through the ground, sometimes they even make it through the snow.
My favorite uses for chives include:
on scrambled eggs
in a salad
on potatoes, rice or any grain
on tomato slices
in a condiment buffet for nachos, tacos or other Mexican fare
sprinkled over grilled meats
My kids like to grab a chive while playing in the yard and snack on it. I do that same thing once in a while!
Chives have an oniony flavor. I sometimes use them instead of green onions. Early in the season the flavor is more mild, later in the season the oniony-ness becomes stronger.
It’s easiest to snip the chives with a kitchen scissors. This is also the tool I use to harvest them out of the garden. I cut them about an inch from the soil. They continue growing, so I can cut fresh chives for the entire growing season and never run out.
This week I made Smashed Chive Potatoes from a recipe I clipped out of the newspaper in 2005–before I even grew chives. I just knew I’d have a garden someday and was always clipping out recipes to use in the future. Now I have a virtual library of clippings. It’s a bit chaotic, but also fun, to go rifling through the recipes and I feel so happy when I come across just the right one.
The recipe does not exist online (that I can find) so I’m sharing it here. I really enjoyed it! And my family did too.
Smashed Chive Potatoes
Tribune Media Services, from the April 13, 2005 editions of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, skins on
1 ounce chopped chives, a few chives reserved for garnish
1/4 cup of good olive oil
2 tablespoons chicken broth
1 clove garlic, minced
salt and mixed pepper (red, white, black)
Cut potatoes into quarters. (Don not peel.) Boil until tender, about 15 minutes. Drain and pat dry with paper towels. Mash by hand or lightly with mixer. (Do not overmix, or else potatoes will become gluey.)
Add chives, olive oil, chicken broth and garlic, and mix. Add salt and pepper to taste and garnish with chopped chives. Makes about 4 servings.
Sung by Burl Ives in the movie Summer Magic starring Hayley Mills, this cute song about bugs is a kid-pleaser. My kids love bugs!
My tomato seedlings have really been growing the last week or two. It was time to move them out of the seed starting tray and into pots. While they’ll still have 3-4 weeks before they can go in the ground, they are developing root systems and leaves which will make them strong and healthy for the growing season.
I used to use peat pots for this step of the gardening process, but there’s been a lot of press lately on the topic of peat and it looks like there are now better alternatives available. I’ll be looking into this more as I current use peat moss as part of my raised bed filler. Perhaps there is a more sustainable option I can use. In the meantime, I’ve made the switch to these 100% peat-free renewable coir pots. They work the same way, and can be planted right into the garden just as I did with the peat pots.
In the above photo you can see I’ve also transplanted the impatiens I started from seed. Only 7 plants grew in my tray of 70! That’s a terrible germination rate… and now I’ll be buying a tray of impatiens at the garden center.