Tuesday, December 6, 2016

A Good Morning's Work

Our days at Farm School are winding down,
and we are cherishing every moment we get to learn from 
The Master.
This past weekend,
we worked on a couple of projects that needed doing.
The first one involved one of my favorite herbs.

We have a thriving rosemary plant out by our mailbox.
It loves the spot and requires very little care.
The bonus is the scent greets our mail carrier
with every delivery.

At Lynn's request, 
I had taken some cuttings from the Mother plant
and stripped the bottom third of the stem of leaves.
(These discarded leaves can be used for cooking or potpourri.)
I brought the cuttings with me to Faye & Lynn's,
so they could be transplanted for market.

Faye filled a large tub with pots,
then shoveled the magic soil mix into the vessels
and leveled them off with a straight edge (butter knife).

 Here we are all set up with filled pots and rooting hormone.
We worked near the garage,
as the day was too blustery to have much success 
with this endeavor out in the garden.
We simply took the cuttings, dipped them in water,
then coated the entire bare stem with hormone
and placed them in the center of the pots.
A dibber was used to create the perfect-sized holes.
They were watered in well and placed in a shady spot.
They will be watched and when they seem to be taking off,
they may be placed in a more sunny location.

You can read more about this fragrant herb 
in our Seed to Table Series here.

 The other job that Faye & I did together
was to pick pigeon peas.
These yummy morsels are akin to black-eyed peas,
in that they are nitrogen-fixers for the soil
and have a similar waxy taste.
We picked the greenest ones we could find.
They'll be shucked and sold at market this coming weekend.

Faye reminded me to use the sun 
to determine if they were ready.
The shadow of the peas in the pods helps to see their size.
The pods are not eaten in this case,
as they are quite tough.
You can read more about pigeon peas here.

It will be hard to say goodbye to this place.
The memories of all I have learned here
will be treasured in my heart.
My time here has made me a better person.
How do you repay that?

Friday, December 2, 2016

Unconventional Oatmeal Cookies (gf)

This recipe was so unique,
I just had to give it a go.
So many delicious ingredients
that I never thought to put together before.
But Jami Boys, at An Oregon Cottage did.
Many of her recipes have found their way 
We like to pass the good stuff along.

 Oat flour was made by simply placing oats in the blender
and whizzing away until the right consistency was obtained.
As no flour is used, these yummies are gluten-free.

With a mix of nut butter, seeds, nuts and chocolate chips,
they were bound to be good.

Chocolate Chip, Nut & Seed Oatmeal Cookies (GF)
Jami Boys

1/4 C butter
1/4 C nut butter (we used Sunbutter)
2/3 C brown sugar (we used coconut sugar)
3 T honey
1 egg
1 t vanilla
1 1/4 C oat flour (we made our own)
3/4 C whole rolled oats
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t baking powder
1/4 t salt
1/2 C chopped nuts (we used pecans)
1/3 C sunflower seeds
2 T flax seed meal
1/2 C chocolate chips

Beat butter, nut butter, sugar and honey in a large bowl until smooth.  
Add egg and vanilla and mix until incorporated.
To the mixture, add oat flour, oatmeal, soda, powder and salt; 
stir just until mixed well before folding in 
the nuts, seeds, flax meal and chocolate chips.
Heat oven to 350 degrees and line sheet pan with parchment paper.
Drop cookies a tablespoon at a time onto prepared sheets,
flattening slightly.
Bake 8-10 minutes, then let cool on sheet pan 5 minutes
before transferring to cool on cooling rack.
Makes 3 dozen.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Farm School Update

With the fall garden in full swing,
we thought we'd do an update on Farm School.
About three and a half years ago,
I met my gardening mentors, Faye & Lynn,
who have been teaching me about being a farmer here in Central Florida.
(We have a year-long series on our sessions
posted underneath our header.)

A few weeks ago,
sugar snap peas were sown.

They germinated well,
but took a little while to get going.
They love the cooler temperatures of autumn.


This weekend they looked quite happy.
These snap peas are a vibrant green, crisp and crunchy,
and sweet as sugar.
We're looking forward to seeing those blossoms show up
because we know that we'll soon be enjoying these tasty morsels.

In the lettuce patch,
Faye & Lynn have been dealing with pesky squirrels.
They have attacked the delicate leaves of all of the varieties
including Romaine, Buttercrunch, Simpson and Red Salad Bowl.
Staying true to their organic practices,
they found a way to thwart the nasty critters without using pesticides.

 The shade cloth has done a remarkable job
of keeping them out
and keeping the plants safe.

More shade cloth was added to the garden on the west side of the property.

This time, Lynn used the shade cloth as a wall,
because the pots in this garden are much bigger than the containers in the lettuce patch.

 Inside this protective fortress
are kales and Swiss chard.

So far, the crops outside of the protected area seem to be untouched.


tat soi

tokyo bekana

The eggplant is lookin' good.
I sure hope I get to sample some of these beauties.

Once they reach a certain height, 
Lynn places cages over them for support.

Another crop that we are patiently awaiting
are the Celebrity tomatoes.
Nothing like home-grown maters.
The combination of Lynn's tomatoes and eggplant
is one of my favorite pairings for a peasant stew called ratatouille.

The fall garden is well underway
and we are enjoying spending every minute we can in it.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Thankful as Can Be

So much for which to be thankful.
The Road Back to Health.
Real Food.
A Warm Bed.
Dreams Realized.
The Journey.


May you be blessed this Thanksgiving
with love, laughter and joy.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Mass Destruction

There's a takeover going on in our garden.

Our passionflower vine is being decimated.

It's not the colder temperatures or lack of water that's causing this destruction.

We are being inundated by these critters,
who feast on this delicate vining plant.

While some of you have welcomed your first frost or snowfall,
we are being visited by a storm of another kind.

The voracious gulf fritillary caterpillars
have descended like a squall.

 Noticing how peaked the plant looked,
I had a feeling that they were very busy out there.
I wasn't disappointed.
Having hosted these caterpillars for quite a few years now,
I can't recall ever seeing so many at one time in our garden.

They start out small enough...

but with each bite, they grow exponentially.
And the passionflower disappears before our eyes.

When they've achieved the right size,
they look for a place to hang out and cocoon.

 Up the walls they go,
looking for the perfect spot to work their magic.

 Here's one that has already transformed
and moved on to greener pastures.

 What a blessing to be able to witness their metamorphosis,
especially during this week of Thanksgiving.
Here's hoping that today you are able to experience
the wonder of the natural world around you.