Thursday, July 25, 2013

The Rhapsody of Green

Welcome back to another episode of Lost in the Farmer’s Market where we test those garden theories so you don’t have to! This week we have another installment detailing a garden herb and it could not be contained to just the herbal parts of that grouping. That’s right this week we are talking about the Apiaceae family formerly known as the Umbelliferae or more commonly called the Carrot or Parsley family.

The pot on the right is filled with Cilantro, which having froze several times over the winter was rather vigorous after.

Looking at the family at a glance it is no wonder we like it so much as it radiates across four spectrums of plants. Apiaceae ranges from the incredibly poisonous with Queen Anne’s lace and Hemlock, to a plethora of common herbs and vegetables we often see at the super market and don’t think twice about. For starters the vegetable group includes Carrots, Celery/Celeriac, Fennel Hearts, Parsnips, Parsley Root, and Lovage. The herbal side of the family also includes Parsley, Fennel, Dill, Anise, Coriander/Cilantro, Cumin, Cicley, Chervil, Caraway and Angelica. A fourth angle to the family can be found with the largely Ornamental Sea Hollies. Needless to say the family is huge and incredibly beneficial to the gardener and those who eat at his or her table.

This is a Paris Market carrot, note how the foliage resembles most other members of the family except for dill and fennel.

With all the most common members of the Apiaceae family listed and grouped lets talk for a moment about some of the ones that most gardeners don’t grow. The first plant on the list is Lovage which is a perennial celery substitute; we tried this one in year one of the NC test garden and it did not do well. The reason for it not lasting was the soil quality and placement. It turns out Lovage doesn’t mind full sun as long as the soil is fairly rich, but needs afternoon shade and regular moisture otherwise.

Black swallowtail butterfly  larvae and cocoons on Bronze Fennel

As far as taste goes it came across as a more pungent celery thus needing less stalks per recipe. Fennel which is best known by its ‘ornamental’ variety Bronze fennel is often labeled as a xeriscaping plant and indeed it is good for that, but it also is quite flavorful and grows in good and bad local soil as long as it’s not kept wet. You as a gardener will be rewarded with ultra-fine foliage and yellow blooms which stand in contrast to the rick green or almost-black color of the foliage. Further more the plant is often host to Black swallowtail caterpillars and will often be perched on by dragon flies. I also have to mention certain varieties of fennel form fleshy bases and are often called fennel hearts, they add the flavor of anise and fennel to your soups and stir fries. 

A dragon fly perched on a caterpillar chewed Bronze fennel stem. This one literally sat there as the camera hovered mere inches away as if wanting his or her majesty on record.

A third underused member of the family is the Parsnip. If you do not use Parsnips already then you have likely seen them near the carrots at the supermarket, they look like white-tan carrots and are often twice as wide while being the same length on average. A parsnip is to a carrot what cauliflower is to broccoli excepting the fact that a parsnip actually normally looks this way and needs no human intervention and is a separate family member. Typically one would peel the parsnip with a potato peeler, cut off the ends, then slice the root into bits as thick as you can handle and add to your soup or a baked meat dish before cooking. Overall the parsnip adds the overtones of celery, parsley and carrot, and since the roots are large, you need less vegetable stock to achieve the effect. I might ad in the refrigerator parsnips keep well due to their low water content. In the garden they are not any different or more difficult to grow then carrots and numerous varieties are available to meet your needs including sweeter long season types.

We at LITFM encourage you to try some members of the carrot family beyond your regular  staples and you can bet you will find a range of flavors and textures that can change your cooking pretty dramatically. Most of the family in cultivation are either annual (Cilantro, Dill) or biennial (Carrot, Parsnip, Parsley) however there are some perennials (Fennel, Lovage, Anise). For the purposes of permaculture the possibilities of incorporating members of this family are endless, as the edible members also are quite nutritious and reasonably rugged once you learn their preferences and relate them to your area.

That said, this weekend I will be at the Fayetteville City/Farmer’s Market in downtown Fayetteville.  The weather is supposed to be decent so come on down, the market is open rain or shine and most vendors are pretty good about this as are some of you hardcore market goers. The market is located at 325 Franklin Street at the Fayetteville Transportation Museum and there is no shortage of parking. The market is open from 9:00 am through 1:00 pm so feel free to stop buy and chat or pick up the latest stuff about conservation or heck get a member of the apiaceae family as we have some lovely parsley plants that need a home. Here is this week’s Plant list:

4x Burgundy Okra
3x Japanese Long Eggplant
2x Sweet Banana Pepper
4x Habenero Pepper (Hot!)
3x Tumbling Tom Tomato (Yellow Cherry)
7x Beefsteak Tomato (medium-large slicing)

6x Italian Parsley
1x Common Sage
1x Oregano
1x Mountain Mint
1x Lavender Cotton
2x Hidcote Lavender
2x Cinnamon Basil
4x Sweet Basil
10x Egyptian Onion

House Plants:
2x Pepromia verticilliata - Rotary Peperomia (house plant)
2x Sanseveria cylindrical – Spear Sanseveria (Houseplant)
2x Aloe barbadensis – Medicinal Aloe / Aloe Vera

-And of course whatever else I can squeeze onto the truck!

This brings to a close another episode of Lost in the Farmer’s Market and the month of July. In August we will continue the Herbs series as well as some status updates on a few of our pet projects. I hope you all enjoyed this episode and might add that we did recycle some old photos for this post as, our camera as some of you might know was stolen during a break in of the test garden property.  That aside I’d love to hear the results of any forays into the Apiaceae family you make and even swap some recipes.  As always folks keep ‘em growing!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

And a wise sage said unto me, Hey I go great on mutton!

Welcome to another fine episode of Lost in the Farmers Market, your weekly web log foray into permaculture, organic methods and sticking it to the man all in earth friendly format! Today’s topic is all about Sage, and while we plan to drop some wisdom on all you readers out there we certainly don’t mean an wise old guy when we say sage. Sage it self is one of the less regarded herbs in our daily life as it’s relegated to a background seasoning in most seasoning mixes and we really never stop to appreciate what precisely sage does. I have to admit the sage family is quite diverse, much like the Basil family, but its examples range into territories that the basils can’t even hope to reach. For the purposes of this article sage is considered in four groupings, Culinary, Herbal, Aromatic and Ornamental.  So now that the groupings have been decided lets start with the culinary group.

Culinary sage is best described as any sage that lends a distinct flavor to a beverage or prepared meal by means of the process of cooking or being cut up allowing the essential oils to mix in with the chosen food medium. That gives us five sage varieties to consider in this category. The five safe culinary sages are Common sage (Salvia officinalis), Berggarten Sage (Salvia officinalis ‘Berggarten’), White Dalmatian Sage (S. officinalis ‘White Dalmatian’), Pineapple Sage (S. elegans) and, Greek Sage (S. fruiticosa). The first three sages in this group may seem like a cop out, but all three are there because of the range of preference found for sage’s flavor qualities. The original seasoning Common sage goes well with lamb, but at times can be a bit bitter. Bergartten sage is about the same but has larger leaves making for an easier harvest. Dalmatian sage is the cultivated variety found in higher quality spices, and is far less likely to have any bitterness and thus works in more dishes. Pineapple sage is probably the work horse of the group as it’s crushed foliage adds a pineapple-melon flavor to any dish or beverage. Pineapple sage’s bright red flowers are favored by humming birds but it’s also a tender or herbaceous perennial in general. Greek sage is reportedly used like common sage but possesses a bitter-free flavor that has been said to fall between common and pineapple sage depending on who you ask.  Personally I like sage, it’s got a stately look in the garden with its seemingly fuzzy (P. sage) or ultra crinkled (B. Sage) leaves born on long strap like leaves. In most cases it’s evergreen, and although slow growing the flavor is very evident if used fresh. A dish served at the ranch using Berggarten Sage is a simple Omelet, with fresh paprika peppers, baby portabella mushrooms and a bit of freshly picked sage chopped as fine as possible. Season the eggs to taste but make sure to lightly sauté everything but the eggs separate then add to the omelet mix before pouring it into the frying pan. Respectively adding freshly picked Pineapple sage leaves to a batch of tea to be drunk hot or chilled to become iced tea later is very refreshing! Finely sliced Pineapple sage works in marinades, and as part of a salad if cut finely especially if a sweet salad dressing is used. On the internet you will find no shortage of rescipies for using sage in fresh and dried formats but those are my two, feel free to send in some or ask for that omelet one.

The second grouping of the sage family is the herbal group. Now one could ague that all sages are herbal and I would completely agree. The difference is seen with which ones are actually used to treat health issues most effectively and those are the sages referred to in the herbal group. That aside it is well documented that members of the sage family have value for their anti-sweating agents are antibiotic, stringent, antifungal, antispasmodic, estrogenic, hypoglycemic and have encouraging effects in fighting memory disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease. I defy anyone to say that’s not an impressive list, however the best member of the family for this is the one that produces the most essential oils for which the easy guess are the culinary and aromatic sages. However the variety ‘Extrakta’ which is a cultivated form of common sage(S. officinalis)  produces the most essential oils and thus may be the best medicinally for getting all those nice effects from sage. Barring that Red sage (S. miltiorrhiza ) and Clary Sage (S. sclarea) are also noted to have had much medical use over the ages. On an unrelated note sage has been used as a preservative in meat for ages, and you may find it at your supermarket in ‘sage rubbed’ or ‘air-dried’ sausages in the meat aisle. The labels might not say sage prominently but the ingredient list should have it in there. The idea was that as a preservative, sage kept food from spoiling by means of what later people would learn was bacterial activity.

The third grouping of sage is the Aromatic types. Sage as an incense is a curveball most don’t expect because it only refers to two separate sage varieties, white sage (Salvia apiana) and Black Sage (S. mellifera) the latter of which can be grown in North Carolina! Both are known as sacred sage along with a third non-sage plant Sagebrush (Artemesia tridentata). It is fair to warn you, all of these have a very…pungent aroma when dried and then lit as one would do with an incense stick. However in Native American tradition this aroma is used to expel malicious spirits and to cleanse ones own spirit. I do not know if white or black sage are edible, but at least the black sage is rather stately and while it seems to not grow very long in north Carolina for the time it does it’s the most unique sage in the yard! I personally would love to try some white sage, but have no where to get plants so if any of you out there know of a reputable nursery please comment.

The final grouping to consider with sage are the ornamental types, which is where we take a turn for new territory when compared to basil. Ornamental sage is a xeriscaping hall mark and often is tougher then nails. As with any perennial ornamental sage is only as good as it’s grower and so you readers out there should be vary of what you are buying. Generally it is agreed that the following perennials are ornamental sages for numerous reasons; Golden Sage (S. officinalis ‘Aurea’), Purple Sage (S. officinalis ‘Purpurescens’), Tricolor Sage (S. officinalis ‘Tricolor’), Meadow Sage (S. praetensis), Scarlet Sage (S. splendens), Black and Blue Sage (S. guarantica), Texas Sage (S. coccinea), Woodland Sage (S. nemerosa )and Lyre Leaf Sage (S. lyrata). Unlike the other categories there are far too many ornamentals ages to cover each one in any detail. What I will talk about briefly are the most commonly available ones and that brings us to Black and Blue Salvia, which is a fine perennial named for its black stems, bluish foliage and deep blue flowers which hummingbirds and pollinators love. Then there is Texas sage to consider which is a fine herbaceous perennial that is best known by it’s most common cultivar ‘Coral Nymph’ and ‘Hot Lips’ both of which are stunning shades of pink.  The Purple, Golden and Tricolor sages are in the ornamental group because of their reduced flavor value compared to common sage. Despite the lack of flavor in this color trio they can make for some stunning borders when combined with lighter or darker companions who have contracting foliage texture. Perhaps the most common ornamental sage on the market is Woodland sage. Woodland sage is often seen in the racks at lowes as a ‘water wise’ plant and often has it’s qualities over-emphasized to the casual home owners who don’t know any better.

To cap off this discussion on sage I have to briefly discuss how to grow and care for sage. The basic rule of sage is to try and allow the roots to dry out between waterings as sage hates wet feet. Further more sage does not like prolonged periods of moisture and thus you must try not to keep its foliage wet. The soil it resides in should be reasonably enriched but also well draining and of course sage absolutely prefers a full sun location with good spacing between its neighbors for maximum airflow. Sage is largely pest free and only suffers from bacterial rot or leaf spots if kept too wet. One should harvest sage by snipping off individual leaves with as much stem attached to the leaf as is possible using a sharp scissor or knife and only take what you need. Since sage is slow growing you want to leave enough for the plant to recover. I can’t say that fertilizers seem to do much good with sage outside of the herbaceous types as a really good soil mix seems to outshine any fertilizer in the long term. This concludes LITFM’s look into the sage grouping and now, we move on to this week’s plant list.

Well considering that the weather has leveled out a bit you can expect it’ll be a good time over at the farmer’s market.  After all there is nothing better then blue skies and farm fresh produce in the summer time! This week I’ll have plenty of good info on the info table, copies of Southward skies and all kinds of cool plants. The market runs from 9:00 am through 1:00pm and is located at 325 Franklin Street. Feel free to come on down and peruse the market or even ask any garden questions you might have. The below is this week’s plant list.

5x Burgundy Okra
4x Japanese Long Eggplant
4x Carolina Wonder Pepper (Sweet Red Bell)
4x Habenero Pepper (Hot!)
2x Tumbling Tom Tomato (Yellow Cherry)
6x Beefsteak Tomato (medium-large slicing)

8x Italian Parsley
2x Common Sage
1x Berggarten Sage
2x Hidcote Lavender
4x Cinnamon Basil
4x Sweet Basil
10x Egyptian Onion

Fruit & ground cover:
1x Galore Rose Strawberry

House Plants:
3x Pepromia verticilliata - Rotary Peperomia (house plant)
2x Sanseveria cylindrical – Spear Sanseveria (Houseplant)

-plus whatever else fits in the truck!-

With the herb of the week covered and the plant list posted this puts a cork in the bottle of another weekly episode of LITFM. Thank you all for reading and I hope to see all of you at the farmer's market on Saturday. If you have any questions about Sage or other Herbs (legal ones only please) feel free to stop on by and ask away. Next week we will be talking about common garden herbs in the Apiaceae family, oh believe me it's a trip you want to take! 

Remember folks keep 'em growing.

Friday, July 12, 2013

If it keeps raining I'm building an Ark.

Welcome back to another episode of Lost in the farmer’s market. Today we start the episode off with a picture sent to us by Marsha Howe the organizer behind Sustainable neighbors of the harvest on the Arsenal Bridge. I believe the picture was taken by Bryan and it speaks for itself.

How about them veggies folks? They look as good as store bought but are likely better for you!

For those who do not know, the Arsenal Bridge is in Fayetteville and connects the Cape fear Museum property and Arsenal Park. It’s a walking bridge that runs over Martin Luther King Highway, and bears waist-high cement planters that tend to go wild during the summer months. Through the Coffee Klatch program organized by Byran the bridge has never looked better and as you can see, it has also never been more productive.

In case your wondering this is the bridge as seen from the freeway, this image is curtsey of google maps. I think this image is a year old.

Today’s main topic is the first of a short series where I will be talking about a specific herb every post and what it is used for. This topic has actually come about due to conversations at the booth on Saturdays. Many a Farmer’s market visitor has stopped by and asked for herbs and thus it tells me what you all might have on mind now that the mad dash to get the veggies planted has passed. Today’s Herb will be basil, the plant that receives the most inquiries at the booth and by email. So with that said lets take a look at the most well known herb in any garden, Basil.

The most common basil we see in the plant trade is Ocimum basilicum which ought to be distinguished as ‘common basil’ simply for the fact it bears different characteristics then the preferred sweet basil.  There is no doubt they both can be used for the same, but the true sweet basils have been bred for larger leaves and higher essential oil content. Some examples of these enhanced sweet basils can be found with the Mammoth O. basilicum ‘Mammoth’, Lettuce leaf O. basilicum ‘Crispum’ and Genovese O. basilicum ‘Genovese Gigante’ types. Not to say that they all don’t make for a wicked pesto, but admittedly when the leaves are larger one has to do somewhat less harvesting. In the end it is still more cost efficient to go for the common basil or the Genovese basil as both are more productive and rugged. That said there is a relatively new basil variety called ‘Pesto Purpetuo’ which is O. x citriodorum a hybrid. This hybrid bears leaves that have a white or light green margin, and never flowers. For pesto that’s a godsend because you won’t run out of leaves, but the down die is that the individual leaves on this cultivar are small so numerous plants are needed. Also since it produces no flowers it’s a bit hard to save seed so cloning from cuttings and keeping this one as an indoor plant are options. The sweet basils are best known for their use in the common Italian seasoning mix, as pesto and with any sort of pasta. Few realize that basil also is really good joined with rosemary and oregano as a scent-seasoning add on for any sort of broth or sauce. The combination of the three yields some antiseptic and antimicrobial properties allowing said broth or sauce to keep a bit longer.

But a discussion of basil isn’t quite complete without covering the flavored varieties. For those familiar with the basil clan you know that there are a plethora of basil varieties with unique flavors that aren’t just sweet. This assortment of flavors makes for a culinary power house in dishes where traditional basil might not be welcome. Some prime examples include Clove basil O. gratissimum, Lemon Basil O. americanum, Cinnamon Basil O. basilicum ‘Cinnamon’ and, Thai Basil O. citriodorum. I know there are also licorice basils, Camphor basils and additional varieties of ‘spicy basils’ such as spicy globe O. basilicum ‘Spicy Globe’, but I am not covering them in any detail here because of the difficulties in getting specimens and also some of the dwarf type basils suffer from a number of diseases that can be problematic. Despite this, most gardeners are not sure how to use the flavor basils; fortunately the uses are fairly easy. Cinnamon basil works well with pork, lemon basil is good with fish or anything that calls for lemon and pepper. Thai basil is effective in soups, and adds a scent to most things that is quite nice. Clove basil for note is a tender perennial and is a tad more sensitive then Lemon Verbena, but it can be used as its name suggests in any dish that calls for cloves. Additionally clove basil finds use in stir-fry.

Flavor is good and all but what if you want to make a pesto dish that will make everyone’s eyes cross? Well basils also have a color guard of sorts; that is basil varieties that are flavorful, but also attractive to the eye.  I admit a bias to two members of this category, Blue African Basil O. basilicum x O. kilimandscharicum and, Red Rubin Basil O. basilicum ‘Red Rubin’ . Favorites aside there is also Purple Basil O. basilicum ‘Purpurescens’ , Dark Opal Basil O. basilicum ‘Dark Opal’ and, Purple Ruffles Basil O. basilicum. Despite this the ‘color guard’ basils are often treated as ornamentals because it is thought that their taste isn’t quite up to snuff with the flavor or sweet groups. I must admit a lot of the color varieties are not like the flavored or sweet types as they have differing flavors entirely. For instance blue African has a strong anise-camphor flavor and can impart a weak blue-color to a recipe. Red Rubin is interesting for it’s heirloom randomness, some plants will be green others freckled with red or blotched, and yet others stay that great red-burgundy color. Even so it tastes like a common basil and can be used the same way, even to make freaky pesto. The dark opal and purple types are a bit different in that their flavors but have great coloring that can be used to dye food a light purple tint.

With all that said the basils are a versatile group, though in the interest of brevity and to point out the easier growing types I skipped the purely ornamental basils completely. It is safe to say that a garden without basil is a garden that is lacking, and on the topic I will leave you with one more fact. In the drought season, humming birds will feed off of basil flowers, and they are a major attractant to pollinators of all shapes and types. Even if you don’t like to use basil in cooking you have a reason to use it if only for feeding the critters. As you may already know this weekend I will be manning the sustainable Neighbors booth and I think filling in for Marsha as she has to be at the SPIN class which is another Sustainable Neighbors event. You can find the City/ Farmer’s market in downtown Fayetteville. The market runs from 8:00 am through 1:00pm (I will be there from 9-1 ish) and is located at 325 Franklin Street. I have some new stuff from the USDA, and will have copies of Southward Skies available for purchase. Keep in mind the Market is a rain or shine event barring exceptionally bad weather such as extremely high winds or violent storms.

Plant List (as of 7-12-2013)
6x Beefsteak Tomato (large slicing)
5x Burgundy Okra (Red Heirloom)
6x Banana Pepper (Sweet)
5x Red Carolina Wonder Pepper (Sweet, Bell)
2x Green Carolina Wonder Pepper (Sweet, Bell)
1x Red Peter Pepper (Spicy)
2x Habenero Peppers (Hot, Freshly Repotted)
4x Strawberry, Galore Rose (freshly repotted)
4x Strawberry, Ozark Beauty (freshly repotted)

2x Berggarten Sage
2x Cinnamon Basil (freshly repotted)
2x Sweet Basil (freshly repotted)
2x Common Sage (freshly repotted)
3x Italian Parsley (freshly repotted)
5x Allium proliferatum, Egyptian Onion (herb)

2x Sanseveria cylindrica, African Spear (Houseplant)
1x Peperomia verticillata, Rotary Plant (House Plant)

-plus whatever else fits in the truck!-

Next week
4x Horehound
4x Italian Oregano (Origanum x Majoricum)
3x Sweet Basil
2x Cinnamon Basil
4x Eggplant, Japanese Long (Freshly Repotted)
4x Tumbling Tom Yellow Tomato (Cherry, Freshly Repotted)

Available Soon
4x Lavender Hidcote (dark blue flowers)
4x Lavender Provance (royal blue flowers)
4x Lavender Cotton, (grey type)
3x Sweet Basil
2x Cinnamon Basil
10x Allium proliferatum, Egyptian Onion (herb)
2x Peperomia verticillata, Rotary Plant (House Plant)

This wraps up another episode of lost in the farmer’s market, next week we will be covering another group of herbs, the Sages. I hope you found this post useful and informative, and if you have any herb* related questions feel free to post a comment. As always watch out for our storm activity, lighting and flash floods are serious business.
As always folks keep ‘em growing!

*Queries about legal herbs only please.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Madness? No this is SUMMER!

Here we are in the summer monsoon season and it’s another slightly rain soaked edition of Lost in the Farmer’s Market! In todays edition I’m going to talk a bit about a possible GMO item that you may not have realized was GMO and, a bit about harvesting and storing some of the more unusual garden produce.

First off I’d like to talk about a GMO item you find at the supermarket that you probably never knew was GMO. In this case I am referring to canola which has the scientific name of Brassica rapa ssp. oleifera. However the original common name of canola was rape and or rape seed. Honestly I kind of like the name change, if only for the fact it prevents incredibly tasteless jokes. Originally canola oil was not used for cooking in fact it was so bitter it’s only use was in oil lamps and in ancient times was most prominently used as the oil of choice for light houses. It also was used as machine lubricant for steam locomotives. Despite this today it is the third largest source of vegetable type oil in the world. What made canola undesirable for consumption was its in credibly bitter flavor which comes from high levels of glucosinolates.  Basically this was part of the plants’ defense mechanism to prevent anything from eating it or its seeds thus partly ensuring it passed on its genetic matter. Attempts by people to breed out the bitterness were attempted for quite some time but not perfected until the advent of true genetic engineering. This means the Canola oil we see in all those foods even at the heath stores has likely been tampered with and may be the cause of digestive problems. In short buyer beware, keep an eye out for canola as it may not be from a ‘clean’ genetic source. That said I have to mention that the word Canola itself is somewhat of an acronym, as it comes from the word CANadian Oilseed Low-Acid.  Further more Canola itself produces quite a bit of nectar and makes for a good winter cover crop and can influence the flavor of honey if honey bees collect from it. There are some reported uses of some sort of oil product made from canola is used as a fertilizer of sorts.

Canola and its hazards aside, some of you who’ve met me in person or have been reading this blog a while have noticed I have a affinity for plant alternatives. That is food-bearing plants that are not the run of the mill varieties one would normally see or buy.  One of my favorites is ground cherries because as a member of the night shade family they are native to North and South America, and are well adapted to our climate and our soil. As far as fruit go, the fruit are protected by a papery husk that means you have to work less to get your crop since most other things that might eat it may not know the fruit is ripe. Now in the latest heavy rains and odd weather I’ve discovered another means to tell if the fruit is ready other then gently tapping the plants to see if the husks fall off. It seems heavy rain provides just enough vibration to rattle the ready fruits free and best of all, the entire little husk covered cherries float! For production purposes someone with a rain want attachment on a hose could just gently water the plant and find the ripest fruits without laboring to much. In terms of storage the normal procedure for ground cherries is to remove the husk, wash, and put in a freezer jar. I don’t know how long the fruit keeps in a refrigerator and so the fruit is always frozen for later use in a winter bread recipe called Winter Ambrosia. Admittedly should I harvest enough ground cherries I might be tempted to try brewing something out of them. I can’t even begin to imagine what ground cherry wine might taste like but I bet it’d be flat out awesome. 

I might add the same rule for harvest applies to most things that come out of the garden, but as it’s blueberry and strawberry season still those two plants get the exact same treatment (picked, washed, frozen) for the purposes of winter storage. The idea is to fill up the freezer early, so that the first harvests of the spring and summer fruits are preserved for winter, while the later harvests are either for fresh eating or for canning. The idea here is to have some form of home grown food item ready to go a couple times a week through the three winter months. Some of you out there might be wondering what all the fuss is, and indeed the value of stockpiling some of your seasonal harvest may seem a bit much.  As it turns out in numerous trials by more then one university, and the USDA vine ripened tomatoes have 1/3 more vitamin C over force ripened ones like you see at the supermarket. Furthermore those same tomatoes if grown with nutrients provided by manure and compost have been found to be higher in antioxidants  and possess two times the amounts of quercetin and kaemferol both of which are forms of lycopene and aid in preventing cancer.  It isn’t a stretch to then say that this effect cant be entirely limited to just one food-bearing plant and thus it makes some sense to say that home grown food itself has to be better then store bought and preserving it for the winter means you eat better all year. All that said here is one of my favorite recipes for a food preserve. It’s called the ‘Bullion Bomb’ basically it’s a flavored and concentrated vegetable item that is typically frozen  in pint jars but can be scaled up for  a quart or half gallon mason jar if you wish.

- ¼ cup / 2 oz (all herbs chopped finely: Fennel, Basil, Oregano, Sage, Rosemary, Savory, Tarragon, Italian Parsley, Chives* and, Cilantro (if available).
- ¼ cup / 2 oz Yellow Banana Peppers (other peppers can be substuted.)
- ½ cup / 4 oz of tomato (any type you grow)
- ¼ cup / 2 oz of eggplant sliced fine.
- 1 oz Leeks or Green onions (only if chives are unavailable)
- Salt to taste, or add Adobo for color and additional flavoring.
1. Wash and clean all items before processing.
2. Prepare all items.
3. Bring one cup of water to a boil and add all items.
4. Simmer until vegetables and herbs are tender and the amount of liquid is reduced.
5. Allow mix to cool some before transferring to a freezer jar.

Monsoons and thunder whatnots aside this Saturday I will be at the Fayetteville Farmers / City Market in downtown Fayetteville. The market runs rain or shine as most of the farmers do have large tents, but strong winds and especially violent weather of course may curtail the event. The market runs from 8:00 am through 1:00pm (I will be there 9-1) and is located at 325 Franklin Street.  This week I’ll have some new stuff from the USDA, copies of Southward Skies and will be teamed up with the Sustainable neighbors folks, so stop on by.  Here is a list of what is coming to market on Saturday

4x Sanseveria cylindrica – African Spear
1x Peperomia verticillata – Radial Peperomia

Garden Plants
2x Large Beef Steak Tomato
6x Small Beefsteak Tomato
1x Roma Tomato (Cooking Type)
1x San Marzano Tomato (Cooking type)
5x Burgundy Okra
2x Nankeen Cotton
1x Green Carolina Wonder (Sweet, Bell)
7x Red Carolina Wonder (Sweet, Bell)
6x Yellow Banana Peppers (Sweet)
1x Ghost Pepper (Sweet)
1x Red Peter Pepper (Ornamental and Edible)
2x Sangria Pepper (Ornamental)
1x Litchi Tomato (Tomato relative, sweet)
5x Egyptian Onion (starter bulbs)
(This post may be edited later in the night to add additional items such as herbs.)

Next week

Available Soon

So with all that food preserving and the discovery of a hidden GMO covered for this episode we look forward to hearing from you and seeing you if you stop by the Farmers market. If not feel free to drop a comment here on the blog even if it’s a request for a plant crop to be carried and sold next year. So far we have already adjusted our plans to include different colors of cotton but it’s not to late to add to that. Remember folks summer thunderstorms can produce dangerous flooding, wind and lighting strike conditions so please be careful and always check your pots to make sure the water from the rain is draining out. This wraps up another episode of LITFM, as always folks Keep ‘em growin!