Category Archives: Early Crops

Singing With the Bees

As I thinned the vigorous stems, I found tomatoes ripening on every plant. As always, I interplanted annuals and a few perennials with my edibles and am happy to see them alive with bees and other pollinators. While tomatoes are self-fertile and pollinated mainly by wind or vibration, it turns out that fruit set is greatly increased by the presence of certain bees, who vibrate their wings to the tone of middle C. In this case, the beneficial bees are not European honeybees but native bumbles and mud bees as well as various other native pollinators. To encourage the bees, I’m planting lots of annuals, and to encourage great tomato set, I’m humming favorite songs. Fortunately, the key of C is nearly universal; you can sing almost anything in C, as lots of folk songs demonstrate. Can’t sing? Use a middle C tuning fork to help tomatoes, peppers, eggplants and blueberries shed way more pollen by vibration, aka buzz pollination. Isn’t that so amazingly marvelous? Continue reading

Posted in Annual Color, Care & Feeding, Early Crops, Grafted Plants, Pollinators, Recipes, Sustainable Gardening, Sustainable Living, Tomatoes | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Savoring The First Strawberries

Although nothing beats eating sun-warm strawberries straight from the garden, these enticing fruits lend themselves to a wide range of treatments, from sweet to savory. After eating a few day’s worth of naked berries, I’m ready for a few classics. For many years, my family has celebrated the start of local strawberry season by enjoying strawberry shortcake for dinner. There are, of course, many versions to try, but after a fair amount of playful experimentation, I’ve plumped for these light, flaky, slimmed down shortcakes, which gain flavor, fragrance, and a tender crumb from whole wheat pastry flour.

Perfect Strawberry Shortcake

Berries:
6 cups strawberries, hulled & quartered
1-2 tablespoons brown sugar or maple syrup

Combine in a bowl and set aside to macerate for at least 15 minutes.

Cream:
1 cup organic heavy whipping cream
1-2 teaspoons sugar or maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon real vanilla extract

Whip cream to soft peaks, add sugar and vanilla and whip for 10-15 seconds more. Set aside.

Shortcakes:
2 cups whole wheat (or any) pastry flour
1/4 teaspoon cardamom or nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 tablespoons unsalted butter OR coconut oil
3/4 cup milk (almond if not cow)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Combine dry ingredients in a food processor and blend for 5 seconds. Add butter and process for 10 seconds or until evenly distributed. Transfer to a bowl and stir in milk, starting with 1/2 cup, adding just enough for the dough to form a ball (not too sticky). Pat into four rounds 1/2 inch high and bake at 450 until golden (12-15 minutes). Cool for 5 minutes, then split in half like a bun, using a fork, and fill with berries and cream. Serves at least one. Continue reading

Posted in Early Crops, Easy Care Perennials, Gardening With Children, Growing Berry Crops, Planting & Transplanting, preserving food, Recipes, Sustainable Gardening, Sustainable Living, Vegan Recipes | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Plant A Cauliflower Rainbow

Print PDFFrom Bland To Bodacious Poor old cauliflower. A lot of people my age (and up) still think it’s totally boring, just another white food without a particularly distinctive flavor of its own. Maybe it’s because it used to get … Continue reading

Posted in Early Crops, Health & Wellbeing, Nutrition, Recipes, Sustainable Gardening, Sustainable Living | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Gorgeous Garlic Scapes

A surprising number of gardeners toss the trimmed off garlic scapes on the compost heap, but these days, many people are catching on to what European cooks have known for centuries. The curly scapes can be treated much like asparagus; steamed, roasted, pickled, stir fried, added to soups or minced into salads and wraps. One of my favorite ways to enjoy them is in a fresh tasting raw salad. For the best texture, slice scapes thinly on the diagonal so there’s plenty of surface area to take up the dressing. Almost any kind of dressing will be delicious, from spicy Asian peanut to a perky citrus vinaigrette. This salad combines garlic scapes with creamy goat cheese, crunchy pumpkin seeds, velvety marinated mushrooms and a lively lime vinaigrette. Continue reading

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