I was happy to see this little guy with pollen all over him flying around the garden.  We have not had as many bees in the garden as in past years, but there are still plenty flitting about from flower to flower, providing us with the lulling hum of their buzz.  Some days my favorite thing to do is go out in the early morning and sit close to the rosemary bushes or wherever they happen to be congregating that particular morning, and get lost in their hum.  It’s very therapeutic.

This little guy showed up one day (a volunteer from our compost we dumped in that particular raised bed).  At first I thought it was a squash of some sorts, then as it continued to grow I was thinking a type of melon and then when my friend Kendra was over she pointed out the flattened bottom and said “that’s a pumpkin”.  How silly of me – of course that’s what it is!  It’s now starting to turn orange.  The kids and I are so excited about our little guest in the garden – what a welcome face.

Luckily the peaches and nectarines didn’t ripen at the same time.  It was actually perfect.  As we finished with the peaches, the nectarines were ready.  These two trees are fairly young – the peach is about 2 years old and the nectarine about a year so we don’t get a whole lot of fruit (maybe about 2 -3 dozen) but enough to enjoy .  I love walking to my car to head out to work and grabbing a nice ripened fruit to bring for my lunch.  Yum!

Our first two potatoes 🙂  I can not wait to start harvesting the potatoes.  With the way the plants have been going, we should have a good crop – we’ll see.  These two were volunteers (or at least not with the rest) I must have left a seed potato in the other bed by accident.  But what a nice accident it was.  I uncovered these when I was pulling up all our onions (and boy did we get a lot of those).

Early August in the garden

Our first sunflower face to say hello 🙂

our onions and shallots

I finally transplanted the sprouts from the plantings we did with the kids at school.  I believe these are the radishes the kids planted – the kids get a little excited and things get a little confusing as to what seeds were planted where- but I think by the appearance these are the radishes.

The nasturtiums are doing fantastic.

and look who came to visit the blooming rosemary – I was so excited to hear their buzzing while I was working in the garden over the weekend.  Our yard is always a buzz in the summer with these busy little workers – I miss them over the winter – but my friends have returned.  Welcome back dear little friends.

Friday was one of my days to work at Ryder and Saige’s school to do gardening.  I started this back in September, I go two times a month (if possible more) and I work on little projects.  Sometimes we are out in the garden, other times we have done things in the classroom.  This week we planted seeds.  I have saved egg cartons for a couple months ( I think Doug is happy to have the stack gone – I always seem to have a stack of discarded items hanging around waiting for a project) and in these we planted our seeds.  I bought a whole bunch of seeds for the kids, tomatoes, carrots, radishes, cucumbers, broccoli, lettuce, edamame, sugar snap peas, tri-colored beans, nasturtiums, and spinach.  I tore the cartons in half so we could plant in the little egg slots and then also in the top.  The big seeds are easy to work with – the very tiny seeds – not so much.  Let me remind you these are kids ranging in age from 2 – 5.  It went fairly smooth – had to move some seeds around in a few, but for the most part they did great. 

My goal is to get these growing to starts and then use these for planting in the actual garden this year – and if it goes really good, possibly have a mini plant sale on earth day to help raise money for future garden projects ( I have big hopes- but you gotta dream big!).  I will be thrilled if we get even a couple plants to use in our garden.  So I brought them home with me so I can keep a closer eye on them and put them in a mini greenhouse (until I can build a bigger one).  I know it’s really early but I figure if we lose some – then we still have time to replant and get them growing again.

I love to hear all those little voices asking if they can help and to see how each one has their own technique.  Some pile the soil into big mounds, others are very meticulous and have it completely even.  Some make perfect little holes with their fingers, evenly spaced – others throw the seeds into one pile in the corner. 

My main goal was met, the kids got their hands dirty and we talked about the different vegetables, what their favorites were, how they liked to eat them and how the plants grow.   It was a great day.

After two hours of that, I went home and spent the next 3 hours cleaning up our garden – I was so jazzed from the energy of the children at school – they were so excited to get these planted and are so excited at the prospect of watching them grow –  I couldn’t waste that energy.  Let’s just say I was sore that day!

 Some of our past projects have included….. forcing bulbs, pine cone and peanut butter birdfeeders, building scarecrows, cleaning up the veggie beds, corn husk dolls, sunflower art made from plates and corn husks and sharing homemade corn chowder (not a big hit with the kids – but they all at least tried it!) 

scarecrow building with my friend Krissy

                                        making pizza with the kids for Ryder’s birthday

We forced hyacinth bulbs right before christmas

We didn’t use the dough they made (I brought some for eating that I made the night before) but the kids had fun making it a rolling it out and then kneading and kneading and kneading and kneading!!!!!

cleaning the garden beds

 

digging in the dirt

Do you have special projects you work on with your kids, either in the garden or not?  What are some of your favorite veggies to plant? 

This is what we harvested in one afternoon in the garden last week. 

The basket of lettuce, yielded 3 gallon size ziplock bags full- so salads every day.  I think we are coming to the end of the lettuce, some is bolting due to the heat- we’ll have to pull and replant.  The chard keeps coming.  We sauteed the chard and some onions and added the fresh cilantro and made some yummy quesadillas that evening. 

The season has begun and I’ve been bitten by the bug…… I’ve gotten those first lucscious tastes of fresh veggies from MY garden, and I want more.  My mouth salivates as I envision sinking my teeth into the first warm, sun ripend tomato off the vine, with the juices dripping down my chin…….. ohhhhhh I can’t wait!

I hope all you gardener’s out there are happily harvesting your first fruits and veggies of the season with the anticipation of what’s to come.  Happy eatin’!

So, this is what’s been keeping me from my blogging and my sewing.

Once we got the beds built we needed to get the garden going.  We finally got most of our veggies and herbs in.  We planted lots of different lettuce, swiss chard, spinach, arugula, thyme, basil, cilantro, fennel, chives, eggplant, peppers, cauliflower, cucumbers, tomatoes, pole beans, and we added a couple more strawberry plants to our patch. 

 I think that’s about it.  Oh ya, I have some carrot seeds we need to get in the ground this week.  It may sound like a lot but you should visit my friends blog ( a sonoma garden- link to the right) she’s got tons!  She needs to start her own market out of her backyard. 

So our lettuce has started to grow

we tried it out the other day and can start making salads – that’s my favorite – to go out to the garden and get my greens for our salad.  The arugula is super spicy- boy is it yummy!

The fruit trees are looking great

The Santa Rosa plum

our peach tree – love that furry fruit

In between getting the garden in order we are doing a mini remodel in the kitchen.  It’s kinda like sewing, I would so much rather create a skirt/shirt/pants from scratch than to try to alter someone elses work.  Same thing with remodeling, sometimes it’s easier just gutting and starting from scratch.  But we are “altering” – so we run into some snags here and there- but it should be done within the next week or so.  Then we can take a breath.

It is all so worth it- especially since we’ve been picking our strawberries and eating our fresh greens. 

 

I just started the book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver- so far it is awesome!  Everyone MUST read this.  It is about a family that spends a year eating “deliberately” – only eating what they grow or can purchase locally ( translates into what is produced locally).  I am only in the 4th chapter but already I am a believer.  I have been trying to live this way for awhile now but this is even more hardcore than what we’ve been doing.  The author talks about how much oil is used to produce the food you eat.  I’m sure not many people even think about that when they are biting into their ginormous, plump, ruby red strawberry in the middle of January.  Guess where that strawberry came from? Not the local farm down the road.  Not even from a farm in the United States.  Most likely that Strawberry came from a some giant agbusiness farm in the southern hemisphere.  So there was oil used to plow the fields,  to run the machines that package the strawberries, the fuel to get the strawberries to the docks to then be shipped to the USA and then the fuel that goes into the trucks that deliver the strawberries to your local market.  WOW!  That’s a lot of fuel.  Now multiply that by all the food in our grocerry stores- that’s huge. 

So this family has decided to buck the system and do it the old fashioned way- eat seasonally and eat what you produce or what is produced in your own community.  I know this is not possible for some or seems like an arduous task but you must think baby steps. 

What we do is …. we start by trying to buy local ( the farmer’s market) , then we try to buy within California, then we try to stay on the west coast and if we really want it or need it for a recipe than we stay in the U.S.A.  Let me tell you, it definitely takes me some time to grocery shop but I feel good when I leave- knowing I have done my part.  I always laugh when I’m buying produce and I see Organic __(insert any veggie or fruit)______ from South America or Mexico or wherever.  It seems like an oxymoron.  

It’s all about eating seasonally.  I have come to realize this after we moved in our new house and stared to get into gardening more (now that we had usable space and decent soil).  After that first year of growing our own heirloom tomatoes I realized the ones at the store are awful( I should say – the ones that are at the store and out of season).  Now, I will not buy tomatos during the off season- it’s just not worth it.   

It’s definitely not “convenient” to do things this way.  But it’s more fun and more rewarding.  It just feels good. 

At one time we had tried to move out of Cali and back to the midwest and the first thing I did when looking at new cities was look for their local farmers markets.  The link below is great for finding farmers markets, farms, CSA’s, etc. in your area.  We are lucky to live where we do and they are everywhere but some people aren’t as lucky and might need to do a bit more research.  Take a look at the link below and go visit your local farmers market or farm and bring home what’s in season.  Some places will even provide recipes for some of those veggies that aren’t the “norm” or what you may find in your grocery store.  It’s fun to try new veggies or fruit.  http://www.localharvest.org/

Try the challenge at the right “Be a Bookworm” and pick up this book for it. 

Happy eating!

I used to visit and revisit it a dozen times a day, and stand in deep contemplation over my vegetable progeny with a love that nobody could share or conceive of who had never taken part in the process of creation.  It was one of the most bewitching sights in the world to observe a hill of beans thrusting aside the soil, or a rose of early peas just peeping forth sufficiently to trace a line of delicate green.  ~Nathaniel Hawthorne

I have had some requests to post daily meals- well I have a difficult time thinking up my own meals sometimes so let’s compromise.  How ’bout weekly meals or ideas that work for my family.  A lot of people have been inquiring about veggies, their children don’t like them and they are having a difficult time figuring out how to make them so they will eat the veggies. 

 Luckily Ryder is a pretty good eater (he has his moments) but for the most part he eats (or at least tries) most veggies.  It might be the fact that he never ate a jar of store bought baby food, I made all of his food from the time he could eat.  The jarred food contains way too much sodium and even the organic stuff I don’t fully trust.  I like to know what went into making the food.  So that may be part of the reason he likes veggies, also we don’t eat meat in our house (we do eat fish) but the majority of our diet is vegetarian.  But even I get stuck in a rut with menu’s and meal planning. 

The other night I made kale risotto and it was fantastic.  I love any kind of risotto- to me it’s kinda like a frittata- a great dish for using up leftovers or those items in your refrigerator that are going to go bad because you haven’t used them yet (but you had to buy at the store because they looked so yummy and beautiful).  So we had a bunch of kale that had not been used yet.  This is a great time of the year for the dark leafy greens and we all know how good they are for you ( I even throw them in the blender when I’m making smoothies- no one can even tell). 

Who can turn down creamy cheesy risotto?  Not even when there are greens in there.  I don’t have a real recipe but I’ll give you the “quick ‘n dirty”…..

dice onion (your preference on quantity)

chop kale (maybe smaller for those of you who have picky eaters it might not be that big of a shock)

dice garlic (if you like- I can’t b/c Saige’s tummy can’t handle it)

saute onions and kale in butter (about 2tbsp or more –  I also add olive oil for flavor)

add garlic and risotto (about 1 cup of risotto will feed 4 as a side)

saute for a few minutes

add white wine (about 1/2 cup)

cook down wine

start adding stock (I obviously use veggie- you can use chicken if you’d like)

if you’ve cooked risotto you know that now comes the standing and stirring portion of our show

you must add stock a little at a time and stir continuously until absorbed and continue adding the stock until you reach desired consistency (sorry I don’t have exacts – I just eyeball- but you can look up a recipe for any risotto- it’s usually about 2/1 ratio- for every cup of rice add 2 cups of stock- or more)

once you reach the desired consistency dump in Parmesan or Romano cheese (I like Romano- it’s a childhood thing- I used to call it “stinky cheese” – Ryder and I like to just eat it in chunks)

and voila there’s your dinner, add a salad and some bread (you can tell I’m a starch girl) and you’re done.

I especially love risotto as leftovers

If you make a lot you can make risotto balls the next day- just ball them up, roll in some bread crumbs and fry in some olive oil in a skillet and you have something different.  Again make a salad to go along with it.

We use to have a problem with Ryder eating salad but I started to add nuts and cranberries and cheese (which I used to be too lazy to do for myself- but it’s funny how you’ll do it for your kids) and now he eats salad (he especially likes the Cesar dressing too- but not too much).  Sometimes I’m amazed at what he’ll eat- some adults don’t even eat what he does. 

I hope you enjoy the risotto as much as we do. 

Visit my blog on Thursday’s and I will have a new dish for you and your family.