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Category Archives: Food

#grow100

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The 100 square foot garden challenge. Over on the University of Maryland Grow It Eat It page.

I was asked last year if I would participate this year. With my big garden, I had to think about how to carve out 100 square feet and show what I am growing in that contained area.

I think I have it all configured, and I will be blogging about what you can do in only 100 square feet.

Like grow potatoes.

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In six sq ft in a container in my backyard.

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You start with this. Put them about one foot deep in a bucket or trash can (with holes drilled in the bottom for drainage). Keep adding soil as they grow. Dump them out when you are ready to harvest (once the foliage starts to die back). I put in about half a dozen potato pieces. Some are fingerlings. A couple are Yukon gold. I use CSA potatoes because they aren’t treated and they will sprout.

Then there’s the lettuce.

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I bought a six plant market pack of butterhead lettuce. Put it inside a bunny fence. I have harvested six heads of lettuce, and they keep regenerating if you cut them just above the soil. Don’t pull them out. I should get at least another half dozen heads of lettuce. This circle is another six square feet.

Only twelve feet used.

I then marked off a 5×6 section of my community garden. Put in tromboncini, Thelma Sanders pumpkin and a handful of tomato plants. A couple of San Marzano. Supersweet 100s. Cherry. A nice mix.

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It doesn’t look like much yet, but it should give me lots of salad tomatoes and some canning tomatoes. The tromboncini are a heirloom squash. Just wait til you see what they produce.

I marked off a 3×15 foot section with cucumbers, zucchini, leeks, onions and arugula.

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This is part of it, and then I went perpendicular for 3 feet by 3 feet to bring in the shallots and my lone pepper plant.

All together I am up to 96 square feet. I have a two by two option left, so I added the herbs.

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Some sage, thyme, chives and dill are bunched up there. I already made chive blossom vinegar using a cup of chive blossoms and 12 ounces of white wine vinegar.

I will keep track of what this 100 square feet produces.

So far, the lettuce, onions and herbs are being harvested. I did find my first zucchini blossom today.

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Here’s to fresh vegetables in a small amount of real estate.

Updating the Farms Page

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Another of my resource pages just updated. Click on the link below my header to see what’s new.

Lots of changes in the area. New CSAs. Closed farm stands. Additions to current CSAs.

The new farm is Wheeler. I saw them at the Glenwood Market Saturday. They were selling mostly greens at the time.

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Gorman has closed their farm stand, to focus on their CSA.

Larriland says they will open sometime after May 25th.

Breezy Willow is now making pickles. I tried the new Farm Boy Pickles bought at Glenwood, and made by Jason Caulder. The sweet horseradish version this week. I will be going back, as they are simply awesome.

I was also out at the Breezy Willow farm stand Saturday to pick up soap, as I was running low. Had to grab some Trickling Springs Salted Caramel Ice Cream while I was there.

Farm stands are opening left and right. It is the beginning of the season and the farms are gearing up.

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Can’t wait for the beginning of strawberry season. Larriland, I will be there opening day. I just finished the last of my stash from the freezer.

Weekend Event Overload

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The third weekend in May. Here in Maryland you can drown in events this weekend.

Some of my personal favorites this weekend. I’m not doing any of the traditional ones like the Preakness or Wine in the Woods or the Hot Air Balloon Festival, but I certainly don’t lack for places to go.

For me, a highlight I am doing. Sunday. In Ellicott City.

Rocks, Rivers and Railroads

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Led by my good friend Ned Tillman, author of Saving the Places We Love.

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Tomorrow I am torn between heading over to Belmont to see what the surveyors found under the ground on the site, at the regularly scheduled third Saturday at Belmont free event, 10 am. Howard County Conservancy web site has details. While you are on the web site, you can take advantage of the last weekend for discounted tickets to Wine in the Garden/Beer in the Barn, the annual fundraiser for the Conservancy. We’ll be there too, but that event is a few weeks away.

The other thing I want to do tomorrow? Check out the newly improved Glenwood Community Farmers Market. I missed opening day last weekend while I was working a Conservancy event, but I really want to get the herbs and flowers for my garden from Greenway Farms.

I also intend to head over to Mt. Ida for the Howard County Historical Society’s “Deja Vu and Nearly New” Sale. This is held Saturday and Sunday.

A new event, out by me. Over at the Living Farm Heritage Museum, across from the Fairgrounds. They have a Car Show Sunday.

The Howard County Tourism site has a good calendar, and so does TotallyHoCo. You can always find something to do using these two resources. Have a great weekend.

Local Resources Page Update

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My Local Resource page. Up there below the header. I just updated it again today. Head over there and check it out if you are looking for sources for local meats, dairy, produce, fruit and flours.

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I still have more to research but I did add a few things. I also cleaned up any broken links and errors.

Many local CSAs have changed options. More pick up locations, and days. Big announcements, too, like Gormans Farm closing their farm store to focus on their CSA.

If you haven’t had the chance, I will suggest that a trip into Catonsville to visit Atwater’s Bakery is a delightful way to spend lovely spring days. We did lunch there again a few weeks ago. They have expanded what they offer in their “pantry” and fridge. Including their soups and their salads.

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Add to all these choices the seven farmer’s markets here in the county. Plus two in Catonsville. One in Olney. One in Burtonsville. Check out locaharvest to see where your nearest markets are.

There was a time I headed off to Silver Spring to find local goodies. We don’t have to travel far now.

Soon to come. I am going to try some “locally” sourced rice and beans. We don’t have many choices close to us, but just south in the Carolinas there are a couple of options. I will be stocking up my pantry and will be blogging about the experience. Who knows? I may be able to give up that grocery store soon.

Plus, off to Secolari for a hocoblogs party in a couple of weeks. They have olive oil from the USA. No need to buy Italian or Greek or Spanish. Quite a few producers in the US to choose.

Minimizing that carbon footprint, in tiny steps.

Fifty Shades of Greens

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Springtime. The drowning in the greens. Not a bad thing. One of those pleasures that we anticipate in the dead of winter.

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Today’s CSA pickup yielded lots of greens. Lettuces. Spinach. Kale and more.

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A large share. Formerly known as a full share. I forgot how large they can be. Still, as people who put many vegetables on our lunch and dinner plates, this is a good haul.

I have to comment about those squash.

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Zucchini and yellow squash are NOT in season in Lancaster County. It seems our CSA has decided that the consumer who wants more produce earlier than normal in the midAtlantic will be driving their selections.

We seem to have expanded into a few more Southern states. The purists may not be happy, but we are getting incredibly fresh organic food at less than retail cost, so I can forgive them for using other farms. Last year, we had a delayed opening because the crops were far behind here. The extreme cold winter hurt them.

This year, they opted to bring in vegetables from further south. That allowed them to open on time. We know this was another brutal winter. When it comes to decisions. Do they branch out and keep customers, or remain pure to the “local” tag and lose customers due to decreased yields and subpar product. I can understand them.

I have to admit. Those squash? Awesome.

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Two ended up in tonight’s dinner. A simple gratin. Squash. Hummingbird Farm tomatoes. Mozzarella from last week’s basket. Olive oil. Herbs de Provence. Baked at 350 degrees until browned.

Tonight’s dinner.

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Not bad for a Tuesday.

As for those other greens. They will be enjoyed.

And that rhubarb. Begging to become a crisp tomorrow.

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One Size Does Not Fit All

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When it comes to food choices, we have so many options in this area that it is sometimes overwhelming. Literally. CSAs. Farmer’s Markets. Organic food stores. Specialty stores. Fresh from the farm at farm stands.

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What is the best value? It has taken me years to figure out what works for me. It may not work for you. I do find it a great deal that we have moved the CSA market into one with maximum flexibility.

Community Supported Agriculture used to be “one farm” for the most part. If the farm did well, you ate well. If the season was awful, you didn’t get much. Then, they started banding together to make cooperative ventures. Buying fruit from orchards, or bread from local bakers, or cheeses and dairy.

Enter the flexibility of sizes. Small, medium, large. Half or whole shares.

Since our entrance to buying from CSAs, we have watched them adapt. Now, it is simpler to choose, but harder to manage (trust me, I think our site host is a saint to put up with all the headaches associated with dozens of options).

Enter also really innovative ideas like Friends and Farms. Where you can miss a week. Or change options at a moment’s notice.

Add our multiple farmer’s markets, like the return of Glenwood for us in west county. Where we can round out our shopping and avoid those long lines at the local Giant Food.

After four years of experimenting, I think I found my perfect match. Rotating the choices from Friends and Farms year round. Hitting farm stands like Breezy Willow in the winter. Jenny’s in the summer.

And my anchor. Lancaster Farm Fresh Cooperative. We held our breath to see if we met our minimum to keep our site going. We did that and more. Forty one shares. Mini custom. Small. Medium. Large. Fruit. Meat. Chicken. Cheese. Flowers. Herbs. They have made it a smorgasbord of options.

Our first pick up was last Tuesday.

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A large share. Most of which has already been consumed, or is planned for the next two days. Asparagus. Grilled. Spinach and chard. Frittata. Beets. Roasted. Onions. Grilled. The Jerusalem artichokes will be roasted tomorrow.

This year I tried a meat share. The heritage pork chops were awesome.

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As for cheese. They continue to make me happy. We like to have a smaller dinner, with some wine. I cut off a few slices of complimenting cheese to savor. Instead of dessert.

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That mozzarella. Perfect shaved over my Friends and Farms tomatoes from Hummingbird Farms.

This local source for tomatoes that taste like tomatoes, before the garden kicks in, is a welcome treat from Friends and Farms. This was my last “small” basket. We are moving to Protein and Dairy. Between the CSA and the garden, I will have enough produce.

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I will miss that great bread but the local farmer’s markets will fill that void.

All in all. I found my combination that works. If you live here, with seven farmer’s markets, a dozen farm stands, almost a dozen CSAs, and Friends and Farms, you certainly can eat well on fresher than store bought food.

The 4F Club

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Friends. Farms. Families. Foraging. The theme for today’s post. Much of today centered around these words. Like foraging.

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Those wild asparagus that live out by my driveway. I harvested five of them so far this week. Just enough to add to dinner. Which began from my Friends and Farms basket.

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There was a very nice brisket in the basket. As well as some Baby Bella mushrooms. Both showed up in dinner. We did slow cook the brisket on Thursday, but the leftovers became dinner tonight.

As for families. Part of the dinner came from Jennys. Subject of yesterday’s post. New red potatoes. Snap peas.

Part of dinner came from my garden.

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The first spring onions.

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A little sauté. Then an addition of sour cream. The leftover brisket.

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All served with a Friends and Family wine from RdV Vineyards.

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You could call it Beef Stroganoff from another mother. Since it really didn’t follow any Stroganoff recipe.

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It still tasted great, even without the pedigree.

Loving these days with all the markets, farms and my garden kicking into high gear.

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