Archive for July, 2011

Little John at Kickapoo

Sunday, July 31st, 2011

Judy and I did a one day show yesterday in La Farge, Wisconsin called the Kickapoo Country Fair.  The show is sponsored by the Organic Valley Farmers Cooperative which is headquartered in La Farge.    I’ve mentioned the show several times before.  Even though it’s a small show, we like doing it because La Farge is located in the middle of some of Wisconsin’s best scenery, the driftless area, which was not scrubbed flat by the last great glacier and so is much hillier than just about any place in the Midwest.

When you exhibit at trade shows that cater to gardeners and focus on sustainability you will frequently bump into  exhibitors doing the same shows as you.  The picture is of broom maker John Holzwart.   “Little John” Holzwart, actually.  We see John at quite a few shows.  John and his life partner and business partner, Linda Conroy, live in Sheboygan, Wisconsin.  Linda is an herbalist and a teacher of many types of home arts including soap making, cheese making, herbal medicines and more.

John began making brooms quite a few years ago after attending a broom making class at a festival teaching arts and crafts.  He told me after he made a few brooms he found his calling and this is now his life’s work.  John and Linda operate as Moonwise Herbs.  You can see what John does here and you can see what Linda does here.

Another Spring, Another Fling

Thursday, July 28th, 2011

Okay, so it’s summer, but summer doesn’t rhyme with fling.

For the past four years, a group of garden bloggers has met up each spring or summer in a different part of the country. I’ve had the pleasure and privilege of attending all four Garden Bloggers Flings, and this year it was held in Seattle. The weather cooperated beautifully, and we were treated to sunny days every day except one. Over the course of four days, we visited a number of gardens, both public and private. Here are just a few of the photos I took.

The garden of Suzette and Jim Birrell was a great mix of edibles and ornamentals. You can tell that they really love color.

The Prettiest Garden Shed I've Ever Seen

Gorgeous Swiss Chard

Just next door was Shelagh Tucker’s garden, where I may or may not have snitched a raspberry from the backyard.

Garden of Shelagh Tucker

I didn’t really get a great shot of Michelle and Christoper Epping’s rather amazing garden, but I did get a few decent shots of the rather amazing view (actually, there are several views).

Pictures of People Taking Pictures

In the Olmstead brothers designed Dunn Gardens, I spied this funky old moss-covered shed. I like the tree branch “antlers”.

Hidden Shed in the Dunn Gardens

During our trip to West Seattle, we visited the garden of one of Seattle Fling’s organizers, Lorene Edwards Forkner.

Lorene Edwards Forkner's "Urban Hillbilly Chic" Garden

On the last day of the trip, we were treated to the weather one expects on a trip to the Pacific Northwest. There was a good bit of rain, and even a little lightning and thunder. I didn’t really mind though, because that day we visited the Bloedel Reserve. The rain kept me from taking too many pictures, which is fine, because I’d rather just take a walk in the woods and enjoy myself. Besides, you don’t get moss like this without a bit of rain.

Moss Garden at the Bloedel Reserve

In all, it was a fantastic trip. It was great to see old friends and make new ones. I can’t wrap up without thanking the tireless organizers of the trip Lorene Edwards Forkner, Marty Wingate, Debra Prinzing, and Mary Ann Newcomer. Often on trips like this one, things don’t always run as smoothly as they’re supposed to, but if they didn’t, I never noticed. I was truly impressed with how well everything was put together.

Next year’s Fling will be in Asheville, NC, and I’m already excited!

Fresh Garlicky Pasta

Wednesday, July 27th, 2011

On a busy work day around here it’s not always easy to take time to cook. But if you have some fresh pasta in the fridge and a bulb of garlic you’re most of the way there. And do we have garlic! See Noel’s post about the Great Garlic Harvest.

Fresh pasta is not mandatory but it only takes 2-3 minutes to cook if you happen to have some.

1 Head Garlic, peeled and sliced

3-4 T. Extra Virgin Olive Oil

8 oz fresh pasta (I used roasted red pepper linguine)

Freshly grated parmesan cheese

Freshly ground black pepper

Cook pasta as directed. Meanwhile peel cloves of one head of garlic and slice crosswise. Heat the olive oil on medium low and sauté garlic for 1-2 minutes. Toss in the cooked pasta until thoroughly coated with oil and serve with plenty of freshly grated parmesan cheese and freshly ground black pepper. This is a great way to enjoy all that garlic flavor!

The Great Garlic Harvest of 2011

Friday, July 15th, 2011

We harvested garlic, yesterday.  The bed was kind of weedy this year and I did not do my usual inter-planting with salad greens.  However the garlic was just fine and at the peak time for harvesting.  Last year we left it in the ground a little too long and the bulbs did not store as well as usual.  This year we think we got it at exactly the right time.

We used to grow soft neck garlic and it was quite easy to tell when it was ready to pick.  The leaves yellowed and fell over.  We switched to growing hard-necked varieties a few years ago after attending a garlic festival in Minnesota and seeing the greater variety and different tastes available in the hard neck types.  Judy thinks the soft necked types store better in our system, but we also think the hard necks do offer more in terms of flavor.  Maybe I’ll try a side-by-side planting of both next time.

Harvesting the garlic should not be accomplished by pulling the stems directly out of the ground.  The more gentle you are with the neck and bulb, the better the garlic will store.  A fork works well to get the bulb loose, but I found my broadfork to be even better.  With it, I could loosen up three or four bulbs at a time.  I then used my CobraHead to get under the bulbs and lift them out.  Easy, quick, and no damage at all.

Against most advice regarding preparing the bulbs for storage, we wash the dirt off the bulb before we store them.  We do this immediately after the garlic is removed from the bed.  We rub off as much dirt as we can with our hands, then swish the bulb around in a bucket of water to  remove the dirt stuck to the root mass.  We make sure we immediately lay the garlic out to dry.  We have found no problems with this method and we get reasonably good storage life.  The garlic sold in food stores all appears to have been washed, so we think it must be an okay practice.

If you wash the garlic, it’s imperative that you dry it quickly and thoroughly.  In the picture above, I’ve laid out most of the 100 bulbs we planted on a table with the bulbs exposed to the air and not touching one another.  We’ll keep them in the garage on this table for two weeks, re-arranging the pile a couple times to make sure they get dried out well.  Then we’ll trim off the stalks about six inches above the bulb top and trim off the root hairs close to the bulb.  We store the bulbs in hanging wire baskets in the basement.