Organic Garden - Summer
These are observations, techniques and ideas that work for us. Follow them through the seasons. ENJOY!
The Great Cabbage
This is a picture of just one of the many cabbages that are growing in the garden. It will soon be turned into a whole lot of cold slaw.
I think the best cabbages are grown from Copenhagen seed. We have used this seed for years and the cabbages are big, beautiful, and have a great flavor. One year, I won all the blue ribbons for cabbages at the Wright county fair. (Green and Red cabbages)
It is about time to scrub out the old crock that holds the sauerkraut.
From A Seed - To Sauerkraut
I have known these cabbages from a seed.
Last February, I planted Copenhagen cabbage seed in potting soil and turned on the grow lights in the basement. They did not look like much—just a lot of dirt in some pots in a tray. In several weeks, there were little green cabbage sprouts sticking up. I had 100% germination with the seed. In a few more weeks they had two little leaves. By the end of March, the baby plants went out to my Hoop House green house in the back yard.
Their next move was to the main organic garden—this happened at the end of April. I watched over the young plants in June and on July 3rdth, I picked my first cabbage of the season. It was wonderful. I made cold slaw, steamed cabbage, and Indian stir fried cabbage. I put cabbage in my homemade V-8 juice.
Cabbage is good for our health, so we eat a lot of it. When my oldest son, his wife, and four Grandsons came to visit in the middle of July, they picked cabbage, hosed it off, and hauled 24 BIG cabbages into the kitchen. With my daughter-in-law and Bob’s help, we chopped it into small pieces and began the sauerkraut. This involves layers of kraut, some salt, and some stomping down in the old crock (the Grandsons did this part). Layer after layer, the cabbage filled the crock.
The crock was moved into a corner of the kitchen to begin the process of turning into the best sauerkraut in the state of Minnesota. My German grandmother would love it. After a few days, I began to skim off the foam stuff that rose to the top of the crock. By the end of two weeks, it had "krauted". That is my word for it when it is done. It smells like kraut, it tastes like kraut, it is KRAUT!
Bob helped me with the next step. He brought canning jars up from the basement, and went to the grocery for some new lids. We operated two boiling water canners all morning long. The end result was 40 quarts of homegrown and homemade kraut.
In a few days, they will be moved off the kitchen table and into the root cellar. This whole process is a lot of work. I do it because I love it. It is fun for me to have known the seeds, that became the cabbages, that became the kraut. The pickles are the next item I will can this year. I have known the cucumbers from seeds too. How fun is that?
Green Things From My Garden
Folks do not seem to get too excited about eating green things. That is because they have never had my favorite way of fixing the fresh green things from my garden. VARIETY is the key for making wonderful dishes from green vegetables. I am growing spinach, Swiss chard, Mustard greens, Collard greens and Oriental greens in a special area of my garden this year.
When the plants get 5 or 6 inches high, I go out to the garden with my basket and some scissors and snip off a variety of leaves from all my different plants. The next step is to carefully wash them and tear them into bite size pieces. I usually cut up about two quarts of greens. They are placed in a steamer and gently steamed for about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, I mix together in an iron skillet:
- 1 Tablespoon butter
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 2 Tablespoons chopped garlic
- 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 1/2 teaspoon lemon pepper
- 1 teaspoon sea salt.
Lightly brown the garlic mixture.
When the greens are steamed, I transfer them into the skillet and toss together with the seasonings. Stir fry the greens for about three minutes. I serve them right away. Even people who do not like greens will be amazed on how good this really is. In addition, this is an excellent way to enjoy fresh spinach, even if you do not have the other varieties of greens. Try it, you will like it.
MORE GREEN THINGS
We like salads and grow a lot of GREEN THINGS. The "green things" can be topped with fresh red tomatoes, green peppers, and yellow squash. If it is too early for the tomatoes, peppers, and squash to be ripe, then the greens can make up a good salad...
Today, for lunch, I picked a variety of fresh greens from the main garden. Due to the varied flavors and textures, my salads are interesting and attractive.
The lettuces in my lunch salad included Oaky Red Splash. The leaves are deep red, tinged in copper and sprinkled with a very dark red. They were mixed with Green Deer Tongue lettuce that has olive green pointed leaves. These heirlooms are heat resistant and slow to bolt. I also added Bright Lights Swiss Chard, Redbor Kale, and Wild Garden Mustards. The next stop was in my herb garden where I snipped some Italian Parsley, cutting celery, garden sage, garlic chives, and fern dill.
After washing the greens and herbs, I loaded them up on a dinner plate. I topped them off with shredded cheddar cheese, raw sunflower seeds, and my favorite olive oil and vinegar dressing. This was lunch and it was good.
I like to add some protein to my salads, so will often cut up a hard boiled egg and sprinkle it on top of the greens. Left over cooked chicken is one of my favorite salad toppers.
The summer "green things" are a staple food at Milk and Honey Farm. We plant a lot of varieties and each year, discover new ones. Even our visitors who do not like salads, enjoy this blend of good greens from the garden.
Remember Popeye, the Sailor Man, and all that spinach he used to eat? Well, I like spinach - picked fresh and steamed or raw in a salad. The blessing of having a big garden is that we have a LOT of everything-so I have been dreaming up new ways to use it. The spinach is beautiful this year, and I am DRINKING it. Yes, you read that right.
When I need an extra energy boost, this really helps. I pick spinach, Swiss chard, Kale, lots of parsley (several handfuls), some cilantro, celery leaves, and three or four green onions. This goes into my Vita-mix (a blender will work) with about a cup of v-8 or tomato juice and about five ice cubes. Blend it until it is smooth. It will be a slimy green color but tastes great and is my "POWER" drink. I also add a few drops of Tabasco and some pepper on top.
If you don't have all this stuff or if you don't like one or two of them, just use the spinach. I can be super tired and after drinking this, get a very rapid surge of energy that lasts for hours. This often replaces lunch.
I have been doing fresh fruits like this for a long time, but drinking the veggies is relatively new. It will be fun to experiment with fresh tomatoes, yellow squash, and bell peppers. Cabbage may be a little strange. NOTE: Most of my recipes are not this weird. However, if you like adventure and need more energy try it. Let me know what you think, and DRINK THOSE VEGETABLES!!!
That is a big word (symbiotic) that means the living together of two or more different kinds of organisms to their mutual advantage. This type of relationship goes on in my garden all the time.
TOMATOES and BASIL are planted beside each other in adjoining rows. The Basil invigorates and perpetuates the growth of the tomatoes, plus repelling tomato pests. When the basil starts to go to seed and produce flowers, I trim them off, roll them in my hand-thus crushing the flower heads-and sprinkle them on the tomato plants. The smell is glorious, like a home made pizza. The tomatoes love it and in addition, the smell of the basil repels mosquitoes OFF of me!
BUNNY POOP and WEEDS are another symbiotic relationship that is on going. When I weed around my plants, I put the weeds in a bucket. Then the bucket gets carried to the rabbit hutches. The weeds are fed to the rabbits and the bucket is placed under the hutch. When the rabbits poop, it falls through the wire cage into the bucket. The bucket is carried back out to the garden and the poop is used to fertilize the plants.
Everyday, I notice more and more mutually advantageous relationships taking place on the farm. Perhaps this is what the CREATOR had in mind before man messed it up. There will be more on this. I find it very interesting and am learning a lot by doing it. IT WORKS FOR ME.