A farewell from Winter Bounty

Inside, it was 60 degrees; outside, 45.

Inside, it was 60 degrees; outside, 45.

Over the next few months, the Winter Bounty Project will be drawing to a close. Several of us are moving away from the area, and the greenhouse will be sold along with the property it stands on. For now, a smallish crop of kale, chard, and salad greens is growing inside.

We started the project with high hopes and a bit of skepticism. Our hopes were largely fulfilled and our skepticism quickly erased. Continue reading

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Smaller-scale growing season extenders

Inspecting our newly covered winter garden, with a bit of disorientation and a feeling of accomplishment.

“The Cadillac of greenhouses.”

A visitor to our garden once called our Rolling Thunder hoop house “the Cadillac of greenhouses.” It’s suited to a small farm, or, as in our case, a collective of a handful of families.

But what a lot of people want is a way to extend their growing season on a one-family, backyard scale. Continue reading

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A cure for zucchini fatigue (take 2)

IMG_1392Last year we brought you Chocolate-Zucchini Cake. (Yes, seriously.) This year, we bring you Zucchini Butter, compliments of the geniuses at the cooking/eating blog Food52.

It’s an astoundingly simple recipe with as few as three ingredients (my version had five), and done in about 20 minutes. Continue reading

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First tomato in a hot, rainy season

First tomato of 2013.

First tomato of 2013.

Your Winter Bounty blogger has been spending most of the summer away. Reports from the greenhouse crew back home indicate that it has been rainy, hot, and sticky. “It is so hot and humid that any exertion leaves you dripping. I guess this is the future,” Logan writes.

The weather has left the outside garden a mess, with many plants just rotting from the heat and moisture, she says.

But once again, tomatoes are ruling inside the greenhouse. If it seems contradictory to be growing heat-loving tomatoes inside a greenhouse, here’s a refresher on why we do it, taken from a post last year entitled “Why a greenhouse in summer?

The tomatoes and eggplants, both in the summer-loving nightshade family, were planted inside intentionally. That’s because Logan has found that these crops do better under cover. The greenhouse provides some concentrated heat to jumpstart them early in the season, and later, we can control when and where they are watered. Drip irrigation provides a steady amount of water delivered to the roots. Rain doesn’t touch the fruits or leaves, nor does it bounce up from the soil, which might deliver blight or other diseases to the plants.

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tomato hornworms

Proof that this approach has worked once again: Marsha just sent me a photo of the first tomato of the season (above left), and she reports that they are ready to harvest several pints of Sungolds. We are usually 2-3 weeks ahead of traditional gardeners, and we are even farther ahead this year.

Marsha also sent photographic evidence of the annual infestation of tomato hornworms. Usually, parasitic wasps take care of them, but perhaps because of the excessive rain, they haven’t been present. We hope that those predators will arrive, find our hornworms, and get to work on them pronto.

Given the wet weather so far this summer, it seems probable that early blight will become a widespread problem. We’ll report later in the summer on how are tomatoes are faring.

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Tale of two tarts

Our group held a potluck awhile back, and amongst the wonderful offerings were two standout tarts, one served at dinner and one at dessert.

Marsha’s savory rustic tart featured chard from the greenhouse, along with goat cheese, caramelized onions, and pine nuts. Its soft, flaky crust had egg yolks in it, which she pointed out means more greens. That is, the eggs came from Logan’s chickens, who are often fed greens that have gone to seed or are otherwise surplus. It was based on this recipe from Food and Wine, and absolutely yummy, and a visual treat, so I’m sorry we didn’t have the good sense to photograph it. Continue reading

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A late spring slideshow

This gallery contains 10 photos.

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Eat more kale!

DSC_7765The bumper sticker on my car reads Eat More Kale, and we’ve been living up to this slogan, as recent posts will attest. My most recent kale-fest involves last summer’s crop. At the end of the summer, Caitilin brought home large bunches of lacinato kale and turned them into pesto, with garlic, olive oil, pecorino cheese, and walnuts. Over the winter, she passed around frozen jars of the green goodness. Continue reading

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Ad hoc broccoli rabe

Kale going to seed; the tops can be cooked like broccoli rabe.

Kale going to seed; the tops can be cooked like broccoli rabe.

Some of our kale and other hardy greens began bolting a few weeks ago when it started getting warm.

Our friend Jan visited around that time, and we sent her home with some of the young flowering stalks with the suggestion to cook them like broccoli rabe, which they resemble.

Jan cut the stalks up and blanched them until tender, then sauteed them with garlic. She added this mixture to a fettucini dish that also involved pancetta, white beans, red pepper flakes, oregano, and parmesan cheese.

The flowering stalks would also be great in a gratin or stir-fry–pretty much anywhere we’d use broccoli or rabe.

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The Winter Bounty lending library: an updated list of books we’re loving

Roots-240x300We have been passing around and ogling a copy of Roots: The Definitive Compendium with More than 225 Recipes, by Diane Morgan. It is a beautifully photographed and delicious-sounding book with recipes for many roots that we grow–turnips, beets, potatoes, radishes, carrots, etc., as well as some more exotic ones, like taro, lotus, wasabi, and salsify. As soon as our little hakurei turnips are ready, I plan to try her Kashmiri Style Turnips, which includes the greens as well as the root. Continue reading

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Black-tie kale

There was a party, in honor of the speakers at a Cary Institute event. Our friend and onetime guest blogger Akiko Bush has just published An Incidental Steward: Reflections on Citizen Science. She spoke and read from the book, in a literary evening that also featured remarks by scientist Stuart Findlay and citizen scientist Doug Reed. It was wonderful and intense, and afterwards, it was time to cut loose.

Kale & white bean dip--a delicious finale to a literary evening.

Kale & white bean dip–a delicious finale to a literary evening.

Marsha offered to bring some sort of dip involving our greenhouse kale to the party. What she brought was pretty amazing. Continue reading

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