Sunday, April 18, 2010

Cilantro Haters

I love cilantro. When I worked on a small farm, there was a young kid who was very grateful that I'd been hired. He squirmed whenever you mentioned cilantro and he hated harvesting it. I ended up doing all of the cilantro harvesting. It was all I could do to keep from stopping, dropping and rolling in it.

Published: April 14, 2010
Why an herb loved by much of the world is reviled by a loud minority.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Haul Report: Spinach

     I have plans to keep track of harvests this season. I saw someone else's harvest report on Kitchen Gardeners International with everything assigned a market price. The guy's garden added up to over $2,000. (The link is currently busted.) I'm interested in what kind of value I'm getting out of this hobby (obsession). Here we go with harvest number one...

   So far we have harvested a pound of spinach. (This is so exciting!! I've never had successful spinach before!! WHOO HOO!) It doesn't sound like much, but that's five large salads for us. At the grocery store (Meijer) you'd find organic spinach sold in bags from the California mega-organic farm called Earthbound. One pound is $4.99. I don't know how much it costs at other places (co-op, farmers' market), but I'm curious. 

Official haul report:
1 pound of spinach (with some arugula sprinkled in)
market value: $4.99

Friday, April 2, 2010

Spinach, Garlic, and Some Double Digging

   The temperature is hovering around 80F this afternoon. Yesterday it was the same, but with some really summer-like sun rays. I'm afraid that my overwintered spinach is going to bolt the first week of April. I've hosed it down the last two days so that the breezes would keep the temperatures down. Plus, it is DRY here. I actually *needed* to water the lettuce sprouts so that they didn't shrivel. We'll have to see how the spinach pulls through. I ate a leaf this morning and it was spit-it-out-look-around-for-something-else-to-shove-in-to-get-rid-of-that-taste bitter. Not all of the plants are bitter, though.

   There was one raised bed in my (I might just start calling it an allotment because it's not my land) garden that I had not attacked with a pulaski yet. The ground inside the "raised bed" was actually concave. I hacked at it and removed all the quack grass rhizomes and then it was *really* concave. It needs some serious soil therapy. I know that I could have tried the lasagna method and laid down layers and layers of wet newspaper and then piled on lots of organic matter (leaves, manure, grass clippings, etc.) but I really just don't think the quack grass will die, even with 3 feet of new soil on top of it. That stuff is evil. EVIL. I'm not experienced in the lasagna method, but it sounds REALLY GOOD. No digging. However, I used the double-dig-lasagna mash-up method. I busy-beed it all over the yard collecting leaves, dried grass, and chicken and llama manure. I dug about 15 inches deep into the "raised" bed area and then put in a layer of manure, covered that with a leaf/dirt mix, then topped it off with 3 inches of original soil. I did this in 3 of my beds. It took about an hour. (HAHAHAHA!) It took the past 3 days. My back is killing me. I've seriously lost 2 pounds since Monday. I say "half-assed" because I didn't do a bunch of reading and research before I did this, I just dove in. This does not mean that I skimped on the actual labor part.

   I ordered some cover crops from Johnny's Seeds for a green manure project. More on that part of the story later.

   After I stabbed my foot with the garden fork (without realizing it - really) there were several minutes of panic during which I decided I was going to lose my foot because my veins are spontaneously erupting. I came inside, R.I.C.E.d it, and reasoned that I must have knocked my foot with a sharp object. Not healthy, this obsessive mode of spring gardening. After about an hour, I was able to head back out and finish the double-dug mash up.

   I hope this is the year I get to eat a spinach salad (not just graze on preciously short-lived plants).  And I hope that soon, when I close my eyes, I no longer have visions of stringy white quack grass rhizomes dancing before my eyes.

fall planted garlic progress

pile of quack grass rhizomes drying (and dying!) in the sun

what's left of the compost-pile-that-never-got-hot after I buried a bunch of it under the garden beds

the new raised bed after I raised it with lots of organic matter

crispy brown garden