Life is amazing and full lately! School has begun and I’m beginning to sift through all of the fantastic images of our time together growing food, cooking, creating, and traveling as a family over the summer break. One constant in our garden is this chinese red noodle bean that I have posted about before. It’s one that I should really start carefully seed saving from since you never know when the seed will become unavailable. We grow it in a pot on our terrace for easy access and the kids like to just eat it raw from the vine. This year I also added it to our larger garden and we have named it “nature’s twizzler”, our unprocessed version of a twizzler. It tastes nothing like a twizzler, but you would think that it was actually candy the way my kids tear off the bean and eat the entire pod, seeds and all. My favorite way to make it is with sriracha sauce or a sweet chili sauce that I posted last year here. Here are a couple of other recipes from our local New Roots for Refugees farmers (who I actually bought my first chinese red noodle bean from several years ago). I haven’t tried these recipes yet, but they look very tasty.
One other vegetable that we always have in the garden are beets and as a matter of fact I just popped more seeds in the ground today to get a fall crop of them. The kids all love beets and a favorite way to make them this summer has been this raw beet salad.
RAW BEET SALAD
2 large beets, peeled and shredded (you can wear rubber gloves when peeling if you are concerned with purple hands)
2 carrots, peeled and shredded
1 apple shredded or thinly sliced into match sticks (green apples work nicely, but any apple will do)
1 t. grated ginger
1-1/2 T. raw honey
1 t. balsamic vinegar
1/4 t. salt
1/2 juice of a lime
Set aside the shredded beets, carrots, apple, and ginger. Mix together the dressing and pour over the beet mixture. This can be eaten right away but the taste gets better after the flavors marinate.
I’m starting to get inspired for a late winter/early spring garden by pulling out seeds from last year to see what’s left, looking at seeds I can exchange, and making the seed and seedling list for this year.
I love to peruse the Baker Creek Heirloom Seed catalog for inspiration and usually try out a new variety. I also like to order from the organic seed section of Johnny’s Seeds. This is where I purchased the organic basil and organic green bean seeds for the Organic Garden Seed Kit.
As a very thoughtful Christmas gift my brother -in- law Joel gave me some of their favorite garden seeds, ones especially great for young gardeners. I’m anxious to add these to the garden this year.
I also really enjoy having herbs growing and use them in almost all dishes during the summer months. I am trying to get better at preserving dried herbs to use during the winter months and would like to add a few more to the herb garden this year. My nephew brought me some of my favorite dried herbs (rosemary, sage, and fennel) from his community garden in Brooklyn. He also brought some eucalyptus, which is great aromatherapy for the sinuses. I just boil water, drop in a couple of leaves and sit, as long as I can stand it, with a towel draped over my head letting the warm eucalyptus steam filter into the sinuses.
Here are a couple of our garden favorites and we’re definitely growing more Kolhrabi this year. It was a big hit with the kids and they loved the kohlrabi recipes in this post. If you would like to grow something right now indoors, these microgreens get us through this tricky time before we can plant outdoors.
If you live in Kansas City, the Annual Winter Seed Exchange (organic and non-gmo seeds) is taking place tomorrow Jan 18th, if you have seeds that you have saved from last year and would like to find some new varieties to try out. Here is a beginners guide to seed saving if you have not tried it before.
happy garden planning!
It’s so lovely to finally see the blooms of spring and our kale, swiss chard, and peas sprouting in the garden. I guess they don’t mind being covered in a foot + of snow! Last year by this time we were enjoying these lush blooms. It is taking a bit longer this spring, but love to see this new life begin. The photo above is a black swallowtail butterfly enjoying our wild bergamot last summer.
I recently read this article on the monarch butterfly and their decline sadly due, in large part, to genetically engineered crops and herbicides. We have slowly added in native shrubs and flowers to attract butterflies and it’s so great to see them around the background during the summer. Take a look at some of these beautiful wildflower palettes below by Landscape architect Piet Oudulf for a little inspiration on planting a butterfly garden or maybe just a few milkweeds. (view more images here on Scott Weber’s pinterest board).
Here is a great resource from the Missouri Department of Conservation for ideas on Native Plants for your landscape.
This last image is the High Line in New York, where Oudulf designed native plantings for the public park built on the elevated historic freight line above Manhattan’s West Side. What a fantastic blend of nature within the city.
If you would like to add more native grasses and wildflowers into your landscape a favorite local sale of mine for buying wildflowers and herbs is the John Wornall House annual herb/wildflower sale, coming up on April 27th. They have a great selection from the Missouri Wildflower Nursery. Also, the Prairie and Wetland Center is a fantastic resource for finding native plantings and seed mixes. Would you like to know more about why growing native plants is so important? Here is a great explanation. Also if you do not live in Kansas City, here is a great resource for finding native species to plant in your area.
Enjoy planting some natives with your children and provide a welcome habitat for birds and butterflies.