Chickweed Pesto

 
20190415_175554+%281%29.jpg

Last month, our team celebrated the Spring season by getting out of the garden and learning about edible wild plants! Our operations manager, Brody, invited us to visit his property and learn about the abundance of food growing there (both cultivated and wild). Among the “weeds”, we found chickweed, nettles, watercress, garlic-mustard, and violets - all of which are edible and have unique, delicious flavors. We enjoyed the medley of greens sautéed with some of Brody’s home grown Shiitakes and he graciously supplemented the bounty we collected with some chickweed pesto that he had made a few days earlier.

We loved the pesto so much that we thought we’d share it here - so go grab a few handfuls of chickweed from the backyard (or woods, or farmers market) and let’s get cooking!

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup walnuts, cashews, or pine nuts

  • 2-3 cloves garlic minced

  • 3 cups chickweed loosely packed

  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice

  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

  • 1/2 tsp salt

  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Instructions

  1. Place all ingredients into a food processor and process until smooth. (A blender can be used instead, but the chickweed should be finely chopped first)

  2. If it's too thick, slowly drizzle in a bit more olive oil.

  3. Keep refrigerated. Eat or freeze within 3-4 days.

This recipe is courtesy of www.growforagecookferment.com



 

Fish Emulsion

20190418_160553 (1).jpg

The sense of accomplishment after getting all of the Spring plants in the ground is hard to beat. It’s a beautiful sight: the vibrant greens and purples of the lettuce leaves, the tiny curly-qs of the pea shoots, the bright pink stems of the radishes about to bulb up. But after a few weeks, those colors might have faded and your plants might not looks so fresh. What’s a gardener to do?

To keep our plants healthy and growing with vigor all season long, we use a product called fish emulsion. Fish emulsion is made of ground and fermented by-products from the seafood industry. Much like the rice hulls we wrote about last month, fish emulsion is made of materials that would otherwise go to waste.

High in ready to use nitrogen and other nutrients, this organic fertilizer gives our seedlings an extra boost. You can read the general nutrient break-down of fish emulsion and other fertilizers by the N-P-K number. The N-P-K number provides the percentage by weight of nitrogen to phosphorus to potassium, the three major nutrients required for plant growth.

We apply this fast acting, liquid fertilizer to all of our transplants to help them acclimate to their new homes and help them grow quickly early in the season. We may apply a second helping a few weeks later to plants that look a little droopy due to insufficient watering or nutrients. We also focus particularly on plants in the Brassica family, such as kale, cabbage, and broccoli,  which can be heavy feeders.

So how can you use fish emulsion at home? Most garden centers will carry a few brands of fish emulsion or fish fertilizer; these will be heavily concentrated and will need to be diluted. In a sprayer or watering can, add two to three tablespoons of fertilizer for each gallon of water (double check the instructions on the label as it will vary depending on brand, nutrients, and concentration). The resulting mixture should look a little murky but should not be thick. You can apply fish emulsion by watering the plants with the mixture as you would normally, or by spraying it over the leaves as you would with a foliar fertilizer. Applying fish emulsion can be a bit smelly, but there are products that have been “deodorized” with wintergreen or lavender. We recommend trying these out if you want to apply fish emulsion on your houseplants indoors!


Ramping up for Spring

Ramps, or Wild Leeks, are wild edible plants in the allium family. Growing natively in the Appalachian mountains from Canada to North Carolina, ramps only appear for a few weeks before going to seed and disappearing for the Summer. As the first green to appear in early Spring, ramps have historically been celebrated as a sign of Spring and a tonic to the traditional Appalachian meat-heavy Winter diet.

Read More

Garden to Table Recipe

Simple Roasted Vegetables

 

3-5 Fennel bulbs, trimmed and sliced into 1 inch slices.
1 large Celeriac, peeled and sliced into 1/4 inch slices
2-3 turnips, peeled and sliced
Broccoli broken into flowerettes
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

 

Never underestimate the ability of a little bit of olive oil, salt and pepper and 45 minutes or so in a hot over to transform lesser known (or loved) vegetables into something you will need to beat the kids off with a rolling pin if there are to be any left for dinner!

Some of my favorites are fennel, celeriac and turnips as well as old stand bys like broccoli and cauliflower.
Preheat over to 425. Cut your vegetables into distinctive bite size pieces, put in a bowl and drizzle with olive oil, Salt and pepper. Toss to coat. Arrange on a sheet tray. Bake for 30-45 minutes, depending on the vegetable, until crispy around the edges and soft in the middle. Fennel in particular takes a good long while to turn all soft and caramelized but believe me…it’s worth the wait.

To finish it off, sprinkle with parmesan cheese and bake for an additional 10 minutes. Serve with meat, fish, tofu, or anything else you can think of.
 

a2254457-2877-46c4-ae48-a06a2b9e16f8.jpg

Fall Garden Tip

Fall Garden Tip

As the growing season comes to an end, here at Edible Eden we are putting the gardens in our care to bed for the winter. We start by pulling out all the spent (or mostly finished) crops. Plants that carry heavy disease loads like tomatoes and squash should not be put into the compost pile. Either let them decompose somewhere away from your garden, put them in with chickens or other livestock or even (sigh) put them in the garbage. There are just too many disease spores and pests that can contaminate your home compost.

Then we take down and store trellis materials, work compost into the beds, plant garlic, and cover it with straw mulch.

In some in-ground gardens we also sow cover crop seed. I tend to opt for cover crops for in-ground gardens as opposed to raised beds as I find it’s difficult to chop them up and till them in in a raised bed context in the spring time. Cover crops prevent more invasive weeds from taking root and some (like vetch or winter peas) will fix nitrogen in the soil, adding fertility for next spring. The trick is that you have to chop them up with a flail mower or scythe and till them into the soil a few weeks before planting if you are to get the most out of them.

A good place to start is with Austrian Winter Peas. While the pea itself is not edible, both the tender pea shoots and the flowers are delicious and an added benefit to using the plant as a cover crop.

94f84f69-acea-4824-8815-ade0df2eab2a.jpg

DIY Lavender Vanilla Sugar Scrub!

DIY Lavender Vanilla Sugar Scrub

lavender sugar scrub

As much as we talk about growing healthy food for the body, we can also use the herbs and foods we grow for the skin.  The herbs you grow in your garden - lavender, lemongrass, thyme - have fantastic relaxing and nourishing qualities that work well in skin care formulas.

There are endless possibilities in the world of home made beauty products, but here we’ll highlight just one, a personal favorite: the simple yet decadent Lavender Vanilla Sugar Scrub.  

Mix together:

-¼ cup brown sugar

-¼ cup white sugar

-1.5 tbs oil (coconut, cocoa butter, sweet almond, olive oil, avocado oil are all good options)

-5-10 drops lavender essential oil

-¼ tsp vanilla extract

You can add additional exfoliants from your garden such as lavender leaves and seeds, borage, evening primrose, cleome flower seeds, and more!

Interested in making more natural beauty products? Try one of our Eco Spa classes at the Station North Tool Library, where we’ll make 3 different natural recipes for you to take home. Class schedule here: http://www.stationnorthtoollibrary.org/classes-1/

What To Do With Lesser Loved Seasonal Veggies Like Kale or Spinach?

So you joined a CSA or Edible Eden is growing you kale, mustard greens, leeks and other lesser loved produce. Now you have a fridge brimming with seasonal, green things. It’s a Wednesday night and you have no idea what to do with it! Plus it’s cold outside and salad just isn’t going to cut it. Considering going out? Wait! there’s a solution! Try this super easy weekday fall pasta. It blends the healthiness of vitamin rich fall veggies with the comfort food element of pasta. Does it have gluten in it…? Not if you use gluten free pasta...

Think Outside the Bowl: Three Amazing Fall Recipes, One Great Meal

Fall is a great time for foodies -- rich, sweet flavors, amazing produce and a great excuse to stay in from the cold with a mug of spiked hot cider and cook. Here’s three of my favorite fall recipes;  make them all together for a great weekday meal with the family!

Butternut Squash Soup

Side Salad

Israeli Couscous

Enjoy! And stay warm out there!

How to Plan Your Garden: Start Early!

I hope you are reading this somewhere cozy enjoying that delicious sensation of being warm and safe when it is cold and wintery outside. The past few days have finally brought what feels like real winter temperatures to the MidAtlantic region, the tender annuals are brown and dry, and thoughts of the garden’s fresh bounty seem distant.

One thing I love about a four-season climate is the opportunity to rest, reflect, recharge and plan between growing seasons. While we know that the old adage “make a plan and make god laugh” certainly holds true with any sort of farming or gardening, it’s also true that a garden plan can serve as a vital road map when navigating the fluctuations and challenges of a growing season.

Here at Edible Eden we create garden plans using Excel (although there are numerous aps and programs these days that purport to simplify the process). I like the Excel solution because it allows me to think strategically about the varieties, successions and rotations I want to include in my plan. Of course if your plan calls for a March 2 seeding of radishes and March 2 is a blizzard with frozen solid soil…obviously you will need to shift your timeline, but having the basic road map of how many of any given crop to plant where, on what date really helps maximize your yield because you an estimate how many successions you can fit into any given space.

One of the things I love about both landscape design and garden planning is that you are applying a blend of creativity and knowledge across a spectrum of dimensions- certainly time, space, height…but also temperature; remember that the same beet that claims 50 days until harvest in June will take a lot longer to reach maturity in the fall as the hours of sunlight wane and growth slows down (even if the temperatures stay warm).

That brings me to the question of timing. It would be fantastic if there was a hard and fast rule about any given element of garden timing. The truth is- especially in light of climate change- getting the timing right in your garden is like learning to dance on a moving carpet.

This past year I had all my tomato plants in the ground by the end of May and felt very proud of myself. And when the weather conditions conspired to welcome in heavy populations of fungal diseases and blight, most of my tomatoes died and I was very sad.

Meanwhile my wife, who cannot tolerate to see a plant die, had been nagging me to plant the left over tomato seedlings that were dying slowly on our deck all summer long- long past the point in the season that it isn’t worth planting. She just couldn’t stand to see them die; so against all my recriminations and judgements, finally she went and planted tomatoes all over the yard in late July…

Can you guess what happened? The late planting avoided the worst of the fungal diseases, and the warm weather lasted longer than usual…and we were picking ripe tomatoes for Thanksgiving dinner!

All this to say, the winter is a great time to plan, dream and prepare for the growing season even though you never know how the season will play out!

You most likely will want to order any seeds you are purchasing in January. And If you’d like

some help with your garden plan contact Edible Eden for a customized road map for your 2017 growing season.

Fall Fennel Slaw

I love fennel; it’s one of my favorite fall veggies and grows great in our climate. One of the best ways to eat it is raw and whole like an apple. My next favorite way is in this mouth popping salad:

Alternatively, if you're dealing with confirmed fennel hater, convince them to try this:

What is Reemay? Every Farmer's Favorite Fabric

You may have seen it your neighborhood -- the spider webs, cackling pumpkins and plastic skeletons have been replaced by gourds and hand-traced turkeys taped to the window. October has come and gone, and Thanksgiving is quick on its heels. For gardeners nationwide, the next thirty days are a last breath of life before the winter freeze. Many are wondering how to get the most out of their edibles before it’s too late.

Here at Edible Eden, the start of November harkens the beginning of Reemay season. What is Reemay? Reemay is a type of cloth-like fabric, generally made of polyester or polypropylene, which can be stretched over just about any garden plant. The fabric lets in about 75% of all sunlight while helping the plant retain heat and ward off bugs. As the weather gets colder, Reemay is crucial for extending the life of your garden.

Reemay should be set up as soon as the weather starts to turn, we recommend getting it up as soon as possible! Leave it on through the New Year, by which point even a covering of Reemay won’t be enough to ward off the winter.

Reemay is perfect for any late fall crops, like cabbage, kale, arugula, spinach  or carrots. By waiting as long as possible to harvest them, they grow sweeter. Reemay fabric can extend the life of your garden by several months and can result in plenty of extra pounds of produce. If you have even a couple of food plants in your garden, It makes sense to consider covering them for the next couple months.

To set up Reemay, we first stretch metal or PVC hoops over the garden to suspend the Reemay without crushing the plants. The fabric is anchored by garden staples pushed into the soil, or, if you’re on a budget, weighed down by rocks.

Interested in ensuring your fall harvest is as bountiful as possible? The garden gurus at Edible Eden can get your Reemay set up in an quick afternoon session. To learn more visit edibledenfoodscapes.com/contact.

Seasons of Abundance: Farm-to-Table Thanksgiving Ideas

Thanksgiving is such a confusing holiday! It’s simultaneously cozy and delicious and so hypocritical. There’s the historical injustice to consider and then there’s the factory farmed Butterball: monstrous animals so over-engineered they can’t even mate on their own. And yet, is there a better feast than the Thanksgiving shmorgasborg of autumnal abundance? Is there a meat more savory and delicious then a pasture-raised, heritage breed turkey roasted to perfection? Here in the MidAtlantic we can grow most of the components of a Thanksgiving feast right in our yards, and the holiday really gives us an opportunity to enjoy the bounty of our harvest! Here are some farm-to-table Thanksgiving ideas you can try this season. 

This year we planted sweet potatoes in raised beds and they went nuts! Some tubers were big as my arm. Sweet potatoes, like winter squash, can be harvested, cured and held in a root cellar until their starring role in the big meal. If your sweet potatoes are visually perfect you will most likely candy roast them in chunks, but if the bugs have been nibbling them, never fear, just trim the ugly spots, boil the rest and make a mashed sweet potato casserole with brown sugar and pears (or marshmallows but you didn’t hear that part from me).

Hearty fall greens like kale and collards are still growing despite the mild frosts we have had so far. Those greens start getting sweeter and sweeter as the frost brings out the sugars. They are fantastic sautéed in olive oil and served with fried shallots and pumpkin seeds on top for a healthy side dish even the vegans will love.

Some other great farm-to-table Thanksgiving ideas: apples and pears have been ripening over the past few weeks and bring a wonderful crunch to any dish. Consider a ultra-local Thanksgiving salad incorporating arugula, red meat radish, honey crisp apple and purple onion. Don’t forget a rice pilaf with wild rice, baby carrots, onions and thinly sliced shiitake mushrooms from the logs for another hearty side dish. I like to season mine with cinnamon, nutmeg and chicken broth.

Want to really confuse your cousin? Slice up a kolrabi, drizzle with lemon juice and sprinkle with salt for an appetizer none of your relatives will recognize.

Another exciting, garden-to-gourmet Thanksgiving dish features mini-pumpkins. I had always thought of those little 4 inch pumpkins as ornamental; turns out they’re delicious! Scoop out the seeds and bake them with sage leaf, butter and a sliver of garlic, or consider stuffing them with other creative fillings like minced lamb or even cheesecake.

My thanksgiving tradition is to go up to one of my farm mentor’s farms and help slaughter turkeys for a day in return for the bird of my choice. Homer raises his birds on pasture and they peck on the freshest grass and bugs until their big day. Possibly an odd choice for a lapsed passionate vegetarian, but that way I get to avoid the quandary of how ethical/economical I want to be regarding the turkey I purchase.

While today supermarkets give away free turkeys as a marketing gimmick, our ancestors’ harvests were dictated by the weather, luck and hard work. These farm-to-table Thanksgiving ideas take us back to the very roots of the holiday. Growing food and learning about what it takes to get an abundant harvest helps me feel connected to those that came before me; a universal and yet ultra-local birthright that connects us to the seasons, the earth and to ourselves.

 

Preserving the Harvest

Nothing like a new baby to make a few months disappear. We welcomed Malakai Wolf to the world on August 5 and it has been quite a ride adjusting to being new parents! And suddenly it’s here, the first few days of October, the Jewish holidays, the rain, the chill and the FALL!

 

Read More