Growing Food

WOW!

127 of you commented on the Sunset Edible Garden Cookbook Giveaway and listed some great edible favorites, cooking tips and more! Thank you so much for all the great information. I found it so interesting, I decided to do a summary post below so you can get the highlights in a quick and easy way.

Heirloom Tomatoes

But First!  The Winners..

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The Next Generation of Farmers

This past year, one of the most rewarding episodes I wrote/produced for Growing A Greener World (on PBS) was the one on “Young Farmers”. It was all about who will be growing our food in the future.

The farmers and JennyJackson Farm in GA

As you probably know, the average age of the American farmer is 60 and most farming is done conventionally with the use of chemicals and industrialized methods. But there is a new generation of farmers emerging and they are young, passionate about the envirnment and willing to work hard to grow food sustainably and distribute it locally.

There were so many wonderful people making a difference, it was difficult for me to narrow down where we should film or who we should feature for that episode. But we ended up filming in the Atlanta area and showcased some really wonderful people who I am proud to have growing food for us. (Shown above are the farmers at Jenny Jack Sun Farm in Pine Mountain GA. Don’t you just love the t-shirt?)

Remember that we vote with our dollars. If we buy locally, organically grown produce, we support our local farmers – many of whom are just starting out with sustainable farms. Take a look at this episode (Link Below) and know that with our support and dollars these people can make a difference in the way our country eats.

To watch the full episode go to: Episode 213 – Young Farmers

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Find What’s Fresh

SeasonalFruit I found a neat new tool at the Epicurious site:  search by state and month, and find what’s fresh in your area!

The tool keeps track of peak-season fruits and veggies for you, and even suggests recipes based on those foods.

Clever! I sure could have used this all summer.

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My Garden Will Be On TV This Weekend!

Lights! Camera! Cue the songbirds! Cue the Squash! Aaaaand ACTION!

GGW_Theresa3 Yes, it is true. Two months ago, we filmed for FIVE straight days in my backyard for our Public Television series Growing A Greener World. As the Associate Producer of the show, it was my job to coordinate the 5 day shoot, including finding the guests, pre-interview them, acquiring permits, permissions and lining up all the locations.

But what made this particular shoot a bit more stressful was the fact that my garden was being featured (on 3 of the episodes we were filming). So I had to do my AP job while also getting myself AND the garden ready for filming.

Whew! I still get tired thinking about it.

GGWFilming1151 The filming itself went well. The crew was supposed to arrive Monday afternoon and stop by to get an overview of my garden. Imagine my surprise when I opened the door at 11 AM only to find our Director and Lighting Director on my front porch with all of their equipment!

Apparently Joe Lamp’l (our Ex. Producer) had emailed them in mid-flight and told them to start shooting when they arrived! Funny thing about that…HE FORGOT TO TELL ME! It was a miracle I was even home!

So, I was a bit thrown off as I was running out the door to get food and wine (a very important element in a 5 day shoot). But I let the guys in to start filming 24 hours early. Oh MY!

Lucky for me, I have some very talented and reliable friends who not only picked up my kids from school, but also got the crew some much needed coffee while I escaped to run errands.

Meanwhile, I started texting Joe on the airplane (his flight was not set to land until 2:30 PM) and most of those texts and emails began with the words “I am going to kill you…and it will be a slow, painful death“. When Joe landed, he texted me that he was afraid to get off the plane. (As well he should be!)

But in the end, it was wonderful to have the guys here a day early as that gave them almost an entire day to film B-roll of my garden that we can use in many of our episodes.

The episode about me and my garden is called “Living Homegrown Fresh” (sound familiar?) and will be airing THIS weekend on Public Television. It is all about growing your own food, eating locally, and how I do urban homesteading in the middle of the city.

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I was listening to the play back of what we just shot.

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The team doing the “close” in front of my garden writer shed.

(Yes, this is where I write for the show)

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Our host/producer Joe Lamp’l filming in my front yard.

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We filmed at a farmer’s market to discuss eating LOCAL!

You need to check your local listings to see when it is airing in your neck of the woods. OR WATCH IT ON THE SHOW’S WEBSITE! We will be airing the episode (in its entirety and in high definition) on the Growing A Greener World website starting this Sunday morning, August 22.

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Have You Ever Done This?

Lettuce1Today I noticed two forlorn looking six packs of lettuce sitting in my garden. I bought them months ago with the intention of filling in some empty spots in my front yard. (I use edibles all throughout my landscape.) But alas, I totally forgot about them…probably because I always grow my lettuce from seed. I never buy it in six-packs.

Do you do this? Forget about plants until they either die or root right through the pot?

I catch myself doing this sometimes. I buy on impulse, set the plants where they will get some water and forget about them. I find them later, rooted through the pot, struggling to survive. Ugh!

This lettuce will not go to waste. It is well established in its little corner of the garden, so I am just going to harvest it from six pack — tacky as that may be.

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Recycle AND Create a Window Farm

Two NYC artists, Britta Riley and Rebecca Bray created a vertical window garden out of recycled water bottles. All the plants are grown hydroponically and it demonstrates how to get the most from a small city space.

Check it out…

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Growing Your Own Shiitake Mushrooms

Shiitake_log  Some of you may recall this conversation I had with my husband recently…

Husband: “What is this moldy baggie in the refrigerator? Can I throw it away?”

Me: “NO!!!! That is my bag of Shiitake mushroom plug spawn.”

Husband: “Huh?”

Me: “It is a bag of wood sticks that are inoculated with Shiitake mushroom spores.”

Husband: “Umm…what?”

Me: “I am going to pound them into a log, let them colonize the wood and sprout my own Shiitake mushrooms. I am keeping them in the refrigerator until I have the log ready. Plus, letting them sit a bit helps the spores multiply before I embed them into the log.”

[Pause]

Me: “Why are you looking at me that way?”

Husband: “I’m just waiting for the alien life form to sprout from your body…Who are you and what have you done with my wife?”

—-

Well, I wanted to update you on the mushroom growing project. I managed to plant those plugs!

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I bought the plugs from Fungi Perfecti in the state of Washington. You can order plugs for Shiitake, Tree oyster and others. They also have counter top mushroom kits, books and other cool information.

To grow the Shiitake mushrooms in a log, you first need a hardwood log (with some exceptions). Oak, eucalyptus, and elm are good candidates. I used mostly oak. The logs need to be from live trees and must be cut 2 weeks to 6 months before using.

First, you drill two-inch deep holes (with a 5/16th inch drill bit) that are no more than four-inches apart.

Then, you hammer in the wooden plugs with a rubber mallet.

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After plugging, the logs should be placed so that they are off the ground. They need steady moisture and low light. Then…you wait.

It takes 6-12 months for the mushrooms to colonize the wood. I’m waiting now and will keep you posted…See? No alien life forms involved!

Top photo credit.

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Long Distance Gardening

Suitcase We just had a whirlwind summer! In the last two months my family has been to Colorado, Hawaii, Montana, Wyoming and Arizona. Yes…we did all that in just TWO months. Whew! What were we thinking?!

Although it was fun to be jet-setters, we are a bit tired of living out of suitcases and glad to be home in our own beds. My dear friends took care of my gardens and my chickens. All fared well. But boy…it is good to be home.
As for the garden, a few things got away from me while we were gone. But between trips, we managed to be home to enjoy most of the deliciousness of our garden including the corn harvest (it was awesome), the zucchini, Italian summer squash, bell peppers and of course…tons of tomatoes. The onions and tomatoes are still hanging on. I think we have a few more weeks of produce from them.I even managed to collect some beautiful Indian Corn from the school garden we planted last spring. The corn was grown in the third grade “Three Sisters Garden”. I dried the corn for the teachers to use in their fall decorations.

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Don’t you just love the purple husks? So pretty!

I will be harvesting herbs over the next month or two and planting a fall veggie garden. (Come on Snap Peas! YUM!) So good to be home!

I have gathered quite a collection of interesting gardening information, ideas and tidbits through my travels that I will be sharing here over the next few weeks. I’m also going to post on how I inoculated some logs with mushroom spores. Curious???  Oh yeah…Fun stuff!Stay Tuned!

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Grow Your Salad Right in the Colander!

What could be more appropriate than growing lettuce right in a kitchen colander?

Lettuce

I found this great salad garden by Kerry Michaels over at About.com.

It really is a simple process to recreate a similar “Salad-in-a-colander”. Kerry Michaels gives all the details in the post. It is easy-peasy.

All you need is a a colander, some window screen and some seeds. I see old colanders all the time at garage sales. Time to pick up a few!

And wouldn’t this be cute as a hanging pot?

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Entire Village Grows Their Own Food!

VillageStory Talk about a community garden!!

Here is an interesting story about an entire village in the United Kingdom that has come together to grow their own food. Started in 2003, their goal is to be as self sufficient as possible. Of the 164 families that live in the village, 101 have signed up for the project.

Every week they sell their extra produce, chickens, pigs and honey. The result? They are making a nice profit and only go to the grocery store for things like “loo paper and deodorant”.

Their most popular veggie at market? Carrots!

Thanks to the Shibaguyz for the heads up on this project.

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