• Tag Archives chard
  • Making Pot Pies

    Fall                                                       Waxing Autumn Moon

    We had our final straight from the garden meal last night.  Roasted potatoes, onions, fennel, carrots and a lone beet.  Raspberries for dessert.  Marinated chicken for protein, not from here.

    Today I cut up the leeks, cooked some chicken breasts, carrots, celery, peas and corn (none of these ours), and cooked the leeks in salt water for five minutes.  After shredding the chicken, a roux thickened the broth with the vegetables.  The shredded chicken went in the pie crust, then the leeks (our own), and after that the thickened broth and vegetables.

    A rolled out pie crust for a top to the pies and they went in the oven.  4 chicken/leek pot pies, frozen now, treats we can have when we get back from South America along with raspberry pie.

    Had an aha about our garden while cutting up the leeks.  We’re not feeding ourselves in any significant way with our garden, though we do eat several meals a year with our own produce and fruit.  What we can grow, and the leeks, garlic, heirloom tomatoes and heirloom potatoes are good examples, are specialty vegetables that, even if we wanted them, probably wouldn’t be available and would certainly not be available fresh from the garden.

    We preserve tomatoes, store potatoes and onions, garlic and honey.  Kate makes currant jam and wild grape jelly.  We have raspberry pies frozen and now the chicken/leek pot pies.  We also freeze chard and spinach.  Our garden supplements our diet in ways that would not be possible without it.

    It also gives us a joint project, a place we can work together, while keeping us in touch with the Great Wheel and the ways of the vegetative world.  We get a lot from our garden.

  • The Final Harvest

    Fall                                                Waxing Autumn Moon

    Going out today to collect the rest of the rest of the harvest.  A few potato plants I missed the first time around remain.  Leeks, those Musselberg Giants.  Some carrots, some chard.  Beans.  Rain has appeared in the forecast for the first time in weeks.  A good thing, but it reduces the clear days for harvesting and mulching.

    When I get those leeks inside, chicken and leek pot pies come next.  I’ll use carrots and maybe a potato or two.

    Still no news from Saudi Arabia.  The weather has cooled down in Riyadh, only 93 today.

    Been pushing to finish the fourth book of Game of Thrones, but will have to give up on ending it before the cruise.  Too many words, not enough hours.  I’ll have to finish it in a deck chair. Darn.

  • Bee Diary: August, 2011

    Lughnasa                                                                   Waning Honey Extraction Moon

    Checked the honey supers this morning.  On the two package colonies that I do not intend to overwinter, we have approximately four full honey supers.  That is, we have for harvest the amount of honey they would have needed for the winter, close to 200 pounds.  Figure that 40 pounds is not recoverable due to drips, stuck on honey comb even after extraction then that should leave around 16o pounds to harvest.

    If we chose to sell it at, say $7 a pound, that would create around a $1,ooo in sales after keeping some back for own use and gifts.  After the bee packages at $60 each and amortizing the honey extractor, supers and hive boxes, syrup, hive tools, smoker, pollen, queen excluders, honey jars, top and bottom boards and telescoping covers, we’d still be in the red for the first three years.  Don’t know what we’ll do with it this year, probably give away a lot again.  It’s good for barter and gifts for sure.

    Artemis Hives has produced honey two years in a row now, an artisanal honey created by bees aided by the beekeeper, me, and the bee equipment and harvest partner, Kate.

    Looking at the gardening year in total we will have a good, not great honey harvest, a good potato harvest, leeks, beets, chard, beans and possibly a decent tomato crop.  Kate has good success with her zucchinis and the decorative gourds have bloomed but produced no fruit yet.  The gardening and beekeeping year will wind down in September, just in time for us to finish our cruise preparations.  Caring for gardens and bees requires a lot of face time with the plants and hives, visits to nurseries, attendance at Hobby Bee Keeper meetings, not to mention all the work of harvesting and putting food by.

    I’m at the point in the year when my enthusiasm has run out a while ago and the only thing that keeps me active now is the need to finish, to harvest.  When it’s done, it’s over for the year.


  • Week’s End

    Spring                                                          Waxing Bee Hiving Moon

    Kate and Annie (her sister) are off to Omaha, Kansas City and various quilt shops in between.  When asked what they do on the bus (she’s done this before), she said, “Talk.”  Me, “No quilt-road-tripsinging, no poker, no beer?”  Nope.

    Brother Mark is here, decompressing from a tough six months, and inhaling American culture, “Something there, but being brought forward from far back in the mind.”  He’s not been back to the US in over 20 years.

    Today is the first day I’ve had any lengthy time to myself this whole week.  Gonna spend it doing Latin.

    The kale and chard starts have germinated; the tomatoes have yet to break the surface.  All this is under the lights.  I’ve not checked the beets, spinach and lettuce planted outside earlier in the week, but they should get started in the not too distant future.

    Next weekend the bees should arrive, so there are bee related chores this week:  cleaning frames and hive boxes, moving everything to the orchard, checking the honey supers.  The smoker needs cleaning out, too, a lot of soot collects over the course of a season.  Tomorrow I have advanced bee keeping, open only to those who have kept bees at least a full season or two.

    But, since this is Minnesota, first we may have to have some snow.

  • A Busy Week Ahead

    Spring                                              Waxing Bee Hiving Moon


    Business meeting this am.  Looked at our IRA and Vanguard balances.  Both healthy thanks to good planning and the recent surge in the market.  Theses glances at our assets won’t be as much fun when the market heads south again, as it will.  Right now though they’re cheering.  I read an interesting article on whether it was better to start retirement when the market  was strong or when it was undervalued.  The consensus was that undervalued was better. I can’t recall why, but I imagine it had to do with a feeling of lack followed by a feeling of abundance rather than the reverse.  The latter could lead to too quick a draw-down on accounts, leaving less money near the end of life.  Ah, well.  We’re well under the recommended minimum per year withdrawal from the IRA so far and we plan to keep it that way.

    Started three varieties of tomatoes this morning:  Roma, Black Krim and a yellow variety.  At the same time I started kale and chard, one variety each.  They go under the lights now and wait just before the last frost (May 15 or so), kale and chard, and until after the last frost, the tomatoes.  Wetting the potting soil resembles playing with mud, an early childhood memory trip.

    We checked calendars.  This week’s a heavy one for me with political, artistic and bee-keeping meetings, plus a birthday dinner out for brother Mark at the Oceanaire.

  • The Growing Season Begins. Now.

    Winter                                             Waning Moon of the Cold Month   -13 at 8 am today

    Just slept 11 hours.  After a two-hour nap.  And ten hours the night before.  My body is at work, fending off this chest cold I have.  I feel pretty good right now, but I don’t think it’s quite done.  Still, fluids, steam baths and rest.  That’s the ticket.

    Today I put some seeds in their places:  leeks, lettuce and chard.  The lettuce and chard, once they reach two leaves in size, will go up into the hydroponics for use now.  The leeks will 06-05-10_leeksandpeas670keep on growing, too, also up in the hydroponics once they become youngsters and not babies, but they will go in the ground outside as soon the ground can be worked. (I think.  May be a bit later.)  Over February, March and April other plants will follow the same process, growing up to two leaves, then getting transferred to the nutrient baths of the hydroponics.  Each one, in its own time, will go outside to the waiting beds.  They will augment the garlic, the strawberries, the raspberries, the asparagus already growing there.

    This year our planting will be more informed by several years of growing vegetables together, Kate grew some before.  We’ll plant what we need for canning, preserving in other ways like drying and freezing.  We’ve eaten well from our gardens over the last few years, but not as well as we could.  There’s always room for improvement.

    One area for improvement is management of the orchard.  That will occupy some serious thought in March and April.  Fruits, especially trees, are different from vegetables, more vulnerable to insects and disease.  We’ll see what there is to do.

    This will be the first growing season with Kate home full-time, so we’ll test out how that works.  Bound to help.

    Then, too, in April, the bees begin to come out of their winter ball.  I over-wintered three colonies though I’m unsure about their survival.  I’d be surprised if all three pull through the 06-20-10_garden_6703winter, but delighted.  I’d understand if only two made it, but I’d be disappointed with one.  I’ve got a long ways to go before I’m a good bee-keeper, but I have years to go before I sleep.  Time enough.

  • Domestic, Horticultural and Apicultural Matters

    Lughnasa                                Full Artemis Moon

    Still waiting on the extracting equipment though I imagine it will arrive soon.  Then, setting up the honey house with the extractor and the capping knife and the capping container.  I’ll move some things around, get ready for winter storage of honey supers, put in a solid table for handling supers and frames and foundations.  It’ll be finished when I get the metal sign to hang over the door.

    Today found me at Home Depot early picking up a filter for the humidifier attached to the furnace–didn’t know it had one till gas repairman pointed it out–and a refrigerator coil brush.   Turns out refrigerators work more efficiently if their coils get cleaned.  Who knew?  Up the road on Hghwy 10 I went to Anoka Feed and Seed to order another 8 cubic yards of wood chips.  The sky has that late summer blue.  Autumn does not show through the sky and the winds yet, but it will.  It’s already evident in dying plants and woolly caterpillars.

    Back home I pulled some carrots, beets, chard and Kale.  I also dug for a couple of new potatoes, but I’m not finding as many potatoes as I found last year.  Hope I just haven’t gone deep enough.  That got my hands good and dirty.

    This afternoon I plan to get back to the exercise routine which has seemed too strenuous for the last two weeks while I was sick.  Looking forward to returning to that habit.

  • Planting During the Full Planting Moon

    Beltane                                    Full Planting Moon

    Ah, the sweet feel of being in synch with the moon.  I planted Scarlet Nantes carrots and golden beets amongst the green onions and the radicchio.  Threw in a few zinnias for good measure.  Next in the onion bed with storage onions, dill, marigolds and some other flower I can’t recall, I planted more carrots, more golden beets and some Red Russian Kale.  Over in the bed with the Russian sage, some leftover onion and garlic and the bok choy, I planted Swiss Chard, beets vulgaris (I love that), the deep red ones, arugula and flame lettuce.

    At that point the direct sun got to me so I retreated to the garage to turn on the zone for the area I had just planted.  The beds seemed dry to me, so I wondered about its time and its arc.  Sure enough, it’s going 360 when I want 180.  That means the veggies only get half of the water they need.  Later on the drip irrigation will provide most of what they need, but now, in drier conditions and with seeds starting over-head watering is the best.  I’ll change the arc when it finishes this round.

    The cold also leaves me more exhausted than the work would usually suggest.  Now I’m inside for the siesta time period:  lunch, a nap, perhaps some Latin.  As the evening cools, I’m going to go out and at least dead head the grasses and other weeds that are about to go to seed.  Then I can take them out with a hoe at my leisure.

  • Dinner Straight From the Plant

    Summer                        Waxing Green Corn Moon

    Dinner with vegetables straight from the garden is a treat and can be a surprise.  It was tonight.  We had potatoes, new potatoes-709042potatoes, dug just before cooking.  They had a distinct flavor, a nutty earthy  tone unfamiliar from the long since harvested potatoes typical of both home and restaurant cooking.  This meal included our garlic, our kale and chard, the potatoes garnished with our flat parsley and a bowl of sugar snap peas as an appetizer.

    Digging potatoes involved a spading fork to loosen the soil, then searching around under the earth for these lumpy  treasures.  They grow well in the sandy soil here in Andover.

    (pic:  potatoes before harvest)

    Kate takes off for the Grand Teton’s tomorrow, a CME conference.  BJ is also out there, playing in the Grand Teton music festival as she has for the last several years.  The Tetons have an incredible beauty, the American Alps, a very young mountain range.  She’s back on Wednesday, then we go to see a micro-surgeon who has perfected the technique for cervical vertebrae.  He’ll evaluate Kate’s candidacy for that surgery.

    Lots of weeding today and more tomorrow.  A normal task in late July, early August.

  • A Green Miracle

    Spring              Waning Seed Moon

    The bee hives have a new coat of white sealer, a soothing color for them.  The raised bed on which I painted them has some tulips pushing up and the bed across from it have the garlic.  They’ve begun to wake up in force now so we’ll have the pleasure of garlic grown this year from garlic we grew last year.

    We had chard for lunch today.  I thought about it a moment.  I took one chard seed and put it in a small rockwool cube late last fall or early winter.  It got water and light from the fluorescent bulb until it sprouted.  After the first tiny roots began to appear outside the confines of the small cube, it went into the clay growing medium, small balls of clay that absorb nutrient solution.

    The seedling grew in the nutrient solution for several weeks as the roots spread out.  The nutrient solution comes in a bottle, concentrated and goes 3 tablespoons to two gallons of water.  What those roots and the chard plant leaves have to work with then is that nutrient solution and the light from a full spectrum second sun that glows above the plastic beds in which the liquid circulates.

    The wonder in this is the transformation of that small seed, not bigger than the head of a pin, into food with only the inputs of light and some concentrated chemicals diluted in water.  I’m not sure why  you need water into wine when you can turn water into food, better for you anyhow.

    Over the next month the outside work begins to grow and take up more time.  In our raised beds and the orchard this same miracle happens, changed only by the addition of soil.  Seeds into food.  Which in turn create more seeds so you can grow more food.  A green miracle.