Sunday, February 23, 2014

Shot Weed - as Local as it Gets

Meet Shot Weed!  The new darling of weed season.

These are the guys in the summer that get a thin, wiry stem with seeds
that shoot themselves all over your yard when you try to pull them out.

I bet you have this in your yard.  And I bet it drives you NUTS!  Guess what.  You can stop hating it NOW.

1. It is edible. (whoopee…. so what?)
2. It is tasty - a local water cress taste alike!  (It is a brassica sp. - that is a broccoli, cabbage and mustard relative).
3. It has a shallow root system, so if it growing in your garden, it makes great green mulch, protecting your soil without stealing water from your deeper rooted veg.

So would I really eat it?


SO-o-o-o-o-o good with the roast beef sandwich.
The pretzel roll made it extra good.
How to harvest?

Pull up the rosette, bring all the branches in.  Twist them off the root near the base of the stems.
Give them a wash and a spin.

Goes great in salads as well.

Sure, pull them out of where they don't belong, but don't let them make you crazy any more.  Eat them up.

Where did you learn about this?

From the informative and interesting Melany Vorass Herrera and the Front Yard Forager
This is exhaustively researched, and the Bibliogtaphy has lots of material if you'd like to follow up.  But color pix are helpful… AND recipes.  My kind of book.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Yogurt Containers make Self-Watering Pots

Making herb growing even more stupid proof.

Grow herbs!  They are pretty stupid proof, grow better when plucked often and make everything tastier.

For me the biggest stupid is forgetting to water them. 

OK this is basil that died of cold, not under watering,
but dead is dead.

I've sorted the baby-stage.  From seed to seedling (aka “micro-greens” in certain Fancy Places), these repurposed  lettuce containers work as green houses that keep in most of the water, and create a cozy, toasty environment.

But when the herbs are transplanted from the baby-bed, but it is still the too cold to go outside, they are in danger of my neglect.  On more than on occasion, I've killed the fragile little guys.  Not wanting to have them up end up as the base for frost flowers, they stay in.  Good.

But then I'll forget to water them.  Bad

They dry up and die.

Once they make it outside, they are usually in good shape.  The rain usually continues quite dependably, so for a while yet, watering solved.

I've even gotten around to hooking up a drip watering system.  That certainly helps with the arrival of the 2 (shifting) months of no rain.   And makes life sweet for the herbs that did survive the dangerous indoor weeks. 

But between the years I fiddling about with more herbs than my drip system can handle, and the needless indoor deaths by artificial drought, I realized I needed to get creative. Possibly even Crafty.

Capillary Action to the rescue!

Old yogurt containers, All you need is 2 containers that nest well with a pretty good sized gap underneath (for the water).

and some sort of artificial fiber that gets wet.  You can use cotton or wool, but they will disintegrate faster.  It needs to be wet-able so water will travel or “wick” up it from the lower level into the upper.  Certain nylon and polypropylene ropes don’t get wet very well, and can’t wick.  However acrylic yarn and any other fiber that gets wet will work just fine.

Punch a few small holes (cork screw eliminated “stabby” type injuries)

Cut your yarn/rope.  Knot in one end so it stays where you want it.

Push the yarn through the small holes.  The mini screwdriver was handy.  Plenty of other tools work fine too.

Now your self watering pot is ready for business!  Plant the top pot like a regular flower pot.  Add water to the bottom pot – but only enough so your top pot isn’t floating.

Now your transplanted herbs will water themselves for a week or longer.

Fewer casualties all around.  Yay!

February Freezer Challenge

Over the end of summer, the bountiful fall, and the ambitious celebration season, I tend to fill my freezer.  It gets the overflows of produce at it's peak, greens blanched our otherwise cooked down from enormous batches ready all at once.

turnip & chard & mustard

 It gets fruits frozen for use in smoothes and baking.

February blueberry waffles - FTW!

It gets portioned out beets from a large roasting session so planning ahead is an unattended thaw, rather than session with the oven I have to be there for (and the peeling, and the clean-up and…).  And it gets all the parts and bits of stuff leftover from my ambitious winter cooking - but the portions of awesome leftovers, but also the parts of convenience food I've purchased for those days that appear to be 14.5 hours long instead of the standard 24.

Oh yes, I LOVE Trader Joe's, and even some Costco items.  I finally grew out of trying to be perfect.  The hours are better, and you meet a better class of people.

And right about now I find my freezer(s) - the one in my fridge, and the chest one in the garage, to be a higgledy-piggledy hodge podge in need of some serious discipline.

Further more, the next produce season is rolling around.  I need to use up the old stuff, clean the accumulated out of the chest freezer, and make room for the next summer and fall bounty.

And the fish heads at the bottom that were due to be crab bait are REALLY ready for it now, and must not miss their chance this summer.

Last night was easy - Chicken soft tacos with leftover rice, shredded cheese and Mexican style sauerkraut with carrots (cumin & jalapeƱo spiced - very similar in flavor profile to the the vegetable escabeche you can get in the "ethnic" aisles - but way WAY better.)

I will thank TJ's for their cryo-vac'd pre-spiced chicken and Oly Kraut for my long keeping crunchy veg.  And corn tortillas for going through the freeze thaw so well.

Tonight?  We shall see.