Thursday, December 22, 2011

 Heron's Nest Farm Seed Order Form 2012

Seed Variety
Unit Price       x



Total $_____

Make Checks Payable to
 Heron’s Nest Farm
30848 Maple Dr.
Junction City, OR 97448

Shipping and Handling                
$0-$15           $3.00 s&h                   
$16-$30         $5.00 s&h            
$30-$75         $7.50 s&h                

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

“An infinite God can give all of Himself to each of His children. He does not distribute Himself that each may have a part, but to each one He gives all of Himself as fully as if there were no others.”
A.W. Tozer

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Only a gardener would

There are quite a few things about we gardeners that make non gardeners wonder if we're in our right minds. Only a gardener would - 

    • Rejoice if a dump truck pulled up and emptied a big load of horse manure in the driveway.
    • Apologize to a worm if we cut it in half with a shovel.
    • Go around collecting dead plants and pile them into a big pile, then do everything we can think of to make it get nice and rotten.
    • Crawl around on our hands and knees looking at the bottoms of leaves to see if something needs squishing.
    • Have three categories for bugs; good bugs, bad bugs and just bugs.
    • Get giddy over the 1st seed catalog of the season in the mailbox!
    • Spend hours and hours on a garden forum!!!
    • View dirty fingernails as a badge of honor.
    • Reorganize a garden considered finished by any other set of eyes...

    Let's see how many we can add...

                                                     Thanks to Hoodat and friends for these thoughts!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Life is Like Coffee

So I am directing you away from my blog to this wonderful little video.  It is short and worthy. It should make you think about the sweetness of simplicity.

May we all find it!

Click here and go!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Nobody Likes Smoke

We recently visited Paris for our belated honeymoon.  Paris is breathtaking! If you never visited a single museum you would feel absolutely stunned by the incredible architecture and its wonderful inhabitants.

The people in Paris are quite refined.  Their children eat with their knife in the right hand and their fork in the left--at four. They say please and thank you.  Hundreds of years of living literally stacked on top of one another has left them quite refined in their behaviors.

BUT, they smoke.  A lot of them smoke.  Some restaurants allow smoking inside.  On sunny days the cafes are jammed on the terrace with folks elbow to elbow--smoking. It was gross. They have this incredible etiquette but will blow smoke in your face or hold their cigarette away from themselves over your table.  It was horrible.  I began to dread going out because of the heinous smoke. What a disconnect!

It got me thinking about my life.  I am almost 40 (Yay!) and I have worked hard on myself to refine my rough edges.  I consider my habitation of self looking pretty good; my streets are clean, my buildings are lovely, I have museums and cafes.

But what about my smoking? Am I holding my cigarette in someone else's face? The Parisians don't even see it and maybe I don't either.

So my latest charge to you readers: Be brave enough to ask your friends about your smoke. Ask them to be frank and then do something about it!  This isn't a fun assignment, like gathering jars of sunshine, but a worthy one. After all, nobody likes smoke.

“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye. ”Matthew 7:1-5

Thursday, November 3, 2011

We come spinning 
   out of nothingness, 
      scattering stars like dust.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

We rarely hear the inward music, 
    but we're all dancing to it nevertheless.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Jesus said, "Everyone who seeks should continue seeking until he finds. When he finds, he will be troubled at the contemplation of Truth, but when he has passed through the time of trouble, he will be astonished at the brightness of the Light, for the Way of Truth is the Pathway to the Eternal Godhead, and the price of the beatific vision is the wringing of the soul. The person who desires to rise above all things must descend below all things, for the way to the heights passes through the depths of anguish, which generate the fires of Life. The person who has suffered and found Life is blessed."
                                                 --From The Gospel of Thomas

Thursday, October 6, 2011

People of the world don't 
     look at themselves, and so 
            they blame one another.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Pear Sauce

I just love pears.  For pear sauce I like Bartlett pears.  They are really sweet and their texture is not too grainy when canned. Start with a 20 pound box of pears.  This should yield about 12 pints. Pears are picked green and kept in the cooler until sent to market where they begin ripening.  If your pears are green, take them home and set them in a warm, not hot place to ripen.  You want them just yellow and still quite firm.  This way teh sugars are developed and the fruits are firm.

  1. Rinse and peal pears, placing them in a large bowl with a little lemon juice (3 tsp). The lemon juice keeps it from browning and adds acidity to your mixture.
  2. Have your jars in the pot cleaned.  
  3. Now halve the pears and remove the cores.
  4. I like chunky pear sauce, so at this point I cut up half the pears (into bite sized chunks) and put them in a large processing pot.  Remember the wider your (non-reactive) pot is, the faster the pears will cook down.
  5. You may wish to add sugar at this point.  Maybe a cup or so if you are so inclined.  REMEMBER that the mixture will cook down and become sweeter!
  6. Cook covered for about 5 minutes to bring the juices out and avoid burning.  Uncover and stir occasionally for about 10 minutes.
  7. Now you need to puree.  You can do this with a blender in batches, or if you have an immersion blender (or a hand held drink blender) use this to get the pears thoroughly pureed.
  8. Continue to cook in your pot, stirring occasionally to avoid burning. 
  9. While the pears are cooking, cut up your remaining pears into large bite sized chunks.  The chunks will get a little smaller as they are cooking.  Add the chunks to the pot and continue cooking.
  10. Add 6 teaspoons of strained lemon juice.  This will get the Ph where it needs to be.  I like to add about a  teaspoon of lemon zest as well.  I find the zest really brings out the flavor of the fruit.
  11. Turn your pot of water on with your jars in it to sterilize them.
  12. When your jars are sterilized your pear sauce will have cooked down.  If you want it thicker you can cook longer.  
  13. Carefully remove jars, draining water into pot.  Drain one jar into a bowl with your lids to get your lids ready.
  14. Ladle hot pear sauce into jars leaving a healthy half inch of head space.
  15. Wipe rims of jars clean with clean cloth or paper towel.
  16. Place hot lids on jars and screw rings on till finger tight. You don't want to crank them down because air will escape upon sealing.
  17. Return to pot and process for 20 minute at boiling.
  18. Remove jars to a towel on your counter and leave them alone for at least 10 hours.  
  19. Check to see that the tops have pooped down after an hour.  If they don't seal, put them in the fridge to eat, or if there are a ton of them you can reprocess them.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Only from the heart can you touch the sky.

Monday, September 26, 2011

You CAN can! Even with kids...

It's morning here on the farm. The squash are on the vines in abundance and there is basil for all.

I'm itching to can. There is something so wonderful about canning. It takes a whole day to really do jams and the like if you are doing a dozen plus jars, but the ability to slow down and make it happen is magical. There is something so special about bringing in the harvest--either from the store or your garden--that leaves a mark on your soul. There you are in your kitchen with jars sterilizing on the stove surrounded by bunches of colorful fruit and veggies. In that moment you feel saturated in abundance and the notion of bottling that abundance for colder, grayer days days; and those days are coming is so gratifying.

I want to encourage those of you with young children that you CAN can. You can even include them. There is tons of stirring to be done. Pull a chair or stool up and let them ascend and descend to their hearts delight. Jams need cut up fruits. Who cares if they get them perfect! Its all turning to a big bowl of sweet goo, and what child doesn't like sweet goo? Did you know that you don't have to do 30 jars? How about 2? The joy of getting the fruits and jars, talking over the magic of it with your kids, prepping, and then putting your treasures up on the shelf for later is a wonderful seasonal memory to share for a lifetime.

In winter you can take the special magic jar of summer from the shelf and release it in darker days. What fun!

Tips for working with smaller children:
  1. Cultivate knife skills. Go ahead and give them a butter knife to cut up raspberries. If you are at a tantrum stage and wish to avoid a tantrum when it ends, give them a bowl with their supply and explain this is their portion--when its gone they are done.
  2. Keep it simple! To keep little kids engaged in a sometimes long process let them know in kid language the different stages and how they can choose to be involved. Children with shorter attention spans (some of you are thrilled to get a concerted minute) can come in and participate at the onset of each new stage, then run off and play till the next.
  3. Decorate your jars. You can buy full sheets of sticker paper. Avery makes them. Use your rings to draw circles on the sticker page on the INSIDE of the empty rings. Leave markers or crayons on the table and let them create special jar top decorations while you stir and chop.
  4. Decide to can for Christmas or your gift stash. OK. I know that thinking about that right now could be overwhelming, but engaging your kids in the idea of thinking ahead of ways to bless family and friends is, in my humble opinion, imperative to the survival of our nation. Raising children's awareness of others and how to serve and love on them from an early age is a character trait that is passed down from generation to generation.
  5. Start small if they are small. Let's face it, if you have a nursing baby in a carrier and one under foot while you are stirring and cutting, your time and attention is pretty used up. Don't get overly ambitious and set yourself up for failure! Your canning experience can grow as your kids do. Maybe this year you make 2 jars of jam and next year you make 4. If you over-extend yourself you won't enjoy it and neither will they.
  6. Educate. As a teacher, homeschooler, and mom I would encourage you to be verbal, but not overly so. Make sure to use first, second, and next in your language. Life is about processes. Briefly explain the steps before and then proceed through them together. If you can actually go to the store together (and it's enjoyable) take them with you to "oooo" and "awe" over your veggies or fruit. Let them help you "pick the best ones" and praise them for their wonderful help. Educate them as to how to pick the fruits/veggies and why. If you are doing this every year, you will be amazed at how their knowledge can grow and stay with them for a lifetime. Too many parents never tell their children how to pick produce and as adults it is a mystery to overcome.
  7. Take pictures. You can even affix a picture of your kids stirring to the top of your jar or in a Christmas card and give them as gifts. Grandma will love it. You can do a round shape or get creative. If you have a local craft store, some offer free punches for use.
  8. Let your kids test for that pop in the lid. After your jars have sat their 12 hours your kids will love to press down on the tops to see if they pop back up. For most kids you will need to show them a jar closed and not sealed so they can see the difference. It's a joy worth waiting for. Don't be surprised if they want to double check. Some kids will simply wish to push the unsealed jar again and again. If only I were so easily amused!
  9. Laugh a lot. Remember that you are having a good time. If you start to get stressed, stop, regroup, and remind yourself, "this is fun."
  10. Buy extra if you can to munch as you work. Let your kids eat as they work. It's only a day or two of the year. Who doesn't deserve 1 day or berry gorging?
OK, so now it's your turn to share some of your ideas for canning with kids!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Jars of Sunshine

It's morning here on the farm. Summer is in full swing with rows of sunflowers lifting their heads and singing their happy aria. While the sun is not so hot these last few days, I have been doing my best to capture sunshine in a bottle, or should I say jar.

I've been canning fruits in preparation for the dark months ahead. They are coming. There is a real fullness right now that makes me a little lazy. With so much abundance, I feel as though I'm surrounded by a thick, cushy cloud of contentment. I am doing my best these days to take note of that content
ment. I want to be really familiar with it. I keep visiting this place in my mind, running over its ground attempting to know its every curve and nuance. I want to know it so that I can go there whenever I need to. And I know I will need to.

Today, take a wonderful moment and rest in it.

Too often we are so busy that we forget to stop and collect our peace. But practicing your peace makes it so you can render your "piece" more effectively to the whole. Being you is so much more enjoyable--for everyone-- when you know peace. So gather your peace and store it up. When rainy days come you can pop open a jar of sunshine for yourself or a weary soul.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Swiss Chard Pie

Tourte de Blettes a La Nicoise
by Richard Olney


  • Provencal Pastry Dough
  • 2 lb Swiss Chard, parboiled, squeezed dry, chopped
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1/2 freshly grated parmesan
  • 1/4+ teaspoon salt and pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
Prepare the Provencal Pastry Dough and chill for about an hour (this adds two hours to your prep as the dough must rest and hour before chilling).

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a mixing bowl combine chard, eggs, cheese, salt and pepper to taste. Using your hands, mix thoroughly.

Lightly oil 10 inch round baking dish. Roll out 1/2 your dough on a lightly floured  surface. Drape over the edge of your pan and press into the bottom evenly allowing edges to hang over slightly. 

Mound chard filling in the center and push out to the edges. Roll out remaining dough and transfer to the top of the pie. 

At the point you can do one of two things:
  • trim the edges before pinching the top and bottom together.
  • OR, if you like crust, roll the edges and pinch for a nice crispy edge.
Crimp your edges of the pie.  Use a pair of kitchen scissors to cut four or five steam vents in the pie top.  Brush the surface of the rim lightly with oil.

Put in the oven and bake until golden brown, about 30 minutes.

Cook's Note:
You can always try to get creative with pie edges.  Look around your kitchen for something that will leave  an interesting design.  Look at your trivets, spoon edges, etc.

Parboiling is the process of dropping something into boiling water.  you allow it to cook until it just begins to soften and remove BEFORE it is fully cooked.  Essentially you are beginning the cooking process and finishing it elsewhere.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Pears Canned in Light Syrup

For every quart you are canning, you will need:
  • 2 1/2 pounds of excellent pears
  • 2 tbl. lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1/4 cup sugar
Put the sugar and water in a pot and bring the mixture slowly to the boiling point. Stir until all the sugar is dissolved. Keep your pot of syrup on a low heat and cover. This keeps it from evaporating.

Peel and quarter your pears, removing any seeds with a melon baller or a spoon. Put them in sterilized canning jars.  Immediately pour the lemon juice over them to avoid discoloration. Fill the jars with hot syrup leaving 1/2 inch of headroom and process for 30 minutes in a boiling water bath.

You can use this over desserts, on salads, or by themselves.
These are very lightly sweetened.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Provencal Pastry Dough

This dough is typical of provincial, or southern France.  it is versatile and can be used for all sorts of tarts.  Its texture is due largely to the addition of olive oil. A wonderful French dough to commit to memory.


  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • large pinch of salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 luke warm water
  • additional flour for rolling
Place flour and salt in a bowl and mix well with a fork. Add wet ingredients and mix with a fork.  Knead the dough in the bowl using your knuckles until the dough is soft and consistent (this means it is all the same smooth texture).
Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel and leave at room temp before rolling out.

Cook's Note
Pay close attention to the temp of water your recipes ask for, especially when making various doughs.  This has a profound effect on the results.

Most doughs must rest for a bit.  Read your recipe and work your other prep time around the wait.

Thursday, August 4, 2011


Don't throw away the past
  You might need it some rainy day
      Dreams can come true again
                     When ev'rything old is new again.
                                                                                  -Hugh Jackson    

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The rain falls on the just and the unjust...

I went today to drop my SD off at camp for a rafting trip I had signed up for.  Upon my arrival I waited with a group of other parents. The woman heading the group noticed my eager expression and asked if I had a question.  "Yes," I replied, "are we set? Can I head to work?" Upon asking my daughters name I was informed she was fourth on the waiting list. 

It's amazing how quickly I went to near boiling point. "What?!" I protested. You see, I had come the day before and made sure I was there 45 minutes early for sign up to assure my child would be on that list. Basically I was informed that the papers were just handed to her in no specific order and went on the list as such.Now my blood was boiling, but a kind parent stepped up to say she would wait it out and text me.

As I drove away I thought to myself, "That's not fair!" and I began to toss around in my head this idea of "fair". 

What if my idea of  "fair" is not really fair? In my idea of fair, those who follow the rules get their just desserts.  But this isn't really true. The Bible says in Mathew 5:45 "He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the just and the unjust." This is after Jesus gives his words on passive resistance telling us to love our enemies....

Hmmmm, well that makes sense in the way eternal things do; like how we have an inkling of the immensity of the ocean and its many wonders, but can't really comprehend it. 

What if everything was really fair?  What if I believed that God (or whatever your favorite pet name is) was weaving everything together in a way that benefited all beings?  What if I could trust that if my kid weren't on that raft it was fair?

I decided to trust.  After all, being angry and railing against reality wasn't really having a pleasant effect on my day anyway. Yes, trusting was very pleasant indeed.  I felt joy return and a new kind of resilience overflowing from my being. 15 minutes later I had a text letting me know my daughter was on the raft.

Maybe we could all practice trusting a little more.  Maybe you are struggling with something out of your control. I tell you, let it go! Decide to trust. Feelings are nothing more that decisions/judgments we place on things.  I know big feeling are harder to overturn, but maybe we could all practice in the small moments, so that when we find ourselves in those big ones we'll be equipped to change our feelings from fear and anger to trust and love.  

What do you say?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


Red Russian Kale

Kale is super easy to grow from seed.  You don't need starts!  Direct seed in fall and enjoy through the winter.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Turn on Your Love Light

Today was a little rough.

I have had a lot to get done lately; making preparations for our wedding, midterms, the farm, my house, the office, my kids...

I blew up on my sweetheart and was snappy to my daughter today. I know there are better things to read about on the internet, but I am getting to the good part. Today was rough, but then this afternoon it hit me. "I am supposed to be enjoying these things, not stressing about them."

So I decided to go back to enjoying life.

Yes, just like that. How many of you out there are too busy to enjoy life?

I'm planning my wedding. I'm going to enjoy it. My sweetie is getting a new office and I really love the adventure of new, so I am going to enjoy picking paints and carpets. My kids and I are moving house shortly and we get to refresh the place we are moving to before we get there. What a blessing that I have the ability physically to do all that hard work! I really mean it.

It's spring!!! Folks everywhere are manifesting the energy of spring in their lives. The call of new life is all around beckoning us to enjoy its irrepressible explosion of newness. I certainly don't want to miss out on that--do you?

I charge you, people everywhere, to wake up and decide to enjoy your day. Decide to press into everything you know to be good and lovely. You will like it and so will the people around you.
Turn your light up in the joy department.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Oregon Ban the Bag Take Action!

Oregon Ban the Bag Take Action!
Take a moment to tell your representative how you feel by clicking the above link.

There is no reason for us to have plastic bags at grocery stores. Nowadays you can purchase a reusable bag for 99 cents!

Moving towards sustainability slowly and steadily is an achievable goal. Let us stand up and take action in the ways we can.
Buy local when you can.
Buy organic when you can.
Plant a tree.
Hug someone.
Don't buy more crap for your house.
Volunteer for something you believe in once a month--even once a year!

Let's hear some replies from you. Something simple you do to make a difference.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Chocolate Bread Pudding

So bread pudding is one of my favorite desserts. I have long looked and tried different recipes to satisfy me, and this chocolate version is wonderful!

1 c heavy whipping cream
1 1/2 c half and half
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp cocoa powder
4 c 1 inch cubes bread
1/2 c sugar
3 eggs
2 egg yolks
1/2 c chocolate chips

1. In saucepan heat heavy cream and 1/2 the half and half. Stir constantly on low heat so as not to burn. Add cocoa powder and stir till completely blended and heated. Remove from heat and add remaining half and half.
2. In separate bowl whisk together eggs and yolks. Add sugar and vanilla whisking until golden and bubbly. Slowly add hot mixture and mix till well blended.
3. Now add you cubed bread and toss. Add your chocolate chips and toss. Allow to soak for an hour to absorb the custard.
4. Preheat oven to 325. Grease a 8x8 baking dish with butter. Add your mixture and bake for 40 minutes.
Stick this in the oven as you serve dinner to be ready and waiting by evening dessert. Serve warm with whipped cream!

Cook's tip
Bread note: You can use any bread, but using an egg bread makes this even more "cakey".
Chocolate note: You can use any kind of chocolate you want here. Remember that white chocolate is super sweet!

White chocolate and Macadamia nuts
Dark chocolate and walnuts
No chocolate, double the vanilla and add 2 tsp cinnamon and 1/4 tsp nutmeg to cream mixture

Sunday, March 6, 2011


Potatoes just emerging.  This seems to happen rather quickly.  One day there is nothing and the next they are here!
Here they are leafing out.

Planting PrepPotatoes are easy to start. Just order your favorite variety or get them from the grocery store.  We have all had potatoes go bad and sprout on us.  Every eye is a potential plant. I like to have at least 2 eyes on each piece I plant.  Cut your potato with a few eyes per piece. After cutting, let the cut surface callus-over before planting them. Ground should be cultivated, but potatoes aren't too fussy.   They like to be put in the ground in cool weather, so spring is ideal.  Avoid using fresh manure or lime in the soil where potatoes are to be grown, as it tends to cause scab on the potatoes.

The ground should be around 5o degrees when you plant these.  Freezing is not good for potatoes and will most likely leave you sad about what doesn't come up!

Choose a new location in your garden for potatoes each year.  This way any lingering pests or disease are not present. Crop rotation is always advisable.  Potato plant leaves need full sun for the plant to mature. It is also critical that the tubers aren’t exposed to sunlight as they mature; new potatoes will sometimes rise to the soil surface as they develop. If the potato skin is exposed to the sun, it will turn green, and can be toxic, so be sure to cover potatoes if they are making their way to the surface.

SPACING - potatoes can be grown in many different ways. If you have lots of room the cut pieces can be spaced about a foot apart in rows which are spaced two to three feet apart. Then cover with about an inch of soil. Pull in additional soil as the plants develop. Always be certain the surface tubers are covered with soil.
Hilling or mounding is another method of growing potatoes. Three or four pieces of potatoes are planted on a mound of soil, pulling in additional soil as the potatoes develop.

WATERING - Black or hollow centers on potatoes is often caused by over-watering. Irregular watering causes irregular shaped or knobby potatoes. As a guideline, water potatoes (thoroughly) weekly during warmer summer weather.
HARVESTING - New young potatoes are harvested when peas are ripe or as the potato plants begin to flower. For storage of full sized potatoes harvest them when the vines turn yellow or have died-back.
STORAGE - Keep them in the dark, in a spot where temperatures are about 40 degrees.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Italian Style Fish

This recipe was easy and had that good for you feeling. Wonderfully light and perfect served with greens. Very low fat filled with fresh goodness

Ingredients: serves 4
4 fillets of Orange Ruffy, Halibut, or Tilapia
1/2 c chopped Italian parsley
1 clove minced garlic
1/2 crushed red pepper
2 tbs minced shallot or onion
8 callamata olives quartered lengthwise
2 c diced tomatoes

1. Salt and pepper fish. Put olive oil (enough to really coat the bottom)in fry pan and get hot. Fry fish in hot pan (this will put a nice brown on the the fish) till opaque (about 3 minutes per side).
Set fillets on serving platter or plates.
2. In the same pan heat 1 tbs olive oil and 1 tbs butter. When melted and sizzling add parsley, shallot, crushed red pepper and garlic. Saute for 2 minutes.
3. Add olives and tomatoes. Cook until tomatoes are soft and the mixture is slightly saucy. You may with to add a few tbs of water during the process if you like it a little runnier. Spoon over fish and serve.

Cook's tip: Never add anything to cold olive oil on the stove. It will absorb it and get greasy. Using a hot pan will put a nice sear on things keeping juices in.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Turnips and the "Knowing"

For those of you in the Eugene area and for some of you out there in the nether sphere, a handful of sunny days have awakened something in you. Yes, spring is just around the corner! Its vitality has awakened in me the desire for vital foods fresh from the field. While it’s not exactly grim here at the farm, we have little out in the field.
Turnips in the field. Greens identification (left)

Yesterday I wandered out and took a look at what we had. Beets, chard, kale, arugula going to seed, garlic, and turnips. I pulled up some turnips and headed in. I’m new to turnips and so I consulted Mrs. Joy who informed me it was a perfect complement to fowl and whatever you could do to a potato, you could do to a turnip. She advised peeling down into the red zone to avoid bitterness and that over baking gave them a cabbagey taste. Hmmmm…
I thought for a moment, then opted for investigation. I decided to bake them for my initial journey with these plump rascals, so I peeled them. When I smelled their white flesh it had a sweet aroma with a hint of that parsnip spiciness. I chopped them into bite sized chunks and threw them into an 8x8 baking dish. I again smelled them and it came to me just like that: apples and coriander. Ya it was weird, but I’m into this inner knowing lately so I figured we have 500 of these, why not! I salted the turnips like I would potatoes, sprinkled with ground coriander, threw a cubed gala apple on top, and put them in at a very hot 400 degree oven.
About 40 minutes later I checked and they were almost done.

I grabbed a large amount of Kale and headed in. Usually we just steam the Kale and eat with a little Balsamic vinegar, but I wanted to do a little more and crown my turnips with it. I consulted the web and found an article with a woman who didn’t like Kale much; as a matter of fact she described it as scary! “Hmmmf! Enough of this, I am returning to the inner knowing!”

Turnips in the field. (right)

Don’t be afraid of Kale, it’s perfectly wonderful and so beautiful this time of year. I threw some oil in a pan with some chopped garlic and stared at my spice cabinet. "Trust the knowing, trust the knowing, trust…" I threw in a tablespoon of curry powder, ½ teaspoon of cumin, some fresh cracked pepper, ¼ teaspoon of chili powder, a dash of ground sage and hoped for the best as I stirred it into the oil. I had cut the Kale into large bite-sized pieces and as the fabulous aroma of my spice blend filled the kitchen, I tossed it in the pan with 1 cup of water. After it was steamed about half way to my liking I opted to lightly salt, throw in about 3 tablespoons Balsamic vinegar and just 2 ounces (about half one of those tiny cans) of tomato paste. I was feeling good, almost giddy in my adventure. As a matter of fact I lighted on the memory of just yesterday finding Black Eyed Susans throwing flowers at the base of their withered stalks and of the bee that came to visit me; the memories coupled with the freedom of the inner knowing were quite intoxicating.
I laid the turnip dish on the plate and piled it with Kale. When J and I sat down to eat I lost a bit of my confidence for a moment, but when we tasted it, what a delight. The flavors all blended so well! The turnips were incredible. They melted in your mouth and the occasional apple was scrumptious. I was so inspired, I wrote this blog post ... lol.
Turnips at table. Remove the skins into the
red zone to avoid bitterness. (below)

And the point to this diatribe? As we move into spring I strongly encourage you to grab its vital energy, something new for your table, and play with it. Trust your inner knowing and see what it shows you. Consider it vital to your mental condition to engage in a fresh way with your food.

Quote for life...

"When the world wearies and ceases to satisfy, there is always the garden."

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Building a Heated Seed Starts Box

If you are looking for something to spiffy up your greenhouse and liven things up, try using these plans to construct a heated seed box for starting your plants. This box is easy to construct and and with the incredible heated mat that stays at 75 degrees your seeds will jump up in quick fashion.

While all seeds do not like to be transplanted, some are fine with it. Start your seeds in this tray and when they are big enough move them to 4" pots. This design has part of the box not heated for seeds that like it cooler. You can make your's smaller and seed mats come in different sizes.
Seed starts give you a jump on the season and let you grow plants when you would normally just be doing your yearly prep and maintainance.

Materials list:
2 8'x4"x4" pine or treated
2 2' 2"x4" pieces
1 3/4" sheet plywood
4 brackets
2 2"x6"x6' pine or treated
2 3'x5' plastic sheeting
1 1/2" wood screws

Build the Tray:
We cut each 2"x6" board into a two foot and 4 foot piece.We then screwed the edges together as shown. Notice that we put the 2' piece on the inside to insure the inside was 24 inches.We cut the bottom to fit. We left one corner with only one screw in so that we could wedge the bottom on snuggly and then screw it in from the side. Once in we screwed the corner in tight.

Reinforce the bottom:
Uses scrap wood or new if you have it to reinforce the
bottom. We had 1"x2"pieces lying around so we used these. Again, crew them from the side. The gap that is left in the corners (between the plywood and sides) will add stability to the legs.

Secure the Legs
Secure the brackets to the box first using the screws. Next secure the legs. They will be a little unstable and there will be an overhang on the bracket.

See the overhanging bracket?
That's a good thing.
Hammer the bracket around the corner for a snug fit.

See how nicely that fits?
Make sure to screw it off.

Securing the Legs:
Carefully turn over the table, being careful not to jostle the legs. Screw the legs from the top with two or three more screws to give that final stability.

Line the bottom with plastic.
Staple the bottom down.

Insulate and add the mat:
We used a yoga mat--obviously not in use-- for our insulation. We put the heating mat (designed for plant trays) in and then affixed the cord with electrical staples to keep it from moving when we are digging around in the tray. We wanted there to be room at the other end for starts that don't like warmth on their roots.

Finish it up:
Now cover the table with the last piece of plastic. You will be able to wrap it all the way over the edge and under the bottom for a nice clean look. Carefully tack down the plastic on the bottom at the edges with a staple gun, being careful not to puncture the heat mat. Then pull down and over the edge, securing with the staple gun. Now sit back and enjoy your work.

Sugar Pod Peas

Peas up about 2 inches high

2 weeks of growth after sprouting
Time for support.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Rebuilding the Greenhouse

So we were inspired to get the greenhouse going with the acquisition of seed contracts. The greenhouses were put up 20 years ago and had fallen into disrepair over the last 7 years. When they were originally purchased they were used, so the poles were a little funky.
We began this project in the summer by using the tractor bucket to attempt to level the surrounding ground and take out some brambles. You can see from the picture how scary the area was. In January we really dug in (literally) and began prepping the site.
We needed to remove the excess chicken manure piles to another area because they were directly next to the greenhouse. We took off the ends of the greenhouse and drove the tractor in to scrape the ground. In January we were lucky enough (as we usually are here in Eugene) to get about 10 days of sunshine. This let the ground dry out and kept the tractor from getting stuck. J
We then went about resituating some of the pipes. They werenot exactly in line and some were lower than others.

It took considerable effort with the tractor to move them into better positions. Because the metal pipes had sat in their spots so long, there was little we could do to change their catawampus shapes, but we did succeed on squaring it up a bit.

Thanks to those of you who put your heads together to give us great ideas on accomplishing this! I spent one day putting together the frame around the base, using metal plates on both sides for stability. I then put down commercial grade landscape fabric that I stretched UNDER the outside boards and up the sides, securing it with a staple gun. We put the doors on the ends. A note here: We used the door from the last greenhouse as a pattern, HOWEVER, the door was not built square (as we discovered afterwards) and so the new door isn’t either. We won’t do that next time!
We used the tractor to dump round rock into the greenhouse from the sides. We chose round rock because it would be comfy on our feet and I like to be barefoot. It took only a few hours with the tractor and three of us raking. Isn’t it lovely?

We then laid the plastic out next to the greenhouse and doubled it over since this is a double poly greenhouse and cut it at the end once we were sure we had it halve dcorrectly. Note: avoid stepping on the plastic so as not to puncture or compromise it. It's harder than you think because there is soooo much of it! Getting it stretched over was easier than I had anticipated. J is 6 feet tall. He pulled the corner over the end as I pushed the sides up. He then made his way to the center and helped it over the top. After that it was downhill. We repeated this step with the second piece. After we made sure it was centered and even on both sides we cut the excess leaving a little over a foot of overhang on the sides and a lot of overhang on the ends.

I had used a table saw to cut treated 2x4s into ½ strips(creating batten). This was a considerable amount of savings as we got eight 2”x8’x1/2” strips for $2 instead of $20. We rolled up the edges and stapled them to the base. It is good to leave 12” of space between each board as you go.
The space will actually shorten as you work your way to the next board, but will leave enough room for you to work the plastic around each consecutive piece.

The feeling of the greenhouse with its fresh floor and soft round rock surrounded by freshly stretched poly is amazing! It feels like the world is my oyster—well at least the seed world!!!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

These are tulips coming up.
Unfortunately a gofer ate these in one fell swoop soon after the photo.  If you have whole areas of tulips not coming up, they may have been eaten by a critter with a sweet tooth.  


    This is a young daffodil that is from seed. It will bloom in a                                few years when the bulb is more established.  These volunteers are hardy and will naturalize producing clumps!

This is a double daffodil in bloom.

These are full grown daffodils.  They have naturalized and are adding to their numbers yearly.

Planting the bulbs a little deeper (like 6") will help daffodils naturalize.