26 May

Time to Finish Planting the Garden

It’s Memorial Day Weekend and it’s time to finish planting the vegetable garden. All the veggies that are sensitive to the cold can finally be planted. That includes tomatoes, eggplants, summer and winter squashes, beans, basil, cucumbers, melons and more. The soil gets prepared the same way that it did for the hardy vegetables.

First, I add my amendments; Azomite powder, organic alfalfa meal, kelp meal and compost or aged manure. I sprinkle the first three with a dusting on top then put on a good inch or two of compost or manure. Then I use a broad fork or pitchfork to gently loosen the soil, raking it flat at the end.

I never rototill or otherwise turn the soil. In nature, the leaves fall to the ground and decompose from the top down. This allows the worms and all the micro-organisms to keep their structures and pathways intact. When the soil is turned, it’s like a tornado hit this community and there are many casualties. It also exposes lots of weed seeds to the air for germination. A better garden and a bigger harvest occurs when the soil isn’t disturbed.

Summer and winter squashes, beans, basil, and cucumbers can be planted from seed right into the soil. You can hold off on the compost or aged manure to place on top of the seeds.

The squashes and the pole beans can be planted in circles resembling a volcano. Make a hill with a depression at the top to catch the rain. These hills should be about two feet in diameter and one to two feet apart. Place eight to ten squash seeds in each hill, planning to thin to three once they germinate. The pole beans can be planted more thickly, perhaps every inch or two. Cover with the compost.

The squashes will sprawl over the ground so be sure to plant them in a place that they can grow out from. The beans will need supports to climb.

Make a teepee out of six or eight bamboo stakes, tying it at the top. You will have to start the plants up the poles, but once started, they will continue growing up.

Cucumbers can be planted in two rows down the middle of a bed.

They will need a trellis or a fence on which to climb. You could put a couple of garden stakes at the edge of the bed and hang some chicken wire from a pole at the top. Planting nasturtiums right in the bed with the cukes helps to keep the cucumber beetle away. You could also buy some cucumber plants to get started and put in some seeds for a later crop.

Tomatoes, melons and eggplants should be purchased as young seedlings for planting.

Tomatoes are tricky. They used to be easy, but the blight has become almost universal and a big problem. They need to be fed very well to keep them strong. Give them lots of aged manure, kelp meal, worm castings and, ideally, some micorrhizial innoculant. If you are adventurous, you can also give them a fish head. Make sure that you bury it very deep so that it won’t attract animals.

Plant the tomatoes very deeply. They can develop roots along their stems so put them far down. Place the worm castings, kelp meal and micorrhizial innoculant right next to the roots. Take off any lower leaves and put some kind of tomato cage around them. It’s a good idea to tie them right up to the cage with muslin strips and put down a bit of mulch under them. The rain brings the blight up from the soil, splashing it on bottom leaves first and then up the plant. Any way that this can be avoided is good.

Another great thing about this particular Memorial Day Weekend is that the Moon is in the tremendously fertile sign of Cancer both Saturday and Sunday. So it is truly time to get planting!

I am teaching workshops from my home this summer. Visit http://celestelongacre.com/invitation-come-celestes-farm-learn/ for the details.

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06 Apr

It’s Garden Time!

Here in the northeast there is still a bit of snow on the ground, but I suspect that it will be gone in a matter of days. Then the race to plant the garden is on! I have already recently planted some paprika seeds inside as well as a few “gem” marigolds and a bit of kale and Brussels sprouts.

I am also greening my seed potatoes by placing them in a northern window where they will get bright light but no Sun.

They will begin to put out some tight sprouts which will help to increase the harvest.

You need to have a really sunny southern window and/or a greenhouse to start plants that are sensitive to frost now. If plants don’t get enough Sun, they get leggy—they grow up too thin and will have a hard time supporting themselves. Leave the early starts to the nurseries if you don’t have a proper spot.

Yet, there is plenty that can be planted in the ground now. Peas and snow peas love the cold.

Once the soil has dried out some, I add my amendments; Azomite powder, organic alfalfa meal, kelp meal and compost or aged manure. I sprinkle the first three with a dusting on top then put on a good inch or two of compost or manure. Then I use a broad fork or pitchfork to gently loosen the soil, raking it flat at the end.

I never rototill or otherwise turn the soil. In nature, the leaves fall to the ground and decompose from the top down. This allows the worms and all the micro-organisms to keep their structures and pathways intact. When the soil is turned, it’s like a tornado hit this community and there are many casualties. It also exposes lots of weed seeds to the air for germination. A better garden and a bigger harvest occurs when the soil isn’t disturbed.

With peas and snow peas, I get the bed ready, then I broadcast the seeds. This means that I throw them everywhere and not just in rows. In “Crockett’s Victory Garden,” James Crockett said, “If you are stingy with your peas, they will be stingy with you.” So I generally put out lots of peas. Then I push them an inch down with my fingers and dust some dirt over them. Peas need something to climb on, so I place some tomato cages into the ground and tie them together for support. A trellis, chicken wire or some sticks from the woods could also be used. Water well at the end and keep the top inch of soil wet until the plants emerge.

Lettuce can also go into the ground now.

I generally prepare an entire 10-12 foot bed, but only plant a couple of feet at a time. Lettuce gets bitter as it ages, so I like to have the sweet stuff instead. That’s why I plant a couple of feet every ten to fourteen days all summer long. This is another crop that I broadcast. I will save ½ inch of the compost or aged manure to throw on top of it once it is planted. Again, water well and keep the top wet until it shows itself. I give the initial thinnings to my chickens, but once the leaves are the size of a soup spoon, I bring them in to eat. Yum!

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05 Jan

Make Your Own Best French Fries Ever

Who doesn’t like French fries? However, some of the ones available to us at the fast-food restaurants are made with pesticide laden potatoes and fats that are not good for us. Bad fats are really hard on the body and can contribute to illness. The solution? Make your own! The best, most delicious French fries can be yours if you purchase organic potatoes and fry them in good quality animal fats like those found at Fatworks. The evidence is mounting that true fats are actually good for us. But they need to come from sources that are clean and healthy. Fatworks fits this bill.

To make the fries: Cut three or four organic potatoes into thin fries. Pat dry with a paper towel.

Heat up some good quality fat (duck, goose, lard and tallow are the best) and drop them in. Keep the fat at a medium heat; don’t let it smoke. Stir occasionally. After fifteen to twenty-five minutes, they will turn a golden brown.

The time varies due to the temperature of the fat. Drain and place on paper towels. Serve with aoili or ketchup. Yum!

All of my favorites are foods that come from only the best sources. Vital Choice seafood harvests sustainably from pristine waters. If you click on the Shop button, you can go to Special Offers and get deep discounts. Wilderness Family Naturals offers gallons of Expeller Pressed Coconut Oil for under $45. Get a couple of friends to order with you and get free shipping. US Wellness Meats have the best sugar-free franks and liverwurst. They also periodically run terrific sales on ground beef. Sign up for their newsletter to stay informed. Paleo Valley Beef Sticks are not only from 100% grass-fed beef but they are also fermented. You can get a 20% discount by ordering them from here. Jilz Gluten Free Crackers are unbelievably good.

See Celeste’s Favorites page for more information about these wonderful foods!

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