Farm where you are....

Monday, April 26, 2010

growing asparagus.

Our little asparagus patch has finally produced enough spears for a family meal!
There's nothing like the first vegetable of the spring!

I put in more crowns (roots) last year, and
I am putting in more crowns this year in hopes
that over the next few years that we'll get enough for several meals.
Some places say to harvest after the second year, some after the third. The best rule I've heard is don't harvest anything smaller than your pinkie finger the first two years.

There are several varieties you can plant. Actually put in ones that my local grocery store had. Some are more resistant to damage and disease than others, so check in your area to see what is available.

For a decent patch I would estimate you would need about 12 -15 crowns. and then wait 3 years.

Anything smaller you have to leave to mature for the following year.
This is my fourth year for my first patch, so I should get almost 6 weeks of picking.

I don't have any pictures, but if you let a spear go, it becomes a large feathery plant as a male or berries as a female. After it feathers and berries, it becomes inedible, mildly toxic and can even be a skin irritant; but it protects the underlying shoots for the following year.
In the early, early spring, you cut back all of the dry foliage to the ground and get rid of it incase it has any beetle eggs.

As for the The beetles, I just hand-pick and put them into soapy water.

There are two kinds of Asparagus beetles you can get. Even though a lot of sites recommend spraying, I never spray. I just pick into soapy water and if I see the feathery branches with eggs, I strip them off them. I do ware gloves though because the larvae can be a bit squishy. It's gross.

One thing I didn't know is that even thought they are the first veggies up in the summer; they can still get ruined by the frost ( you can tell by their bendiness and translucency.). So after those first shoots come poking out of the ground, cover them with a towel every night until your frost date has passed.
To pick, I prefer to snap mine off at the ground, then you don't accidentally cut the other emerging spears.

When you find it starts coming in a spear here and there, but not enough for a meal; I pick the ones that are ready over 2 or 3 days and keep them in the fridge in a glass with a bit of water at their feet. This way they will stay fresh until you are ready to eat them.

If you have any patience, it's well worth it. Fresh asparagus from your yard is nothing like what comes from in the store.

*image from gardengate magazine

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

grass-fed beef.

My oldest took a car ride with me on Saturday. We were going to get our grass-fed beef. I didn't think much about it until she asked me why we were buying our meat off of the back of a refrigerated truck in a church parking lot instead of the store. I have to be honest, it felt a bit clandestine.
I found the company through a good friend of mine who found them through
I wanted to try it because my cholesterol hovers just around borderline, and my dad died at 52 from heart disease that was diagnosed at 42 ( just around the corner for me.). I had read that grass-fed beef has higher CLA and extra omega-3's that have a cholesterol lowering effect that traditional grain fed beef does not have.

I have to admit. There is something that scares me deep down inside about our food. I know my husband thinks that I've gone over the edge; but I am seeing a world that is evolving into a place where some of the most natural and good things that go into our bodies aren't so pure and honest any more. I am afraid of the long term effects of GMO's and pesticides and all of the other junk. It has actually probably made me a little nuts.

So now I am buying my meat out of a truck.

But I was thinking about it and with this and the CSA we do every year, maybe it's good that my daughter can see that food comes from somewhere other than the glossy, shiny supermarket. That our food comes from the ground.
Even our own garden.
Our own hands.

Maybe these last 50 years of bigger, better, smaller, faster has pulled us away from our own right to be self-sufficient.

She asked me where the meat came from and I was trying very tenderly to explain about how they get the meat, and "dispatch" the animals, but she wanted details.

100 years ago on the farm it would have been a fact of life and I wouldn't have to find an uncomfortable way to gloss-over an important part of the farm to table process.

I don't want to do the dirty work per se, or be a vegetarian, but I want to have respect for where my food comes from, and I hope my children can learn the same thing.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Never gardened? Get started.

If you've always wanted to garden, and get back to more self-sufficient roots, it's as easy as just a few plants in limited space.

Green beans.
They grow fast. can be replanted through out the season and have high yields. They fix the ground with nitrogen which helps other plants like corn grow.
They are good companions for celery, cucumbers and corn. They are great for kid to grow too.
IF you don't want to worry about a trellis, then make sure you get a bush variety. You may need to chicken wire or fence of your patch too because bunnies looooooove them green beans.

Plant with Basil as a companion. Plant an indeterminate variety which keeps giving. Determinates ripen their crop all at once.
I love the green zebra heirloom variety. They have a fabulous flavor and those damn squirrels can't tell when they are ripe.
Plant them in a pot with organic garden soil (if you don't have space.) They like it hot, ho , hot last winter was terrible. I think I got eight from 3 plants!!


put them in, give them some water, watch them grow. Get the bush variety if you don't want to trellis them. Don't get the lemon heirloom variety. They are spiny and super seedy.

Picking your seeds

I try to get NON-GMO varieties. I don't want to eat frankenfood. I don't want my kids eating it.

If you want an eye-opening experience about GMO food, watch the Future of Food.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

What are GMO's? The scoop...The scary scoop

I have to apologize a head of time. This is a heady and heavy post and not so happy, but really important to me. I realize I might get some hate mail for this.

What are GMO's or Transgenic foods?

GMOs' are genetically modified food and to be honest, they scare the H-E-double hockey sticks out of me.

A corporation started making genetically modified food in the 1990's as a hopeful panacea of relief for starving nations and struggling farmer's.
First they made a potato modified with a BT gene. This seemed like a great thing because what ever ate the plant died as it's a normal soil dwelling bacterium. So cool! It's safe for humans and other creatures, but just kills off the pests.. great! But the farmer's still had to spray weed killer.
Then came the Round up Ready products ( corn and soybean).
The problem is is Round up (glycophosphate) is still a chemical. While it's technically "safer" for human's than DDT... I say safer, not safe.

In these new GM's is a gene to recognize and be resistant to round up, so a farmer could spray an entire field and the only weeds that would die would be the non-round up ones.
The problem is Round up gets into our water ways once it flushes throughout the ground and not only cannot be filtered out of our drinking water, and according to Mother Earth News, They cause a whole bunch of other medical problems. And now it is growing super weeds that are evolving and becoming resistant.

And then there's the whole antibiotic thing.

They have inserted into the genetic code an antibiotic resistant marker to make sure the gene is working. Is it a strange coincidence that antibiotic resistance is hot on our heels in the last 10 years when we started eating these products. and you are eating them. They are in up to 70% of our grocery store shelves under names like high fructose corn syrup, xanthan gum, corn syrup.

Then came the fact that farmer's could only buy this product from the corporation and were not allowed to save their seed. If a farmer who was growing a non-GMO product that cross pollinated from the wind was sued and lost because they were"stealing" the patent.

Here's the other problem. Right now it's in corn and soy.
Right now conventional Cattle and Chickens are being fed this GM products. So we get way more than double doses.
GM Wheat and beets are next. Supposedly they are now testing a product with a "kill switch" so the seeds are sterile and cannot be re-sewn, so the farmer has to buy new ones every year.
So, if the wind can carry and cross contaminate one thing, what happens to all of the other seeds in the world if it cross contaminates with this kill switch? Would we eventually have to clone all of our plants? Plus they have no idea what happens down the line if plants cross bread or how the DNA genes recombine.
They are even working in testing to make corn that is modified with a human gene. Super-gross.

DDT was once considered the safest pesticide on the planet. Kids would ride their bikes in the plumes behind the trucks.

And.. they don't know the real true effect on us from eating this stuff long term. It's genetic engineering.. how does it effect us long term? Can we all become antibiotic resistant? Infertile?
What are the long term effects. Some scientists are projecting an increase in stomach cancers at a young age.
It's almost like Kudzu. People who live in the south realize the effect of Kudzu. A "harmless"plant brought from Asia for ornamental purposes That has completely taken over and caused tons of damage.

The biggest questions.. who is affected first? The worst answer is...The ones with the littlest bodies, our kids.

GMO's right now are not required to be labeled on our food, but are required to be labeled in the U.K.

I realize this sounds very Sci-fi, but it's very true. I am no expert, and I know this might be upsetting to some people. My sources have been The Future of Food, Food inc, Mother Earth news, and research from information from the University of Florida web page. Please feel free to investigate it further and let me know if there is any other info on it. Google GMO's and transgenic foods.

So to make a long story short, Buy your seeds and food non- GMO.