Wild Gourd Farm

Organic Gardening in St. Louis City

Monthly Archives: July 2011

Chicks Jumping to the Beet

We like to give the ladies treats like beet greens and carrot tops to keep them occupied when they’re not free ranging. They enjoy a challenge!

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Frugal Friday: Beat the Heat

We’ve had a week of 100º+ days here in St. Louis, and the weather service says 33 states are currently under a heat advisory. We do run our air conditioning, but there are some other fun, frugal ways to beat the heat.

Shot-cicleShot-cicles: We’ve been making some homemade popcicles lately. We don’t have popcicle molds. so we use shot glasses- or you can use anything where the rim isn’t narrower than the rest of the glass. Fill with three parts juice and one part almond or coconut milk (you can omit these milks, but we like the creaminess they add). Get creative-  throw in dash of vanilla or cinnamon depending on the flavor, or mix in fresh fruit. Freeze for about 10 minutes until the juice is frozen enough to support a popcicle stick (or chop stick, like we used above).  The popcicles will be ready in just a couple hours.

Ceiling fan adjustment: The direction of rotation makes a difference because each fan blade has a tilt. Most fans have a switch to change the direction. In summer, you want the leading edge of the fan blade higher so the air is pushed downward (this is counter-clockwise for most fans). In the winter, the leading edge should be lower, so the air is pulled upward and the warmer air above is displaced. Just having proper air circulation makes a big difference in your indoor comfort.

Heating Cooling pad: Some heating pads can be used as cooling pads, like this one I made last winter. Keep it in the freezer and it’ll be ready when you need it!

Anyone else have cheap, creative ways to stay cool?

Beets!

We harvested some Shiraz Tall-Top Beets and some carrots yesterday from Dave’s place. We used them to make a roasted, toasted beet burger dinner.

We sliced the beets and roasted them in the oven at 375° F for about 40 minutes in a marinade of balsamic vinegar, olive oil, mustard, honey, and cracked pepper, with juice of half an orange squeezed on halfway through.

We toasted chopped pecans separately, as well as some slices of french bread.

To assemble our “burgers,” Eric rubbed garlic on the toasted french bread, then we spread a layer of goat cheese and added the toasted nuts. We then layered two beet slices each with a couple fresh Russian kale leaves and parsley leaves, topped with another dollop of goat cheese and a couple nuts, with an extra drizzle of olive oil or balsamic vinaigrette.

Served with steamed carrots- delicious!

Listen to This

The book The Town that Food Saved by Ben Hewitt chronicles the efforts of young agricultural entrepreneurs (“agripreneurs”) and the local residents in Hardwick, Vermont, a largely depopulated blue-collar town whose economy had hinged on granite quarrying.

In the past decade, agripreneurs focused on local, organic food production have taken to the town’s cheap and plentiful land in the form of large scale agribusinesses, like an organic soy farm & processing facility and an organic seed business.  The problem? The local population can’t afford the food produced by their neighbors. Thus a local food scene has lost its roots and has transformed into a national industry, shipping organic goods across the country.

The book does a great job showing both sides of the issue. We just heard that NPR will be airing a segment on Hardwick’s food movement tomorrow, June 15 on Morning Edition from 5-9 AM Central. If this piques your interest and you live around St. Louis, let us know and you can borrow our copy of the book!

And here’s a link to the story if you missed it.

Italian Pole Beans

Saving Spicy Salad Seeds

We try to harvest and save seeds from everything we grow. Last fall we enclosed one of our raised beds at our community garden. It was the first hoop house we built, and we planted a bunch of mesclun lettuce mix, spicy greens mix, spinach, and kale. We loved being able to harvest salads throughout the winter (like this one on January 30, 2011).

The greens grew like crazy in the early spring when they were enclosed and had a head start when we opened the hoop house after the last frost. They began to bolt and produce flowers and seed pods earlier this summer.

Kale pods

By now, we’ve let the plants dry out so we can harvest seeds.

dried pods

uprooting plants

Last week we uprooted the dried plants and shook them upside-down into a large paper bag to dislodge the seed pods. Then Eric sifted the seeds out of the pods in small batches in a steamer basket.

 Included in the mix are: tatsoi, mustard greens, arugula, garden cress, red russian kale, endive, and other spicy greens.seeds!

Oddly enough, we happened to find this large seed sifting apparatus at a garage sale the very next day. We’re looking forward to using it!

Frugal Friday: Homemade, Homegrown Pizza

We love making things from scratch, especially when we end up with a high quality meal that cost us significantly less than out at a restaurant. Pizza comes up on our menu fairly regularly, not just because it’s delicious, but it’s also pretty easy to make.
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Our favorite pizza crust recipe is this Quick Beer Pizza Dough– it’s just flour, yeast, baking powder, salt, olive oil, and 1 bottle of room temperature beer. This recipe is enough for two 12″ pizzas. We prefer to make the dough fresh, but it does freeze well. A couple weeks ago, Eric happened to open a bottle of beer he didn’t like; not wanting to waste it, I took it and made up a batch of this dough and froze it in a ziplock bag. It sat in the freezer until yesterday, when we harvested these beautiful tomatoes:
Before we made our pizza sauce, we de-seeded the tomatoes to save for next year. Then we made up a quick sauce by sauteing onion, garlic, tomatoes, and the hot pepper from the garden in oil until everything was soft and fragrant, then we added fresh basil, oregano, and parsley from the garden, and of course salt and pepper to taste. We prefer a smooth pizza sauce, so we blended it in a small food processor- you can keep yours chunky if that’s your thing. Keep in mind, the longer your sauce cooks, the more flavorful it gets.
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Next, the fun part: assembling your pizza. Eric has experience at pizzerias, so he rolls out the dough by hand; you can also use a rolling pin. As for toppings,  Eric uses high quality cheeses and I’ll throw on some Baetje Farms goat cheese or vegan cheese or opt for a tomato pie (cheese-less). We try to use as much from our gardens as possible. Even if you do have to buy some toppings, it’s still way cheaper than having to pay for each topping at a pizzeria.
Enjoy!