Out of the Garden Today – August 31, 2014


This is what real food looks like. With produce so fresh and colorful, not eating your greens is never an issue. We were in Seattle today and happened to see a store called Eat Local, which sells prepared dishes which are hand-made in their kitchen, from scratch, using traditional cooking methods and house-made stocks. Customers can purchase the frozen dishes in their stores or have them delivered.

But buying a frozen, pre-made dish is nothing like gathering fresh produce and taking the time to make a meal out of it. With produce like this, processing is minimal and you can have a wonderful meal on the table in ten to twenty minutes, less time than it takes to go to the store and buy something or have it delivered.


And running to the store, you’ll never run into a hen and her chicks curious as to what you’ve picked for supper.


In the Field Today


August is ending on a cool, wet, very fall like note. The lettuce are happy. And so is the Rucola Arugula, a slow growing, spicy arugula with deeply lobed leaves. This is a arugula which adds a touch of beauty to any salad.


The Tennouji Kabura are forming their showy white roots which will grow to three to four inches across. You can eat every part of this beautiful turnip. They have a long history and are named after the area around Shitennoji, a temple built in 593. Tennouji is now a ward of Osaka.


The last row of potatoes I planted are in full bloom. In the meantime, the earliest potatoes I planted are ready for harvest. The plants have died and look like nothing, but underneath their shriveled stalks are plump, colorful potatoes. They taste better when you get to dig them up for yourself.


Dazzle Me


The colors of some of the roosters this year are dazzling. Do hens find such brilliant plumage irresistible? Do roosters enjoy strutting around? With duds like this, who wouldn’t strut?


Walking Home


Six weeks ago these chicks were tiny balls of fur. Now they are half the size of their mother and will soon be on their own. At this size, much of the time they are the ones leading their mother. Six weeks ago, they stayed as close as possible to her, following her every move. Another four to five months, the hens will be laying eggs and the roosters doing what they like to do. Below is what they looked like five weeks ago.


Autumn Sky


An autumn sky greeted me when I went out this evening to gather eggs, check on the chickens and get some produce for the table. Look at the Dow Purple Pod pole beans. What beautiful color. These are what the world needs more of. How could anyone be sad with such gorgeous, delicious beans in their hands?

The wonderful thing about these purple beans is that their vines and flowers are beautiful too. They are worth growing just for the brilliant color of their vines and flowers. They could be planted at bus stops, in city parks, by telephone poles, and along fences. Their bright green leaves and brilliant purple vines would bring smiles to millions.

In city parks, when their purple flowers are in full bloom, people could have picnics under the vines and toast the colorful blooms. And in late summer when their long, purple pods hang heavy and full with beans, everyone could put on purple clothes to celebrate and gather them. Neighborhoods could close their streets, have block parties and serve dish after dish of purple pod beans.


Late Summer Surprise – Out of the Woods


This afternoon, when I went out to collect eggs and check on the chickens, I spotted a hen with chicks taking an afternoon break in the shade of a mimosa tree. The chicks were just a few days old and it wasn’t one of the hens sitting on eggs in the coop. It was a hen who had hatched her chicks in the brush somewhere and was bringing her chicks around for food and water for the first time.

Recently, there had been a hen who acted very broody when she came into the chicken yard to feed, but I never did see her sitting on eggs. Now I know why. She had a clutch of eggs in the brush or woods somewhere. It makes me wonder how many other hens will come popping out of the woods with chicks in tow.


The Taste of Fall


The nights are getting cooler. Fall is just around the corner. The ripening apples are good enough to eat now. A week or two from now, they will be perfect. This year the trees are loaded. With all the sunshine we’ve had this summer, their flavor is intense. Once you pick an apple off a tree, fresh to eat, picking them out of a bin in a store seems so drab.


Colors of Farming


These are strips of alder bark, left over from making fence posts. When I first peel them off the alder logs, the insides of the bark are a light, cream color. As they dry in the sun, they turn bright red, which is why they are called Red Alder.

From the Slater Museum:

Alders are among the few higher plants that have the special ability to fix nitrogen, so they can take atmospheric N2 and convert it to ammonia (NH3), which then is available to be used in nucleotides and amino acids, basic building blocks of life. Thus these plants can grow on newly created soils that lack the nitrogenous compounds that act as natural sources of nitrogen for most plants.

Which explains why alder trees grow like weeds here. In just ten to twelve years they grow to be 40 foot tall trees a foot or more in diameter, so they are very useful trees.


A New Season


It’s the start of a new season – potato season. For the last four months the potato plants have been sending their roots through the earth, sprouting leaves and soaking up the sun, and working hard to form potatoes. Now it’s time to give them thanks for making such wonderful food.

From now through fall, whenever I need some potatoes, all I need to do is go out into the field and dig up what I need. It beats making a trip to a grocery store to buy some. It seems very ordinary to be able to have such fresh produce, but when I think about it, how many people ever get to dig up potatoes for their supper just a few minutes before making supper?


These purple potatoes just have purple skins. Some varieties of purple potatoes are purple throughout.

Who Goes There?


I went to get the trailer to haul some fence posts and found on the end of the trailer, the intricate, winding footprint of what I’m guessing was a slug. It looks like a satellite view of a rocky desert landscape with rivers and streams meandering over it.

How long did it take that slug to draw the intricate pattern? What was it looking for and did it find it? There are so many fascinating, marvelous, mysterious things all around us. You don’t even need to go looking for them. Just step outside and keep your eyes and ears open.