08 Jun

Welcome sun!

It was a good week to spend weeding! There is never enough time once the garden really gets going to keep up with them. My shoulder is screaming at me, and my knees, too, as being down on the ground crawling around and using that constant repetitive drawing and pulling motion of the Japanese hand hoe gives these joints a real workout! There is still allot more to do, but I am getting it done!

Since it really heated up these last few days, I have started transplanting some of the seedlings that needed to go out. Hopefully we will not receive any more spring storms.

The herbs are up!  They have been loving the cooler weather.   Tarragon is already quite tall and the chives are blooming, so it is time to make my yearly batch of beautiful, pink Chive vinegar. It is quite lovely to look at, and I use it on many summer salads, like potato and pasta salads and, of course, coleslaw. It is wonderful splashed over quickly sautéed veggies. If you don’t have any chives in your garden, plant some! They are easy to grow and once you have some, you will have them forever. I will probably have some to sell later on in the season.

Chive Blossom Vinegar
Yield: 1 quart

chive-vinegar

Ingredients

3/4 quart chive blossoms
About 1 quart champagne or white wine vinegar
Directions
• 1. Heat the vinegar in a small saucepan over low heat until just warm. Keep an eye out so that it doesn’t boil; you want the warmth of the vinegar to seduce the coy, subtle flavor out of the blossoms, not immolate them.
• 2. Meanwhile, plunge the flowers in a bowl of cold water and gentle swish them around to flush out any dirt and bugs that have taken up residence. Dump the flowers into a colander and thwack it against the side of the sink to shake off the excess water.
• 3. Stuff the jar with the blooms.
• 4. Pour enough of the warm vinegar into the jar just to submerge the blossoms, using a metal spoon to push down any errant blooms that want to float up over the top. You might not need all of the vinegar.
• 5. Let the vinegar cool, then place a square of parchment paper or saran wrap over the opening of the jar and screw on the top. You want to make sure the vinegar doesn’t come in contact with the metal lid, as the acid will erode the finish of the cap and do nasty things to the taste of your infused vinegar. Place the container in a dark, cool spot that’s so hidden you’ll forget about it.
• 6. When you’re happy with the chive-y strength of the brew, strain it through a fine sieve and toss the spent blossoms. Pour the vinegar into your favorite (preferably glass) sterilized bottle with a rubber stopper and display prominently. Its hue–the blush of a very embarrassed Rosé–is a great conversation starter. Just don’t forget to use it.

18 May

It’s cold out there!

The greenhouse is bursting with seedlings wanting to go out!  I know we need the rain, but the garden is going to take off slow this year unless it starts to heat up real soon.

It seems I always end up talking about the weather, I know!  But it plays such a huge part in what I am trying to do here at Kate’s Garden.  I can put on a few extra layers of clothing and my mud boots  in order to stay warm and dry when I go out side, but the transplants that I just planted these last couple of weeks  do not have that option.   We do need the rain though as we have had such a dry winter.  I lost quite a few trees this year…even some that have been in the ground three or more years.   The fact that we experienced such high winds and did not have allot of snow really hurt.  I am sure you have noticed all  of the yellow,  burned evergreen trees and shrubs around town.

Today is a soup kind of day, as the weather is a bit chilly.  This recipe should warm you up.  If you took the time to freeze any of the kale or chard that you saved from the garden harvest last year, this is a great way to use it up.

Zuppa Toscana

Zuppa Toscana Recipie photo

Servings: 4-6

Ingredients

1 lb Italian sausage ( I like mild sausage)
2 large russet baking potatoes, sliced in half, and then in 1/4 inch slices
1 large onion, chopped
1/4 cup bacon bits (optional)
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups kale or 2 cups swiss chard, chopped
2 (8 ounce) cans chicken broth
1 quart water
1 cup heavy whipping cream

Directions

Chop or slice uncooked sausage into small pieces.
Brown sausage in your soup pot.
Add chicken broth and water to pot and stir.
Place onions, potatoes, and garlic in the pot.
Cook on medium heat until potatoes are done.
Add bacon.
Salt and pepper to taste.
Simmer for another 10 minutes.
Turn to low heat.
Add kale and cream.
Heat through and serve.

 

 

12 Apr

Kate’s Ponderings & CSA Registration

It’s spring again!  Or, is it!  By  this time last year we had experienced lots of winter snow and heavy spring rains.  Not so this year….and the wind!  Oh my!  It blew down part of the north fence a couple of weeks ago and the willow trees self pruned like crazy.  I have had to resort to using city water to keep the trees happy and transplants watered.  The winter mulch of straw was removed from the  the strawberry and garlic beds as it was so warm there for awhile and with the winds they dryed out quickly.  We have been asking for rain, and we have finally been blessed with it.  The much needed moisture these last two days has greened up the lawn and brought sweet fragrance to the air from all all of the flowering trees.  The robins are so happy with the big fat worms that are now at the surface of the ground for easy picking.

I transplanted the scallions, bulb onions and green and red cabbages into the garden this past week.  Barbara came for her first day of work on Thursday and direct seeded radishes and beets.   The greenhouse is full of seed flats.  The tomatoes and peppers are looking fine!  I started more seeds yesterday.

The greenhouse is full of seedlings; peppers, tomatoes, parsley, basil and broccoli, and I started more seeds yesterday.  There is always so much to do this time of year!  My son, Greg, has been coming over to help when he can, and that has been such a blessing.  I may just turn him into a farmer yet!   I am always looking for more help in the gardens and a computer person would be great, too, to help with the on-line marketing/social media stuff.  Sitting in front of a computer is definitely not my thing!  If you or someone you know would be interested please give me a call, or send an email.  This would probably amount to just a few hours a week.

So you can see that things are on course for season 2015 here at Kate’s Garden.  Now, I only need more subscribers to my CSA and other outlets to sell the produce.  I thought that by lowering the subscription price and offering half shares this season that I would be encouraging more subscribers….but so far, that has not been the case.  I know that it is early yet, but the purpose of the CSA is for the producer to bring in early funds in order to pay for start up costs like seed, labor and supplies.  I am trusting that things will turn around as soon as the warmth of the sun and longer days return for good!

Did you know that once upon a time, Montana produced 80 to 90% of the food consumed in the state. The remaining percentage was shipped out of state and that was mostly grain. More, now than ever, it is important to have access to local, sustainably grown food.  Farming cannot be sustainable without the support of their local communities.   It is time to really think about how we, as individuals and as a community, can start to build sustainability and a vibrant healthy food system right here in Billings and the surrounding area. I encourage you to spend your dollar with local food producers and shop keepers so that they can continue creating jobs, paying their taxes and raising their families. That’s what community is all about. Farmers and local businesses are not asking for charity or demanding your support. That is, after all, not the idea. Most are just going about doing what we love while providing you a service that you may need. I can only speak for myself, but for me, it’s also not about getting rich, although that would certainly be great.   It’s about doing something that makes sense, while assisting us all in being able to eat well and stay healthy! We are really supporting each other!

There is a worldwide movement happening, based on this concept. All of the elements are in place and they are valid. Now, it is the cost, the extent and the organization of this movement that will decide if it succeeds or not.  Won’t you join me in strengthening this movement?

If you have been on the fence deciding on whether to join Kate’s Garden CSA, now is a good time to do so, as I will be starting an advertising campaign soon to bring in new subscribers.  I have a passion for growing healthy food, education and being in service to my community.  I would love to hear your comments and suggestions, so if you are so inclined, add a comment to this post or send an email.  I look  forward to hearing from you.

broccoli raab 2

The broccoli raab that I have growing in the greenhouse was the idea behind this quick and easy curry recipe, but the recipe calls for regular broccoli. Both will certainly work. I hope you are inspired to create this in your own kitchen.


5 Ingredient Coconut Curry

Serves: 3-4

Ingredients

  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 2 tablespoons red curry paste
  • 2 small heads broccoli (and/or other veggies of choice)
  • 1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • ½ tablespoon cornstarch dissolved in 2 tablespoons cold water
  • optional: minced garlic or onion

Instructions

  1. Saute broccoli (and onion/garlic if you’re using it) in a tablespoon of oil. After a few minutes, add the coconut milk and let simmer for 5-8 minutes. The broccoli should soften but still be tender-crisp.
  2. Add the curry paste to the pan and whisk it until it combines with the coconut milk. Add the chickpeas.
  3. Bring to a slight boil and add the cornstarch. Boil for about a minute, then reduce heat and let cool slightly. Sauce will thicken as the mixture cools.
02 Oct

Week 16 – Final share

As I sit here writing this my heart is happy and sad at the same time.  Is that even possible?   I have been thinking about my accomplishments in the gardens this season and how good it makes me feel knowing that you have been eating and hopefully enjoying the veggies, herbs and fruit that that have been in your weekly box.  I also know that I am going to miss seeing and chatting with you every week.  Barb, Bodie and I feel like you are all good friends now!  As with the change of the seasons, there will be a change in the structure of our lives, as winter approaches and we go inside, both physically and emotionally.

We are expecting a freeze tonight, so we will be out harvesting everything that is still growing in the gardens.  There will be allot of tomatoes for you, so take advantage and put some away for the winter.  The Rustic Roasted Tomato Soup recipe that I gave you last week is scrumptious  and so easy to make!

Once we have everything out of the gardens, we will be preparing the beds for next year, by layering sheep manure, grass and leaves, and anything else we can get our hands on that will feed the soil, and then do a light till.  So there is still allot of work to do gathering all of the materials needed.  Hopefully the weather will hold long enough for us to accomplish this.

As we are always in garden mode, even when it is not garden season, it is always good to know who is interested in being a subscriber in next year’s CSA.  This helps us to know how much marketing we need to do to fill up our share program.  As always, I would appreciate your comments on how we can get better at what we do.  What worked for you and what didn’t?  Was there enough food?  Too much?  Were there items you did not like, or that we did not grow?  You input is vital to the success of the CSA, so don’t be shy!  I promise I won’t take it personal.

Todays share will include Swiss chard, leaf lettuce, beets, carrots, scallions, assorted peppers, cherry & heirloom slicing tomatoes, garlic, eggplant and two kinds of winter squash ( Delicata & Buttercup) which I purchased from Boja Farms in Bridger because of our low crop yield.  I will have plenty  of eggs for you today, too, so stock up, as this is the last week that you will be able to get them here.  The girls are loving this cooler weather.

It is my intention to keep the blog going….probably not every week, but on a fairly regular basis to keep the news of what is happening here circulating throughout the community.  I am not a techy person, but I am sure I will have more time this winter to learn the tricks of the internet marketing trade.

See you this afternoon!   4-6 PM.

Blessings…Kate

09 Jul

Week 4 Summer CSA share

Snap Peas

It’s been out of the fry pan into the fire this past week.  The days have been so hot that Barb and I have found it callenging working in the garden in the afternoons.  With both of us now in our 70’s we just can’t take the heat like we used to.  That being said, the summer squash and peppers are loving it and really starting to grow.  I was really worried there for awhile, as they just were just sitting there.   This time last year we were almost ready to harvest the first of the zucchini….not so this year.  With the cool nights of the past few weeks, they just were not liking it!  Everything is looking pretty good out there right now.  The flea beetles,  which were quite bothersome in the early spring last year, are just now starting to show their nasty faces.  It’s a good thing that this is the final harvest for the braising greens, as the beetles love those crops!

This week will provide you with the last of the spring peas, beautiful heads of cauliflower, broccoli florets, radishes, swiss chard, a colorful mix of heirloom beets with their tops, baby carrots and, of course some herbs.  I am really pleased with the cauliflower.  In past years I have found it difficult to grow them perfectly…similar to the broccoli.  But this year I think I was blessed.  They look spectacular.

Be sure and top your carrots before storing them.  We leave the tops on because it is a great way to bundle and present them.  You can either put them in a zip lock bag, or store them in water for crisp snacking.

The beet tops are considered a green.  They can be braised, steamed, added to stir frys and Thai curries, or roasted with other veggies in a 450 degree oven.  The beets can be steamed, boiled, pickled and I even like them grated raw into a green salad.  If they are boiled or steamed, the skins slip right off.  Otherwise you may want to peel them.  I actually like the peels….just like carrots, as long as you scrub them good.

I am excited to announce that I will  have organic, free range eggs available here every week for you to pick up.  My friend Marlene Wilkin lives just down the road on Independent Lane.  She grows heritage birds and her eggs are wonderful.  I thought it would be a great way to introduce you to another local producer and give you the opportunity to cross one more thing off of your grocery  list.  The eggs will sell for $3 a dozen.

Don’t forget to bring your bags or boxes!

See you on Thursday…4-6 P

New recipies for your enjoyment.

Spicy Stir-Fried Sugar Snap Peas

Serves 3-4

1 lb. sugar snap peas
2 T soy sauce (can use low-sodium soy sauce if you prefer)
1 tsp. sesame seed oil
1 tsp. Sriracha sauce
2-3 slices fresh ginger root
2 large garlic cloves, sliced
1 T peanut oil
1 tsp. black sesame seeds or sesame seeds for garnish (optional)
Remove the strings from the each sugar snap pea by snapping the stem end and pulling the string down the side, then slice each one on the diagonal. (The sugar snap peas actually have a string on each side, but on most of them I only removed the string from one side.)

Mix the soy sauce, sesame oil, and Sriracha sauce in a small bowl and set aside.

Put the wok or heavy frying pan on the burner and preheat at least one minute. (It should feel very hot if you hold your hand above the wok.) When wok is hot, add the oil and let it heat until the oil is shimmering (about 15-30 seconds, depending on how hot your stove gets.) Add the sliced ginger root and garlic and stir-fry just long enough so that they become fragrant and season the oil, then remove. (Be careful not to brown the ginger and garlic or they will have a bitter taste.)

Add the sliced sugar snap peas and cook over high heat, stirring constantly, until the peas turn bright green and are just starting to cook, about 2 minutes. Pour in the sauce mixture and cook, stirring constantly, until the sauce just starts to coat the peas, about 1 minute more. (There will be some sauce in the bottom of the wok, but not much.) Serve hot, sprinkled with black sesame seeds or sesame seeds if desired.

 

Roasted Cauliflower Salad

Roasted cauliflower florets are the crunchy centerpiece of this salad, which is dressed with a sprightly vinaigrette.

Serves 4

Ingredients

2 heads cauliflower, cut into florets
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup dried cherries
1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted
1/2 cup pitted green olives
1/4 cup cleaned, trimmed, and thinly sliced radishes
4 cups watercress or you can substitute other tender greens
1/2 cup whole parsley leaves
1/2 cup blue cheese, crumbled
3/4 cup Apple-Cider Vinaigrette

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
2. Place cauliflower in a large bowl and drizzle with olive oil; season with salt and pepper and toss to combine. Transfer to a baking sheet and roast cauliflower until golden brown, about 25 minutes. Set aside and let cool, 10 to 15 minutes.
3. Transfer cauliflower to a bowl and add cherries, almonds, olives, radishes, watercress, parsley, and cheese. Season with salt and pepper and drizzle with vinaigrette; toss to combine and serve.

 

Simple Spring Greens and Radish Sauté Recipe

Keep your health on track with this scrumptious and vitamin-rich radish sauté.

SERVES 4

1 tablespoon butter
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1 bunch radishes, sliced
4 green onions, sliced
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon celery seed
6 generous cups packed, chopped greens (such as beet greens and chard)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Heat butter and oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Sauté radishes for 3 minutes.

Add green onions and cook for 2 minutes. Stir in lemon juice, sugar, celery seed and chopped greens; sauté for 2 to 3 minutes more or until greens are wilted.

Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve.

 

16 May

Progress in the garden.

The work in the gardens and other landscape areas here at Kate’s Garden has been non – ending these last few  weeks.  It’s always like this in the spring, and my body is already screaming at me!  Even though we have had many cool nights everything is a go for this seasons production.  I am keeping my fingers crossed and have had a talk with the garden devas in the hopes that we do not have a freeze or  hail.  With all the challenging weather that is going on in other parts of the country, I think we are blessed to be living here in Montana.

All of the brassicas (cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower), scallions, greens( red mustard and mizuna), lettuces (red and green),  have been transplanted into their beds.  We have seeded several varieties of beets (Red Ace, Chioggia, Bulls Blood, and Yellow), radishes (pink, red, purple and white), carrots (Parisienne and baby) and the snap peas are already up!  I am holding off planting the tomatoes until it warms up a little.  They have been hardening off in the outside window box, so in another week or so they should be able to handle some temperature fluctuations.  I have several varieties of early tomatoes that I just might try to get in under Wall’O’Waters, however.  They ripen early, produce all at the same time and are small but still very flavorful.  They will definitely stave off our craving for those big, juicy slicers for a little while.

It’s time to make the  final payment for your vegetable share, if you haven’t already done so.  I was hoping to have a few more subscribers this year.  If you know of anyone who might be interested in joining, there is still time.  I just need to know soon, so that I can plan accordingly.   I know that organic food is higher priced than what you can purchase at the grocery store, but when you take into consideration the fact that the produce you receive is harvested the day or day before your pick up, that you can actually get to know the person who grows it and see the garden where it is grown, and meet others who share your interest in good food, I think it is a Win, Win for everyone.  It is important to me to acknowledge and thank you.   You are supporting a small local business that also supports other local businesses, and we all depend on you to help  us grow a strong vital community.

I still have lots of tomato plants available for you to plant in your own garden or pot at home.  They sell for $3.75 ea.  Here is a list of the ones I have. Click here to purchase these tomato starts!

Cherry Tomatoes

Gardeners Delight – organic, indeterminate – Train this cherry heirloom on a trellis, all the better to admire the lush, dangling clusters of bite-size red fruits and to pick a few in passing. This German variety, for good reason also known as ‘Sugar Lump’, bears 3/4-1 1/4in fruits, 6-12 in a cluster. ‘Gardener’s Delight’ has an old-fashioned, tangy sweet taste, is crack-resistant, prolific, and will continue bearing until frost. Ripens in about 65 days from transplant.

Yellow Pear – organic, indeterminate – Vigorous vines produce high yields of 2″, yellow-skinned, pear-shaped fruits with few seeds. Slightly later than Red Pear, but with the same prolific yields and dependable performance.

Black Cherry – organic, indeterminate – Beautiful black cherries look like large, dusky purple-brown grapes; they have that rich flavor that makes black tomatoes famous. Large vines yield very well; very unique and delicious.

Blue Berry – organic, indeterminate – Here’s a new, small cherry variety from Brad Gates, Wild Boar Farms. Very dark purple color, which means it’s super-rich in anthocyanins. Unripe, the fruits are a glowing amethyst purple. At maturity they turn deep red where the fruit was shaded; the areas that received intense sunshine are a purple so deep it’s almost black! The flavor is intensely fruity, and sugar-sweet! Plants are very productive, yielding all season in elongated clusters that look so beautiful.

Early Slicing Tomatoes

Sub Artic Plenty – organic, heirloom, determinate – Allegedly developed in the 1940’s by the U.S. Military to provide fresh tomatoes to their troops in Greenland. If your weather turns cold after you set out plants, try this variety. Sets hundreds of small, 1 to 2″, red fruits with that tart, “real tomato” flavor. Hardier than virtually any other variety. Extremely early maturity. No need to stake.

Glacier – organic, determinate – Extremely early, cold-tolerant, high-yielding special strain of tomato plant. Begins flowering when only 4″ high and bears tasty tomatoes only 45 days from flowering. You can expect higher-than-average yields of 2 to 3 oz. fruits with outstanding flavor for such an early tomato.

Paste Tomatoes

Amish Paste – organic, heirloom, indeterminate – Dates back to the turn of the century, and is the best for sauces and canning. Its deep red fruits are large for canning types (about 8 oz.), with “real tomato” flavor. Not overly acidic.

Jersey Giant – organic, heirloom, indeterminate – This New Jersey canning variety is on the verge of extinction! Large, 6-inch long, pepper-shaped fruit are packed with great tomato flavor. Delicious fresh from the garden. Their large size makes them a snap to can. Their thick, rich flesh is much tastier than modern paste types, and the fruit have very few seeds.

Slicers

Black Prince – organic, heirloom, indeterminate – A genuine Russian treasure! Its small to medium, oval fruits are very juicy and ripen to a beautiful, deep garnet red color. Fruits, about 2″ in diameter, are uniform and blemish-free. Their green flesh contrasts appealingly with the exotic skins.

Black Krim – organic, heirloom, indeterminate – A most unusual novelty. Fruits are a dark, deep red (almost a shiny black) with heavy green shoulders. Interior is a deep, reddish-green color. Sweet and tasty. Matures extremely early.

Green Zebra – organic, indeterminate – This is the most unusual variety you’ll ever grow! Fully ripened fruits are bright green, with stripes of a still lighter green. Round, smallish, 2 to 4 oz. fruits have excellent, “real tomato” flavor. Plants are vigorous.

Orange Icicle – organic, indeterminate – These extra-long, plum-shaped fruits are polished golden orange, and their rich, sweet taste has definite citrus overtones. The full-bodied flavor, thick-walled flesh, and very few seeds are the makings of a must-have new condiment, orange ketchup. Or serve it in a Technicolor salsa with other ‘Icicle’ companions. Fruits ripen about 75 days from transplant.

Large Slicers

Pineapple – organic, indeterminate – Enormous, uniquely-patterned, yellow-red striped fruits will be the center of attraction. Beefsteak-type fruits easily grow to 5″ and larger, and are orange-yellow with red streaks. Fruits have meaty flesh, mild flavor, and no green shoulders. Heavy foliaged plants produce good yields.

Brandywine – organic, heirloom, indeterminate – An Amish heirloom that dates back to 1885 and is generally considered to be the world’s best-flavored tomato. Plants look like potato vines with good yields of extra-large (weighing up to 1-1/2 lbs.), firm, clear-skinned, light rosy-pink fruits.

 

I also have lavender plants in 6″ pots.  These are hardy here in our area.  I have been growing this wild lavender for 12 years. Purchase these lavender plants now!

Make sure you sign up on the website to receive the newsletter.  It’s my way of keeping you up to date with what is going on in the gardens, recipes, and other good stuff!

The dill has self seeded all over the garden, but I just love to harvest the small plants and use them in salad dressings, butter spreads and egg recipies.  The asparagus is back, too!  Here is a wonderful, easy brunch recipe using both.  Enjoy!

Asparagus Quiche with Dill

The nutty bite of Gruyère cheese blends well with dill and asparagus. Try this quiche for a Sunday brunch. It is delicious hot, warm, or cold.
• 1 nine-inch unbaked tart shell 1/2 pound fresh asparagus
• 3 eggs
• 1 1/2 cups half-and-half
• 2 ounces Gruyère cheese, grated
• 3 tablespoons minced fresh dill weed
• 1/4 teaspoon salt
• 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 425°F.
2. Line the tart shell with pie weights or prick with a fork and bake for 7 minutes, or until barely set and faintly golden. Transfer it to a cooling rack and remove the weights. Reduce the oven temperature to 350°F.
3. Trim off the woody parts of the asparagus stalks. Steam the stalks over boiling water for 3 minutes, or until barely tender. Drain immediately, then chop coarsely.
4. Whisk the eggs with the half-and-half, then fold in the asparagus and remaining ingredients and pour into the tart shell. Bake for 40 minutes, or until the filling is set. Let cool at least 10 minutes before serving. Refrigerate if not serving within 30 minutes.

 

28 Apr

Seedlings galore!

Hello everyone!

It’s finally beginning to feel like spring!  The meadowlarks are singing,  the robins are gathering grasses and leaves for their nest building and the male pheasants are strutting their stuff!  The sun’s warmth has once again returned and brings forth the promise of an abundant, vibrant garden season.

Thank you all for joining the CSA this year.  I am excited to see and experience the miracles that always present themselves each year as we travel through the spring, summer and fall garden season.  Just a quick update to let you know how things are going here in the greenhouse and garden.

 

Greenhouse-hotbox seedlins-4-27-14 2014-04-27 007The warmer weather the last couple of weeks has allowed Barbara and I the opportunity to move the tomato and onion seedlings from the greenhouse out into the window boxes to harden off before we plant them    into the garden.  I was bold and even transplanted the seedlings of lettuce, Napa cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower and scallions out into the garden.  I am trusting that they can handle the temperature fluctuations so that we can provide you with some early crops.  We also direct seeded beets, radishes and spinach.  As you can see we are getting ready for a bountiful CSA season.

 

The greenhouse is bulging at the seams with the rest of the seedlings we have started.  There is not 1 square inch of room on the tables for more!  I need to get things outside soon, so that I can start more plants.  This week I will be harvesting the lettuce and spinach that is growing in the ground and send it to Market Day Foods in Bozeman.  It is really nice to have another place to sell my produce.

Greenhouse-hotbox seedlins-4-27-14 2014-04-27 004

I still have a few more openings available for this season’s CSA, so if you know of anyone who would be interested, please let them know.  I was hoping for 16 this year and we stand at 11 as of today.  I will probably place an ad in the Billings Gazette this week.  I had hoped that I would have had a greater response from the article on my garden in the Yellowstone Valley Woman magazine, but sadly that has not been the case.

I have planted extra seedlings of tomatoes (early small, large slicers, both yellow and red, and several different colors and shapes of cherries), peppers (bell, jalapeno, habanero, ancho/poblano and sweet Italian) and eggplant that I will have available for sale for those of you who would like to have a few plants at home.  They are organic, healthy heirloom plants  and in 4 inch pots.  They will sell for $3.75 ea.  Let me know soon if you are interested and I will save some for you.  I also have beautiful large, hardy lavender plants that have been growing in the greenhouse all winter. The are just starting to bloom.  They are ready to plant now.   They are hardy here in our zone and are plants that have self seeded from my lavender that has been growing here for over 10 years, so they are well acclimated to our environment.  They will sell for $5 ea.

There is still time to let me know if you are wanting to can or pickle this year.  The canning baskets for tomato sauce, salsa and cucumber pickles need to be ordered soon, so that I will have the available produce growing for you.  You may want to consider fermenting some of your veggies this year.  I made sauerkraut last fall from some of the “not so perfect” cabbage I had left from the garden, and it turned out great.  I am planning on doing allot more fermenting this year, as it is so good for you, and it is so easy to make.

You are more than welcome to come by for a visit any time to see the garden and greenhouse.  It will be looking better, greener and more lush in a few weeks.  Give me a call if you do.   Just a reminder that for those of you who have not paid in full for your subscription, your final payment is due by May 15th.

Here is a great recipe for taking advantage of the baby spinach that you find in all of the markets right now. It’s quick, easy and tastes great. Enjoy!

Bow Tie Pasta with Spinach, Tomato, and Olives

With appealing Mediterranean flavorings, you’ll feel like you’re vacationing, not watching your waistline. For a non-veg variation, toss in some grilled shrimp or chicken breast.

Serves: 4

Ingredients
12 ounces bow tie pasta
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 cups chopped fresh or canned tomato
2 cups baby spinach leaves, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons lemon juice, preferably freshly squeezed
2 tablespoons sliced kalamata or other ripe olives (about 5 to 6 olives)
2 tablespoons capers, drained and rinsed
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons grated Romano cheese
Directions
1. Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Before draining, scoop out 1/2 cup of the pasta-cooking water and reserve. Drain the pasta and return it to the cooking pot to keep warm.
2. Meanwhile, in a large, nonstick skillet over medium-low heat, combine the oil and garlic. Cook for about 2 minutes, or until the garlic is soft and fragrant. Do not brown. Add the tomato and cook for about 4 minutes longer, or until the tomato starts to soften. Add the spinach and cook, tossing, for about 1 minute more, or until wilted. Stir in the lemon juice, olives, capers, pepper, and salt. Reduce the heat to low.
3. Add the tomato mixture to the reserved pasta and toss to coat. Add a few tablespoons of the reserved cooking water, if needed, to moisten the pasta.
4. Serve sprinkled with cheese.

20 Mar

Spring on Its Way

Welcome to Kate’s first blog for 2014.

It’s certainly been a doozy of a winter, eh? However, I think spring may finally be on its way. I know there will probably be some more snow and cool weather, but we are definitely through the worst of what this winter season has had to offer … I hope!

The greenhouse is starting to fill up with seedlings of onions, broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage. My hope is to get them transplanted into the gardens in late April or early May. It feels so good to finally be able to get my hands back in the dirt again. I was beginning to feel a little ungrounded and depressed! If the sun comes out, the greenhouse can get up to over 100 degrees! I forgot what that kind of warmth felt like.

CSA News

I went back and forth on whether or not I should raise the price of the CSA share this year, and decided that I would not. If I charged what it really cost to raise a full share, my only subscribers would be the privileged few with unlimited income. I still have not figured out how to make money farming, but I continue to trust that at some point it will come about as our community becomes more aware of the importance of supporting local food producers, not only as a benefit for the local economy but for a vital and healthy food system. In the future, I hope to diversify into other areas of food production. In order to do that, I will have to attract like-minded individuals who would like to help with the gardens, marketing, and production. I am depending on my past subscribers to continue to be members again this year, and will also be increasing the number of subscriptions, so if you know of anyone who might be interested in joining, please send them to my website for information.

CSA box

To make it easier to register and pay for your subscription, you can now register for the CSA on the website. If you prefer to send in your registration via mail, you can download the registration form.

Barbara has agreed to return and work for the same amount as I paid her last year and both of us hope that we will be able to increase the production of the gardens in order to provide additional wholesale produce for the local food stores and restaurants. We both love gardening and feel that the heat of the sun and the physical exercise keep our bodies limber and our spirits young! The vital, healthy food we are able to eat from the gardens are true gifts as well.

Canning Baskets

The responses from the questionnaire I sent out a month ago indicated there was some interest in purchasing additional produce for canning baskets. You will not have to have to pay for them at this time, but I will need to know what types of produce you would like to prepare so that I can start the additional transplants insuring that I have the enough produce for the basket orders.

All baskets include the vegetables and a recipe (most recipes will make at least 2 quarts to 6 pints). You add dried seasonings, (I will provide fresh herbs, if called for), salt, vinegar, and your own canning jars (or, if freezing, zip lock bags or other freezer containers).

001

Herb Pesto – $20 Includes a selection of the freshest herbs to make different flavored pesto. This would include basils, parsley, dill, mint and tarragon along with recipes and recommendations for freezing. It will not include the olive oil, nuts or cheese.

Pasta Sauce – $40 Includes everything you need to make a meatless pasta sauce. Will not include mushrooms. Recipe included. Appropriate for either canning or freezing. Will make around 3-4 quarts.

Salsa – $50 Includes everything you need to make a nicely flavored thick salsa to can. My all-time favorite recipe included. Should make around 7 pints.

Cucumber Pickles – $40 Includes all of the veggies needed to make either a sweet or dill cumber pickle. Includes recipes for canning or fresh refrigerator preparations.  Will make around  around 7 pints or 3 quarts.

Register Early!

Since this is first notice is going out a little late, I will be extending the registration and deposit deadline until April 15th, with full payment due on May 15th. As I am planning to increase my subscriptions in the CSA this year, it is important that you register as soon as possible so that I know how many openings are left for new subscribers. I appreciate you all so much and look forward to seeing you here at my gardens in June.  Call or email me if you have questions.
tel: 406-245-9182406-245-9182
katescents@bresnan.net.

08 Apr

Kate's CSA

A CSA is a food distribution model where you receive a portion of the farm’s harvest each week during the summer. The weekly allotment of produce is called a share. CSA programs benefit consumers and producers. Consumers receive fresh produce grown by a local farmer. The farmer or farm organization receives stable income and a set of partners who share in the risk and rewards of farming. The CSA consumer receives more food in a bountiful season and less food when there are challenging growing conditions.

A share typically i002ncludes a selection of organically grown vegetables including beans, beets, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, Swiss chard, eggplant, cauliflower, cucumbers, kale, lettuce, onions, peas, peppers, spinach, squash (summer & winter), tomatoes, and more.  In addition, your share will often include fresh herbs.

We plant successive plantings of the most important crops so there is always a nice selection of veggies & herbs.  Depending on the week and what is producing well at the time, sometimes the baskets are full to overflowing and sometimes they are not so full.  That is the beauty of living in season!  There may be additional crops which we will offer as extras.

Factored into the cost of a CSA share are the things which have no value in the industrial agricultural model; things like air and water quality, sustainable farming practices, working with nature rather than against it, and sustainability for farm families and rural communities.  By joining with a local farmer with a desire to produce responsible food for your family you are helping to move us in the direction of a sustainable food system.

If you would like to be a part of the 2013 CSA at Kate’s Garden,  fill out our Registration Form.