Friday, October 23, 2009

First Spaghetti Squash

The first meal with spaghetti squash was made with this one that I scratched a heart into while it was still growing. Spaghetti squash is a nice starchy vegetable with a very mild flavor.  The way we made this batch was to cut it in half, scoop out the seeds and fill it with tomatoes, garlic, pesto, pine nuts and mozarrella cheese.  Then we baked it.  Then we ate it.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Petaluma Bee Ordinance Passed

There has been a lot of "buzz" on the Sonoma County Bee Keepers Association list serve about legalizing bees within Petaluma city limits and it looks like it finally happened. Along with feral cats and potbellied pigs, bees can live in town.

I remember reading animal regulations when we were thinking of moving there.  Pigs are legal in town for only 48 hours.  I was thinking of having joint custody of a pig with someone else and moving it every two days, but now I can just go out and get a potbellied pig. I am sure we have room for it somewhere.

I am not a member of the Beekeepers Association, but I may go to a meeting soon and we are thinking of getting a hive or two to help with all of our fruit trees and the garden, though I already see a lot of bees around. My friend Mark just gave me some honey from his bees in San Francisco and it is quite delicious (pictured here dripping from a spoon).  I need to make a "bee line" to his house and check out the hive, don'tcha know!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Chicken Theater- Chickens, Collards, Clay

When it rains, the clay gets sticky and forms little clay shoes on the chicken feet. Meanwhile, there is a drama concerning the collard greens.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Adventures in the Rhizosphere

I was digging up summer plants in order to plant winter plants and almost everywhere I dug I found these networks of mycorrhizal fungi. This was very exciting to me because I have been reading Mycelium Running by Paul Stamets and he was talking about the benefits of mycorrhizal fungi and mycelium in general.  Mycorrhizal fungi play an essential role in the soil by closely associating themselves with plant roots and helping to break down organic matter in the soil and transporting water and nutrients from other parts of the soil to the plant.  Plants are supposedly much happier when growing with these mycelia.  You can buy innoculants, but where did mine come from?  I think it came from my compost tea, but I am not sure.  While trying to figure it out, I stumbled upon this slide show about the rhizosphere, a universe of amoebas, bacteria, plant roots, fungi, mites, bugs and more.  Very happy to be building a thriving ecosystem in my dirt.

{Memo to self: Garlic is planted in rear garden, south western most section before the asparagus.  Facing south, left rows are Metechi (marbled purple stripe garlic) next rows to right are Early Italian Purple (artichoke garlic).  To the right of that is elephant garlic.  Facing west, the rear asparagus bed has shallots in the right hand section where the asparagus did not make it. Also, in the right hand side of the bed that had peppers and arugula in it, next to where the tomatoes were I planted  Korean Red garlic.}

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Winter Squash

This is some of the winter squash we harvested.  Mostly spaghetti squash.  We still have not eaten that one yet.  We've eaten one of the very few kabocha squashes we got this year and it was quite delicious.

Recently when I was helping out at the Bounty Farm, Amy the farmer told me to go out and cut the peduncles and let the squash cure in the field. I ran home and cut my own peduncles and left the squashes out in "the field".  Now my squash is ready for eating  (I think).

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Business Opportunity!

That's right, Mervyns closed well over six months ago and the space is still available. It happens to be the closest store to our house, just a few blocks away. What can you do with such a huge space?  Year round flea market or swap meet?  Farmers market? Skate park? Roller rink? Garden store? Bumper car stadium? Casino? Nightclub? Dayclub? Replace the roof with glass and make a giant greenhouse? Bulldoze it and plant oats (the crop that grew here before Mervyns)?  If you like any of these ideas and want to bankroll them, please contact me immediately.  An opportunity like this will not last!

Oh wait, I guess this is happening everywhere. Anyhow, it is 35,000 square feet and you can read all about it here. If you jump at this opportunity and make a ton of money, don't forget where you got the hot tip! (not affiliated with this property in any way)

Food Safety and Damn Lies

It is all over the news, Center for Science in the Public Interest has announced that leafy greens are dangerous!!!  Seriously, I believe this report.  It has everything to do with the centralized and industrialized food system we have in this country.  Contamination by pathogens spreads very quickly across the country and through many food streams.

Friends, our food system is sprawling and vulnerable. To me, this only underscores the importance of being as close to your food source as possible.  If you cannot grow it yourself, try to support local farms through farmers markets, shopping at stores that sell local produce or join a CSA farm.  We are very fortunate to be able to grow a lot of this stuff ourselves and to have a long growing season.  We have a lot of small farms in this area as well.

Sometimes it is difficult or impossible to get this safe local food.  Maybe you are on the road.  Maybe you are very poor.  Maybe you went out to eat.  For these occasions, we do need real safety rules that are actually adhered to.

There is some legislation, H.R. 875: Food Safety Modernization Act of 2009,which I do not know a whole lot about. In general, I would tend to not trust it, as I know a lot of legislation is deeply influenced by the industries it is meant to address. 

A while back I got a lot of emails about how this bill was going to hurt small farmers, was written by Monsanto. Here is an example, but if you scroll down to the comments section, people are saying that it emanated from the Ron Paul political campaign.  Don't know if that is true, but it appears to be further debunked here and here

This has been debunked for months yet I just found a posting from the other day about it at written by someone at a proudly right wing web site. It particularly claims, "There are fears that the new laws will make growing organic foods illegal by outlawing the use of manure and requiring chemical pesticide application to all crops. Other frightening interpretations of the provisions in these bills include potentially mandating genetically-modified (GM) crops and "terminator" seeds that will require farmers to purchase new GM seeds each season."

Who are these truth tellers?  It says on their "about us" link that they are "committed to promoting free trade and agricultural biotechnology through farmer-led educational initiatives that target public officials, opinion leaders, and the agricultural community." They somehow do not strike me as concerned about organic farming, genetically modified terminator seeds and required pesticide application.

It kind of looks like these kinds of rumors emanate from the industries this legislation might impact.  It kind of reminds me of the lies that have been flying around regarding health care reform.  It is a little creepy that these lies are deliberately written to freak out people who want to grow food and support others who do the same. 

What do you think? Will this legislation offer real solutions to food safety concerns or will it create more problems than it solves.  And what is with the disinformation campaign?

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Chicken Theater and Fruit Trees

It turns out this is a great time of year to look for sales at nurseries.  We went to Dig Nursery in Cotati the other day and they were having a clearance sale of 30-50% off.  The guy who runs that place is very nice, by the way.  We got a large Granny Smith apple tree and a Fuji apple tree for 50% off.  Such a deal!

Then a woman in the neighborhood stopped by our door to tell us she'd been noticing our garden and that she had some extra mulch in her driveway.  We had a couple of other trees (Asian pear and a late orange) and that we had been meaning to plant so today was all about digging holes, removing a stump, walking the wheelbarrow around the neighborhood several times and shoveling things.  It is a great workout, especially upper body and abdominals.

Here are the trees in the back if you can discern them from this picture.  In the future, we will be fruit rich fruit-cakes.  Also picked up a banana tree that claims to be hardy to 10 degrees.  I put it in a bigger pot so we will see if it survives.  For the time being I can at least say, "yes, we have no bananas".

Anyhow, every time there is a hole being dug, Halley the chicken is in the middle of it.  Literally.  She is a smart chicken and knows that holes and trenches being dug means worms and other tasty morsels and she is apparently unafraid of shovels.  Please enjoy this latest installment of Chicken Theater, "Chicken In A Hole".

Sunday, October 4, 2009


Goodbye summer crops.  Tomatoes are still hanging on, but the weather just changed and the days are short. The chickens go to bed at 6:40 pm. Most of the winter squash is done (would have had more if the chickens hadn't gotten out so many times). I pulled out some zucchini and all of the melons.

The corn is over and I have been pulling out the stalks.  Not as much corn per plant as I had hoped for, but maybe better luck next time. Some of the fall winter things I planted are almost ready like fennel, beets and potatoes.  I have been replacing summer crops with broccoli, romanesco broccoli, brussels sprouts, green onions, lettuce, chard, kale.  I need to clear some more space for the starts I already have and for the peas, carrots, spinach and fava beans I intend to plant.

I am going to harvest the remaining peppers and tomatillos this week.  The lady at the seed store told me that tomatillos freeze well.  I hope so.  I dried a bunch of tomatoes in an electric food dehydrator and now we have three big jars full.  I keep meaning to build a solar chimney dehydrator or something like that but I keep having other things to do like painting the outside of the house (which also kept me from updating this blog).