We’ve talked a lot about how to cook the food you get from one of our gardens or farms. I wanted to talk a little about a few of the people who grow the food, starting with Cori Ash.
In the first year of the Youth Farm, farm director Cori Ash was sitting at her Mobile Market stand. Most of our Mobile Markets take food from the farm to senior housing. But this market was set up at an affordable housing complex for families.
A 10 year old boy came biking up to Cori, asking for kale. He had his allowance with him, and wanted to spend it on the kale. She was impressed, and sold him two bunches. He teetered off on his bike, a bunch under each arm.
The next week he was back, and he brought a friend. They each bought kale again, and again went away.
The third week, he came alone. He suggested that maybe he could trade his labor for kale. He’d help her at the market, and take home kale in return. She was thrilled. It was often just her at the stand because of school scheduling with the teens that worked at the Youth Farm, so she really did need help unloading the boxes, making change, and talking to customers.
We stopped serving that apartment complex the next year, and lost touch with the boy.
A word about the Youth Farm. Most all of the workers save Cori, the farm assistant, Mark, and farm apprentice, Kaya, are teens living in a group home. There are anywhere from 3 to 10 youth that work 20 – 40 hours a week at the farm, plus many of the other teens at Youth Homes come by to volunteer at the farm once a week.
When one of the Youth Homes volunteer groups came, there was a familiar face in the crowd. It was this boy. Cori couldn’t place him at first, and neither could the boy. So they both took shy glances at each other until they figured it out. “You’re Captain Kale!,” Cori said.
She offered the boy a job by mid-season. He said yes. Zayne has proven to be a hard worker — one of the teens she depends on to get things done on the farm. Because they raise food for a CSA and market stand, there are high standards and strict deadlines. These teens have to get things done efficiently and beautifully.
Zayne is still working at the farm today, as the days get cooler and the weather wetter. And he still loves kale. He makes sure the harvest doesn’t go to waste at in his group home’s kitchen.
Zayne and Kaya will be writing about their favorite times and recipes in the next few weeks. The kale only gets sweeter as the weather cools, so it is a great time to cook it up.
The Farm Party is in a little over a week from now. If you haven’t been, it is a big old party up at the PEAS Farm celebrating this great community, and the harvest that abounds this time of year. We cook everyone a big meal, and host some live music (Shakewell and Local Yokel this year!). It’s really fun. This year, we’re celebrating our 20th anniversary, which means we’ll have cake and a photo booth and a few other fun things.
One of the longstanding traditions around this party (we’ve been doing the party for 14 years, so we’ve got some serious traditions going) is that Josh (PEAS Farm Director) and the PEAS Farm student crew make the food. They harvest it in the fields, truck it over the First Presbyterian Church’s commercial grade kitchen, and get to work. The party has gotten so big that UM Catering has now taken over cooking the burgers, so we can focus on what’s most important: the veggies.
This wonderful group makes six salads (green salad, cole slaw, carrot, cuke, roasted beet, and Kamut Brand Khorasan Wheat). It’s a treat for them to show Missoula what they’ve been up to all summer. All their harvesting, weeding, moving pipe, tractoring, educating, more weeding, seeding and re-seeding, and harvesting again, and sweating and sometimes freezing — it all adds up to a rich and new experience. So it is a special thing to be able to invite all of you up to the farm to see a little piece of it in action.
In the spirit of sharing, I asked Kali, an EVST grad student who is one of the group’s leaders this year, if she’d share a recipe. She did some calculating (these recipes are sized for making food for around 1,000) to make it for around 6 servings, and gave me this year’s version of the Kamut® Salad recipe. Grain salads are great because you can stick all sorts of things in them and they taste great with a little dressing. This year, the crew is adding peaches (that’s right!) to the savory salad. It’s a great way tie many seasonal ingredients into one dish. Eat it as a meal, or as a hearty side. To make this gluten free, sub rice.
1/4 cup safflower oil or olive oil
1/8 cup red wine vinegar
A few sprigs of basil
1-2 tsp raw honey
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup Kamut® berries, cooked and cooled (shorten the cooking time if you soak the berries overnight — see here for simple cooking instructions — mine cooked for almost 60 min)
3 – 5 kale leaves, stemmed and chopped
1/2 sweet onion, diced small
1-2 peaches, chopped
4 oz feta cheese, crumbled
Prep all your ingredients.
Emulsify the dressing with an immersion blender.
Massage the chopped kale with a small amount of the dressing to tenderize it. Then combine all the ingredients in a bowl!
We hope you’ll make this, and come to the Farm Party on August 18th, 5:30 pm at the PEAS Farm to try ours! Come find me and we’ll compare recipes, will you?
This week The Real Dirt is featuring a guest blog from Patrick, Community Gardens Maintenance Coordinator. Patrick grew up in Wisconsin, and from day one wanted to be outside whenever possible. While earning his degree from the University of Montana, Patrick enrolled in the PEAS Farm class, and couldn’t give it up – staying for two semesters and a summer session. Through the PEAS Farm and his Environmental Studies Program classes, he’s decided he wants to keep working on local food efforts now that he has earned his degree. When he’s not digging in the dirt, he is hiking, biking or fishing with his dog, Lola.
Whether you are brand new to gardening or have the greenest thumb in town, community gardens offer a place to share ideas, knowledge, conversation, growing materials, and so much more. Unfortunately, some of the many things that can be “shared” at the gardens are pests, which are not what your friends and neighbors are looking for.
With this in mind, this post will focus on a few common Missoula pests and how to keep yourself, your neighbors, and your plants happy and healthy. No matter if your garden is in your own yard or you share four borders at one of our community gardens, pest awareness and control are crucial to a thriving garden.
The best defense against garden pests is to have a healthy and diverse garden, strong plants, a bit of knowledge, and time in the garden.
Healthy soil will have the fertility to grow strong and resilient plants and will have all sorts of beneficial life in it that will aid in fighting off garden pests. Incorporating organic material such as compost and plant material will go a long way towards healthy garden soil. Keeping up with pests before the need to spray any pest control will help ensure the garden life we want won’t be harmed.
Crop Rotation and Diversity:
Rotating your vegetables will ensure that the same nutrients are not being taken out of the soil year after year and degrading your soil. It will also make it tougher for pests to find the plants they prefer. Planting a diversity of different crops and varieties, including flowering plants, will reduce the effect that any one pest may have on your garden as well as attract an array of beneficial insects.
Similar to when we are stressed and unhealthy, an unhealthy or stressed plant will be much more susceptible to and less able to fight off pests and diseases. Our vegetable plants are especially prone to pest issues when they are young and/or have recently had the stress of being transplanted out to the garden. For this reason, growing or purchasing healthy starts for your garden and keeping a keen eye early on can greatly reduce pest problems in your garden.
Time in the garden:
The small scale of most of our backyard or community gardens allows us to keep a closer eye on each individual plant in the garden. Physically removing pests as they arise early on disrupts their lifecycle and reduces some negative effects that other eradication practices may have on the critters we want. Timing is crucial when controlling pests.
No matter how hard you try, you will undoubtedly run into some pest problems in your garden at some point or another. But don’t stress it too hard; as long as you keep an eye out for potential pest problems and address them as soon as you notice an issue, you should be able to get things under control. Fighting off pests and damage requires energy, reducing energy going toward plant growth and food production. Delays in addressing a pest problem will make eradication more difficult, plant damage more severe, and reduce garden productivity.
Key Elements of a pest free garden
-Diversity in the garden
-An alert presence in the garden and attention to detail
Common Missoula Pests:
Below is a list of a few pests common in Missoula gardens, what they look like, what they like to eat, and how to control them.
Leaf Miners: Most common on beats, chard and spinach, they produce large blotches and tunnel like markings on leaves. Keep an eye on the underside of leaves for rows of small white eggs to squish, and remove and destroy any damaged leaves from the garden.
Cabbage Moths: Most common on cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, and kale. They will eat holes in the leaves, leaving jagged holes or edges. Look for and squish any green caterpillars on the underside of leaves, also try to catch and kill adult cabbage moths flying in your garden. Covering plants with a floating row cover will also help keep cabbage moth numbers down early on.
Flea Beatles: Usually affects tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants early on in the season before plants are well established. They are tiny black beetles and will produce numerous small holes in plant leaves. Hand squishing in the morning or evening when they are a little slower can work well, place sticky traps around the garden to catch them, and shaking them off the plant into a tray of soapy water can help get rid of them.
Cut worms: Commonly affects corn, onions, broccoli, cabbage and kale. Cut worms will eat away the stem of plants at soil level. By scraping the soil around affected plants and removing any caterpillars you find will reduce cut worm numbers and damage.
Aphids: Aphids are common on kale, collards, cabbage, broccoli, and Brussel sprouts. Aphids will make curled and distorted leaf growth, and will also be visible on the leaves. Spraying them off the affected plants can help reduce aphids. A soapy water bath to the leaves is also effective. Promoting or introducing beneficial insects such as ladybugs also help control aphid populations.
This is just a short list of common garden pests – – there are many others that we may find in our gardens. There are many good sites online that can help identify garden pests and samples can be brought into the Missoula Extension Service to be identified.
The changing weather signals that it is time for putting up food for the coming winter months. Since each crop prefers different storage conditions, I wanted to share some storage information that has helped me to stretch my local food long into winter (and even spring!).
The Crop Run Down
The key to good potato storage is to keep them away from light, at temperatures around 42- 55°F, with a relatively high humidity.
Try storing your potatoes in places like an unheated entrance, spare room, attic, basement or garage. Choose a place that is insulated to protect the potatoes from freezing temperatures.
Since potatoes like a bit of humidity store them in a perforated plastic bag, but do not tightly seal the bag — air flow is crucial to preventing mold and decay. Bringing home the goods.
Winter squash and pumpkins
This crop stores best at 50 -60°F with a low humidity.
Good places to keep your squash are similar to potatoes (see above) with a bit less humidity. Just think cool and dry.
Winter Squash and pumpkins are a relatively easy storage crop. That said, their typical storage life is anywhere between 8-12 weeks. Hubbard and spaghetti varieties store a bit longer, acorns a bit shorter.
Onions, Shallots, and Garlic
The important factors of good storage for onions, garlic, and shallots are low humidity, good air circulation, and cool temperatures.
The mesh bags you took these crops home in are great for storage. Try hanging the bags in a closet, or in an unheated room of your house. It is as easy as that, and you will have these jewels to spice up your meals all winter long. A few more storage tips…
Be sure to check your vegetables frequently and remove any crops that are starting to go bad.
Always protect your crops from freezing temperatures.
Carrots, Beets, Cabbage, Kale and Kohlrabi
Carrots, beets, kale, and the monster kohlrabi do best with near freezing temperatures, a.k.a. the refrigerator.
High humidity is also critical for long term storage of these crops, so keep them in a perforated bag. Watch humidity, if the bag is full of condensation open it up a bit to let some moisture out. If your crops are drying out close the bag up tight.
If you are willing and able to give up some space in your refrigerator for these winter crops they will easily last you till the spring!
Experiment with storage locations, new recipes, and most importantly enjoy!
I do love meat, but sometimes a sister has to give it a rest. And many readers have said, “FOCUS ON THE VEGGIES, GENEVIEVE!” Totally. You are right. And it might be that I skipped lunch, but doing this research has uncovered some of the most interesting, beautiful vegetarian and vegan cooking blogs. Here are a few, with a smattering of recipes that work well with what’s growing right now.
A little on how to make 11 kinds of pesto from Saveur — I feel like I am turning green, there is so much basil out there to make into pesto. . . And before you know it, the frost will nip that little basil.
It’s that time of year when many spring crops have finished producing and a bare spot in the garden is left in their wake. But the fun doesn’t have to end yet! There is still time to turn that beautiful blank soil canvas into a fall garden masterpiece. Even though we have a shorter growing season here in Montana, fall gardening is still possible.
At Garden City Harvest, we don’t close down the gardens until October 24th. And even then, if you have some kale left standing or carrots under your mulch, you’re welcome to continue to use your plot as long as it’s cleaned up and looking good.
To start planning your fall garden you must first look closely at your seed packets and find the average days to maturity for the particular crop you want to plant. Many crops, such as cabbage, broccoli, and tomatoes, take too long to mature and there will not be enough heat and/or sunlight in our shorter days to boost them along. For the most part, you only want to plant crops that will mature before our first killing frost or that are cold-hardy and grow well in our hardiness zone. Missoula’s estimatedfirst fall frost date is September 27and we are inUSDA Hardiness Zone 5b.
Fall crops that need some protection
The types of crops that will mature from seed in time to enjoy in the fall include:
lettuce (most lettuces don’t germinate well when it’s very hot out, so consider planting these in a cooler area of your plot, where there is still some shade from other plants)
If planted soon these crops should begin maturing in time for fall, but you’ll want to keep your eye on night-time temps. The leafy greens on these crops need some protection from the cold. Try covering them up with reemay (a white gauzey cloth used for row cover) or even an old sheet or blanket. Covering these crops up at night will help keep their surrounding temperature just a few degrees warmer so they will survive through the night.
Cold-hardy and frost tolerant crops
These crops are a bit hardier and don’t need quite as much fussing. Some of them even taste a little sweeter after a frost hits them, such as kale.
Asian greens, such as bok choi and tatsoi
Other fall gardening tips
If you are buying new seeds, keep a lookout for winter varieties. There are varieties of some crops that grow a bit faster and/or are more tolerant of colder temperatures. These varieties are perfect for your fall garden!
Use extra mulch around your fall crops, especially over top of carrots. The mulch helps keep the soil temperatures a couple degrees warmer.
Add some compost when planting new seeds to make sure there are still nutrients in the soil, especially if the space you are planting in was previously occupied by a heavy-feeder such as cabbage or broccoli.
For more information about fall gardening or winter seed varieties, check out some of these resources:
I’m a type one diabetic, which often means breakfast foods don’t work. Even the healthy alternatives (some smoothies have more carbs than the carbiest bagel!) are full of too much sweet for this gal’s blood sugars. And I have learned through my diabetes, when you first get up everyone’s blood sugars are more sensitive — diabetic or otherwise. I won’t go into detail, but breakfasts are best when they are made up of less carbs and more proteins and fiber. BORING you say?
I’m here to tell you it is NOT.
Veggies matched with eggs, bacon, or some kind of root hash are fantastic — and don’t have to take you all morning (though I do highly recommend a lazy Sunday afternoon brunch sometime soon, it is fantastic–I will not show you any photos of me, mainly because my hair is sticking up and I am wearing my slightly fluffy purple bathrobe that hasn’t been washed since I don’t know when — it’s kind of matted and brown on the sleeves and has random things shoved in the pockets — old grocery lists and a rock Austen found out on the back porch, some tissues for her ever-running nose, etc.). So here’s Austen instead.
The basic scrambled eggs and veggies
Got leftover veggies? Salsa? Some kind of roast or sausage? A little pork chop? Kale? Chop up almost anything small enough and it tastes good with some eggs, salt and pepper. A veggie scramble is what my family eats almost every morning.
Some of my latest leftover faves: broccoli (roasted or steamed), zucchini noodles chopped up to about 1-3 inches, left over roasted zucchini, roasted cauliflower, roasted carrots, and most any green (spinach is especially easy — wilts in a minute or less!). I often add a little garlic — I don’t eat cheese, so this helps make up that empty hole in my life. Onions are always good — you can pretty much put a sauteed or caramelized onion in anything.
If it is uncooked, chop it up to your desired size and cook it first. Preferably in butter or bacon fat or coconut oil (yes – hard fats are just fine! you should ALWAYS save your bacon fat — it is better for you than olive oil if you are cooking, olive oil has a low smoke point that is always exceeded when you are cooking on your stove top).
Crack and scramble your eggs right in the pan, add some cheese if you like that (if I’m in a hurry, I just skip the cheese grater and use a knife to sliver the cheese in with the eggs). I cook my eggs on medium low heat, the scrambled curds form easily, and I am less likely to overcook them. Mark Ruhlman taught me that generally, eggs need tenderness. I’ve changed the way I crack them too — softly against one and other rather than on the sharp edge of a pan or bowl. Plus, you can find out which eggs are strongest (it is often the blue eggs for me). I never fish around for egg shells anymore — really!
Frittatas are another great way to go, but do take the extra step of cooking in the oven, so would be more of a lazy Sunday option.
These are the ribboned version of kale chips — Chop up a few leaves of dino kale — I roll the leaves up like a cigar and slice them as thin as I can get them) at the beginning of the week, get my pan hot with some bacon fat, and cook the kale until it is crispy. I add salt and eat it as a breakfast side or throw it ontop of eggs. So good.
Not into eggs? Still want something savory?
I love veggie hash. You can shred all sorts of things — and if you have a food processor, this can be done in a short amount of time — and if you’ve got the processor out, shred up a bunch of veggies for the week. I eat hash for breakfast, or as a noodle or rice substitute for any meal. My favorite hash veggies are: kohlrabi!!, rutabaga, carrot, winter squash (I generally just julienne this rather than use the food processor, but you can also slice it into 1/4 inch c shapes and saute or roast — this is a great leftover use for squash), and of course, potatoes. I haven’t tried zucchini, but I bet it would be good. The trick is to have something shredded, something chunky (like broccoli, chopped zucchini, etc.).
I usually throw in some ground sausage into the mix–adds great flavor. Many will top this with a fried egg and some cheese.
I have a lot of food allergies, so I turn to Mickey when I need a new idea that isn’t going to make me feel ill. She has a great recipe for veggie skillets that plays well with many veggies. Don’t forget to add some basil or other fresh herbs. Herbs are really good for you and add so much flavor.
The sweeter side
I totally get that you want a little sweet to start your day. If that is your thing, here are a few ideas.
Try this green smoothie ratio that incorporates greens in a balanced way — great way to use up some excess greens. It is a ratio that allows you to use a host of different fruits and greens so you can use what’s in your fridge and freezer. I use this a lot for my daughter — she has a cup full of blueberries and spinach in one hand and a forkful of broccoli, cheese curd egg scramble in the other. I have a friend that has started making baggies using this ratio and throws them in the freezer so all she has to do before she leaves in the AM is grab the baggie full of ingredients from the freezer and throw it in her Vitamix.
Make some batter for crepes and fill them with fruit or veggies — this could be sweet or savory. Blueberry season is upon us. . .
My last lazy Sunday, I made a double batch of Danielle Walkers’s crepes (grain free and good!) and made breakfast burritos with bacon, eggs, and a skillet full of veggies. You can also stick left over batter in the fridge and make a few more later in the week or make them all up and freeze some for later. Just put a little wax paper between each crepe).
Heidi Swanson has some great ideas for breakfast bowls including:
Yogurt Bowls: Plain Yogurt + pinch of salt + brown rice or barley + lots of chopped herbs + a pinch of turmeric + olive oil drizzle (scroll down to the bottom of the blog post)
Chia bowls and overnight oat bowls. With any of these bowls, you could add veggies and make it savory, but let’s face it — peaches, blueberries, cantaloup — they are all in season and filling our wonderful farmers’ market stalls. So savor the season and enjoy your fruit and your veggies. Don’t forget the nuts and seeds. So good!
Thanks for reading.
Next week Farmer Sarah will be writing about their daily lunches at Orchard Gardens Neighborhood Farm. Each of our farms has a kitchen and the staff there make food together and share a meal most days. She’ll be writing about what they made in a week — with photo documentation. I’m excited, are you?
Please do leave comments and questions – I am happy to hear how you eat your veggies and what modification or question you have for these ideas.
Garden City Harvest has four farms in our fair city of Missoula: Orchard Gardens, PEAS Farm, River Road and the Youth Farm. Each farm has its own flavor (forgive the pun), created by the farmer, Mother Nature and specific programs that might happen at the farm (like community gardens or youth development). It is cooler up the Rattlesnake at the PEAS Farm. Scattered showers can hit harder on one part of the city than another. Hail might ding one farm and not another.
This, my friends, is why we aren’t able to offer a complete list of vegetables for each of our four farms. Instead, we look at what the farms have on the horizon, and the basics that everyone has now.
So, what’s up this week?
These keep, so bag ’em and put ’em in your fridge if you aren’t ready to deal. If you are. . . go simple (basil beet salad, using ingredients that will be this week or soon after in your CSA), or go big (beet caviar). Or go breakfast.
We’ve had cabbage for a week or so now. . . Might it be time for sauerkraut? Packed with probiotics along with the vitamins cabbage carries with it, raw sauerkraut is awesome. And it extends the life of your lovely cabbage. My favorite sauerkraut recipe is by Diane Sanfilippo.
Cabbage is also a great topping for tacos, a great bed for salads, and yummy roasted in the oven.
Oh, basil. A great Italian herb, and SO MUCH MORE. Basil got me in trouble last weekend, when my friend made Moscow Mules with basil. (This one uses a basil syrup — not necessary! Just muddle the stuff – the ginger beer has plenty of sweetness.) There are so many cocktails that taste so good with a little basil involved.
Now that summer squash and zucchini are in the mix, basil tastes great sauteed with them and a little Parmesan. Add eggplant and tomatoes when they come on and you’ve got yourself an amazing ratatouille.
Garlic keeps. And makes almost anything tastes better. So I am guessing you know what to do. (CHEER!)
Kale is all over the internet, so I am guessing you can find some great recipes. Kale chips will almost assuredly be a hit at the kid table. If you find a recipe that tells you to roast at anything higher than 325, keep looking!
And the Smitten Kitchen just does kale right. Check out their Kale Files.
In the Crystal Ball:
I see cauliflower
Cauliflower is great roasted, in stir fry, etc. etc. But have you tried making it into rice or faux-tatoes? A great way to mix up your rice dishes and add nutrition to your meal. This cauli-mash sounds cauli-awesome (yup, as usual, bacon included!).