I Have Big Big News!

has some.pngHi there!

You might have noticed that I have been missing in action for a few weeks now.  OK, it’s been more like a month at this point.  But I’ve been working on something pretty big (in-between working on the garden and sowing all the seeds), and I think I’m finally ready to share it with you all!

Nope, I’m not pregnant.  That ship hath sailed.

Nope, we’re not moving.  We’re here at the farm to stay.

Nope, no new dogs, and no other new animals – yet.

The big news is … I’ve made a new website!

http://www.homeandharrow.com

HomeandHarrow teaser imageI’ve been working like a maniac behind the scenes, trying to learn coding, SEO, analytics and figuring out everything else that comes with managing an income-earning, self-hosted website.  I still have a lot (so much!) to do, but my hope is that you all will come with me and follow the journey from there.

Now, I know some of you (yeah, I’m talking about you, Jasper!) are probably wondering why I made a whole new website – a whole new brand – instead of just taking Sprout & Sprig to a new platform and converting it into a self-hosted site.  And the answer is simply that Sprout & Sprig started to feel confining.  Like I had painted myself into a very narrow niche.  Sprout & Sprig is a gardening blog, and I want to open my focus and talk about more than just gardening.

I want to write to and build a community of like-minded people; people who care about growing and eating good food, raising animals with compassion, supporting community, natural self and home care, and fostering a deeper, more sustainable and mindful connection with the Earth.

hh 2.pngSo, I started Home & Harrow. I tossed around a lot of name ideas, but ultimately settled on this one.  Home is where you live, and harrow simply means to prepare a field for planting.  I think it pretty much covers everything, from the fields to the farmhouse or the patio to the apartment.  Living well, wherever you are.

Our life journey is all about change, and so I’m embracing my evolution to this space.  My most fervent hope is that what I produce here, from my real-life homesteading dreams and travails, to my harvest recipes and natural home care, will inspire others in their own lives.  Will inspire you.

So please come, take look around, and subscribe if you like it.  I’ll be re-following all of you in the coming days, too.  And please give me any feedback you have.  It would mean a lot to me!

Yay for new adventures!

www.homeandharrow.com

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Snow, Day Two

IMG_2739 (1)Those of you who live in colder parts of the country (or the world) will probably be chuckling under your breath at our “snow.”  There is maybe an inch or two of snow on the ground.  It’s supposed to snow a little more tonight, but I fully expect it all to melt away by tomorrow or the next day.  Knowing that, it’s much easier to appreciate how beautiful it is in the meantime.

IMG_2738Look at the farmhouse in the snow!  Sometimes I still can’t believe that it’s done and we’re here.  It’s so beautiful (although, to be honest, I’m not a fan of the green color on the house and I am trying my hardest to convince Jasper that we need to repaint it RED this summer)!

IMG_2865I was just pruning these raspberries and marionberries!  There were little green buds on them!  I hope they’ll still be there when this melts because I was so looking forward to eating fresh berries this summer.

IMG_2789The girls, of course, are in heaven.  Tromping around, sledding, building snowmen.  Enjoying their days off from school (yes, they cancelled school for this!).

IMG_2841Even Jasper’s been getting in on the action.  And thank goodness for that, because he’s much better at playing in the snow than I am.

IMG_2745I would rather be right here during this brief, snowy interlude.  In fact, I think that’s what I’ll do.

Stay safe out there, fellow Pacific Northwesterners.  And to the rest of you: please don’t laugh at us too hard!

It’s Still Winter

pexels-photo-371574.jpegAll month there has been a decidedly spring-like feeling in the air.

Above-average temperatures.  Growth.  Glorious sunshine!

I pruned the raspberries and the marionberries; I started getting some of the garden out from under cover and ready for planting next month.  I started my seeds indoors; I even planted a grapevine in the greenhouse!

Today it’s snowing.

I think I won’t be planting my peas until March this year.  Just to be on the safe side.

Fickle, fickle February.

Seed Savers Exchange Order

IMG_E2464.JPGFor someone who really didn’t need any more seeds, I sure got a lot more seeds!

I actually went to SSE just to peruse their flower and herb offerings, but then of course I had to check out their tomatoes and by that point all my self-control was out the window.

  • Flower, ‘Kiss-Me-Over-The-Garden-Gate’  It was the name alone that drew me to this flower; it conjures up beautiful pastoral images of young love.  I’ve never seen this flower in person, but the pictures of it’s graceful drooping habit on the internet took my breath away.  I’m going to plant this around the house and on the north end of the vegetable garden fence, so I can see it from the kitchen windows.
  • Flower, ‘Night Scented Tobacco’  I grew this flower when I lived in Roseburg, and loved it!  The smell is absolutely intoxicating!  Also, hummingbirds love this flower!
  • Flower, ‘Zebrina (Cottage Mallow)’  My mom grows this gorgeous flower.  It’s a little reminiscent of hollyhock, but much less orderly.  Very cottage-garden.  I collected some seeds from her plants last year, but I wanted more, more, more!  So I got more.
  • Flower, ‘Moonflower’  Another fragrant night bloomer.  I want to grow this on our porch, so that I can sit there on a summer evening and just be enveloped by the perfume smell.  There’s also a bush version of this plant that I’d like to find.
  • Carrot, ‘Scarlet Nantes’  My favorite carrot.  I decided to buy it from SSE instead of Ed Hume because there were more seeds per packet for the same price.  Scarlet Nantes always does well for me, and the taste is perfectly carroty.
  • Cucumber, ‘Snow’s Fancy Pickling’  I’m still looking for a good pickling cucumber.  I’ve tried a few different kinds, but haven’t been 100% pleased with any of them.  So Snow’s Fancy Pickling gets a go this year, and I’m going to try growing them in the greenhouse as well as outside, to see if that makes a difference.
  • Tomato, ‘Wapsipinicon Peach’  This is a fuzzy tomato.  When I asked Jasper if he wanted to try a fuzzy tomato, he said no.  But I think he didn’t mean it.  Who doesn’t want to try a fuzzy tomato?!  Plus, it won a taste award.  So there.
  • Tomato, ‘Paul Robeson’  This is said to be one of the best tasting tomatoes out there.  A lot of the new bi-colored tomatoes being developed are measured against this heirloom for taste.  So of course I had to try it.
  • Tomato, ‘Amish Paste’  Last year, I had high hopes for my San Marzano tomatoes.  Those hopes were dashed.  The San Marzano tomatoes were the worst performers of the bunch.  If I had been depending on just those to make my year’s worth of tomato sauce, I would have been out of luck.  So I’m trying these this year.  The Amish know what they’re doing.  I hope their tomato does, too.

And completely unexpectedly, SSE sent me a free seed packet, too!  They didn’t the last time I ordered from them, but that was a couple years ago.  I imagine I’m not the only person who likes getting free seeds.  It’s a good practice, seed companies!  The packet I got was Dester tomatoes, which I’m excited to try.  This variety has also won lots of taste tests and has lots of good reviews online.  The only thing I’m worried about is that it is a rather large tomato.  Hopefully it will do well in the greenhouse, but typically our growing season isn’t hot or long enough for big tomato fruits to mature.  We shall see.

I have one more order to share with you that will round out my seeds for this year.  And then it’s time to get growing!

Delectable Pickled Garlic

GarlicHomemade garlic powder is good.  It’s amazing even, especially when compared with conventional store-bought garlic powder.  I just made it the other day, but I’ve already used it to make garlic bread, to flavor mashed potatoes, and in my homegrown spaghetti sauce.

But do you know what’s even better than garlic powder?  Like, a bajillion times better?

Pickled Garlic!

The first time I ever ate pickled garlic was at my wedding.  This was way way back in 2004.  I was only 21, a junior in college, and the love of my life was being shipped off to fight in that ill-conceived war in Iraq.  So, we did the only sensible thing we could do.  We got married.  And we served pickled garlic to our guests.

It was fantastic.

To cut a long story short, Jasper ended up getting injured and coming home, I graduated college, we moved a few times (finally to this farm), the marriage has lasted and so has the love of the pickled garlic.  In fact, it was the first thing we decided to do when faced with the task of preserving 200 garlic bulbs.

Pickling dilutes the spiciness and intensity of raw garlic, but still leaves the complexity of flavor.  In my opinion, it’s so much better than eating a regular pickle (or a regular clove of garlic, for that matter).  It makes an amazing appetizer paired with cheese and olives, and adds wonderful nuggets of flavor to vinaigrettes, salads, vegetable sautés and roasts.

It takes a little more effort than making garlic powder, but it’s so worth it!

IMG_2601


Pickled Garlic

If you’ve never made pickles or canned anything before, don’t worry!  I think the hardest thing about it is maybe just having the confidence to do it!

Ingredients:
  • Four cups of peeled garlic cloves
  • 1 tbsp pickling salt
  • 1-1/4 cup white vinegar
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 tsp pickling spice per jar (if you don’t have pickling spice, you can also use a 1/8 tsp each of crushed bay leaves, whole coriander seed, black or white peppercorns, whole cumin seed, mustard seed and crushed red pepper flakes)
Equipment:
  • Four half-pint canning jars with lids and rings
  • Saucepan
  • Large stock pot or water bath canning pot
  • Jar lifter or tongs
Instructions:
  1. Wash jars, lids and rings in hot, soapy water
  2. Heat the water in the canning pot to a rolling boil
  3. Transfer jars and lids (not rings) to the canning pot to keep warm
  4. In the saucepan, combine the vinegar, water and salt; bring to a boil, then cover and reduce heat to low until it’s time to fill the jars
  5. Add the pickling spices to the bottom of each jar
  6. Tightly pack the garlic cloves into the jars, filling to 1/2″ of the top
  7. Add hot vinegar mixture to each jar, leaving 1/4″ of headspace
  8. Remove bubbles, wipe jar rims, add lids and screw rings on until fingertight
  9. Process in the water bath for 10 minutes (or adjust for elevation)
  10. For best flavor, let these cure for at least a month
Notes:
  • If you don’t want to process using the water bath canning method, you can also just fill the jars, allow them to cool and then store them in your refrigerator.  Let them cure for a week or so, and then they should keep for several months in there!

Enjoy!


IMG_2607 (1)It feels a little backwards to be pickling and preserving things now, at the tail end of winter.  At the same time though, it’s nice to know that we’ll still have lots of last year’s garlic to eat while we wait for this year’s crop to mature, and this pickled delicacy to crack open on our anniversary.

Garlic breath.  Pickled garlic breath.  That’s love, you guys.

Territorial Seed Order

IMG_2437I didn’t get much from Territorial this year, but then I really didn’t need much to begin with.  Just a few packets to round everything out.

  • Beans, ‘Soleil’  I picked the Soleil French beans to grow this year instead of my usual plain golden wax beans (although I do have an extra pack of those, too, in case these don’t turn out).  French beans are typically straight and narrow, and this particular variety is supposed to have a very buttery flavor.  I’m hoping these will be easier to can because of their straightness, and I can’t wait to try them pickled and sauteed fresh from the garden
  • Carrots, ‘Sugarsnax’  I’ve had huge success with the heirloom Scarlet Nantes carrots and will keep on growing that and the Danvers Half Long, but I did want to try this Sugarsnax hybrid, too.  I thought the girls would especially like to eat these fresh
  • Peas, ‘Lincoln (Homesteader)’  I grew these two years ago and found them to be the tastiest shelling peas by far.  They’re very sweet for a garden pea and were fabulous shelled and frozen to use throughout the year
  • Peas, ‘Super Sugar Snap’  Sugar snap peas could arguably be my favorite crop to grow and I’ve had the best luck with Super Sugar Snap.  I can’t wait to start eating these, warmed by the summer sun!
  • Watermelon, ‘Mini Love’  OK, being a maritime gardener on the Oregon coast is wonderful in so many ways, but it does have it’s limitations.  Watermelons, for one thing.  I’ve never grown a real watermelon in my life, not even when I lived down in Roseburg.  Then it was a matter of space, now it’s a matter of temperature.  It just doesn’t get hot enough for long enough here to grow those big juicy heirloom watermelons that look so tempting in the seed catalogs.  So when I saw Mini Love, a compact plant that is supposed to taste great, I had to go for it.  I’m going to grow it in the greenhouse, and if all goes well we’ll be having seed-spitting contests this Fourth of July!

And there you have it!  The end of my 2018 seed purchases!

JUST KIDDING!  What gardener can resist the siren song of seeds this time of year?!  There will be more, don’t you worry.  Even if I didn’t need them!

Homemade Garlic Powder

IMG_2527Do you remember when we harvested our garlic?  There was so much of it, more than 200 fully formed bulbs; a profusion of garlic!  Despite some niggling doubt, I was confident our garlic-loving family could plow right through that, no problem.

Well, as it turns out, we had a problem.

Even loving garlic the way we do, even fully curing it and properly storing it, even incorporating garlic into almost every single dinner we cooked, there was absolutely no possible way we could eat 200 heads of organically grown garlic before it started to sprout.  With no sprouting inhibitors sprayed on them (like on conventionally grown grocery store garlic), our bulbs were feeling the pull of spring just like the rest of us.

We grew hardneck garlic, which give us those wonderful scapes in June, but which don’t store as long as softneck varieties.  Normally hardnecks will store well for 6-10 months, depending on where you keep them.  Garlic keeps best in the dark at a cool room temperature, from 60-65º Fahrenheit with moderate humidity.  Our pantry is dark and cool, but not very humid.  We got seven months of storage from this garlic though, which I consider pretty good.  I just had to figure out how to process and preserve what was left to last an even longer amount of time.

First things first, we had to separate and peel each and every clove.  Cured hardneck garlic is not easy to peel – the skins are hard and surprisingly tough.  Shaking the cloves in a glass jar won’t work.  It takes just digging your fingernails in and cracking it apart, bit by bit.  It’s tedious and time-consuming, but it works.  After that we cut each clove down the middle and took out the green shoot that was starting to grow.  This is important, because to leave it in will add a very bitter flavor to your garlic.

We ended up preserving our garlic in a few different ways and I’ll be talking about those throughout the week.  Today, I’m sharing an incredibly versatile way to use it: homemade garlic powder.

IMG_2572


Garlic Powder (in the oven)

Homemade garlic powder is so easy and useful, it’s a wonder more people don’t make it.  The flavor is so much more intense than store-bought, and there are no questionable additives or preservatives.  You can use it in almost every way and in almost every recipe that calls for fresh garlic, but it really holds its own in dry rubs and marinades for meat and veggies, sauces, and when making garlic bread.

Ingredients:
  • garlic (as much or as little as you want)
Equipment:
  • cutting board
  • sharp knife (I preferred using a paring knife)
  • oven
  • baking sheets
  • parchment paper
  • blender or grinder
  • airtight jars
Instructions:
  1. Preheat the oven to lowest temperate (170º if possible)
  2. Separate and peel the garlic cloves
  3. If they’re starting to sprout, halve the cloves and remove the green shoot
  4. Slice the garlic into thin, evenly sized slices
  5. Place the slices on baking sheets covered with parchment paper
  6. Let dry in the oven for 3-4 hours, or until completely dried through
  7. Blend or grind the dry slices until they make a fine powder
Notes:
  • You can also use a food dehydrator if you have one.  Check the instructions for cooking temperatures and times.
  • There’s no need to turn the slices while they’re in the oven, just keep an eye on them to make sure they don’t burn.
  • If you prefer, you can also store the dried garlic slices without blending or grinding them.  They’re great for adding to soups, stir-frys and other meals.
  • Homemade garlic powder contains no additives or preservatives, but dried properly it can keep for up to a year.  For best results and flavor, I would keep just a small amount in your spice cabinet and freeze the rest of it.

Enjoy!


IMG_2562Is anyone else busy in the kitchen preserving last year’s harvests before it goes bad?  Do you make your own garlic powder?  What are your favorite recipes to use it in?