Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Roots and Wings Family Farm Recipe for Garlic Scapes

It is almost GARLIC SCAPE SEASON! Let's celebrate this joyous time with a little recipe from a local farm in Cherry Creek, NY.   Check out the farm's website here.

Grilled Garlic Scapes from Roots and Wings Family Farm 

  • Garlic Scapes, as many as you desire
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • what ever seasonings you desire
    • 1. Toss garlic scapes in olive oil, salt, and seasonings.

      2. Wrap loosely in tin foil and place over the grill or at the edge of your camp fire. 

      3. Roast until tender (10-15 min) depending on how hot your grill or fire is.

      4. Enjoy!

      Monday, May 19, 2014

      Green Cleaning Supplies: Do It Yourself

      Ever wonder what's in Windex?  Or perhaps in your toilet cleaner, sink cleaner, shower curtain cleaner, counter cleaner, tile cleaner, wood cleaner, drain cleaner, linoleum cleaner, dish and clothing detergent?  No?  
      Do you know what's in here?...
      Do you WANT to know what's in here?

      Here in the states, cleaning products (in fact, ALL of our PRODUCTS including personal care products, medicines, childrens' toys, and even our food) follow the super logical, morally-incorrupt principle of "Innocent Until Proven Guilty".  This means that chemicals used in the production and synthesis of our products do not undergo rigorous, unbiased testing for the sake of the consumers health.  

      What is the Gleaning Project's reaction to this? BOYCOTT!!! I know it may be hard for our consumer-based society to wrap our brains around this idea, but believe me, it's for our own good!  

      So put down that toxin-laden sponge and squirt bottle full of mysterious blue liquid, and pick up a rag, a bottle of vinegar, a box of baking soda, and hey, why not an apron? Let's get started.

      Here are some go-to recipes for all-around the house cleaning.

      P.S. You can purchase Borax (a mined mineral) essentially at any grocery store and it is super cheap and lasts for a long time.  

      Scouring Powder

      • 1 C baking soda
      • ¼ C borax
      •  Drops of essential oil (optional)
      In a bowl, mix the borax and baking soda with a few drops of essential oil. Store in a shaker and shake onto that pesky soiled surface slated for cleaning.

      All-Purpose Cleaner

      • A spray bottle (if you don't have an empty one, just go to the dollar store and pick one up)
      • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
      • 1/2 cup water
      • 10-20 drops of essential oil (if you'd like, I use lemon or peppermint)
      Put the lime in the coconut and mix it all up. Meaning, just mix it all together in the spray bottle.

      Alice’s Wonder Spray

      • 2 t borax
      • 32 oz. hot water
      • ¼ C white vinegar
      • 20 drops essential oil (optional)
      • ¼ C liquid dish soap (look for a biodegradable, non-petroleum based product from a company above. We used Dr. Bronners Castile soap. Find it in Tops’ natural cleaning section.)
      Dissolve borax in hot water. Add to a 32-oz spray bottle along with the vinegar and water. Then add the liquid dish soap and essential oil (optional). Shake it up and apply to sinks, tubs, tiles and floors.
      What cleaning your drain looks like at the molecular level

      Drain Cleaner

      • Baking Soda
      • Apple Cider vinegar
      Fill your drain with baking soda. Pour down apple cider vinegar.  Watch the magic happen. If you need to, take a plunger to your drain (it helps!).

      Monday, May 12, 2014

      Beans, Beans, They're Good For Your Heart... And They're Also Super Easy to Grow!

      mmmmm...beans.  They are quite literally one of my favorite foods <3 and most versatile veggie.  You can saute them fresh in a stir fry, add them to a soup, dry them and make curry, chili, southwestern bean salad, or stuff them up your nose if you are a one year-old.

      Bean plants growing in our Cornerstone garden
      in Dunkirk.
      Fortunately for us, they are also ridiculously easy to grow (and I'm hoping most of us have matured to the point where we don't care for sticking miscellaneous objects up our noses)!  Which brings me to the subject that I'd like to talk with you about, and that is...


      and then blog about it ^_^ mwhahahaha

      So, truth is, is that I just got back in from planting beans (and peas) and completely forgot to take pictures that I wanted to show everyone! Argh, life, don't I have it hard?  Anyway!! Today was a great day to plant them because it's about to raaaaaaain! Why is this good? I will explain if you continue reading... if you give up on this blog post then you are a lost cause and NO BEANS FOR YOU!
      Heirloom variety of beans gleaned from Greystone Nature Preserve
      in Brocton, NY.  

      I like bullets and numbers. I'm assuming you like bullets and numbers.  SO>>> Here is a 'how to' guide to planting beans using bullets AND numbers!

      HOW TO PLANT BEANS (for dummies, or post-graduate students, or mothers, or over-ambitious, plant-killing fathers, or children who decide that their noses are in fact NOT a grand place to grow beans)

      • 1.  Get yo' beans.  We glean all our beans from local, organic farms and nature preserves who let their extra beans go to seed.  Here at the Gleaning Project, we then have volunteers shuck the thousands of beans picked.  Beans that we don't plant are distributed throughout the county to food pantry, soup kitchen, community, and personal gardens.

      • 2.  Soak yo' beans. It's good to let your beans soak in water for at least two hours before planting. This loosens up the skin and re-hydrates your sad, little parched bean friends.

      • 3.  While your beans are soaking; Prep yo' soil!  Loosen up the soil with a hoe (or whatever) and draw lines with the end of the hoe (or whatever) about 2-inches deep and 8-inches apart.

      • 4.  Plant yo' beans.  Drop your beans into the little baby trenches 6 to 8-inches apart then gently cover them with about 1.5-inches of soil.  

      • 5.  Water yo' beans.  Soak 'em.  Like, super soak them. Soak them so much that you find yourself on the edge of an existentially crisis. Only then will you achieve inner peace, I mean, have your beans successfully planted.

      TADA! Now get out and PLANT THOSE BEANS!!!!!  
      You have until late June...
      now GO!

      Wednesday, May 7, 2014

      Prepping the Soil for Planting

      Happy May Everyone!!!! No snow, no frosts, no winter jacket, no digging out the car, and oh! Did I mention NO SNOW!???  I have been happily riding my bicycle to work nearly everyday and loving it. ^_^
      My friend Amanda and pretending to be happy with snow on Mardi Gras in Buffalo.

      Okay, now let's get down to business.  I'm here to talk about the gardens and what I (personally) have been doing to prep them for planting this season.  This is the "Hannah Approved" method that requires no tiller, no black plastic covers, no sweat inducing/blister causing labor, and yields magnificent results!  

      WORMS... and their poop (castings is the correct term :)
      You may be asking, "Why bother improving the soil? Isn't soil just soil?" Answer: NO, IT'S NOT, Duh. Well, we can leave out the 'duh' I guess. If your soil isn't healthy, then your plants will not be healthy and consequently, you will not be healthy.  

      Soil needs a balance of vitamins and nutrients (just like humans!) for your veggies and fruits to thrive. In addition to this, it also needs plenty of worms; My favorite little environmental engineers that work dutifully to break down the organic materials in the soil and turn it into super, uber, rich poop that the plants absolutely love.

      General 4-year layout that is easy to follow
      and keeps your gardens' soil healthy.
      Also! It's important to remember that different plants need different nutrients (which is why we practice crop/bed rotation).  As an example, plants from the Nightshade Family (Tomatoes, Potatoes, Eggplant) are greedy for potassium while most herbs do not care for nitrogen-rich soil.

      Here are some common plants categorized by whether or not they are heavy or light feeders, or soil improvers to help out with your garden planning.

      Heavy Feeders: Asparagus, beets, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, celery, collards, corn, kale, kohlrabi, lettuce, parsley, potatoes, spinach, squash, tomatoes.
      Light Feeders:  Carrots, garlic, leeks, mustard, onions, parsnip, peppers, radishes, rutabagas, shallots, Swiss chard, turnips.
      Soil Improvers:  Beans, beans, and beans.

      How to Improve Your Soil

      In three simple steps...

      ***As a note before we begin! The following method is difficult if you are starting up a large new garden (and breaking into new ground)! And if this is your first time gardening, I recommend starting small so your not overwhelmed!

      Our Porter Ave. garden this spring after we flipped, added manure, and chopped up the soil.  

      1.With a shovel, flip the soil in large chunks so that the grasses and weeds growing on top now are on the bottom.

      2. After flipping ALL of the soil, add your soil amendments!  I use manure and compost, but you can use fish meal, seaweed, worm castings, fallen leaves, saw dust, peat moss, etc....

      3. With a hoe, chop up and mix your soil and fertilizer until it looks ready to be planted in! 


      Easy as that!  The only flaw in this method is that it requires A LOT of work, but it is well rewarded with a beautiful crop during harvest season.  

      This is the poor-mans method, requiring no expensive machinery, fertilizers, or covers.  

      There is SO MUCH MORE that I could talk about when it comes to the soil (because soil SERIOUSLY is the MOST important part of the garden... ever).  But because I am limited by your attention span, I will refer you to the book "Start with the Soil" by Grace Gershuny.  She gives a good (and very in-depth) overview of soil and how you can improve yours.

      Good luck and happy gardening!