Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Garlic, herbs and compost diving dinner

Jay and I put our garden to rest for the year. We spent a beautiful October day in our community garden preparing a bed to plant garlic and harvesting the last of the herbs.

Planting garlic
Last week I prepared a large piece of cardboard according to a wonderful schematic that I learned during my garlic class a few weeks ago. The piece of cardboard was conveniently the width of the bed where I wanted to plant garlic, and I measured out and cut holes in a alternating pattern which facilitated making sure the garlic cloves were spaced evenly.

Practically speaking, however, we found ourselves picking the cardboard up to dig a hole or place the clove and we finally decided that a string stretched the length of the bed with marks at the appropriate spaces would be easier to work with.

I hunted down some bale twine (it's lying all over the garden) and grabbed a black magic marker and tape measure that I always keep in my car and we quickly made a planting guide. Our garlic is five inches apart in rows (I split the difference between the recommended four to six inches), rows six inches from one another.

This year we planted six different types of garlic. I bought four new seed stock, and planted seed stock from two varieties we grew this year. We buried the whole thing in hay and it's now nice to think that something wonderful and green will come up early next spring.

Harvesting herbs
We also harvested a little lavender, most of the rosemary stems, and all of the anise hyssop, and  buried the whole thing in a heavy layer of hay mulch to keep it from freezing and thawing next spring. I have not had much luck overwintering Rosemary indoors or lavender outdoors, and am hoping that this helps. I am pretty sure the winter will kill the rosemary but the lavender has a fighting chance. The herbs went into the dehydrator, and Jay made a tea out of the anise hyssop after dinner. Absolutely aromatic and wonderful.

Compost diving for dinner
When I dropped things off in the compost pile I found a stalk of brussels sprouts. The brussels sprouts were small, I'm sure that's why a gardener threw it away. But what that Gardner did not know is my delicious recipe for cabbage soup that also can use brussels sprout plant leaves. Here's a link to that recipe in case you have cabbage or brussels sprouts that you want to cook up. We made it for dinner. Delicious.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Free permaculture class

Sorry this is so late, but if you're free Monday night Oct 29. and are interested in learning more about permaculture practices, this is for you.

*Introduction to Permaculture*

This *free* class will provide an overview of Permaculture. Learn about
ways to design sustainable systems. The three core tenants of Permaculture
are care of the earth, care of people, and sharing of the surplus.
Permaculture principles, plant guilds, and layers of a food forest will be
discussed. The class will have an empasis on designing for shady yards,
but the information will be applicable to other settings as well.

This class is free and open to the public. *Madison Area Community Land
Trust* <> is a sponosor of this class. This
class is held on Monday, October 29, 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at Warner Park
Community Rec Center, 1625 Northport Dr Madison, WI 53704.

Mary Eberle
First Step Renew, LLC

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Blog for a blog

I work for American Family Insurance headquartered where I live in Madison, Wis. We just started a customer-facing blog and I was asked to write a post about my experience with our corporate community garden. Thought you'd like to see it.

This spring, seven gardeners moved 150 bales of hay one night to make way for our 2012 garden expansion.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Time to plant garlic - and a garlic problem

A couple of weekends ago Jay and I cleared out our community garden beds. We threw a lot of green tomatoes in the compost pile, but after having processed nearly 50 pounds of green tomatoes into salsa and a wonderful pie filling, I didn't feel too bad about adding some green material (pun intended) to our growing compost heap. Now, ask me about the folks who threw perfectly good red tomatoes in the compost and I have a different thing to say ;)

I'm now ready to do the last bit of garden work before leaving it alone until next spring. It's time to plant garlic! I ordered four new varieties of garlic from Territorial Seed Company,  and am going to plant them and some cloves from the garlic I raised myself this year.

I bought 8 ounces of each and will plant 30 cloves. This left me with some leftover which I am going to sell to a friend who didn't get her order in time (they're all sold out of the 2012 seed stock). Read more about planting garlic.

So you can imagine my surprise and disappointment when I cracked open some of the biggest crowns I had reserved for just this occasion to discover some of the cloves look diseased, desiccated and somewhat shrunken. I went online to see what it could be, and it appears that what I see is called “waxy breakdown of garlic.”

I took a photo of a healthy looking clove and one of these discolored clothes, and I also found an image online with a similar comparison.

Samples from my stored garlic, discovered Oct. 14 while preparing some for seed. The "waxy" sample on the left, and you can see it starting on the top of the "good" clove on the right.

An image from the Oregon State University Extension.

This article says that there isn't much that can be done about it, but what I want to know is can I eat them? I'm certainly not going to plant these inferior-looking cloves, but I'm distressed that all of this wonderful garlic may be going bad while I'm storing it to be eaten!

Anyone else experience this? Your thoughts? Thanks for your ideas and suggestions.

Free composting class 10/20

Saturday, October 20th
Composting Workshop with Joanne Tooley this coming Sunday at Guild Hoop

- Madison Area Permaculture Guild's Hoop House
- Token Creek Eco-Inn, 3919 Gray Rd., DeForest, WI (exit at Hwy. 19
and head east to Portage Rd.) Turn left and go right before the corner of
Portage and Gray Rd. Pull into back driveway and park in grassy area.
- 1-2:30 pm
- Taught by Guild Member, Master Composter and Permaculturist, Joanne Tooley
- Joanne Tooley is a master composter and has experience in composting using 3 different methods: Thermophilic, Bokashi and vermicomposting. Her Composting 101 class is an introductory about each method and provides enough information for you to choose the best method for your situation.