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Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Fall on the Western Slope in Colorado....Preparing for Winter

Winter seems to be coming one day and then we have lovely 70+ degree weather the next. Unfortunately, most gardens have been hit by a hungry group of grass hoppers so as much as I don't want to see this lovely weather go along with my outdoor garden, I am eager for a couple of good frosts to end the grasshopper attack in hopes that my kale and tatsoi will survive and thrive into winter.

So with my indoor garden, I have started kale, tatsoi and am allowing some to grow into larger plants and just planted seeds of broccoli, purple kohlrabi, beets,  kale and sunflowers. My friend, David Roslin, and I are hosting a couple of workshops on Bokashi composting and Microgreens in a couple of weeks.

Have any of you tried Bokashi composting? Living in the woods where bears and other hungry critters would love to explore a compost pile, the fermenting process in the Bokashi method makes the vegetable matter less appealing. I will share more about this wonderful and easy method in the next blog.

For now, I just want to share that I have successfully growing a number of brassica microgreens (which I normally soak for 8 hours and sprout) without soaking or sprouting. Pictures will be forthcoming of my second crops once they take off.

Remember you don't need direct sunlight for microgreens. The only ones that really seem to like it direct are sunflowers. I have been planting many more sunflower seeds successfully in a small tray (5.31 x 14.5" x almost 3" high) about 1/3 cup and getting great germination. I am planting my broccoli and other small microgreens smaller apart which is easier with them being dry...about 1/2 teaspoon dry in the same size tray. Then I transplant some into a larger tray (see below) and am growing them to be much larger...with a little liquid seaweed fertilizer once they are a couple of weeks old.

They are all on a three level rack(see below) which makes it easy to water on the solid trays (also from GreenhouseMegastore.com).




Here are a couple of pics from the Western Slope of CO: Black Canyon and McClure Pass



Happy Fall to all!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Buckwheat as a microgreen,support for garden pests, attractor of beneficial insects, and soil enrichment

Wow, if you haven't grown buckwheat as a microgreen or as a cover crop or pest deterrent, check out this article and look forward to many benefits of this valuable plant.
This is an excerpt from a much more comprehensive view of buckwheat:  http://www.growveg.com/growblogpost.aspx?id=184

Battling Bugs with Buckwheat

Buckwheat flowers attract honeybees and other pollinators with theirmorning nectar flow, but they also support healthy populations of smaller beneficial insects. Mounting evidence suggests that blooming buckwheat give a significant boost to important beneficial species, particularly hoverflies (properly known as Syrphid flies but commonly called hoverflies because of their seemingly effortless ability to hover). On both sides of the Atlantic, researchers are finding that growing buckwheat nearby can deter pests of potato, broccoli, green beans, and other vegetable crops, in part by providing abundant food for female hoverflies. Most hoverfly larvae are too small to see without a magnifying glass, but they are voracious predators of aphids and other small, soft-bodied insects.
Organic growers who use buckwheat as a primary pest-prevention strategy have found that it’s important to grow buckwheat within about 20 feet (6 meters) of crop plants, which is easily done in a garden. Upright yet spindly, buckwheat plants have such shallow roots that they are easy to pull up with the flick of a wrist. A few buckwheat seeds sown among potatoes are known to confuse potential pests, and a broad band of buckwheat makes a fine beneficial backdrop for strawberries. Throughout the summer, I sow buckwheat in any spot bigger than a dinner plate that won’t be planted for a few weeks. With good weather, buckwheat can go from seed to bloom in a little over a month.

Here are my two uses: as a microgreen..and as a cover crop and support for my raised bed garden.
The microgreens are easy to grow and are pretty hearty in size and very mild in taste.
 As some of you heard, I didn't plant my garden until late July (except for buckwheat cover crop). So I have a rich crop of buckwheat nourishing my soil (which was rather depleted). I removed a lot of it today as you may be able to see in the last photo.

I am hoping to harvest a few green beans, beets, tatsoi, kale, spinach, lettuce etc. and maybe a cauliflower.
What are you growing in your garden?

Friday, August 15, 2014

Summer Learning in Colorado mountains and delicious ways to enjoy your microgreens

Well, we are back from our travels, and our neighbors: mama and baby bears have moved on. My fall garden is planted and happily accepting transplanted microgreens of tatsoi and kale. My cover crop of buckwheat (which I planted in June) came back to life after our return with regular watering, and hopefully will improve our clay soil. Today I'll share microgreens and soon I'll takes some pics of the outdoor raised bed garden.

I promised to share sunflower greens, pea shoots, buckwheat, kale and tatsoi with a friend. So, I planted a whole small tray of each. This dry climate slows down sunflowers a bit, but the rest are thriving. Also I found that my last harvest of sunflowers looked a bit scraggly, so I gave everything a shot of seaweed fertilizer. I think it was worth doing as the sunflowers really improved and have good sturdy stalks. Everyone else appreciated one dose of diluted liquid seaweed fertilizer from our local organic gardening store.

I am starting an experiment with my next planting. I love microgreens...yet I do want larger broccoli, kale and tatsoi. So I planted my smallest tray with about 8-10 tatsoi and will plant maybe 20 broccoli tomorrow in another small tray. As my beautiful plants grow to a healthy 2-3 inches tall when I transplant them, why not get that first growth and use less seeds initially?

What are you planting inside or out this summer?

Here are some pics from my current crop: a jungle of shoot peas, buckwheat greens, tatsoi and kale.



So what do I do with these beauties: first I make a smoothie with:
1/2 c. coconut milk (I use Edward's Coconut cream from Vitacost or locally)
1/2-1 banana (or avocado)
1/3 c. blueberries (and one piece of fruit i.e. peach)
1 cup of microgreens
1 tsp peeled fresh  or less of ground ginger
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
optional: hempseed, chia seed, goji berries

Depending on how thick you like it, you can add ice or more liquid. I also will put in 1-2Tb. cacao powder and 2 Tb. sweetener for a change sometimes.

Later, I have my new favorite salad topped with microgreens. It comes from Danielle Walker's cookbook:
Against All Grains.

Essentially it is a cole slaw with various cabbage, julienned carrots, steamed broccoli, sweet peppers and fresh basil. I make a double recipe (about 4+ cups of vegs) and double dressing and let it flavor the vegs for half an hour before diving in and topping it with microgreens. Danielle also includes a fresh mango in her version.

The dressing is awesome:

Thai ”Peanut” Vinaigrette
1 ½ Tb. Almond butter
1 ½ Tb. Cilantro (I usually put in basil instead since we both love it)
1 Tb. Coconut aminos or soy sauce
1 Tb. Apple cider vinegar
1 tsp. minced garlic
1 inch piece ginger, peeled and grated
1/4 tsp. sea salt
¼ c. melted coconut oil
Place all ingredients, except oil, in blender or small food processor. Blend until smooth.
With machine on, slowly drizzle in the oil in a steady stream. Continue until all emulsified.

Note: I use less oil than it says and sometimes add a little more salt, ginger, vinegar and basil to pick up the flavors further.

Enjoy...more ideas to come....


Thursday, June 5, 2014

Summer is here

With our weather in the mid to high 80's, we seem to have had a very brief spring though the night temperature dropped 59 degrees! Mountain living is wonderful at this time of year.
I want to share a couple of sunsets from our mountain retreat(winter followed by spring sunset) followed by a couple of new plantings and some info on growing microgreens in this dry climate.


Here are a couple of our neighbors..........
 I planted this mizuna dry and covered it well in its bed of well moistened soil and topped it with a damp paper towel and an inverted tray. In just 3 days ...in this very dry climate, it was poking up through the soil.
Microgreens need to be watered at least twice a day and sometimes three times each day until they germinate.
And below is buckwheat lettuce...very mild and pleasant. (And a great cover crop for your garden). This is soaked overnight, sprouted a couple of days (it is quick in this dry climate) and only took about five days to be ready to eat at this warm time of year.


Enjoy and please let me know if I can be of assistance. We all need to grow some of our food year round, and this takes a few minutes a day. The greens can be cut and stored for about 7 days.