I first read Helen Nearing’s The Good Life twelve years ago and was inspired move toward a more sustainable and Earth-centered lifestyle. When we purchased this land, christened it as Red Sunflower Farm, and saw the abundance of stone in the hills and especially in the creek, I wanted to try Helen’s slipform method of building with stone. Finally, I’ve taken the plunge.
This precast concrete box, an eyesore sitting next to the house, has been patiently waiting for six years to become a root cellar. In order to function as such, it must be covered with soil. Walls on either side of the insulated door will allow me to do that.
Here’s how it works. Heavy wooden boxes held in place and filled with rocks and mortar.
After building the first tier, leaving the forms in place for too long, and not being careful about how much mortar was pushed to the front, we ended up with a stone and concrete wall. On the first “slip” or “lift” to create the second tier, we were more careful about the placement of mortar in an attempt to have only rock showing. The results are obvious as there is a vast difference between the first and second layer. We’ll continue to improve. Anyone who wants to learn how to do this, contact me and we’ll set up a time.
We make a lot of pesto at the farm and mostly use it for appetizers when we have guests. To make pesto, all you need is olive oil, garlic, parmesan cheese, and nuts and greens of some kind. For nuts we’ve used pine nuts, walnuts, and almonds; for greens we’ve used garlic scapes, basil, watercress, and garlic mustard, a wild highly invasive weed that grows everywhere on the farm. We like garlic mustard pesto because unlike basil, which oxidizes and turns black after being exposed to air after a short time, garlic mustard pesto stays green.
Garlic mustard proliferates in April. So we invited some friends and had a pesto-making party. Three food processors were humming in our big kitchen and before long, everyone was packing containers with the precious stuff.
We took the Joy of Cooking recipe and altered it somewhat:
1 ½ cups fresh green leaves, bathed and dried in a salad spinner
2 garlic cloves, minced
¾ cup grated Parmesan cheese
¼ cup nuts
¾ cup olive oil
Put all but the olive oil in a food processor with the chopping blade. Turn the machine on, then add the olive oil until you get the consistency of creamed butter. That’s it!
Notes: - You’ll use less olive oil when using a succulent green like watercress.
- If you are using garlic scapes or garlic mustard as your greens, use only one garlic clove per batch.
I don't know about you but it feels as though winter has been hanging on forever. With 13 gallons of maple syrup and 2 gallons of Black Walnut syrup for sale, we are looking to the spring growing season with excitement.
This is curly dock. It's an alien invasive weed. Because it's not poisonous, some websites refer to it as an edible weed. IMHO, just because it's not poisonous, doesn't mean I should eat it, especially when I have much more tasty things growing in the high tunnel. It's root, if met with a tiller, slices up into pieces that rapidly take root. We want to suppress these weeds and prevent them and other weeds from competing with our vegetables.
The magnificent magnolia just on the skirt of the kitchen garden decided one day to bloom. It's as if it is reaching to the sky. Off in the distance the flaps are up on the high tunnel and and we are harvesting greens of all sorts.
We reported in our post about our intern, Emil, that Baxter has been confirmed as the duck egg thief. Since then we have made a nest in the kitchen garden for the ducks to lay. Just the other day, we found them in the lavender, nesting on two fake and one real egg. Minutes later, the females squawked making an awful noise and the vigilant males, who keep watch over the laying hens, were at the gate to answer the call.
Our raised beds and seedlings are doing well in the high tunnel. We are busy getting things into the ground for our summer crops. This year, as part of the Sustainable FarmShare C.S.A.(http://www.farmsharecsa.com) we are providing local families and couples with food grown without chemicals of any kind. We're happy to share our food and build community. We are blessed with so many friends of local, sustainable farming.
Perhaps the most beautiful thing about the farm is the blooming of the bluebells. On approach, our guests are greeted by fields of soft blue color in April. Many wild plants grow on the farm, and many we forage, using in salads. Things such as mustard greens, plantain, dandelions, garlic mustard and more. Next to our spring house, we have plenty of watercress to serve in salad, on sandwiches, and in recipes.Still the wildest, most beautiful of these is the tender bluebell.