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Here Come the Harvests

July 15th, 2019

If you follow me on Instagram you’ve been seeing the various things I’m harvesting from the edible garden. This spring was very slow to get going, in fact we’re still having nighttime temperatures in the 50’s. The result has been that things have been growing much more slowly than usual, the season is most likely going to be compressed in the middle. Typically, I’ve been harvesting broccoli, peas, lettuce, beets, radishes, and other cool temperatur vegetables right now. While I have been able to harvest lettuce last month, most of the cool season vegetable are just coming on as the warm season vegetables are starting to come on as well.

This past week I have harvested: bulb fennel, lettuce, onions, broccoli, peas (both shelling & sugar snap), zucchini, peppers, strawberries, and garlic. It’s certainly lovely to be able to enjoy home grown vegetable for every meal. Today we had zucchini, onions, and peppers for breakfast with eggs. For lunch I made broccoli salad with homegrown broccoli, onions, peas, and garlic. For dinner we will enjoy a lettuce salad.

What are you harvesting this week?

From the Beginning

June 25th, 2013

When we got our Muscovy ducklings last fall, we knew they’d eventually become food for our table. Some people have a hard time understanding how we can possibly slaughter an animal that we raised, particularly when they’re so cute as babies.
ducklings 3
Being meat eaters, we want to make sure that the meat we’re eating was raised with respect. Nowadays, it’s not difficult to find local farmers that raise their animals in the best conditions possible. Even with that, we’d rather do it ourselves if we can. By taking part in each step of the process I know exactly how that animal was treated and what it was fed.
When you first see sweet little ducklings, it can be hard to imagine that they’ll ever grace your table. But, as with most animals, the males start to grow up and nature takes over. They become aggressive towards each other and often towards you. It wasn’t as difficult as I thought to cull our male ducks, they were beating up on each other and occasionally trying to attack us.
ducks 2
We kept one gray male and the one remaining female (two of our females were lost to fox predation). The lady duck is currently sitting on a nest of eggs, we’re hoping she’ll hatch out a nice clutch of ducklings in early July.
ducks in kiddie pool
For the same reason I like to grow my own vegetables, I am raising my own meat. There’s just something about being involved from the beginning with what appears on your plate. When these ducks were small they were fed potatoes grown in my garden with greens harvested from the lawn. They lived happy lives splashing in a kiddie pool outside my kitchen window.   When the time came, they were slaughtered right here on the premises, no stressful travel to a processing facility. We wanted to take part in every part of the process to ensure it was done in a respectful way.
braised duck
duck breast prosciutto
After slaughter, they were seared, braised and salted & cured. I must say, they were delicious.  It’s certainly easier to let someone else handle the raising and slaughter of your animals, but I’m not one to go for ease and convenience.
ducks 3
Another reason to raise your own animals is because there are other benefits.  These ducks mowed the lawn and controlled insects while they were foraging. They also produced quality fertilizer for my garden in the process.   I also like knowing that 100% of the animal was used, their feathers were added to the compost pile, their bones were made into a nourishing stock for us and then converted to bone char to improve the soil in our garden.  Raising my own animals allows me to tighten the circle of my garden and it allows me to be 100% certain that everything that goes into my food was produced in the best way possible.
With lady duck sitting on a nest of eggs, the process will hopefully start all over again soon. We’re definitely looking forward to braised duck this coming winter! Even though raising animals from the beginning is more work than picking them up at the grocery store or the farmers market, they truly are a blessing to have around. These duckies provided us with lots of laughs along the way. I’m certainly glad we decided to keep ducks and there will always be a place for a small flock in the gardens of Chiot’s Run!

Have you ever raised an animal that ended up on your table?

Pure Joy

April 4th, 2013

Sitting down to a meal of things that were produced here is a wonderful thing.  On Tuesday night we did just that.  I finally harvested that lettuce I started in containers a month ago.
lettuce harvest 1 (1)
We enjoyed it topped with: venison tenderloin produced by Mr Chiots (aka the fearless hunter), eggs from our very own flock, seaweed from Mt Rose Herbs, cheese from a local dairy, and an avocado purchased at the co-op (the small farm I usually order from doesn’t have any yet).  We topped it all off with a Meyer lemon vinaigrette, which was made with lemons I bought from Lemon Ladies Orchard and olive oil from Chaffin Family Orchards.
lettuce harvest 2 (1)
Boy was it delicious, once I get my avocado tree growing and a few dairy sheep I’ll be all set for this meal to be 100% home produced. Actually, I’ll probably never have those things, but I enjoy eating as much as I can from my garden!

Do you have anything you dream of growing for yourself but probably won’t?

Can’t Find It? Grow It Yourself

November 1st, 2012

Last year I started making kimchi and Mr Chiots and I LOVED it. The only problem was, I couldn’t find the Korean peppers to use, so I used my homegrown cayennes. Since I couldn’t find any, I decided I’d just have to grow them myself.

I ordered seed for Korean Chili Peppers from Baker Creek last fall and almost forgot about them when spring planting time rolled around. Luckily, I remember just in time and I ended up with 10 beautiful plants. They produced quite prolifically and I ended up with a bounty of both red and green peppers.

The red ones I have been drying and the green ones I’ll probably pickle, but I may dry them as well (depends on how much time I have). Yesterday, I finally got around to mixing up my first batch of Kimchi and I can hardly wait for it to be done.

Why do we eat kimchi? Because it’s full of all kinds of healthy goodness with the garlic, ginger, onions, cabbage, peppers and probiotics. It boosts the immune system and helps keep us healthy all winter long. I’m really excited to try this batch with real Korean peppers, the week can’t be over soon enough!

Have you ever grown an ingredient specifically for one recipe?

My kimchi recipe is now posted over on Eat Outside the Bag.

It is August now

August 1st, 2012

It is August now. There are currants and gooseberries to preserve, tomatoes to tie up and watch anxiously for the first ripening, potatoes to rob of the smallest, most succulent tubers, cucumbers to take when they are as slender as a finger, the last few pods of peas to eat raw as we gather salads for every meal. It is August, and the garden is paradise.

Joe Eck & Wayne Winterrowd in Living Seasonally: The Kitchen Garden and the Table at North Hill

These guys live in Vermont, so their gardens are a little behind mine here in Ohio. I’d have to categorize June/July as the paradise months in the garden. Though the tomatoes don’t really come on until August so you have give August some love for that reason.

Peas are long gone here in NE Ohio, they quit producing when the temperature starts heating up in June. They’ve been replaced by beans, both bush and climbing. Only have handful of beans have been harvested so far, but soon enough I’ll be picking them by the bowlful!

The salad plants are also a distant memory except for a few pungent arugula plants that are still hanging on. I quite like very peppery arugula so we’ve been enjoying it on sandwiches.

The peppers are leafing out nicely and just starting to bloom. A few small Thai pepper plants have a few fruits. Luckily I scored a few green peppers from a local farmer at the market last week. Those were cooked up into sloppy joes.

Potatoes have been coming on for over a month now. Yukon Gold and a red variety (most like Cranberry) have been gracing our plates. In a few weeks my Kennebec will be ready to harvest and tucked away in the pantry.

The garlic and about half of the onions were harvested. They are being replaced with a late planting of beans, beets and various herbs. The red onions will be ready to harvest this week and a few late plantings will be harvested next month.

My mom’s potager is doing really well this year. All of the years she’s spent building the soil is really paying off. Her soil retains water better than most because of all of the organic matter she adds each year. Check back Saturday for a tour of her garden when I was over last week.

What’s the best month of the year for your edible garden?

Reading & Watching

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.