Sunday, June 9, 2013

El Tomate = Salsa

This week's post is going to be very lazy, and about something super delicious.  One of the greatest crops to plant in your summer garden is tomatoes because 1) they are delicious, 2) they're so useful in the kitchen, and 3) they're low-maintenance.

The hard part about planting tomatoes is deciding which type of tomato you want.  There are several varieties that serve different purposes.  You may want cherry tomatoes for simple snacking and salad-making, slicing tomatoes for your hamburgers, or perhaps you are in need of cooking tomatoes because you are obsessed with Italian food and need ridiculous amounts of red pasta sauce.  Don't be afraid to try out different tomato varieties!

When deciding upon a tomato to plant, remember that tomatoes are vines and need some type of support to help them grow upwards.  Some tomato varieties are indeterminate type tomatoes (meaning they have a longer period of time in which they produce fruit, and they grow taller)- they will need to be planted next to stakes and trained to wind around the stalk.  Other tomato varieties are determinate type tomatoes (shorter fruit producing time period, can be grown with a stake or a tomato cage).
staking method
caging method
This link and this link will give you easy steps about how to grow the best tomatoes in town.  Just in case you get too antsy, just remember to plant your tomatoes in a sunny space and don't over water (once every 5 days at the most).  When picking transplants, don't buy overgrown plants because they will have poorer root systems and will take longer to give you produce.  (P.S. if you want summer fruit, it's probably too late to start from seed. Typically, one would start seedlings in a greenhouse around March)

NOW. If you have a crap ton of tomatoes, or you just love salsa, try out this recipe!

4 C. chopped tomatoes (drained in streamer)
1/2 red onion, chopped
1 lime, juiced (if you roll it on the counter before you cut it, it helps get the juice out)
some fresh cilantro, chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, finely chopped (for peppers, set aside seeds, then add as many as needed for desired hotness)
1 serrano pepper, finely chopped

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Making Black Gold: On Composting

For those of you who have not had the pleasure of hanging out with Professor Kate Chandler, she calls dirt "black gold".  She also gets very excited about the prospect of making compost.  Everyone should take some inspiration from our dear English professor because we're losing valuable fertile soil at a ridiculous rate due to overuse of soil, lack of biodiversity, erosion, compaction, imbalances in organic matter, etc., thus making soil a very valuable resource.  We can help to decrease the rate of our losses by helping the Earth to regain a little soil health.  Composting is a solution- can you see why Kate is so excited about it?

lasagna garden- plant right into the compost!

Composting is very easy and anyone can do it (it's certainly easier than formatting this blog)! There are several methods:
compost tumbler
open-air compost bin

hot compost bin

To save space, posted below will be some links where you can find out more about composting.  If you're too lazy to do all this reading, you could swing by the farm and ask any of the farm managers or Kate about how to compost because we partake in all of these composting methods at the farm.  Just so ya know, we at the farm utilize all of our resources to make our compost and upkeep our school's sustainable agenda- food scraps from Bon App, coffee grinds from the Grind, leaves from Kate's backyard, weeds and old plants from the farm, and manual labor. It's a real community effort. So, next time you grab a coffee from the Grind or eat a cantaloupe from the Great Room- just remember that the scraps are eventually going to be dirt.

Helpful site describing the different kinds of composting: 
How to make a lasagna garden:
An excellent compost bucket you can use in your kitchen to collect food scraps- $20 at Bed, Bath and Beyond (tested by blogger):

Compostable Materials

• Leaves
• Grass clippings
• Brush trimmings
• Manure (preferably organic)
• Any non-animal food scraps: fruits, vegetables, peelings, bread, cereal, coffee grounds and filters, tea leaves and tea bags (preferably minus the staples)
• Old wine
• Pet bedding from herbivores ONLY -- rabbits, hamsters, etc.
• Dry cat or dog food
• Dust from sweeping and vacuuming
• Dryer lint
• Old herbs and spices

Need Prep or Special Time
All of these items can be added to compost, but if you just toss them into a normal heap, they may still be there, virtually unchanged, a season or two later. Be prepared.

• Shredded newspaper, receipts, paper bags, etc (any non-glossy paper)
• Tissues, paper toweling, and cotton balls -- unless soaked with bacon fat, kerosene, makeup, or other stuff that doesn't belong in the pile!
• Cardboard, egg cartons, toilet rolls
• Used clothes, towels, and sheets made from natural fabrics -- cotton, linen, silk, wool, bamboo
• Old string & twine made of natural fabrics
• Pine needles
• Pine cones
• Saw dust
• Wood chips
• Nut shells
• Twigs
• Hair, human or otherwise
• Old, dry pasta
• Nut shells
• Corn cobs
• Pits from mangos, avocados, peaches, plums, etc.
• Toothpicks, wine corks

• Raspberry & blackberry brambles
• Long twigs or big branches

Real No-Nos
• Pet droppings, especially dogs & cats
• Animal products -- meat, bones, butter, milk, fish skins