Search Results for 'potato'

We are freshly back from vacation and, just like last year, have blight on our tomato leaves. Keith’s comment that will stick with me for a while is, “Spots scare me.”

Me too. We got in a 2:30 in the morning, woke up around 9 and proceeded to pick off all the spotty leaves and spray with Bonide (organic) fungicide spray. We already have tomatoes setting and so we hope to save the crop. 49 plants this year. Fingers crossed.

Here’s what’s happened to the rest of the crops:

Beans: dead

Basil: chewed

Edamame: Looks like crap. I promised this was the last year. It will be.

Acorn Squash: Looks good

Pumpkins: Look good

Cukes: Good

Peas: Holy crap, they shot right up

Lettuce: Mostly bolted, I pulled all but a few heads and will put in a summer crop of carrots

Shallots: Great

Cilantro: Can’t find it

Husk Cherries: Taking over my pansies like a weed. Hooray.

Hot peppers: Not bad, not good. Just sort of there.

Potatoes: WOWSY. I went and purchased more Coast of Maine Compost and Peat to hill them up. The greens are over the tops of the bins. Pics to come (I know posts without pictures are boring, but hey, I was busy, did you see the part about the blight?)

Weeds: Lookin’ real good. Our best crop, actually.

My potato haiku…ahem…

I love potatoes

Mashed, Roasted or as Salad

Ideal comfort food

On January 2, I ordered the Rare Potato Mix through Southern Exposure Seed Exchange.  They arrived 2 weeks ago and smiled at me through their pretty, colorful bags. The potatoes were from Wood Prarie Farm in Bridgewater, ME.

2.5 pounds of Cranberry Red, 2.5 pounds of Carola, 1 pound of Russian Banana Fingerling and 1 pound of Rose Finn Apple Fingerling – all ready to take their place in the DaisyPatch. Then it rained. All weekend. I know, I know, what’s a little rain? I didn’t feel like dealing with it in the rain.

So they waited. This was the weekend of the potato. A few years ago, we made “bins” of chicken wire and filled them with soil, using them as planters for the potatoes. We got potatoes and a lot of slugs who made their way through the chicken wire. Last year, we tried 5 gallon buckets with drainage holes drilled in the bottom. We got potatoes, but not very many. The containers were just too small. So, finally, I got to it this past weekend.

Step 1. Move plants and weed.

Step 2. Lay down landscape fabric.

Step 3. Bring out the chicken wire fencing and grab the wire cutters.

Step 4. Make bins. Step 5. Fill with compost.

Step 6. Plant seed potatoes. Cover with more compost. Label.

I didn’t count the steps where I went inside to get bandaids because the chicken wire snagged my leg. Or the 4 bandaids – one for each blister on my right hand from the wire cutters.  Those are extra steps I hope to skip next year.
Now, we water, watch, “hill” by adding more compost as the greens emerge. And wait. Mmm. They came with a recipe for Buttermilk Potato Soup. Doesn’t that just sound delish?

My Seed Catalog haiku…ahem…

Oh Seed Catalogs!

With all your varieties

Can’t we get them all?

As I pore over seed brochures, I need to recall lessons from last year when we overcrowded things a bit. (Ok, more than “a bit”). We also realized that we want more varieties of things. How the hell are we supposed to accomodate more types of veggies? We didn’t really have too much go to waste (except during the tomato blight).

So, what is a homesteader to do? I think the solution is to plant more varieties, but fewer plants of each. This way, we can try more things. Also, I need to add some things to the list that I forgot last year:

  • Zucchini
  • Sugar Pumpkins
  • Butternut Squash
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • and of course…daisies (although not a vegetable, I do find it necessary to have some daisies considering our homestead is called The Daisy Patch)

I need to plant fewer of the following:

  • Basil (I know, can you believe it? We had so much though.)
  • Lettuce
  • Green Peppers
  • Husk Cherries (WHAT? But you love those! True, but they naturally re-seeded themselves and grew all over the damn property and by the side of the road, there is NO reason we have to start as any this year.)
  • Scallions
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Cucumbers – maybe just 1 less.

And more of…

  • Edamame (ONE LAST TIME and then THIS IS IT! If I don’t get them to work this year, I will NEVER try them again.)
  • Thyme
  • Salad tomatoes (We lost them to the blight and were left mostly with plum and Reistomate)
  • Potatoes

Now it is time for some new things. This is where I am stuck. I have no clue what we would like. We did not like Brussells Sprouts (thanks anyway, Doreen!) We did like Parsnips. So any recomendations for some newer things we might like? Please note they’ll need to be able to grow in the North East. Thanks!

And Merry Christmas (on a Christmas side note…I plan to bake like a fiend this week. I finished one knitting project, hope to finish another and still have some Christmas Shopping to do. It’s going to be a great week (I mean it – I love this stuff!))

1 3-lb roaster chicken


Fresh Thyme and Rosemary


Butternut Squash



*Preheat oven to 375.  You know the drill – remove giblets, wash and salt the cavity. Pat the chicken dry.  Cut 4 slices of butter and rub between skin and breast. (I leave butter chunks under there). Salt and pepper the outside. Take a bunch of thyme and a sprig of rosemary and stuff in the cavity (remember, you have to get it out after, so “place it” versus “stuff it” might be better way of wording it.)

Put in the meat thermometer and roast. Don’t cover it, well, maybe some foil on the ends of the drumsticks.

While it’s in there, chop the veggies to unif0rm size. Throw in a casserole dish. More pats of butter on top and sprinkle brown sugar-(not a ton, maybe 3 tbsp) on top. Put in next to the bird. Cook until chicken is internal temp of 180. Veggies should be not squishy soft, but soft (like, no knife soft). During cooking time, give the veggies a stir every once in a while.

Make gravy with pan drippings. Enjoy that warm satisfaction deep in the belly that you grew a lot of this meal yourself, being thankful that someone else knows how to kill chickens for you.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Ps…sorry no pictures, it went in my belly too fast!

I mean, it always feels good to eat, but somehow, it just feels better when you grew it yourself. We’ve been eating the veggies we picked and preserved. Here is a dinner Keith made. Halibut, our potatoes, our parsnips and our tomatoes and tomato sauce. Oh, and our herbs (and yes, he always arranges the plate artfully, not just for the blog photo! I love that. DaisyPatchFarm Bistro serves up some beautiful plates!)

 So, to the left are our fingerling potatoes, the parsnip is in the middle and (another I forget the type isn’t that awful? I’m too lazy right now to go get our gardening notes) potato. The tomatoes were reduced and added to our sauce with some herbs and the halibut was pan-seared. That’s our parsley too. Can I just say?  It was pretty damn good.  Of course, the fingerling potato looks like a doody and the parsnip looks like the finger of a dead person, but who cares? Nummy.

I entered the kitchen yesterday morning to find this posted above the compost pot (you can see my compost pot here).

If you can’t read it due to my camera-illiteracy, it says, “Save egg shells & coffee grinds.” Keith had been doing some homework.  Crushed egg shells are full of calcium which is great for plant growth and coffee grounds are high in nitrogen, tannic acids and other nutrients that acid-loving plants especially love (read: tomatoes!)  They also ward off slugs and we’ll do anything to ward off slugs. Ok, that was an OBVIOUS statement. Of course, anyone would do anything to ward off slugs. Slugs are pretty gross. (Click here for a picture.) Have you ever accidentally grabbed one with your bare fingers while weeding? Guh! The feeling of a slug getting squished in your hand will send involunatary shivers of, “Bluh! That was icky” all down your body and make you have to pee. I am NOT making this up!  (or is it just me?)

We’ve used the natural slug pellets around our plants, but that gets expensive. I’ve sprinkled them with salt, but that only takes care of the ones you can see and there is just something about the act of shaking salt directly ON the slug and watching it, in fascinated horror, foam up and disentegrate (picture, the Wicked Witch, “I’m melting, I’m melting) that, even though it is a creepy, slimy bug that eats our plants, makes me feel uncomfortable.  We’ve done the “Bury a cup of beer in the ground” trick, but quite honestly, I don’t want to spare the beer – beer belongs in one of 3 places, the fridge, the cooler or the belly.  NOT in the ground. Beer is better used for husband-bait (“Honey, it’s hot. Let’s go in for a beer”) than for slug bait. 

Last year, the little slimeballs ate sections of potatoes, took chunks out of the strawberries and munched  holes through my hostas and sweet peas.

I have written a slug haiku

Oh slugs, I hate you

You will eat my strawberries

Crawl on salt and die

So, it Keith’s espresso habit will ward off slugs and help us do this organically, then I say, “Don’t worry about the  jitters honey, they’ll wear off. Drink up! It’s for the garden.”

I need inspiration! It is grey out. Granted, it is 7AM on a January Saturday morning, it is allowed to be grey, but I just want to growl. Not a,  “Who’s at the door?” growl or, “That’s MY food dish” growl, just one of those low in the throat, grumpy growls that, when someone else hears it, they know EXACTLY how you feel. Grey, grumpy, GROWLY.


Just opening!

I bought this Amaryllis on sale after Christmas.  $5. It has no leaves, just a funny, phallic 23 inch-tall stem with buds at the top that just started to open. This pretty flower blooming in front of a window that only shows grey beyond it will have to be my inspiration to trudge through what I think it the most annoying part of the gardening life cycle – starting seeds. I’d rather weed.

You would think that the miracle of adding water to a little speck and ending up with a tomato or a zucchini or, yum, Husk Cherries (more on those later!) would awe and excite me. NOPE. Hate it. If every speck became a plant, I’d love it, but the stress of seeing the pan of dirt STAY a pan of dirt without so much as, “Nope, Jenn, no plants here, move along” really makes me irritated. I am impatient. I know this about myself, my loved ones definitely know this about me. A trait gardeners need to have is patience. You can’t rush an heirloom tomato that matures in 70-80 days or else you’re eating it green. Patience is a virtue, blah blah blah. Whatever.

Husk Cherries (physalis), also named Ground Cherries, Cape Gooseberries, Husk Tomatoes, and Pineapple Tomatillos are a supreme test of my patience.

Husk Cherries

We discovered these little babies when we joined a CSA 2 Summers ago. It run by a young couple who were leasing the land from an organic farmer. We signed up for 1/2 share, suggested for a family of 2 non-vegetarians. Every Friday, either Keith or I would pick up our veggies in the shed at the CSA (Community Supported Agrigulture.) There would be a sign saying what our share was for the week like, 2 pounds tomatoes, 2 bunches Kale, 1 bunch Swiss Chard, 2 cucumbers, etc. I could also pick flowers, herbs and, when indicated on a sign in the shed, head down into the gardens for the PYO. Sometimes PYO (pick-your-own) consisted of  green beans, cherry tomatoes, or arugula. One day, while picking greenbeans and doing some weeding of the bed (encouraged if you were a “GOOD” CSA member, which I surely wanted to be!), the husband of the couple who ran the CSA was a few garden beds past me and said, “Ooh, the Husk Cherries are starting to ripen! Love these.”  I asked him what he was talking about and he picked one for me. He told me to take the husk off (no -brainer, didn’t look edible) and just eat it.

I am not a huge fan of eating tomatoes off the vine. I like tomatoes, don’t get me wrong. Put them with something else like mozzarella and proscuitto and some olive oil, I am all about the tomato, but eating off the vine not so much. It was yellowish-tan. It looked sour. I put it in my mouth with major trepidation, internally cringing at the thought that when I bit down, this little berry or whatever it was, was going to burst ickiness and sourness in my mouth. Shudder.

I love good surprises. It was so good.  The flavor was a combination of sweet cream butter, strawberry and tomato. Or maybe pineapple, strawberry and tomato. I brought as many home as I could pick. Keith loved  them too. Put them in an Arugula salad with toasted pine nuts and fresh goat cheese and you’re in for a treat.  For the rest of the season, every Friday, I picked as many as I could to bring home. We shared with friends and co-workers – apparently, we weren’t the only ones who had never heard these little guys.

It has been a while since I added a picture to this post, so here is one of Daisy and Peber at their best.

Now, if you’re judging me for having only 1/2 share in the CSA and picking as many ripe Husk Cherries as I could find every week, hear me out. I have a perfectly good explanation for hoarding the Husk Cherries (ooh, there is that word again, perhaps I do have a problem.) This was only the CSA’s second year. This was our first ever with a CSA, but I had done some research online. It seemed that our choice, although close to home, didn’t have as many varieties of veggies as other places did. We ended up calling it the “Kale Cult.”  Every week, the share offered Kale. Big bunches of Kale. I tried every which way to cook the stuff. Sauteed and smothered in butter, wilted with garlic and butter, steamed with parmesan cheese, in chicken noodle soup, you name it, we tried it. We did not like it. We ended up leaving bunches of Kale on the table every week. There was so much Kale and Swiss Chard (also inedible we think) that we sort of felt that it was ok to take extra Husk Cherries if we were leaving our share of the bitter greens behind for someone else to take. Give and take, you know? We decided not to join the Kale Cult last Summer and decided to grow our own – grow things we liked. Keith thinks this was the beginning of our “Fend for Ourselves” dream.

Keith found Husk Cherry seeds online last Winter and bought a packet.  They took FOREVER to germinate under grow lights in the basement. Sheesh. When they went outside in the Side Garden (calling it Peber’s Point is starting to grow in me. Nice job, Will C! The board of directors for The Daisy Patch will vote this weekend on the new name) they were very small. Miniscule, like a 2-inch stem with 2 leaves on top. Then, in the ground, they took MORE FOREVER to do something, like,  uh, grow. We did get many Husk Cherries off the three plants eventually (enough for Keith to include some in jam he made), but I wish the growing season were longer because, no matter how much I covered them, we lost a lot to the first freeze. Waah!

Patience will be my new mantra. We just ordered the seeds along with several varieties of tomatoes, lettuce and potatoes and we’ll plant them in the basement under the grow lights, next to Keith’s hot peppers just as soon as they arrive. I just wish they’d hurry up.

Picture of Husk Cherry from here:

Right off the bat, let me say that I am LOVING the title of this post.  It will make me happy for days, I think. (Oh, more than likely, I just committed copyright infringement and someone already thought of that title for something else and I’ll get a letter from a lawyer or some such. Let me say it now, I am sorry. I had no idea, I really think I thought of it myself, so have some mercy on me, let me have just have this one time thinking I am witty and creative. It means so much to me. Thank you.)

Keith and I bought a shiitake mushroom “kit” through Gardener’s Supply  This kit consisted of what looks like a cube of hardened, moldy mashed potatoes and a plastic bag. I was skeptical.

Shiitake mushroom kit

Needless to say, we followed all the instructions which involved: Keeping in the dark, soaking in water, shrouding in vented plastic, keeping in sunlight, misting often…

I had no idea that, well, fungus needed attention. Doesn’t that sort of thing grow on its own? Anyway, we got about 12 mushrooms in the first “flush.” (Look at me using proper terms like I’ve been doing this a while! Maybe there is hope for me.) A few are still in the fridge. The “kit” is drying out now and we’ll soak it again this weekend for another bout. Kinda cool. I told people we grew our own mushrooms and I got sideways glances – from ALL of them. Yup, growing your own tomatoes and basil is one thing, but once you start saying you grow mushrooms, that just takes it to a whole new level.

I remember in junior high school, our teacher, hippie looking guy with long ZZ-TOP fuzzy beard and baggy pants belted with a big belt – you know, the pants were so big that the belt made weird gathers and gaps, he looked silly, I recall it to this day. Can’t remember his name, or what class he taught, I think science, but I remember how funny his big pants looked. Anyway, he told us he grew mushrooms in his basement and sold them to restaurants. I snickered along with the other kids at this weird teacher. Now, here I am, close to (ouch) 25 years later, and I’m thinking that maybe he had something there.