how our garden grows – cooking and foraging

August 26, 2014 by meg | 0 comments


spinach heart


foraged and home grown salad (except the plums and nuts)

we’ve had a banner summer in the garden.  that combined with the eggs our chickens produce, berry picking and dip netting, our freezer and pantry are filling up with summer’s delights to enjoy until next summer.  it’s been a lot of fun learning more about edible plants and their uses.  i think my current favorite is the nasturtium.  i’ve made so much pesto and still have tons of plants to harvest.  the pesto is good on everything from eggs to pasta.  it’s also a good base to add in other greens.IMGP5381.jpg

wild blueberries


preserving wild blueberries in water. i can them in just water and they plump beautifully and are a delicious treat in the winter.


trailside raspberries and rose hips and serviceberries from our yard


trailside high bush cranberries

and berries! oh how we love our berries. we’ve picked raspberries, cranberries, serviceberries and blueberries this year. zelda can’t get enough of any kind of berry so to harvest them from the neighborhood and mountains has been a real treat.

my berry picking assistant so proud of what she’s picked


our giant fennel which was a gift when it was a seedling. i’ve replanted the roots and its already growing again.


drying trailside yarrow and herbs from the garden

zelda has also been enthusiastic about the garden and plants, which has been a lot of fun. she knows different plant names and is an avid garden snacker. she really motivates me to learn more about the plants in our yard as well as those we encounter on the trails. she’s so inquisitive about them, which means i need to be ready to know what they are or help her find the answers. one of my favorites i’ve watched her encounter is fireweed. she asked what it was and i said fireweed. i said she could touch it and she said no no mama its hot. i explained it wasn’t hot at all but that it was called fireweed because of its bright pink color. after that before the blooms all faded away whenever she would encounter some she would tentatively approach the plant and ask if it was ok to touch. it was very sweet.


so i’m sad to see the season coming to a close, but we still have a few gardening surprises like beans to harvest (our first time growing these), beets, onions and leeks to pull and potatoes to dig, which will be fun to do with zelda since we don’t know what we’ll uncover. we’re also having a small gathering on saturday for dinner and our menu plan is to showcase as much of our own produce as possible. i’m excited to see the results as i love cooking and creating from what we’ve produced ourselves. we’ll give you an update on that next week.

how our garden grows

August 21, 2014 by meg | 0 comments

IMGP5772.jpgthe garden is in full swing with zelda and i heading out about everyday to make a small harvest. IMGP5782.jpgIMGP5783.jpgIMGP5774.jpgas you can see zelda loves the peas. we’re also still harvesting lots of greens, herbs and zucchinis. IMGP5773.jpgwe have beans that are just making an appearance now. IMGP5784.jpgand the second planting of rainbow chard is taking its time, but we should be able to harvest it next month even if its just baby leaves. IMGP5776.jpgwe’ll also have onions, leeks and potatoes to harvest soon too. it’s been a productive summer for our garden.

how our garden grows

July 10, 2014 by meg | 2 Comments

lots of greens and herbsthe peas are climbing onnew plantings of radishesred veined sorrelwintered over arugulai snapped some new pictures of the garden today. we are at about 6 weeks in from when it was planted.  things are growing well despite the rogue chicken that got in a couple of weeks ago and had a feast and the rather steady rain.  we’re on our second planting of radishes and just started some more scallions. otherwise things are chugging along.  this year we are growing: arugula (wintered over from last year), sorrel, zucs and squash (for the blossoms only), herbs, scallions, radishes, three kinds of beans, peas, leeks, yellow and red onions, a couple of varieties of spinach and chard, fennel, garlic, cabbage and broccoli (which is probably not going to produce thanks to the chicken).
Untitledmaking ricottalooks like there will be some menu planning around spinach this week, perhaps with the ricotta i made yesterday.
cabbages feeling like its fallmailbox scarlet runner beanswe planted some veggies in containers in the front. some are doing better than others.  our cabbages think its fall and just really aren’t growing.  i think i’ll cover their box with plastic to see if i can’t jump start them a bit.  the scarlet runner beans are running and flowering, good signs that we may get some beans.  my nasturtiums are exploding.  i did some research and learned that all but the stem of the plant is edible.  we’ve made pesto, and vinegar so far with plans to make infused vodka for bloodymarys and preserves.  nasturtium flowers taste peppery which will work well in the vodka and preserves.  the leaves taste more like radishes, which work well in pesto.  we may even try nasturtium capers.
pano of the front yardthe front yard got a little clean up today too even in the rain. i pulled some canadian thistle and inserted some hostas in their stead.  from where we started at the end of april, things are looking good all around.  we’re hoping for the rest of july to give us some warmer temps and sun to really let us get the most from our garden this year.  i’m also hoping to stick in one or two small raised beds in the back still – one dedicated to garlic and perhaps a second to start a later season crop of greens so we can enjoy our garden veggies into october or possibly even later.

making yard art

June 11, 2014 by meg | 0 comments


standing next to the butterfly we made.

we have a lot of scrap wood from various projects we’ve worked on over the past five years we’ve lived here. some of it has been cut up to burn in our fire bowl, but since we have years’ worth of wood for that, today zelda and i dipped into the stash to make some art for our garden. IMGP4276.jpg

a dragonfly keeps our berry bushes company.

how our garden grows

June 9, 2014 by meg | 0 comments

unidentified flowering bush

unidentified flowering bush

the korean lilac is in bloom

the korean lilac is in bloom

as i mentioned previously, unlike the front yard garden beds, our backyard is a utility space that accommodates our eight chickens, three dogs and also be a space for zelda to play. we are trying to incorporate as many edible elements into our living space as possible and most of those efforts are concentrated in the back yard. but, the backyard isn’t without some flowers. we have a flowering bush that i don’t know the name of and a gigantic korean lilac tree.
black and red current bushes

black current bushes by the chicken coop

red current and blueberry bushes

red current and blueberry bushes

we do have two apple trees up front and we planted scarlet runner beans and cabbages by the mailbox, but there were more out of a lack of space in the vegetable garden than intentional placement. IMGP4183.jpgof course the big back yard project is the garden. i consider this to be week 2 of the vegetable garden. this year we have a diverse array of veggies planted and is probably our most ambitious garden in alaska to date. i’ll provide a run down on what we’ve planted soon once we see what actually sprouts and takes.
wood scrap plank foundation

wood scrap plank foundation

we were able to recycle a lot of the wood from the collapsed greenhouse to create a base layer for the mulch walkways we’ve put in, providing me more stability as i walk on the mulch, which is mostly to keep the grass and dandelions at bay.
mulched garden walkways

mulched garden walkways

zelda’s garden has turnips and heirloom cabbages in it this year. unfortunately it’s not protected from the chickens, so we’ll see what survives. we chose the plants because they are safe if zelda eats the foliage. gardening is a little confusing for her as to what she can eat from the yard.
zelda's garden blooms year round

zelda’s garden blooms year round