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Making radish chips!

So, what have we done with all of those radishes from our garden? Radish chips! I've been waiting almost a year to make these with radishes from our garden.

To make them, we slice the radishes as thin as we can, and coat them with salt, vinegar, and spices. Then they go in the dehydrator at 150 for five or six hours, until crispy. They're delicious by themselves, but also make a wonderful topping for salads. Just don't use too much salt! We've ruined an entire batch this way. You can also bake them on a low temperature for the same results.

Moving the herbs out front?

The cool weather killed off most of our herbs this winter. We're thinking about moving our herb garden out front. We picked up some basil and some rosemary, but we're still not sure where to plant them. We don't have a ton of room out front, but they won't do quite as well in the back. Oh well, we'll figure it out.

Weird germination rates

We've been having a funky time with a lot of our seedlings germinating. We've kept them in a sunny spot, and have watered them frequently, but they're still not doing great.

Quite a few of them haven't come up at all. Most of the ones that have are twisted a gnarled (although I suppose it beats the leggy ones that we've started up till now!). We're going to have to find a better way to start seeds. Most of the local farms around here use fish emulsion to fertilize the little guys, and keep them in shade for part of the day. We're getting better at the big-picture stuff here, but we need to put some more time and attention into the details.

Off to Boston!

Back in October, Taylor bought us tickets to go see The Lion King in Boston. The time has finally come, and I'm so excited! We'll be gone for a week, and staying with his Aunt Debbie, who has so kindly offered to put a roof over our head while we visit.

See ya in a week or so!

Looking for tomatoes!

Our 95 cent tomato plants are looking awesome. There are tons of blossoms, but so far, no tomatoes. We went out the other day, and closely inspected, looking for little green orbs that would be the tell-tale sign of yummy things to come.

The two varieties are a cherry tomato, and a larger 8 oz. variety. We're keeping our fingers crossed!

Cowpeas are up!

After a recommendation from our friends Cole and Stephanie, we decided to plant one of the front beds with pink-eye-purple-hull cowpeas. They make for nitrogen rich compost, and are quite yummy. They're basically black-eyed peas with a lighter pinkish-purple eye. The hulls they come in are dark purple to black. We planted them a few days ago, and now they're up!

We're looking forward to some yummy pork and beans over rice.

Whoa, Cherry Belle!

Last fall when we planted radishes, it took about three months to grow some about the size of a grape. We added them to salads, and they were delish. We decided to plant some in our front beds a couple weeks ago, and they've simply exploded!

After just a couple of weeks, we could see their little red heads poking up through the soil, and their leaves were just huge!

We yanked a couple up, and they were about the size of tangerines. We decided it was time to pick em.

They were bright red, and perfectly round. Only a couple of them had split, like the ones we had planted out back.

I don't know if it's the sunlight or the compost, but our front bed is showing tons of promise!

New Vegetable Basket

We've finally gotten to the point where we're regularly harvesting things from our beloved veggie garden. Carrying in bunches of collards and radishes can be oh-so-cumbersome. My Oma has kindly donated this wonderful woven basket for the purpose of carrying our harvest! I love it, and think it's absolutely adorable. It'll be wonderful to have around the garden--- to haul out our hand shovels, bottles of water, lettuces, or whatever we might not have room to carry in our arms. Call me silly, but I love it!

Spending the day in Sanibel!

Sorry guys, no post today! We spent the day in Sanibel on an Ornithology field trip. We saw bunches of cool birds, and a couple of alligators, and the weather was gorgeous.

Hope it doesn't eat us!

Tour of Jessica's

Just down the street, there's an awesome organic farm called Jessica's Stand. We visit on Saturdays when we can to pick up some wonderful, tasty, local produce. They also carry a bunch of organic produce that they purchase from elsewhere, and the prices are generally pretty reasonable.
Taylor met someone at work that is married to a guy named Brad, who works part time at the farm. He offered to give us a tour of the place, which we gladly took. We scheduled and rescheduled a few times, but we finally made it there!

The weather was kind of uggy (rainy, cold, and windy), but totally worth it. We got to walk the fields full of lettuces, onions, and beets, and Brad told us everything he knew about Jessica's Farm.

They grow all kinds of stuff, including lettuces, herbs, beans, greens, beets, onions, etc. Whatever they don't grow, they order in from some world-wide organic association. Whatever doesn't get sold on Friday and Saturday, a buyer from Miami hauls down to a Farmer's Market, so there's really no fear of over-growing or underselling.

It was unbelievable to see just how many seeds this place grows! They start dozens of 72 or 144 slot flats a day. They don't really follow a calendar from year to year, but instead grow whatever they think they need when they need it.

They do use some organic fertilizers on their crops. In the seedling greenhouse, they use fish emulsion in the hose-lines. The weeds growing around the tables were amazingly huge from the washed-off emulsion. Their seedlings looked strong and healthy though.

People that work at Jessica's get to take home tons of produce, which is perhaps one of the greatest perks of the job. Perhaps one of the better things we learned? They water at least every day, which supposedly really helps things grow this far south. They also use cover crops (cowpeas), and really work on rotating fields. They have a huge problem with nettles, which someone grew there for tea that got out of hand. Jessica's is a cool place. We'll do a post about the farm stand there sometime (it's closed during the week).


The tomatoes we've planted are doing great! They've only been in the ground a few days, but we're already seeing the little yellow flowers that are the tell-tale sign of fruits to come!

When I was younger, we had a cherry tomato plant on the patio that just pumped tomatoes out like crazy. I think the six plants we have will be more than enough to keep our salads full of little red tomatoes. Cherry tomatoes are probably my absolute favorite variety.

Leftover pots

The other day we planted those twelve tomato plants we bought.

Not only did we only spend 95 cents per plant, we got a dozen handy-dandy pots too. We've now got 12 leftover pots that are the perfect size to start some larger tomato and eggplants. Hopefully later this week we'll get some of them started so that we can grow them soon.


Our radishes are looking great. They only popped up a few days ago, and are already looking rather radish-ish. 

I got a great recipe for sauteed radishes in balsamic vinegar, which I can't want to try. All of the radishes we grew last season were very mild, crunchy, and tasty. 

Some more seeds for the garden

We've finally figured out what else we want to plant here in our garden. We went to our local big-box store and picked up some varieties of vegetables.

On the list?
Summer squash
Pink-eye Purple-Hull Cowpeas

We love kale and collards, and they grow really well out back, so we hope to start a bunch of them. The summer squash and zucchini will do well out front (we had trouble last season with powdery mildew, so we're putting them in a dryer, sunnier area). Sunflowers are my absolute favorite, and the seeds are quite tasty in salads. The chickens will love them too. Taylor is a huge fan of eggplant, so of course we have to grow some. Ours last season lasted fairly long into the cold, up until December! As for the cowpeas, Cole and Steph really recommend them. They look just like black-eyed peas, and are super tasty. We're going to use some of the left over wire to grow them through, and the left over plant matter makes for wonderful compost. We're going to try a bed of them out back, and a bed of them out front and see how it goes.


This is our first time growing tomatoes here in our garden. We started too late last year to grow any. Yesterday we picked some up for 95 cents a piece.

We wound up planting a dozen of them in our bed out front. They'll love the sun, and the weather is finally warm enough.

We picked up two varieties: Patio and Better Bush. The Patio tomatoes are a yummy little variety of cherry tomatoes, and the better bush are a little larger fruits that are great to eat fresh. We hope to start some more varieties soon.

Watering can

With our new beds out front, dragging out a hose is nearly impossible. We already have an elaborate system out back, and don't really feel like forking out more money for hoses out front. Instead, we've decided to use a watering can. We picked this one up for four dollars, and it holds about two gallons of water.

It's working out pretty well. The attachment on the end screws off, too, so we can add other ones.

It's a nice way to add a little bit more exercise to our gardening.

Home-made pizza

One of our favorite dinners to cook is fresh, homemade pizza. The smell of yeasty dough, browning cheese, and rich tomato sauce is just about heaven.

Some of our favorite toppings? Pineapple, bacon, and sausage pizza.

Or veggies! This one has onion, tomato slices, red pepper, and mushroom.

We've finally figured out the absolute best recipe for an airy, yeasty, moist, chewy dough. For your own homemade pizzas:

  • 1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 2 1/2 cups bread flour
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Mix yeast, sugar, water, oil, and salt, and let sit for about five minutes. Stir in flour (we use half wheat, half white) and knead just a teeny bit, and then let sit in a warm place for a while until it just about doubles. Then press it flat on top of some parchment paper, top with pizza stuff, and bake at 350 for about twenty minutes. We broil it for two to make the cheese brown, and then slice and eat. Yum!

First (real) seedlings of the season!

The seedlings we started a couple weeks back are shot. It was too cold, and they all died. However, these recently planted radishes are doing well.

They're more Cherry Belles, and they're doing great. We've always had really good luck with radishes. Not only are they super tasty, we get pretty quick results. A few weeks, and we have perfect little red orbs to pull up from the soil.

They're loving the sun and the cool temperatures, and are growing rather quickly. Maybe we'll finally get to try those radish chips!

Ferruccio in the Rain

We've absolutely fallen for Ferruccio. She is hands-down the cutest chicken ever. The other day it rained pretty hard, so we went out to put the chicken feed inside, and poor Ferruch was completely soaked and caked with mud.

The poor thing looked like it had gotten electrified! She seemed pretty content (she could actually see!), and as soon as the rain stopped, her feathers resumed their usual fluffiness.

What do do with all this wire?

We've been taking down the rabbit hutch, and we've got about 400 square feet of wire mesh, and some PVC. We're not really sure what to do with it all.

Some of the longer, thinner pieces of PVC could work to make a mini green house for seedlings and such, but there's not a huge need for that where we are. Some of the mesh could work as trellises for climbing plants, but we've still got way more than we can use.

There is seriously a TON of this stuff left over. Any ideas?


After finishing our new beds out front, we've decided to compost the back. Even with the new beds out front, we're not abandoning them. They work really well for collards, radishes, peas, and cabbage. It's high sun vegetables that don't fare well out back--- there's way too much shade from the overhanging oaks. We're going to try our hand with tomatoes, peppers and the like out front, where they can soak up some rays.

Our trailer-load only filled three of the beds, but they're about six inches deep. After we loosen the soil up a bit more with a pitch fork, they'll be ready for some more veggies. Right now, we've only got a handful of peas, a couple lettuce greens, and some bolting collards. Our garden needs a lot of work come this spring!

Bolted Lettuce

Some of our leafy vegetables have gone a while without being picked, and the additional warm weather has caused them to bolt. I've decided to let them flower and go to seed. They're pretty yellow flowers, and add a bit of spark to our garden. Nina thought it was pretty cool to learn that vegetables sometimes had flowers.

Climbing peas

A few weeks back, we decided to recycle an old plant-shelf into a pea trellis. So far, it's working out great! Some of the peas on the periphery haven't really clung onto it, but hopefully they'll snag it when they get a little taller. These are sugar snap peas, where you can eat the entire pod. We haven't had much success with shelling peas or beans, so hopefully this will be a little different.


This is kind of a funny story. A few months back we planted two varieties of collards, some brussel sprouts, broccoli, chard, and lettuce greens. We hadn't labeled the seedlings, but we planted them in very specific places so we could tell them apart. The collards were really the only thing that did well--- a deep green variety, and a bluish one. We kept eating them, and eventually started noticing a difference between the two. One was great tasting and smooth, and the other was a teeny bit bitter, and the leaves were a little hairy. After cooking, we couldn't really tell the difference. A few days ago, Taylor goes, "Oh, hey! What's this?"

Ooops! I had totally forgotten about the broccoli, and just assumed it had died with all of the other seedlings. Turns out we had been eating broccoli leaves for the past couple months. They tasted pretty good (broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower are actually the same species of plant, just bred for different characteristics), so it wasn't a huge deal. In fact, I think we'll probably continue to eat the leaves after we've harvested the stalks of broccoli. We learned one lesson though--- probably a good idea to label seedlings and make a note if we interplant!

Peas please!

Our Green Arrow peas are chugging along. We didn't really plant enough to get anything significant out of them, but they make a nice little treat when we walk out to the garden. They're super super sweet, and just absolutely delicious. They're a shelling-pea, which is kind of a pain though. As good as they are, I don't think we'll really be planting them again. We've got some sugar snaps going, which me might grow again because they're less work, and we get more out of them.


It's been so cold here lately. Today we woke up to 37 degrees outside, and frost on the windows. Our seedlings (along with all of Mr. Phil's orchids) get pulled in each night. The lack of light is making them really leggy. We were hoping to have planted them last week, which never happened due to the weather.

They might get too leggy and overgrown to really even plant. They're getting pale and don't look healthy. Looks like we might be getting some of our seedlings from the old Home Depot.

Adding to our tools

I've been wanting a wood lathe for quite some time now. Making drop spindles, spinning wheel bobbins, and whatever else sounds pretty darn awesome. The things are just so expensive! After fooling around on Craigslist for a while, I found one for less than it would cost us to make one (and with so much less work involved).

It also comes with some knives and accessories, so it seems like a pretty good deal. We've never used a lathe, and have no knowledge or experience whatsoever, but this seems like a pretty good starting point. We've called the guy, and have plans to pick it up tonight. We're pretty excited to be learning something new!

What color coop?

It's been about five months since we "finished" the chicken coop, but we still haven't painted the thing. Originally we were hoping to do a barn-red coop, but I'm not really sure I still want to do that. Something bright and cheery might be nice, but a more natural color would work too. I still want a white-wash picket fence. We'll figure something out soon, and cover up that icky ply wood!

What color do you think we should paint the coop?

Home on the range

We'd love to have a flock of free-range chickens, but right now that's not really an option. Besides not being 100% in the clear with the local law, our home-owner's association also has a ban on our feathered friends. We are living on over two acres, but keeping free-range hens seems just a little too risky. We still felt bad keeping our ladies locked up all day, so we let them out occasionally to scratch and run around (I say locked up like these things have no space, but they have a pretty big coop and run to hang out in).

They love the freedom, and Nina's turned it into a game, giving herself a point for each chicken she rounds up back into the coop. It's pretty cool to see our ladies running around and stretching their legs, and it makes me lust over the flock of free-rangers we hope to have one day.

Try again?

A couple weeks back, three German Shepherds got into our rabbit cage and killed four of our rabbits. So far we haven't really done anything besides disassemble the old cage.Should we get new rabbits? We spent around $500 on the cage, rabbits, and food, without anything gained except a lesson. To build another cage that would be dog-proof, we'd need a better fence, new rabbits, and some electric fencing to deter any dogs, raccoons, or other animals. This will easily cost a few hundred more dollars, and many more months of waiting for kits, plus hours hunting for the right rabbits, the cost of purchasing them, and a bunch of feed. We're also not going to live here permanently, so we'd have to do it all again in a few years anyways. We're weighing the pros and cons, and hopefully we'll come up with a decision soon.

Three beds out front

As time for spring planting approaches, we've been working hard on double digging and composting new beds out front. We're aiming for four beds, but we've only done three so far. Each is four feet by twenty feet, adding another 280 square feet to our garden so far. Our tiny garden really isn't all that tiny anymore. We're up to about 700 square feet of space so far.

First-year Book Choice

Every year, our school picks a book to mail out to all incoming freshman for them to read before orientation week. The first year I came, the book was Three Cups of Tea, which talked about an American that worked in the middle east to open schools in small, impoverished towns. The student body has just finished deciding what book will be going out to our incoming first years in 2010.
I absolutely adore Pollan's writing, and this book is particularly outstanding (I reviewed another one of his books back in November). In The O's Dilemma, he focuses on three different types of meals: the industrial meal, the local, farmed meal, and the hunted and gathered meal, focusing on the evolution of human eating patterns since thousands upon thousands of years ago. It's really interesting, and a wonderful insight into the industrial food chain.

Campus Compost

New College is a rather remarkable school. We have an on-campus Farmer's Market, an intense recycling program, and all kinds of environmentally friendly initiative groups. One of my favorite on-campus features? Compost bins!

Our school employs a few students to take care of the compost, and most students don't mind dumping their leftovers into the bins found all over campus. The compost gets used in our on-campus organic gardens.

New additions to our flock

So as I mentioned a few days ago, Taylor has been wanting silkies since, oh... forever ago. We finally found a lady in Sarasota that raises a few (hundred). She also had guinea fowl, quail, donkeys, sheep, horses, twelve dogs, cats, rabbits, geese, etc. Somehow, we wound up coming home with four new additions.

We picked up a few partridge silkie chicks that are cute enough to die for. I love the little peep peep peeps coming from our bathroom. The little chicken power naps are amazing. They'll peep and hop around for a few minutes, and then pass out like they have narcolepsy. After ten seconds of power napping with their heads down, they're back to pecking at the bedding and cheeping.
The larger chick is a few weeks old. The chicks aren't sexed, but she suspected this one was female, which is why we grabbed her.

All of the males will be going back to Glenna's farm, and we'll hold on to the hens.

Our other addition? Feruccio, the white silkie hen. She's pretty much blind, which gives her the appearance of being rather dumb. She really held her own when we put her in with the other ladies. They weren't quite sure what to make of her, but when she fought back at their incessent pecking, they learned to stay away. She's only half their size (and won't get much bigger), but this little ball of fuzz packs a punch!