Fantastic garden salad with homegrown ingredients

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The joys of having a community garden or a home garden are proven to you when you sit down to eat what your garden has produced. That happened for me today at dinner, which had a salad made from ingredients that were grown our own back yard. It had:

Two Roma tomatoes
Three yellow cherry tomatoes
Half of a cucumber
One spring onion
Three green beans

The only thing cooked was the beans, which are actually purple beans until you cook them, through which makes they turn green. I still don’t know what does that, but I think it’s the coolest thing since string beans. (The previous link explains it, by the way.)

All of the vegetables were sliced and chopped into small pieces to make a lovely salad. To that we added sea salt and a tiny splash of balsamic vinegar, both of which we bought at a store somewhere. Other than that, it all came from our back yard.

(At this moment, lightning struck within a mile of our house. Wow! Glad my laptop was unplugged!)

Anyhow, the flavors were lush and interwoven. The great thing about garden vegetables is that you don’t have to use very much spice or condiments to illuminate the dish’s flavor. A tiny dash of salt and a fleeting drizzle of balsamic vinegar is all you need. Fantastic!

Spring onions!

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Last year, our neighbor Tina gave us some onion seedlings for our new backyard victory gardens. I planted them, and they grew well. I gave a bunch to Tina, and we enjoyed the rest. After the last one was harvested, I figured they were done, and forgot about them.

Then in March or April of this year, I noticed what some plants that looked like onions were emerging from the ground. Sure enough, we had some “volunteer” onions that perhaps managed to leave seeds last year. I noticed the leaves were looking rather wilted, and some onions were protruding from the ground, so I pulled them up. And, wow! here they are:

Freshly harvested spring onions

Freshly harvested spring onions!

Their stems grew quite tall, almost four feet. The what ball at the bottom of the picture is actually the onion’s flower. I’ve saved it and another flower to see if we can get onion seeds. In total, I pulled five spring onions, and two smaller non-spring (fall?) onions that I planted a few months ago.

Here’s a closeup:

Freshly harvested spring onions, close up

Close-up view of the freshly harvested spring onions.

That’s dirt on the roots. These babies are that fresh! You can almost smell the moist earth and sweet onion smell. It’s a much more subtle aroma than that of any supermarket or restaurant onion that I’ve ever experienced, resembling that of Vidalia onions from Georgia, but not even that strong. They’re now in the refrigerator, where they’ll keep for about a week. I also kept the lengthy greens, which can be used in a number of dishes. As we’re frequently eating at home, we should be able to sue most of it up. We’ll start tomorrow with some omelets.

The best part is, they came from my back yard in Milwaukee!

Last harvest of the year: Brussels sprouts, carrots, and three pea pods

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At last, everything from our gardens that can be harvested is done. We’ve got several dozen brussels sprouts, petite and knobby carrots, about seven total, and three  pea pods that Hari found growing on the fence along the alley where I planted peas and beans late in the summer. Hari also pulled up a beet, but it looked like it had split open. So I tossed it back onto the planting bed. Good compost!

Next year we’ll do a more planned planting, giving things more space and plenty of light. And with multiple plantings over the summer, we’ll have even more good stuff to eat.

Home yard-farm update (22May09)

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So, we’ve got ten (10) cubic yards of soil brought to our house. It cost $180 with delivery fee. Compare this to getting the same amount of soil in2 cubic foot bags from a store at a cost of $7.50/bag… I’ll let you do the math, but this is so much better a deal.

Add this to the big pile of lumber I’ve got and you’ve got the makings us a big bunch of raised planting beds!

Your help is welcome if you would like to come by on Saturday. We’re scheduled to have folks come over between 1PM and 4PM. Check the Victory Garden Initiative web site for when and where everything is going on; ours is the very southern tip of the big cluster of green-colored sites on the map. (Not the one in Cudahy, which has the blue marker on the map, but above that.)

We will have refreshments and fresh-baked bread on hand for people who come by to help, and you’ll have my deep thanks as well.

Baltimore Sun: Mayor plans to turn formal gardens in front of City Hall into vegetable gardens

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This is great news! The Sun is reporting that the city of Baltimore is turning some of its pretty but idle flower garden land into a productive food garden.

Where could we have a high-visibility garden in Milwaukee? City Hall certainly won’t work, as there’s no gardens there anyway. Perhaps the former Army Reserve site here in Bay View? What about the former Park East land?

A few people have noted that the Kilbourn Reservoir Victory Garden (no direct relation to the Shorewood-based Victory Garden Initiative) was started today. That’s a very good project for that neighborhood. (Apparently the article on that garden has been the most active article in the Riverwest Currents web site’s history.)

I’m reminded of something I read in today’s Journal Sentinel about the river cleanup that also happened today:

Amid the old shoes and clothes, rusting car parts and dirty bottles that were picked up by volunteers Saturday along the banks of the Menomonee River in Hoyt Park, Colin Brown discovered something in the mud that made him do a double take.

It was a cardboard sign that read: “The activist is not the man who says the river is dirty. The activist is the man who cleans up the river.”

Back to the Baltimore garden article, it’s worth noting that the food grown in the 2,000 square foot garden will go to feed the city’s hungry. That’s a laudable goal, and in my estimation one of the best uses of public land and resources. Why not use it to feed those who need it?

Also of note in the article is the list of how many places are getting on board with the public garden idea:

“This week, California first lady Maria Shriver announced plans for a vegetable garden at the Statehouse in Sacramento. Citizens in Flint, Mich., are planting a 2-acre vegetable garden in the middle of town. A garden is planned around the Kingston, N.Y., town hall, Doiron said, and the first family of Georgia is discussing an official garden. Maryland’s first lady, Katie O’Malley, is planning a vegetable garden for Government House in Annapolis, too, despite the abundance of shade trees.” [Emphasis added.]

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