Lactofermenting for the Time-Challenged

Stainless steel bowl available at Lehmans.com.

All the root veggies are washed well, not a speck of soil remains. Then they air-dry. Use a colander, or spread on your counter on a clean dishtowel. Stainless steel bowl for photo spiffiness only! (Lehmans.com has ’em.)

Alrighty then, it’s that time of year. The garden is starting to really gear up and I have more produce than we can eat before it goes bad. My plan for filling the pantry with wholesome and delicious foods that have less than 5 ingredients, none of which came out of a lab, is working.

Pickling for people disinclined to boil vinegar
So, what is a girl to do with all this bounty?

I know, I’ll lacto-ferment it all. I like lacto-fermented veggies, so does the hubbin, and I really actually find cutting up veggies to be enjoyable. I’m weird that way!

And as a completely unrelated bonus, lacto-fermenting things is so incredibly easy that even I can’t mess it up. Though I thought I had and threw out the first batch I ever made: more on that later.

Lacto-fermenting is what creates sauerkraut, kimchi and cocktail onions, to name some of the more commonly known results of the process.

Sandor Katz The Art of Fermentation at Lehmans.com

Make your own healthy, pure lacto-fermented veggies, vinegars, pickles and more! Pick up The Art of Fermentation now at Lehmans.com to get started fast.

It is a bacterial process, utilizing critters that are present in any environment that has not been completely sterilized (it will not work in outer space, so those of you reading this from the Mir Space Station, sorry, try it when you get back home), so yes, when I first got into this process I had to get over my germophobia and embrace the little things (metaphorically speaking). It’s similar to the fermentation that creates alcohol, just with different microbes.

Which brings me to examine exactly how one goes about lacto-fermenting, rather than creating carrot booze accidentally.

We want to attract the right kind of microbe, so we have to create the right kind of environment. Think of it as very, very small game trapping, because the microbes are all there, hanging out together. We want to encourage the lactobacilli, while discouraging the yeasts (alcohol) and other things that would spoil our food. Continue reading

American Gardens: Birke’s Garden Diary Hilarious, Helpful

Radishes gone to seed...at least I can save the seed!

Radishes gone to seed…at least I can save the seed!

Thoughts on the Garden: May 19, 2014
For us, this gardening season (so far) has served as a reminder that we are not in charge of our garden and how things will work out. There’s been rain, sleet, heat-then-freezing-temps-back-to-back, and my Indianapolis garden plot is looking battered.

Despite months of planning, re-arranging, re-planning and…let’s call it dreaming about the perfection that will be this year’s garden, we are now officially 3 weeks behind plan.

We have harvested a grand total of three (you read that right, 3) radishes, and they were minuscule, because everything is either languishing in the chill or bolting to seed before setting full roots.

The peppers and tomatoes went in on May 19, 2014, the latest I have ever planted anything, and it’s because I didn’t want the poor little plantiwuzels (totally a word) to freeze in the ground, but I had to get them in, because they were starting to not like being in seedling pods.

And don’t even get me started on the sunflowers just poking their little leaves out, because those are the support system for the cucumbers, so those JUST got seeded out. Slackers all around me. I NEED cucumbers and cherry tomatoes, fresh from the vine, for my continued happiness. Does Nature not understand my needs here? And no, buying them is not the same, I have been forever ruined for hothouse produce. Continue reading

Glynis’ Garden Fortress In The Desert

Garden is walled and netted on top.

Garden overview–note the net on top to keep birds out.

Out here in the desert, gardening is quite challenging.  I guess that’s why it’s so rewarding.

We live amidst volcanic craters.  They last exploded in about 1100A.D.  Our dirt is volcanic ash and cinder.  Under the cinder is clay.   This type of soil requires constant fertilization and compost.  We also dump old potting soil into it.  We do just about anything we can think of to improve the soil.

Fortunately, the people who lived here before us dumped their compost in the garden area.  They never grew anything, just dumped their compost.  This actually helped when I was cleaning the garden and preparing to grow food there.  We also compost everything, but we have a big composting bin.  The rodents would go crazy in an open compost pile. Continue reading

American Gardens: Mountain Garden GROWS!

Radish and carrot plants.

Radishes and heirloom Dragon Carrots from Lehman’s in Kidron, Ohio, growing thick and fast!

In the foothills of the mountains, between the borders of North Carolina and Tennesee, there’s a nifty little microclimate. In that area, our gardener Kendra is having some great results! She’s sent two updates, one from mid-May, and one from the end of the month.

May 13, 2014:

The radishes and carrots were growing thick, so I harvested the radishes a few days ago to make room for the carrots to grow.

The lettuce is looking gorgeous. I haven’t harvested any yet, but I expect to be able to in the next few days.

Lazy Housewife beans thrive! Heirloom seeds were provided by Lehman's.

Lazy Housewife beans thrive! Heirloom seeds were provided by Lehman’s.

The tomatoes are loving this hot weather, and are looking lovely.

On April 24th I planted the beans. They’re about six or seven inches tall now.

On May 6th I planted the cucumbers, which I’m still waiting on to sprout. So far no problems with pests yet. Keeping my fingers crossed! Continue reading

Down East Gardener Welcomes Spring…Finally!

Black Cherry Tomatoes

Originally found in the Ukraine, these colorful heirlooms have been widespread since the 19th century. Get yours at Lehmans.com!

I was beginning to lose hope but at long last my seeds have decided to welcome spring. I have flats and greenhouses and all many of crazy places around the farm, and they’re getting green, with little growing things.

Experimenting with Tomatoes
I was especially pleased to see my Black Cherry Tomatoes have sprouted. The germination rate is 90%, a good number for me. The real test will be, not just what emerges but what makes it through to productivity. I only planted 15 pots and I spread them among three different kinds of pots.

I seeded 5 in plastic seed flats, 5 in paper pots I made and the final 5 in soil blocks. I want to see if there is any difference in vigor between the three.

I have another idea I want to explore. I always cut off the suckers on my tomatoes although there is disagreement among experts as to whether or not it’s necessary.
Continue reading

American Gardeners Seeing Some Green!

These Black Cherry Tomatoes made their appearance April 4 for Kendra!

These Black Cherry Tomatoes made their appearance April 4 for Kendra!

Kendra, NC-TN Mountains

We’ve enjoyed a good rain, and the seedlings are thriving. My carrots are just emerging from the soil, and are finally making an appearance among the radishes in the garden.

The lettuce is also making its first showing, safely covered with chicken wire to keep the cat from scratching in the bed. I was excited to find my Black Cherry Tomatoes sprouting indoors recently. The seedlings are now warmly growing under fluorescent bulbs on my kitchen counter. Continue reading

The PotMaker Makes Seed Starting Simple

The PotMaker

Make biodegradable seed starter pots easily with The PotMaker from Lehman’s in Kidron, or at Lehmans.com.

Today’s article comes to us from Ann VerWiebe, a staffer at 89.7 WKSU, a service of Kent State University. We’re proud to help support public radio, and were thrilled when Ann jumped at the idea to test one of our products. Ann’s an avid gardener, crafter, sewing maven and all-around creative person.

This winter in Ohio has been tough and persistent. Even now, weeks after it has officially turned to spring, we can’t be sure we’re passed the final frost of the season. I decided to force the issue by starting seeds on what is commonly known as a “sunny windowsill.”

I used the PotMaker to create tiny starter pots. What’s really great about this product is that it allowed me to easily – and cheaply – make something that can be planted directly in the ground once my seeds have sprouted. The simple strip of newspaper used to make the pot biodegrades in the earth without disturbing the roots of the seedling during the transplanting process. Continue reading

American Gardener Tim Takes 2014 Plan from 2013 Garden

Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving

Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving

One of our American Gardeners, Tim, isn’t a stranger to Country Life. He’s the man behind the title “Prepper Dad”, and has shared his common-sense ideas about preparing for emergencies. One of his biggest ‘to-do’ items is growing and preserving his garden’s produce. Last year, he canned and froze hundreds of containers of veggies, fruit and herbs from what he calls “the small garden.” He’s shared some pictures of that project as he prepares for gardening in 2014. “This has been the longest winter in a long time, I’m telling ya,” he says. But he’s readying sprouts and seeds, some of which are the varieties included in the American Gardens project. And he’s looking forward to a bigger garden in 2014.

The garden just after planting peas and lettuce in back left corner, 160 walla walla and texas sweet onions in row on left edge up to near left, first saturday in april. Strawberry patch in center back still overgrown and un-netted. Rest of area freshly scraped of weeds by a hoe and the soil loosened an broken up by hand with a garden fork. about to spread 3 bales of straw 6-8" deep over whole area but 1/2" deep in onion bed. Shallow roots and bulbs need light and water to grow

The beginning…
The garden just after planting peas and lettuce starts in back left corner, 160 Walla Walla and Texas sweet onions in row on left edge up to near left. This is the first Saturday in April 2013.

Strawberry patch in center to right back still overgrown and un-netted. Rest of area freshly scraped of weeds by a hoe and the soil loosened and broken up by hand with a garden fork. Shortly after this photo, I spread 3 bales of straw 6-8″ deep over whole area but only 1/2″ deep in onion bed. Shallow roots and bulbs need light and water to grow!

The peas on April 12, two weeks old & about to get 2nd and last shot of miracle grow. Used twine from TSC to make trellises for vines to climb. had to cover with bottomless milk jugs twice to save lettuce ftom frost.

The peas on April 12, two weeks old & about to get 2nd and last shot of liquid fertilizer.

Used twine to make trellises for vines to climb. Had to cover lettuce with bottomless milk jugs twice to save the lettuce from frost. It got really cold in April last year, but it’s colder this year! Continue reading

Farmer Hannah Puts Stovepipe Thermometer To The Test

Magnetic Stovepipe Thermometer for wood stoves

From house to greenhouse, Lehman’s Magnetic Stovepipe Thermometer helps you regulate wood-fired heating.

“Heating without a stovepipe thermometer is like driving without a speedometer.”

That’s what it said on the package, and I thought it was kind of funny, but after just a couple days with my thermometer attached to the stovepipe in my greenhouse, I can’t imagine how I ever did without it.  It was a major guessing game before, I can tell you that! Continue reading

American Gardens: Location, Location, Location!

BG's seeds and markers

Lehman’s has many varieties of heirloom tomatoes for your garden! Check out the row tags BG made for her American Garden heirloom seeds.

Our American Gardeners have checked in! This may be the second day of spring, but winter still hasn’t gotten the message in most of the country. Still, garden planning and a bit of gardening is going on.

Tim, Ohio: I don’t dare plant before 4-15 but I have my plan set. I’m inter-planting onion rows with carrot rows as pest deterrence this year. I’m also knocking together pea troughs and the last of the raised beds now. Going to a “growing potatoes” class on Saturday.

Kathy, Massachusetts: Ice today. It’s a slushy, mushy mess. And if it doesn’t stop snowing soon, I may cry! (Kathy’s area has seen as much as 20+ inches of snow this winter.)

BG, Indiana: I’m prepping things. I’m about 2 weeks behind with seeding out into the seedpods (flats), which will be addressed tonight.

I have made planting flags (row tags) for everything that is being started indoors.
 
The head lettuce was seeded outdoors directly into a bed that already had garlic planted and can be covered easily if the weather requires me to do so.

I’m thinking of weighing the harvest this year. I like to be organized! Must analyze plants! Must optimize garden capacity! Continue reading