Jan 19, 2014

The Mâche Pit (Valerianella locusta)

Mâche is a gloriously hardy edible French green, also known as corn salad. I have overwintered some, and not the coldest cold snap we had here killed it - or even slowed it down.

I planted these "Ed Hume" mâche seeds in late September. I thought it was almost too late to plant the seeds, but did it anyway. They germinated quickly but grew very slowly. The plants started maturing right around Thanksgiving. I served a bed of mâche leaves with carrot slaw on top. Delicious! To harvest, the whole plant is taken. Roots are trimmed off. I harvested half the bed, and let the rest carry on into winter.

I will definitely plant this delicious mini-lettuce again in late Fall 2014.

To have vibrant green freshness like this, when so much else is dormant, is nice as an edible and visual treat.

Also thriving in the January garden is super-hardy salad burnet (Sanguisorba minor). I really like the burnet! I plan to pot up the volunteers. Deer absolutely will not touch this stuff! Not one bite. I have started a row of this up on the driveway, unirrigated and patrolled by deer.

When salad burnet is not blooming (which it does all spring and summer, well into fall) it has fresh ferny leaves. It will all get a haircut in early spring. Below is some thriving during a cold snap.

Below is a tiny self-seeded burnet start, cuddling with a thuggish rosette of shotweed (Cardamine hirsuta). Shotweed (AKA "land cress" or "flickweed" is a dreadful garden weed that has enjoyed this dry winter. It is a weed that MUST be pulled or hoed before it blooms. If the matured flowers and seed heads are disturbed, it shoots a cloud of seeds up into your eyeballs. Hate that.

Dec 2, 2013

Geranium "Rozanne" Frosty Finale

These geraniums have been wonderful performers. I have been dividing the clumps for years now, and they are all over my place. Very cheerful and hardy. As if the long-blooming purple flowers were not enough, the fall foliage is great too! The coming hard freezes will finish these leaves off soon. I love the muted color palette with the light frost. Click to enlarge!

Nov 2, 2013

Shrooms, Bustin' Out All Over!

The Pacific Northwest must a heaven for mushrooms and fungus of all kinds. Since the advent of real Fall weather lately, my daily walks are a tour of the many varieties of shrooms that are so happy here.

These erupted with such force that they brought a layer of soil and debris up with them.

This variety eventually disintegrates into a yucky pool of dark slime. Ugh.

These are large, about 7" across. About 3" high.

Slim pumpkin-colored ones, about 4" tall.

Something appears to be chomping on this frightening red one?

Universal color for "DONT EAT ME!"

Not sesame-seed buns, although they do look the part. I understand these are very poisonous.

Upturned pale fragile frilly ones.

Spongy and toasty brown. These are about 4" tall and 5" across or so.

These white shrooms look like they might be delicous. But I'm afraid to try them.

They are delicate and clean out in their woodsy setting.

A nice colony.

Oct 10, 2013

Cider Pressing, a delicious rite of Fall

We started with nice apple picked from a neighbor's orchard. They have some cosmetic blemishes, but nothing affecting their usefulness!

We wash and chop the apples, separating out some that didn't make the cut, for the hog to enjoy.

The chunked apples are added to a hopper where they are ground up into small bits. The bits drop into the ribbed container below.
The ribs expand to accommodate the tremendous pressure exerted by the press when it is screwed down.
The mulched-up bits awaiting pressing.
Turning the big wheel on the side lowers a wooden disc down onto the apple bits, squeezing out the delicious juice.
The juice is sweet and tangy, incredibly delicious! We pour the juice through a strainer into reused juice bottles and store it in the fridge or freezer. The squeezed pulp still has plenty of flavor and can be processed into applesauce, or it can make the hog very happy.