Pages

Monday, June 11, 2012

BLOWN OFF COURSE

We are bird watchers and bird feeders.  We even have house birds: Two African gray parrots.   Our house is perched in the woods on the side of a hill.  We have lots of large windows so we can see down the valley.  The birds occasionally fly into the windows. 
 
Our Home is located in the south western corner of St. Louis area.
 
This morning when I looked out I found a bird dead on the deck.  I went to retrieve it.  I didn't recognize the bird.  I knew it was in the warbler family but it was not like any warbler I had ever seen.
 
I looked in our field guides for it and it was not there.  The distinctive stripes led me nowhere.  Google to the rescue.  I googled warbler three stripes on head.  Instantly I had verification what bird I had.  I had a "Three Striped Warbler."  The catch was, this bird is only in Costa Rica and Ecuador.  There was no chance I had mis identified the bird.  It was the only warbler with the stripes.  You can see by the match book how small it is. 

The following pictures are other views of him. 



The following information is from google.
 
This is a live picture of the bird    http://photography-on-the.net/forum/showthread.php?t=1082911
 
live picture and article about the three stripe
 
Found this in wikipedia:
The Three-striped Warbler (Basileuterus tristriatus) is a species of bird in the Parulidae family.
It is found in Bolivia, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Panama, Peru, and Venezuela. Its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical moist montane forests and heavily degraded former forest.

Another article about this bird.   It coincidently is through the Missouri University

I can't imagine how the little thing made it all the way here and was so disappointed he had crashed into our window.  With the changes in weather and wind currents keep looking to the skies. This is the second bird we have had that didn't belong in the area. 

This is the link to the blog about our other "Blown Off Course" visitor. 
http://organicinstlouis.blogspot.com/2011/05/bird-feeder-visitor.html
 For more blogs by me visit at:

A blog mostly about quilting, but cooking, poetry, prose and a little gardening,
New blog, tutorial on how to make 5 panel Boxer Shorts.
New Blog about dolls.
Not a garden blog.  There are articles which have nothing to do with creating or gardening. 
There are blogs on the new born baby kittens we found and mothered.  It is a blog where I voice my opinions which will always be environmentally friendly.
As always, any pictures or writings are my own. 
Credit has been given to contributions not my own.
Please do not use without permission.
  

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

EPAZOTE: Nature's Beano

We were very fortunate to have two Mexican workers help us for 5 years.  Not only did we learn a little Spanish but we were able to have some lessons in harvesting the wild surpluses around our house.  We were treated to Bar-B-queing fish encrusted in salt.  I can't even begin to describe this succulent fish.
We were introduced to eating corn on the cob with Mayo or cream cheese on it.  The boys would constantly save the purslane they pulled to take home with them.  I googled it and tried it.  The taste was fine.  I tried it chopped in a cream cheese spread and steamed with butter.







One of the most beneficial herbs they taught us about was Epazote.  We have found so much about the plant which contradicts what is said about the plant.  The following two sites have the history of the herb and how they use it.





 
 
We have found our epazote is milder than what people refute it to be.  Ours is very heavy on the citrus side.  The creosote smell to us is more akin to the oil of citronella smell on the mosquito candles. (Too much of the herb can impart that flavor when cooked with legumes.)  We cooked it with lentils and found it did prevent gas.  I had the same findings when I cooked chick peas. 

How much is needed in a batch of beans I don't know.  I do know I put 6 stems in a 1 pound batch of dried beans and was able to taste the herb.  It wasn't a bad taste but it was there.  I will probably cut the amount in half the next time.  Knowing it works for us as de-gasser, I went looking for methods to preserve it (I had tried drying it one year and didn't like the results.)  The same thing happened with freezing it.  Googling provided me with information I already knew.

I remembered I had blanched basil to make pesto.  The results were a fabulous pesto which stayed green, not turning black.  I am one to experiment in the kitchen.  I have plenty of epazote so I gave it a try and blanched some.  Voila..it worked.  I dried the excess moisture off and froze it.  Then I thawed it to see what I had.  The only loss I experienced was a little of the flavor, which I compensated for by putting more in the package.  I used it in northern beans I cooked for baked beans.  The anti-gas substance was still there along with a nice citrus flavor.

Blanch it by dropping it in boiling water, stir it around for one second and take it out, placing it in ice water.  Dry it by rolling it in a flour sack towel (a lint free cloth).  Then I divided it into serving sizes and placed each in a sandwich baggie, squeezing out the air before closing the bag.  Each bag was made flat so they could be stacked in the freezer.  After they froze I put them all in a labeled freezer bag.
As always, I suggest to you to, read everything you can about new foods especially wild ones.  Make sure they will be a good addition to your diet.  When collecting wild foods make sure you know positively what you are picking (poison ivy would not make good quiche but lambs quarters does).
 http://organicinstlouis.blogspot.com/2012/03/lambs-quarters-healthy-choice.html
Remember peanuts, which are a good food, can cause health problems.

The picture on the right is a young plant.  A little larger than this is when I pick them. 

 For more blogs by me visit at:

A blog mostly about quilting, but cooking, poetry, prose and a little gardening,
New blog, tutorial on how to make 5 panel Boxer Shorts.
 New Article on my blog: 
"A MYSTERY IN THE MAKING"
A mystery quilt designed with the novice in mind
First Clue to be presented October 16.
 
Not a garden blog.  There are articles which have nothing to do with creating or gardening. 
There are blogs on the new born baby kittens we found and mothered.  It is a blog where I voice my opinions which will always be environmentally friendly.
 
As always, any pictures or writings are my own. 
Credit has been given to contributions not my own.
Please do not use without permission.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

STRAWBERRY FIELDS

We won't have Strawberry fields.  We have tried that method of cultivation.  It didn't work for us.  Even raising the level of a row in a hump didn't help.  The beds were always to wet.  We have a built in water retention "pond".  Just an inch or two under our soil is solid yellow clay.  We are on a hill but that doesn't help because we have underground water which surfaces where ever it wants, especially when it is raining.  Then there is the opposite problem when a dry spell hits the area dries up and looks like salt lake with in twenty four hours of sun and wind.  I get cracks so big you can stick your thumb in them.

In 2008 we started a strawberry bed.  This wasn't our first try but it was the one we changed planting strategies on.  Previously we had tried the strawberry field row method.  Twice it was a failure.  We considered that we were the inept planters.   The picture on the left is a young plant from the 2008 planting. 

The plants had arrived before we were ready for them and we had to put them into pots or we'd loose them (we had never potted them before this).  After potting we worked feverishly to make an area in the garden for them.  We had a terrace we needed to grade to keep the water from washing down it into the green house.   While working on the terrace I commented this was looking like a raised bed.  I wondered if we could amend it and plant the Strawberries on the ridge.  

That evening we went and re read everything we had on Strawberry culture.  We googled even more.  The next day armed with information both old and new we set out converting the terrace into a strawberry bed.  Hauling buckets of sand, chips, peat and more peat, and great dirt from an abandoned compost area.  For the next two months I tilled the area once a week regardless of whether it needed it or not.  We wanted the area totally weed free.  Weeds are the strawberry bed's worst nightmare (besides slugs).

The picture on the right is our first harvest in 2009.  That planting not only survived  two years it was still producing heavily for 5 years.  We diligently weeded and mulched the bed and it paid us back for our efforts.


Fast forward to 2010.  The bed is still producing and growing great.  The bed is only 10 x 3 feet.  We were picking a minimum of 6 quarts a day from it.  The left picture is about 6 feet of that bed when it  started blooming in 2010.  The picture on the right is the first 6 boxes we picked off the bed in 2010.
This is our dessert plate that night.  The next few weeks we were picking morning and night.  I was making strawberry shakes, strawberry pies, freezing berries, and making preserves. 
I can't tell you how much preserves I made because I was giving it away. 
I did put back 48 jars for ourselves.
I have mentioned in 2011 we didn't garden.  The rain never stopped and the heat kept getting hotter.  It wasn't a good scene for strawberries.  Each day we could see the bed dwindling.  All sorts of fuguses were showing up rotting a plant here and another one there.  Our terraced bed did not save them from being too wet.  They never were able to dry off.  We lost the whole bed, and any chance of starting a new bed from runners off the old plants.
We are now in the same desparate place as you are.  We need to make a new bed.  I have the plants, They are cozy in their pots.  The following blog is about these plants:
 For more blogs by me visit at:

A blog mostly about quilting, but cooking, poetry, prose and a little gardening,
New blog, tutorial on how to make 5 panel Boxer Shorts.
New Blog about dolls.
Not a garden blog.  There are articles which have nothing to do with creating or gardening. 
There are blogs on the new born baby kittens we found and mothered.  It is a blog where I voice my opinions which will always be environmentally friendly.
As always, any pictures or writings are my own. 
Credit has been given to contributions not my own.
Please do not use without permission.

Friday, March 30, 2012

GARDEN BEDS


As you can see our garden is still not back to its use able state.  I have slowly been reclaiming it.  Between working on it, I also have potting and planting to do. 

Three days ago I started on the area to the right of this gate.  It was in the same condition this side is.  It was necessary to grub out weeds and tear down old retaining walls made of bricks and cement blocks.   The freeze and thaws of two winters had done a number on them, not to mention the weeds root systems prying them apart.  I dry lay all my beds because I know I will probably want to change them.  A dry laid wall can have a life span of more than three years if the rows of bricks are stacked with a slight stair stepped edge.  that way when the ground swells and pushes against them it doesn't push them off the row below.

If you didn't see the article before of how we are reclaiming the garden here is the link:
http://organicinstlouis.blogspot.com/2012/03/garden-reclamation.html

The following picture is to the right of the gate on the outside of the garden.  The area runs parallel to the gravel drive.  You can see the bunch grass on the edge of the drive I haven't grubbed out yet.  This grass has a huge root system that is like an underground mop.  I needed to work the area first and build the walls so I could salvage what good dirt was left.  I cleared enough area to begin working.

The fireplace tile and the lamb's ears were always there.  It was hard to believe the lambs ears survived in the wet environment with the weeds.    The basket in the bed was a basket I had planted with house plants and the bottom rotted out of it.  I thought, this is going to get recycled another year.  Today It became a pansy basket.  I used coconut mat to line it with.  I had a couple of small pieces left from another project.  The ajuga is blooming all over the garden.  I find it buried in the weeds.  The dark green plant is a "Malva".  It is one that was growing last year.  The winter didn't turn it to mush.  The light green plant is "Feverfew".  It survived too.  if you look closely at the base of the stake on the right you will see a "Jackman  clematis".  Two on this fence survived the two winters and the weeds.  I almost pulled this one along with the weeds.

The center section of the area to the right of the gate was left soil less.  I scraped down to the clay to make enough soil to fill the bed on the left.

Ajuga isn't soil particular.  It will grow in clay as well as your best loam.  It doesn't even complain when water is short.  I fashioned a bird bath with a large ceramic drain tray from a flower pot and a kitty litter pail turned upside down.

The area we have been working with is approximately 32 feet long.  The fence is made of two 16 feet long cattle panels. 

To the far right of the gate I made another bed.  It has a basket too.  This basket is lined with 2 sheets of news paper.  By the time the roots of any plants have filled the basket the paper will dissolve and the roots will hold the soil in.  As yet the bed and basket are not planted.  There is a clematis in the bed and the ajuga.  right now I am planning to put thyme in the basket and tarragon in the bed.  These are both items the deer won't eat.  They are decorative in the flower garden as well as edible. 
Looking at this picture as I type I think I will look to see what chives I have coming up and put the along the fence to keep the weeds down.  I have use chives for decorative purposes before. 
The following is a blog on how I used them:

When I look at this and think, three days..doesn't look like much.  Then I remember I only worked on it for three hours each morning till the sun got too much for me and I went in the barn to pot plants.  

In the evenings I have been clearing out raised beds and planting them with broccoli, potatoes and onions.  Right now our tiller is kaput and I am having to use a grub hoe and I am very happy I had great soil which was not compacted by waiting for me two years.

I have found it is harder to repair the damage done by neglect
than it was to construct the garden in the first place.

For more blogs by me visit at:

A blog mostly about quilting, but cooking, poetry, prose and a little gardening,
New blog, tutorial on how to make 5 panel Boxer Shorts.
New Blog about dolls.
Not a garden blog.  There are articles which have nothing to do with creating or gardening. 
There are blogs on the new born baby kittens we found and mothered. 
new blog  about an endangered beetle:
It is a blog where I voice my opinions which will always be environmentally friendly.
As always, any pictures or writings are my own. 
Credit has been given to contributions not my own.
Please do not use without permission.

Friday, March 23, 2012

STRAWBERRY PLANTS (A TUTORIAL)

Hunny came home with a package which arrived in the mail.  He told me some seeds came.  I said I wasn't expecting any seeds.  We had supper, then I opened the package.   It wasn't seeds, it was our strawberry plants.  Oh my, we aren't ready for them. 
It wasn't the fact there wasn't a bed ready for them.  We knew we weren't going to have a bed ready till late summer.  We  had ordered the plants to pot culture them until they could go into the ground. 

Hopefully it will give us a year head start.  Yes, it will mean extra work. We'll have to re pot a couple of times.  This requires extra mixing of dirt.  It also requires a staging area for keeping them safe.  The picture on the left is how our plants arrived.  They were in a sealed plastic bag.  The plants were rubber banded in a bundle.

We ordered our plants from   http://www.jungseed.com/  .  The plants were really nice, with fully developed root systems.  They were dry rooted but the roots were not dry.  They were nice and fleshy.
When you receive your plants, the first thing you want to do is open them up and check the condition of the bunch. (Your plants come with instructions on the care the producer recommends).  I have my own ideas which work for me.  I remove the banding, place the bunch in a container and rinse the roots, draining thoroughly. When drained, I stand them in the container  to wait till I can plant them.  This is to be the next day.  Only the roots are in the container.  I want the stems and leaves to be out in the air and the roots protected so they don't get dried out. (Do not leave them in the plastic bag.  They will mold and rot.)

Today is 14 hours later and I am in the barn preparing to get my precious plants in their pots.
NEEDED EQUIPMENT:
(50) 4 Inch pots and trays, 
Large plastic wheel barrow (the 40 lb kitty litter bucket is for size comparison), 4 cup Pyrex measuring cup, microwave, large stainless spoon, scissors, plastic labels, sharpie marker,

DIRT INGREDIENTS:  peat moss, rice hulls, bone meal, Epsom salts,  good compost dirt, rotted wood chips,  dried manure, sand and fish emulsion,
After rounding up everything, I set about mixing dirt.  I was able to short circuit part of the process.  I had several large pots of dirt from house plants I lost due to cold.  But the dirt wasn't friable enough for strawberries.  I needed to add other ingredients. 

In my huge 2 wheel plastic barrow I mix my dirt.  I use a 40 pound kitty litter pail for measuring (the one you buy the litter in).
One pail ground peat moss which has been rubbed till it contains no lumps. 
One half pail of rice hulls.

Mix these together till they are thoroughly combined.
Start adding hot water.  I heat 4 cups of water at the time in the microwave (in the barn we don't have a kitchen and I don't pay to use the water heater.)  I heat the water for 9 minutes.  It is extremely hot but not boiling (It is a cheaper micro not real high powered).  Pour it on the mixture and stir like mad and then go heat more.  It usually takes about 5 trips to get the mixture till it feels moist.  Why do I use hot water?  If you use cold water it won't be quickly absorbed by the peat moss.  The  hot water is absorbed immediately.

At this point I would normally add approximately a pail of good compost dirt, 1/2 pail of pulverized dried manure, a 1/4 pail of rotted wood chips, and a 1/4 pail of sand.  I would incorporate it with the peat mixture.  I would dust the surface with 2 large handfuls of Epsom salts and 4 large handfuls of bone meal, stirring everything together.  Instead I just dumped the pots with the old dirt in the peat mixture and added the bone meal and Epsom salts.

Right now, I am hearing groans and gasps.  Why?  Because I am using old, already been used dirt.  Unsterilized dirt!  My theory is; they would be planted in the ground and I didn't sterilize it.   The plants in the pot did not die of disease or anything kin to that.  So I can dump the pots on the compost pile and wait a year to reuse it or use it right now.  The detriment for me in using it is the dirt will have weed seeds in it and I will have to be weeding the pots.

Everything is ready to begin.  The first thing I do is fill a short jar with a wide mouth with fish emulsion water.  It is large enough to soak the roots of the plants with out submerging the crowns.  I get an old rag and set it on the table in front of me with the scissors (rag is to soak up the dripping water from the roots).  We are going to prune the roots of the plants.



The picture on the right has a pruned plant and an un-pruned plant.  The instructions said to prune to 4-6 inches.  Because I am pot culturing them I pruned to three inches.  (They need to fit in the pot.) 
At this time I also trim off any dead stems and leaves. 
Fill your pots with dirt.  Then dump out one third and press the remainder firmly into the bottom.  You want to make a cone shape in the center.  I tried to picture it  but it doesn't show as well as I hoped.
The purpose of the cone is to spread the roots around.  You don't just do this in the pot, you do this when planting outside.  You don't want your roots to be crimped.  You will want to make your cone so the top of it is about 1/2" below the rim of the pot.  Perch your plant on it and cover the roots with soil mix and firmly pack the soil over the roots.

HOW DEEP DO YOU PLANT THE PLANTS?
 Make sure you do not bury the crown too deep or leave it exposed to the air.  Either position is hazardous to the health of your plant.   How do you determine what is right?  Your plants will come with a planting guide (the growers want you to have success with them, they want repeat customers, lol.)
I have drawn an explanation which I hope will help.  The plant has an area between the roots and the leaves.  I call this the crown.  When you bury it you don't want the roots exposed and you don't want the crown exposed.  You don't want the dirt higher than the base of the leaves.  If the dirt is above the base of the leaves moisture can get into the crevices and cause rot.   If the Crown is exposed it can dry out.

This is a planted flat of 10 of the strawberry plants.  It is March 23, 2012.  When they start leafing out I will add pictures to show their growth.

This flat was watered in with fish emulsion water.  I use 1 Tablespoon of commercial fish emulsion with one gallon water.

When the plant's roots fill the pot, they will be transplanted to a pot that will be an inch larger and deeper.  Right now they will be in the green house until The weather has become more stable.  Our Valley can become extremely cold and frosts when the local area does not.  The tender new growth will be very susceptible to frost damage.

Strawberries take two years for a crop but they are worth the wait.  Yes, the plants will bloom this year.  We will go into that step in another blog.  I hope you will try planting strawberries.  Next Blog will be the preparation of a strawberry bed. 

UPDATE APRIL 5, 2012: 
These are the planted flats.  It has been  12 days since they were planted. 

We are expecting a brush with frost tomorrow.  They are still in the green house. 
I didn't have a measuring device in this picture but the tallest is only about 3 inches tall. 

UPDATE APRIL 26, 2012
The following pictures are of the plants today. The trowel is there so you can see the size.  The roots are showing through the bottom of the pot.  This weekend we will spend moving them to new homes.









  










UPDATE APRIL 29:
The picture on the left is the above pot unveiled.  You can see it is getting "root-bound". When ever you see roots peeking through the bottom of the pot you should take the plant out of the pot and inspect it to make sure it isn't getting root-bound

Root-bound pots do not take up nutrients well.

The picture on the right is the plant with the dirt shaken off the roots.  I did not water for 24 hours before I knew I was going to re pot.  It makes it easier to shake the dirt off.  Yes, I do replace all the dirt with a fresh mix when I re pot.  I do this because I want to give them the best possible environment.  Someone might tell me I am causing them more transplanting shock.  I haven't found this to be a problem.  I trim the roots down to about 4 inches and then re pot spreading the roots out in a fan in the pot.  I am very careful to watch the placement of the crown.  At this time I also deflowered the plant.  (Notice the flower which had popped up since the 26).  You want to pick all flowers off the plants this first year.  You want the plants to put their energies into growing and making runners for more plants.  (The dirt which I shook off the plants is not going to be relagated to the compost pile.  I will use it to repot some banana plants and house plants.)
Left is the strawberry plant re potted in it's new dirt which has been fortified with bone meal, Epsom salts, and dried manure in a mixture of rice hulls and peat moss blended with dirt which was the remnants of a compost pile (equal parts). 

After it was potted I submerged the pot in water laced with fish emulsion.  Use a receptacle that is 3 times the depth of your pot.  Fill 3/4 full of water and then emerge your pot in it till the surface of the pot  is under the water (don't worry about the crown of the plant getting wet at this point).  You will see bubbles rising from the pot.  Do not remove the pot till the bubbles stop (keep the surface of the pot under the surface of the water by at least 1/2 inch).  Then place on a rack to drain.  If you are new to gardening,  all plants, when re-potted should be submerged in water to drive the air pockets out of the pots and settles the dirt around the roots. 

I am hoping this potting will hold them at least another 6 weeks before they need new and larger home.  (I'm smiling, I had a thought.  My strawberries are like hermit crabs, when they outgrow their shells they move to a larger one.)

I used homemade fish emulsion which I need to write a blog about, it was not an unpleasant endeavor.  Right now I am learning how much to use of my homemade stuff.  I am not too concerned about too much because for this year I want to get as much lush green growth as I can.  I want these plant strong so they will give me a robust crop of their little red gems next year.

I hope my blog has inspired you to get some strawberry plants this year, even if you don't have the area prepared for them.  You can pot them and get your beds ready and plant in the middle of summer (I will be updating this blog with every step I do with the plants.)

I have another blog about strawberries:
http://organicinstlouis.blogspot.com/2012/04/strawberry-fields.html


For more blogs by me visit at:

A blog mostly about quilting, but cooking, poetry, prose and a little gardening,
New blog, tutorial on how to make 5 panel Boxer Shorts.
New Blog about dolls.
Not a garden blog.  There are articles which have nothing to do with creating or gardening. 
There are blogs on the new born baby kittens we found and mothered.  It is a blog where I voice my opinions which will always be environmentally friendly.
As always, any pictures or writings are my own. 
Credit has been given to contributions not my own.
Please do not use without permission.

PROTECT THIS BEETLE

"BURYING BEETLE" RE INTRODUCTION
Each morning the alarm wakes us an hour before our intended waking time.  We do this because we have discovered we get our best sleep after the alarm goes off.  The radio is set on the local PBS channel.  This is fund raiser week.  They have interesting articles not the regular early morning news and stock reports.  Normally I will hear excerpts here and there and dose back off.  This morning I heard what I thought was "Dairying Beetle being re introduced in Missouri"  Googled when I got up and discovered it was "Burying Beetle".

The above picture was copied from the following site:

I remember seeing this beetle when I was growing up in the boot heel of Missouri.  Dad had a garden in Caruthersville. In fact we were always finding all kinds of beetles under rocks and in leaf piles.  It was difficult to read the information on this beetle knowing mankind is contributing to his demise. 
The following link takes you to the Columbia, Missouri News report:


An indepth article on the beetle:

These Beetles only live for a year.  They mate for life.  They co parent.  They farm. 
Makes you stop and think.
"WHAT'S IN STORE FOR US"

For more blogs by me visit at:
A blog mostly about quilting, but cooking, poetry, prose and a little gardening,
New blog, tutorial on how to make 5 panel Boxer Shorts.
New Blog about dolls.
Not a garden blog.  There are articles which have nothing to do with creating or gardening. 
There are blogs on the new born baby kittens we found and mothered.  It is a blog where I voice my opinions which will always be environmentally friendly.
 
As always, any pictures or writings are my own. 
Credit has been given to contributions not my own.
Please do not use without permission.

Monday, March 19, 2012

LAMB'S QUARTERS: A HEALTHY CHOICE

LAMB'S QUARTERS,
A GOURMET DELIGHT
When you have an organic garden, weeds are a fact of life.  You are pulling them, mulching them, or grubbing them out.  Lamb's Quarters falls into all three categories with an exception, it is a desirable weed.  When it is young, like on the left, the leaves are a wonderful substitute for spinach.  When it has bloomed and set seeds, the seeds can be harvested and ground into flour (at least that is what I have been told, I have never tried it.  I have tasted the seeds and they have a very nutty taste.)

If you have a fertile garden with plenty of nitrogen sources you will have Lamb's Quarters popping up.  I consider this a free food because I don't have to till the garden for it, I don't have to plant it, I just need to wait until it is ready to harvest.  Harvest time occurs within a couple of weeks of the first sign of sprouting.   It grows very quickly especially in protected areas like our cold frame/green house.

The perfect size to harvest is about 6-8 inches.  The growth on the left is the correct size (the larger plants).  The smaller plants are also very good, but it is easier to pull the sturdier plants getting the root systems.  You  want to get the roots.  Any root left with a little stem will re sprout and the root system gets very strong.  They are a deep rooted plant.

I harvested the path on the left.  I will tell you how I harvest and freeze this vegetable.  If you like spinach you'll love Lamb's Quarters.  BTW it is very high in calcium and vitamin K.  If you have kidney problems you might not want to consume them or only having them occasionally, they contain oxalic acid. 

LAMB'S QUARTERS IDENTIFICATION

This is a close up for what you are looking for, sometimes it is a darker green.   Notice the center leaves.  They look like they have talcum powder dusted on them.  You can also feel it when you touch it (it will rub off). 

All the leaves have some of this "dust" on them but the center leaves, as they are just opening up, have an abundance of it.   It is not poisonous, nor is it anything wrong.  I am only pointing it out as a means of identification of the plant.   I haven't noticed this on any of the other wild plants I forage for.





Another close up on a pink napkin, see the frosted look the "dust" gives the leaves.





This is the plant you are looking for when it is young.   I have found it usually doesn't grow just one solitary plant.  Usually a lot of seeds fall in the same spot and you have a plethora of plants.

In "Spring Flora of Missouri" by Julian A. Steyermark he spells the name the way I am using it here.  Other names are Lambsquarters, goosefoot, and pigweed. His discription of the"dust" is:  "Leaves and flowers covered with a white mealiness."



HARVESTING LAMB'S QUARTERS




The above pictures are what I do when I pull the Lamb's Quarters.  The picture on the left is my hand grasping a bunch with the roots all the same direction.  I grasp the plants just below the major bulk of the leaves (the top 2 or 3 segments).  In the right picture you can see I clipped off the roots close to my hand.  The clipped remains made a happy trip to the compost pile.  The leaves are nestled in a plastic bag till it's filled.

PREPARING LAMB'S QUARTERS FOR FREEZING

This is the bag of Lamb's Quarters in a 13 quart stainless steel bowl.    The copper thing is a biscuit cutter for size comparison.  The first thing you need to do is a little difficult to picture but easy to understand.  You need a very large pan or even a bucket. Fill it with water about 2/3 full.  What you are going to accomplish is washing as much of the "dust" off the leaves as you can.  I usually wash the leaves about 3 times (the dust on the plants leaves a film on your teeth.  That is the reason I wash it off).  I also wash the pan with soapy water between rinses (the sides of the pan seem to velcro the "dust").  Do not soak the leaves.  Put them in the water and swish them around, like the agitator in a washing machine. Rinsing in running water will not remove the "Dust".  After you have removed all the loose "Dust" drain the leaves.   While they are draining put a pan to heat with adequate water to immerse the leaves.  Bring the water to a roiling boil.  Have another large pan handy with ice water in it. I use two, eight quart stock pots for this.

When the water comes to a boil throw in your rinsed and drained Lamb's Quarters.  Stir them constantly until they turn a beautiful dark green (this takes less than a minute).  Immediately fish them out throwing them into the ice water. Stir them so all leaves are exposed to the ice water, chilling them down, stopping the cooking.  Drain in a colander in the sink.  If they are still warmish...run cold tap water on them in the large pan and drain again.  At this point I can picture the next steps.

The picture on the left is the blanched Lamb's Quarters.  This is to show you the quantity you will get from the above un-blanched amount.
After blanching the Lamb's Quarters you need to remove the excess water before freezing them.

The Lamb's Quarters are placed between two linen dish towels (flour sacks or cotton pillow cases will work).  Make sure what you use is lint free.

I roll up the "sandwich".  You can see there is a blue towel underneath.  It is a very thick one.  You will be rolling your rolled sandwich in this. 

Treat it like you would delicate lingerie.  You don't want to wring the Lamb's Quarters.  You want to apply slight pressure, squeeze and roll the contents.  The towels are to wick the water away from the leaves.  You don't want the leaves interior juices to be "wrung" from them.  You want to remove the excess blancing water. 
This is the dried Lamb's Quarters (half of it already chopped).  Next you grab your chef's knife and start chopping.  I do not think a processor would work for this.  I think it would make mush out of it. 

Once it is chopped you can divide the amount into plastic bags.  I put 8 ounces in each bag (I use the zip lock sandwich bags).  After it is bagged, I flatten all the bags and layer them in a gallon freezer bag which has been labeled with the contents. (Three bags will also fit in the Zip Lock heavy duty quart size freezer bag.) 


For another comparison, here is the chopped  Lamb's Quarters in the original bowl.  I have always been impressed with the quantity you end with compared to what you would with the equal amount of spinach.  Once you have tried this you will see why I don't try to plant spinach in the spring.

I hope I have encouraged you to forage for your veggies.  I have used Lamb's Quarters for any dishes I have florentined.  I have creamed them. They are delicious with sauteed onions and butter.  A famous person once said, "Try it you'll like it."

For more blogs by me visit at:
A blog mostly about quilting, but cooking, poetry, prose and a little gardening,
 
 New Article on my blog: 
"A MYSTERY IN THE MAKING"
A mystery quilt designed with the novice in mind
First Clue to be presented October 16, 2013.
 
Not a garden blog.  There are articles which have nothing to do with creating or gardening. 
There are blogs on the new born baby kittens we found and are mothering.  It is a blog where I will sometimes voice my opinions which will always be environmentally friendly.
As always, any pictures or writings are my own,
if not credit will be given to the contributor.
Please do not use without permission

Thursday, March 15, 2012

MY SPRING WALK

 It wasn't a long walk just down a short length of the drive.  It was very early and the sun was very bright.  It is said there is always a right light time.  This wasn't it.  The flowers reflected the sun.  I hadn't ever noticed before but the flowers in general face the sun.   There are some which don't but most do. 





Walking down the drive the iris are poking their leaves up through the leaf mold.  Tree branches have tight buds with no color yet but they are filling up.










Then low and behold on the side of the drive is the spindliest tree you ever saw.  If it was Christmas it would be a Charlie Brown tree.   It was so skinny, no idea what it is, but it brought a smile.
The bright sun shines reflecting the beauty of the flowers.  Notice on the large flower on the left the shadow of the stamens on the petal on the right.  This is probably a service berry or such but until the leaves unfurl I won't be able to identify it.

Across from the spindly tree is the remains of a tree which died.  We cut it down over thirty years ago.  The bark was strange and the wood was the color of the daffodils. I have never seen such a yellow wood. It hasn't rotted at all, just seems to have dehydrated.  It's under the shade of some scrubby oaks and red buds.  Nothing ever seemed to want to grow there.
In the leaf litter you can see the first saw cut, before they realized they would run into the dirt if they continued.  There isn't even any rot there.  The designs on the tree fascinated me.


Thank you for talking this short walk with me.  It was a pleasant break from transplanting seedlings (today I put lettuce into larger pots). 

For more blogs by me visit at:
A blog mostly about quilting, but cooking, poetry, prose and a little gardening,
Not a garden blog.  There are articles which have nothing to do with creating or gardening. 
There are blogs on the new born baby kittens we found and are mothering.  It is a blog where I will sometimes voice my opinions which will always be environmentally friendly.
As always, any pictures or writings are my own, if not credit will be given to the contributor. Please do not use without permission