Crops that thrive in the heat– Burgundy Okra, Shishito Peppers, Red Amaranth

Early last week we pulled up the last of the arugula, peas and red oakleaf lettuce knowing they would not survive the heat.  In their place we planted seeds– Burgundy Okra from Seed Savers Exchange, Shishito Peppers and Red Amaranth seeds both from Kitazawa Seed Co..  Seven days later all have sprouted, we should be eating okra and shishito peppers by early August and amaranth sprouts in a week.


Looking for something else on the internet last week I came across a pair of Honeyberry bushes for sale...  I learned that the Honeyberry is a variety of honeysuckle that bears sweet fruit and can be grown in our area.

Unfamiliar with them I needed them for our garden.  The two plants arrived in the mail and are planted.  I do not expect them to bear fruit until next summer but I am quite anxious!

Edible Forest Gardening

Until a couple of weeks ago I had never heard of an "Edible Forest"–

Edible forest gardening is the art and science of putting plants together in woodlandlike patterns that forge mutually beneficial relationships, creating a garden ecosystem that is more than the sum of its parts. You can grow fruits, nuts, vegetables, herbs, mushrooms, other useful plants, and animals in a way that mimics natural ecosystems. You can create a beautiful, diverse, high-yield garden. If designed with care and deep understanding of ecosystem function, you can also design a garden that is largely self-maintaining. In many of the world's temperate-climate regions, your garden would soon start reverting to forest if you were to stop managing it. We humans work hard to hold back succession—mowing, weeding, plowing, and spraying. If the successional process were the wind, we would be constantly motoring against it. Why not put up a sail and glide along with the land's natural tendency to grow trees? By mimicking the structure and function of forest ecosystems we can gain a number of benefits.

Anyone with a patch of land can grow a forest garden. They've been created in small urban yards and large parks, on suburban lots, and in small plots of rural farms. The smallest we have seen was a 30 by 50 foot (9 by 15 m) embankment behind an urban housing project, and smaller versions are definitely possible. ....

We were approached about helping to create an "Edible Forest"  on a strip of land currently covered in concrete near our house across the street from a school...  Immediately we began to imagine fig trees, chestnut trees, mushrooms, herbs and frogs...  Hopefully we will be reporting some progress soon.

Note from Path Valley Coooperative

Anyone who has eaten at a Home Restaurant or knows me at all has heard me rave about Path Valley.  Just after they were formed, nearly two decades ago,  we connected with the cooperative of Amish farmers and they have been our primary source for produce ever since. Yesterday with the weeks order list we got a note:

Yay!  It is March and the weather is being predictable for once.  The winds are perfect for kite flying and the kids have been really busy running around "catching the breeze" and "adding more tail" and generally enjoying the weather.  Spring has never seemed so welcome.
All of the growers have been busy placing seed orders and tilling and preparing for a busy growing season.   Month after month we do more business than ever and with the increase in business comes an increase in WORK and we are all ready to work.
All of us are super appreciative of being able to grow produce at home.  This keeps families at home, specifically, it keeps the guys at home.
This is far preferable than working out as a day laborer or at the local pallet shop.  There is a strong current of gratitude that I don't often mention and yet it is a fact that we all appreciate growing produce for you and engaging in such grounding and rewarding labor.
Thank you for supporting our family farms.

Michael Pollan's Short Stop-Motion Animation Film

I have been a fan of Michael Pollan's for awhile now.  When I first read Omnivores Dilemma I said he articulated much of what I believe much better than I have ever been able to.  Since then I have continued to follow his writing, have had the opportunity to see him speak... I came across this film through a link from GRACE, an amazing organization that in addition to making the Meatrix is doing all sorts of thoughtful work in the space where food, ecology, technology and health intersect...

Had to share–


A La Mode Dahlias

Maybe it is the name that attracts me...personally I like ice cream and I like baked goods but I have always been partial to any baked good served with ice cream– a la mode... Dahlias do not travel well.  I only use them when they are available locally, most years they are at their best in the DC area from August through mid October.  Most of the dahlias I use are from Wollam Gardens.  I use as many as possible, especially these bi-color white and orange a la modes, while they are available.

Watsonville California, Beach and Endless Strawberry Fields Side by Side

I talk a lot about knowing where your food comes from...I have visited many farms near and far, watched animals being slaughtered, I know many of the people that grow the food I eat and I grow as much as I can in my urban yard...but, when I arrived at a friends beach house it made me realize that there is lots that I am eating that I know nothing about!

I had never seen large scale strawberry production...  The house we were so fortunate to visit looked out over the ocean in one direction where sea otters played  just yards from the shore.  However, I was just as intrigued by the view out the kitchen window which was of strawberry fields as far as the eye could see.  Sitting at the kitchen table you could watch the fields being watered, tended to by man and machine and observe the systematic picking of strawberries.

The agriculture in the entire region is intense.  We were one stop north of Gilroy the garlic capital, and very close to Castroville, the artichoke capital, small and large farms carpeted the area.  Although seduced by the fertility of the area I also know that year round food production on this magnitude requires pesticides.  In any case I will never look at a strawberry exactly the same way again.   Next time you are in the supermarket check it out– much of the year the strawberries being sold are very likely from Watsonville, California.

I am happy to of witnessed this large scale agriculture production up close.

Summer Wanderings...Whitmore Farm

Not much blogging lately, we have been having too much fun wandering in DC, near DC and to further points...There have been lots of work projects but in between we have been zealous about exploring and sharing time and meals with friends. In no particular order I will share what we have been up too...

We met Will and Kent from Whitmore Farm a couple of years ago when they were selling at the Rose Park Farmers Market in Georgetown, they are not there anymore but are in D.C. on Saturdays at the Glover Park-Burleith Farm Market.  After a brief conversation we found out that they used to be regular customers at our old restaurant Rupperts when they lived in the city.  Since then they have relocated to Emmitsburg, Maryland where they raise heritage breeds of sheep, goats, hogs, chickens, rabbits and the best eggs we have ever tasted.  A visit to the farm has been on our list, we finally made it!

I must admit that I had high expectations from tasting their food and brief conversations.  The farm is beyond belief– the animals, farm buildings, their home, the barn, the property, the green houses where they are experimenting with the growth of more than a dozen varieties of figs, the machinery storage building that they are constructing without nails, the collection of Anduze Pots, the mobile chicken coops, the spectacularly colored eggs...

We spent a memorable afternoon around the kitchen table discussing the good and bad in certified organic farming, the unique chicken feed and breeds they use to produce the amazing eggs, how they choose what specific breeds of animals to raise, getting a local butcher certified, lobbying in Maryland in regards to regulation of poultry slaughter on small farms, the fact that many of their interns are vegan...

The visit was inspiring. I adore these guys, we are lucky to be able to cook with what they produce.