Gardens to Tables

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Cover Crops

To help foster healthy soil after the summer growing system, consider putting in cover crops, which can help suppress weeds and control pests in addition to improving the soil.

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Welcome to Gardens to Tables
Living the Dream, Even if Just for a Few Days Print E-mail
Written by Ann Shepphird   

North Country Farms KauaiEver wonder what it would be like to chuck it all and move to an organic farm on Kauai? Well, Lee Roversi did just that and, because she did, you can try it out yourself by staying in one of the two bed-and-breakfast cottages at her North Country Farms on the north shore of Kauai. This is not your traditional bed-and-breakfast. Personally, when I hear bed-and-breakfast, I think of an over-designed Victorian where it feels like you've moved in with the in-laws. I know this isn't fair as I've visited any number of really cool and different bed-and-breakfasts but, let's face it, that's the usual rep. At North Country Farms, you instead stay in two wooden guest houses that are completely self-contained and include a welcome basket filled with goodies to enjoy at your leisure instead of a formal breakfast where you’re expected to make chit chat with strangers. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that if you’re into it. Really.)

The four-acre farm provides a variety of produce year-round (including a market garden of mixed vegetables, orchard trees, pineapple field and banana groves) that’s sold directly to 50-60 families. From the wooden porches on the cottages, you can look directly out on the lettuce, arugula, kale, swiss chard, beets, radishes, basil, peppers and other vegetables happily growing in rows. And you're even encouraged to pluck fruit directly from the tree while a guest there.
Secrets of the Corn from Morning Glory Farm on Martha's Vineyard Print E-mail
Written by Ann Shepphird   

Morning Glory Farms cover pageWith a farm stand that has become a Martha's Vineyard institution (attracting everyone from celebrities and islanders to foodies and restauranteurs), Morning Glory Farms was started 30 years ago when the Athearn family bought a tractor and set up a table to sell their vegetables. The story of the Athearns and their family farm -- plus 70 recipes inspired by their produce -- can be found in the new book “Morning Glory Farm and the Family That Feeds an Island” by Tom Dunlop, with photographs by Alison Shaw.

Here, in an excerpt from the book, are some tips from Morning Glory Farm on picking the perfect ear of corn along with a recipe for corn muffins (as we enter these last few weeks of corn season):

The crop that invariably earns so much affection at Morning Glory is the corn. So what makes Morning Glory corn snap with such exceptional sweetness in the mouth? According to the Athearns, you can answer this question three ways—none of them perfectly correct by themselves. The first is the types of corn they grow. After thirty years in the business, the family relies on ten or twelve varieties, bred to various degrees of sweetness. When there are two types on sale at the farm stand, customers often ask Jim Athearn which is the sweetest. He answers, “Well, this one is, but maybe that’s not the question you want to ask. Maybe it’s, ‘Which one tastes better?’” Among his favorite varieties is Silver Queen. It’s neither as sweet nor as tender as Delectable, a popular sugar-enhanced variety; still, it has “a character to its flavor that I’ve been trying to describe to people for years, but haven’t managed to.” The second factor: how it’s harvested. (Click "read more" for whole post and corn muffin recipe.)

Print E-mail
Written by Ann Shepphird   

Chipotle Spicy GuacamoleAs a way to continue living into its motto of “Food with Integrity,” the Chipotle restaurant chain recently announced a commitment to source at least 35 percent of its produce, including bell peppers, jalapenos, romaine lettuce and red onions, from within 200 miles of each restaurant (the industry average is 1,500 miles) This is an increase of 10 percent last year before, when the program was initiated.

I recently spoke with Chris Arnold, a spokesperson for Chipotle, on the program, how they keep the ingredients consistent and tips for home gardeners on working with peppers and chilies. He was also nice enough to give us their recipe for spicy guacamole (click "read more" and the recipe will be at the bottom of the post).

What made you decide to embark on this program?

We have been on a journey for about the last 10 years looking to find more sustainable sources for all of the ingredients that we use. It started by using naturally raised pork and has grown from there. We serve more naturally raised meat than any restaurant in the world. Now we have been increasing the amounts of organic and locally grown produce – and have committed to buying at least 35 percent of at least one produce item from local farms. The food tastes better and it’s better for the animals and the environment.

Print E-mail
Written by Alan Toy   

We’ve all seen them -- those impossibly large zucchinis that someone should have picked weeks ago, but they just looked so nice on the vine that they didn’t get harvested until they became the size of small children or pets. Zucchinis are squash, not gourds, so they don’t keep forever either as evidence of your prowess at growing monster fruits of the vine.

So, what to do? Strata, of course! Strata is kind of a lasagna without pasta. It involves cheeses, often eggs and veggies, all layered and baked. Now, I had someone’s zucchini concoction at our Labor Day party in the garden last summer and it was delicious, so I decided to try making something like it on my own, no recipes, just intuition, a very large zucchini and as much stuff grown in my garden as possible.

Here’s how I did it (click "

Using Biodynamics in the Home Garden Print E-mail
Written by Ann Shepphird   

Jeff Dawson of UbuntuJeff Dawson is the master gardener and creator of the biodynamic gardens for Ubuntu Restaurant & Yoga Studio in Napa, California. Considered a “biodynamic guru,” Dawson also established the gardens at Fetzer Vineyards and Kendall Jackson Vineyards and served as the Curator of Gardens for Copia, the American Center for Wine, Food and the Arts.

Here he helps us understand just what biodynamics is and how it can be used in the home or community garden:

Q: What is biodynamics and can people practice it at home?

A: Biodynamics is a complex subject and practice. It requires a specific set of preparations, including composting and creating specific fertilizers. It also encompassed crushing up crystal and mixing it into the animal dung. This is because the crystal brings in heat and light to the plants. All in all, it is not something the average person can practice at home.

Q: Is there any single part of biodynamics that people can practice at home?

A: Yes, there is one small part called “gardening by the moon” but it takes a lot of skill with timing and consistency. “Gardening by the moon” is based on calendars. There are 12 constellations broken up into four parts -- fire, earth, water and air signs. With biodynamic gardening, you cultivate and harvest in accordance of these moons. Earth=roots/soil, Water=leaves, Air=flowers, and Fire=fruit. So, if you were looking to cultivate soil, you would want to do so during the Earth moon. Moon signs, contrary to popular astrological belief, last about 2 ½ days. If you were to plant beets two days before the full moon they would come out instantly as they would be drawn up through something we call “suctional force.”

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