Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Puttin' Down Some Roots

Has it really been like seven weeks since my last post? Wow! Turns out that time doesn't just fly when you're having fun, it flies even when you aren't having fun. Don't worry, I'm not going to whine & bore you to death with the details. After all, this isn't about me, it's about The Redneck Garden!

Like most gardens in Nor-Cal, my summer veggies have all but flown the coop. I've been gradually pulling things, making room for winter veggies that I haven't started or purchased yet (right on my usual schedule). The latest to be thinned was the green grape tomato that produced quite well this year, but had finally withered beyond even the cage's ability to support it. Only challenge was, when I tried to pull it from the bucket, it wouldn't let go! I had to take it over to the driveway and turn the bucket upside down to get it out. Check out what I found...

 For starters, from the surface of the soil, to the tip of the stem was over 6 & 1/2 feet! Not bad for a semi-determinate cherry tomato grown in a plastic bucket!

This is after I dumped it out of the bucket, so the top of the pics is actually the bottom of the bucket. I'm not totally surprised at this great root growth, but very pleased with the confirmation that I was doing some things right. 
The main root ball, after knocking most of the dirt off was a solid 10" mass of fibrous roots. I don't know if this is typical or not, being the novice gardener that I am, but for a bucket that was only 11" wide & 12" deep, this seems pretty good to me. Further proof that my custom blended soil had a great balance of air & water porosity and that the beneficial organisms in the soil were thriving and sharing their joy with the plant. The original mix contained greenwaste compost & worm castings, which are both great sources of beneficial biology & natural nutrients. The plant received a few applications of worm compost tea during the summer months, a couple small applications of a commercial organic vegetable fertilizer over the season and were never watered more than twice each week.

And even now it wants me to believe it can still make those tasty green treats I've so enjoyed. Thanks to the Master Gardeners of Santa Clara County & Cynthia Sanberg of Love Apple Farm for the good tips. Hopefully next summer will be just slightly warmer & we'll see a little more production.

Until next time; get out to the garden and stay happy.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Eat Real Festival Year Two

I managed to get away to enjoy a few hours at  the Eat Real festival in Oakland this past weekend. I went last year as well, but this was a bigger & better event. Just about any kind of food you could want was being served from trucks, carts & booths. Of course there were several versions of the traditional taco truck or taco stand and they all looked great. Click on the pics for larger images.

And some not so traditional versions...

There were Filipino food trucks...

Argentinian & Indian food trucks...

And of course, a local favorite made even more famous by their recent appearance on the Food Network's "The Great Food Truck Race", Spencer on the Go!
Yes, I did have the Escargot Lollipop, which was excellent and no, Spencer would not tell me who wins. So much for my phone call to Vegas.

And there was entertainment in the form of good, live music...

And more food...

And beverages...

And great wood-fired barbacue...
I talked with one of the guys from this crew; they came all the way from Alabama to do this event! They are trying to organize a similar event at home and have come to Eat Real the past two years to gain experience and learn what it takes to put together a food event of this magnitude. Oh, and they smoked a whole hog from Marin Sun Farms, who provided their pastured pork for all of the food vendors at Eat Real. Yumm!

Can't forget desert...

But wait, there's loads more food...

And there was a whole section on Urban Homesteading...

Even my favorite CSA folks were here...
My family really enjoys the box we get from Farm Fresh to You every other week. My little urban container garden is pretty good, but the CSA subscription keeps us in diverse, seasonal, organic fruits & vegetables that come fresh from the farm, for the same money we used to spend at the local mega-market.

Organic dairy products anyone???

Have I told you about the "Pulled Rabbit Sandwich" yet???
Oh yes I did & it was delish! The rabbit, from Canvas Restaurant (a roving supper club) was a product of Devil's Gulch Ranch, on the Marin county coast. Another great example of sustainable, organic agriculture just a few miles from San Francisco. The Pasternaks are not only farming, ranching & wine making people, they provide many educational opportunities as well. Elmer Fud woulda' loved this.

And more food...
Mac & Cheese is the new Beef Stroganoff (especially the "Trailer Mac") and these ladies were rockin' it! MMMmmmm, pans full of warm gooey, cheesy goodness.

And more food...

Seemed like the crowd was enjoying the whole Eat Real experience. The absolutely perfect weather didn't hurt either.

My visit ended with something you don't see every day...
A hog butchering competition. I know, seems a little strange, but part of the Eat Real message is for people to be more directly connected with their food and know where it comes from. These guys were truly skilled craftsmen and impressive to watch. Absolutely nothing was wasted. The lady emcee did a terrific job of describing exactly what was going on, interacting with the crowd & the judges and provided a lot of education along the way. I learned a lot about pastured pork and what I can do to improve my food supply. This was an unexpectedly good surprise.

So, what did I eat you ask? Limited time and funds were my restrictions or I could've easily spent the whole weekend here. My first taste was the Maui Taco from The Taco Guys. This was a fantastic little fish taco with great big flavor and wonderfully crispy fried Pacific Rock Cod & Sriracha Mayo. My second bite was the pulled rabbit sandwich from Canvas Restaurant and third was the Escargot Lollipop from Spencer on the Go! Okay, I did have one beer on the way out. In truth, I wish I had used that $6.00 on more food.

So there you have it; Eat Real Festival looked to be a huge success this year and I can't wait to see what next year brings. If you made the fest, let me know what your favorite bites were. If you didn't make it, mark your calendar for next year. If you are a fan of fresh, local, real food, this event is not to be missed!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Just a Little Bit Longer Kidz, We're Almost There.

I thought this day might never arrive, but some of the big heirlooms are finally showing a little color!

Dagma's Perfection may not be quite perfect, but it will work for me!

Ernie's Round is coming along as well.

Ernie's Round also won the "Vertical Challenge", climbing more than 7 feet above the soil. Not bad for a large variety growing in a bucket!

And then there are the peppers...

This small plant was supposed to be a green bell, but turned out to be yellow instead. This is a very productive little plant.

These are the best of the Poblanos, nearly 6 inches long. I see Chile Rellenos in the near future!

This is the Habanero that was near-death when I brought it home from the MG sale. Guess it likes my coddling, 'cause it's going gangbusters now, in a 10-inch pot!

And the Hinkle Hatz? These little buggers are s'pose to be smokin' hot & this thing is loaded! I'm just waiting for one of them to turn color so I can test them out. There will be a VERY cold beer close by when that day comes!

Black ChuChu eggplant & lemon cucumber have also been very productive lately. Do I ever LOVE all garden-fresh goodies in my salad bowl these days.

Just had to show off Mr. Black Adder as he looks sooo happy in a real pot. Hard to believe he was in a 6-inch pot just a couple months ago.

So, as we've discussed before, patience is a BIG part of edible gardening and I don't seem to have much of that these days. It's just a darn good thing that the rest of The Redneck Garden has stepped up to keep me distracted from the lack of tomato availability or I'd be seriously bonkers by now.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Weekend @ Silver Lake

I managed to escape to one of my families favorite camping spots last weekend. Silver Lake, located South-West of Lake Tahoe and at 7,200', has been part of our family since the mid 40s. Click on the photos for larger versions.

Brother Pat trying to outsmart the locals. As the saying goes; "the fishing was great, the catching not so much". Still better than working and we didn't have to clean a mess of fish.

An awesome Sierra sunset, looking West, down the canyon and then back to see Thunder Mountain lit up by the setting sun.

 The crystal clear water, cool clean mountain air and just being out there with nature can be as healing as any spa in the world. I clearly need to do this more often.