Canning Blog

Shelia Bustillos Reynolds has taught canning classes for Edible San Marcos twice now and she is awesome.  She has started a canning blog called “Put a Lid on It”.  Make sure to check out the link.

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Spring Blooms Volunteers

Bobcat Build 2011

We have had a busy year so far.  Our school gardens have been doing quite well but they were in need of a helping hand. The school year became quite busy and Bobcat Build came along  on April 9 . It is a great time of  extra help from the students at the University.  They are very eager to help. It is so helpful for the people of the community as well. We had over 72 volunteers help us this year.   They came out to the gardens at Hernandez Elementary, De Zavala, Mendez Elementary, St. Vincent De Paul Food Bank Garden and the Community Garden.

Working at Hernandez

On top of it all we had a booth at the Farmer’s Market on April 9 and Carrie Davis from Davis Photography watched our booth for us.

Hernandez Garden

After that Earth day was right on our tail.  Carolyn Gonzales and Michelle Purvin helped us out at the Earth Day Booth this year.  Pam Priest thank you for coming out to help at the gardens. To all of our volunteers, thank you, we could not do it without you! And to our teachers thank you for teaching our children and guiding them each and every day. 

Nature Walk and Plant Identification at the Nature Center

On May 23 from 6:30-8:30 pm we will learn how to use a dichotomous key to identify woody stem plants. You will receive a hand out. We will be at out new home the Nature Center located at 430 Riverside Drive. This will be a great meeting place with lots of room inside and out close to our mission. Bridgett Phillips will be our guide for our walk and teach us how to use the dichotomous key to identify plants.  We will walk around the nature center and surrounding areas.  We will be having a brief meeting afterward with job descriptions for new officers to be elected. Come and join in on the fun, sign up to be a volunteer or an officer today as well.

Tomato Contest

Tomato

A contest can be a lot of fun so we are challenging you to grow tomatoes, and we want to see pictures.  Take pictures of your first tomato of the season.  The person with the first outdoor tomato, not in a greenhouse will win a pack of heirloom tomato seeds. Send your photo with the date into ediblesanmarcos@gmail.com

There is another contest for the plant with the most tomatoes on it at one time, take photos.  Count the tomatoes, and take pictures we want to see how many you have on the plant at one time.  The deadline for the number of tomatoes will be Deadline is July 30.

At another point this summer we will do the biggest and best tasting tomatoes where we will have a judging downtown. So stay tuned.  As you can tell we are interested in your garden.  We want to get pictures and see how your garden is growing. Send in pictures so we can share your garden with others.

Seed to Table – Spinach

Spinach

Spinach is thought to have come from ancient Persia or Iran.  Spinach was brought into China where it was termed as the “Persian Vegetable”. It was said to have come into Nepal around 647 AD.

Next spinach found it’s way into Sicily then Arab and Germany by the 13th century. England and France came into Spinach in the 14th century.  In 1533 Catherine de’Medici not only became Queen of France but she insisted on having spinach at every meal.  This is why dishes made with spinach are named Florentine.  Now that is my kind of Queen!

Why do  you think that spinach was such a hit?  It is so nutritious!  it belongs to the amaranthaceae family.  It is chock full of phyto-nutrients that are life savers in many  areas. Spinach is very low in calories and fats while providing about 25% of your daily iron.

Fresh leaves also  provide you with vitamin A, lutein, zea-xanthin and beta Carotine as well as omega3 fatty acids.

Spinach can also pack a whopping 402% of your daily needs of vitamin K, This helps with bone mass and preventing Alzheimer’s.  Like that is not enough Spinach has high levels of B-6, B-1, Folate, Niacin and  Vitamin C, potassium, manganese, magnesium, copper and zinc.

This is all very exciting for me as it is getting a lot of iron and strength with out eating meat.  I always feel energized when I eat spinach.  There is one thing that you are probably not aware of.  You need to eat citrus to make the protein complete, when eating raw spinach.  So have an orange with your salad today.

Planting

Choose a sunny well drained location for your spinach.

Spinach germinated well in cold soil that is between 38-40 degrees F and up to about 60 degrees.  It gets fussy over that.  It does not like acid soil either so we are very lucky in that regard.  The trick is to plant your spinach early and then replant every 2 weeks. Spinach also likes nitrogen and boron.

There are two different types of spinach the savoy or  darker crinkled type, and the smooth leaved type.

It is advisable to soak your seeds for 6 hours or overnight to help them to soak up some water and become more pliable. Then plant the seeds 1/2 inch deep and about 3 inches apart. You want the plants to be about 4 inches from each other in the end.  It takes 37 to 50 days for spinach to reach maturity.  You can snip off the outer leaves when they reach 3 inches long or you can cut the entire rosette off.

Strawberries grow well with spinach.

Make sure to water in the morning not in the evening as wet leaves spread disease. The diseases that you have to worry the most about is Downy Mildew and fusarium wilt. The insects that attack spinach are Aphids and leaf miners.

Do not store spinach next to apples, melons or tomatoes as they give off ethylene gas in the fridge and will make your spinach spoil.

here are some healthy spinach recipes

and more recipes and still more.  Happy Cooking!

Winter Vegetable Soup

Winter Vegetable Soup

Winter Vegetable Soup

This soup was made from vegetables in my garden.  The only things that were not from my garden were the barley, beans, and the Vegetable Better Than Bullion.  You can purchase the Better than Bullion at Cornucopia .Better than Bullion is an organic vegetable stock.  You use one teaspoon per cup of water.  I keep it in my freezer after I open it, then I take it out and thaw it for about 15 minutes, take out what I need and put it back in the freezer, it works great.  I always have it on hand .  It has the best flavor around,  If you are not vegetarian Better than Bullion has a great chicken stock as well that is made from roasted organic chickens.  I like the convenience of not having large cans or boxes. If you do not have a garden you should be able to get all of the produce at a local farmer’s market as they are in season right now. Feel free to substitute any green or beans as you see fit.

1 Sweet Onion Chopped

3 Cloves Garlic MInced

2 Tbl Olive  Oil

1 Cup Pearl Barley

3 1/2 Quarts Water

1 Bay Leaf (remove at end of cooking)

1 Tsp Freshly Ground Black Pepper

1 Tsp Celery Seed

3 Lg Collard Leaves Chopped (2 cups packed)

17 Lacinato Kale leaves (1 Cup Packed)

3 Sprigs Fresh Rosemary Chopped (1 Tbl)

2 Heaping Tbl Vegetable Better Than Bullion Base

1/2 Cup Chopped Fresh Parsley

1 Tbl Fresh Marjoram Chopped

1 Tbl Fresh Oregano Chopped

1 Tbl Fresh Lemon Thyme Chopped

1 Inch Piece dried Ancho Chili (remove at end of Cooking)

2 Cups Sliced Carrots

4 1/2 Cups Broccoli and Cauliflower Florets

15 Oz Cannellini Beans (if using canned, rinsed and drained)

1.  Saute onion, garlic and barley in olive oil over medium  to medium low heat until onion is almost transparent.  About  5 minutes.

2.  Add water, Celery Seed, Black Pepper, Ancho Pepper, Better Than Bullion, Bay Leaf, Oregano, Marjoram, Parsley, Lemon Thyme and Rosemary and simmer for 30 minutes until barley is close to done.

3.  Add Collards, Kale and Carrots. Cook for 15 minutes or until carrots are tender.

4.  Add Broccoli and Cauliflower. Turn up heat and  let the soup get hot enough that you see steam rising off of the top then turn it off.  Immediately scoop it out into bowls or into container to freeze for later.  Do not let it boil or leave in the pot or the broccoli and cauliflower will get mushy. You want the vegetables to maintain their integrity.

5.  Enjoy! You can change it up with the many different vegetable that are in your garden right now.  I also like lentils in my soup as well.  You can also trade out potatoes for the barley.  I just use what I have on hand, that is the joy of soup.

Order Organic Onion Transplants Now

Onions

Onions

Edible San Marcos has ordered 1000 organic short day onion transplants to help you out this season.  The only way to grow organic onions is to start with organic starts.  Think about it, the onion starts off  from the transplant.  You end up eating what you planted in the beginning.  This should be a lesson to you when you shop at the farmer’s market as well.  Ask you farmer where he purchased the onion sets that he planted. Organic onion starts are not easy to obtain.  You must be on your toes and think ahead.  Remember that if you are planting something in your soil that is not organic,  the chemicals remain in your soil for four years.  You are then no longer organic.  Therefore be wary of farmers that are non shall ant about planting onions that are not organic as many other practices may fall by the wayside as well.

About ordering Organic onion starts from Edible.   We did this as a service to our members to help you out.  There is no mark up at all.  The cost is  6 cents per transplant and it is on a first com first serve basis.  Email me at Ediblesanmarcos@gmail.com. You will receive a return email. The plants will arrive in the first week of January.  They need to be put in the ground right away. We have ordered them from Walkers Organic Farm . They had an unfortunate freeze on their farm in Georgia but they managed to get our order out since we are a non profit and it is just to help our local gardeners!  Thank you Walkers!  We will have a drop off day at the Farmer’s Market on Saturday so it is central and you will be able to pick them up.  Happy Planting!