Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The labor question

Doug and I were talking last week about the abundant bounty of produce in the garden, and regretting that some of it was going to waste because no one was picking it. The garden has come up against an age-old problem: How do you get enough labor to harvest?

It seems to me that in the past, people solved this by having family vegetable gardens and lots of children to help harvest. Even my 3-year-old has helped me on some occasions already. With industrial vegetable production, part of the solution has been machinery. However, with tender vegetables, not all labor can be mechanized away, and so we have migrant workers as well--agricultural workers who move from place to place following the harvest of various vegetable crops. (Thankfully, vegetables mature at different times. Imagine if everything ripened at the same time, from asparagus to winter squash!)

Our solution was to put a box and a sign to let people know that they could come and pick what they wanted, and leave a donation to support the Moultrie County Food Pantry. (I realize this post is almost too late to be of use in publicizing the availability of these vegetables; next year we'll be more organized.) Some people did pick and leave money, and still there are vegetables going to waste.

How can we make use of it all?

Creative Health Greenville SC

I thought it was a good time to draft up an update to the victory garden website as the DeLong family is traveling home and moving through the Smoky Mountains of North Carolina from my Niece Katie’s (Katie is my brother Jeff’s oldest daughter), wedding to Naval academy graduate and now Marine officer 1st Lt. A.J. Dulik The Stay in Greenville South Carolina was enjoyable as reunion with old friends and family made it an event that will stay with me for the rest of my life. Katie and AJ have deep love for one another and I hope someday they will expand the family tree.

While in Greenville we stayed at the Westin Hotel in down town Greenville and it was very close to a holistic Health care center called Creative Health. The slogan next to the sign read, “Helping others help themselves.” The sign made me interested enough to walk in and check things out. The front door sign made me think this is similar to the concept that we would like to promote at local Victory Gardens. Our slogan is “conquering world hunger one block at a time.” And it will ultimately require new habit and practices from all involved just as improved health required changes in habits to find improved health. The success of the Greenville store made me think that Jean and Terry Titus (important active members of our community Garden and owners of Abundance of Life Health and Wellness Center should have quite a future ahead if they follow in the footsteps of the owner Terry Hall-Hines of Creative Health. I walked in the store to find five people behind the counter all busy taking orders and helping customers fill order and find merchandise… the Creative Health store has a 20 year head start and after inquiring around with some local people I learned that it is quite successful which confirmed my original observation when I walked into the business. A well-timed quote I noticed inlayed on the sidewalk a block away from the store was quite appropriate “ You can observe a lot by just watching.” Yogi Berra.

I soon learned that the owner Terry Hall-Hines had a full schedule of clients lined up to meet and discuss health issues noticed by viewing one’s eyes as well as other techniques. One interesting technique she employs is called iridology which is an alternative medicine practice used widely in the Eastern world. Its beginnings are traced back to the Egyptians, who used examinations of the eyes irises to diagnose internal health problems long before technology performed such tasks. I drafted a quick note to let Terry know I was interested in having an examination since I have been troubled with excessive and serious dry eye condition for quite some time…. But since my time was short I correctly imagined that we would not get a chance to personally meet. Maybe someday we will meet up.

Luckily, a part owner and health care expert, Alison Lively, agreed to give me a quick eye examination and diagnosed my overall health through a magnified view of my iris. Her finding was quite accurate and of no surprise to me, which made me more confident that , this method has merit. More importantly she suggested a few supplements such as magnesium and another herbal treatment that should help me overcome my dry eye medical condition..... I will report on the progress in later postings. The iris revealed or suggested that my heart function was good…. That is always nice to hear. Lastly and most importantly I should eat more vegetables. This is the part that one should come out of with the posting. It is something that is most common method that one will need to practice if one wants to share good health.

From a little searching through the internet I find the quote.

"Vegetable love" is thus a love that grows, takes nourishment, and reproduces, although slowly. It also dates back to the Roman empire and actual can mean strong man although it later changed to mean in 1582.... as I found recorded for the first time the adjective use of vegetable familiar to us, "having to do with plants." In a work of the same date appears the first instance of vegetable as a noun, meaning "a plant."

This is quite interesting that Alison has the last name of Lively which goes quite nicely with the fact that she encourages the consumption of Vegetables which seem to show up all over the internet with the word living or lively.

I will send info concerning our upcoming monthly meeting this Thursday October 1..... later tonight.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Doug's Update: Growing and Eating Good Local Food

Update from Doug:

It looks like I have quite a bit of news to report and our efforts seem to be spreading on all fronts. The Fire Fly Restaurant manager in Effingham talked with me about their home grown vegetables and Luke the manager mentioned his plans to have a Farm Market at the restaurant.

Jibby's is now getting requests for menu items prepared with our Victory garden vegetables. Madelyn reported at Jean Titus's food prep class that her neighbors went out to eat at Jibby's and requested an entree prepared with community garden herbs and vegetables. As usual, Jibby's served them a wonderful meal. Don't forget to let them know you appreciate our vegetables.

Jean's food prep class is also growing and it had to go back to the the Tabernacle church's annex building next to the old Graber's lumber yard for class ( Food Prep classes are prepared and served on the 2nd Saturday of each month) as the group just got too big for Jean's new health food building. Contact Jean Titus at Abundance of Life Health and Wellness Center for details! Several members of the group mentioned that they are intending to go to Jibby,s just to taste some of the vegetable dishes.... as a matter of fact Jibby's has been in contact with Jean and she is going to share some of her recipes with them. Jean does great soups and, as fall and winter approach, I look forward to having lunch specials at Jibby's prepared from Jean's recipes. It is quite handy to have a health food store in Sullivan, so I recommend letting Jean and Terry know which supplements and other health food store related items you need so they can be specially ordered. The business is small and can only handle a small inventory, so this is a great way for them to meet your needs and help out the business at the same time. These are the businesses listed below that are promoting the concept of locally grown produce and are supporting our Community Garden. Let's hope the group grows. Remember: Use 'em or lose 'em!!!

One last item..... the County worked in cooperation with the City of Sullivan to prepare plans and bid out the construction of a City-owned oncrete parking lot behind Jibby's Restaurant. As the construction nears completion I see an opportunity to have a small community garden plot in the SW corner of the parking lot. I am lobbying to use this spot... take a look and see if this might be a worthy project!!!!

One last last item....I have been very grateful that Carol has been developing this website... so I have been leaving vegetables at their back door step .... I will try to keep them coming as I have time to pick. Her contribution has been at the computer, not the garden, although they enjoy the fresh food.


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Edamame and Eggplant

Here are a couple of interesting notes from Doug:

We have been offered seeds for edible soybeans (called edamame) from Theresa, a friend of Doug's who works in the soybean research department at the University of Illinois. According to http://www.edamame.com, "Edamame is a green vegetable more commonly known as a soybean, harvested at the peak of ripening right before it reaches the "hardening" time. The word Edamame means "Beans on Branches," and it grows in clusters on bushy branches. To retain the freshness and its natural flavor, it is parboiled and quick-frozen. Edamame is consumed as a snack, a vegetable dish, used in soups or processed into sweets. As a snack, the pods are lightly boiled in salted water, and then the seeds are squeezed directly from the pods into the mouth with the fingers."

Madelyn and Doug have eggplants for saving seed. Here are directions for how to do it. We will talk more about seed saving at our October 1 meeting.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Jibby's Restaurant supports local food

So, let's support Jibby's Restaurant!

Doug writes:

I am grateful that Jibby's has found a way to help us out with the mission of our group to conquer world hunger one block at a time. I stopped in at Jibby's with some fresh vegetables last night and had a chance to talk a little more with Jason Smith (weekend chef at Jibby's) about working out details to get shipments to Jibby's in a timely manner. I think it is just one of those things that time will take care of. After dropping off some more tomatoes, peppers, basil and green beans.... I asked Chef Jason if he could use some carrots and he concluded that he did not have time to peel the carrots tonight. I offered to dig some up and peel the carrots for him as I thought it would be a good chance to taste his recipe myself. I preceded to bring the carrots to Jibby to wash, peel and slice. I guess this is my style to get the job done one way or another.... I may be the only County Engineer in the State that occasionally replaces signs and sign posts if everyone is busy or on other assignments. I have not had to do this recently as we have a great sign replacement mechanic, Pat Seeley. Back to Jibby's.... I only got run over once in the kitchen as the door opened up into me as I was at the sink. A kitchen worker complimented my nice pickup truck that was sitting in the back door as I worked in the kitchen. I wonder if he thought that I drove a nice vehicle for a dish washer. Anyway, everyone was quite nice and they do work well as a team as I witnessed first hand. Doug Wilson worked as the Greeter and he knows how to make folks feel welcomed. SOOO! after getting the carrots prepared I decided to dine at Jibby's.

The bruschetta prepared with tomatoes from our garden was a wonderful surprise as I had never had it before and I know why they have been selling so much as an appetizer. I will get Jason's recipe as it is something that must be placed on our future recipe list for our website. I ordered a hamburger and honey glazed carrots from the community garden... they too were good. The green beans were fried up as a appetizer.



Thursday, September 10, 2009

A new local variety: Elsie's Tomatoes

(From Doug)

I think the group may have missed a hidden gem in the contest. Greg Yoder brought a tomato that has been saved by Greg Yoder's grandfather's sister, Elsie. It came out of the Amish community and can be tracked for about 100 years. Elsie has been saving this seed for years and Greg thinks it was used in the Yoder Canning business in the 1940's. I happen to have an advertisement for this tomato that I will show the group later on. I noticed its large tear drop shape and it was quite tasty. It was not one of the better looking ones so it may have been passed over by the group. I would call it a cross between a large Roma and a round slicing tomato. It has all the qualities of a good canning tomato. We shall call this the Elsie Tomato. I will be saving seed from this gem. I love to find heirloom tomatoes like this one that can come out of hiding and shared with the world. My guess is this will make a great salsa variety, with just the right taste, body and consistency.

Keep on gardening!


Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Notes from Doug

(We are working on getting Doug set up to post directly to the blog. Until then, Carol will post his writings.)
The September Meeting by all measures that are important was a fantastic success. Especially, that the group had a fun time. I have never thought that gardening was work as I have always thought that work could not be defined as FUN.... and garden is fun and is one technique that help rid ones body of stress.

We had Krista Lewin take a group picture that hopefully will be placed in our now available website. John Dean reported in the meeting that the greenhouses will be dismantled by a contractor some time this fall if the current arrangements work out. We will still be able to garden until John finds an owner for the property. John, Thanks again for the use of the property. The website features a picture of John that reminds me of a wise man with years of life experiences. Oh, so true! The hat adds the gardener's look.

And the Tomato Taste Off winner was......

Zak Standerfer with Purple Cherokee tomatoes. Zak won the peoples choice and the judges choice. Congrats Zak!!! Zak was quite helpful starting up the garden by placing mulch in the pathway the Spring. Thanks.
Madelyn and Sharon did much work to set up the office for the meeting. It was a success.... thanks to their work.

The next meeting will be October 1, 2009 on Thursday night at 6:30 at Dean's front office. It should be seed saving night. We will talk about seed saving and the "how to" techniques. Please bring seeds to shares as this is an important function of www.localvictorygardens.com. I will leave seed envelopes at Dean's for you use. They will be the ones with the plastic window so one can see the seeds. Eddie Bell has sent us seeds for sharing and I have packaged them and I will share them at our next meeting. Eddie Bell is our Kentucky victory garden connection and we really have a good source of information with her addition to the group.

I am going to ask Carol to a place counter on the site so we can track the site usage. I am going to guess that we get 50,000 hits the first year. I wonder if this is doable.

[Editor's note: There is one more "gem" that I think deserves it's own post. Stay tuned.]

Keep on gardening!


Tuesday, September 8, 2009

And the Winner Is...

Cherokee Purple, grown by Zak Standerfer! This tasty dark red tomato with blue/purple stripes won First Place from the judges and received the People's Choice award, based on ratings by those at the taste-off.

The judges awarded Second Place to Pineapple, a yellow tomato grown by Doug DeLong:

Third Place went to Celebrity, a red tomato grown by Julie Standerfer:

According to the article on Wikipedia, "Cherokee purple is the name of a cultivar of tomato, unusual for the deep purple/red hue of its fruit. It was one of the first of the "black" color group of tomatoes. It is also unusual in being extremely popular for the sake of its flavor, instead of only its unusual color." Read more.

See also more information on the pineapple tomato and the celebrity tomato.

We had 17 varieties from 6 growers:

  • Arkansas Traveler (Tess Melvin)
  • Franchi - Pomodoro Redorta (Doug DeLong)
  • Franchi - Pomodoro Red Cherry (Jim Bryant)
  • Franchi - Pomodoro Red Pear (Doug DeLong)
  • Brandywine (Doug DeLong)
  • Anna Noir (Doug DeLong)
  • Hartman's Gooseberry (Doug DeLong)
  • Pineapple (Doug DeLong)
  • Brownberry (Doug DeLong)
  • Chocolate Tomatoes (Doug DeLong)
  • Unknown (Doug DeLong)
  • Seminole Indian (Cliff Dobbs)
  • Polish Tomatoes (Cliff Dobbs)
  • Elsie's Tomatoes (Greg Yoder)
  • Cherry Tomatoes (Jim Bryant)
  • Cherokee Purple (Zak Standerfer)
  • Celebrity (Julie Standerfer)

See photos of the entries.

Thanks to everyone who entered!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Tomato Taste-Off Tonight

Our first tomato taste-off is tonight at 6:30 at the former office of Dean's Sullivan Greenhouses, 408 E Water Street, Sullivan IL.  Doug says,

"It has been a late season for tomatoes but I still think we will have a good turn out of tomatoes.  The tomatoes can come from any garden so spread the word to everyone." 

Judges are chef Jason Smith of Jibby's Restaurant, Tanya Rose of TNT Pizza, and Roma Dey of Charleston, Illinois.

Special thanks to Madelyn and Sharon for getting Dean's front room ready for the taste-off!

Mustard Seed

Doug grew some great mustard seed this year, with quite a harvest (plenty of seeds). The original seed was from J. L. Hudson seeds. Here is the description:
Mustard Pink Petiole Mix. (b,h) VMUS-PT. Packet: $2.50. OTC ORGANIC SEED. Germination: 96%. Tested: 10/08. 1/4 oz: $7.50.
Incredible mix of shapes and colors - creamy yellow to emerald - green leaves, smoothly rounded to deeply cut, all with the leaf-stems in shades of pink or purple. Superb addition to baby salad leaf mixes. Colors best with cool weather and well-spaced plants. Organically grown.
Leave Doug a comment here if you want to buy some.

By the way, it makes me think:
The kingdom of God is like a mustard seed that, when it is sown in the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on the earth. But once it is sown, it springs up and becomes the largest of plants and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the sky can dwell in its shade.
Kind of like what we're doing here.

Kim's Farm Market

In the spirit of promoting locally grown food, gardener Kim Reidel has a farm market on Saturday's at Kim's Country Mall, 421 S. Fifth Street, Sullivan IL.

Kim's farm market is open on Saturdays.  She sells local produce, as well as worm castings.  Doug has visited her worm breeding operation and says it's neat!  She has a fine orchard with trees that have many different varieties on the same trees.

Earlier this year, she had great strawberries, and she also had aronia berries.  Doug bought some to save for seed.  They are native the to Midwest and are tart but apparently are a great health food.