Monday, May 30, 2011

Wild Food of the Week: June 1st: Wild Lettuce

Lots of wonderful yummy things grow in the yard here and the nearby woods all by themselves. Free wild food!

This weeks pick is Wild Lettuce. It is a spring plant that should be harvested young. It is slightly bitter when young and grows more bitter as the plant grows. When small I like to add it to salads or other greens raw or simmered with some garlic and olive oil. When medium size the thing to do is boil it for 10 minutes and then saute it with some garlic and oil. Yum!

"There are many species of wild lettuce. All grow rank as they age, so it is best to harvest them between four and 12 inches high. Woodland Lettuce tends to have lobed leaves on bottom and grassy leaves on top. Look for a V-shaped leaf stem and pure white milky sap.  It’s one of my favorite spring time greens, boiled for about 10 minutes and served warm with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.  Depending on size, I chop them up and eat stems and all." (

You might want to check out this video about Wild Lettuce.

Fresh Eggs

I love having chickens! When my family first got chickens it was as a homeschool project for the kids. My daughter really took on the bulk of the care, feeding and love for them. After many years she is still their favorite person and they follow her around at times.I've grown really fond of our feathered friends. I always have a moment of peace when I look up from the garden to find one of the girls rolling in the sand a few feet away. It just seems like that is how it's supposed to be.

"The girls" , as I affectionately call them, our small flock of chickens and 2 ducks provides our family with about 2 dozen eggs a week. Some of our chickens are 4-5 years old yet they still faithfully lay an egg at least every other day. We supplement organic feed with free ranging and loads of veggie scraps from the kitchen. In the winter we also give them some fish for extra protein.

Fresh eggs from well loved chickens are the best tasting eggs in the world.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

And so it begins...

As of June 1st I'm starting to track what I grow, what I get from the local CSA and what we put away for winter. My goal is to make it through the winter this year without having to buy fruits and veggies at the store. This way we can eat healthy local produce grown in our own backyard year round. This blog is a way to share that adventure with our friends. Look for updates, photos, recipes and how-to tips as the year progresses.

For the past few years we've been CSA members, maintained a small garden and were frequent visitors at the local farmer's market. We've been storing, canning and freezing fruits, veggies and grains to take us through part of the winter. Last year we made it until the end of February and then ran out of stored/frozen/canned foods. This year I hope to keep eating last years harvest until the next harvest begins to be ready!

To begin our year I prepared both of our garden beds from last year with some digging and compost. Then I dug up the little hill that leads to our yurt out back and made more garden space. This will allow us to grow a larger variety of things and to get several rotations of some crops.

What's growing in the the backyard this year

arugula, romaine lettuce, spinach, collard greens, curly kale, leeks, chives, onions,basil, parsley, echinancea, calendula, mullein, dandelion greens, violet greens, wild lettuce, strawberries, saaz hops, centennial hops, snow peas, snap peas, french green beans, yellow pole beans, totem cherry tomatoes, red stripe cherry tomatoes, yellow cherry tomatoes, large red tomatoes, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, broccoli , red beets, golden beets, french radishes, rainbow radishes, carrots, french round carrots, cucumbers, goddess melons, fortuna summer squash, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, apples, pears

This yummy food from the backyard will be supplemented with our CSA shares. This year I have a share at Red Fire Farm. This CSA is known locally for having a lot of different varieties of veggies in abundance. The farm is 13 miles from where I live. Red Fire has a stand to distribute CSA shares in Amherst center, just 1 mile from my home.So I can just walk up to town or bike up and get my share. I also have a CSA share at the Many Hands Farm Corp. This is a new CSA that is quite literally just across the road from me. Their mission is to grow FARMERS and restore farming as a noble pursuit. They run a training program for apprentice farmers both at their CSA and other farms in the Pioneer Valley. I'm not certain how their first year as a farm will go but really want to support their mission. Besides we are neighbors! I will also be getting a grain share this fall from Pioneer Valley Heritage Grain.

All spring and summer as I harvest we will eat, cook, store, freeze and share with loved ones. With luck my family will still be eating all these lovely greens and radishes in the depth of winter.