Thursday, October 31, 2013

November Planting

November is usually not a month people think about but it's still a good time to plant several wintery veggies. Among these are onions, carrots, spinach, cabbage, lettuce, and root veggies like radishes, beets, and turnips.

Many of these are staples for a good winter soup. Just think of a nice beef soup with onions, carrots, and potatoes (from this fall). Pair this with some pickled beets for a nice wintery meal.

Pasties are also pretty good. Just mix the ground beef with some onion and turnips in a flaky crust and bake for 45 minutes or so and you have a tasty snack for any wintery day.

So go out and do some planting for the coming season and have fun.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Dying with Herbs

I have been preparing samples for a presentation out at Log Cabin Vilage this Saturday (October 19) on dying fabric with herbs. These have included flowers, roots, stems, and fruit. Many of them have been really successful in producing a rich color while others have produced what my wife likes to call yellow, more of an off white really at times though.

Mainly I've been dying cotton but I also tried a wool swatch.  The difference between the wool and cotton is really obvious. The cotton turned a nice red while the wool is more of a light pink, both dyed in beet juice.

Much of what I've been using to dye has been locally harvested from around the area but a few things had to be bought such as the safflower and turmeric.  These were interesting to compare since the safflower has been used for dying for centuries as a dye and the turmeric has typically, at least in the west, used for eating.  The color of the turmeric however was a brighter yellow but fainter than the safflower which was a more orangeish yellow but set better. One of the less reliable dyes was the mesquite which bore only a faint off white instead of the blue one of the sources said it would. Then again it did not describe how to achieve the blue color either so I had to guess based off of other methods of similar material.

For any interested, the presentation will be at the Log Cabin Village in Fort Worth on University Drive just south of I-30 and the Trinity River. There is a fee to get into the village but there are many more presentations besides mine to go see there.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Invasive Plants

I was reading recently about invasive plants and trees that seem to just pop up without help from us.  One such tree is the mulberry tree, especially in our area.  My first encounter with a mulberry tree was at my first job after moving to the area. Outside on the side of the building there was a nice mulberry tree growing between our building and the next.  Being the adventurous person I am I decided to try some of the berries, being pretty sure I knew what it might be.  I was told by coworkers and eventually my wife after I told her about it that I really shouldn't eat berries unless I know what it is. I'm not dead and now I'm sure I was right about the identification.

Mulberries are one of the least appreciated trees out there.  If you are fortunate enough to have some of these in your area you can usually wild harvest these berries around now by either hand picking the berries or spreading out a sheet and shaking the tree until you have enough berries.  Either way you will want to remove any stems and such and afterward soak in water to get any bugs out. In my experience there are usually a lot of little bugs in the cracks, not harmful to eat in case you don't get them all though.

You can either eat them by themselves or like all berries add them to yogurt or bake them into a pie. If you have a favorite way to eat them let us know.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

October Planting

October is a busy time of year for gardeners. Now's the time to plant a whole lot of stuff including the beloved garlic, a must for tasty garlic mashed potatoes (which should have been started last month but there's still time).

Other tasty ideas for planting are:

Beets - Always a favorite year round and can be pickled or cooked fresh.
Lettuce - Fresh lettuce from the garden is a treat and although you will probably buy it from the store in the summer is a great winter veggie.
Parsley - Why do you think it's in so many soups and stews. This will keep your belly happy and the rest of you healthy.
Collards - A mess of these with some chopped onion and seasoned to taste.
Carrots - You can almost always grow some carrots.

If you have a favorite veggie let us know.