Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Hoophouse Planning and Construction

Ok, it's August and your thinking as you look at this headline, "Hoophouse? Good grief. Who needs a hoophouse?" Well, you just might, and now while the weather is less formiddable than it is in late October or November, might just be a good time to start planning and plotting for one.

Last year's class, Growing in a Hoophouse, brought in a standing room only crowd, and this year it seems like it will be no less a popular topic. Lessons learned from that first experiment inspired many, and with good cause. Fresh garden vegetables not trucked long distances can be hard to come by in the winter months (although there are some new farms offering tasty green treats throughout the season), and growing your own is a good solution. As most gardeners know, a little bit of growing room can give a whole lot of harvest. (Imagine how delighted folks will be with a big bunch of homegrown kale for a present come December!)

Quite possibly more information than a homegrower might want, this MSU page detailing hoophouse construction offers invaluable information in text, video, and photos. The associated blog also offers notes from a gardener experimenting with her own hoophouse construction and harvesting. And another associated blog offers notes from the farmer working in the hoophouse! Both are great reading.

And don't forget Elliott Coleman's classics - Four Season Harvest and The Winter Harvest Handbook - for hoophouse plans, diagrams, plant lists, and planting schedules.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Reveling in the Season's Bounty

As tomato season approaches, we thought this article from Grist about what to do with the season's bounty worth checking out.

And if you'd like to taste more than a few different varieties of heirloom tomatoes join us for our Eighth (can you believe it's EIGHT?) Annual Tomato Tasting. Bring your tastebuds out for an morning of exercise and fun!

Eighth Annual Tomato Tasting Extravaganza
Saturday, August 22nd
9am - 12pm
Ann Arbor Farmer's Market

For more information on the event or to find out how to get your tomatoes in the mix just drop us a note or call 734-996-3169.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Tomato Tasting Extravaganza: Adventures in Flavor

Heirloom tomatoes are, thankfully, one of the great (and delicious) rediscoveries of our time. Writers like Barbara Kingsolver and Michael Pollan along with local growers like Frog Holler and Wilson's Farm have helped bring these beauties back to our plates and tummies. And local seedsavers like Royer Held have shown us how to preserve them for the future, and shared their enthusiasm for growing these storied varieties. As Wendell Berry says, "Food with a story tastes better."

In celebration of these great folks near and far (and the tomato itself!) we'd like to remind you that this Saturday - August 22nd - is the Eighth Annual Tomato Tasting Extravaganza at the Ann Arbor Farmer's Market. Sample a wide variety of tomatoes - large, small, red, yellow, and green - to find a new favorite and make notes about which one to grow for next year. We'll have folks on hand to talk you through the tasting, and share information about the tomatoes present.

Tomato Tasting Extravaganza
Saturday, August 22nd
Ann Arbor's Famer's Market
8am - 1pm

Interested in volunteering? Drop Leigh Ann a note or give her a ring at 734-996-3169 to come on along!

Interested in volunteering tomatoes? Bring 'em on down to the market labeled and washed (but not cut up, please!) after 8:30am, and we'll add them to the mix.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Tomato Blight Watch

Tomato growers in the Northeast are deeply concerned, and rightly so, about late blight. An airborne disease that can quickly ravage tomatoes and potatoes, gardeners also need to be on the lookout for signs of this deadly disease. (No cases have been reported so far in Michigan.)

MSU Extension Diagnostic Services offers some great information on plant troubles, and is the place to contact if a plant looks a bit dodgy.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Work the Counter with Project Grow!

Learn the Secrets of the Market and volunteer with Project Grow at these two fantastic upcoming events! (Ok, we won't make you get up at 4:30am, but you'll still have a terrific time.)

Project Grow's Heirloom Tomato Tasting Extravaganza
Saturday, August 22nd, 8am to 1pm
Ann Arbor Farmer's Market
Join us at the Ann Arbor Farmer's Market to share the joy's of organic heirloom tomatoes. Volunteers will help tasters find the tomato of their dreams, share their enthusiasm for these tasty jewels, and probably find a new favorite to grow for next year.

HomeGrown Festival
Saturday, September 12, 5pm - 10pm
Ann Arbor Farmer's Market
The Second Annual HomeGrown Festival promises to be even more fun than the last, and volunteers are needed to help work the Project Grow table, help with fun food-focused activities for kids, and assist in a second tomato tasting. Come on down and be part of some good old-fashioned local action!

Interested? Drop Leigh Ann a line or give her a call at 734-996-3169, and she'll get you squared away.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Preserving Garden Bounty

Rightly so, the Organic Gardening e-newsletter recently ran a great series of articles on harvesting and preserving foods from the garden. Covering everything from when to harvest, to canning, to freezing, this issue offers some great ideas that should not be missed.

Local food preservation resources include:

Preserving Traditions - A local group that gets together to can, make pies (that alone should get you out the door, for heaven's sake!), and figure out ways to keep the harvest while having fun.

Eat Close to Home - Emily has a great series of posts about preserving food that offer practical solutions and ideas that are also fun and innovative. Here's a list of the posts tagged with food preservation, but her whole blog is worth a gander. (BTW, she also heads up Preserving Traditions, mentioned above.)

Ann Arbor Home Canning Group - A group, existing both electronically and literally, in Ann Arbor to learn and talk about home canning and food preservation. The page also includes a good list of resources along with interesting conversation.

Good reads include:

The Big Book of Preserving the Harvest by Carol W. Costenbader
Recipes for drying, freezing, and canning with simple diagrams and easy to follow instructions.

Preserving Summer's Bounty: A Quick and Easy Guide to Freezing, Canning, Drying and Preserving What You Grow edited by Susan McClure, 1998. Rodale Press.
Step-by-step instructions for preserving fruits, herbs, and vegetables in a variety of ways. Another great book for beginners.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Old Dodge, New Tricks or a Different Take on Container Gardening

This new short film about a slightly different take on a truck garden is brilliant and brings a smile to the face of any gardener. The farm travels about Brooklyn visiting CSA customers who can literally pick and choose straight from the soil. Visit Wicked Delicate to follow the farm's progress through the summer, and prepare to be delighted and inspired.

While we hope folks on our wait lists don't necessarily have to resort to this, we still love it!

(Image courtesy of Curt and Ian - the same folks who brought us King Corn, by the way - over at Wicked Delicate.)