Art, Parchment Moon

“Folds” – original collagraph print (6×6″)

If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook, you know that I’ve (finally) been experimenting with some new printmaking methods. After some trials and frustrations and utter failures, I’ve finally produced a few prints I’m actually happy enough with to list in my Etsy shop!

The first of these is titled “Folds” and is a print made from a collagraph plate I constructed using nothing but glue and folded paper. It’s a small piece — 4×4″ image on 6×6″ paper, printed on 300g (lovely and heavy) watercolour paper with a non-toxic oil-based etching ink.

“Folds” is a very limited edition of 10 signed and numbered prints, which I’m selling for $39.99 USD (+ shipping), you can purchase it on my Parchment Moon Etsy shop.

Art, Parchment Moon

I want your old National Geographic map inserts!

Hello good people of the Internet!

In basements across this great continent, there are thousands, nay…hundreds of thousands, of old National Geographic magazines. I’ve seen them. I wrangled oh so many of them when helping clean out my parents’ house. I have flipped fondly through them before finally bundling them into the recycling bin.

And now I…want them.

Or at least I want a part of them.

I want your Nat Geo maps!

I am looking for as many old National Geographic map inserts as I can get my hands on. I want to use them for art, and if I can get enough of them, I want them for an extensive continuing art project that could go on for years.

It doesn’t matter how old they are, what shape they’re in, or what the inserts are about. Migration patterns! History! Political maps! Farm land usage! Whatever!

Donate and get free art!

If you have some old maps that you would like to donate to my project, please email me at deb.richardson@gmail.com, or contact me on Twitter or Facebook.

I will pay shipping costs if they’re a problem, and everyone who donates will get free art!

scribbleheart

Food & Cooking

Make your own candied ginger!

candied ginger recipe

I found myself in need of candied ginger the other day, so instead of driving all the way into town (bleah) I decided to make my own. Turns out it’s really easy and inexpensive, and you end up with extra bonus gingery sugar lumps. Win win win!

There are a bunch of step-by-step photos at the end of the post!

candied ginger recipe

Candied Ginger

There are only three ingredients and the process is really simple, but it does require some patience while you wait for the magical part at the end where the sugar syrup recrystalizes.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb fresh, peeled ginger root
  • 5 cups water
  • 1 lb granulated white sugar

Method

  1. Put a cooling rack over a cookie sheet. This is where you will spread the ginger out to cool. Alton Brown suggests spraying the rack with non-stick spray, but it’s not really necessary.
  2. Peel the ginger root and slice into 1/8″ rounds. As with many things, your knife work here doesn’t have to be super fancy — I ended up with some thinner pieces, some thicker pieces, some weird little chunky end bits, etc. Doesn’t really matter — it all works out in the end.
  3. Dump the ginger into a mediumish sized pot with the water, bring to a boil, then reduce to a high simmer for 30-40 minutes. The ginger will end up a bit more tender, but won’t fall apart. Your house will smell amazing.
  4. Reserve 1/3 cup of the now-deeply-ginger-infused cooking liquid. Drain the ginger and dump it back into the pot. Add the sugar and the reserved cooking liquid.
  5. Bring this a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce to medium/medium-low. This is the part where you need to have some patience. Cook the ginger & sugar syrup, stirring frequently, while the syrup continues to reduce and reduce. For me, this part took maybe 30-40 minutes.
  6. Then magic will happen! At some point the syrup will lose enough water that it will start to recrystallize. Keep stirring and let it get clumpy, then take it off the heat.
  7. Spread the sugary gingery bits out on the cooling rack, separating them so they don’t clump together.
  8. Let cool, then store in an airtight container. Rescue all the extra sugary bits that fell through the cooling rack, and store those in a separate container. Those are now magical ginger sugar lumps, and are good for baking or tea or ice cream or whatever.

Tips

  • If you examine the ingredients list carefully, you’ll note that the recipe calls for the same weight of sugar as peeled ginger. You can scale this recipe down! Or up! Whatever you need!
  • Original recipe source: Alton Brown’s Candied Ginger.

Pictures – step-by-step

candied ginger recipe
All sliced up. Nothing fancy here, just lots and lots of fresh ginger.
candied ginger recipe
Into the pot! Water just to cover (the recipe says 5 cups, I used about 4.5).
candied ginger recipe
Burbling away. Your house will smell incredible. Super gingery.
candied ginger recipe
Sugar! Just use equivalent amounts of sugar and peeled ginger if you don’t want a whole pound’s worth.
candied ginger recipe
All stirred up and back in the pot.
candied ginger recipe
Candying! This part goes on for a while.
candied ginger recipe
Continuing to burble away. The syrup is reduced by about half here. Keep going! Magic is coming!
candied ginger recipe
Magic! The sugar syrup is reduced to the point of recrystallization. Science!
candied ginger recipe
Spread out to cool. Bonus lumpy sugar bits.
candied ginger recipe
Et voila! Candied ginger (after I’ve eaten really too much of it), and a half pint of ginger sugar lumps.
Food & Cooking

Zucchini Apple Ginger Chutney

zucchini apple ginger chutney

As I mentioned earlier, I am on a quest to preserve as much of my unexpectedly-abundant zucchini harvest as I can. Inspired by a friend’s off-hand comment, I decided to try my hand at making Zucchini Apple Ginger Chutney for the first time.

zucchini apple ginger chutney

For those of you who are unfamiliar with chutney, there are roughly a billion different types and recipes, ranging from mild herby yogurt chutneys through crazy pickley spicy chutneys. The zucchini-apple-ginger chutney I made this weekend is a rich, sweet, jammy, tangy, and heavily spiced (also hot-spicy) fruit and vegetable-based relish. It will be an amazing accompaniment for a zillion things — meats, curries, cheese, savoury pastries, etc etc. I expect we’ll have it first with roast pork or curried beef. And we’ll definitely bust it out for Thanksgiving and Christmas, as it will go insanely well with grill-roasted turkey.

zucchini apple ginger chutney

Zucchini Apple Ginger Chutney

This recipe made exactly eight half-pint jars, which I processed for 20 minutes in a water bath. If you have no idea what water bath canning is, here’s a straightforward introduction. It’s easier than it sounds, I promise.

Ingredients

  • 4 cups onion, diced
  • 2 cups apple, diced (I used granny smith)
  • 8 cups zucchini, diced
  • 1 cup dried black currants (or raisins)
  • 2 cups apple cider vinegar
  • Juice from one lemon (1/4 cup or so)
  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar, packed
  • 3 tbsp fresh ginger, minced
  • 4-5 cloves fresh garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp garam masala
  • 2 tbsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground cayenne pepper (this is spicy, adjust as needed)

Method

  1. Toast and grind your spices if that’s the sort of beautiful genius you are. Bonus points for making your own garam masala.
  2. Dump everything into a good-sized pot, bring to a boil, then reduce to a low simmer. Stir occasionally (every 20 mins or so).
  3. Let this simmer down for 2 hours or so…it will cook down considerably and thicken as it goes (see photos below)
  4. Following standard water bath canning procedures, pack the chutney into clean, sterilized jars, leaving a half-inch of headspace. Wipe the rims, cap with lids and rings, then process at a roiling boil for 20 minutes.
  5. Let the jars cool, then label (including the date) and you’re all done. Ideally let them sit at least two weeks. Unopened they will last for a year, but once opened you should use it up within a couple of months.

Tips

  • I diced the onions, apples, and zucchini all to a roughly half-inch dice. You don’t have to be fancy with your knife work here…it all gets cooked down into a soft, delicious goopy mass anyhow.
  • If your zucchini are big enough to be sort of squishy in the middle, scoop out the seeds so there’s just firm flesh left.
  • If at all possible, buy fresh whole spices (coriander, cumin, etc), toast them for a few minutes in a dry pan until fragrant, and grind them yourself. It takes only minutes and is so, so worth it. And look, you can even make your own garam masala!

Photos!

zucchini apple ginger chutney
After about 15 minutes.
zucchini apple ginger chutney
An hour of simmering.
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Almost done!
zucchini apple ginger chutney
Boil and bubble. This is what water bath canning looks like. Pretty straightforward.
Food & Cooking

Garam Masala

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In my quest to preserve as much of my zucchini harvest as I can, I decided to try my hand at making chutney. The recipe calls for Garam Masala, which is a complex blend of spices that is insanely good when made fresh, particularly if you take the time to roast the whole spices and grind them yourself. Which is what I did.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with chutney, there are roughly a billion different types and recipes, ranging from mild herby yogurt chutneys through crazy pickley spicy chutneys. The zucchini-apple-ginger chutney I made this weekend is a rich, sweet, jammy, tangy, and heavily spiced (also hot-spicy) fruit and vegetable-based relish. It will be an amazing accompaniment for a zillion things — meats, curries, cheese, savoury pastries, etc etc. I expect we’ll have it first with roast pork or curried beef. And we’ll definitely bust it out for Thanksgiving and Christmas, as it will go insanely well with grill-roasted turkey.

Anyhoo…I’ll post the chutney recipe on Wednesday. This post is about Garam Masala.

garam masala recipe

Garam Masala recipe

This is really easy to throw together — it takes maybe 10 minutes all told, including 5 minutes to let the spices cool down.

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup coriander seeds
  • 1/4 cup cumin seeds
  • 1 tbsp green cardamom pods
  • 1 tbsp whole black peppercorns
  • 2 tsp whole cloves
  • 1″ piece of cinnamon bark, broken into pieces
  • 1 dried red chile
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp ground mace (optional)

Method

  1. Put everything except the nutmeg and mace into a dry pan and place over low heat. Stir the spices until they’re toasted and very fragrant — this usually takes 3-4 minutes.
  2. Transfer the now-toasted spices on to a plate to cool for a few minutes, then put everything (including the nutmeg and mace) into a spice grinder (mine is just a simple coffee grinder I repurposed). Grind to a fine powder.
  3. Transfer spice blend to an airtight container (such as a mason jar). This blend will store for 6-8 months if it lasts that long!

Tips

  • I break cinnamon sticks by placing them on a cutting board, covering with a layer of dry dish towel, and whacking it with the back of a chef’s knife.
  • If you don’t already have mace on hand, don’t bother getting it for this recipe since you use so little — just augment with a bit more nutmeg.

I’m about an hour into cooking down the chutney, and our house smells ridiculously amazing right now. Oof. This is going to be so great.

garam masala recipe

Food & Cooking, Gardening

Garlic dill pickles

garlic dill pickles

It’s been a while since my last update, but life has been pretty busy. In addition to the ongoing chaos of renovations, I had to travel back to Ontario for a week to take care of some stuff, and since I’ve returned it’s been a whirlwind of busy-ness: yardwork & gardening & setting up the new (functional-but-not-quite-finished) kitchen & trying to get back into a work routine, etc etc.

While I was away, the garden went bonkers and I am now wading through a glut of zucchini and cucumbers. So this weekend I am working on preserving some of that excess, starting with my first round of garlic dill pickles.

Garlic Dill Pickles

garlic dill pickles

The recipe is super simple: cucumbers are chunked up into thick slices & packed into pint jars with dill seed, peppercorns, hot pepper flakes, mustard seed, coriander seed, and garlic cloves, then topped with pickling brine and hot-water-bath processed for 10 minutes.

Pickling is shockingly easy, guys.

Growing up, I remember my Mom doing huge batches of canning and pickling — dozens of jars in dozens of batches, taking days at a time and filling up shelf after shelf in the basement. It was an epic process that would destroy the kitchen and make a gawdawful mess. I was never interested in it — it seemed like so much work and planning and mess and chaos.

It was a revelation when I discovered that this isn’t how it has to be. It turns out that it’s possible to do small batch canning — prepping and preserving just a few jars at time, easily done on a lazy weekend afternoon. This made canning feel sane and achievable, something I could do in my small city kitchen to make use of some of the amazingly cheap & just-picked produce from the farmer’s market at the end of our street in Toronto. It was easy and fun, and that summer I made some of the best pickles I’ve ever had.

Book recommendations!

My go-to small batch canning books are Food in Jars and Preserving by the Pint, both by Marisa McClellan. Lovely books with excellent recipes and great photography. I strongly recommend picking these up if you’re even remotely interested in doing your own pickling and preserving.

I have other books to recommend, but those will be for another day. Right now I’m going to start today’s pickling extravaganza, which, if all goes well, will include Zucchini Sriracha fridge pickles, Zucchini-Apple-Ginger chutney, and maybe some Sweet and Spicy Zucchini Relish. We’ll see how it goes.

Art, Parchment Moon, Photography

Parchment Moon Superfans List!1

True Patriot Love

In the very near future2, I am finally getting back into the studio to start making art again.

As part of that — and as part of finally taking a serious stab at making art for a living — I’m building a list of people (like you!) who are interested in helping support and promote independent artists (like me!)

Parchment Moon newsletter subscribers will have the opportunity to view and purchase my new prints, photographs & other artistic work a full week before I post about them on other social media.

My prints are often very limited edition (with usually no more than 10-15 original hand-pulled imprints), and can sell out quickly. These email updates will let you know when new work is available before anyone else.

I’ll also include notes and links to other artists’ work (mostly stuff that I desperately love), tidbits about the rich and fascinating histories of printmaking and photography, and other random notes and links about studio life, art, photography & creativity.

If you’re interested, please sign up over here: Parchment Moon Newsletter.

I promise no spam, just super interesting arty things and a huge amount of gratitude.

scribbleheart


1 The “superfans list!” thing is a feeble attempt to come up with a better name for this than “newsletter”. Suggestions welcome – tweet ’em @dria. Hearts.

2 We’re 2-3 weeks away from being finished renovations enough that we can finally settle back into a work-life routine. I cannot tell you how much I’m looking forward to that.

Gardening

Garden Update – July 28th 2016

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Garden update time!

It’s hot. Damn hot. If it doesn’t rain today or overnight, I’m going to have to bust out the hose tomorrow and give the gardens a drink. Humid as all git out, too, which means less puttering in the garden and more hiding in the basement studio (which is coming along to the point where I’m juuuuust about ready to go get my art stuff out of storage, woo!)

The gardens are still going utterly gangbusters, and we’ve started eating stuff out of them every day. So far it’s all just lettuce, radishes and herbs, but that’s mostly because we’re limited by our lack of kitchen and the fact that we can’t manage anything fancier than a salad in terms of prepwork. Once our kitchen is finished (~3 weeksish from now), we’ll be hip deep in kale, chard, zucchini, beet greens, peas and maybe the first snap beans. So, good timing all round, I suppose.

In terms of maintenance work, I do a tour of the gardens every day to keep an eye out for pests & diseases, as well as to yoink whatever weeds have sprouted. Takes maybe 10-15 minutes and is a pretty zen way to start the morning. So far we’ve had no disease issues, and no problems with pests other than the asian greens succumbing to flea beetles. It seems that we have a volunteer army of birds who really love eating all our slugs and seem otherwise content to snack on what we put in the feeders. So that’s handy. Birds! Who knew?

So, some update photos and notes!

Garden Update - Peas!

Garden Update - Peas!

(Sugar) Peas!

All three types of peas have blossoms, and the earliest has set pods that are growing and fattening up nicely. I am so crazy looking forward to eating these, you have no idea. I’m totally making minted fresh peas with butter, and you can’t stop me. Aw yiss.

Garden Update - Snap Beans

Snap beans

The earliest of the snap beans have started to flower, which is awesome. There are also three kinds of these in the garden, and it looks like we weren’t too late with these after all. If all goes well, we’ll have plenty to eat fresh and some for spicy pickled beans (which are excellent in Bloody Caesars #protip).

Garden Update - Sunburst Zucchini

Garden Update - Golden Zucchini

Zucchini

My most recent count has us with 40 visible zucchini on the plants, and around five times that number of flowers working on more. We are going to be utterly awash in zucchini soon, which is hilarious and not unexpected, but still hilarious. We will eat as much of it as we can, and likely foist it upon friends and relatives in the near future. Pictured are Sunburst Zucchini (they turn into fat little UFO-shaped golden pods), and Golden Zucchini. We also have Rich Green and Magda plants.

Garden Update - Beets

Garden Update - Beets

Beets

The beets have started forming roots! Huzzah! That is the best part of the beet, although the greens are also insanely great (try ’em – chopped up and sauted with butter and garlic, or with bacon? Omg, srs, you need to eat some.) I am a little alarmed at just how many beets there are in the one bed, but from what I’ve read they will happily push each other out of the way and grow in ridiculous conditions. We’ll definitely start harvesting these for greens & baby beets when our kitchen is finished up.

Garden Update - Chard

Garden Update - Spinach, Chard, Kale, Cucumbers

Spinach, Chard, Kale & Cucumbers

Not pictured: The bunching onions I seeded in a narrow strip of soil between the spinach and the chard. They haven’t sprouted yet.

I really have to get some trellises up for the cucumbers, because they’re putting out tendrils and want to climb things (which is great – keeping cucumbers out of the dirt is absolutely something you want to do if you can). So that will be some of my time tomorrow.

The spinach (closest to camera), chard, and kale are all getting huge. We can start eating those now and they should keep producing through until frost (or later). This is only a fraction of our kale and chard — maybe 1/4? We will have way more than enough greens to get us through ’til November, which is awesome and delicious.

Garden Update - Lettuces and Tomatoes

Lettuces and Tomatoes

The tomatoes are doing their thing, which is mostly growing rapidly and starting to put out masses of flowers. It will be a while before we see anything off any of those other than the giant hybrid monstrosity that is rapidly taking over the deck.

We’re eating stuff out of the lettuce array every day, and need to step it up. For like $12 worth of seeds we’re going to have all of the salad greens we can eat for (seriously) the next 3-4 years. Plus the previously mentioned kale, spinach, chard, beet greens and all the rest. The only thing we’re missing is arugula and that’s because I screwed up and forgot to seed some. I should figure out somewhere to stick some now because that would do fine for the rest of the summer and autumn.

Garden Update - Potatoes

Garden Update - Winter Squash

Potatoes and Winter Squash

This is where we’re playing the long game, since at best we won’t see harvests out of these until October. We have three types of potatoes planted out in these potato tower things Rob built, and they’re all going crazy now. It’s likely Rob will have to add the third layer of boards & more soil on the weekend. These will be harvest when all the foliage dies off, which won’t be happening for a while.

I planted four kinds of winter squash — Early Butternut, Sweet Mama, Sunshine, and Heart of Gold. The Early Butternut aren’t doing terribly well, but the rest have gone crazy and are huge and slightly terrifying at this point. They’re easily a foot tall now, and they seem to be fine with the ridiculously cramped non-raised bed thing I built for them. Last week I read an article suggesting that I didn’t actually start these too late, so may actually get a viable harvest thing year. Fingers crossed!

Garden Update - Jalapeno

Garden Update - Thai Chilis

Hot Peppers

Not sure I’ve mentioned these before, but when we picked up plants for the herb garden, Rob found this sad little pot of three hot pepper plants in the discount bin and decided to adopt them. There was one Jalapeno plant, one Thai Chili (or Cayenne?) plant, and one Habanero plant. We stuck ’em in the middle of the herb garden, not expecting much, but holy crap. The Jalapeno plant has easily 15 peppers on it already, and just threw up a whole other shoot that has flowers all over it, and the Thai Chili plant is…festooned. Like maybe 100 peppers? It’s nuts. The Habanero is taking its sweet time, but has started to blossom — no visible fruit at this point, but we’re hopeful. Not bad for discount bin orphans.

Garden Update - Herbs
Basil
Garden Update - Herbs
Lemon Balm
Garden Update - Herbs
Thyme
Garden Update - Herbs
Sage
Garden Update - Herbs
Oregano

Herbs

Not pictured: Dill & Cilantro & Spearmint. Yeah, the herbs are doing crazy well and we’re using them daily. Thyme has been featured in pasta and cider-steamed mussels, cilantro in fajitas and …something else I can’t think of right now, dill & chives in tunafish sammiches, basil in salads, etc. Next year I have plans for a whole separate and much larger meandering, organic, lovely herb garden with a little fence around it and a comfy place to sit with tea or wine and a book. I may be turning into an old lady.

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That’s it! We love our garden and recommend growing your own stuff to everyone who has any space at all. It’s really just neat, and seriously easy to do once you get the basics sorted.

Gardening

Garden Update – July 22nd 2016

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Right now my hands smell of thyme and sage. Tonight we will have our first salads from the garden — a simple salad of mixed greens, and a small caprese salad with tomatoes and basil we’ve grown ourselves. There may also be mussels and/or salmon…we’ll see.

Some photos, with notes.

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Indigo Kumquat tomatoes – this is a semi-indeterminate hybrid that has taken over a significant part of our deck. Purchased from the discount bin, it was already sprawling and complicated, and after some judicious pruning and trellising, has started to do pretty well. It’s in a pot that’s probably too small at this point, but there’s no way we can repot it without losing half of the existing large cherry tomatoes, so I’ve topped it up with pure seafood compost and with an extra gallon of water yesterday seems to be doing pretty well. The plant probably has 50 tomatoes started already, the first 4-5 we’ll be eating today, and is starting new flowers constantly. If I can keep it alive, I expect this plant will continue producing right until frost.

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Pea flower – We’ve got three types of peas started, and the first flowers emerged this week. We have about 30 pea plants underway that are being trained up a simple bamboo trellis. I love fresh peas, so I’m hoping these will actually work, even though it’s pretty late in the season.

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Sweet 100 tomatoes – these are a determinate tomato, which we also picked up in the discount bin, scoring 8 plants for $4. They’re planted out in the garden beds and are doing pretty well now. They’ve doubled in size in the last couple of weeks and have set fruit with plenty more flowers on the way.

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Proto zucchini – We love zucchini so naturally I’ve planted far too many. I think we have 20 plants of four types, including golden, green, white, and “Sunburst” pattypan. This week we’ve seen the first itty bitty zucchini on all but the Sunburst plants, so we’ll be swimming in it soon. Luckily zucchini grills up like a champ and is something we’re happy eating pretty much every day.

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The salad bar – I think there are eight types of lettuce here, including three red leaf, three green leaf, “Little Gem” romaine, and Black Seeded Simpson. The tomatoes in the back are “Patio” tomatoes which are a determinate cherry tomato. There are a couple of “Sweet 100s” in here as well. The lettuce is ready to start harvesting, which we’ll do as “cut and come again”, taking only a couple of the outer leaves from each plant at a time and letting them continue to grow for the rest of the season.

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Radish – I’ve planted 3 types of radish and they grow like stink. I think this is two weeks old and it will be ready to harvest in a week or so. I’ll plant more when these are done so we have an ongoing source of radishy goodness.

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Beets – We have …a lot of beets. Or, more accurately, currently we have a lot of beet greens. We’ve planted half Boldor (golden) beets and half Bull’s Blood (crazy dark red) beets, and will start harvesting greens from these soon. The roots haven’t developed yet, but they should be big and ready for a pickling marathon in late September or early October. I make a honey-ginger pickled beet that is pretty much my favourite pickle in the world, thus the comically large number of beets in our garden.

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Broccoli Rabe – Still very small and struggling a bit with the wind (we get a lot of wind), but these have grown quite a lot in the last week or so. I believe there are even some proto-shoots starting, which is encouraging. I will likely seed more of these soon since they’re a cool weather crop and should do better in the autumn.

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Swiss Chard – We planted Kaleidoscope chard seeds and have about a dozen plants going strong. We’ll be able to start harvesting leaves from these pretty much any time, and they should last through until October or so.

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Kale! – This is Blue Dwarf Curly kale and we also have a bunch of Black Kale. Really too much of both, with I think 20 plants of each scattered throughout the garden. Luckily we love kale (thanks to @shappy), and will be experimenting with kale chips in addition to salads and sauted greens. Yum. Kale is another cool weather crop, so these should last through October as well.

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Cilantro, herbs & hot peppers – the herb bed contains Sage (2), Cilantro (3), Thyme (3), Oregano (2), Sweet Basil (3), Thai Basil (3), Lemon Balm (1), Dill (2), plus Jalapeno, Thai Chili, and Habanero plants. They are all going total gangbusters and we can start harvesting from them (except the hot peppers) any time. I will probably figure out how to do herbs indoors this year as well, so should be able to score herb seeds in the inevitable end-of-season seed sales. Woop woop. Oh we also have a spearmint plant, but he’s banished to a container on the patio, and garlic chives courtesy of the previous owner of our house. The chives will be transplanted into a better spot next spring.

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Rob’s Potato Towers – Rob is somewhat obsessed with growing potatoes, so has built and planted four potato towers with three types of organic potatoes (Yukon Gold, Russet, and Chieftain). The towers are about 2′ x 2.5′, and will be 2′ tall when they’re finished. The theory is that you build a frame that can be made taller throughout the season, and as the potato plants grow upwards, you build additional layers and fill them in with soil and compost, giving the plants more space for potatoes. Rob just added the second layer to these this week, and they should be finished up in a couple of months. The source of these plans claims that you can get as many as 100 lbs of potatoes from each tower, but we’ll see. We’ll make a video of the harvest when the time comes!

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The crazy apple tree – this is one of the three apple trees on our land, and is by far the largest. This is also where about a billion goldfinches live. We have no idea what kind of apple it is, and the tree has been sorely neglected for at least a decade, but we’re looking forward to spending a few years rehabbing this tree and seeing what it can produce. One of the other apple trees is very similar, but smaller (also in rough shape), and the third is a crabapple tree, which will be handy for jams & jellies (crabapples are a great source of natural pectin) and for the birds.

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Not pictured – two types of cucumber (doing well), three types of snap bean (also doing well, but pretty slow…we’ll see), and four types of winter squash that probably don’t have enough time to ripen anything before the hard frosts come, but I’m going to let them carry on and see what happens.

And that’s the update for today. There have been some failures along the way — I had to ditch all of the asian greens because they were infested with flea beetles. Next year they’ll all be in one bed and grown under row cover until they’re large enough to survive on their own. Also the cucamelons are super super slow and there’s no way they’ll produce anything this year, so I’m going to pull those out today and use the space for something else. I’ve got some bunching onions I want to plant, as well as perpetual spinach, snowball turnips, arugula, and maybe some leeks.