Home » Barbolian Fields Blog – Welcome to the Ramble in the Brambles

Self-Imposed Limitations, Sustainability, and Creatively Breaking Rules

I’ve hit a turning point. Actually, several of them. In the process, I've been examining my self-imposed limitations, my concept of sustainability, and why now is the best time to break a few rules. Another lengthy psycho-analysis post of how our gardens teach us much about life and visa versa - and what to do about it.

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Square Foot Gardening and Getting a Grip on What You Really Need

Want to grow more food in less space with less effort? The "All New Square Foot Gardening" by Mel Bartholomew has the approach you might be looking for. With gas headed skyward, putting away the tiller and growing what you need makes a lot of sense. 100% of the harvest at 50% of the costs, 20% of the space, 10% of the water, 5% of the seeds, and 2% of the work - that makes it a no-brainer.

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Garden Planning Season

Blame it on Seasonal Affective Disorder if you wish, but this is the time of year when many of us otherwise-very-reasonable people succumb to buying seeds for things we know we don’t have room for or can’t possibly grow in our zones. We need to get real. A strategy. A garden PLAN. I've been reading a lot of books this winter and am passing on some cool ideas - obviously, not my own. This post is an introduction.

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Themes and Resolutions

Did you make any gardening New Year's resolutions this year? Do you have a strategy when it comes to keeping up with your garden? Last year, I used goal-setting and time-management techniques to try to get an upper hand on the weeds. My mission was to "Establish Boundaries" over which no weed should dare cross! Lesson learned: weeds do not respect my boundaries. Many things - particularly the garden - are beyond my control. This year, I'm working more from an attitude of cooperation rather than conflict. We'll see whether Mother Nature agrees.

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How to Plant Garlic Bulbils

Here's how I recently planted garlic bulbils - those little seed-like clusters in the scapes. Planting scapes is a great way to increase your crop at a low price. Can you still plant them? Yes, I think so, but you may want to wait for the snow to melt if you're on the Olympic Peninsula! I am sure there will be warmer days ahead if you still need to get them in the ground.

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Harvest Celebration Farm Tours

Tomorrow, Saturday, October 2, is the 14th Annual Harvest Celebration Farm Tour in Clallam County. If you are on the Olympic Peninsula, Washington State, this is a very fun event that gives you a glimpse of what the Peninsula has to offer. This year, nine different farms are opening their barn doors and throwing a party – hayrides, music, great food, farm animals & produce, demonstrations – a ton of down-home family fun.

We are incredibly blessed to have such an abundance of “real” food and local products available to us. It’s up to us to insure that availability. By supporting our local family farms, we are supporting our independence, our self-sufficiency, and our communities. Our health – and our quality of life - defined on so many levels – depends on it. So when you check out some of our local farms this weekend, take time to get to know our farming neighbors. We’re all in this together.

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Grow, Corn, Grow!

We're running out of heat units here! What do I have to do to inspire this corn to get with the program? Maybe this little Gershwin Summertime tune will help, by yours truly & trusty harmonicas in Em and Am. (the livin' ain't so easy if you're an ear of corn in the Pacific Northwest)

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Capturing Sunshine in a Jar

Save money, eat healthier, control the ingredients, be more self-sufficient – all good reasons to can your own food. It is a connection to past generations who understood the importance of self-reliance to survival. And like our grandparents, come some blustery day in the midst of winter, we can gather with family and friends, crack open a jar of those home-canned peaches, sit back, and close our eyes at the sweet taste of summer. Mmmm-hmmmm. A little sunshine in a jar.

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Artichoke Beauty and the Art of Aioli

We have artichokes! Celebrate by making your own aioli - basically garlic, lemon juice, egg yolks, and olive oil blended together in a smooth mass - to transport yourself into some other realm. It is a night and day difference from the stuff you buy in a jar called mayonnaise. Artichokes - extraordinary thistle that they are - are the perfect partner to this excursion into a gastronomic swoon.

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Scapes, Scallions, and the Scarcity of Spring

In this post, I confess to having a serious case of scape envy, based on reports I am getting from others whose garlic plants are already producing those delectable scapes. Want to know the difference between scapes, scallions, and "green garlic" and how elephant garlic fits in to this picture? I'll try to unravel some of that for you. And if you're wondering what to do with your scapes, stay tuned for my upcoming cookbook!

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Addicted to Oil? Sharpen your hand tools!

The oil still gushing out of the bottom of the ocean in the Gulf should make us all aware that we are all part of the problem. Choosing to use hand tools instead of machinery is one small way we can cut back on our consumption. In this post, I describe how I sharpened an old sickle and cut down my green manure crop of a rye-clover-vetch mix (mostly rye) by hand. Let me tell you, it made me feel pretty darn powerful! Try it. You'll like it. And so will our environment.

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Pull Back the Mulch and Feed the Garlic!

If you've tucked your garlic in under mulch for the winter, now is the time to pull back the blanket and let the sun shine in. Early spring is a time of intense change for the garlic plants, and when they first come up, they are hungry! Have pity and don't make them search for food! This post is about the special needs of garlic in early spring and how to care for them.

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Quinoa Crustless Quiche with Spring Greens

NOW is the time to use those spring greens, because later on they get strong and bitter. Personally, I had easy access to lovage, sorrel, parsley, pea shoots, kale, and collards, so those are things I wanted to use. Lovage & sorrel, especially, need to be used in small quantities, but can really add that little "zing" that makes everyone wonder, "Jeez! What IS that!" Here is a recipe that is a take-off from something I found in Vegetarian Times. I'm calling it Quinoa Crustless Quiche with Spring Greens. You won't believe how quick & easy it is to make. Low calorie. Nutritious fast food, Inca style!

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Pre-spring Garden and Wild Greens for the Pickin’

Early March: what's in the garden? Chard, kale, collards, beets, leeks, early garlic & onions, lots of herbs, rhubarb -- and then there are some of the bold & unusual: lovage, French sorrel, and cardoon -- but don't forget wild greens! Dandelions, nettles, mustards,chickweed, purslane, and others are nutritional powerhouses and are great to add to soups & salads before the rest of the garden gets going.

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Garlic Is Coming On Strong!

The garlic is growing strong at Barbolian Fields! We applied a heavy layer of mulch at planting time, and it appears to have done a good job of protecting the bulbs from the series of winter freezes and thaws and also preventing erosion of the beds when we got a lot of rain. Looks like a good crop this year if all goes well!

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Buying Seeds: Garden Planning Reality Check

Ha! Wasn't that incredibly irresponsible of me in my last post??? I mean, I'm talking to people quite possibly stuck in a snowbank, and I blithely (as I can do so very well) flaunt our blooming crocuses and say, "Here are some fantastic catalogs - a little retail therapy will do you good!"
Whoaa - whoaa - whoaa....
We need to review the Reality Check Blues Rules! Here are some things to keep in mind when you go shopping for seeds!

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Seed Catalog Frenzy

It is that time of year again: Seed Catalog Frenzy season! Nothing like planning a garden to beat the winter doldrums! Here are a dozen of seed companies that are guaranteed to wake hibernating gardeners. If you are looking for organic, heirloom, and/or unusual varieties of veggies, herbs, fruits, flowers, and shrubs -- look no further!

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Support our Local Farms: PCC Tour of Nash’s Delta Farm; Visit Nearby Dungeness Valley Creamery

Saturday, Jan. 16, is the PCC Farmland Trust tour of the Delta Farm, part of the 400+ acres farmed by Nash Huber and his crew. Sign up and see first hand how he manages to keep us all fed through the winter. While you're in the area, stop in and see the Dungeness Valley Creamery, which recently received some bad press by the WSDA which implied a link between e. coli and their certified raw milk. Nothing could be further from the truth! See for yourself what a wonderful dairy they have and taste the difference in raw milk that comes from cows that are catered to! Supporting our local family farms is just so important to preserving farmland in our region. It is such a privilege to have them here. Meet the hands that provide us with such incredible bounty!

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Blue Moon Garden Review

A cold winter's night beneath a blue moon: December 31 and it's that time of year again: time to evaluate what worked and what didn't in the garden. Once you complete this year-end ritual, you can dive into all those seed catalogs. But don't skip this pre-garden planning step: a realistic evaluation now might prevent you from making crazy impulsive purchases based on glossy photos, mouth-watering descriptions, and a human tendency to forget the bad and remember the good. Or not.

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Tomato Saga and Green Tomato Mincemeat

A story of growing tomatoes, from training them up a trellis to having them take over the garden. If you are wondering what to do with all those green tomatoes left at the end of the season, here is the best mock mincemeat recipe I have found. Ingredients include tomatoes, apples, raisins, citrus, and spices. No meat, lard, or suet. Makes a great mock mincemeat pie just in time for Thanksgiving and upcoming holidays. This post also recommends a couple of good garden cookbooks and a great place to purchase seeds and get gardening information.

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