Barbolian Fields Blog – Welcome to the Ramble in the Brambles

A Somewhat Unconventional Garlic Garden

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I tried a little unconventional approach to this year’s garlic garden. I built the beds in a series of circles around nitrogen-fixing shrubs and a meandering form that looks a lot like my life – er, I mean, a whirligig. Whatever. I was lost.

Got Garlic???? YES we DO!

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We still have lots of garlic! In trying to set up a storefront, I wiped out my page that lists them. If you’re looking for great garlic to plant or to eat, shoot me an email and I’ll get back to you. It might take me awhile to find a fix!

Garlic Planting Planner

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Having trouble figuring out how much garlic you can plant in your garden? Or maybe how much garden you need to plant all your garlic? I’ve created a little tool in Excel that will do all the math for you – leaving you more time to get down and get dirty in the garden! Check out the Barbolian Fields Garlic Planting Planner.

Surrounded by Garlic!

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Got garlic? One can never have too much. See what it’s like to be surrounded by about 1000 bulbs and over 130 pounds of this fragrant stuff — swooooon…

Barbolian Garlic Harvest 2011

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Our garlic harvest was a full month later than in some years, but yes – the garlic is in and hanging in the shed – AND THE GOOD NEWS IS: IT LOOKS FANTASTIC!

Self-Imposed Limitations, Sustainability, and Creatively Breaking Rules

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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.

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

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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.

Lasagna Gardening and the Great Mulch Cover-up

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“Lasagna Gardening” – heard of it? read it? Here’s my review of the book and a take on a method that heaps organic matter on top of weeds and lets you kick back while nature does the work. Also a tip on slug control that doesn’t involve squishing them with your bare hands or watching them shrivel under salt.

Garden Planning Season

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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.

Garlic Under Snow

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Snowstorm in the PNW! The garlic is under a blanket. Here’s a good recipe for a simple high-energy food mix for the birds.

Garlic is UP! and Much about Mulch

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Garlic is up and growing strong! This year, we did not apply mulch to the garlic beds. Mulch is the new mantra for a lot of people – we say, that depends…

Garden Planning 2011: Some Successes from 2010

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Time to plan this year’s garden! In this post, I share a bunch of pictures of plants I grew from Renee’s Garden Seeds – things like poppies, morning glory, larkspur, yellow pole beans, beets, kohlrabi, and more. These will definitely be on my “grow again” list.

Themes and Resolutions

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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.

New Year’s for the Birds

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As the winter weather sets in, there has been a frenzy of activity at the bird feeder. This post gives some ideas on how to make muffins for the birds out of suet, nuts, seeds, and other goodies. We also made a bird feeder by drilling holes in a small log and filling them with a suet mix. Enjoy!

Thanksgiving – today and every day

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A happy Thanksgiving to one and all, and a few thoughts about abundance, gratitude, supporting family farms, and thinking about what is important in life. Thank you everyone for all your support, and may you have a wonderful and safe holiday! Remember to buy local!

How to Plant Garlic Bulbils

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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.

Harvest Now for Holiday Gifts from the Garden!

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No time to lose! You still have time to harvest things to use in making gifts from the garden. Holiday gift ideas include seed sharing, taking cuttings for propagating plants, herb blends, food treats, an assortment of crafts, and a recipe for calendula salve.

Time Again to Plant Garlic

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Frost is on the pumpkin and it’s time to plant garlic! I am going back to basics this year – keeping it simple. This post is all about planting garlic: planning, building beds, enriching the soil, planting, and mulching.

Fall Abundance – and a Great Recipe for Apple Cake

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So many reasons why I love this simply gorgeous time of year! But aaaghhh! So much to do! …last-minute scramble to button things up for winter, can and freeze surplus produce, get the garlic in the ground, don’t forget fall cover crops…and what to do with all those apples? Try this Skillet Apple Cake Recipe – it’s fast & easy!

Harvest Celebration Farm Tours

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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.

10 Tips for Growing Corn in the Pacific Northwest

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Hey! We are doing the Corny Happy Dance here at Barbolian Fields. YES! We are harvesting CORN! Amazing but true! Here are my 10 tried-and-true tips for growing corn in the Maritime Northwest, where summer heat can be fleeting, at best.

Grow, Corn, Grow!

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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)

Capturing Sunshine in a Jar

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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.

Artichoke Beauty and the Art of Aioli

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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.

Every Soil Tells a Story

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We delve deeper into the whys of a poor garlic crop this year, and although I highly suspect it was a combination of a long wet winter and spring, incessant strong winds, and too thick a mulch, I thought it might be a good idea to buy an NPK soil-test kit and see what the soil could tell me.

When All Else Fails, Buy Plants

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A little retail therapy helped offset the dreary weather and having to face a very poor garlic crop. Sad day. Looking for some bright spots amidst a lot of bulbs that rotted in the ground. Looking for reasons why. Even after over 30 years of growing this stuff, gardening is always such a learning process, huh.

Scapes, Scallions, and the Scarcity of Spring

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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!

Addicted to Oil? Sharpen your hand tools!

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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.

Pull Back the Mulch and Feed the Garlic!

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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.

Garlic Reconnects Old Friends and Makes New Ones

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Progress reports from Pennsylvania and the Mojave Desert: Barbolian garlic is thriving across the country! Plus a little philosophical wandering into how the Internet, gardens, and garlic can reconnect old friends and make new ones!

Quinoa Crustless Quiche with Spring Greens

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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!

Pre-spring Garden and Wild Greens for the Pickin’

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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.

Garlic Is Coming On Strong!

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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!

Buying Seeds: Garden Planning Reality Check

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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!

Seed Catalog Frenzy

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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!