Monday, 31 January 2011

My Live Oak Tree

It's just had a rather severe pruning this month. The tree surgeon told me that winter is the time to do this.

Geoffrey ("G" as he is known) remarked that my live oak tree looked more healthy than most of the oak trees he's seen at this time of year. Why?

He asked me if I used commercial fertilizer, and I said "Never."

So there you have it. All that agonizing over nothing. 'Tis better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all. Well, I never loved at all. The lawn grass in my front yard just never would thrive, even when my mighty oak was a little sapling.

G said that the homeowners who put all their energies into maintaining a lush lawn with the use of commercial fertilizer usually pay for it with the health of their trees. He commented that the leaves on my tree are big and healthy. "There is two years of energy in that oak tree", he said.

So I just need to feel vindicated, and realize that grass is just never going to grow under my tree. But I've got the best shade tree in my neighborhood.

Just another benefit of going organic.

Sunday, 30 January 2011

Heirloom Beets

Around the first week of December 2010, I harvested my Detroit Red beets, which I had grown from seed beginning 9/28/10. They were supposed to take 45-60 days, but the roots seemed a little slow to develop, as is so typical for heirloom types. I was advised to wait to harvest close to Christmas, but I knew that wouldn't work for me, so I pulled them up on December 7.

If you look at the below picture of my square foot garden, I had planted 8 squares of beets. And with my harvest, how many servings did I actually get? About 4 to 5. My biggest beets were somewhat larger than a golf ball.

But they tasted very good indeed. They were worth the wait. I'd certainly grow them again, but I believe it would be worth experimenting with hybrid varieties.

I hear you saying, "I'm just too impatient to wait two or three months for beets!!"

I understand, and if you don't like the idea, why not grow the beets simply for their greens? You'll have green tops worth harvesting for a few months, and very quickly, too. If you go this route, this is basically all you'll get from the plants, but it will be the gift that "keeps on giving."

How do you cook beet greens?

Well, you can cook them like spinach, add them to mixtures of other greens like kale or turnip greens, or cook them this way: Add a little olive oil, vinegar, and a small bit of sugar to a saucepan, let it get hot, and add your greens and let them wilt in the saucepan. You can add bits of bacon as well. They are great this way. Or just use bacon grease in place of the olive oil.

Behold, 8 squares of Detroit beets: