Tag Archives | urban farming

What to do with extra (large) Zucchini – 3 Delicious Recipes

This article will explain what to do with extra (large) Zucchini by giving 3 delicious recipes.

Every year my garden produces way more zucchini than we can keep up with. We are always giving zucchini away to friends and neighbors but even so, we end up with extra large zucchinis that we don’t want to go to waste. This summer, we discovered a few ways to put these zucchinis to good use. Here are 3 easy recipes that work great with large Zucchini:

1. Grilled Zucchini

What to do with extra (large) Zucchini - 3 Delicious Recipes

This is so easy to do and really delicious. All you need to do is slice the zucchini into long flat strips that are about 1/4″ thick. I usually leave the skin on to hold the pieces together better. Then, put the zucchini on your BBQ and pour a little bit of soy sauce on each piece. Then, add salt and pepper.

What to do with extra (large) Zucchini - 3 Delicious Recipes

When you flip the pieces of zucchini over, the soy sauce, salt, and pepper will all get grilled into the zucchini adding a ton of flavor. Once the zucchini starts turning slightly transluscent, you know it’s ready. Take it off to serve and enjoy!

2. Zucchini as a pasta replacement in Pesto

This is one of the coolest things we discovered this summer. My brother-in-law told us about this and then made it for us at a family reunion. It was so delicious! What you do is make normal pesto (we typically buy the pesto mix at the store but you can also make your own if you have lots of basil handy), but instead of adding pasta noodles, you use zucchini noodles from your large zucchini. To prep the zucchini, use a thick cheese grader or simply cut the zucchini into thin spaghetti like strips. Then, quickly cook the zucchini for about 4 minutes. Put it into a strainer to let it drain. Then, add to your pesto mix in place of adding pasta noodles with a little bit of olive oil and additional fresh basil if you have it. Mix it up and add some salt and pepper to taste. That’s it. Now you have a low-carb, delicious, and healthy meal that uses up your large zucchini.

3. Zucchini Bread or Muffins

Zucchini Bread or Muffins is the default go to use of large zucchinis. Zucchini bread not only tastes delicious, but it is also really healthy for you because of the large amount of zucchini you use. There are dozens of recipes online that you can choose from. Here are a few links to ones that I like:

  • Super Moist Zucchini Bread or Muffins (healthy): http://allrecipes.com/recipe/super-moist-zucchini-bread/
  • Mom’s Zucchini Bread: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/moms-zucchini-bread/

Do you have additional recipes or ways that you use zucchini? Let us know in the comments.

If you have never grown zucchini or any other produce of your own, TogetherFarm has made a much easier way for you to do that. We want everyone to experience the benefits and flavor or homegrown produce and so we have created a modular garden box that doesn’t require tools to build and can be built in any shape or size. The modular garden box system is called TogetherFarm Blocks. The blocks are made from 100% recycled food-grade plastic so they are good for the environment too! You can pre-order your garden box kit on Kickstarter by following this link:

TogetherFarm Blocks on Kickstarter

Kickstarter Campaign for TogetherFarm Blocks

8,847 total views, 1 views today

Gardening with Recycled Materials

IMG_0449

We’ll keep it short on words and long on pictures in this post as we review different ways of gardening using recycled materials.  My wife and I prepped and planted our spring garden earlier this year.  Here are some quick how-tos and tips for your 2014 garden.

IMG_0403

There they are – a winter’s growth of cover crops.  These guys are all ready to be folded back into last year’s soil which fed a bounty of tomatoes.  Now it’s time to feed the soil.

IMG_0411

There are a few articles out there on incorporating your cover crops into your soil beds.  One says to get a pair of garden shears and do a bit of a mowing, trimming them all before anything else.  We simply got a pitch fork and began turning the cover crops into the soil.  It looks like hard work but it was actually pretty easy.  The cover crops kept the soil moist and well aerated making short work of this task.  The other thing we noticed was the soil, which was a light brown when we planted last year, was rich and dark black with worms and other small critters thriving below the surface.  The beds were very much alive and healthy.

IMG_0414

When done, our beds looked like this.  Note that some of the greens are still at the surface.  We didn’t mind too much because we planned on amending the soil with a few bags of organic soil.  It is important, however, to make sure to cover up any of the greens.  Remember, these guys are still alive with roots in the ground.   You don’t want them to reestablished themselves amidst your new garden.

IMG_0415

We added “Edna’s Best” potting soil to our gardens since it had a nice mix of soil, mycorrhizal fungi, earthworm castings, kelp meal, bat guano, feather meal and a natural wetting agent.  It’s easy, just toss the bag on the garden bed, split it open with a shovel and then remove the bag.  All the soil dumps right where you want it.  We decided to spread it evenly across the top instead of folding it into the beds.  Since it rains fairly often in Portland, Oregon, the soil and nutrients will melt into the rest of the beds.  Again, this also keeps light away from any leftover cover crops to make sure they decompose into the soil.

IMG_0421

The finished project:  Soil is now spread evenly and ready for planting.

yard junk

In 2013, we had an old wire and metal pipe greenhouse that was showing its age.  We took it down and were planning on taking it to the dump.  However, part of our spring garden was peas that love to climb.  My wife, Rhonda (the brains of the operation), figured out a way to keep this out of the landfill while putting it back to work.

IMG_0433

She took the wire shelves and some old tomato hoops from the green house and created an attractive and stable structure for our peas to wrap themselves around.  The structures made it very easy to harvest the peas once they were ready.

IMG_0427

There are a lot of books and magazines on gardening in the Pacific Northwest, but save your money – if you plant to start from seed, all of the instructions including when and how to plant for your specific region, are on the back of the packet.  This would have saved me some money because I bough about a dozen heirloom tomato seeds anxious to get them going earlier this year but found it was too late.  Oh, well.  I’ll save them for next year and start them in egg shell starters.

IMG_0447

Using the poles from our old green house, we divided our beds up into sections for spinach, beets, onions, kale, and carrots.  A common mistake is to plant your crops and then forget to mark them.  They all look alike as seedlings and you won’t know what’s what until they are mostly grown.  For our spring garden, we simply followed the directions on spacing and number of seeds to plant.  We then looked around the yard for more material that would end up in the landfill.  We found some old boards from a planter box, broke them up, and then wrote on them with a green wax pencil to identify our different crops.

Now that the seeds are in the garden, make sure to water them well to wake them up.  Follow watering instructions for your plants, making sure not over-water, which will drown those new roots reaching down into the soil.

You can also be very strategic about planting certain types of plants in close proximity to one another.  Tomatoes and basil do well together.  Marigolds planted in your bed near your crops will function as a natural pest repellent and helps gauge the health of your garden.  There are many other tips and tricks to planting crops which we’ll cover in the coming weeks.

We’re so passionate about using recycled materials that we started a Kickstarter Campaign, where we are raising funds to bring our very first product, TogetherFarm Blocks™.  Made from food safe recycled plastics, it’s an easy way to quickly build a garden bed in a matter of minutes.  If you have a small space you can use these to quickly build a custom garden box without tools or carpentry experience.  Check them out!

TogetherFarm Blocks - the best way to build a garden box

TogetherFarm Blocks – Modular Garden Box System

 

 

3,441 total views, no views today

Use Up Those Summer Tomatoes

Garden Fresh Tomatoes

Garden Fresh Tomatoes

 

Here’s a great way to use up those summer tomatoes that may be stacking up and attracting fruit flies.

This peasant salad from Tuscany requires above all a good country bread that is a day or two old. In Tuscan dialect Panzanella  means “little swamp”, which is a description of the juice soaked bread. A good sturdy country loaf that is a day or two old can soak up the tomato and cucumber juices without becoming soggy.

Panzanella Salad Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 loaf of day old country bread like Como, or a Pugliese
  • 4 large tomatoes cut into 1″ dice
  • 1 TB Capers
  • 1/2 C good olive oil
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 cucumbers peeled and seeded and cut into 1/2″ dice
  • 1 bunch Italian Basil, chopped
  • 1/2 small red onion sliced thinly
  • Sea Salt + Coursely ground black pepper, to taste

The best thing about this recipe is that it can be assembled in a matter of minutes, which works great in busy households or in the event that you are just too beat to cook when you get home from work.  Here’s how to put it together:

  1. Cut the bread into 1-1/2″ thick cubes, set aside
  2. Mix together the tomatoes, cucumbers, capers, onion and basil
  3. Mix together the oil and vinegar and pour over the vegetables
  4. Add the bread, and mix all ingredients until coated with dressing
  5. Add salt + pepper to taste

Refrigerate salad for up to 1 hour.

If you are excited about growing your own tomatoes at home, you should check out our Kickstarter Campaign, where we are raising funds to bring our very first product, TogetherFarm Blocks™, to you.  If you have a small space you can use these to quickly build a custom garden box without tools or carpentry experience.  Check them out!

TogetherFarm Blocks™

TogetherFarm Blocks™

2,020 total views, 1 views today

How to grow your own potatoes and harvest them twice in one year

How to grow your own potatoes and harvest them twice in one year

Freshly harvested young red potatoes from my garden

Often times when I buy a big bag of potatoes, I end up not being able to use all of them. Or, I wait too long to use them and they start growing little shoots all around the potato – even still in the bag. Here is the good news about this, you can use potatoes that have started to send out shoots to grow your own potato plants. I did this earlier this year. I had some red potatoes that sat in my kitchen for too long. Instead of throwing them out, I decided to put them in my garden. You can also buy seed potatoes from a nursery or seed store in your area. Potatoes are really easy to grow and you can actually get two harvests from each plant every year. Here is how to grow your own potatoes and harvest them twice in one year:

1. Take your sprouted potatoes or purchased seed potatoes and cut them into sprouted sections

Each sprouting potato can become 5-6 plants (sometimes more) depending on how many sprouts are developing on the potato. You can take the potato and cut it into big sections around each of these sprouts. Cut the whole potato up leaving as much of the potato flesh with each sprout as possible.

2. Prep the soil for planting the potatoes

Soil prep is really important in order to get a good harvest of potatoes. Since the potatoes themselves will form at the roots of the plant, they like soil that is loose and deep. Try to dig the soil to a depth of 1 foot before planting and make sure the soil is loose. It is also important that the soil drains well. If it doesn’t you may end up having water that sits around the potato roots and begins to rot the newly forming potatoes.

3. Plant each section of sprouted potato 4-6 inches deep

Once you have sectioned the potato, you are ready to plant. Dig a furrow that is 4-6 inches deep. Set each potato section into the furrow spacing them out by about a foot. If you are gardening in a smaller space, you can plant the potatoes closer together but you will probably get less of a yield. When the plants get to be about 1 foot tall, it is helpful to pull the soil up around the base of the plants creating a mound. This protects the deep roots and allows for more soil for new potatoes to form. The best time to plant the potatoes is when all chance of frost is passed and the soil is well warmed. You can also plant mid to late summer depending on how warm the fall is in your area.

The other option you can try is planting the potato plants in a 5 gallon bucket with drainage wholes cut into the bottom. Fill the 5 gallon bucket with soil and then plant the potato (or a couple potatoes) 4-6 inches deep. Then, be sure to water well as your potatoes begin to grow.

4. When do I harvest my potatoes?

How to grow your own potatoes and harvest them twice in one year

Potato plant flowers indicate that you can do a mid-cycle harvest

There are actually two times that you can harvest potatoes (especially with Yukon Gold and All Red Potato varieties). You know you can do the first harvest when the plants have flowered. In order to do this, lightly dig around the base of the plant being careful not to disturb the roots. As you sift through the soil, you will discover little potatoes. Pull up as many of these little potatoes as you want and be sure to eat them within a couple of days as they don’t last very long. When you have harvested the young potatoes, replace the soil and then water well. Be sure to reform the mounds around the plants.

The potatoes are ready for the second harvest when the plants have started loosing their color and dying back. At this point, you can thoroughly dig up the plants (or just dump out your 5 gallon bucket if you are container gardening). Dig deep around the roots and you will find lots of mature potatoes throughout the soil surrounding the potato plants. I have found that I often don’t find all the potatoes in the soil. This works out great because I get volunteer potatoes in my garden the next year, ready to start the double harvest process again when the plants begin to bloom.

That’s it. Next time your potatoes start to sprout, try planting them in your garden instead of tossing them out. Then, enjoy your own fresh, organic potatoes later that year.

22,163 total views, 9 views today