Basic Vegetables to grow

There are easy vegetables out there that can supplement most people’s diet very happily with little effort.
My favorites for this coastal location:
2. Kale
3. Zucchini
4. Cherry tomatoes
5. Lettuce
6. Peas
I really think the large trough planters are quite easy to irrigate and protect from predators. They are deep and can accommodate the roots of larger plants. They look lovely with mixed plants spilling over the sides. I like to have some French Thyme plants, chard, chives and kale in one. maybe pumpkins, winter squash or zucchini with nastursiums in another planter. If you are a big salad eater, one with rotating plantings of lettuce works. my good friend Jann, uses an old piece of fiberglass bent over and tucked in the edges, to create a greenhouse, in an old bathtub. Irrigation can be quite simple for these, just a drip line and some sprayers. The troughs I use are old ones that leak and I put them on the dirt, but they do leave a rust mark if you leave them on decks .

I love perennial plants, that keep working for me year after year. Asparagus, rhubarb, artichokes, arugula, thyme, chives, oregano, tarragon, sage. If you like growing simple plants and want to branch out, plant broccoli, cauliflower, beans( I love bush beans), onions, garlic, spinach, strawberries. Plant some fruit trees. A lemon in a windless, south facing spot, in good rich soil will do well here. I love apples, pears, plums, prunes all these trees can live in our coastal climate.

Stone Soup -cooking from the garden, whatever the season

Garden in July 026
I’m afraid I’m quite boring in my use of spices, although most of the spices I use come straight from the garden. My husband and kids don’t like spicy food much or strange herbs, even curries. So my standby is a good base of fresh veggies, whatever is currently growing, plus an onion usually parsley or celery. Lately I love the herb sage especially with Chicken, Rabbit or pork. Thyme, oregano, rosemary, chives usually always fresh from the garden or ones I dried from the garden. I’m not exotic in my spice choices but it makes good home cooked food.
chard 4
Today I’m making a soup, we’ve had a week of lot’s of sickness going around, finished with me, the nursemaid getting the flu. Soup sounds really good to all of us.

My soup base today-varies with season
1 lg. onion diced
green garlic from the garden 5-6 sliced well into the green
carrots a large bunch from the garden-diced
1 lg. parsnip scrubbed- diced
parsley, stems and all-when it’s fresh the stems are delicious-1 large bunch minced
1 bunch of fresh thyme chopped
dried sage a lg. pinch
salt and pepper to taste

I always saute veggies first in my trusty cast iron skillet before adding to the soup pot
saute in 3/4 cube of butter (yes, this is a lot, you can use less, but adds lot’s of flavor)
First I add in the onions while I’m prepping the other veggies, then the garlic and the carrots, parsnip, thyme -after a saute and the onions are translucent add to soup pot

Add water- today I’m making chicken soup with either potatoes or barley or if I felt better some home made noodles. So I’ll add the organic, washed chicken- without innards- plus whatever else I’m putting in the soup
Bring to a slight boil, turn down to a simmer cook one hour, never let it boil! Take out the chicken, let it cool and take the meat off the bones. Add it back into soup- adjust seasonings. I’m going to add a large bunch of swiss chard at this point, Reheat to serving temp.

Summer canning
Summer canning

You could have also made cauliflower soup this way- pureeing the base with the potatoes. Or crispy bacon, clams and cream for clam chowder.
Or add in beef stock or wine( instead of water) and chunks of browned, floured meat for a stew. Or tomatoes sauce(instead of water), cooked white beans and sausage .

I love to cook food from our garden. You have to be creative to use what’s in season and make substitutions for recipes. But have fun with imagining what you can make. Then try to figure out how to make it from ingredients at hand. Don’t forget the bread with the soup !

Grow your own Mushrooms ! Class March 3rd 1-4pm


Grow Your Own Mushrooms

on Logs

With John Richardson

This workshop will teach us which hard wood logs to select, how to prepare and inoculate them with spawn plugs, which varieties of mushrooms work best, and how to take care of the logs. Each log can produce mushrooms for up to 5 years!
We will use Pearl Oyster and Shiitaki plugs.

Materials include logs, spawn plugs, sealing wax and handouts.

If you have one, bring a drill with a 5/16” bit.

John Richardson, currently of Noyo Hill Farm in Ft. Bragg, grew mushrooms commercially in Point Arena for many years.

Time: Sunday, March 3, 2013, 1pm to 4pm

Location: Gualala ridge
For directions, questions and to register call

(707) 884-3684

PRICE: $40 for the class, plus $25 for each inoculated log you want to take home.

RSVP: $20 deposit required by February 25. To RSVP call (707) 884 -3684

The super rich

How power-mad neoliberalism trashed your life, but made the super-rich even richer…
In Around the web on January 16, 2013 at 7:33 am

The Guardian

How they must bleed for us. In 2012, the world’s 100 richest people became $241 billion richer. They are now worth $1.9 trillion: just a little less than the GDP of the United Kingdom.

This is not the result of chance. The rise in the fortunes of the super-rich is the direct result of policies. Here are a few: the reduction of tax rates and tax enforcement; governments’ refusal to recoup a decent share of revenues from minerals and land; the privatisation of public assets and the creation of a toll-booth economy; wage liberalisation and the destruction of collective bargaining.

The policies which made the global monarchs so rich are the policies squeezing everyone else. This is not what the theory predicted. Friedrich Hayek, Milton Friedman and their disciples – in a thousand business schools, the IMF, the World Bank, the OECD and just about every modern government – have argued that the less governments tax the rich, defend workers and redistribute wealth, the more prosperous everyone will be. Any attempt to reduce inequality would damage the efficiency of the market, impeding the rising tide that lifts all boats. The apostles have conducted a 30-year global experiment and the results are now in. Total failure.

Before I go on, I should point out that I don’t believe perpetual economic growth is either sustainable or desirable. But if growth is your aim – an aim to which every government claims to subscribe – you couldn’t make a bigger mess of it than by releasing the super-rich from the constraints of democracy.

Last year’s annual report by the UN Conference on Trade and Development should have been an obituary for the neoliberal model developed by Hayek and Friedman and their disciples. It shows unequivocally that their policies have created the opposite outcomes to those they predicted. As neoliberal policies (cutting taxes for the rich, privatising state assets, deregulating labour, reducing social security) began to bite from the 1980s onwards, growth rates started to fall and unemployment to rise.

The remarkable growth in the rich nations during the 1950s, 60s and 70s was made possible by the destruction of the wealth and power of the elite, as a result of the Depression and the second world war. Their embarrassment gave the other 99% an unprecedented chance to demand redistribution, state spending and social security, all of which stimulated demand.

Neoliberalism was an attempt to turn back these reforms. Lavishly funded by millionaires, its advocates were amazingly successful: politically. Economically they flopped.

Throughout the OECD countries, taxation has become more regressive: the rich pay less, the poor pay more. The result, the neoliberals claimed, would be that economic efficiency and investment would rise, enriching everyone. The opposite occurred. As taxes on the rich and on business diminished, the spending power of both the state and poorer people fell, and demand contracted. The result was that investment rates declined, in step with companies’ expectations of growth.

The neoliberals also insisted that unrestrained inequality in incomes and flexible wages would reduce unemployment. But throughout the rich world both inequality and unemployment have soared. The recent jump in unemployment in most developed countries – worse than in any previous recession of the past three decades – was preceded by the lowest level of wages as a share of GDP since the second world war. Bang goes the theory. It failed for the same obvious reason: low wages suppress demand, which suppresses employment.

As wages stagnated, people supplemented their incomes with debt. Rising debt fed the deregulated banks, with consequences of which we are all aware. The greater inequality becomes, the UN report finds, the less stable the economy and the lower its rates of growth. The policies with which neoliberal governments seek to reduce their deficits and stimulate their economies are counter-productive.

The impending reduction of the UK’s top rate of income tax (from 50% to 45%) will not boost government revenue or private enterprise, but it will enrich the speculators who tanked the economy: Goldman Sachs and other banks are now thinking of delaying their bonus payments to take advantage of it. The welfare bill approved by parliament last week will not help to clear the deficit or stimulate employment: it will reduce demand, suppressing economic recovery. The same goes for the capping of public sector pay. “Relearning some old lessons about fairness and participation,” the UN says, “is the only way to eventually overcome the crisis and pursue a path of sustainable economic development.”

As I say, I have no dog in this race, except a belief that no one, in this sea of riches, should have to be poor. But staring dumbfounded at the lessons unlearned in Britain, Europe and the United States, it strikes me that the entire structure of neoliberal thought is a fraud. The demands of the ultra-rich have been dressed up as sophisticated economic theory and applied regardless of the outcome. The complete failure of this world-scale experiment is no impediment to its repetition. This has nothing to do with economics. It has everything to do with power.

Kids on the Farm

I love what farm life offers kids. Time to remember just how to have fun with everything. Make your own toys. Learning all kinds of body skills and capabilities in the midst of a working family.





Fun on the farm

Life on the farm sometimes feels like that movie “Babe”, you know where all the animals are such crazy characters ? The animals here are like that. Our horses are some of the funniest.

We already had the horses when we moved here, so we tried hard to provide them with a good sized fenced paddock and two barn stalls for rainy, cold weather. But because farming and homesteading is so much work, we don’t give the horses enough time and enough exercise. So our solution to this is to let them out of their pen and to basically run free around our upper, unfenced area most mornings. They graze on what grass we have and generally run around and have fun. Well, if we go back down to the house, our smart horse Buttercup, comes down to the house to see what we’re doing. She likes to stay around where people are. Sometimes she comes down on her own, just because the grass is better down there, Belle always follows her. My un-fenced ornamental plants and trees get grazed when they are down there. So I was working away on the long bed I was transplanting plants into, and it seemed very quiet and I hadn’t seen the horses for awhile. I hopped on the scooter and drove down to the house, sure enough there they were down in my garden beds. I started trying to round them up with my scooter racing around the beds and smart Buttercup evading every move. Then I hear Dennis coming into the driveway driving the Peterbilt towing the trailer with the excavator on it. He sees my dilemma and heads right at the horses with the truck, then he honks the airhorn and they jump, I’m on the other side on the scooter trying to push them along. Dennis just keeps coming rounding up the horses with the huge truck and trailer. They ran so fast back up to the barn with the truck horn still scaring them. They ran all the way up to the barn and waited for me to close the gate…


Happy Life in the Country

New Years Day working in the garden. So much garden work to do at this time of the year. I’m pruning deciduous trees and shrubs, fruit trees, roses, hydrangeas, fushias. Cutting back perennials. Transplanting or planting out new plants. I have an area where I make cuttings and they have now grown there for a year and need to be moved to their real homes. I’m transplanting climbing roses, pruned first, where we removed a fence, to another fence they need that support. I have large olive trees that I have grown in one of my fertile garden rows since they were rooted cuttings, three years now. They will transplant out to line the road to the garden.

Summer Garden Roseman Creek Ranch
Summer Garden Roseman Creek Ranch

I came in from working to eat my breakfast; a piece of seeded sourdough bread, two of our chicken eggs over easy, saute’d swiss chard. Such an abundant life. The fruits of our labor showing up everywhere.
Fruit trees we grew and grafted to root stock, some from seed (indian peach, apricot and pineapple guava), veggies grown from seed in our well composted beds. Baby flowers coming up in the beds from reseeding. Plants I made from cuttings; roses, hydrangea, buddleia, viburnum growing large. Artichokes from seed, asparagus from seed, rhubarb from divisions. Gardens don’t have to be costly, using the natural abundance of nature to our advantage if you know how. Homemade naturally leavened bread from our brick oven, fired with our wood. Our warm cozy house thanks to the serious efforts of my husband and a chainsaw.
Oven bread baking
The life we envisioned six years ago when we bought this property is so much more than we could have imagined. Self sufficiency just an idea then now a lived experience. I want to tell you it’s quite possible. It takes diligence and hard work. Knowledge of traditional tasks and garden experience.

The Unsettling of America by Wendell Berry

Everyone should read this book to understand the demise of American agriculture, which has led to the dysfunction of our society and our health. “The Unsettling of America” by Wendell Berry

Wendell Berry writes here during a rainstorm in Kentucky, watching the creeks and rivers run brown with soil.

“In the past several days I have seen some of the worst-eroded corn fields that I have seen in this country in my life. This erosion is occurring on the cash-rented farms of farmers’ widows and city farmers, absentee owners, the the doctors and businessmen who buy a farm for the tax breaks or to have a “quiet place in the country” for the weekends. It is the direct result of economic and agricultural policy. The signs of the “agridollar”, big-business fantasy mentality.. are all present: the absenteeism, the temporary and shallow interest of the land-renter, the row-cropping of slopes, the lack of rotation, the plowed-out waterways, the rows running up and down hills, Looked at from the field’s edge, this is ruin, criminal folly, moral idiocy. Looked at from Washington, D.C., from inside the “economy”, it is called “free enterprise” and “full production”.
And around me here, as everywhere else I have been in this country – in Nebraska, Iowa, Indiana, New York, New England, Tennessee – the farmland is in general decline: fields ad whole farms abandoned, given up with their scars unmended, washing away under the weeds and bushes; fine land put to row crops year after year, without rest or rotation; buildings and fences going down; good houses standing empty, unpainted, their windows broken.
And it is clear to anyone who looks carefully at any crowd that we are wasting our bodies exactly as we are wasting our land. Our bodies are fat, weak, joyless, sickly, ugly, the virtual prey of the manufacturers of medicine and cosmetics. Our bodies have become marginal; they are growing useless like our “marginal” land because we have less and less use for them. After the games and idle flourishes of modern youth, we can use them only as shipping cartons to transport our brains and our few employable muscles back and forth to work.
As for our spirits, they seem more and more to comfort themselves by buying things. No longer in need of the exalted drama of grief and joy, they feed now on little shocks of greed, scandal, and violence. For many of the churchly, the life of the spirit is reduced to a dull preoccupation with getting to Heaven. At best, the world is no more than an embarrassment and a trial to the spirit, which is otherwise radically separated from it. The true lover of God must not be burdened with any care or respect for His works. While the body goes about its business of destroying the earth, the soul is supposed to lie back and wait for Sunday, keeping itself free of earthly contaminants. While the body exploits other bodies, the soul stands aloof, free from sin, crying to the gawking bystanders:”I am not enjoying it !”…This separation of the soul from the body and from the world is no disease of the fringe, no aberration, but a fracture that runs through the mentality of institutional religion like a geologic fault. And this rift in the mentality of religion continues to characterize the modern mind, no matter how secular the world becomes.”

My Husband comes from the country

I have the most wonderful husband, sometimes he seems like he was made to order. I think a lot of this is from being raised in the country. Having country values. You get married to someone you love and you can continue loving them your whole life. Ethics are hard work, frugality, family, taking care and helping others in need, community.

When I ask him if I’ve been snoring too loud, a four generation matriarchal lineage malady, he says it reminds him of a tractor sound. That when he was young and needed a nap his mom would sit them on the running tractor to get them to fall asleep. That having me there helps him to sleep.

He never minds if I always dress in Levi’s and t-shirts, and am usually dirty from working in the garden, says he like it when girls dress like that. His favorite color is blue jeans.

When I really stink from cleaning out the horse stalls, moving manure, brushing and working with the horses, he takes a deep whiff and says he loves the smell of horses.

He doesn’t mind strong women and finds them to have no effect on his masculinity. His sisters and his mom all drive tractors and work hard, run their own businesses, his mom even flew planes.

He tells me I’m cute in his “Granpa Bate’s” overalls.

Asks me if I need ice cream or chocolate when I’m tired. Never commenting about being fat or getting fat.

His highest compliment before he ever told me that he loved me, and after he kissed me and I couldn’t walk for about twenty minutes, was that I was comfortable.

He never would consider cheating on me, it’s just so unfathomable for him. So I can have all my cute girlfriends over and never have to worry, even when they flirt with him.

He works his butt off, yet will always turn around and do more if it’s needed. Rarely complains.

He cares more about people than things. He believes children are incalculably important.

Cries at sad movies, actually just kind of makes this choked up sound. We all know it and like it.

Always loves to give or get a hug, is just in general affectionate. Snuggles and lets me warm up against him, even when I’m freezing cold. He say’s “cold hands warm heart”.

He doesn’t say much, but when he does it’s real and thought out. I wish more men were like him.