Good morning from the farm. Here is the vitality kit we put together for you this week.
These chard leaves are different than the chard we are usually eating. They are at least a rare phenotype, if not a completely different species from Swiss chard. They look different. They taste different. And they have never been bitter. I put these plants in as starters. The starter supplier that I got them from cannot remember even having them. They were clearly labeled “Iraqi Chard” though. Sadly, He did not know how to get them again. For the last month, I have been looking for an opportunity to manifest a handful of seeds for this plant. I finally tracked down some bunches of leaves on the shelf of one of the Iraqi markets between main street and mount Helix Area of El Cajon. I will not mention the names of the owners or the store. A lot of you know who they are though. I “intentionally” bumped into the owner of the store and struck up a conversation. I made sure he understood my passion and appreciation for this unique variety of chard. I noted the super thin stems, the arrowhead shaped leaves. But mostly I related my love for the unique soft flavor of this wonderful chard. He opened up to me. Among many things, he explained that this was a preferred leaf for rolling Dolma. But then he kind of blew my mind. He told me something I never would have expected. His family grows these leaves for the store. They get the seeds for the planting of the leaves every year, in the mail from a family member in Mosul, Iraq. Theirs is not an organic store. As a matter of fact, nothing they sell appears to be organic. But here is what makes their little secret even more interesting to me. The leaves are 100 percent organic. They are not labeled organic intentionally. Apparently, everyone in the community who shops their store is fully aware that the chard is grown down the street. They all know it is organic too. During the time we talked, two young mothers and an old hunched over woman perused and basketed a bunch or two of chard. I asked him how he felt about running a local organic chard speak easy. This got him to laughing. I figured that now was the time to do the dirty deed. How about them seeds? I asked with a serious face. His face got even more serious. This made me wonder if I just screwed everything up. “Now, I think I have to get my wife”, he said. He told me to go to the front of the store. Hmmn, stand by the door? Could be a good thing. Could be a bad thing. His wife appeared immediately. She got flour on me when she shook my hand. After grilling me about my ability to germinate seeds and care for plants, she looked at her husband and rattled of a few fast sentences in Arabic. He looked at me with a satisfying smile so big, you would think I just won the Publishers Clearinghouse Sweepstakes. You come back in 5 days. The seeds will be in an envelope at the front, waiting for you. Be very careful with them. Very careful. I will my friend…..I will.
Chop a little onion, chard and tomato. Get the saute pan hot with oil and throw it all in. I like to use high temp and get some of the leaves brown and crispy before turning off the heat and putting the lid on. I like the caramel like taste that crisping some of the leaves makes. I threw that in a bowl with an egg from the neighbors chicken, a carrot from the garden and a grapefruit.
Find a quiet breakfast nook…preferably outside.
The smell is likely to attract visitors.
We skinned the spiny chayote and grilled it along with some fish and veggies before making a grilled siete mares soup last night. The green stuff in the bottom left corner of the pan is the flesh of the spiny chayote. It is a little more firm and starchy than the smooth chayote. It went very well in the soup after being grilled and chopped up.
Fresh Chick Peas
Head Of Cabbage
One Lone Zucchini
The new farm house and gardens are really starting to shape up. It is hard to believe we have only been here 5 weeks. There are a few hundred feet of seeds already coming up in the new rows. 30 tomatoes are already in the ground. There area a bunch of squash, cucumbers, peppers and other summer seeds popping up in the seed trays. I am really looking forward to a post I want to share about the water situation here. It is looking like we have an extraordinarily productive well here. I also want to talk about the benefits of growing on a piece of land that has not been cultivated for a long time. Other than an insane amount of rocks in the soil and some areas of hard pan clay, we have been blessed some wonderfully fertile, uncultivated soil. For now, just know that we are having a blast out here getting everything up and running.
The kitchen garden is up and running.
This will be the main production garden. Behind me is another, slightly smaller area. But, we are saving it for more tomatoes, corn and squash and melons only. This plot is 2,350 square feet. There are 7 rows 3 feet 6″ wide and 70 feet long. Each row has 3 irrigation tubes at over a foot apart from each other. That is 1,470 lineal feet of veggies, fully loaded.
Some brave young tomatoes.
We took the girls out of the brooder over a week ago. They have made it through a few cool nights without the light at all. So, they are pretty much settling in and getting use to their coop before we open up the door to their run. Tocayo already killed one of the Black sex links. So, we are down from 17 to 16 birds. Letting them loose in the run is somewhat, going to be dependent on when we get his program squared away so that the animals can live peacefully but separate on the property. It will work out. Most of it has to do with me and Rachel acting like adults, being aware of our actions… closing gates and doors behind us and other grown up stuff like that. Losing a chick sucks though. Especially when it is due to a member of your own tribe.
This is the one we call “spilled paint”. She is an Auracana. Kind of spastic. But super sweet.
Rachel named this one “Nuit”. She is the sister of the girl that we lost.
Lastly, I want to thank everyone for the kind responses to the post I sent out in the email last week. It is a big deal. Very big. Thank you