Tag Archives: Ann Arbor Gardening

Drying Mint for Tea

Ann Arbor Food

Ann Arbor Food Mint

Emily and I have been organizing our efforts toward developing Tea blends. I kind of went nuts buying mint at the Ann Arbor Farmers Market last week. I jumped into drying mode. The taste of fresh “dried” mint tea is soooo much better.

Here how to do it.

1 Wash your mint

2 lay out on dried towels to dry

3 Place on screen racks and direct a fan at them until the leaves are dry

4 Tie up in bunches, hand them on sting and have a fan on them.

You can opted not to have a fan on them, but the quicker you dry them the better. Mint can turn brown quickly.

Within a few days, the mint will be crackle dry.

De-leave the stems and store in a dry tin.

Use 1/8-1/4 cup of mint leaves per 8oz cup of tea.

Dried full leave mint tea has a lot of air in it, so the amount may seem more then you think.

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Ann Arbor Food Drying Mint

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Ann Arbor Food Harvesting Dried Mint

Ann Arbor Food Fresh Dried Mint Tea

Ann Arbor Food Fresh Dried Mint Tea

Extend the Harvest

Ann Arbor Food End of Year Garden

End of Year Garden: Extend the Harvest

The garden is looking pretty spars for the most part, but not my collards. My Collards are huge, look great and taste great.

I wish I had the foresight to grown my whole green in Collards.

There is a garden concept to extend the Harvest. This does not mean extending the growing season.

To extend the harvest in places like Michigan that means growing winter hearty crops in late summer and early fall like broccoli, cabbage, mustard, kale and collards.

While the plants will slow or stop growing at this point, they stay tasty and fresh into winter. Even with snow on top, these veggies keep going and can be harvested long after the garden is usually packed up for the year.

Ann Arbor Food Collard's and Tofu with garden roasted potatoes

Collard’s and Tofu with garden roasted potatoes

Ann Arbor Food Arugula Flowers

Arugula Flowers

Ann Arbor Food Garden Spider

Garden Spider: It looks scary, but it is a beneficial insect

 

Ann Arbor Project Grow Community Gardens 40th Anniversary Bash

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Ann Arbor’s Project Grow Community Gardens caped off another season with their 40th Anniversary Bash for over 100 follow gardeners.

Like always, the p0tluck featured some great eats with lots of fresh veggies from the garden and cuisine that reflected the diversity of gardeners in our community.

Notable favorites of mine was the veggies pakora, lentils with mixed greens, my foccacia bread, dueling quinoa dishes, ginger top pickles and hot blueberry and apple crisp and more and more. And did I mention we had a whole roasted pig and crispy duck.

Thanks everyone for a great party and a great year.

Check out the pics.

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Ann Arbor Food

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Ann Arbor Food

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Garden Update: Grass

Bolted Spinach

If you look very closely at the picture above you will see three rows of bolted spinach nestled among the grass.

Close up Bolted spinach

This has been a very trying garden year. With the 100 degree days, I have not been out to the garden as much to do the work.

Weedy Snow Peas

To compound the problem, the Platt Garden is grassy to the extreme. Any non-weeded patch of soil becomes a lawn. Above,the grass has attacked my giant snow peas.

Weedy Garden paths

The folks who splurged for straw were the smart ones this year.

I rarely do the straw thing. I tend to be a fan of the hula hole, which allows me to weed most my garden without hand weeding. This includes the rows.

A few minutes of hula holing once a week for a few weeks and my garden was good to go. The weeds stop coming. But not this year.

The weather kept me away and the grass took over.

Cardboard Weed Barrier

So I am now on the defensive and the name of the game is cardboard.

I have used cardboard on all of my rows and will have to put in the extra hours to weed all of my beds by had (UGH!!!) And I will need to do that for the rest of the year.

For now, I had to turn over my radish and spinach beds without getting a harvest.

Ready to Plant

Vegetable Adventure

Ann Arbor is now in Zone 6A

Check out the latest plant zones Here (USDA Plant Zones)

Ann Arbor is now in zone 6a, which is one zone up from our last rating. (yes it is getting warming)

It is still freakin over 100 degrees. Ugh! which makes me think this zone hardiness thing should be redone every year.

On my own garden front, I realized that I was not growing a “New” vegetable this year.

Every year I try to grow at least one vegetable that I have not eaten before, so I can expand my veggie horizons.

I guess, I am growing “salad” potatoes, which I have never had before, so that is my experiment.

But this got me thinking about my gardening and how far I have come as a veggie eater. My last post mentioned Tatsoi, an Asian stir fry green, which I added to my veggie vocabulary five years ago.

The question is where do I go from here?

Have I reach some kind of veggie peak, at least the veggies that I can grow and eat locally?

It kind of feels that way.

My garden does not represent every vegetable I can grow in South East Michigan, but it is a good sampling especially for an annual Plot.

If I had a year round garden, there would be a list of things I would love to grow.

Grapes
Berries (blue, black, raspberry, strawberry, currents, wine berries)
Fruit Trees (plum, apple, peach, apricot, pear, quince, cherry)
Nut trees (especially hazelnut)
Rhubarb
Garlic
Artichoke

Potato Update 2012

(Pictures coming soon.)

I was watering today (like everyday…where is the rain?), and I n0ticed some roque potatoes in my garden. Now this is a new garden spot, which was lawn for years before it was turned over.

The deal is that they ran out of seed potatoes at Downtown Home and Garden, so I figured I try buying organic potatoes and let them spout and plant them.

Well a few weeks go by and nothing, so being eager to use the real estate, I planted green beans in half of that space and ended up finding some seed potatoes at Colemans.

Well it turns out that I might have jumped the gun because I am seeing potatoes come up in my green bean patch, which creates an issue of how to mound up the potatoes without affect my now nicely growing beans?

And I also now have 2X the amount the potatoes growing in the other half of the potato bed.

Maybe it will work.

Garden Season: At 100 degrees

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Chard

Man. It has been a crazy hot year for gardening.

I got in late this year, but it worked out because I was able to get a two garden plots at the new Project Grow Gardens on Platt Rd.

This week’s Harvest will be kale, chard, collards, arugula, radish and basil. It will be my first official harvest of the season.

I am looking forward to green beans and spinach if it does not bolt.

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Radish

Below is a close up of my garden set up. I tend to favor a simple design of slightly raise beds 2-3 feet wide. I plant in 1, 2,  or 3 rows per bed depending on the plants.

When planting seeds, I use chop sticks to mark my rows.

A basic rule is that a seed package will provide enough seed for a 1, 2, or 3 rows the length of one of my arms span for a good seeding.

For bigger plants like cabbage, broccoli, kale and tomatoes, I plant in two rows with each plant places off center from from the row over. (see the Kale pictures, which might be hard to see because they are now bushy.

Sometimes I use straw in my rows, but most of the time I don’t and hoe the weeds (It has been, so hot that I am a little behind as you can see.)

Row by Row: Turnip, Mustard, Arugula

For those who have read about my potato fiasco last year, I am back to the traditional method of digging a trench and hill up with dirt.

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Potatoes beds and seeds

Happy Hill-ed Potatoes

I will be posting other garden designs from follow community gardeners soon.

So What am I growing?

Green beans
5 kinds of Kale
Collards
4 Kinds of Potato (Salad, Fingerling, yukons
Sweet Potato
Watermelon (baby and large)
Cantaloupe
Cucumbers (Pickling, standard, english and Armenian
Mustard Greens (Mizuna and Purple)
Arugula
Spinach (If it does not bolt)
Onions
Eggplant (Japanese and Large Purple)
Peppers (Red sweet, Cayenne
tomatoes (Not sure, I inherited some of Project Grows plants…20 plants)
Radish Three Kinds (breakfast, red ball, diakon)
Turnips (Big and white Japanese)
Kohlrabi
Broccoli
Cabbage
Winter Squash (Butternut, Buttercup, acorn)
Flowers (Mix)
Herbs (Parsley, rosemary, thyme, hyssop, basil,
Giant Snow Peas (If they grow in this heat)
Beets
Corn
Chard
Celeriac
Radicchio
Carrot

My Garden. It goes all the way up the hill 25 x 60

Ann Arbor Food

Kale: Dino, White, Red Russian, Green, and Curly,