Farm Journal for June 28, 2018 - Province

Summer has arrived and somehow Spring flashed by without a journal update. I last wrote when our Employ-A-Cats arrived in March. The experiment to adopt the two feral mousers has not been entirely successful. After their 4-week acclimation period to our garage, they were released with outdoor access. The female tortoise shell went exploring and never came back. The female calico, below, stuck around and has turned out to be only semi-feral. She likes her back rubbed for about 30 seconds and will purr like crazy until she remembers she's feral and gives me a swat. As for her work ethic, I'm not holding out much hope. She basks in the backyard sun without showing the slightest interest in catching the garden's deplorables. Oh well, she's cute and has a forever home with us.

pasadena-humane-society-employ-a-cat
 One of our other adoptees bathing in his 50 gallon pond. I'm posting this photo because it illustrates the importance of backyard ducks having access to at least a couple feet of clean water.  1) They dunk their head under water and blow through their nostrils to clean out debris. That's what our drake Pekin is doing in this photo. 2) Ducks like to keep clean. They need water to preen and assist in spreading their natural waterproofing oil across their feathers. 3) They absolutely must have water to eat. If you've ever watched a duck eat dry food or seed without water, they cough and could choke. 4) They like to play and splash around!

One of our other adoptees bathing in his 50 gallon pond. I'm posting this photo because it illustrates the importance of backyard ducks having access to at least a couple feet of clean water.  1) They dunk their head under water and blow through their nostrils to clean out debris. That's what our drake Pekin is doing in this photo. 2) Ducks like to keep clean. They need water to preen and assist in spreading their natural waterproofing oil across their feathers. 3) They absolutely must have water to eat. If you've ever watched a duck eat dry food or seed without water, they cough and could choke. 4) They like to play and splash around!

 A happy duck is a happy kitchen. Our Pekin hen lays an egg a day. It only took one duck egg to make a dozen rich and chewy Pan-Banging Chocolate Chip Cookies ( recipe via The Vanilla Bean Blog ). That left us with a dozen more for making salt-cured egg yolks...

A happy duck is a happy kitchen. Our Pekin hen lays an egg a day. It only took one duck egg to make a dozen rich and chewy Pan-Banging Chocolate Chip Cookies (recipe via The Vanilla Bean Blog). That left us with a dozen more for making salt-cured egg yolks...

 In a separate blog I'll be posting an update and how-to with the final results of our salt-cured duck egg yolks. They cured for 4 days in salt/sugar and now they're dehydrating in the oven. Stay tuned and, as always, follow us on  Instagram  for updates. If you're one of our 50 new followers since last weekend when we were featured on Instagram by Backyard Poultry Magazine, welcome!

In a separate blog I'll be posting an update and how-to with the final results of our salt-cured duck egg yolks. They cured for 4 days in salt/sugar and now they're dehydrating in the oven. Stay tuned and, as always, follow us on Instagram for updates. If you're one of our 50 new followers since last weekend when we were featured on Instagram by Backyard Poultry Magazine, welcome!

 I'm slowly and stubbornly coming to some realizations about gardening on this hot and windy L.A. hilltop. Three years ago when we moved in I had grand visions of lush garden beds incorporated into the landscaping. I built the garden beds but the "lush" part leaves much to be desired. There isn't a day when there's not a breeze and most days it's downright windy. Wind paired with 70-100 degree temps means garden beds dry out quickly and I'm forever watering. But when I mulch the beds to prevent water loss, it invites infestations of earwigs. So I've decided to gradually switch to self-watering planters and food-grade 5-gallon buckets. Do you prefer container gardening or in-ground gardening?

I'm slowly and stubbornly coming to some realizations about gardening on this hot and windy L.A. hilltop. Three years ago when we moved in I had grand visions of lush garden beds incorporated into the landscaping. I built the garden beds but the "lush" part leaves much to be desired. There isn't a day when there's not a breeze and most days it's downright windy. Wind paired with 70-100 degree temps means garden beds dry out quickly and I'm forever watering. But when I mulch the beds to prevent water loss, it invites infestations of earwigs. So I've decided to gradually switch to self-watering planters and food-grade 5-gallon buckets. Do you prefer container gardening or in-ground gardening?

 This fenced bed is destined for demolition and its soil will be transferred to containers. The plot will become a garden shed.

This fenced bed is destined for demolition and its soil will be transferred to containers. The plot will become a garden shed.

 This bed on our southwest facing hillside has been great for growing pumpkins, squashes, melons, garlic, and onions. This year my fava bean plants grew tall here but were decimated by uncontrollable aphids and my Chinese long bean sprouts were nibbled by mice.

This bed on our southwest facing hillside has been great for growing pumpkins, squashes, melons, garlic, and onions. This year my fava bean plants grew tall here but were decimated by uncontrollable aphids and my Chinese long bean sprouts were nibbled by mice.

 'Opolanka' radishes grow quickly in a self-watering planter. In a matter of weeks we can get 2-3 meals of radishes, using very little water or space. I just planted my third crop for the year. 'Opolanka' is an old French Breakfast variety that is perfect served raw with a little smear of butter and sprinkle of sea salt.

'Opolanka' radishes grow quickly in a self-watering planter. In a matter of weeks we can get 2-3 meals of radishes, using very little water or space. I just planted my third crop for the year. 'Opolanka' is an old French Breakfast variety that is perfect served raw with a little smear of butter and sprinkle of sea salt.

 Even the giant 'Superschmelz' kohlrabi grows well in containers. This beauty grew quickly and I'm constantly keeping seeds sprouting for a perpetual harvest. They are SO delicious roasted.

Even the giant 'Superschmelz' kohlrabi grows well in containers. This beauty grew quickly and I'm constantly keeping seeds sprouting for a perpetual harvest. They are SO delicious roasted.

 Our first summer here someone said to me, "I don't think you can grow corn in Los Angeles." Tell that to my 'Stowell's Evergreen' which are taller than I am and ready to harvest in a couple weeks.

Our first summer here someone said to me, "I don't think you can grow corn in Los Angeles." Tell that to my 'Stowell's Evergreen' which are taller than I am and ready to harvest in a couple weeks.

 Early in the year I planted a packet of Oyster Leaf seeds. This is a prized delicacy from Scotland that is a challenge to grow in this hostile environment. Only two seeds sprouted and they weren't thriving in their raised bed. I transferred them to pots two weeks ago and they are already sprouting new leaves. Some gourmet stores sell these leaves for $.50 each because they apparently taste like oysters. I kind of hope they don't taste TOO much like oysters.

Early in the year I planted a packet of Oyster Leaf seeds. This is a prized delicacy from Scotland that is a challenge to grow in this hostile environment. Only two seeds sprouted and they weren't thriving in their raised bed. I transferred them to pots two weeks ago and they are already sprouting new leaves. Some gourmet stores sell these leaves for $.50 each because they apparently taste like oysters. I kind of hope they don't taste TOO much like oysters.

 Awhile back a friend gave us an unmarked envelope of seeds he got from a farmer in Florida. Apparently he was a pumpkin farmer and the seeds were from a variety he was developing. All three plants are fruiting well, but what they're fruiting I'm not sure. That doesn't look like any pumpkin I've grown!

Awhile back a friend gave us an unmarked envelope of seeds he got from a farmer in Florida. Apparently he was a pumpkin farmer and the seeds were from a variety he was developing. All three plants are fruiting well, but what they're fruiting I'm not sure. That doesn't look like any pumpkin I've grown!

 This morning's homemade vegan mak-kimchi (i.e. easy kimchi or chopped kimchi). This week I harvested four pounds of 'Hilton' Napa cabbage. Because they were popular with the earwigs, I couldn't leave the plants whole to make traditional kimchi. It had to wash every single leaf and remove insect damage. I then chopped the cabbage and let it soak 24 hours in salt brine. With the fibrous stalks sufficiently softened by the salt, I rinsed away the brine and added the flavoring paste. For that I combined water, organic gochugaru (Korean red chili flakes), a bit of sugar, fresh ginger, fresh garlic, white miso, kelp powder, and fermented tofu. The last three ingredients were substitutes for the traditional fish sauce and shrimp paste that give kimchi pungency and umami. I tossed in a pound of fresh sliced daikon and let the mixture sit covered at room temperature for 48 hours. Already delicious, but not quite finished.

This morning's homemade vegan mak-kimchi (i.e. easy kimchi or chopped kimchi). This week I harvested four pounds of 'Hilton' Napa cabbage. Because they were popular with the earwigs, I couldn't leave the plants whole to make traditional kimchi. It had to wash every single leaf and remove insect damage. I then chopped the cabbage and let it soak 24 hours in salt brine. With the fibrous stalks sufficiently softened by the salt, I rinsed away the brine and added the flavoring paste. For that I combined water, organic gochugaru (Korean red chili flakes), a bit of sugar, fresh ginger, fresh garlic, white miso, kelp powder, and fermented tofu. The last three ingredients were substitutes for the traditional fish sauce and shrimp paste that give kimchi pungency and umami. I tossed in a pound of fresh sliced daikon and let the mixture sit covered at room temperature for 48 hours. Already delicious, but not quite finished.

 To accomodate five pounds of fermenting veggies, I used our large  16-quart Le Creuset stock pot . Plastic and aluminum should be avoided when fermenting because chemicals can leach from the plastic/metal creating an off flavor and putting toxins into your food. However, I did lay food safe plastic wrap on top of the mixture, pushing out air so that proper fermentation could begin.

To accomodate five pounds of fermenting veggies, I used our large 16-quart Le Creuset stock pot. Plastic and aluminum should be avoided when fermenting because chemicals can leach from the plastic/metal creating an off flavor and putting toxins into your food. However, I did lay food safe plastic wrap on top of the mixture, pushing out air so that proper fermentation could begin.

 Five pounds of veggies fit perfectly into six of our cherished blue  100th Anniversary Ball Pint Mason Jars . Off to the fridge they go for two weeks of fermenting.

Five pounds of veggies fit perfectly into six of our cherished blue 100th Anniversary Ball Pint Mason Jars. Off to the fridge they go for two weeks of fermenting.

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