Archive for June, 2012

Spinach, America

Spinach?  You say you wouldn’t be caught dead eating it?  Spinach has come a long way since our mothers tried to get us to eat the stuff out of the can!  Of course, their mothers probably got to eat it fresh out of the garden, and unless you’ve tasted it fresh out of the garden, well….you haven’t REALLY tasted spinach.

It all started with Larry Cleverley’s early spring pop up market in Des Moines.  He tweeted his location, and all of a sudden, I just had to drive down there.  You know, you’ve been counting the days until the farmers market opens, and all of a sudden you have the opportunity to get a taste of one a couple of weeks before you expected!

I bought a large bag of this spinach, which Larry says had overwintered from last year.  I stir-fried it in a little oil, just until it wilted, and then added salt.  Oh man, I couldn’t even get it on the plate before I had eaten it half gone!  And do you notice how this spinach looks different from the baby spinach leaves you see in the clam shell at the store?  It turns out the term for these “wrinkled” leaves is savoyed, as in deep green savoyed leaves.  For some reason, the texture of this spinach is so much more appealing to me than the flat clam shell leaves that stick together in a blob.  Now the key to eating greens, I’ve found, is not making yourself eat too much of this good thing.  Think of your greens almost as a garnish, two or three bite fulls.  The rest of my bag of green delight went into a quiche.

And all of this finally brings me to Seed Savers Exchange and my dream of fall spinach in my own garden.  As I was wandering around the Seed Savers demonstration gardens, I saw it…..dark green savoyed leaves!  Yes…spinach!  The variety is called America.

I bought a packet of seeds and dream every night of spinach omelets and wilted spinach with salt and maybe even some crumbled bacon.  My only question now is when I should sow it for a fall crop and should I start it under my grow lights or direct sow outdoors.  Any ideas fellow gardeners?

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Trellising at Seed Savers Exchange

Yesterday I mentioned that I wanted to see how they trellis things at Seed Savers Exchange.  I didn’t see any trellising in the production plots, but the demonstration gardens fit my bill, even though the plants weren’t yet mature enough to really need the trellises.

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Seed Savers Exchange


My sister said let’s plan something exciting for my birthday.  For some people that might mean a hot air balloon ride or a trip to the windy city, but I have a passion for green, and one of the first things that popped into my mind was visiting a location on my Life List: Seed Savers Exchange in Decorah, Iowa.  If you have ever had their catalog,  you’ve probably spent hours lusting over the vegetables and getting engrossed in the stories behind many of the heirloom seeds.  I wanted to see “where the magic happens”!

The first photo shows some of the demonstration gardens that are located near the visitor center and huge gift shop.  The second photo we accessed by driving back a ways into the property, where the real magic happens.  I assume this is a production field that is obviously not very far along in the first week of June.  We did not take time for the walking tour, which might have given us more information and a better idea of what really goes on, but my mission, besides just getting there, was to see what they use for trellising and to SHOP!  As with most museums, the highlight for me is usually the gift shop!  To be continued tomorrow…..

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For Zanariah!

I got some nice comments a while back from  Zanariah in Kuala Lumpur.  She found me through my post about slough grass and Laura Ingalls Wilder.  Last weekend I met my sister in northern Iowa and we got to visit one of the places Laura lived!  I thought of you, Zanariah, and took these pictures for you!

Between On the Banks of Plum Creek and By the Shores of Silver Lake, Laura and her family lived in Burr Oak, Iowa.  It was a rough time in the Ingalls family and Laura did not write about it in her books, but there is a little museum there now in the hotel building where the family worked.  The above photo shows some twisted slough grass like they would have burned in the book, The Long Winter.

There is a book, Old Town in the Green Groves, by Cynthia Rylant, that imagines the time the Ingalls family spent in Burr Oak.

The small museum is located in what was the Masters Hotel. This is how it looks today.

There were a lot of photos of Laura and her family in the museum and the one hour tour was filled with great stories!  Now I want to go back and read the books again and read even more about Laura’s life as an adult.  Thanks you, Zanariah, for reminding me that these stories are loved the world over!

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