Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Season Extension Gardening

Winter may be in full swing, but so is our season extension gardening! In our pantry garden, we're still utilizing low tunnels and a cold frame to keep cold-hardy plants alive and happy despite the chilly weather. In fact, these simple systems are so effective at keeping in the warm, that on sunny days like today, we have to open them to prevent overheating the plants.

Interested in creating structures like this at home? Our Tool Share Program offers low tunnel kits, and our garden staff would love to chat with you about building a cold frame at home! Stop by during pantry hours to talk to us about the how's, when's and why's of season extension gardening.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Lacto-Fermented Cranberry Chutney: a holiday classic that's good for your gut

Barbara Lehr shares her wisdom about all things fermented every Friday from noon til' two with her Fermentation Friday demonstrations in the Hub Kitchen. Just in time for the holidays, this week she sampled a lacto-fermented cranberry relish with flavor dimensions that are out of this world! While it's culinary value is unsurpassed, you'll also appreciate the health benefits (lacto-fermented foods can aid digestion, for instance, making this a perfect accompaniment for a holiday feast). This recipe is quick to whip up (with or without a food processor) and only needs two days to ferment. Click here for the recipe.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Growing Salad Greens Indoors

Growing Salad Greens Indoors
You can grow your own fresh salad greens indoors all winter long, including spinach, chard, leaf lettuces and mesclun green mixes!    

Start with containers at least 4 inches deep.  Fill container with a potting mix to at least 3 inches.  Plant seeds 3 inches apart.  Plant spinach and chard seeds ½ an inch below the soil.  For lettuce seeds, place seeds on top of soil, and sprinkle lightly with soil, until just covered. 

Place your container in a warm area (like on top of the fridge).  Cover with plastic or mist often with water until the seeds sprout.  Then remove plastic.

Next, place container in a sunny, south-facing window, or under a florescent light.  If using florescent lights, be sure to keep the lights 6 inches above growing greens at all times.  Any further is too far, and closer could burn the leaves or make them too warm (salad greens like cooler temps).  Keep lights on for 12 hours a day.

Fertilize weekly or bi-weekly with a weak solution.  Good organic fertilizers to use indoors include liquid seaweed and compost tea.

Your greens will be ready to harvest in about 30 days.  Snip the base of the largest, outer leaves, and be sure to leave at least 4 inner leaves to continue to grow.

We will be demonstrating how to grow salad greens indoors this week on Tuesday from 12-2pm, and Thursday from 2-5:30pm.  Drop on by!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Microgreens - tiny and tasty!

Are the cold temperatures getting to you already?  Do you wish you could still be playing in the dirt?  We have good news – you can!  This week’s pantry demonstrations are focused around growing micro-greens.  Micro-greens are exactly what they sound like – tiny vegetables or grains used to add extra flavor to dishes or snacks.  Most commonly used on salads and sandwiches, micro-greens are jam-packed with nutrients and flavor.  What’s more, they are also very easy to grow at home!

First, you will need the following supplies:
  • Seed flat* or disposable baking pan
  • Potting soil* -- about 1-2” of depth per flat
  • Watering  can (or a plastic container with holes in the lid)
  • Full spectrum fluorescent shop light* or a sunny warm location
  • Duct tape and a sharpie for marking start dates and seed type
  • Seeds – suggestions; 1 cup of peas or sunflowers or ¾ cup of radish, arugula, spinach per flat
* These supplies are available to borrow from MHC’s Tool Share program.  Come in and sign up for free!

Simple Steps for Growing Micro-greens:

  1. Fill seed flats with 2” of potting soil.
  2. Plants seeds by spreading them evenly on top of the soil.
  3. Water micro-greens after they are planted.  Keep them most but not soaked at all times (soil should feel like a rung out sponge).  Micro-greens must remain moist until sprouted, so water them 1 to 2 times daily.
  4. Label the outside of your container with the date you started and the seed type used.
  5. Place seed flat under the shop light or in a sunny warm location.  Most seeds require 60-70 degrees to germinate.  Sprouts will need 16 hours of light and 8 hours of darkness.  Place lights 2” higher than the height of the sprouts.
  6. Harvest your micro-greens when you see their first “true leaves.”  This usually occurs 7-14 days after planting.  Simply give the greens a “haircut” with scissors at the plant’s base.
  7. Enjoy as a snack, on a sandwich or salad, or added to dips and pesto!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Pop Your Own Popcorn

Here at the Hub, we usually start our cooking workshops with the following statement:

The best way to save money and eat better is to cook more meals at home, from scratch, using whole food ingredients. The same goes for snacks. Stove top popcorn is an affordable, whole food snack, and one that satisfies a craving often filled with junk foods like potato chips.

With the advent of the microwave, it seems old-fashioned stovetop popcorn popping has become a lost art. Old-fashioned (stovetop) popcorn tastes better, and you don’t have to settle for those fake butter products, which can be high in unhealthy fats. When you make it yourself, you get to decide how much, and what kind of fat is best for you. At less than a dollar a pound, the price can’t be beat! It's easy and lots of fun to make, too—kids of all ages get a kick out of listening to and watching it bounce around the pot. Eat it plain, drizzle with olive oil or butter, or dress it up with spices — the possibilities are endless! Just follow these easy instructions.