• Suzan Brawnlyn, the Chef at the Market, provides her recipes from the fourth Sitka Farmers Market of 2012

Suzan Brawnlyn, the Chef at the Market, discusses how to cook Egyptian walking onions during a cooking demonstration on Aug. 18, 2012, at the fourth Sitka Farmers Market of the season.

Suzan Brawnlyn, the Chef at the Market, discusses how to cook Egyptian walking onions during a cooking demonstration on Aug. 18, 2012, at the fourth Sitka Farmers Market of the season.

This year, the Sitka Local Foods Network is happy to feature local chef Suzan Brawnlyn as its “Chef at the Market.” Suzan received a grant to provide cooking demonstrations at at least four of our six markets this year.

Suzan also has been making her recipes available so people can try them at home. Her recipes from the fourth market on Aug. 18 are posted below. Her featured herb was the Egyptian walking onion, and her featured vegetables were “The Greens” (chard, kale, beet, spinach and collards).

The next Sitka Farmers Market is from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 1, at Alaska Native Brotherhood Hall (235 Katlian St.).The Sitka Local Foods Network is seeking volunteers to help set up tables and tents before the market starts, and to tear down and pack up the market after it ends. We need volunteers for  the two remaining markets (Sept. 1 and 15). If you have a strong back and helping hands, please contact Johanna Willingham at 738-8336 for more details.

• Chef at the Market recipes from the fourth Sitka Farmers Market of the season, Aug. 18, 2012

• Lori Adams discusses maximizing small garden spaces in her latest Daily Sitka Sentinel garden column

(Lori Adams, who owns Down-To-Earth U-Pick Garden and is a frequent vendor at the Sitka Farmers Market, will be writing a regular garden column in the Daily Sitka Sentinel this summer. The Sentinel is allowing us to reprint the columns on this site after they first appear in the newspaper. This column appeared on Page 4 of the Wednesday, June 6, 2012, edition of the Daily Sitka Sentinel.)

GARDENING IN SITKA

By Lori Adams

MAXIMIZING SPACE IN A SMALL GARDEN

Make beds wide and pathways narrow. A raised bed is effective as long as it is no wider than 48 inches. Many people don’t like beds this wide because they can’t straddle them, but the effort it takes to walk around the row is worth it if you get more vegetables. My pathways are wider than I’d like because I need room for groups of people, but for most gardens the pathways only need to be wide enough for a small wheelbarrow.

Go vertical.  Build trellises and chose varieties that take advantage of vertical space.  For instance,  tomatoes can be grown in cages, zucchini and cucumber plants can be trained to grow up trellises, plants like strawberries can be grown in hanging pots, and tall varieties of peas and beans will easily  climb up fencing. Hill up potato plants for more spuds and leeks for longer blanched stalks.

Choose varieties that give you the most bang for your buck. Many broccoli varieties continue to produce sprouts long after you have harvested the central head. I have harvested fresh broccoli from the garden for Thanksgiving dinner. Grow leaf lettuce instead of head lettuce for multiple harvests, and edible podded peas (snap and snow peas) rather than shelling peas for more poundage. Choose hard-neck rather than soft-neck garlic so you can harvest the scapes for summer garlic flavor in stir fries, in addition to the bulbs you harvest in the fall. There are beet and radish varieties that are cylindrical rather than round, and if you have deep sifted soil you can choose extra long carrot varieties. Choose cabbage varieties that produce dense, heavy heads. Also, choose both early and late varieties of each crop to assure a continuous supply.

Use harvest methods that encourage more growth.  Leaf lettuce will tolerate up to three harvests if you cut it 2-3 inches from the ground instead of harvesting the entire plant. Peas, cucumbers, beans, radish pods, berries and tomatoes all benefit from frequent pickings. Most will stop producing if you don’t keep up with them. I have seen pea pods mature overnight. Pea pods must be picked EVERY DAY. If possible, celery, Swiss chard and rhubarb should be harvested a few stalks at a time rather than all at once. The plants recover faster if they still have two-thirds of their foliage. Harvest only outer stalks and use a pulling, twisting motion rather than cutting the stalks. When cutting fennel bulbs leave a generous amount of root and it will sprout with multiple baby fennel plants. Rather than pulling up green onions, cut them off 2-3 inches above the soil line and they will continue to grow more greens all season. I believe you could do the same thing with leeks but I have never tried it. Harvest root crops from crowded areas first to encourage surrounding plants to bulk up.

Pruning is important.  Herb plants that are shooting up and trying to go to seed should be pinched back to encourage branching out. The same holds true with spinach. Pruning off dead leaves and rotten vegetables or fruit keeps all plants healthier and producing longer. Pea plants can be topped once they have reached the desired height and they will branch out resulting in more peas. Don’t forget that many pea tops are edible. Prune excess broccoli and cauliflower leaves because they take a lot of energy. Target leaves that are diseased, touching the ground, touching other plants or shading surrounding vegetables. Just don’t remove more that one-third of the leaves on any one plant. Don’t forget that broccoli and cauliflower leaves are edible. Raspberries can be successfully topped to prevent them from falling over or breaking. They will also branch out and you can end up with more berries. Each raspberry clump should have all dead stalks removed and have no more than 3-5 live stalks remaining. As Brussels sprouts reach the size of marbles, start breaking off leaves starting from the bottom to send more energy into the sprouts. Toward the end of the season pinch out the top of the plant for really large sprouts. Don’t forget that Brussels sprout tops and leaves are edible. Remove strawberry runners so more energy goes into the berries.

Use floating row cover.  Using a row cover such as “remay” or “agribond” can extend your season by as much as 3-4 months. It keeps the soil and crops about 10 degrees warmer than the outside temperature. Ideally you should keep your vegetables covered all year, but at the very least you should keep all brassica crops covered until July 15th to protect them from root maggot flies. Supports are not necessary but beneficial — they protect the plants and extend the life of the cover.

Plant seeds at the recommended spacing.  More does not always mean more. If plants are too crowded they will not produce as well as they should. Broccoli, cauliflower and cabbages that are planted too closely together produce small heads. Consider placing seeds or transplants rather than sprinkling seeds, or better yet purchase a seeder. The extra time that it takes to carefully place your seeds ensures that every square inch of a small garden is utilized.

Plant in blocks rather than rows. A row of broccoli can leaf out over a row of beets next to it and shade it out. A block of broccoli planted on the north side of a block of beets will have no negative affects.

Practice successive plantings. About 1-2 months (depending on the crop) after you plant crops like spinach, fennel, cilantro, kohlrabi, napa cabbage, lettuce or cauliflower, you can start a second set of them indoors. The second set will be ready to plant out about the time you harvest the first set. With some crops you can do this several times during the season. Don’t forget to amend the soil between each successive planting.

Consider pulling up some of your flowers. This last idea is not a very popular one. It is pleasant to have ornamentals in your yard, but consider scaling back, mixing vegetables in amongst your flowers or even replacing ornamentals with edibles that are pretty, such as sunflowers, nasturtiums, flowering kale, chives, cabbage, herbs or rainbow Swiss chard.

Brought to you by Down-To-Earth U-Pick Garden

2103 Sawmill Creek Road

Open June-August / Monday to Saturday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

747-6108 or 738-2241

http://downtoearthupick.blogspot.com/

• Lori Adams discusses growing spinach and lettuce in her latest Daily Sitka Sentinel garden column

(Lori Adams, who owns Down-To-Earth U-Pick Garden and is a frequent vendor at the Sitka Farmers Market, will be writing a regular garden column in theDaily Sitka Sentinel this summer. The Sentinel is allowing us to reprint the columns on this site after they first appear in the newspaper. This column appeared on Page 4 of the Wednesday, May 30, 2012, edition of the Daily Sitka Sentinel.)

GARDENING IN SITKA

By Lori Adams

EVERYTHING I’VE LEARNED ABOUT GROWING

SPINACH AND LETTUCE

For years I tried to grow lettuce and spinach and had terrible luck. But the last few years I’ve made some major changes and have been thrilled with the results.

Prepping the bed for greens starts the previous fall. I put a layer of salmon carcasses over the bed, pile on a foot of seaweed/leaf mulch, dump about an inch of seashell sand over the top and cover the whole bed with black plastic. The plastic keeps the nutrients from being washed away.

Seeds are started around mid-March. I count out the number of seeds for proper spacing in the bed (6-9 inches) and start the seeds indoors. I know that seems tedious, but it is crucial for success. In the past I would simply broadcast the seeds, but there were bare spots and the seedlings that did come up were too close together.

In April I uncover the row, run a tiller through it and let the ducks work it over really good, getting all the slugs and slug eggs. In mid-April, when the seedlings have at least two true leaves, I shoo the ducks out and transplant the greens into half of the bed with the proper spacing, covering the other half with black plastic again to save the space for a second planting later in the year. Finally I cover the whole bed with row cover.

Taking care of the greens is easy. Just provide adequate moisture and pull the weeds. The tender transplants will not grow much for a while, but once they recover from transplant shock they will show signs of growth. They are surprisingly hardy.

Harvesting can begin once the plants have about six true leaves.  I just take a few here and there by clipping them from the plants with a scissors.

  • SPINACH: Once spinach plants get too tall I top them and they branch out with more stalks. Last year the stems got HUGE. They were hollow and filled with rain but the plants stayed healthy and the leaves did not get bitter for months!  I have friends who wait until their spinach plants have 16 leaves and then they pull the entire plant, throw a handful of compost in the empty spot and plant another seed. They have never had their spinach bolt using this method and have a continuous supply all season.
  • LETTUCE: I only grow loose-eaf varieties of lettuce. Down To Earth U-Pick Garden customers just harvest by cutting the entire plant about two inches from the ground.  The plants grow back and provide two more cuttings by using this method.

Eating greens is the best part.  Some people do not like home-grown lettuce because of its bitter taste. But if you soak the leaves in a sink full of cold water for about 15 minutes this bitter taste is eliminated and the leaves get sweet and crisp.  Greens can be kept stems-down in a container of water like a bouquet of flowers in the fridge, or on the back deck of the boat, without wilting or turning brown for days — just change the water daily.

Brought to you by Down-To-Earth U-Pick Garden

2103 Sawmill Creek Road

Open June-August / Monday to Saturday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

747-6108 or 738-2241

http://downtoearthupick.blogspot.com/

• Rhubarb, greens ready at St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm

St. Peter's Fellowship Farm sign

St. Peter's Fellowship Farm sign

Rhubarb and several types of greens will be available during the work party scheduled for 2-4 p.m. on Saturday, July 9, at St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm (located behind St. Peter’s By The Sea Episcopal Church on Lincoln Street).

Besides rhubarb, the available veggies include spinach, kale, lettuce, basil, Swiss chard and bok choy. Many of these items were grown at Seaview Gardens.

These items are available for a $3 donation for greens or a bundle of rhubarb, or $2 for a small bundle of basil. Donations will help support St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm, a communal garden that produces veggies for the Sitka Farmers Market, local food charities and other programs. WIC farmers market vouchers and fruit and vegetable vouchers are welcome.

In addition, help is needed to help harvest produce that’s ready for picking on Sitka Farmers Market days (on alternate Saturdays, July 16, 30, Aug. 13, 27 and Sept. 10). Early risers can show up at St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm between 6:30-9 a.m. to help harvest for the markets that run from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. On weeks when there is no market, there will be regular work parties from 2-4 p.m. at St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm.

To learn more about the garden work parties, please contact Laura Schmidt at 623-7003 or 738-7009. To learn more about the available produce, contact Lisa Sadleir-Hart at 747-5985.

• Down To Earth u-pick garden opens for its second summer of providing fresh produce in Sitka

Sitka resident Lori Adams said the Down To Earth u-pick garden is open for its second summer of producing locally grown vegetables that Sitka residents can pick themselves.

Lori said she has lettuce and spinach available now, as well as rhubarb, white and red radishes, herbs, Egyptian walking onions, and a few plant starts. She also makes gift baskets. Lori is posting updates to the Sitka Local Foods Marketplace page about what in-season produce is available. (This page is available for other Sitka gardeners, commercial fishermen and other local food producers to use to let residents know what food is available.)

The Down To Earth u-pick garden is open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Mondays through Saturdays for the rest of the summer, and people can reach Lori at 738-2241 to see what produce is available and what’s about to come into season. The garden is located at 2103 Sawmill Creek Road (across from the Mormon church, look for the sign in the photo). Click here to learn more about the Down to Earth u-pick garden.

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