Week Three: Brassica transplanting and companion planting

Students chose from a variety of starter plants after sitting to a lesson. Below are two students, Jenna and Ute, deciding who will get the red russian kale.

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Brassica is a genus of plants in the mustard family. Before planting these brassicas, students sat down to a lesson on Brassica oleracea (the species that the vegetables belong too). Carolina drew pictures of cabbage, brussels sprout, kohlrabi, kale, broccoli and cauliflower, while explaining that what we eat of these plants all differs! For example, kale we grow for its leaves while cauliflower we grow for its flower clusters.

A fun identifier of brassicas is given away by their other name: cruciferous. They are called this because their flowers form of a cross: four petals and four sepals.

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Above is Kane planting collards in the communal brassica bed

We also planted potatoes! Here is brian cutting large seed potato into smaller pieces, leaving each part with about two buds.

5-24-16 CTGEA Student cutting large potato, each peice with a sprout

Two varieties of potatoes ready to be covered and grow in this raised bed below

5-24-16 CTGEA Potato planting set up

Companion planting is growing various crops near one another so that they can help each other out. After the brassicas, students planted two rows of potatoes, with marigolds on either end.

A marigold is a lovely companion for potatoes as it produces natural pesticides and protects potatoes from viral and bacterial infections. It’s smell repels insects that may be harmful while also attracting pollinators like butterflies.

To top it off, marigolds are edible (their peppery flowers), beautiful and easy to grow

Learn more about marigolds here: http://www.almanac.com/plant/marigolds

Also: What to dhu-barb (with all that rhubarb)

Nothing like a hot and sticky mid-May heatwave to whet our palates for Vermont summer rains. In the meantime, we have giant rhubarb plants that have gone to flower but won’t go to waste.

5-28-16 CTGTT Flowering rhubarb

We’ve gone ahead and cut the flowers off of each of the rhubarb plants. The cut was made at the base of the stalk that had flowered and the intention was to encourage the plant to continue to send energy to its leaves (rather than allocating it towards the growth of the flower). And from the vital, vibrant stalks that have grown, there have been spreads and cakes and gummies and more:

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Rhubarb & Berries Sauce

3 stalks rhubarb

2 cups mixed, raspberries, blueberries, strawberries (frozen)

3 Tbsp raw honey (or a bit more if you want more sweetness)

1 star anise

2 cardamom pods

1 small cinnamon stick

1 Tbsp orange zest

½ cup orange juice

½ tsp aged balsamic vinegar (optional)

Slice the rhubarb in small pieces. Place it in a pot with the berries, orange juice, orange zest, spices and balsamic vinegar. Keep it on low heat until it starts to boil. Simmer the sauce uncovered, stirring frequently to avoid sticking. Once it has acquired the consistency of marmalade, turn off the heat and add the honey to taste. Remove spices before serving.

Rhubarb Pudding Cake from Common Sense Homesteading: http://commonsensehome.com/rhubarb-pudding-cake/

And many more for the curious and the adventurous: http://www.saveur.com/rhubarb-recipes-desserts?image=9

5-28-16 CTGTT Rhubarb harvest bundled in its leaf

 

Above is rhubard harvest bundled in its leaf and below shows the first potluck… where there was plenty of rhubard (and other creative treats) cooked up!

 

5-26-16 CTGEA Potluck dinner

 

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