Archive for the 'Produce' Category

Onion Planting at Riverbend Farm

May 26th, 2009

For Memorial Day this year, we went on an interesting adventure. We went to see where some of our food is made. Tracy Singleton (owner of our favorite restaurant, the BIRCHWOOD CAFE) invited us to an onion planting on an organic farm.

me on farm
I’m actually not sure if I’ve ever even been on a farm. It was a fantastic experience.

I saw some things I’ve never seen before.

This is the inside of one of the greenhouses.

lettuce seedlings
They had every variety of lettuce you could think of.

onion face
But we were just focused on onions this day.

We loaded up all the seedlings on a flatbed (or actually three flatbeds daisy-chained to the back of a truck) and moved them out to the field.

planning stage
Then, we started getting organized – matching varieties to the row they were to be planted in.

Did you know that there is actually a variety of onion named after me? It’s a pretty well kept secret.

alisacraigOne of the other people there (I think it was Adam from COMMON ROOTS) kept calling them the Jenny Craig strain because he couldn’t remember my name. And somebody else commented that if they were Jenny Craig onions, they would have pesticides and MSG.  (A little farm humor to brighten your day).  Yep.  Jenny Craig has Valerie Bertinelli.  But Alisa Craig has yours truly. 
Anyway, back to the onion planting.  Once we got everything organized came the hard part…

…the part where we actually started planting things.

I came prepared with my gardening gloves. They actually came in quite handy.

The rows were already marked for us. We just needed to stay in the lines (tire treads).

farm yoga
I invented a new yoga pose in the process. It’s called the farmer. This was actually doing some amazing things for my chronically tense upper back.

These girls were hard at work.

I didn’t catch her name, but this little girl was the hardest worker there. She lasted longer than I did.

flourescent bug
They have strange fluorescent bugs on the farm. This one kinda reminds me of the Willem Dafoe character from the Spider Man movie.

obama hat
What a wonderful day! We planted somewhere between 35-50,000 onion seedlings. We got some inside tips about growing arugula. We had a fantastic lunch. Best of all, we got to connect with lots of other people who really care about food. I met another foodie blogger, Lee. You should check out his blog, SIMPLE GOOD AND TASTY.


Square Foot Gardening

May 12th, 2009

me and garden Hey everyone! Check out my new garden. It’s my very first one (besides the one I started in my WINDOW). My boyfriend calls this the shot of me taking credit for all his hard work. 🙂

It all started a few weeks back when I started some SEEDLINGS in my window. I had little to no idea what I was doing. I planted maybe 150 seedlings! Most of them didn’t survive my incompetence. But the tomato and arugula seedlings seemed pretty determined.

square foot gardening Everyone kept talking about this book. Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholemew. So I picked up a copy. It seemed to make sense. More vegetables in less space. Who could argue with that really? And it was a better idea than anything I had come up with personally. So I went with it. Admittedly, the plans seemed way more ambitious in terms of yield than any novice gardener could hope for. But I suppose it doesn’t hurt to dream big dreams, right?

plans These are my inital plans (now waterlogged). It’s going to be really funny to look back after it’s all said and done to see how much of it actually came true. Our garden has a tree on one side. So one side is sunnier and one side is shadier. Thus, we tried to plan accordingly.

seedlings Once the seedlings got to be about so big, we started planting…Can you tell we’re new at this?

seedlings planted Well, they looked really impressive in my little pots in the window. But once they got into the ground, they looked kinda pathetic.

tomato seedlings Don’t laugh! Apparently, it’s better when your tomato plants are small. They survive the transplant better. Though they didn’t survive the squirrels so well. OY! The Squirrels!!

It became clear before long that we were going to need some help beefing up our garden. We went to the FRIENDS SCHOOL PLANT SALE (a GIANT plant sale at the State Fairgrounds) and picked up a few things.

plant sale Mostly, we got herbs (chocolate and orange mint, basil, rosemary, oregano, milk thistle, some peppers, more tomatoes, and some hostas for my boyfriend’s mom).

fighting back I also picked up some kale and swiss chard from the SEWARD COOP. Once I started transplanting, things started to take shape. Except for the squirrels who were munching on everything and digging up plants. Did I mention that SQUIRRELS ARE MY NEMESIS?! (ASIDE: My battle with squirrels began several years ago. I was getting bombarded with calls from STRANGE old ladies and people who later died on my answering machine. My calls were also getting rerouted to Canada. Very bizarre! I called the phone company, and the phone guy literally told me that my problem was squirrels first. Then terrorists. Terrorist squirrels. That should be a band name. Anyway, I did a radio show about it when I used to be DJ. You can check it out here…VOLUME 29: MYSTERY CREOT.)

netting system Anyway, back to the matter at hand. We needed to find some gentle way of encouraging the squirrels to eat someone else’s food. That’s when my boyfriend designed this netting system to keep the squirrels out. It seems to be working so far (keep your fingers crossed). Plus, now we’ve earned a reputation for being the most anal gardeners in our community garden! Our neighbor saw what we had done and kind of giggled to herself. Like, ‘hey guys, trying to keep the bears out?’

shady side This is a closer look at the shady side of our bed. This is going to be focused mainly on different varieties of lettuce. Here we have swiss chard and kale I just planted. There are some marigold in the back (supposedly to deter pests). And my little arugula seedlings are still hanging in there. We also have a square for the mystery lettuce which was left behind by last year’s gardener. And a square for micro greens.

sunny side The sunny side is mostly tomatoes, peppers, and herbs. The eight squares in back are all different tomato varieties. In front, we three kinds of peppers, and herbs. I’m still filling these in. So I’ll keep you posted on my progress…


Starting Some Seedlings

March 21st, 2009

Well, it’s not quite warm enough here to start planting anything outside, but it’s about time to start some seedlings in my window. My boyfriend is in Austin right now for SXSW. He did sound the other day for HALEY BONAR, who is a fantastic artist from around here you should check out. He promised to bring some interesting seeds back. So we’ll see what he comes up with…

Until then, I started with these guys (brandywine and green zebra tomatoes, arugula, purple osaka, swiss chard, and oregano). I started some basil about a week ago. So I’m off to a good start. We don’t actually have any dirt of our own. We have been living in this ridiculously small STUDIO APARTMENT for two years (while I’m trying to pay off my medical bills). But my boyfriend seems to think that his mom won’t mind if we plant a few things at her house. So I started with 50 little pots. I’ll keep you posted on their progress…


Urban Gardening

January 12th, 2008

the garden

So, as I MENTIONED in earlier posts, my big initiative for this year is to eat more greens. And since I live in Minnesota and it’s the middle of the winter, the best way to achieve the freshest greens is of course indoor gardening. Well, I also live in a 325 square foot TINY apartment with my boyfriend. So I needed to get creative.


So I measured out my window and went to ikea and picked out this shelf to fit in front of it. It also that had shelves which were the perfect size to fit my cafeteria trays. I suppose you could order some sprouting trays. But ANN WIGMORE recommends cafeteria trays in her book. So, I figured if it was good enough for Ann Wigmore, it was good enough for me (Ann Wigmore cured herself of chronic diarrhea by developing her own wheatgrass/sprout garden. Did I mention that I’m obsessed with Ann Wigmore?)

sprouting wheat

To start, I soaked the seeds in a jar for 12 hours. These are wheatgrass seeds. I forgot to take a picture of the sprout seeds, but you get the idea. Soak the seeds for 12 hours. Then, rinse and let them sprout for 12 hours. I rinsed mine about 3 times during that 12 hours.

tray of dirt

Then, I spread some nice organic soil on a cafeteria tray.

wheat sprouts dirt

mixed sprouts dirt

Next, I spread my baby sprouts over the tray. The top tray is my tray of wheatgrass. The bottom tray is a mixed tray of sprouts. The black seeds on the left are sunflower, the middle is buckwheat, and the right is a fancy sprout mix (containing daikon radish, arugula, and cress).


I covered the sprouts with another cafeteria tray (I’m using 12 X 16″), and put them somewhere dark for 2-3 days. Since I’m not really using my oven for anything these days, I’ve turned it into my little sprout lab.

wheat one

sprouts one

During this time, I periodically check on them to make sure they are happy and have enough water but not too much (don’t want to see mold).

wheat two

The wheatgrass starts growing these white spiky shafts first. Once they get tall enough that they start raising the tray, I put them out in the light.

sprouts three

This little guy seems like he’s looking for the light. So…into the window they go…

wheat three

The shafts start turning green right away.

sprouts four

These guys start looking like little martians too.

wheat four

Next, little blades of grass start shooting out of the shafts.

sprouts five

The buckwheat (on the right) is going crazy!

wheat five

The blades keep getting taller…

sprouts six

The buckwheat is taking over the tray! The sunflower seeds are the ones on the left. The fancy mix is on the right.

wheatgrass today

Here is my wheatgrass this morning. It looks super healthy – way better than what they had at the coop. I never had reason to notice before. But yesterday I checked them out and the blades were thinner and a darker green. They’re probably several days older.

sprouts today

I think these guys are gonna be ready to harvest soon. Maybe tomorrow I’ll have to start coming up with some recipes. I’ll keep you posted…

(Here is my FIRST POST on this topic if you want to read more on the setup.)


New Year, New Plan

January 6th, 2008

Well, it’s the new year. Time to take stock and reflect on where we’ve been and where we’re going. I’ve been doing a lot of that lately. Reflecting on the past and SAYING GOODBYE to old friends…taking stock on where I am (I finally got a diagnosis on my health issues – more on that later)…and looking ahead to the future.

My big goal for the year is to incorporate more greens. A LOT more greens. I’m setting myself up to have a window garden. My apt is VERY VERY SMALL, but I’m trying to outfit my window with room to get something going.

ikea shelf

You can kind of see where I’m going with this…

ann wigmore books

I’m been studying up on the methodology in these lovely books from wheatgrass/sprouting pioneer ANN WIGMORE.

wheatgrass seeds

I’ve ordered a few different varieties of seeds to get me started: Wheatgrass, Buckwheat, Sunflower, and a couple blends from SPROUT PEOPLE

salad greens

french garden

healthy juicer

And finally, I ordered a hand wheatgrass juicer for greens and sprouts.

hand juicer

Everyone thinks I’m being really ambitious…some think it’s downright crazy. But this is my plan to combat all the fatigue I’m feeling from the chronic D. I don’t like to talk about it. I’m going to start referring to it as visits from my friend, Darryl. Well, Darryl came by again today…getting on my nerves as usual. So, I’m feeling particularly inspired. Wish me luck! It will be interesting to see what impact this will have. It definitely can’t hurt. But there is no way I’m going to just lie down and accept hanging out with Darryl one week of every month. I’m gonna fight him tooth and nail. He has no idea what he’s got himself into…


Going to the Apple Orchard

November 29th, 2007


These pics are a few weeks old, but they were on my boyfriend’s camera.  Thus, the delay.  It’s hard to imagine now that it was actually that warm a few weeks ago.

acorn squahes

We had to drive a ways out of town for a concert, so we stopped at an apple orchard.

new zealand

They had lots of autumn produce including these very strange looking squashes.  I think they were a new zealand variety.  I’ve never seen gray squashes.

me and squashes

I bought this lovely bag of KEEPSAKE APPLES.  As you can see, they didn’t make them all the way home.


These apples are great.  Firm and slightly tart.  I’ve been using a them a lot in my morning JUICE.


Sun Burgers

November 1st, 2007

sun burgers

Surprise! It’s another ANI PHYO recipe. What am I gonna do when I run out? I might go through withdrawal or something. Well, this one was a little involved, but it was tasty. First, I started with some sunflower/flax/sesame bread which I also got from the ANI PHYO book. I wasn’t as crazy about the bread as my boyfriend (who went out and bought all the ingredients AND MADE ANOTHER BATCH the next day).

sunflower bread

Then, I made some burger like pate which I dehydrated in my EXCALIBUR.

burger patties

Then, I combined them with some homemade mustard and ketchup (also from ANI PHYO) and some perfectly ripe avocado and tomato and VOILA.

dirty girl

These DIRTY GIRL tomatoes are small but they are GOOD. I was a little skeptical because of their size, but the girl in the produce department assured me that these were in fact the best tomatoes. period. I have to admit. She has a point. They definitely brought this whole operation to a wonderful climax.

(My boyfriend says he no longer wants to participate in ratings. He’s morally opposed to them. And I guess he has a point).