Wednesday, November 30, 2011

last day of november and... wait, what's that? sun!

Although weather forecasters are often a bit off on their predictions, I am thrilled to see that our five day forecast looks like this: 

a thing of beauty.

What's been happening at Blue House Greenhouse Farm?  We've been transitioning to winter farming!  Which means long-johns, raincoats, numb fingers, and mud- lots of mud.  All the clover and fava cover crop that was planted has come up and the garlic is just beginning to peek up through the soil.  We are still harvesting roots and greens for the farm subscribers- what is that you may ask? let me direct you to this page to find out more info!  And we've set up cloches to (hopefully) help some plants keep growing through most of the winter.  

And I'm really looking forward to getting the chance to look back on this past year and look toward the coming one.  I've been asked a lot what I would do differently and I am excited for the opportunity to figure that out!  

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


As I mentioned, there will be loads of green tomatoes at the farm stand tomorrow! I also mentioned that I'd post some green tomato recipes.  Well, it looks like someone already did the compiling! 25 green tomato recipes! Although I haven't tried them- they look really good. Someone also mentioned that they tasted a delicious green tomato pie!  what?  I know, it sounds crazy, but intriguing...  The baker used an apple pie recipe and replaced the apples for green tomatoes!  I think I've got to try it. Let me know what you do with your green tomatoes!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

october news

 Last farm stand of the season! 
Tuesday, Nov. 1,   4-6:30pm
First of all, I want to thank everyone who has supported this tiny farm stand through all its changes and limited availability! Thank you.  For this last farm stand of the season- get ready to say good bye to summer for real AND hello to some delicious green tomatoes! fry them, bake them in a pie, put them in a chutney- there are just so many options! I will have recipes available at the farm stand and I will post them on the blog as well.  What else will be available at the farm stand besides green tomatoes? the last of the peppers and squash, carrots, beets, radishes greens- kale, chard, mustard greens, (spicy) arugula, and herbs! come by!

In other news- garlic planting!
Last week, Ben, a great  new volunteer, and I planted garlic-Chesnok Red, Asian Tempest, and Kettle River Giant.  All the garlic planted was from heads we harvested off the farm this year!  It's great not to have that added expense. We separated the individual cloves- using the largest, undamaged ones and planted them right side up- an extremely important thing to do! We planted two 70ft x 2.5ft rows.  We should have plenty for sale next year.

Bed Expansion
That's right! Blue House Greenhouse Farm grows again!  We've dug out three additional rows on the south side of the property and planted a fava bean cover crop.  So far so good- the favas are up and growing and the beds will be available to plant in come late spring!

And more and more....
I'm sure there's more, but I'm just not remembering it now. Happy Halloween!

Monday, October 10, 2011

year one- HUGE thanks!!

Celebrate! It's been one year since Blue House Greenhouse Farm signed a land use agreement that started us farming this little lot on N. Williams and Cook.  We can barely believe it.  It’s been quite an adventure and an education.  It most definitely needs to be said that there is no way that we could have done this without support! 


now-ish  (this was actually taken a couple
months ago, but you get the idea)
Adam, working on irrigation
 We've been really lucky over this year to have wonderful volunteers and are so appreciative of all the folks who shared their time with this new farm! I especially have to thank Adam, who was (besides family) the first volunteer and continues to come regularly! He has toiled doing some of the most grueling work of a new farm- digging out grass in the spring comes to mind.  Thanks Adam!

I also especially have to thank Kevin for his tremendous assistance throughout the summer season.  When Kevin wasn’t diligently applying for jobs in public health after moving to Portland in May, he was working at the farm. Many of you came to know him through the farm stand. Come to think of it- he never missed one! Even allowing me to take a vacation one week to see my family! He did everything at the farm from planting, digging, weeding, watering, harvesting, on and on… maybe this experience will help him in his future work? maybe. Sadly for us (but good for him) Kevin is taking a job to do HIV/AIDS work in Malawi and just left Portland this past weekend.  We’ll miss him for sure- Thanks Kevin! AND you all will be able to follow his adventures through his blog! I’ll link to his blog once his adventures begin.

Kevin at the first farm stand
And thanks to everyone who has supported Blue House Greenhouse Farm by coming by the farm stand, buying produce for your restaurant, going to the restaurants that serve our produce, sharing with your friends and neighbors about the farm, volunteering, reading this blog, and just coming by to say hi, commenting on how things are growing, or looking for caterpillars!  This growing year isn’t over yet for us- there are still loads of things to do.  And we wouldn't have made it here without all of you. Thank you! 

Sunday, September 18, 2011

in the kitchen

Sometimes it feels as though I'm swimming in tomatoes, drowning in radishes, up to my ears in greens, and all the other clever ways of saying- there is so much food!   So, I've been finding myself in the kitchen for long stretches of time these days trying to process this food.  Here are some photos and recipes I've used.

We'll start with tomatoes.  I made gazpacho and a roasted tomato sauce- both recipes are from Cook's Illustrated.  I made a few changes...


This recipe makes a large quantity because the leftovers are so good, but it can be halved if you prefer. Traditionally, diners garnish their gazpacho with more of the same diced vegetables that are in the soup, so cut some extra vegetables when you prepare those called for in the recipe. Additional garnish possibilities include simple garlic croutons, chopped pitted black olives, chopped hard-cooked eggs, and finely diced avocados. For a finishing touch, serve in chilled bowls.

  • 3ripe medium beefsteak tomatoes (about 1 1/2 pounds), cored and cut into 1/4-inch cubes (about 4 cups)
  • 2small red bell peppers (about 1 pound), cored, seeded, and cut into slices (following illustrations below), then into 1/4-inch cubes (about 2 cups)
  • 2small cucumbers (about 1 pound), one peeled and the other with skin on, both seeded and cut into 1/4-inch cubes (about 2 cups)
  • 1/2small sweet onion (such as Vidalia, Maui, or Walla Walla) or 2 large shallots, peeled and minced (about 1/2 cup)
  • 2medium garlic cloves , minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 2 teaspoons)
  • 2teaspoons table salt
  • 1/3cup sherry vinegar
  • Ground black pepper
  • 5cups tomato juice , preferably Welch's
  • 1teaspoon hot pepper sauce (optional)
  • 8ice cubes
  • Extra-virgin olive oil for serving


  1. 1. Combine the tomatoes, bell peppers, cucumbers, onions, garlic, salt, vinegar, and pepper in a large (at least 4-quart) nonreactive bowl. Let stand until the vegetables just begin to release their juices, about 5 minutes. Stir in the tomato juice, hot pepper sauce, if using, and ice cubes. Cover tightly and refrigerate to blend flavors, at least 4 hours and up to 2 days.
  2. 2. Adjust the seasonings with salt and pepper and remove and discard any unmelted ice cubes. Serve cold, drizzling each portion with about 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil and topping with the desired garnishes, (see top note).

Roasted Tomato Sauce
  • 2tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2teaspoons minced fresh thyme leaves
  • 1/8teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 3pounds vine-ripened tomatoes (9 to 12 medium),  halved pole to pole
  • 6medium cloves garlic , peeled
  • 1small onion , peeled and cut into 1/2-inch rounds
  • 1teaspoon red wine vinegar
  • 2tablespoons chopped fresh basil


  1. 1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 475 degrees. Combine 1 tablespoon oil, thyme, pepper flakes, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in large bowl. Toss tomatoes, garlic, and onion with tomato paste mixture until evenly coated. Place 4-inch square of foil in center of wire rack set in rimmed baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Place garlic cloves and onion rounds on foil and arrange tomatoes, cut side down, around garlic and onion.
  2. 2. Roast until vegetables are soft and tomato skins are well charred, 45 to 55 minutes. Remove baking sheet from oven and let cool 5 minutes. Transfer garlic and onion to food processor; pulse until finely chopped, about five 1-second pulses. Add tomatoes, vinegar, and remaining tablespoon oil to food processor. Pulse until broken down but still chunky, about five 1-second pulses. Using rubber spatula, scrape down bowl; season with salt, pepper, and sugar to taste. Continue to process sauce until slightly chunky, about five 1-second pulses. Stir in basil.

    Now moving on to radishes.  
    I've talked about the radish kimchi I've made before on this blog- well, here's the recipe from Wild Fermentation, by Sandor Ellix Katz.

    Note- This is the original recipe. You'll notice loads of other ingredients other than radishes.  I actually only use radishes (pink beauty- the variety we grow) and a few beets, mainly because they make it so beautiful. 

    Radish Kimchi
    sea salt
    1-2 daikon radishes
    1 small burdock root
    1-2 turnips
    a few Jerusalem artichokes
    2 carrots
    a few small red radishes
    1 small fresh horseradish root (or a tablespoon of prepared horseradish, without preservatives)
    3 tablespoons (or more!) fresh grated gingerroot
    3-4 cloves garlic (or more!)
    3-4 hot red chilies (or more!), depending on how peppery-hot you like food, or any form of hot pepper, fresh, dried, or in a sauce (without chemical preservatives!)
    1. Mix a brine of about 4 cups water and 3 tablespoons salt.
    2. Slice daikons, burdock, turnip, Jerusalem artichokes, and carrots, and let them soak in the brine. If the roots are fresh and organic, leave the nutritious skins on. Slice the roots thin so the flavors will penetrate. I like to slice roots on a diagonal; you could also cut them into matchsticks. Leave the small red radishes whole, even with their greens attached, and soak them, too. Use a plate or other weight to keep the vegetables submerged until soft, a few hours or overnight.
    3. Prepare the spices: Grate the ginger; chop the garlic and onion; remove seeds from the chilies and chop or crush, or throw them in whole. Kimchi can absorb a lot of spice. Experiment with quantities and don’t worry too much about them. Mix spices into a paste, adding grated horseradish.
    4. Drain brine off vegetables, reserving brine. Taste vegetables for saltiness. You want them to taste decidedly salty, but not unpleasantly so. If they are too salty, rinse them. If you cannot taste salt, sprinkle with a couple of teaspoons of salt and mix.
    5. Mix the vegetables with the spice paste. Mix everything together thoroughly and stuff it into a clean quart jar. Pack it tightly into the jar, pressing down until brine rises. If necessary, add a little of the reserved vegetable-soaking brine to submerge the vegetables. Weight the vegetables down with a smaller jar, or with a zip-lock bag filled with some brine. Every day, use your (clean!) finger to push the vegetables back under the brine. Cover the jar to keep out dust and flies.
    6. Ferment in your kitchen or other warm place. Taste the kimchi every day. After about a week of fermentation, when it tastes ripe, move it to the refrigerator.

    Now for greens!  One never wants to waste beautiful chard, kale or collard greens.  Here are a few tasty treats I made with the greens.
    Kale (well, I used collards) Chips (from but it's straight forward enough that you don't really need a recipe)


    • 1 bunch kale
    • 1 tablespoon olive oil
    • 1 teaspoon seasoned salt

    • Directions
    1. Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Line a non insulated cookie sheet with parchment paper.
    2. With a knife or kitchen shears carefully remove the leaves from the thick stems and tear into bite size pieces. Wash and thoroughly dry kale with a salad spinner. Drizzle kale with olive oil and sprinkle with seasoning salt.
    3. Bake until the edges brown but are not burnt, 10 to 15 minutes.


    Erbazzone (a chard or spinach filled tart from Reggio Emilia, Italy) 
     Some of you know that I born in Italy which is where I believe that I acquired my passion for food and especially Italian food.  I have such fond delicious memories of this dish from my youth.  I've actually never tried to make it before this past week and I have to be honest that it didn't turn out as quite as I remembered it (the fault is my own- I think I overworked the dough). Anyway, it's really amazing and fairly simple to make.  I used the recipe out of Culinaria Italy, but this recipe looks just as good, if not better.

Monday, September 5, 2011

farm stand photo essay

Maybe I am too lazy to write anything this week. Maybe I'm excited to use a better camera (thanks Tim)! Here is what is happening at the farm stand.

 Come and see for yourselves!  Tuesdays 4-7pm

the bounty

grey zucchini
red russian kale, lacinato kale, and rainbow chard

isis candy cherry and jaune flamme tomatoes

cured borettana and purplette onions

chesnok red garlic

Kevin, minding the farm stand, awaiting the crowds

Monday, August 29, 2011

SALE at blue house greenhouse farm stand!!

Come to the FARM STAND tomorrow-Tuesday from 4-7pm- for HOT deals on veggies!!  Pink beauty radishes will be sold for just $1 a bunch- that's 50% off the regular price!  Why such savings, you ask? Because they are growing so fast it's hard to keep up with them!

What other great deals will await you when you arrive?  $1-1.50/lb for delicious grey zucchini., $1.50/lb for cured purplette onions, and more!  There will also be salad greens, kale, swiss chard, parsley, garlic, beans, and, of course, tomatoes!

Come by and let others know- farm stand 4-7 Tuesday.

Monday, August 22, 2011

tomatoes for sale! farm stand tuesday!

Come to the farm stand this Tuesday 4-7pm!  Not only will you find delicious vegetables, but Jeff and Kevin will be taking over the stand for the week and revolutionizing it!  I'm actually not exactly sure what that means, but I am sure that it will be fun and they will still be selling veggies- such as tomatoes! fir tree, jaune flamme and more! There will also be a variety greens, beans, garlic, and squash. Please come by and check out the stand.

Where am I? I am away visiting family for a bit.  It definitely feels weird to be away from the farm, but also it feels nice to relax and  play games :) On the right is the view from the window.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

more changes! FARM STAND TUESDAY!

Kirsten, shopper of the week!
 Blue House Greenhouse Farm likes to keep its customers and supporters on it's toes...  We are reopening the farm stand TUESDAYS 4-7pm right on the farm- on the SW corner of N Williams and N Cook- beginning this Tuesday!  We will no longer be at the Boise Eliot Village Square on Fridays- it wasn't really working out for us.  I apologize for all the changes and thank you for your support!

What you'll see at the Farm Stand on Tuesday:

garlic!  chesnok red and kettle river giant
snap beans- dragon tongue, maxibel, and royalty purple
rainbow chard
kale- red russian and lacianto
carrots- amarillo, atomic red and kaleidoscope
salad greens
radishes- pink beauty
onions- fresh copra and borettana

Hope to see you Tuesday and please spread the word!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Friday Market Coupon!

That's right folks!  If you come to the market tomorrow (Friday 8/5) and you mention that you saw this post you get 10% off your entire purchase at the Blue House Greenhouse Farm stand! The market is located on the southeast corner of N Williams and Fremont- it doesn't look like much is going on- but that's not the point!  The point is to support your local urban farm. please.  pretty please. We will be there from 2-6:30 pm or so.

Shopper of the week: Peggy!
 Peggy is a regular  at the blue house
greenhouse farm stand. Thank you!

What you'll see when you stop by:

sugar snap peas
amarillo, atomic red, and kaleidoscope carrots
pink beauty radishes
red russian  and lacinato kale
rainbow chard
champion collard greens
purplette and borettana cipollini onions
herbs- parsley, dill, and cilantro
and more!

It's August and summer is here!

 That's right!  There are tomatoes ripening, peppers growing, and beans on the vine! summer is here. I am learning lessons of the seasons in the Pacific Northwest. Because we have spring weather lasting through June, our summers begin much later and continue later.  Or at least that's the idea.

silver fir tree tomato
persimmon tomato
Besides watching fruit grow and ripen, we've been busy.  We've continued to plant lettuce and radishes, two crops that grow quickly and go quickly either by harvesting or bolting, so need to be planted regularly. We are preparing beds for fall and overwintering crops such as beets, carrots, and brassicas.

We've been harvesting for restaurants and the market. And we've been weeding. I had someone offer to mow the clover strip in the middle of the field yesterday.  Which was a really generous offer, but he couldn't see that that is where the beets are planted. Because no one can see the beets- but they are there!

dragon tongue bush beans

We've been trying to stay ahead of the weeds, but I think it may be an almost impossible task. Especially the bindweed. Oh, bindweed. Those of you familiar with bindweed know the futility of weeding this  plant.  The roots of bindweed can extend to depths of 25 to 30 feet, it can grow a new plant from the littlest bit of root left in the soil, and the plant breaks very easily and grows so fast and binds to everything.. and.. and... okay.  I'll stop. I won't let the weeds get me down.  Let's get back to summer.  How can I be down with ripe tomatoes like these!  I invite you to stop by and check out the farm!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

boise eliot village square

Douglas (first customer) and me.  photo by fabulous
volunteer, Rowan Wren!
The Boise Eliot Village Square is a neighborhood market where you can find anything from beautiful hand made bags, BBQ, delicious sweet potato ice cream, an Iraqi food cart, to veggies from Blue House Greenhouse Farm!  Last week was our first time selling produce at this market.  Although it was slow, it was great meeting more folks from the neighborhood and enjoying the sunshine. We did have some great customers!  Some new and some returning from the farm stand.  Douglas (pictured above) was our first customer at the market, which is funny, because he was also the first customer at the farm stand when it opened!  imagine that.  Thanks to Douglas and all those who keep coming back and supporting Blue House Greenhouse Farm!

all packed up and heading back to the farm!
Please come Friday (tomorrow!) to the Boise Eliot Village Square. We will be there from 2-6 pm or so. It is located on the SE corner of N Williams (just two blocks from the farm).  

You can expect to see:
sugar snap peas
and more!

And please tell your friends!! And if you have any questions don't hesitate to contact me.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

new market this Friday!

Blue House Greenhouse Farm will be at the Boise Eliot Village Square beginning this Friday! The Village Square is open Friday-Sunday for the rest of the summer (Blue House Greenhouse will just be there on Fridays). The market is on the SE corner of N Williams and Fremont and from 2-8 pm. We should be there until 6:30 or so.  Please stop by and see us! We will have salad greens, chard, collards, carrots, broccoli, onions, and more!

Mollie, a happy customer
See for yourself how our veggies  make people happy!

In other news- the garlic harvest! Yesterday I dug up two of the three varieties of garlic- Kettle River Giant (which is true to its name) and Chesnok Red. See below for pictures and details. 

digging up some of the 800 or so heads of garlic

Because there isn't a cool dry place to cure the garlic at the farm,
I stuffed our little car full of garlic and brought it all home! Here I am
(with Seymour the cat) prepping the garlic to be hung to cure.

Jeff with one of many bamboo poles to be hung in our covered porch.
 After two weeks , we will cut the stalks and further clean the garlic
and then it will be ready for sale! Get ready!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

big changes!

That's right folks big changes are coming to Blue House Greenhouse Farm.
Monday, July 11 3-6pm will be the last farm stand on site.

But fear not. We will be selling at the Boise-Eliot Village Square on Fridays!  The Boise Eliot Village Square is about local people and local products- not just food, all sorts of goods that are locally made!  It is located on the corner of N Williams and Fremont (just two tiny blocks away from the farm).  The market opens Friday, July 15 and will be open Friday and Saturday from 2-8 pm and Sunday from 12-6 pm.

However, Blue House Greenhouse Farm will be at the Boise Eliot Village Square beginning Friday, July 22 from 2 pm till 6:30ish. Please stop by, check out the market, and see us!

Friday, July 1, 2011

farm stand TUESDAY july 5!

David, happy farm stand customer
The farm stand (that normally happens on Mondays) will be open TUESDAY JULY 5, 3-6 pm because I've been told that buying vegetables isn't something that people normally do to celebrate our country's independence :)

When you come to the farm stand on Tuesday, here's what you can expect to see!

sugar snap peas
snow peas
salad greens

What else is happening?   Pictured left is Kevin pounding fence posts to trellis tomatoes.  Once the posts were in, we wove twine between the posts to hold up the tomatoes. They are looking good!

We continue to be busy harvesting, weeding, and planting.  We're always looking for volunteers, if you've been thinking about stopping by please do!