Green Thumbs Camp: August 2015

When it comes to summer camp, pictures speak better than words.  The photos below illustrate our wonderful week in the Charlotte Central School gardens and an amazing field trip to Philo Ridge Farm right across the street from the school.  Thank you to my teaching partner Stacy Carter and our assistant Carter, Deirdre Holmes and Abby Foulk for their work in the CCS gardens and compost shed, Charlotte Recreation for administering the camp, Vera Simon-Nobes for welcoming us to Philo Ridge Farm, and all our awesome campers!

Making quick work of a big weeding chore (it helped that we had a "longest root" contest)

Making quick work of a big weeding chore (it helped that we had a “longest root” contest)

Collecting seeds for our Seed Savers envelopes

Collecting seeds for our Seed Savers envelopes

Garden journaling and herb pot painting

Garden journaling and herb pot painting

Our Rainbow Salad Bar - all grown in the school garden!!

Our Rainbow Salad Bar – all grown in the school garden!!

Digging for potatoes - our garden's buried treasure

Digging for potatoes – our garden’s buried treasure

Garden-grown, camper-harvested roasted root veggies: striped beets, rainbow carrots, and purple & white potatoes!

Garden-grown, camper-harvested roasted root veggies: striped beets, rainbow carrots, and purple & white potatoes!

A walking field trip.  Look: our school is right across the road from Philo Ridge Farm!

A walking field trip. Look: our school is right across the road from Philo Ridge Farm!

Observing Philo Ridge Farm Sheep

Observing Philo Ridge Farm Sheep

Meeting Stewart Little (the sheep)

Meeting Stewart Little (the sheep)

Collecting Philo Ridge Farm duck eggs

Collecting Philo Ridge Farm duck eggs

When at garden camp, never forget to water the campers

When at garden camp, never forget to keep the campers well watered

Journaling in the garden

Journaling in the garden

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Turtle Lane Art and Nature Camp

More camp fun: this month on the beautiful Lake Champlain Waldorf School Campus.  Awesome campers, dedicated energetic and loving counselors, blue skies, lush green fields, breezy pine-scented forests, cool sprinklers, nourishing and delicious snacks, creative art projects, and ever changing sand box creations:

Children's Garden Opening Circle

Children’s Garden Opening Circle

Sandbox Creations

Sandbox Creations

Forest Tent Nature Journaling

Forest Tent Nature Journaling

Felting Bird's Nests with enthusiastic CITs and Counselors

Felting Bird’s Nests with enthusiastic CITs and Counselors

Creative Free Play

Creative Free Play

water-play-and-days-recap

Joyous Water Play and a Day’s Recap

Afternoons full of joy, sun, water, and friends

Afternoons full of fun, sun, water, and friends

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Green Thumbs Camp, June 2015

What a week!  Our small but sweet group did a lot of garden work, found plenty of time to play, and made detailed garden journal entires, seed bombs, beautiful painted pots, and delicious snacks along the way.  Check out some images from the week:

Many hands make light work when it comes to moving a big pile of compost.

Many hands make light work when it comes to moving a big pile of compost.

A lovely visit to Philo Ridge Farm.  How lucky to have our school so close to a farm (see it across the road?).

A lovely visit to Philo Ridge Farm. How lucky to have our school so close to a farm (see the school across the road?).

After calculating how much pig food we needed and weighing it out using a scale, we're off to feed the pigs!

After calculating how much pig food we needed and weighing it out using a scale, we’re off to feed the pigs!

Examining pig slop.

Examining pig slop.

It's good to water plants, but it's especially fun to water campers.

It’s good to water plants, but it’s especially fun to water campers.

"Green!"

“Green!”

"Thumbs!"

“Thumbs!”

Want to learn more about gardening with children?  Check out these Tips for Gardening with Kids and this post about the importance of spending time outside.

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Nourishing Homemade Granola

The comforting hot savory breakfasts I enjoyed all winter just aren’t appealing to me with increasingly warm bright sunny mornings.  Quitting my childhood habits of cereal or toast and jelly for breakfast, however, made me feel so good!  What should I turn to for a nourishing breakfast this summer?  Soaked granola with yogurt, sprouted seeds and nuts, and berries, of course!

homemade granola

I turned to City Market’s blog to find a great soaked-oat version of homemade granola.  I made the mistake of cutting the recipe in half.  One week later, I was back in the kitchen making a full batch.  The clusters are crunchy without being too hard.  The oats stick together, making nice crispy clumps rather than separating into the tiny morsels that comprised my past homemade granola attempts.

Soaking-oatsI followed this recipe and it came out great!  The only adjustment I made the second time was to include the dried coconut into the wet mixture before baking.  I liked to have the small bits included in the crunchy granola clusters and think coconut tastes best after roasting in the oven.

granola-ready-to-bakeI love the flexibility of this basic granola.  I add dried fruit, soaked nuts and seeds, and coco nibs to make a satisfying and nourishing trail mix.  I use it to top my yogurt, berry, and nut breakfast.  Sometimes I have a handful with a few dark chocolate chips and raw coco nibs instead of some other more addicting and sugary dessert.  Another plus: because it doesn’t have vegetable oils or seeds included in the basic recipe, this granola doesn’t go rancid sitting in the cupboard.

To learn more about soaked grains, nuts, and seeds, click here.

To read about how I make great home made yogurt, check out this blog post.

For the granola recipe, click here.

Enjoy!

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Spinach, Asparagus, and Tick Season

spring-harvest-bountyLate spring days grow warmer, lilacs are in full bloom, and we’re finally harvesting fresh shoots and greens from the garden!

We’ve also been finding ticks after days in the fields and forests.tick-ID  I strongly feel that there are far more benefits than risks when it comes to outdoor play (and work).  Take a moment to read up on Ticks and learn how to properly remove them.  When you know what to do when you find a tick, poison ivy, or any other other outdoor irritant, they all seem a lot less frightening.

asperagus-roastedWe are happily harvesting large bunches of asparagus from the garden.  There are all sorts of recipes I love to use asparagus in, but recently, we’ve really enjoyed roasting it.  We simply toss the spears with olive oil and soy sauce and bake at 400 degrees on a roasting pan until the spears are crispy and slightly blackened at the ends.  YUM.

spring-harvest

Spinach, dill, cilantro, and lambs quarters are all springing up in the garden, providing us with our first big fresh salads of the year.  We love early spring salads with cilantro lime dressing or our classic garlic dijon.  Looking back at past May/June blog posts, I can see that this year’s new and exciting salad concoctions are actually an annual ritual at this time of year.  If everything you’re harvesting for salad in May is green, try adding color with some edible flowers like pansies, violets, and chive blossoms.

Want to enjoy your greens without having salad for every meal?  We love this spinach soup recipe – it’s great warm or cold!  Happy harvesting.

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Spring In Our New Home: First Harvests & Weeding Invasives

The landscape is greening up, more edible plants and shoots are emerging, and some less desirable plants are perfect for pulling!  Now is a great time to enjoy green fresh first harvests and remove any invasive plants from your yard and garden.

Our driveway is now a garlic mustard graveyard.

Our driveway is now a garlic mustard graveyard.

Garlic mustard was in full bloom in a previously disturbed area to the south of our house.  The moist soil made for easy pulling.  It’s important to pull this invasive plant before seeds mature, and dispose of it properly!  Learn more about Garlic Mustard and other invasives here.

Nettle and ramp harvest

Nettle and ramp harvest

It’s time to enjoy wild edibles!  Fiddleheads are just starting to emerge.  Nettles and ramps are thriving on the river banks and forest edges at this time of year.  I love using them to make Cream of Ramp and Nettle Soup (recipe here).  It’s great warm or cold, and I love to garnish it with sauerkraut.

Cream of Ramp and Nettle Soup with Sauerkraut.

Cream of Ramp and Nettle Soup with Sauerkraut.

It’s magical to watch the progression of spring from the big windows of our new home.  Everything seems wonderfully green this week.  Trees are blossoming and leaves are emerging, providing dappled shade and protection from the strengthening sun.

The grass is growing and leaves are emerging!

The grass is growing and leaves are emerging!

First gardening efforts.

First gardening efforts.

View from the north east.

View from the north east.

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Spring Greens

winter-funI really enjoyed winter this year.  Temperatures stayed below freezing and snow accumulated nicely, allowing for all sorts of sledding, skiing, skating, and winter hiking adventures. I have to admit, though, I can’t wait for the green glow of spring.  Visually it seems almost magical to watch the grey-brown landscape blush with the blossoming of the red maples and then grow progressively greener as leaves begin to emerge.  New growth also offers fresh greens, especially exciting to those of us who try to eat in-season local produce.

ramps

Before anything sprouts in the garden, wild plants begin to grow.  Nettles, ramps, and dandelions all offer tender young greens far before lettuce or spinach will be ready locally.  Learn more about finding, harvesting, and preparing common wild plants in this blog post.

peas-and-spinach

Lettuce, spinach, cilantro, and chives are all happy on cool spring nights, and offer fresh leaves before many other garden residents.  These veggies can be planted as soon as the garden soil is dry enough to till.

IMG_1742

The wonderful thing about baby greens is that they can grow almost anywhere – from a pot on a windowsill to a plot in your garden or at the farm.  Read about how my seedlings inspired me while living in the city in this past post.  If you are interested in starting a container garden, now’s the time!  Learn more from this post.

early-spring-harvest

Need some ideas about how to turn your fresh spring greens into tasty meals?  Here’s a list of some of my favorite ways to use the first wild and tended harvests of the year.

For me, spring is an exciting season filled with firsts:  my mouth waters as I dream about the first peas and first asparagus.  I know a watched pot doesn’t boil, but will a watched asparagus bed sprout shoots?

Happy foraging, happy gardening, and happy spring!

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