Swiss Chard

In Uncategorized on 06/07/2013 by jenn in the yarden

You (read: I) planted only one 6-pack of this goosefoot they call Swiss Chard. It performed amazingly for the past couple of months-lots of curb appeal. And now the 11th plague of aphids has descended, causing the large leaves to bow to the ground. A plea to the ladybug god to rescue them. The god can not meet the challenge. So you cut all leaves and dunk them in a large bin of water to drown the aphids and to buy you more time to figure out what to do with this abundance of green, yellow, red and white foliage.
Somewhere you remember reading about kale chips and you decide to try it with the chard. Wash, spin, pat dry, spray with olive oil, bake for a couple of minutes, salt, watch kids enjoy! Whew, that took care of about one-eleventh of the bin contents.
After giving some to the neighbor who appreciated it earlier in the season, you decide to wash, spin, and chop the rest, blanch, drain, and freeze in portions for future recipes: pesto, soups, stamppot*, saut├ęs, omelets. Pat yourself on the back, you gardener you!

*Stamppot is a dutch word that accurately describes the dish: you mash(stamp) potatoes and greens(usually kale) in a pot(pot). Gotta love those cognates!



More on Square Foot Gardening

In Uncategorized on 01/19/2013 by jenn in the yarden

Check out this article!


digging holes and covering up with dirt

In Uncategorized on 11/12/2012 by jenn in the yarden



I almost titled this blog “Burying” but didn’t want to sound too macabre!

This is bulb planting season. This simple activity of digging a hole, dropping a giant seed in it, and covering it with soil, reaps such joy and satisfaction when the gardener is diligent and patient. In months, beautiful plants push through and stretch into the open air, revealing some of the most beautiful blossoms of the season. Burying something yields beauty!

This is not the way with humans.

On the way to my parents’ property in the Sequoias, we pass through Arvin. It’s a farming area with fields of crops stretching to the foothills. The road is typical: maintained, but not equipped with shoulders and proper storm drainage. In fact, the large ditches lining each side of the road have become landfills of sorts: Along with wayward trash, the ditches are filled with construction waste such as concrete and asphalt and then covered with dirt. Once we even saw a smashed car haphazardly buried in the ditch. It is unclear as to whether or not the car had crashed there and was simply abandoned or what!

We have a friend who owns land and lives full time in a very remote area of the Sierras. While he is social and sociable when we’re around, he is by all other definitions, a hermit. He uses his back hoe and wheel loader to carve out building pads and grade roads. He has also used his heavy equipment to dig a colossal hole in which he dumps his and other property owners’ trash.

When I learned of this dumping practice, I immediately went into eco-Nazi mode, but somehow my rant was derailed when the thought of this man’s life came to mind. He had lost his wife to a tragic disease a few several years back and still feels the sting of her absence.

I couldn’t help but think about how we humans dig a hole, take stuff with which we don’t want to deal, and we bury it. When we experience emotions too complex to sort out on our own, we often ignore it, distract ourselves from it, and try to forget it. We are not rewarded with a beautiful blossom in the next season, but something else. For each person, what comes up is different, but it is not pleasant to view.

We are created to be gardeners, but not to bury our emotions and experiences.
Plant some bulbs.


english breakfast

In Uncategorized on 09/28/2012 by jenn in the yarden

The British have the best idea for breakfast: the FRY-UP. Our version here at home is any combination of bacon, sausage, eggs, hashed browns, toast, mushrooms, and the pinnacle: tomatoes. All of the above is fried in the bacon’s grease and consumed with no regrets. Another name for this morning feast is: all-day breakfast. And it lives up to its name. After all of the above, it’s hard to even think of food until at least 3 pm!
We have experimented with all of the sorts of tomatoes yielded by the Yarden and are pleased every time.
Try a fry-up and let me know! (Take your statins!)


entropic yarden

In Uncategorized on 09/21/2012 by jenn in the yarden

Well, It’s not actually the Yarden that is particularly suffering from entropy. It’s the seemingly everything I use that is falling apart: the security gate handle needs to be replaced; I need to call the freezer repair guy to figure out why nothing is solid in our “deep freezer”; the cold water handle in the shower doesn’t shut off properly; and I just had two tires on the car replaced only to be told that the brakes need to be replaced as well.

What a relief to enter a section of the universe where things don’t seem determined to break down into their most simple parts. It’s no wonder the Yarden is a retreat. Which reminds me that I actually have a Retreat in the Yarden. It is surrounded by permeable walls and is well shaded by the large fig and pineapple guava trees. A garden couch and chairs invite the garden observer to sit and consider the ants without feeling like a sluggard. This is a place where I can remove myself, albeit briefly, from the realm of entropy.
Where is your retreat?


kale yeah!

In Uncategorized on 09/14/2012 by jenn in the yarden

I had learned in Kansas City last June that kale is not just a winter weather friend, but survives the midwestern 90+ heat! Now, as I squint and shield my eyes, looking around for autumn, this blue-green leaf stands with hands on hips, defying my long-held prejudice. So, I guess it’s time to chop some up and make Lew’s Kaleslaw! This week’s batch includes the following 3 kale varieties: Russian, Lacinato, and Winterbor.
Chop greens and green onions. Dressing: sesame oil, white wine vinegar, granulated or fresh chopped garlic, cumin, mustard powder, chopped cilantro or celery seed. Sprinkle toasted sunflower seeds and maybe chop an avocado into it. This year, I may experiment with including red shiso flower heads of which I presently have an abundance!


september in the yarden

In Uncategorized on 09/09/2012 by jenn in the yarden Tagged: ,

It is that time of the season when I boldly copy and paste from Yvonne Savio’s blog:
Sow beets, bok choy, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, chard, chervil, chives, cilantro, collards, endive, garlic, kale, kohlrabi, leeks, lettuce, green onions, short-day bulb onions (like Grano, Granex, and Walla Walla), parsley (the flat-leaf type is more winter-hardy than the curly one), parsnips, peas, radishes, spinach, and turnips.
Soon, I plan to plant cover crop in the place of the waning tomatoes and sow lots of lettuce greens. I’m a little nervous about getting such tender greens started before wind season. Maybe this year, I’ll be more diligent with protecting them with shade cloth. Stay tuned!