Space Saving Gardening Ideas

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Having the ability to produce alot of food has become very important to us.  Food prices continue to rise and “healthy” eating becomes fiscally more difficult all the time.  And…there’s just nothing better than that window of a few months where you can go out and pick your own fresh greens, luscious tomatoes (better than the mealy store ones!), etc.  We love variety and I try to plant anywhere from 2-10 varieties of everything we plant just for the fun of it.

We live in town, and have limited space.  Last year we overhauled our backyard and were able to double the amount of garden area we had, which helped alot.   We other garden space outside our yard last year, and do not have it this year, so we were forced to be creative.  We came up with several ideas that I thought were worth sharing and so far they’ve been successful.

Delicata squash in a tomato cage:

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Heirloom hidatsa shield beans on netting (we got it at Peaceful Valley Farm Supply):

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Lots and lots of cabbages, planted closely.  I gave about a foot distance between them.  Ignore the weeds.

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Melons and cucumbers growing up cattle panels.  We asked around and got most of ours for free, but you can get them at farm supply stores too. :-)

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Baby chanterais melon growing up a cattle panel:

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Potted spaghetti squash with a tomato cage:

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Raised beds with strawberry plants (again, ignore the weeds):

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Herb pots are great – here is some spearmint:

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Sage:

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Thyme:

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Potato bags (I bought these from a friend at a rummage sale, but I think she got them at Gardener’s Supply originally.  You could also check eBay.):

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Raised beds (we have 32 pepper plants of all varieties in 2 4×4 beds…and they are all doing great!):

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Our very tiny Country Gentleman heirloom organic corn planted in some area by the alley that we tilled up late this spring.  We are hopeful. :-)

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Pie pumpkins on cattle panels out near the alley.  Planted late, but again…we’re hopeful.

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This has been the most productive garden we’ve had, and I attribute alot of that to growing more things vertically than we ever have.   Be warned, it’s a process.  Every year we tweak it (keeping records is very helpful) and try to add on in some way.  I’m happy with our little plot in the alley, and even if nothing produces this year we’ll have it ready for next year.  Hope these ideas were helpful!

Preserving Herbs: Basil Pesto and Garlic Scapes

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This is going to be a quick post because we’ve just been so busy this summer, I haven’t had time to post, but I thought it was worth sharing.  Sorry, I don’t have step by step pics but it was pretty easy so hopefully you’ll get the gist.

Herb Preservation – Part 1 – Garlic scapes:  I planted a ton of garlic last fall, and got a Walmart shopping bag full of scapes once I cut those off.

To preserve them, I stuffed the whole lot into my food processor with a little extra virgin olive oil (highly technical, I know).  I don’t have an exact amount of either, nor do I think you need one.  I added olive oil as I needed to, as they were processed in the machine.  I ended up with a thick garlic scape paste.  I put into ice cube trays, and froze.  Once they were frozen, I popped them out of the trays and stored in a large plastic bag.  This way, I can add them to soups or other dishes.  I think I’ll also try to thaw them and see if I can use in salad dressings.  Maybe they’ll be too wilty, but it’s worth a try.

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Herb preservation Part 2 – Basil Pesto:

I gave my basil a haircut last weekend and got all of this:

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And this is how I made my pesto:

4 c. packed basil

2-3 cloves garlic

1/2 c. extra virgin olive oil (I added a little more as needed)

1/4-1/2 c. cheese (I used Organic Valley raw sharp cheddar, I did not grate but cut in smaller pieces)

1/2 c. walnuts

Process in blender.  It takes a little while to get it all blended, and you will have to stop your blender often to pack it down again and/or mix it up.  I did a batch at a time, and I had enough for 6 pints.  Store in freezer.  I made sure to leave about an inch or so head room to allow for expansion when frozen.   I took a picture of the end results and it was lopsided and I had a big mess in the background, so I decided to skip it. :-)  The pesto was beautiful, anyhow.   You’ll just have to take my word for it. :-)

 

 

Death by Chocolate: Paleo Ice Cream Cake (GAPS option, GF, dairy free)

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We have had a slug of birthdays around here in the past week…this was by far the favorite of the birthday treats. :-)

Death by Chocolate:  Paleo Ice Cream Cake (GAPS option, GF, Dairy Free)

Brownie layer:  I used this awesome recipe from PaleOMG.  I left out the cinnamon, baked the cookie part of the recipe in a greased 9×13 Pyrex cake pan at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes.  (I also used Trader Joe’s cashew meal instead of almond meal.)  It turned out more brownie-like than cookie-like, which was fine with me. :-)

Caramel layer:  I used my own recipe for caramel.  I let both the brownie crust and the caramel cool a bit, and then I frosted the brownie with the caramel.  Don’t wait too long, be sure to do it while the caramel is still spreadable.  This layer ended up being fantastic – it solidified in the freezer and tasted more like toffee than anything.  Put your caramel brownie in the freezer for a bit to cool everything off so your ice cream doesn’t melt when you get that far.

Ice cream layer:  Blend in blender – 1-2 cans of full fat coconut milk (I used 1.5 cans), 2-3 egg yolks (if you have a reliable source for pastured eggs), 1/4-1/2 c. honey, 1 T. vanilla, and 1/2 c. baking cocoa.  Process your ice cream in ice cream maker as per manufacturer directions.

Have on hand:  1 bag mini chocolate chips (I used the Enjoy Life brand as they are allergen free of the things we’d prefer to avoid.  If you wanted to make this GAPS legal, leave out the chips.)

When the ice cream reaches the end of the cycle, empty 1/2 to 3/4 of the bag of chips into the machine and let it get dispersed throughout.  Spread your ice cream over the caramel brownie, and use the rest of the bag of chips to sprinkle over the top.

Put it in the freezer, taking care to keep it level, and store until you’re ready to eat!  Enjoy!

This post was shared at Real Food Forager’s Fat Tuesdays; Kelly the Kitchen Kop’s Real Food Wednesday;