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Market Inspiration

At the Montgomery Curb Market this week, we'll have all the ingredients you'll need for fresh delicious salads, but we have a few suggestions for other ways to enjoy spring eating.

Beet Green Frittata - From New York Times Cooking - Use our eggs, fresh garlic and beet greens for a spring breakfast (we eat this for dinner, too) treat. (Tip from a busy mom: consider skipping step one where you put beet greens in boiling water. Just wilt them in oil in your pan and pour in the eggs. You can also add cheese.)

Vietnamese Carrot and Radish Pickles (Do Chua) - We've got some spicy icicle radishes that would be delicious in this simple refrigerator pickle. If you've ever wondered what to do with a radish, this is a good answer. This Serious Eats recipe calls for daikon radish, but I use whatever kind is on hand. Save time by washing but not peeling them. Enjoy on sandwiches or as a side.

How to make a basic vinaigrette, the Kitchn, Dress our fresh greens in a basic vinegar dressing for one simple, delicious spring salad. One part acid (lemon juice, orange juice, vinegar) + four parts oil = easy, delicious, inexpensive, homemade salad dressing. Dress up your dressing with fresh chives or other herbs at the market.

Peas Shoots: The Taste of Spring, Food52, Pea shoots are the tasty tip ends of the pea plant. They're a fleeting spring time treat, and we'll have some Saturday. Try them!

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Green Spring Pesto

March is the season of bright green things - salad greens, green garlic and arugula. Green garlic is garlic harvested before the bulb matures and is a real spring treat. It's garlic-y but doesn't have the bite of mature garlic. Arugula or rocket is a leafy plant, sometimes a little spicy, that is often added to salad mixes.

Ingredients

  • A big bunch of arugula (maybe 2 packed cups)
  • One stem of green garlic (see below for how to clean green garlic)
  • A generous squeeze of lemon juice (two lemon slices squeezed)
  • Olive oil
  • Salt to taste

Chop green garlic into large pieces, put arugula, garlic, big squeeze of lemon juice and salt in blender of food processor. Cover with oil. Blend. Add more oil if needed. Stores in the refrigerator for about a week. Add to pasta or use as a toast or sandwich spread. Yum!

For a richer pesto, add toasted pecans, almonds or walnuts when blending. 

How to clean green garlic (or leeks)

Like an onion, leeks and garlic grow in layers. In the garden, dirt gets into the layers between the leaves. To clean and use green garlic (or leeks):

  • Cut off the root end just above the roots. 
  • Cut off the green leaves where the green meets the white. (Try finely chopping the green garlic leaves and adding them to scrambled eggs, tomato sauce or crock pot stew.)
  • Slice the garlic stalk lengthwise like in the picture. (Slicing lengthwise lets you easily wash any dirt out of the layers.)
  • Roughly chop slices for blending in pesto or chop them finely to add to other dishes when you want a garlic flavor.

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What to Plant When

Local wisdom (or my Alabama mom's advice) says plant your garden after Good Friday to avoid frost. With the weather we've been having lately, you may be ready to plant now, and now is a good time to plant your cooler weather crops like peas and lettuce if you haven't already done that - but do hurry. The hot weather will come. (We've got radishes, lettuce, peas, carrots, arugula, and salad turnips sprouting at the farm as I type.)

How do you know what to plant and when to plant it? The Alabama Cooperative Extension Service has a handy Planting Guide for Home Gardening in Alabama. It's a concise, four-page guide that includes a chart of plants and when you can plant them for year round gardening.

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A great book to get your garden growing is Vegetable Gardening in the Southeast by Ira Wallace. Vegetable Gardening in the Southeast takes you through the year, month by month, and explains what to plant and what to do in the garden January through December. The author, Ira Wallace, is a long-time farmer and seed saver who is part of Southern Exposure Seed Exchange. She is an expert in heirloom plant varieties and the best plants for the southeast.

Do you have a go-to garden resource? Let us know in the comments!

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Tool Talk for All

In case you missed the February 5 workshop, Tool Talk for All, we explored different tools and their uses, tried out colinear and stirrup hoes, talked about saving your back while shoveling, and sharpened some pruners, shovels and hoes. 

The resource list from the workshop follows. We've included links to companies that sell harder-to-find tools like the Japanese digging tool called an Hori Hori or the colinear hoe. You can also find great tools locally at garden stores. Buy the best tool you can afford (local companies that primarily sell to contractors like Bear Lumber also sell higher quality shovels and rakes), take care of your tools, and they will last a lifetime.

How-To Videos

Selecting the Right Shovel, Video, Bob Denman, Fine Gardening - Learn all about shovels and how to pick the right shovel for you in 4 minutes.

How to Use a Shovel Safely, Video, Bob Denman, Fine Gardening - Learn the proper way to dig a hole.  Seriously, there's a right way.

How to Sharpen Pruning Shears, A short YouTube video explains how to sharpen hand pruners.

Innovations in tools for small farms/gardens

Farm Hack - Website dedicated to sharing information on high tech and low tech tools for the small farm. 

Farm Hand Writes - Farmer and tool designer Josh Volk’s blog that includes information about DIY tools for small farms including plans for a farm cart. Farm Hand Carts also has free cart plans.

Sources for tools

Johnny’s Selected Seeds - Sells harvest knives, hoes, seeds and more.

Rogue Hoes - Heavy duty, long lasting hoes

Red Pig Tools - Former Corona tool designer and blacksmith makes hand forged garden tools and sells tools from other companies.

Hida Tools - Imports garden, woodworking and kitchen tools from Japan. Source for high quality weeding tools and Hori Hori garden knife.

Garden Tool Company - Source for American-made and European garden tools, lots of tool eye candy, a little beyond your farmer's budget, but fun to look at.

Tool Care

Best Oil for Garden Tools? from Garden Tool Company

Garden Tool Care and Maintenance from Garden Tool Company, good tool cleaning summary

Make Your Own Self Cleaning Garden Tool Holder, plans for making a sand-and-oil tool cleaner. Use a larger container for larger tools. You can also use boiled linseed oil instead of mineral oil, and some people use motor oil.

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