Sunday, August 22, 2021

BEETS and GROOVES (August Edition!)

The last Saturday of August is almost here and that means another installment of Beets & Grooves at OXBOW BEER GARDEN in Oxford, ME!

This months selections are gonna be a 4 hour set of 100% 45rpm vinyl from right here in Maine to around the globe! If you haven't made it out to my favorite spot in the Maine hills, now is the time!

Picturesque farmland at the foot of the Oxford Hills with the best farmhouse beers, farm to table pizza and pure positive vibes. All outdoor seating with some covered tables if weather looks a little unpredictable. Set the date now... your opportunity to catch LocalRootz HiFi this summer is slipping away. I  will be back in September and then heading up to Newcastle for: 


Saturday / October 9th

Which reminds me, if you haven't gotten your tickets, get on it... it surely will sell out!


Sunday, August 15, 2021

Pine Point Musings

August 10th, 2021
Pine Point Beach - Scarborough - Maine

As the fog engulfed the ocean in a somber embrace, the saturated humidity weighed on my mind as I contemplated our current moment of time. 
Too hazy to gain focus, too oppressive to feel hope.
 Yet, in this foggy chaos of the rolling waves ebbing and flowing with the tides, I see gumption.
 I see determination and I see beauty. 
I see hope in the blurred silver lining that is time.

All studies done on site on this humid overcast afternoon.
Watercolor & Gesso on Arches Paper 


Sunday, August 8, 2021

Summer Harvest 2021

Bountiful produce has been flowing from the garden and requiring daily attention, thought and planning. From what meals incorporate the ripeness of todays harvest to when will I have time to preserve some of this bounty to enjoy in the cold winter months when the landscape becomes barren of all this lush garden bounty.  Cabbage, Celery, Cukes, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Chard, Kale, Onions, Green Beans.... its all sizing up and ready when needed this time of year!

In an attempt to avoid corn mishaps from past seasons I found some time to construct a makeshift cage for our corn patch by weaving some bamboo stakes and reinforcing them with jute... it seems to have done some good but a couple swift thunderstorms have put the lean on a chunk of the smaller stalks even still. I think the looseness of the raised bed soil inherently makes the struggle to keep the stalks vertical that much more challenging for such a top heavy crop like corn. 

Tomatoes are stretching to 8 plus feet at this point but limited amount of ripening so far. Mostly just a few cherries to snack on while weeding and pruning. 

Lots of fruit setting though and the basil and marigold interplantings have been a successful use of space. Wishing I got another round of lettuce sown in there with all this rainy weather it would have been happy but when the timing was right the weather was so hot and dry I figured the lettuce would just bolt so quick it wouldn't be worth planting. Mother Nature always humbling the gardener, no matter how much "experience" we gain from year to year, we really are servants to the elements. I think Ill start sowing some autumn greens this week.

Hazel has been quick on the draw finding the ripe tomatoes before I get a chance, but occasionally she will share a couple.

Buttercrunch Lettuce... a complimentary seed packet from our friends over at Baker Creek has been a family favorite blended in with our salad mix.

Cauliflower for days... pushing me into some Indian cooking. Something about roasting it with a touch of oil, salt, pepper and turmeric that really brings out the earthy sweetness of this vegetable. I even had to re up on our homestead curry powder that I make by slowly cracking a proprietary blend of fenugreek, corriander, cumin, cardamom, clove, cinnamon and mustard seeds. I say proprietary because I never measure I just sprinkle a heap of each into a cast iron pan and warm slowly to toast the spices until they start to pop and crackle releasing all the oils and flavors, then I transfer it to a stone mortar and pestle and grind till it turns to powder, add a dose of turmeric powder to round out the flavors and then jar it up to simmer with coconut milk for an easy garden dinner with that exotic touch!

Cabbage is ready for kraut making sooner than later, I harvested most of it this week and wrapped it for a rainy day... hopefully soon!

Hazel really enjoyed this years bok choy crop, not sure who or what planted it (it wasn't me) but it was a happy addition to some early summer meals.... then the few that were left behind began bolting with the warm summer heat and became good decoy crops for some of the pest pressure that is inevitable if you choose to grow organically. We have never and never will spray for bugs or treat any of our food with anything except fertile compost. Biodiversity is of great importance to me and the ecosystem that surrounds our homestead. I have learned that working with nature and rolling with the punches is a better road to sustainability than waging a battle of us vs. nature. The amount of info you can learn by watching and observing the balance of living organisms in the garden and how the cycles of predators vs pest seem to even themselves out is part of why I love gardening. Yes some years you have to live without certain crops because of this, but usually something else will flourish in its absence. 

A quick garden harvest, was very impressed by the crown size of our broccoli this year. I thought maybe I spaced them a little too close and yes one or two of the plants got smothered by others but also lost 2 to chipmunks at the early stage that helped even out the spacing. Always presume 10-20% of your crop will be lost, do not put all your eggs in one basket and you will always have some eggs.

Raging the garden on a rare day off and processing it accordingly. Part of this process is washing and drying, breaking down cauliflower into florets and sealing them in plastic ziplocks, wrapping cabbage etc. The goal is s to keep the bounty fresh for a couple weeks as we work it all into our meals. I find that art of balancing a bountiful garden and enjoying it in your meals is also something we have been learning to juggle over the years. Nothing is worse than seeing beautiful produce you work so hard to grow get soft and limp in the fridge, only to end up back in the compost pile. It helps that we have an enthusiastic 4yr old who has a very open mind to eating. I think a lot of that comes from the excitement of knowing where the food is coming from. Hazel loves snacking on everything from lemon verbena leaves to celery stalks while we are out enjoying our land and she will also ask where things are from that she knows we didn't grow. After lots of farm field trips she has grown familiar with the different farms we source from and will ask "is this from Frith Farm?" or "did this come from Ironwood?" 

Garlic Harvest 2021 has arrived!

After pulling it all up I usually leave 2-3" of stem and spread them out in a crate that I then set in our cellar near the dehumidifier that I run down there in the summer. Every day I give it a little roll and shake and sweep up the falling dirt for a week or two before I trim it a little closer to the bulb and shave the roots off for long term storage. 

One crop that has been exceeding my expectations this year is our cucumbers!
Giving them their own space, fresh compost and using the string trellis method has really helped them stretch beyond 8ft and produce a huge amount of fruit. It seems like every other day I'm picking 10-15lbs to the point that I've resorted to picking them at 1-2" size just so I don't run out of jars for pickling. Plus the little tiny fruits make for great extra crunchy pickles. Most of them are the yellowish/white pickler style.

 Old Time Ruby Wallace and also some Boothby Blondes too.

But we also have this amazing slicer variety from Japan.
Suyo Long Cucumber which scare me how big they are sizing up and still have very limited amounts of seeds!

I have a classic pickling method where I use a mixture of lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, classic pickling spices, sea slat and a touch of our maple syrup. I adjust each batch a little and sometimes will plop some herbs,onion or garlic cloves in a batch here there to give us a little variety. 

We use the classic water bath canning method, and yes I did fill the pot to over an inch above the lids, just took the picture first :)

We are currently at about 18 Quarts of pickles in the cellar and probably have already consumed 5-6 quarts of "quick" pickles from the fridge where I use a similar recipe but also add a little lacto into the process for boosting our immune system.

With many hours spent in the garden it was time for a little break to visit some extended family on a lake in Casco. Hazel got her first try at fishing and talked about it the whole ride home. In fact she was able to land her first smallmouth bass with a little help from Dad.

IN other nature news, this toad comes out just about every day I am walking around the garden, I have yet to name him but he is always welcome to eat slugs whenever he wishes.

Along with the toads, hooting owls, robins, mourning doves and finches that have
enjoyed the garden this year we have also had a amazing diversity of fungus around the homestead!

Also another installment of Beets & Grooves happened last week... a big thanks to everyone who passed through and enjoyed the beautiful weather and eclectic tune selection! 

Next months edition falls on Saturday, August 28th and I am feeling like a pure 45rpm session is in the cards! Flyer coming soon but in the meantime here is last months flyer.

Thanks as always to everyone who stops by this blog to check in on the LocalRootz happenings. Its been a busy summer and my mind is drifting to autumn/winter with big things in the works for 2022. 

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