Soil and Cellar

Growing and preserving foods in Seattle


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Raised beds – At last!

D and I have wanted raised beds since we started our garden 7 years ago, but we aren’t the best project people. But this winter we finally finished! We already have some plants growing, I even started some from seed!

Here’s a sort of photo essay of the building of our raised beds. We went by these instructions from Sunset. It was a really fun project, and normally shouldn’t take more than a weekend. We just got it in our heads that it would be a lot harder than it turned out to be, I think.

We built the raised beds in our garage. Teamwork, yeah!

We built the raised beds in our garage. Teamwork, yeah! D was excited to have a reason to buy a impact driver, but I think a normal drill would be just fine.

Here is the first one finished: they are both 4'x6' and are about a foot tall.

Here is the first one finished: they are both 4’x6′ and are about a foot tall.

The first raised bed installed. It took a lot of prep to get the weeds out of the soil first, so next we...

The first raised bed installed. It took a lot of prep to get the weeds out of the soil first, so after leveling the raised beds we added cardboard.

Checking to see it is level. I will admit that they seem to have settled in parts, but not too much.

Checking to see it is level. I will admit that they seem to have settled in parts, but not too much.

... added cardboard to the bottom of the raised bed, before adding soil. The hope is that this will help suppress weeds. We have morning glory in this part of the garden pretty bad.

Here we added cardboard to the bottom of the raised bed, before adding soil. This should help suppress weeds. We have morning glory in this part of the garden, it’s basically impossible to stop, the best hope is to try to slow it down.

Finally, we had soil delivered. The only access is a walk-through gate in the fence, so we had to block the alley while we brought in wheelbarrow loads.

Finally, we had soil delivered. The only access is a walk-through gate in the fence, so we had to block the alley while we brought in wheelbarrow loads.

I’ve planted a garden of basics this first year – cucumbers, tomatoes, scallions, carrots, zucchini, beans, and herbs. In one bed we direct sowed seeds, the other we planted starts. Wish us luck!


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The End of Farmers Market Season

Beautiful veggies at the Vashon Farmer's Market.

Beautiful veggies at the Vashon Farmers Market.

Well, my favorite farmers market – in Columbia City – is officially closed for the season. I say favorite, but of course what I mean is the one that’s closest to my house. There are others that are still open, but they involve more of a special trip. One such trip D and I took last week was to the Vashon Farmers Market. All the growers are on Vashon Island, which is so cool.  While I missed the Yakima peaches, etc, it’s kind of great to see the amazing array of fruits and veggies you can grow in Western Washington.

vashon farmers market

Small but awesome, the Vashon Farmer’s Market is the epitome of local.

Anyway, in honor of the last days of summer, and sort of an intro to harvest season and the holidays, here is a list of dishes I’ve made in the last few weeks from the Farmers Market bounty. You’ll notice a theme of roasting and root vegetables. Yep, fall. (Sorry I don’t have pictures of everything, I wasn’t planning this post ahead of time.)

Sweet meat squash - I think we paid $12 for this, it's so heavy! I love the bluish skin.

Sweet meat squash – I think we paid $12 for this, it’s so heavy! I love the bluish skin. I had to use a saw to cut it.

Roasted Sweet Meat Squash – from our Vashon adventure. This is a delicious squash with blue/gray skin, it’s really sweet so doesn’t need anything but salt and pepper, and it is huge! I froze 2/3 of it after roasting. There will be soup in our future.

Roasted beets – D doesn’t like these, but our schedules haven’t lined up much lately, so I’ve eaten these as leftovers for dinner multiple nights now.

Yummy breakfast!

Yummy breakfast – Ranchero eggs!

Ranchero eggs (from the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook) – a great Sunday morning pre-football breakfast. I used peppers and onions from the Vashon farmers market.

Honey roasted root vegetables - everything but the oil and salt is from a farmer's market (even the honey, which we bought at a farm stand in Stehekin).

Honey roasted root vegetables – everything but the oil and salt is from a farmers market (even the honey, which we bought at a farm stand in Stehekin).

Honey roasted root vegetables (carrots, turnips, rutabagas, shallots, mixed with honey and olive oil, and salt.) Delicious, makes a lot, and is pretty sweet, so makes a great side dish for potlucks or dinner parties. Originally from Cooking Light.

Potato leek soup – This is one of my favorite soups, so rich, with like 4 ingredients. Don’t you love that? Just cook the leeks and potatoes in some oil, then cover with veg stock and cook until it’s all mushy, then blend it. Voila! And I made extra to freeze, so I’ll have this delicious easy dinner again soon.

Beautiful display of quince at the Vashon Farmer's Market.

Beautiful display of quince at the Vashon Farmers Market.

Quince and star anise jelly – check back soon for the details on this one. (It’s a 3-day recipe, which of course I didn’t notice when I started, but just finished it and it’s really awesome.)

Oven roasted cherry tomatoes – for the crazy times when you can’t or don’t eat all the cherry tomatoes raw, roast them at 200 degrees for 3 hours, sliced in half, with a little olive oil and salt. Fabulous in pastas. ALSO, I learned from Rachel Ray a quick way to slice cherry tomatoes or grapes. Take two yogurt or cottage cheese lids, the same size, pack the tomatoes in one, place the other on top, and run your serrated knife between them. So fast!

Braised kale, a delicious way to get all those vitamins!

Braised kale, a delicious way to get all those vitamins!

Braised kale – D and I are people who actually like kale (and other greens), and we eat it this way about once a week this time of year. Usually I simmer with garlic in a tiny bit of oil and add a little veggie stock every 3-5 minutes, just to cover the bottom. As the stock reduces it also seasons the kale. After 15-30 minutes of this (depending on how soft you like your greens) they are delectable and go with just about everything. This time, though, I didn’t have any stock (!) so just used oil, and I really liked the results.

And thus, fall has begun. I do love fall veggies, but I miss the bright light flavors of summer fruit already. Good thing I’ve packed so much of it away in jars in my basement!