Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Honeybee Lowdown

Thanks to our former lead Garden Educator Scott Brinton, we acquired a new group of friends at the IslandWood garden that arrived in May 2012......a new colony of honeybees! They are a great addition to help keep the garden healthy, pollinated, and perhaps will even bring some delicious local honey. We are so grateful and happy to have them! They live here inside these boxes, and have been tougher to spot lately. Why? Because they like to stay warm and cozy inside when it is cold!

Matt Schmidt, one of our amazing kitchen staff members, is our beekeeper and he helps keep the bees happy as well as educates our IslandWood staff about the benefits and care of bees.

Why are honeybees important to a garden?
~Bees play very important roles in the ecosystem of a garden, farm, or any area with plants in need of pollination! These little creatures are responsible for the pollination of many flowers, fruits, and vegetables such as zucchini. Not only are they important, but are considered the number one pollinators for food crop plants, and other flowering plants as well!

What is pollination?
~Pollination is the movement of pollen from flower to flower by pollinators such as bees, birds, bats, butterflies, other animals, and wind. This pollen transfer allows for the fertilization and successful seed and fruit production of many plants, including over 1,000 different species used by humans for food or other uses. Honeybees accumulate pollen on their hind legs, as seen in this picture and transfer it to another flower. So cool!!

To experience pollinators in a way never seen before, check out this video by photographer Louis Schwartzberg. It shows the diversity, importance, and utter beauty of pollinators....

The Hidden Beauty of Pollination

What are the uses of honey?
~Honey is not only delicious, it can also serve medicinal purposes. It carries anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, and anti-fungal properties, making it a natural and healthy addition to our diet.

You don't need to have your own bee colony to help pollinate your garden. You can actually grow certain plants, and create the right habitat to attract bees to you! To learn more about this, check out the following link:

Soil to Snack!

What is it like to grow and harvest your own food? How about to cook with your own, home grown food? Well, the Soil to Snack (STS) program at IslandWood can show you! STS is a collaboration of our amazing kitchen Chef Chris Agnew, and garden educators Jen Prodzinski, and Emily Owens. Some students participating in the School Overnight Program will have the opportunity to experience Soil to Snack, where they will harvest food crops and herbs from our own garden, and prepare a beautiful gourmet snack with Chef Chris in the kitchen. 

This is an amazing opportunity for students and adults alike to experience what it is like to harvest fresh local food and prepare it with creativity, love, and care. We hope to help students gain an appreciation and understanding of farm to table, and learn ways to incorporate local, or homegrown food into their lives and/or communities. And best of is delicious!! 

McDonald and Cedar Valley!

November 28, 2012

We welcomed McDonald Elementary, and Cedar Valley Community School to Soil to Snack this week and made ourselves some delicious, fresh food! We harvested kale, tea herbs, a pumpkin, and leeks from the garden and created:

  • Kale-bobs with pumpkin puree or goat cheese filling
  • Pumpkin pie
  • Fresh tea with peppermint, lemon balm, and stevia
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Mini mushroom pizzas
Prepping the kale

In the oven!

Roasted Pumpkin!
Scooping for Puree
Mini Pumpkin Pies!

Kale Chips Recipe


These are similar to the beloved kale chip, just wrapped and put onto a skewer. Once they are cooked nice and crispy, you can fill them with delicious fillings like fresh pumpkin puree, or an herbed goat cheese. Savory or sweet, take your pick!

  • Kale leaves (any variety will work, you can even mix them), and remove the ribs
  • ~2 Tbsp Olive oil
  • Salt

Heat the oven to 300 degrees, and place kale-bobs on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with olive oil and salt, and bake until crispy. Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Up here in the Pacific Northwest, and in the IslandWood garden, we love our seasons! The changes they bring alter the types of food crops we harvest, our water supply, the appearance of the garden, plant productivity, and they also influence the dormancy of our garden plants and flowers. Even the bees take a break from the cold, wet environment and hunker down in their hives!

People also change their appearance during the different seasons. Think of what you would wear if it were snowing, raining, or was a bright sunshiny day? So what does the garden look like now? What food is available to eat in different seasons? Check back here to see the changing faces of our garden!

The garden on Nov 21, 2012!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

November 21, 2012

As of today, we are still harvesting tomatoes in the greenhouse! However, we are at the end of our tomato season, and don't expect to harvest too much longer. Lots of chocolate cherries, sun golds, and Oregon stars. Here is a photo of our small, but beautiful harvest:

Are you growing anything in your home, school, or community? If so, drop us a line and let us know what's growing for you!

Monday, November 19, 2012

November 19, 2012

Well, today has been one of the wettest days to date this fall! The coming of winter is ever present, and the plants are feeling it too. Some crops are suited well for this time of year, and are still growing in the garden. These crops include:

Brussel Sprouts!!
  • chard  
  • kale
  • sunchokes
  • broccoli
  • many herbs such as peppermint, lemon balm, rosemary, parsley and oregano
  • sorrel
  • turnips
  • parsnips
  • collards
  • leeks
  • comfrey
  • carrots
  • lettuce
  • celery
  • brussel sprouts (like it cool!)
  • radishes

Baby Carrots!
Luckily, we have a fantastic greenhouse to keep some plants cozy and warm during the fall and winter. This allows us to keep growing certain crops that wouldn't make it outside in the cold, harsher environment. We also can utilize this warm environment to plant new seeds, and grow plant starts to create our plant nursery. Some things we are growing in the greenhouse now are:
  • baby carrots
  • tomatoes
  • peppers
  • stevia
  • butterhead lettuce
  • snow pea starts
  • austrian pea cover crop
  • pac choi greens