Wednesday, August 28, 2013

A bounty of Irish Eyes Seeds!

The IslandWood garden was recently given a huge gift in the form of seeds!  Irish Eyes, a seed company from Ellensburg, WA, donated a box of about 800 packets of seeds.  In the box was everything from lettuces to lemon cucumbers, and kohlrabi to kale.  We are delighted to grow some of the beautiful heirloom varieties they offer.

Julia, Kate and Maxwell, our IslandWood garden summer volunteers

Thank you Irish Eyes for your generous donation!  And to anyone who would like to take a look at their beautiful offerings, here is a link to their webpage: Irish Eyes.  They have a lot of good planting information too.

And thank you to our awesome summer volunteers, for sorting and organizing the seeds!!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Beautiful Summer Produce

Summer in the garden has been glorious this year. We've had seemingly endless dry, warm days and the plants have responded with a bounty of produce. It's been a few years since we've had a summer this nice, and we are all enjoying this gift of fair weather.

lemon cucumbers

Every year it seems that one or two crops perform particularly well. This year that distinction goes to our cucumbers. Both the lemon cucumbers and the regular cucumbers have outdone themselves!  We keep harvesting them and they keep ripening more.

cucumbers climbing a trellis

The squash, tomatoes and tomatillos are doing beautifully as well.  We have several "Super Zucchini's"--those zucchini's that hid themselves amongst their foliage and grew into giants.  Too big to be good eating now, we are letting them grow just to see how big they get. When our overnight students come in September, they will be amazed at the giant zucchinis!

Tongue of Fire beans

Our Tongue of Fire shelling beans are looking extra colorful as well.  These beans are easy to spot with their bright pinkish red markings, and they've been climbing the sunflower stocks all summer long.  When the pods start to dry, the children will have a great time opening them up to discover brightly striped beans!

A mixed planting of shiso, lemon cucumbers, lettuce and cosmos

Cosmos add beauty and also help to draw beneficial insects

Fresh tomatoes always taste amazing!

Meanwhile, we have been busy planting out fall and winter crops.  While this summer's harvest has been delicious, we know that winter is right around the corner.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Cookin' up a Summer Garden Snack!

Soil to Snack Summer Campers 2013
We started our summer garden camps with Nature chefs--sweet first and second grade campers who loved to nibble in the garden.  Then we hosted fifth and sixth grade campers for a garden/cooking immersion week known as Dirt to Dinner. These campers learned many cooking skills while eating full garden meals.

Our third and last garden camp was with curious and hard-working third and fourth graders.  It was aptly called Soil to Snack. These third and fourth grade campers spent much of their week in the garden.  They loved to water both the veggies and each other!  And they sampled new foods while creating healthy, delicious snacks.  They especially loved lemon cucumbers, "Space Broccoli" (really called 'Romanesco') and fresh figs!

Some beautiful and cool looking 'Space Broccoli'!

Chef Jim teaching the campers how to make gnocchi

There are potatoes in this soil!!

Mixing things up

Check out these giant zucchinis!!

We hope to see you again next summer for some more delicious garden snacks!

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Cooking up a Summer Camp from Dirt to Dinner

Our Dirt to Dinner Campers--2013
How does dinner come from dirt? After a week of cooking delicious meals in the IslandWood garden, our summer campers can definitely answer that question.

Making fresh tomato sauce in the outdoor kitchen

Our 5th and 6th graders donned both chef hats and garden gloves this week as they explored the idea of "dirt to dinner".  Working with the IslandWood chefs, they chopped, stirred, mashed and whisked garden ingredients into gourmet meals.  They also helped to take care of the IslandWood garden.  They watered and weeded our garden--the source of much of their food for the week--and they also planted new seeds so we can continue to produce food through the fall and into the winter.

Chocolate-mint canolli--yum!
Since we harvested many ingredients from the garden, it was easy to see that good meals can come from dirt!

Campers relaxing in the shade of the Sunflower allee!

Our menu for the week was based on the theme of meals from "Around the World":

Monday:  Italy --Pizza with fresh garden sauce, Caprese salad and Cannoli for dessert
Tuesday:  Japan-- Sushi, Yakisoba noodles with veggies, Cucumber salad and Green Tea ice cream
Wednesday: Greek-- Roasted Chicken Gyros with fresh tzatziki sauce, Greek Salad, Tabbouleh salad and roasted plums with yoghurt and mint for dessert
Thursday: Bainbridge Farm -- Egg and Veggie Frittata, Garden Salad with homemade ranch dressing and Fresh Fruit Crisp for dessert
Friday: Mexico -- Shredded Chicken Burritos with Rice and Beans, Homemade Salsa and Tres de Leche for dessert

Beautiful homemade sushi
Learning how to whisk ingredients together

Having fun with Chef Morgan
Cheers to a delicious week of homemade, garden-grown dinners from around the world!!