Posts Tagged: garden

Perma-what?

Often, students enjoy our surplus produce in the form of mid-class snacks!

Often, students enjoy our surplus produce in the form of mid-class snacks!

It’s the middle of spring, and that can only mean one thing… Permaculture is in the air. What is permaculture? Well, it’s a philosophy, it’s a style of gardening, it’s classes we teach here at the ranch, and it’s super easy to understand and practice!

Permaculture starts with three basic principles: care for people, care for the Earth, and return the surplus. Caring for people is as easy as feeding folks good food. Using water appropriately is one example of caring for the Earth. And return the surplus? Do birds ever eat out of your garden? Do you have a compost pile? These are both excellent ways to return the surplus.
It’s also important to recognize the work done by some of our non-human friends. That pesky gopher is aerating and loosening the soil making it easier for new roots to grow later.  Here at the ranch we’ve paid our gophers with at least one Swiss chard, two beets, and a spinach plant (but it was on its way out). That Peter Cottontail who keeps visiting your carrots also helps fertilize for next season. Those annoying insects that buzz around our heads pollinate crops like zucchini and pumpkins. Everybody likes a healthy garden, especially naturalists and their students!

The Pathfinder garden features an herb spiral from which students can taste new flavors and Nauralists can spice up their meals!

The Pathfinder garden features an herb spiral from which students can taste new flavors and Nauralists can spice up their meals!

So you may be wondering, “How can I put these ideas to use?” Where do we start!? Support local farms who practice permaculture principles. Start a garden bed for veggies or native flowers. The Monarch butterfly looooooves milkweed; so check your local native plant nursery. If you have the space, you can start a compost pile for your food scraps and napkins. If you already have a compost pile and you use it for you own garden, you can encourage others in your community to do the same. Then you’ll have someone to trade veggies with. Even if you only have a small space, gardening will help you “take care of people”, by growing your own cooking herbs on your windowsill or maybe a potato tower on your porch. Here’s one more link on how to grow some of your own vegetables in containers.

Spring’s halfway through, but for us here in sunny southern California we still have a long growing season ahead. Happy planting from everyone here at Pathfinder Ranch.

CSA’s and Spring Garden Time

Hello again from Pathfinder Ranch! Now that spring has sprung on the mountain, we wanted to take a moment to tell you all about some ways to get involved with your local community and get some great food while you’re at it. While Farmers Markets have risen in popularity the past few years, most people don’t know there is another way to get farm fresh produce and meat.

Community Supported Agriculture, or CSA, is a perfect way to get to know and directly support your local farmers. Farms that offer a CSA will usually have a “box” filled with that week’s harvest. Depending on the farm, there may be produce, meat, or even processed products. Buying directly from the farm is cheaper for both you and the farmers as products sold at farmers markets have to be priced up to cover the cost of staffing the stall and renting the space.

Here is a list of some of our local farms that offer a CSA. If these are not convenient to you, look for a CSA in your area!

When students visit the garden in the spring, they havee the opportunity to help out by planting seeds or transplanting seedlings.

When students visit the garden in the spring, they have the opportunity to help out by planting seeds or transplanting seedlings.

Every summer brings a bountiful crop of tomatillos at Pathfinder Ranch.

Every summer brings a bountiful crop of tomatillos at Pathfinder Ranch.

 

Inland Empire CSA – a partnership between Sage Mountain Farm and De Luz Farms

Sage Mountain Farm – produce and beef

Primal Pastures – lamb, beef, pork, chicken, eggs, fish, and honey

Da-Le Ranch – many different types of meat

 

Meanwhile at Pathfinder we are connecting with our food by planting it for ourselves! The garden is currently producing Brussel’s sprouts, lettuce and carrots from the winter, but in the high tunnel we are gearing up for a delicious and colorful summer. The students are helping us by seeding and transplanting melons, beans, and California Poppies among many other things. We hope a little time here in our garden will inspire our guests to go home and grow food and flowers for themselves!!

Autumn is in Full Swing

September was a big month at Pathfinder Ranch! Fall announced its presence, weather is cooling off (thankfully), the leaves are changing colors, four new naturalists are teaching away, two new chickens (Silkies) have joined our farm flock, and seven schools have already visited. Yes, the new season is in full swing. We also have a new addition to our garden space. Drum roll please… take a look at our High Tunnel! Our maintenance crew toiled away to get this up last month and we are so excited. This will allow us to extend our growing seasons, and give us more workspace for garden classes. Possibilities abound. Will we grow tomatoes? Eggplant? Flowers? Luffa? Keep your eye on our Facebook page for High Tunnel updates.

Our high tunnel is ready for vermicompost, hydroponics, and a new workspace!

Our high tunnel is ready for vermicompost, hydroponics, and a new workspace!

Autumn brings many things, including delicious seasonal produce like squash and pumpkin. Pumpkins are great for carving and pies, not to mention roasting the seeds for yet another yummy snack, but what about the medley of winter squash showing up this time of year? There’s always time to try new things, especially when it comes to trying new seasonal foods. There’s butternut, kombocha, acorn, delecata, spaghetti, and even calabaza squash. The list could continue, and there are more recipes than we could cook up if we spent the whole season in the kitchen, but here’s a simple recipe to get you into the autumn spirit.

Baked Acorn Squash

Ingredients

  • 1 Acorn squash
  • 1 Tbsp Butter
  • 2 Tbsp Brown Sugar
  • 2 teaspoons Maple Syrup
  • Dash of Salt

Instructions

1) Preheat your oven to 400°F (205°C).

2) Using a sharp, sturdy knife, carefully cut the acorn squash in half, from stem to tip. (A rubber mallet can help if you have one.) The squash can rock back and forth, so take care as you are cutting it.

Use a sturdy metal spoon to scrape out the seeds and stringy bits inside each squash half, until the inside is smooth.

Take a sharp paring knife and score the insides of the acorn squash halves in a cross-hatch pattern, about a half-inch deep cuts.

Place the squash halves cut side up in a roasting pan. Pour 1/4-inch of water over the bottom of the pan so that the squash doesn’t burn or get dried out in the oven.

3) Rub a half teaspoon of butter into the insides of each half. Sprinkle with a little salt if you are using unsalted butter. Crumble a tablespoon of brown sugar into the center of each half and drizzle with a teaspoon of maple syrup.

4) Bake for about an hour to one hour 15 minutes, until the tops of the squash halves are nicely browned, and the squash flesh is very soft and cooked through. It’s hard to overcook squash, because it just gets better as it caramelizes. But don’t under cook it.

When done, remove them from the oven and let them cool for a bit before serving. Spoon any buttery sugar sauce that has not already been absorbed by the squash over the exposed areas.

 

Well, that’s all for this installment. See you down the trail,

Pathfinder Ranch Naturalists