Sunday, July 26, 2009

Lists, Lists, Lists

At this point, I have a property. I have community backing. I'm 66% done with my budget, just waiting for some fencing quotes and miscellaneous pricing. The grant is in rough draft. I got some volunteers. The process has been arduous, yet mind-expanding in regards to having found new parts of Cleveland, to having met lots of new people and organizations, to learning computer mapping programs, and to becoming a better negotiator. The picture up top is of some of the paper work that I've used to get me to this point. The middle picture is of me artificially inseminating a cantaloupe. The bottom is of cleome (thanks Adam).

Thursday, July 23, 2009

"What's A Mucwer?"

In a former post, I had mentioned that I was excited to be making mucwers with my fresh zucchini the next day. Shortly there after, I received an email, asking "what's a mucwer? I googled it and only found it on your blog." And to that I say, "my bad."

Apparently, a mucwer is Justin Husher's colloquialized version of the ever popular mucver, pronounced "moo-vair." Mucver may not be ringing a bell, but at least you can google it. So yeah, mucwers, I mean mucvers. What's a mucver?

A mucver is a fried zucchini fritter with feta, egg, and a ton of fresh herbs: green onion, mint, dill, and parsley. Add some salt, and its a total flavor blowout. Mucvers are Turkish in origin and are often served with the Turkish version of tzatziki. In my humble opinion, I think mucvers are best thing you can do with a zucchini. Frankly, I don't understand why they're not popular yet, like at all. Grubbing, Tasty, Satisfying. I would love to see these crossover into our pop culture as a sandwich of the month at Almost Cleveland's Melt Bar and Grilled, or to be able to simply buy them at gyro/falafel places.

Let's start the mucver revolution. In the meantime, keep grating.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Why I Hate Squirrels

You may be looking at the beautiful photo of ultra-bearing pear tree and be thinking to yourself, "Pear Pies, Pear Butter, Pear Sauce, Pear Cider..." Hell, that's what I thought my first summer in this home. And then it started to happen. The squirrels initially eat a couple bites of the small pears (the sweet parts I imagine) and drop em to the ground. Then they take just a few more bites as the pears get larger and larger. This whole process continues until the squirrels are eating entire pears. In five years, I've eaten one pear!

In the meantime, I'm picking up these squirrel morsels with a latex glove on, as I don't know where these squirrels have been. When I go on vacation, the whole thing ferments and stinks like vinegar. Then there's the ever attractive houseflies that just love the leftovers. In a nutshell, it is for these reasons that I hate squirrels. Admittedly, I am still enamored by their variation in coloring, whether its the classic gray (not found around here), our localized species-the Cleveland Brown Orange Type, the black ones in the early blocks of Clifton Ave, or the albinos that escaped from the University of Dayton and now inhabit my parents backyard.

Also pictured is today's little haul. It's a tease of sort. If it would only get hot. All tomatoes are ripe except the green one (picked for frying). Kinda psychedelic.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

My Dad's Tomatoes

So last night I get home from work and check my email to learn that my dad has already grown 22 lbs of red ripe tomatoes this year. I've picked one single measly tomato with a three inch fruit. I'm not even sure if it's ripe. It's orange. It seems ripe. It's barely soft and hasn't gotten bigger in what seems like weeks. I'm slicing it up tonight. Now the take home from all of this is tomatoes ripen faster when you're three hours south, AND, if I'm going to plant wicked-cool colored heirlooms, then I better label them. Anyone know how to tell when a green tomato is ripe?

Speaking of harvests, over the weekend I plucked 3.25 lbs of tomatilloes, which were turned into salsa right away along with their brother-in-flavor, the jalapeno. The next batch of tomatilloes will definitely have to be canned because I'm already on salsa overload.

The pictures are of my dad's glorious haul of luscious reds, my measly single tomato, and a very recent photo of the moss garden so far.

Friday, July 17, 2009

General Update

The last week has had me driving circles and circles and figure-eights around the west side of Cleveland. I found several perfect lots that between ornery old ladies and fellow would-be grantees have become very imperfect lots. Alas however, hard work and a tank of gas appears to have paid off. I found a lot in a very public place in the Puritas-Longmead section of Cleveland. It's 0.16 acres with another 0.22 acres right next door. The neighbor seems into it. Yay!

On the garden front, I picked my first cuke of the year and two pounds of sweet peppers. Cantaloupes are forming. The mid-season beets haven't sprouted yet. The tomatilloes are crazy. And this damn cool weather has kept my tomatoes from ripening.

Just curious, has anyone ever taken or even seen an amazing picture of a stuffed pepper? They just aren't very photogenic (see non-photogenic photo). You may have guessed. I stuffed peppers with marinara sauce with this season's first banana peppers. I complimented this Italian stand-by with another Italian classic from the Garden of Hush. Pesto. And what a meal it made. Tomorrow night, I think I'm making mucwers (pronounced moo-ver)with the zucchini.

I tell you what. I can't wait 'til this grant is all turned-in. I want to get back to fingernail dirtying dirty work of my garden. I got raised beds to build, a second round of moss establishing, earthworm harboring, etc, to do. The next sunny day I'll get a good photo of the moss established so far. I'm pretty impressed.

Speaking of impressed, I'm judging this year's garden by the results of my cantaloupe, tomatilloes, and potatoes. So I'm about 33% impressed so far.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Tomatillos and General Update

In the garden, it's like the quiet before the storm. The moderate temperatures that are keeping my electric bill down are also keeping my tomatoes green. There's not too much happening on the garden front, 'cept some tomatilloes, a pickle, and another (the last)kohlrabi were picked. I started some late season beets and used those little expandable peat pods for the first time.

The tomatilloes got processed into roasted salsa verde with only six ingredients. The recipes found on the web are essentially all the same. Read one or two and just go with it. One of the things that I've noticed with growing tomatilloes is that bees love 'em. There were three on one plant yesterday. I will be trying to save seed from these this year.

The lack of gardening gave me ample opportunity to scour west Cleveland, seeking my future lot. I looked at about 50 different properties. And finally,I think I found the perfect parcel. I've tried to make contact with the neighbor, but with no luck so far.

Tomorrow, I think I'll have my first harvest of peppers: gypsies and bananas. Tomorrow night, I think I'm making some kind of cauliflower mash/puree. I'm definitely will be trying to get a hold of the neighbor.

Friday, July 10, 2009

O))) Sunn Amped about Two Properties: The Hunt Continues

Armed with five pages of google-mapped directions, I went cruising around the close-in west side of Cleveland, hoping to find the perfect vacant lot with cool neighbors. Even after exceptional filtering of potential properties in Ohio Green Print, the pickings were still slim.

In one instance, I found a community garden put together by the Summer Sprout Program (I can go passive tense on my own blog, dude). In several other instances, neighbors usurped the available lot next door with kids playing and picnics tables and the like. Some lots were parking lots. Others parked construction equipment. Through the five pages, I actually found two awesome properties. Even spoke with a couple of not-quite neighbors (Hi Linda, Dorothy and Marsha!), who seemed totally cool with the concept of a market garden almost next door.

Tomorrow, I intend to google-map another five pages and scope out more properties. But tomorrow's goal-goal is neighborly contact. I also have some general garden updates tomorrow. Can you say green fuzz?!

The "O))) Sunn Amped" is a personal metaphor. Rock on.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

E4S: Akron Startups

Last night, I made the trek to our southern Northeastern Ohio major city, Akron, to see a showcase of sustainable start-up companies from the extended Akron area. The organization, Entrepreneurs for Sustainability (E4S), put together the event with free flowing Great Lakes Beer and some slather products from Vegitteranean (can't spell check that one).

Nine separate companies presented their business in five minute flashes regarding what they do, what goals that want to achieve, and what is needed to achieve those goals. Probably the coolest company in terms of writing is Myers Motors who has built an electric car with a sales price of $30K, speed of 76 MPH, and a 50 mile daily range. Myers' goal is to get it below $20K. Unfortunately, I stepped out of the room right before Myers was presenting so all the details are a little fuzzy. But just check out that vehicle. America just may have something to battle the popular Euro designs like the Mini and the newish Beetle.

Stephen Spoonamore was amazing presenter for his corporation, Absorbent Materials Company. Basically, what they do is change the state of glass from a liquid to a formal solid, and then somehow this solid glass "eats" volatile organic compounds. I would have like more information as to how the glass is eating these VOCs, but that wasn't the purpose of this event. Their customers are large players like the US Army.

Several companies, including Legacy Polymers, REDUSA Enterprises, and Polyflow, are doing the waste recycling/re-using thing. Polyflow is actually taking plastics (like cheap carpet and tires) and transforming this waste into synthetic car oil. Mars Systems has a patented system to remove arsenic and lead from water and needs streams to demonstrate their technology to the public. I'm not sure what BioDynamicz do or does as their presentation was a prepared, read statement that had more touchy-feely things about the founders of Akron rather than substance. Something about greenhouses? 4 Seasons?

The event was awesome overall, as I had no idea that so much was going on down there in the southern part of Northeastern Ohio. I may be missing something, but Akron may have its leg up on us here in Cleveland (somebody, I invite you to correct me on this). What I would have liked out of E4S from this event is formal tables/booths for the companies to display materials/cards/etc.

In other exciting news, the other day I had a super informative meeting with Bobbi Reichtell of Neighborhood Progress. She taught me the ins and outs of the Ohio Green Print website and our Cuyahoga County auditor's site. Tomorrow, I'm armed with a list of about 30 potential properties in the far west side of Cleveland that MAY BE grant eligible. I'm also thinking about making salsa verde with my tomatilloes.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Some Picked Cauliflower and Curry

Yesterday, I celebrated my first ever cauliflower harvest. I should have several more on the way, but cauliflower appears to be finicky, and I can't gauge which plants will actually form heads. Being that I started my whole crop at the same time, I would imagine heads would also form at the same time. This does not appear to be the case as several plants seem to be in the leaf-only stage still. Perhaps, this is because of shading, or genetic diversity in the heirloom cauliflower plants, or something entirely different? I don't know. But the results have been delicious.

That cauliflower got cooked up into a vegan curry with potato and cumin seeds last night. This meal is pretty much a staple around the house these days and was the inspiration to grow both cauliflower and potatoes this year (too bad them taters aint ready yet). My mom gave me the recipe and now I'm giving it to you.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Got Roots!

Yesterday, I was telling you about cloning the world's sweetest seedless tomato plant to avoid paying Burpee over and over again. As of yesterday's entry, that was all theory. As of today, it's a fact. Sucker growth from tomatoes root ridiculously easy. I didn't even use any kind of root hormone. I mean just check out those two sexy white protuberances. It took about eight days. So far, two have dampened off and died; however, I attribute that to the three days of constant rain while being in a saucer full of water. I'm going to check in the morning for more roots.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Tomato Pruning + Experiment

Last Tuesday the 23rd, it came to my attention that I had some seriously overgrown container tomato plants. Now these weren't your regular tomato plants. Oh no, these were Burpee's top-of-the-line, hybrid, seedless, sugar-sweet tomato plants. They cost $5 for a 10 pack of seeds and come with a disclaimer saying that it is illegal to sell plants of this variety. I know what you're thinking. A hybrid? Seedless? Yes, yes, it's true. And to that I say, how can you deny the claim of the sweetest tomato ever? And no I don't like agri-business mono-culturing species in developing countries. But I have seven heirlooms in my garden. Plus, my dad gave me the seeds, a father/son thing. So give me a break.

A couple months ago, I was reading on Mother Earth News about tomato pruning. I had always known to remove the sucker growth. What I didn't know is that the sucker growth is a great source for tomato clones/cuttings. At that time, I felt it almost absurd to take cuttings of a plant so affordable. Then, the next week my dad gave me these seeds with the price tag still on them. $4.95, and enclosed were only 10 seeds. Huh? All of a sudden seeds were expensive. I couldn't over/under water the sprouts, let em die, and then do over next week with more or less water. Working with these seeds was for all the marbles, no wiggle room. Luckily, I was able to get six out of six to germinate. In the meantime, I thought back to that article in Mother Earth News. Eventually, coming to the conclusion that I should try to take cuttings of this super tomato.

The photos are of the before and after tomato pruning of the whole plants, close-ups of the plants with and without sucker growth, the cuttings immediately after being pinched and placed in the growing medium, and the cuttings a day after being pruned.

I took 12 separate cuttings and simply placed them in porous growing dirt. I tried both plastic containers and peet pots. Now this whole thing is somewhat of an experiment; however, I also added mycorrhizal fungi half the cuttings just because I had some mycorrhizal fungi on hand and because I wanted to see what would happen. Tomorrow, I'll be checking on the development of the tomato cuttings and reporting promptly.