Capers

by Farmer Leo


The scientific name of capers is Capparis spinosa.

Capers are native to the Mediterranean.

What is commonly called a caper in food is the flower bud of the caper plant.

Capers are processed by drying in the sun and then pickling.


How to cook

Ingredients

5 cloves

1 tsp olive oil

6 oz goat cheese

¼ cup sun dried tomatoes

3 teaspoons capers drained

bread

Remove goat cheese from the refrigerator and let warm to room temperature. If you have a toaster oven heat it to 350 F if not use a normal oven. Pu the unpeeled garlic on a pan and put it in until roast for 15 minutes or until soft then remove and squeeze out of skins. Add olive oil and garlic to the goat cheese. Cut bread into 1/3 inch slices, spread the goat cheese on the bread. Place the sun dried tomatoes and capers on the slices of bread.

Malabar spinach
by Farmer Leo

The scientific name of malabar spinach is Basella alba.
Malabar spinach is also called vine spinach, red vine spinach, climbing spinach, creeping spinach, buffalo spinach, and ceylon spinach.
Malabar spinach has soft stemmed fast growing vines that reach 30 feet in length.
The soft heart shaped leaves have a mild flavor and are kind and are kind of slime when eaten.
In the Philippians malabar spinach is the main ingredient in a dish called utan, it is onions, garlic, sardines, parsley, and Malabar spinach cooked together and served over rice.

How to grow
Start the seeds inside six weeks before the last frost. You will probable have to buy the seeds online. After the danger of frost is gone plant out in a spot with fertile soil and full sun, you want the soil to stay moist.

Butter nut
by Farmer Leo

The scientific name of butter nut is Juglans cinerea.
The butter tree nut grows to 60 feet tall, but it can occasionally grow to 130 feet tall.
The stem of the butter nut tree is normally 16 to 30 inches across.
The butter nut tree rarely lives to more than 75 years of age.
The leaves of the butter nut tree are 2-4 inches long.
The butter nut tree has separate male and female flowers.
The butter nut tree flowers from April to June.

How to grow
Butter nuts are very susceptible to butter nut canker, so if you live within the natural area of the butter nut tree you probable should not grow it because of the canker.
If you can not find the butter nut tree at your local nursery you might have to order it on line. Once you have a young potted butter nut tree that should do well in your area you should pick a site. The preferable site has full sun and fertile well drained soil. Dig a hole the depth of the root ball and about twice as wide. Mix the soil from the hole with well rotted organic matter. Back fill the hole until it is the size of the root ball. Gentle lift the root ball out of the pot and set it in the hole. Pack loose dirt in any gaps, water it in well. Make sure it gets about an inch of water a week. If the leaves look pale or small get a soil test and if necessary fertilize based on the results.

How to cook
recipe:maple cake
ingredients

½ cup butter

½ cup sugar

½ cup maple syrup

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 eggs well beaten

1 ¾ cups flour

2 ½ teaspoons baking powder

¼ cup milk

½ cup chopped butter nuts

Butter a 9 inch cake pan, and preheat the oven to 375. Warm the butter to room temperature, mix the butter well adding the sugar until well combined. Add the maple syrup gradually mixing throughly the whole time. Add the vanilla and eggs, mix throughly to combine. Add the flour, salt, and baking power, then mix but only until the flour is blended. Stir in the nuts and pour in the pan. Bake in the 375F oven for 25 minutes.

While the cake is baking make the frosting.

Ingredients

½ cup maple syrup

2 cups confectioner’s sugar

1 table spoon butter

Boil syrup for one minute, remove from heat and stir in the butter and sugar. Once cool and the cake is cool frost the cake.

Hickory
by Farmer Leo

The scientific name of hickory is carya.
Hickory grows from 60 to 80 feet tall.
Hickory trees are normally 40 feet across the branches.

How to grow
Choose a spot with full sum and well drained soil.  Get a potted one that will do well in your area from your local nursery.  Dig a hole as deep as the root ball and twice as wide. Mix the soil you removed with organic matter and partially rotted manure, backfill until the hole is the shape of the root ball. Gentle lift the root ball out of the pot and set it in the hole. Pack loose dirt in any gaps, water well right after planting. keep the soil moist the first year. Do not plant next to road ways and drive ways.

Maple

By Farmer Leo




General facts

There 128 species of maple.

Most species of maple grow to between 30 and 150 ft tall, some are shrubs that are less than 30 feet tall with multiple small trunks that stem from a central point at ground level.

There are a few maples from southern Asia and the Mediterranean region that are evergreen, but most maples are deciduous.

The iconic maple leaves can have mostly 3 to 9 lobes but some times 13. Maple leaves can also have separate small leaves that resemble the lobed leaves if the lobes were separated.

Maple flowers can be red, orange, yellow, or green, the maple flowers are a good early spring source of pollen and nectar for bees.

The strange fruit of the maple tree are often called polynoses, whirlybirds, helicopters, and maple keys. These seed distinctively occur in pairs each fruit has one seed enclosed in a small hard shell that is attached to the fibrous wing that gives it the semi-flight.

Maple wood is a beautiful wood, especially when it has the decorative special wood grain known as flame wood, quilt maple, birdseye maple, and burl wood. This strange grain happens randomly to a few maple species, it is relatively rare to be able to tell when the wood has the strange grain before the tree is cut.




How to grow red maple

Pick a spot in your yard that has full sun, moist soil, soil that is acidic or neutral, low soil salt levels, has at least 30 feet of clear space in every direction, and is not very close to a road because street salt used on snow. If you are in an area with problems from verticillium wilt, cancers, tar spot, anthracnose, or leaf spot you should perhaps not grow red maple. Because of the soft bark of maple trees you have to be careful not to damage the bark with lawn mowers and weed eaters. Plant maple trees 30 to 50 feet apart. Get maple trees sapling from a local nursery is possible. When planting dig a large hole twice as wide as it is deep, mix well rotted organic matter with the soil you dug out and re-fill the hole leaving a space the size of the root ball of the maple tree. Gently lift the tree out of the pot and set the root ball in the hole, then pack extra soil in any spaces around the root ball, water in well and if any new spaces form pack soil in them. Keep the soil moist if the summer is hot and dry you may have to water the mature tree, long and slow is best.




How to cook

Recipe: Maple syrup

First you need to tap the trees. The first thing you need to do before tapping the trees is to make sure that the sap is flowing, the sap will start flowing when the night time temperatures are below freezing and the day time temperatures are above freezing, when this ends the tapping season ends. Next you need to pick which trees to tap, you should only tap trees that are 10 or more inches in diameter and preferably only sugar maple and red maple. Now it is time to get the taps, most taps are the same and you are most likely to find them online. Next is the collection containers, buckets work well but they need to be covered and they can not be on the ground were the could be knocked over, so something like a bucket that you can tie or hang from the tree while the sap drips in to it but whatever you collect in needs to be clean. Peel any dry dead bark off the area you are tapping and wipe down with rubbing alcohol. Take a drill with a bit that has been sterilized and on the side of the tree that gets the most sun drill a hole under a large branch or somewhere else that would use a lot of nutrients. The hole should be around 4 feet from the ground and half an inch longer than your tap but the same diameter as your tap and the hole should be drilled at a slight downward angle so the sap runs into your tap, clear any debris out of the hole and then insert the tap. Tap four trees per gallon of maple syrup you want to get. Check your collection containers every day and freeze sap until the collection season is over.

Now it is time to make the sap into syrup. First filter the sap, pour it through a folded cheese cloth. If you have only a little bit you can boil it inside but more than a few gallons would damage your house so you should boil it outside. To build an out side boiler if you do not have something that will work, you start by digging a shallow hole and lining the walls with cinder blocks, then put a big fire grate on the cinder blocks to put pots on. If you have a big short cooking tray (preferably 18” by 2’ by 6” or bigger), other wise use as many 5 gallon pots as you can fit on your syrup boiler. Build a fire under the grate so the tips of the flame hit the bottom of the pots. A day or two before starting the fire you should take the sap out of the freezer to defrost. Once the fire is just starting fill the pots ¾ full of liquid sap to boil, you can leave any frozen sap in clean buckets near the fire to thaw as long as the buckets do not melt or burn. As the level of sap in the pots goes down add more, continue to do so until you are out of sap. You will have to watch the fire and the sap the whole time and it will take hours. When the sap is boiled down to the point when each pot is less than ¾ full you may want to put out the fire and bring the sap inside to finish the process. When you have it a more control ed climate use a candy thermometer to check the temperature, when the temperature gets to 219 degrees Fahrenheit remove from heat. During the cooking process debris will have gotten in the syrup and the boiling will have made niter so you need to strain it through the cheese cloth again, strain while it is hot or the syrup will try to stick the the cheese cloth.

Now however you want to store it do so and very importantly, enjoy!



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Mycorrhiza
by Farmer Leo

Mycorrhiza is a bond between a plant and a fungus. The fungus gives the plant minerals from the soil such as nitrogen and potassium. In return the plant gives the  the fungus glucose that the plant made though photosynthesis. This is good for both parties involved, because fungus is bad at making glucose on it’s own.                                                                                                      The plant needs less root to gather nutrients. So, the plants grow bigger and do better.                                                                        If the soil is to high in phosphor than the needed fungus might not be present because phosphors is bad for fungi.               Bone meal is high in phosphor so you might want to steer clear of it.                                                                                              Inoculation might be a good idea. When you inoculate you take dormant fungus spores and add them to seeds so that the plant and fungus grow together. But they can be expensive and the have a limited shelf life.

Flax
by Farmer Leo

The scientific name of flax is Linum usitatissimum.

Flax is manly use for oil and linen.

When processing flax for linen there are 2 main steps to take.

First is to ret, retting is when the stalks are gentle rotted to straw from the fibber. There are 3 main way to ret. The first is pond retting, to pond ret the stalks are left in a shallow pond to lightly for a couple of weeks, if the stalks are left in for too long then the fibers will start to rot. Next there is stream retting, to stream ret the stalks are submerged and left to slowly decompose at a controlled rate. Last is field retting, when field retting the stalks are left in the field to gather dew and gently soften for 2 weeks to 2 months.

After retting the flax is dried. It needs to be dressed, to dress flax fibers the stalks are first cracked by being hit traditionally with a board rapidly to break apart the stalk from the fibers. Next the fibers are scrapped from the underneath with a stick or paddle like tool. Then the fibers are heckled by being pulled through a bunch of small spikes to remove the last of the dry stalk from the fibers.

How to grow

Gentle put row into well drained relatively fertile soil. When the ground is first workable in the spring plan the flax seeds. Flax seeds should be planted a table spoon to 10 square feet. After gentle sowing the flax gentle run a rake through the row to cover the seeds with ½ inch of soil. With the mist setting spray the soil until moist, until the seedlings are 3 inches tall keep the soil moist, then slow the watering to once a week and then stop unless there is really hot weather. When the stalks are turning brown then pull up the whole plants and lat them dry until the seed pod are dry then colect the seeds from the heads.

How to cook
Recipe:gluten free flax muffins
ingredients

1 cup flax meal

1 cup almond flour

1 table spoon baking powder

1 ½ teaspoons ground nutmeg

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

4 ounces melted butter

4 large eggs lightly beaten

½ cup sugar

½ cup water

Pre-heat the oven to 350°F. Put 12 paper liners in a muffin tin. Mix flax meal, almond flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and nutmeg together in a large bowl, then add melted butter, sugar, and eggs to mixture and combine well. Fill each cell of the muffin tin 2/3 with batter, then bake them for 20 minutes.

Cover crops
by Farmer Leo

What is a cover crop?
A cover crop is something you plant and grow over the winter or on land you are not actively farming but plan to soon.

What does a cover crop do?
A cover crop keeps soil from blowing away and eroding well you are not actively using land. A cover crop also can be used to add nutrients to the soil.



Types of cover crops for different needs
Clover is very good at holding the soil together but it is also a nitrogen fixer so it actually adds nitrogen to the soil.

Buck wheat is not as good at holding the soil together but it does a good job of making large stalks that add organic matter to the soil improving it for whatever you grow in the soil after that but you have to mix the dead stalks into the soil to get the organic matter. Buck wheat also makes wonderful seeds that when ground into a flour make delicious pan cakes.

Millet hold the soil together pretty well but does not make as much organic matter as buck wheat, But it does also make seeds though a little bit bitter the millet seed are very nutritious and filling. Millet is the most drought and cold hardy of the bunch and males the best winter cover crop.

Field peas are not very good at holding the soil together but they fix nitrogen to the soil just like the clover. Field peas make large starchy seeds that can be used to make a porridge, the seeds can be dried to keep all winter.

Turnips are even more cold hardy than the millet and the make large edible roots that make fabulous cow fodder.

There are obviously many more kinds of cover crop but these are the ones I am familiar with.


How to use

Generally cover crops are used to keep weeds down on fallow ground or hold the soil together during the winter. Planting in the early spring for weed suppression and animal fodder gives you the option to let animals eat it, cut it off when it is green in hopes that it will not re-seed and will rot into the soil, or wait until it is mature and harvest seed or roots and let the rest rot into the soil. Planting in fall to hold the soil together gives you the option to let animals eat it over the winter, and let it grow over the winter until spring and harvest for seeds or roots and let rot in to the soil.

Mango
by Farmer Leo

Mango trees grow from 115 to 131 feet tall.
There are some mango trees that are older than 300 years that still produce.

How to grow
Warning mangoes should not be grown were temperatures will get below 40F.  Choose a spot with well drained soil full sun and a frost barrier. From your local nursery buy a potted mango. In the spot you picked dig a hole twice as wide and deep as the root ball mix some of the dirt from the hole with well rotted organic matter and back fill until the hole is the right size. Gentle set the root ball in the hole after removing it from the pot. Make sure to water well until it is established.



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Tomatillo
by Farmer Leo

The scientific name of tomatillo is Physalis philadelphica.
In the Patagonian region of Argentina a fossilized tomatillo was found and dated back to 52 million years ago.
Tomatillo is also called Husk tomato, Mexican husk tomato, Mexican green tomato, Mexican ground cherry, large flowered tomatillo, and miltomate.




How to grow
Plant in an area with full sun and fertile well drained soil. Plant when from seedling when weather is consistently warmer than 50F. Plant at least 2 plant 3 feet apart and do not let the soil stay dry long. Harvest when husk are full and paper dry.

How to cook
Recipe:green tomatillo chicken posole
ingredients
4 cups shredded cooked chicken
1 onion
2 jalapenos
4 cloves garlic
4 cups chiken broth
1 ½ pound tomatilloes
1 bunch cilantro

Peel and chop the onion, put the onion, chicken, and 2 teaspoons oil in a pot ad cook over medium heat. Remove the steams from the peppers and chop them, peel and chop the garlic. Add the garlic and peppers to the onion. Peel and rinse the tomatilloes, then roughly chop them and add to the pot. Stir the pot frequently until tomatilloes are soft about 3 minutes. Add chicken broth and 2 cups water, bring to a boil. As it comes to a boil chop the cilantro and add it to the soup. Let cool and serve.

Pimento
by Farmer Leo

The scientific name of the pimento pepper is Capsicum annuum


The pimento pepper is the mildest of all chili peppers.

Pimento peppers are a popular stuffing for green olives, originally the pimentos were hand cut and inserted but this took a lot of time and effort make them very expensive, so when the industrial revelation came along it became common to use a hydraulic pump to shoot the pimentos into the end of the olive putting the pimento in the olive and removing the pit.



How to grow
6 to 8 weeks before warm summer conditions plant 2 pimento seeds in opposite edges of a planter pot 8 inches wide, put the planters in a warm sunny location and keep the soil moist. When the weather out side stays above 60F place the planter in a warm sunny location out side and water regularly. When the peppers turn shinny red they are ready to harvest. When it is suppose to get down to 60F bring the pots in side.

How to cook

Recipe:pimento cheese dip

Ingredients

16oz shredded sharp cheddar cheese

8oz softened cream cheese

½ cup mayonnaise

4oz pimento chopped

½ teaspoon garlic powder

½ teaspoon onion flakes

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon black pepper

Use an electric mixer to blend them together and then it is ready.

Sunflower
by Farmer Leo

The scientific name of sun flower is Helianthus.
Sunflowers can grow up to 120 inches tall.

How to grow
Pick a spot that has full sun and fertile well drained soil, and does not have grass you want to keep. Plant at different spacing based on size of verity. Water when soil is dry.

How to cook
Ingredients
4 cups coarsely chopped fresh basil
1 cup raw shelled sunflower seeds
½ cup olive oil
1 cup Parmesan cheese
2 cloves crushed garlic
Put the basil, sunflower seeds, oil, cheese, and garlic in a blender on puree until fine.

Fennel
by Farmer Leo

The scientific name of fennel is Foeniculum vulgare.
Fennel grows to 8 feet tall.

How to grow
Choose a spot with full sun and fertile well drained soil. Around your last frost date in the spring directed sow the fennel seeds 10 to 12 inches apart.

How to cook
recipe:caramelized fennel
ingredients:
2 fennel bulbs
¼ cups olive oil
black pepper
salt
½ teaspoon lemon juice
Cut the top and bottom off the fennel bulbs as well as any tough or bruised spots.  Slice the bulbs to 1/8       inch thick. Fry with out crowding to brown them, cook until tender and serve.

Asparagus
by Farmer Leo

The scientific name asparagus is Asparagus officinalis.


Asparagus was at one time classified in the lily family(Liliaceae) with Onions and garlic, but genetic research put lilies, alliums, and asparagus all in different families.


Asparagus grows 40 to 60 inches tall, with feathery needle-like foliage that is actually modified stems.


Some roman philosophers would freeze the shoots high in the alps for the feast of epicurus.


In Germany there are annual asparagus festivals, among the many things they do there is an asparagus peeling championship, the current record holder is a German chef named Helmut Zipner, who peeled 2200 pounds of asparagus in 16 hours.

How to grow
Choose a spot with rich well drained soil and full sun. go to your local nursery and get healthy one year old crowns to plant. dig 12 inch wide 6 inch deep trenches, soak the crowns in manure tea for 20 minutes before planting. Plant 2 feet apart, cover with 3 inches of soil and water regularly. Every two weeks or so add an inch of soil until the soil is about an inch higher than the the surface.

How to cook
Recipe: roasted asparagus
Ingredients


1 pound asparagus


2 table spoons olive oil
Pre-heat the oven to 450. Rinse the asparagus and pat dry with a clean towel. Toss the asparagus with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt. Roast the asparagus in the oven for 8 to 10 minutes, the tips should be lightly browned. Then serve.

Chickpeas
by Farmer Leo

The scientific name of chick peas is Cicer arietinum.
The different kind of chick pea are known as gram or Bengal gram, garbanzo or garbanzo bean, Egyptian pea, chana, and chole.

How to grow
Chickpeas require a long cool season so start the seeds inside 4 weeks before the last frost. Start the seeds in loose fluffy soil like peat or potting soil. Plant 1-2 inches deep and 2 seeds per pot. When the sprout thin to one seedling per pot. Keep the soil in the pots moist. When the frosts are past plant the seedlings 5 to 6 inches apart. Until the plants are 8 inches tall pull weeds by hand, when they are 8 inches tall mulch to prevent weeds from growing. Do not plant were the soil is hi in nitrogen because the growth of foliage would be excessive and the yield would be reduced. Water regularly directly on the soil. There will be only one or two chickpeas per pod. Near the end of the season when the plant has stopped flowering slow watering and then stop to get the pods to dry, if there is going to be wet weather pick all the pods bring them inside and spread them out to dry.

Daikon radish

by Farmer Leo

The scientific name of daikon radish is R. sativus subsp. Longipinnatusnd and they are of the cultivar of white radishes.

Daikon radish is also know as white radish, winter radish, oriental radish and white long radish.

How to grow

Pick a spot with full sun and moist fertile soil. Plant as soon as the soil is workable, plant ¾ of an inch deep 6 inches apart in row 3 feet apart. Plant ever 10 to 14 days for a continued harvest. They mature in 60 to 70 days.

How to cook

Daikon radish can be grated to make a coleslaw, it can also be steamed to go in a salad.

Papaya
by Farmer Leo

The scientific name of papaya is Carica papaya.
Papayas grow from 16 to 33 feet tall.
In some parts of Asia the you leafs are steamed and eaten like spinach.

How to grow
Warning you need a frost free climate.  Start seedlings from a store bought papaya by cutting it open and planting multiple seeds in several pots. Keep seeds and seedlings in a warm spot with full sun by a window until the seedlings are about a foot tall.  Plant seedlings in a spot with full sun, and very fertile well drained soil.  Do not let there be standing water.