On the sporadic nature of recent blog posts:

Who doesn’t get discouraged, or busy, or both? There’s solace in the fact that dormancy – the gathering in of energies and their conservation for an opportune moment – always breaks.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Some Rules for Foraging During Wild Grape and Crabapple Season

1.  There they are on the side of the road you drive on everyday.  You've seen them for at least a month.  Stop and pick them up.

2.  Consider how very much like blood grape juice is as you press it and it runs thick and black down your forearms.  You press and you wring and the skinned boundaries break:  this sacrifice, this one being, this streaming extravagance.

3.  There is always more than enough.

4.  Crabapples ping hard like stones into the bucket; roll soft like ruptured golden eyeballs in the boiling water; strain viscous and pink like the unseen imagined smooth walls of your gut, pouring into the bowl of your hips, curdling into intestines and setting into kidneys, liver, heart.

5.  As the liquid boils into jelly and vapor coats the kitchen windows, lament the loss of the hearth as an architectural cornerstone.  Had you had it, this pot could sit over embers or hang over licking tongues, and the whole house huddled close could cook stories told, songs sung, lessons taught, mysteries mulled into one solid translucent belly, hipped by flagstones, ribbed by stone walls, capped by a throat of brick singing smoky songs into the chill and darkening rare twilight air of autumn.

6.  Notice how unnoticed you are, you and your friends on the side of the busy throughway with your five gallon buckets collecting crabapples and wild grapes.  How much do you weigh in the bucket of the world's attention?  Go on inconspicuous, picking at the edges of the unseen, gorging satisfied and joyous in the slips and oversights of a busy world.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Rules for Foraging During Wild Apple Season

1.  Perhaps property id best conceived as a unit of use instead of a unit in space and time.

2.  Lost in a hedgerow on the side of a country road, apples tumble into your eyes and how could you refuse them?

3.  Your eyes are like five gallon buckets.  Fill them up.

4.  Worm holes are an invitation to sit down at the same table to the same meal.  Be a gracious guest and accept the pulled-out chair.

5.  There is always more than enough.

6.  A week later when you drive along the same road and see a woman busily collecting from the same tree, remember there is always more than enough. 

7.  And then look away, and see on the other side of the road the thirty pounds of bright orange and yellow shelves of Chicken-of-the-Woods mushroom pouring out of a splintered hunk of a tree stump.  It pours into your eyes.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Rules for foraging during Wheat and Garlic Season

 #1 everything is wild. when you acknowledge that all things have their own life, completely interdependent but also completely independent of your own, then even food planted by your own hand is wild
#2 harvesting is foraging, foraging is harvesting. seeing the wheat seeing you back is foraging. seeing all food as your food wherever it may be is harvesting.
#3 there is always more than enough. consider the gleaners, on two legs, on four legs, on six, on none.
#4 find joy in interdependence. how the wheat wrapped around wheat makes a shock, how heads of garlic are supported up off the ground by the green stems of others to cure in the summer sun.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Some Summer Foraging Rules

 Rules for foraging during Serviceberry season:
#1: eat while you are picking: become friendly with your quarry
#2: don't be too thorough: share with the birds and with those who will come after you
#3: don't worry about the ones that fall on the ground: share a meal with the mice, voles, and other groundwellers who wouldn't otherwise reach these berries high in the air
#4: share with friends: there is always more than enough
#5: share with strangers: smile at passersby and offer them a taste of something new
Rules for foraging during Lindenflower season:
#1: breathe deeply, sitting under a linden tree in bloom and being enveloped in its fragrance was once thought to put a halt to epileptic seizures
#2: consider scent, the lotus sutra describes other universes (populated by other beings just like you) made entirely of fragrance
#3: don't be too thorough, there is always more than enough
#4: notice ...the surprising number of insects that are the exact shade of creamy chartreuse as the flowers
#5: fill your bag with the little spangled dry flower clusters each only faintly fragrant and then tie it shut
#6 fifteen minutes later open the bag and feel the moist air inside, from where?
#7 peer into the bag and breathe deeply, the fragrance -- citrus, jasmine, rot -- overwhelms, pacifies, lulls

Monday, June 25, 2012

This Instant Harvest

Five minutes of harvesting from the yard.  What's in it?

Top (l to r):  red onion, basil, bee balm flowers, daylily bud, sage
Middle (l to r):  salad burnet, bronze fennel leaf, calendula petals, wood sorrel, spinach, borage flower, kale
Bottom (l to r):  royal oakleaf lettuce, 'Bright Lights' swiss chard

Earlier today I also harvested fava beans.  Here they are whole and shelled.  After peeling away the thick seed skins I also added these beautiful emerald fresh beans into the salad.

More and more I find myself understanding that my aim in gardening is not to grow plants but to grow systems.  With minimal effort, this salad appears -- a colorful play of greens wild and domesticated, flowers and herbs that return year after year, a brocade of the stitches that gather this particular space into a place.

For me this is what the EarthStoreHouse is, this mutual arising that feeds me, that is me.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

The Great Tangle

The garden looks messy, overcrowded, chaotic.  Weeds are running rampant.  What is planted is growing too thickly.  The gardener has clearly run away.  Time is in a tumult with spring, summer, and fall all entangled one with another.

  And isn't this just like nature.  In this bed are kales and cabbages that overwintered from last fall, grown now into teetering top-heavy treasuries of seed almost ready to spill.  Even now there are still delicious greens to be harvested from these plants long past the calendar's judgment of usefulness.  (And there are still bright yellow flowers to pluck for garlanding salads!) 

  Quietly tucked into the ground underneath and alternating with these behemoths are tomato seedlings.  As their roots settle in and reach out to knit into the soil, the leaves are lightly shaded by the sifting dapple of the kale seedpods blowing about overhead.  In a week I'll be harvesting all that seed and then chopping those kale trunks down to the ground (leaving roots to compost in place and feed the tomatoes), exposing my now-settled seedlings to the light they'll need to rocket up in turn.

  In front of the kale are fava beans all in a row, maybe the only hint of human hand here.  Now eighteen inches high, in early April they were curled up in hard, giant seeds in a paper packet, and in their place was a luxuriant bed of red nettles, downy soft green topped with a magenta crown.  Hardly an unpaying tenant to be evicted to gentrify the neighborhood, these greens deserved respect.  Everything is at home where it is.  Before planting my beans I did not "weed" the nettles, but rather "foraged" these wild edibles.  Or did I "harvest" them just as I would any planned crop?  In this crazy tangle of a bed, even terms lose their boundaries.  They were carefully cut back to keep the greens clean, and these were blanched and frozen for winter, when they will be mixed every once in a while with other greens or into soups.

My haul of nettles back in April.

  And at the front of the bed is spinach sown thickly.  Little by little, the patch is thinned for eating, and little by little these little ones remaining grow bigger and bigger.  Here there is some weeding to do, but if the weather's right (hot, sunny, and dry), the weeds can be laid out as a mulch right in place.  Make sure roots and leaves are all aligned in each handful, then lay the first bunch down.  Carefully lay the next one so its roots are on top of the first bunch's leaves, and continue.  The roots of each bunch will be temporarily prevented access to the ground's moisture by the preceding bunch's leaves and on a hot, sunny day will be crispy before sunset.

  But mostly I just eat the weeds.  First there were the red nettles, then chickweed, and now lamb's quarters is rocketing up.  These days when it's time to make dinner, I just walk out with a big steel bowl and pluck either tender top twelve inches of the larger plants or the whole smaller plants.  As I go I tug out the roots and let them die out in place to give more breathing space for the spinach, fava, and tomatoes.  In five minutes or less I easily have enough for a meal.  At a certain point they will likely get out of control.  Then I'll do a massive weed-forage-harvest and blanch them to store for the winter.  Frozen lamb's quarters cooked up is even better than frozen spinach.  It has a silky texture and a richer flavor that makes great saag paneer or other Indian curry dishes.

Another bed with lamb's quarters stitched through a dense brocade of onions, fava, kale, lettuce, burdock, and more.

  But then what?  Just as the lamb's quarters is hitting its stride, purslane seedlings are sprouting.  They will be a juicy crunchy summertime green and when there's too much, they can be pickled.  They in their turn will tangle through this food web.

Carrot seedlings rising up to meet falling bok choy seeds

  And just like the purslane sprouting at the feet of the lamb's quarters and the tomato seedling settling in under the tutelage of the kale, I'm thinking about what to plant among the spinaches and the favas.  Maybe in a few weeks I will direct-sow some basil seeds for a second summer crop, or perhaps spot in a few late plantings of peppers or eggplants.  Later in the summer as the tomatoes are really appearing in August or even as late as early September, maybe I'll try sowing turnips so that as summer crumbles under cooling weather, fall will already be rising up to meet in one great tangle.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

A Bonanza of Greens

Summer in March seems to have finally ended and left us back in a breezy Ohio Spring again...

...but not before those warm days spurred an amazing bonanza of greens in the garden!

 Share in the bounty!
Stop by
 EarthStoreHouse Project @ 270 East College Street, Oberlin, OH
 to pick up some fresh local greens grown sustainably without chemicals or fertilizers.
Come by the front porch on
3/27, Tuesday 3-5pm 
3/28, Wednesday 1-6pm 
3/29, Thursday 1-6 pm

This Spicy Greens Mix is perfect
  • for shredding up and adding as a vitamin-packed flavorful addition to salads
  • for steaming or stir-frying (great with sesame oil!)
  • for juicing to kickstart your day!

What's in it?

 Tat Soi
Turnip greens
Bok Choy greens
Chinese Cabbage
Hemerocallis leaves -- an earthy slightly spicy flavor
Garlic Mustard leaves -- super garlicky flavor
Baby Kale leaves (winterbor, redbor, lacinato)
Baby Savoy Cabbage leaves
Brassica florets -- like mini-mini broccolis!
Brassica flowers -- rich yellow blooms for a bright garnish

All that for only $8/lb!

What's been going on at EarthStoreHouse lately?

  • A group of OC Environmental Studies students is coming out weekly to learn sustainable gardening skills.

  • Marco is supervising a private reading in gardening to facilitate the inception of an OC-student-led community gardening project in Kentucky.

  • Every Friday this Spring OC students are gathering for the Exco course, "Zen/Gardening," an exploration of how Zen meditation and gardening can inform and enrich each other.