Sunday, May 2, 2010

Spitfires and walnuts, hipsters and uncles

My garden, long a private refuge, has become a community. It's rather a pocket metaphor for how one's life changes with time. In the past I've only brought people into the garden once a year or so, for a garden party we give each year at "peak," around mid to late July. This year, I've got friends helping me with tasks through my Hipster Supported Agriculture project, and a huge online community of mentors and friends that is growing and developing daily.

One of these communities is the GROW Project. I got involved in this through the blog that helped me find the online gardening community, MrBrownThumb. Renee's Garden sent free seeds to several dozen gardeners all over the country; we're planting them in various ways and conditions. I'm planting mine in stages; the newest event is planting the wintersowns at my stick trellis, the "Narnia Gate" on April 26 (left, you can see the spitfires at the base of each branch). These are thriving; I did not cloche these at all, and they lived through two hard frosts, one quite heavy. (Full progress in small type at the bottom of the post).

Left: along the fence. Right: Narnia Gate. The gate is dappled shade; the fence will be full sun, but right now the seedlings are shaded by the lilies.

I still have a good handful of seeds, which will be planted direct in about a week in various other spots in the garden, both for climbing and for trailing.

My recipe today also comes from my growing community. My uncle-in-law lives on a farm in Hungary. When he visits, he brings us food he's grown. This time we got several pounds of walnuts and a quart of apricot compote. While I come up with a recipe that combines the two (yes, a walnut apricot bread is in our future), I made walnut butter to give away with the Hipster Supported Agriculture project, another community project inspired by Kinder Gardens, yes, yet another community project.

Walnut butter
2 quarts walnuts
2-3 tablespoons walnut oil or light flavorless oil like safflower, canola or corn
1 tablespoon sea salt

Add all the ingredients into a food processor. Start grind at a low speed if you have the option, gradually increasing to high. Blend for about 60 seconds; do not blend too long because you do not want to overheat the walnut butter to preserve the enzymes. Check for taste, add salt if desired. I did it about 1 1/2 cups of walnuts at a time, since I have only a 3 cup processor. Two quarts of walnuts made 1 quart of butter.

Prior events: I'm growing Nasturtium "Spitfire" for the GROW project. Thanks, to Renee's Garden for the seeds. I planted 6 seeds in Ferry-Morse organic seed starting medium on March 8, and got 5 seedlings. These were cloched for 6 weeks, but not for the past week or so. One of them didn't make it, but the others are thriving, and are getting big enough to start weaving through the cyclone fence. There are also 9 seeds planted in a wintersown container, in plain soil mixed with perlite. These poked their heads out of the dirt on April 3 and were planted out in the shade on April 26.


  1. Ooh, I've been eating almond butter (crunchy) lately. SO yummy. I can just imagine the nasties along the Narnia gate. Mine are waiting to be planted out because I still fear the groundhog will come by.

  2. I am SO excited about the gate ones. Roses on one side, nasties on the other. If it works, it's going to be spectacular. Last year I grew beans up the gate, which was really fun. It was like a bean-bead curtain.

  3. Mmmm, I've never had walnut butter but I do love walnuts so it sounds great! Hubby is allergic to nuts though so I think pulverizing them in the house would not end well. :/
    Can't wait to see the Narnia gate in full flower!

  4. Your nasties look great Xan! I'm looking forward to seeing them on your Narnia gate.

    Yum - walnut butter sounds delicious!

  5. Am I the only person in the universe who doesn't care for walnuts?! ;-)

  6. Works with almonds and hazelnuts too. Add chocolate to the hazelnuts for homemade Nutella!