Thursday, August 9, 2012

Organic gardens flourish locally

The number of home vegetable gardens in our region is on the rise.
Last week, organic gardening enthusiasts enjoyed tranquil mornings in Valle Crucis, learning from a variety of experts how to successfully grow food.
Class participants picked up helpful tips from incubating farmers, gardening experts from N.C. Cooperative Extension and the community, and from visiting four home gardens in the area.
Organic Gardening 101 was held at the new FIG farm, which is located on the previous site of the ASU sustainable development research and teaching farm, on land owned by the Valle Crucis conference center. FIG is the acronym for Farm Incubator and Grower Project.
Jasmine ShoShanna of Jamine’s Gardens led an inspiring tour of gardens that she and her crew built or assisted middle-class homeowners in developing.
One of the gardens is located in a small Boone backyard and produces an amazing amount of food, including blueberries, leeks, grapes, asparagus and greens. Participants noted creative ways to protect blueberries and extend the growing season.
Other gardens demonstrated how to build arbors for hardy kiwi, inexpensive ideas on how to keep deer and other creatures out without fencing the entire yard and ways to incorporate food into a beautiful existing landscape.
Check out her website,
One commonality of gardens visited was the presence of green beans. Many gardeners produce more than they are able to eat fresh and preserve a good part of the harvest. Pressure canning is a common way to preserve, but I prefer to freeze them. It is much simpler, and the texture is crisper.

Freezing green beans

Wash and remove stem end of beans.
May leave whole, or snap into desired length.
Boil a large pot of water and submerge.
When water begins to boil again, time for three minutes.
Take beans out of boiling water and submerge into an ice water bath for three minutes.
Drain, then pack into a rigid container or a freezer bag and place into freezer.
Label and date.
May keep in freezer at 0 degrees Fahrenheit for eight months.

This recipe is a great way to use green beans for summer picnics.
Dilled Green Beans and New Potatoes
1/2 lb. small new potatoes, quartered
1/2 lb. fresh green beans, trimmed, broken into 1-inch pieces
1/4 cup sour cream
3 teaspoons dill weed
1/4 tsp. salt
Dash pepper
1/2 teaspoon olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced

In medium saucepan, bring water to a boil.
Add potatoes and green beans; return to a boil.
Reduce heat; cover and simmer 12 to 15 minutes or until potatoes are done and beans are crisp-tender.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine all remaining ingredients; blend well.
Drain vegetables; rinse with cold water to cool slightly.
Place in serving bowl.
Add sour cream mixture, toss to coat.
Serve immediately or refrigerate until serving time.

If you are interested in learning more about organic gardening, don’t miss the class next year, offered through N.C. Cooperative Extension. Visit for more information.

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