vermicast harvest

After four months of feeding our red wrigglers our food waste, enough black gold has accumulated to complement the supersoil mix that Aaron concocted in the grow beds. We will also use it to amend an organic soil from locally sourced Niu Nursery and make worm tea (which, thanks to the weather- was more collecting than making) For poo, it always amazes me how good it smells! Rich, earthy, clean. After harvest last night, the pots of vermicast had been left outdoors in larger plastic tub. A passing rainstorm drenched the soil and in the morning, a dark, concentrated tea remained at the bottom of the tub. The diluted tea makes a nutrient dense fertilizer that can be fed to plants on a weekly basis. Glenn Martinez, of Olomana Gardens, introduced us to worm tea a few years ago. We used some tea in a spray bottle on the soil encircling a cherry tomato plant that was near death. The next day, the plant was revived and later went on to fruit. This is a wonderful system that enables us to make use of our food waste, diverting it from the landfill and feeding it to worms who then provide the rich castings to plant more food. To start your own worm bucket- check out Waikiki Worm Co. or Olomana Gardens.

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bread baking (no machine required?)

Okay, so basically I was under the impression that you needed some fancy contraption to bake proper loaves of bread. Boy, have I been set straight! On my last trip to AMFM I stopped by the Baker Dudes North Shore stand and asked baker/proprieter Mike, if I needed a machine to bake luscious loaves of homemade bread. What followed was such a schooling that I immediately felt like a complete donkey for asking. He explained to me that there is little you actually NEED to make bread. Keep it simple- flour, water and yeast. Mixed by hand, left to rise, a few good cracks and pop it in the oven. Like Jaime Netzer from Mother Earth News proclaims- “The process of baking bread is like an homage to our past: One of our oldest foods is also one of the most satisfying to create from scratch”.

Sounds fun right? I used this recipe from The Joy of Cooking, omitting one cup of the white flour for one cup of Bob’s Red Mill Whole Wheat flour.

This is a quick and easy yeast bread designed to work with quick-rise yeast, regular active dry yeast works too. Stir together in a large bowl:

2 cups bread flour
1 tbsp. sugar
1 package (2? teaspoons) quick-rise or active dry yeast
1? tsp. salt

Add:
1 cup very warm (115 to 125 degrees) water
2 tbsp. butter or margarine, melted or softened

Mix by hand or on low speed for 1 minute. Add 1/4 cup at a time until the dough is moist but not sticky:
1 to 1/4 cups bread flour

Knead for about 10 minutes by hand until the dough is smooth and elastic. Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl and turn it over to coat with oil.

Cover the bowl loosely with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place (75 to 85 degrees) until doubled in bulk, 40 to 45 minutes. Grease a 9-by-5 inch loaf pan. Punch down the dough, form it into a loaf, and place seam side down in the pan. Oil the surface and cover loosely with a clean cloth. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, 20 to 45 minutes. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Bake the loaf for 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to 350 degrees and bake about 30 minutes more. Bake until the crust is golden brown. Remove the loaf from the pan to a rack and let cool completely.

Yields: One 9-by-5-inch loaf

P.S. When it came out of the oven we poured garlic butter over it and had it with spaghetti before I could take a picture! It was delicious!

nesting box: done!

The hens have indicated their dissatisfaction. This morning I found their malodorous cardboard box turned upside down with the girls poised triumphantly on top as if they were to have their picture taken. A good example of one of those ‘temporary fixes’- the cardboard box was meant to stay for a week or two tops. But, with kids and final exams for the semester it was inevitable that it became a slightly funky smelling reminder of  overdue chores. So, with a little help from the trusty ol’ SawszAll, I dissected an old pallet (our liberator when we can’t afford re-used lumber) and finished the nesting box.

A little skew, but roughly the necessary requirements of a comforting and safe place for the girls to lay their eggs. The pint-sized homesteaders filled the box with hay and it was moved into the coop!

Curious what others did for community nesting, I discovered rudimentary boxes that were not so ‘temporary’ and seem to please their hens just fine. Were catering to divas.

farm foraged Kauai Thanksgiving

A day in the barn kitchen with animals and children at our feet. On the return- a feast with all ingredients sourced directly from the farm, or foraged for on Kauai! 100% local. Cassava chips & guacamole, imu duck, kalo leaf & coconut stew, sweet potato mash, stream caught crawfish stew, kale salad, banana crepes, coco-Lilikoi and lemon-basil sorbet, tahitian lime pie with Mac nut crust. The many lovingly prepared dishes that guests brought that were also made from 100% locally sources ingredients. My sister, Joanna, sliced the neck off of 34 salvaged wine bottles carefully selected for their shades of green and blue. These are what we planned to toast our good fortune and bounty with Koloa rum and coconut cocktails. But with a wobbly 5 gallon jug sitting on the back of a quad, we were destined to have an assortment of Hawaiian beer and wine in our wine-bottle glasses instead. Of course, my family spent Black Friday muddy and up to their knees in coconut flakes, cassava peelings, chicken poo and other sorts of heavenly farm fortified goodness. Sure beats standing in a line well past bedtime waiting for the doors of an arbitrary marketing scheme to open.

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window sill planter sprouting

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salvaged wood window sill planter

With the excess pallets hanging around the cottage, a project was in order! Mr. Crafty himself constructed two darling window sill planters that now make a home in the south facing kitchen windows.

He used maybe a quarter of the wood in one pallet for this project. He wants wheatgrass, I was thinking lavender and thyme.

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harvest time

The fruits of our labor are beginning to pay off…literally! We harvested our first crop of mesclun and kale today. The mesclun has a semi spicy flavor that we have never tasted in store-bought lettuce, it’s quite nice. The chickens love to eat it too. Realizing quickly that we have a space issue on our hands and may start converting more yard space into planting beds for the crops.

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all-natural ear ache remedy

Last night, our son awoke with a terrible ear infection. During my childhood I often got earaches and remember going to school with a wad of toilet paper stuffed in the aching orifice to keep the antibiotics in. Most often it was due to spending lots of time in the ocean. My son was swimming quite a bit last week during our family vacay in Seal Beach, CA. Perhaps he got the infection from the water there?

Not having the antibiotics worried me a little, as I always feel more comfortable experimenting with natural remedies on myself  rather than the kids. But since we had no choice we went ahead with the experiment. Super easy, sort of made us hungry… but basically a small clove of peeled garlic in the affected ear. Not shoved in, rather laying gently on the entrance to the inner ear. Secured with a bandaid (which my son thought was the remedy). He slept on his not-sore ear, and awoke this morning to no ear ache!

Garlic cures more than ear aches apparently, just check out what other natural medicine lovers use it for on Earth Clinic. It may be worthwhile to dedicate a small herbal garden just for medicinal use in your home. Natural cures abound- according to Ryan Kurczak, many can be found in and around your home.

First raised bed planter complete!

Aaron built this planter box in the sunniest part of the garden- and were super excited to get growing! Most of the material was scavenged and the dirt was free on Craigslist from an awesome guy up above Wilson Elementary who was doing some landscaping, he even loaded our truck up with his scooper thing-a-majiggy.  Mahalo buddy!

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