Grandma Linda’s 9 Bean Soup

¼ cup of each of these:

9 heirloom beans:

Christmas Lima

Good Mother Stallard

Green Flageolet

Hutterite Soup

Jacob’s Cattle

Eye of the Goat

Snow Cap

Arikara

Runner Cannellini

Other Ingredients:

7 Cups chicken stock

1 large ham hock

2 tsp thyme

1 tsp pepper

2 tsp salt

½ tsp savory

2 large onions chopped

4 medium carrots chopped

4 ribs celery chopped

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

Instructions:

Place beans in a Dutch oven or soup kettle; add water to cover by 2 in. Bring to a boil; boil for 2 minutes. Remove from heat; cover and let stand for 1 hour. Drain. Add stock, ham hock and seasonings; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 2 hours. Saute onions, carrots and celery in oil; add to soup. Cover and simmer 1 hour longer or until beans reach desired tenderness. Debone ham and return meat to soup. Skim fat. Serve hot! For even more delicious healthiness: serve with Apple Cider Vinegar

For our Heirloom Soup Beans – click here!

Home Grown Potatoes

Potatoes can make an excellent addition to your home garden. They have been a staple of many people’s diets for thousands of years. They are fairly easy to grow, although they do have certain pests and diseases to contend with. There are plenty of varieties that can give you a harvest that lasts from early in the season to late in the fall. Potatoes are also great for storing and eating throughout the winter. With a quick lesson on growing potatoes, you will be ready to start a potato section in your garden.

The Potato

The potato is a starchy tuber from the nightshade family of plants. The potato plant is an herbaceous perennial that grows around two feet tall. The flowers come in a variety of colors, which are related to the color of the tuber. Bumblebees and other insects cross-pollinate potato plants, but they also pollinate themselves. The fruit that results from the flower of a potato plant resembles a green cherry tomato, but is actually poisonous and inedible. Seeds can be collected from the fruit, but most new plants are grown by burying a tuber called a seed potato.

Potatoes are native to South America, specifically the Andes Mountains area. A staple of the diet there for centuries, the potato was not introduced to the rest of the world until about 400 years ago when the Spanish Conquistadors came to the continent. They took the potato back home, and its use has spread around the world. Potatoes are the world’s fourth largest crop of food. They come after rice, wheat, and maize.

Varieties

For American supermarket shoppers, this may come as a surprise, but there are literally thousands of different varieties and species of potatoes in the world. Most of us consume a woefully limited selection of most fruits and vegetables, and potatoes are no exception. Look for unique varieties of potatoes that are easy to grow, resistant to certain pests and diseases, and that grow well in your location. Here are some popular varieties:

  • Yukon Gold. This classic, large, yellow potato is great for boiling, baking, and mashing, not to mention they store well.
  • All Blue.  Wow your friends and family with the best blue potato around!
  • German Butterball.   Excellent, all-purpose variety!  Great for Momma’s mashed potatoes.
  • Rose Finn Apple. Fingerling potato that stores well.
  • Bintje. Probably the most widely grown of yellow flesh potatoes.  Great keeper.

Why Grow the Tuber

So why should you consider growing this humble tuber in your garden? Potatoes make an excellent staple of the diet. They are easier to prepare and eat than grains. They provide a good source of calories, carbohydrates, and nutrition. In spite of the recent craze in going low-carb, for those of us living off the grid, food is a matter of survival, not something to avoid when dieting. Potatoes are free of fat, cholesterol, and sodium, and have a lot of C and B vitamins as well as potassium, magnesium, copper, and iron. And if you try different varieties of potatoes, you get a greater variety of nutrients. Potatoes are also a great idea for storage. Kept properly, they can last several months on the shelf.

Growing Conditions

If you’re convinced, it’s time to make sure you have the right conditions for growing perfect tubers. You will need a location that gets full sun or mostly sun with just a little bit of shade throughout the day. The best soil for potatoes is loose, light, and well drained. Soil with loam, some sand, and organic matter works the best. The looseness of the soil helps the aggressively growing roots of the potato plant do what they need to do. The pH of the soil should be between 5.8 and 6.5, slightly acidic. Scab disease can form on the tubers if the soil is not acidic enough.

Fertilizer helps to increase the crop yield, but use one that is lower in nitrogen and higher in phosphorous, like 10-20-20. Too much nitrogen encourages growth of the greens at the expense of the tubers. The good news is that even if your soil is not perfect for potatoes, you will still get a yield. If you create the best conditions, however, you can drastically increase the number of tubers you get at harvest time.

Planting

Potatoes are planted not from seeds, but from a seed potato. This is a tuber, or even just a piece of a tuber, that when planted, sprouts roots from its eyes. You have probably seen this on potatoes that you stored inside for too long. Purchase seed potatoes from a reputable company. They should be certified by the state in which they originate. This certification ensures that the potato is free from disease and that you will not be bringing bacterial or fungal infections to your garden. Even if the seed potatoes are certified, you should check them carefully for signs of disease before planting. Many of the disease agents can live in the soil for years, so take great care. Expect to get four or five tubers from each seed potato that you plant.

There are a few different methods for planting seed potatoes. Traditionally, they are planted in rows, 12 to 15 inches apart. Rows are two to three feet apart. You can also plant the seed potatoes in different arrangements if your space is limited as long as the spacing is correct. They can also be planted in containers. To plant in rows, dig a trench that is about six to eight inches deep and four inches wide. Space the seed potatoes out in the trench and cover with three to four inches of soil. Do not fill up the trench entirely. Put the potatoes in eyes up. You can also cut the potatoes into pieces as long as each piece has at least one eye.

Maintenance

Once your potato plants start growing, you will need to mound them. This is also called hilling. When the sprouts come up after about two weeks, add three to four inches of soil to each plant, creating a hill around it. After another two or three weeks, add more soil and hill it around the plant so that it reaches about halfway up the plant. After this, add one or two inches to the hill each week. The object is to keep the tubers covered without covering too much of the greenery. If the tubers are exposed to sunlight, they can turn green and toxic.

Your potato plants should be well watered, but never over watered. Over-watering leads to black spots and rotting. Erratic watering makes tubers that are knobby. You need to develop a watering schedule and stick to it. Water in the morning so that the foliage has a chance to dry off throughout the day. When the foliage starts to turn yellow and dies back, you can stop watering and give the tubers another week or so to mature.

Pests and Diseases

Unfortunately, potatoes are susceptible to several diseases and invading pests. Blight and mildew, which also affect tomatoes, are common with potatoes. To avoid these, plants need to be spaced properly. If one plant becomes too bushy, trim it back to allow for better circulation of air. Scab is a disease that affects the tubers. The best prevention for scab is to buy certified seed potatoes and to make sure the soil drains well.

Potato pests include potato maggots, Colorado potato beetles, aphids, flea beetles, and aphids, among others. Check leaves often and pick off eggs from the potato beetles. They lay eggs in clusters on the underside of the leaves. Introducing ladybugs to your garden can help eliminate aphids. Rotating crops year by year also seems to help minimize pests. Some gardeners swear by pouring rhubarb juice around the plants.

Harvesting and Storing

Potatoes are ready to be harvested between one and three weeks after the flowers have finished blooming and the foliage has started to die back. You can also leave the potatoes in the ground longer and let them grow larger. Dig out tubers with your hands to avoid cutting or bruising them with a garden tool. Discard any potatoes that are green.

Small potatoes are excellent eaten fresh from the garden. For storing larger potatoes for several months, cure them in a dark place that is around 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Cure them for about ten days, and they can be stored in a cellar or pantry for several months without sprouting.

Check out more heirloom potatoes here!

Radishes: The Underrated Indoor Vegetable You Can Grow In 1 Month

Radishes: The Underrated Indoor Vegetable You Can Grow In 1 Month

Image source: Pixabay.com

Radishes are highly underrated vegetables. Occasionally, they might make an appearance on someone’s veggie platter, or be sliced into a salad, but they don’t seem to get the kind of heavy rotation in kitchens as carrots and broccoli do. That’s too bad, because those peppery and crunchy globes are packed with healthy benefits. Radishes are an excellent source of vitamin C, and are also a source of folate, fiber, riboflavin, potassium, copper, vitamin B6, magnesium, manganese and calcium. They are a natural diuretic, as well.

But wait! There’s more! Radish sprouts and greens have the same peppery flavor as the bulbs, and they’re good for you, too. The greens are packed with potassium, iron, vitamin A, vitamin C, phosphorus and thiamine. Like the bulbs and the greens, radish sprouts are also an excellent source of vitamin C, as well as a good source of folate, niacin, vitamin B6, and manganese.

On top of the health benefits, radishes are super easy to grow. As a cool-weather crop, they can do well in the cooler areas of your home during the winter. And within about 1-2 weeks of seeding, you can harvest radish sprouts and microgreens. Depending on the variety, the bulbs will be ready for harvest in as little as one month after seeding.

Radish Sprouts

If you’re aiming for radish sprouts, it’s best to buy seeds that are specifically sold for sprouting. They are more expensive than regular vegetable seeds, but they are cleaned better by the producer; they should be certified to be free of pathogens; and they have a high germination rate.

A note specific to radish seeds: They’re floaters by nature. If necessary, during the first step of soaking the seeds for 8-12 hours, push them underwater until they become waterlogged and sink. Once that first soak is done, it’s just a matter of rinsing and draining the seeds a few times a day until they have sprouted and are ready to harvest.

You should have edible sprouts within five to six days. Before eating, it’s best to dehull them just in case all the seed shells have not already fallen off. Dehulling is easily done by submerging the sprouts in water and swishing them around with your hand. Any remaining shells will pop off and float on the water, making them easy to remove.

Radish Microgreens, Greens And Bulbs

Radishes: The Underrated Indoor Vegetable You Can Grow In 1 Month

Image source: Pixabay.com

Even though radishes are a root vegetable, they can be grown in fairly shallow containers, like plastic seedling trays. The trays work great because they are large enough to provide a decent harvest of microgreens and greens while you wait for your bulbs to mature. Keep in mind, though, that if you use shallow containers, you will need to fertilize about once a week, since the small amount of soil will be quickly depleted of nutrients.

Choose radish seeds that will produce compact round bulbs, rather than cylindrical tubers. Some varieties to consider are Perfecto, Sparkler, Ping Pong and Cherry Belle.

Start by filling the trays with purchased soil and mix in some compost. The soil should be loose to encourage root development. Because you’re aiming to harvest microgreens, the seeds can be densely planted in rows that are spaced 3-4 inches apart. Once planted, the trays require at least six hours of direct light a day, which can be supplemented by a grow light if necessary. Keep the soil moist but not wet.

You should be able to start harvesting microgreens within 1-2 weeks of planting. It’s best to use scissors to snip the microgreens out. Because the seeds are densely planted, yanking the greens out will likely disturb — or even dislodge — nearby greens. If you intend to let some of the plants mature enough to produce edible bulbs, keep in mind that the ideal spacing for radish plants is about 1.5-2 inches.

If you’re aiming for radish greens, they are best when young and tender — when the root of the radish is still slim. Some radish varieties are a better choice for salad greens. If you’re hoping to toss raw radish greens into your salads or sandwiches, choose “hairless” varieties, like Perfecto. Otherwise, it can take some adjusting to get used to the slight fuzziness or roughness of radish leaves, especially the more mature ones. But, radish greens also can be added to soups, stir-fries, or casseroles, or even made into pesto, which negates any concern for their texture.

The radishes themselves may take a little longer to mature indoors than if grown outdoors. Don’t be surprised if they take a week or two longer than indicated on the package. Just be patient. It’ll be worth it.

Check out the sprout selection at www.HeirloomSolutions.com!

 

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