Wednesday, July 2, 2008

BBQ Details - July 12th

Cub's Greening of Detroit BBQ will be July 12th from 4-6pm.  Pot luck is recommended (let's taste your best Slumgulleon!)  Located on the 9300 block of Georgia Street just off Gratiot (turn onto Georgia - which is across from Better Made Potato Chips) or, if you're on Van Dyke (from say, Eight Mile), you will pass Mt. Olivet Cemetery and Forest Lawn Cemetery.  Keep going and stay in the left lane.  Pass railroad tracks and keep your eyes open because I have missed Georgia Street many times from Van Dyke.  Once you hit the end of Georgia Street, go left and the street continues.  You'll see the garden on the right side.

New-Fangled Watering Ideas

More storms heading here again.  Every time I end up going to a garden, I bring rain.  A good thing, I guess.  Here's something I found in Greenmead today.  An gardener rigged up a natural watering system made from PVC pipe.   Who ever decided to create this system, it's perfect.  They used an elbow and long system with an end-cap.  The upper pipe has an opening that allows the rain to come in while the end-cap at the other end, keeps the water inside.  Small holes are drilled on the underside of the pipe allowing for slow watering.  

Only a gardener could come up with something so simple.  Either that, or an unemployed plumber. 

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Good News About Detroit...Finally!


Where I live, San Francisco, if you signed up on the waiting list for a community garden plot this afternoon, you might be sitting down to a plate of homegrown potatoes in, oh, 2015 or so.  But as Detroit Free Press writer Marty Hair explains in "Vegetables and Concrete," not only are lucky Motor City residents welcome to plant gardens for free in any of 20,000(!!) plots owned by the city; they can even sell what they grow.

The yours-for-the-asking plots are often located in oddball spots: abandoned buildings, old factories, vacant lots-all plentiful after the auto industry came and (mostly) went.  And even though the city of Detroit only leases the gardens to citizens for one growing season, hundreds of green-thumbed dabblers have started selling their output to nearby businesses and restaurants and at local farmers' markets under a special Grown in Detroit label.  Their efforts are encouraged by a group called the Garden Resource Program, an innovative grass-roots coalition that supports local organic farmers with seeds, information, plants, and funds to set up farmers' market stalls.

It seems a peculiar foray for a city associated so strongly with industrial production.  But as Johns Hopkins poli-sci professor Dr. lester K. Spence points out on his personal blog:

"Detroit is a city that has approximately 900,000 residents.  At its height, 2 million called Detroit home.  Most see the blocks upon blocks of empty space and see ghettoes.  I see something else entirely."

In a March editorial in the Detroit News titled "Urban Farming in Detroit," David Josar points out that:

"In a city of roughly 880,000 people, there are just two large-scale grocery stores.  Because public transportation is not always convenient, and an estimated 37 percent of residents live below the federal poverty threshold, most people shop at small independent stores that charge more and are more likely to have a meager produce selection."

Detroit garden boosters are doing all they can to encourage the brisk rise in growers.  There's even an urban garden tour.  Is your city ready to see vacant lots bursting with green beans and cucumbers?  Are the tattered remnants of boom-and-bust towns ripe for a new type of revolution:  agriculture superseding industry? 

NOTE:  What a great idea!  What a thought!  PURE, healthy food taken away from industry and those seeking out DETROIT once again.   FRESH produce and Detroiters earning an honest income from their hard work and enough vacant land for farms to feed the whole state of Michigan.  A new beginning.  

Let's hope it's catchy.

Greening Of Detroit BBQ Coming!

Cub has posted that there will be a bbq at Georgia Street Community Garden July 12th.  Time and other specifics are still up in the air but mark your calendars for this day.  Make yourself feel better and go meet Cub.  A true gentleman.


Sunday, June 29, 2008

Before Self-Service

You have to click on this photograph to realize the beauty of what grocery stores used to be!  Isn't it beautiful?  I would go into convulsions if I ever found a store like this!  

Neuman's actually wasn't self-serve.  I believe the first was a Piggly Wiggly (never could understand that stupid name).  This was the original store of Neuman's and was located on Broadway in Detroit.  His other store was located behind J.L. Hudson on Farmer Street.  Real food.  No Hamburger Helper.  No Velveeta.  Humans cooking from fresh fruit and vegetables and perhaps a can of peaches or Roma tomatoes every once in awhile.  

I remember deciding to eliminate all unnatural sugars from my diet; white flour, semolina, white sugar (brown sugar, too!) - anything that converted into sugar or starch (which is shear hell if you love potatoes, like I do) - I had three days of withdrawals from no bread or sugar.  And migraines.  Now, eating fresh fruit and vegetables for a few months, my last bite of sugar (a Graham cracker) gave me head spins.  There's something wrong with that.

This is how grocery stores should be.  Otherwise, head to Eastern Market...or Cantoro's (for your Italian meats).


One cup of cooked kale has more than 10 times your daily vitamin K requirement, which helps support healthy bones, plus manganese for bone density and carotenoids for eye health.

One cup of cooked Swiss chard provides nearly one-third of your daily potassium requirement to help lower blood pressure - plus iron and vitamin C.

Mustard and turnip greens have plenty of the bone-healthy vitamins K and C, folate, calcium and vitamin E, a potent antioxident.

For $1.29 (or $2.49 for organic), the cost of purchasing a packet of seeds can amount to a full garden full of vitamins to keep you healthy (NOTE:  If, by chance, you know that you are a possible clotter, then you know that you MUST tread lightly with vegetables and fruits that contain vitamin K - such as spinach and red grape juice (clear juice is fine).

The easiest of vegetables to grow from seed are those that require little maintenance; such as Swiss chard.  It looks beautiful in a garden or a container and is available with stalks in an array of brilliant colors.  Swiss chard grows back as you harvest it, so one crop will last months.  Use the young leaves in salads, or harvest stalks with scissors, cutting an inch or two above the soil.

Most leafy green seeds can be planted directly in the garden as early in spring as the soil can be worked.  Provide about an inch of water once a week and use compost, mulch, grass clippings or hay to add nutrients, retain moisture and discourage weeds, retain moisture and discourage weeds.  A natural fertilizer especially designed for plants grown in containers is also useful.  For greens that don't grow back once harvested, new seeds can be planted every few weeks for a steady supply.

The best way to store greens is to keep them slightly wet in an open or perforated plastic bag in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator.

Greens may have a reputation for bitterness, but this can be cooked out.  Don't steam them, this intensifies the bitterness.  Most greens take between one and six minutes to fully cook, depending on their leaf thickness.  Simmer or saute the greens.  

As for dressings - I no longer care for the thick, sugary glop sold in the grocery stores.  I've weaned my children off them, too.  The husband, on the other hand....if it's loaded with sugar and is orange, he'll eat it.  He's a 50's kid whose taste-buds border on being made of cardboard.  If it's not a food derivative, it's not food (to him).  And he's thin, to boot!

This is the dressing I make for myself and the kids (exclude husband who is hooked on Thousand Islands - I've actually seen this man make himself and Thousand Islands dressing sandwich with corn flakes slammed between two pieces of bread.  I kid you not.):

Per person:

1 clove garlic
1/2 tsp. salt
One half lemon juice
2 tbl. olive oil

Chop garlic in chopper (food processor - but do not turn into paste)
Add the slat and lemon juice and THEN start blending while adding olive oil.  After about 20 minutes, the oil will separate.  Just give it a shake.  I also use this dressing on chicken and ground lamb in pita bread (with a little feta cheese).