Gluten Free Buckwheat Pancakes

If you must avoid gluten or wheat products please give this easy pancake recipe a try. I’ve made these since I was a child. They hold together, taste good, and are no fuss. Top with rhubarb sauce, pumpkin butter or maple syrup.

Raised Buckwheat Pancakes

2 cups 110 degree milk

1 teaspoon dry yeast

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 3/4 cups buckwheat flour

1 tablespoon molasses

1/2 teasoon baking soda

1/4 cup lukewarm water

Stir yeast into warm milk, add salt and buckwheat flour, beating until smooth. Leave covered on a counter and let rise overnight. When ready to use, stir in mixture of molasses, soda and water. Bake on a lightly oiled or sprayed hot pan or griddle.

Garden Talks

Keane and I are leaving for Central Oregon today where I will give talks on Successful Food Gardening in Central Oregon and a demonstration talk on Edible Container Gardening. Of course I’ll be signing copies of McGee & Stuckey’s The Bountiful Container. A few more talks are coming up, May 9th I’ll speak in Anchorage at a Master Gardening conference on “Growing Food in Containers & Small Spaces” and “Straw Bale Gardening”. June 27th I’ll be at The New York Botanical Garden for their kickoff event on a program series on edible gardening. I will present a demonstration and talk on growing “Food Plants, Herbs & Edible Flowers in Containers”. This speaking season then winds up with a talk at the annual Oregon State Master Gardener mini college on “Successful Food Gardening in Container & Small Spaces”, Thursday, August 7th.

Our annual Nichols Garden Nursery Plant Day is Saturday May 16th 2009. We always have an annual sale, light refreshment and demonstrations. This year I’ll be demonstrating straw bale planting and we are working on a new garden in the style of a home garden planted all in containers with a couple Adirondack chairs for visitors to sit, relax and enjoy the surroundings. As this comes along I’ll post photos.

It’s been a busy year and I’m so impressed with this renaissance in food gardening. There has been much interest in vegetables and cooking but now people seem to be taking it to their own homes whether it is the backyard or front yard they are planting gardens. A healthy well grown plant is always a thing of beauty whether it be a gorgeous muticolored ruffled lettuce or the latest petticoated heauchera. Gardening keeps us in contact with nature and that part of ourselves that grows a little more as we nurture our gardens, our loved ones, and ourselves.

Tomatoes-Blossom-end Rot in Straw Bales

Most tomato gardeners have seen or experienced blossom-end rot on tomatoes. It appears at the base of the tomato…the portion that is fastest growing and forms an unattractive black decayed appearance. Also a fruit so affected generally ceases to grow or grows slowly.The following information applies to all tomato gardeners, whether growing in ground, containers, or straw bales.

Generally, it is the oblong Roma or paste tomatoes that are most often affected. I have never seen blossom end rot on a cherry tomato plant and I think it is because the fruits growth cycle is faster.

First it is a physiological problem not a disease. A lack of soil calcium or a defect in the  plant’s utilization and uptake of calcium is considered the cause. A few controllable conditions lead to this.

A simple lack of calcium is a factor which can be remedied by adding lime, gypsum, bone meal or in small gardens even ground up eggshells to the soil before planting.

An excess of ammonium nitrate can be a problem…straight substantial amounts of chemical nitrogen which some old articles on straw bale gardening recommend. Don’t use it. An excess or imbalance of potassium or magnesium. All these minerals and nutrients are needed by tomatoes, just no one in excess so use a balanced fertilizer along with compost. Consider also applying foliar sprays of liquid seaweed , Maxicrop is a good product.

The third and perhaps most significant cause is fluctuations in watering. Plants which dry out are not absorbing nutrients or water. This is followed by a heavy watering. Cycle through this a few times and it sets the stage for blossom end rot. If your climate is somewhat humid this moisture problem may be compounded. Drip or trickle irrigation either with emitters or leaky pipe will maintain even and optimal moisture. With straw bales and containers I like to give plants a thorough soaking from time to time.

The more oblong Roam or San Marzano tomatoes are most susceptible to blossom end rot. If your plants are producing defective fruits consider picking everyone that looks as though it will have this condition. The fruits will likely have a very poor taste and by picking plants nearly clean new fruits will set.

Straw Bale Gardening Question

Today, a customer writes: “I’m interested in creating straw bale gardens this year.  Many web sites instruct one to use ammonium nitrate to prepare the bale but
yours does not.  Does your method prepare the bale for planting
tomatoes and eggplant or just mainly salad greens?  I prefer not to
use ammonium nitrate but at the same time want to prepare the bales
properly for tomatoes.”……see my reply below

I’ve seen the recommendations for ammonium nitrate but have never liked the idea or tried it. Place the bale where it will remain and really soak it down and keep it wet for a week to ten days. The bale will heat up and then cool down in this period when it becomes ready for planting. If you are planting eggplant, peppers or tomatoes place a scoop of compost and fertilizer in the planting hole. Cover with a little potting soil to prevent any burning of the roots.
The greens will grow in compost or potting soil on the surface and then send their roots down. Peas and Beans need legume inoculant for best performance. I’ve never tried to plant carrots or parsnips but the third years the bales break down sufficiently to produce  a nice crop of potatoes.
Jeff Lowenfels, author of Teeming With Microbes: A Gardener’s Guide to the Soil Food Web tells me that using an application of compost tea at planting time will produce stronger plants and more nutrients will be released from the straw. I shall be using compost tea this year. Also, I will be fertilizing a little more frequently than in past years.