Thursday, July 28, 2011

Dear Vampires,

Please stay a healthy distance away from our house. Otherwise, I'll garlickify you.

Chrissie and I harvested our garlic this week. All in all, I think that it turned out to be a good crop. When we first planted the garlic, I was a little worried because my dad told us that garlic didn't grow well up here because they didn't get enough sun. Sure, we didn't get huge heads of garlic like you see at the super market, but we got something. I like to think they look like the stuff we would find at farmer's market. They will sit in our pantry for a few weeks to dry and then we will use them.

We are already talking about how we can do better next year. First, we are going to try spacing the cloves farther apart. Second, we are going to look specifically for "hard neck" variety garlic to plant. Hard neck garlics grow better in more northerly lattitudes. I don't know what kind we got this year. I picked the ones we got because they were a German variety and figured that our climates would be similar enough for the garlic to do well.

A couple of other things to note this week for me. I went on a vegetarian trip on Tuesday and Wednesday. Totally unintentionally, but that only makes me prouder of myself. However, I think I can only handle a couple days there, tops. Today, I ate fried chicken for lunch and more chicken for dinner. I'm trying to get Chrissie on board for roasting a chicken for dinner over the weekend. Does being a vegetarian count for a couple days if I just make up for it the day I go back?

Also, thanks a bunch to the guys at Morgan's on Crown Hill. We had a leaky outdoor faucet and the normal hardware stores didn't have the washer I needed (Lowe's and Home Depot). Granted, I have one of those complicated frost-proof faucets, but it shouldn't be hard to find a bloody washer. Anyway, the guys at Morgan's were really nice and spent half-an-hour with me figuring it out (sometimes it's hard to find a bloody washer). That's the kind of thing I really appreciate, so I think I'll be going there in the future for stuff.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Ricotta for our Ravioli

I got it in my head last week that I wanted to make ravioli from the ground up. If I could have grown and ground the wheat for the pasta, I probably would have. But that's not in the cards at this point, and I'm not nearly that patient anyway.

Most of the steps for this process were things we'd done before. We make fresh pasta regularly ('cause it's just so dang tasty!) and we've made our own tomato sauce before as well. So it came down to the filling. We were just aiming for a basic cheese ravioli, so there's not much to it, which meant we needed to make our own ricotta. This recipe from Serious Eats caught my attention right from the google search. Fresh ricotta in 5 minutes or less? Sign me up!

Conveniently, this cook advocates the use of a microwave to heat the milk to the desired temperature. When we made cheddar cheese a few months ago (post to come someday in the future) heating the milk felt a tad bit painstaking. But then, I may have been taking it a tad too seriously as well. Maybe.

In process, we discovered that making 1/2 cup of ricotta in 5 minutes or less is probably possible, but making the 2 cups that we wanted for our recipe of ravioli wasn't going to be quite so streamlined. We made our ricotta in 2 batches (due to the size of our bowl and microwave) and still the milk took approximately 12-14 minutes to reach 165 degrees, even with our microwave set to high. Apparently twice the milk = triple the time. It's still a much more immediately gratifying process however than it's cheddar cheese cousin, which is aging for 6 months in our pantry (4 months down!). So, it took about half an hour in the end to reach our quota of 2 cups of fresh ricotta. But it was well worth it.

Fresh Cheese!
We make pasta often enough that we have the process pretty speedy at this point. Rolling out the dough only took about 20 minutes so while I did that, Aaron went ahead and mixed our fresh ricotta with the rest of the ingredients for our ravioli filling: parsley, parmesan, salt, pepper, and nutmeg.

For my taste, this recipe uses a little too much parsley. Next time, we may omit it all together and use oregano instead. But we're not entirely decided yet. And we had plenty of parsley growing in our garden, so for this round, it made perfect sense.

Once the pasta was rolled (note, it should be quite thin - almost translucent) and the filling mixed, it was time to construct our food:

Once they were complete, we boiled them for just a couple of minutes and topped them with our freshly made tomato sauce.

The finished product:

Verdict: the fresh ricotta really did make a difference. The raviolis were creamier and less rubbery than the ones we've made with ricotta from the store. The other pro is that we can make exactly as much as we need and not worry about needing to find additional uses for sub-par ricotta. I'm sure we'll do it again sometime.  You should, too!

Serious Eats Recipe for Ricotta

Cheese Ravioli
Originally from Mark Bittman

2 cups fresh ricotta
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan
1 cup minced parsley
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
Salt and Pepper to taste

Combine ingredients and fill freshly made pasta dough. Boil for 2-3 minutes until tender. Serve with your favorite sauce.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


Worms are one of the few things I look forward to when it rains anymore. Now, it's not that I don't like the rain, but weather patterns over the last couple years have taken every shred of novelty and enjoyment from this particular one. Except for worms. Whenever it rains, I make a point to look at the ground when I'm walking. I'm on the prowl. My eyes are honed-in, looking for any sign of squirming or writhing. If I find any worms crawling on the payment, I grab it and stick in a bag. When I get home, I deposit the worms into our compost bins. It's like bringing in sheep to the fold.

I like to think that when I find a worm and stick them in my bag, I am giving a displaced worm a new home. Left on the road, they'd be run over or eaten; in my compost bin, they'll be able to make a new life for themselves. Aaron & Chrissie's compost bin - land of opportunity. The place where every worm gets a second chance.

What we get out of it is good compost. Worm poop is some of the greatest stuff you can give to your plants. People have caught on and you can purchase worms from nursuries or even online. A box of worms delivered to your doorstep, ready to use straight out of the box! I figure though, why buy them when I can get them for free?

In my opinion (which is definitely opinion because I have no knowledge to back it up), the more critters that get into your compost, the better. All of them do their part to process organic material. I've seen slugs, flies, and spiders on our compost bin too. If I found any of those in the garden, I'd get rid of them, but in the compost bin, they have sanctuary.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Our Perfect Pizza

There have been a few evenings over the last couple of months that I've gotten completely insatiable cravings for pizza, but we haven't had any of the typical ingredients, nor the desire to order a greasy heap of pepperoni from any of the 375289 chains in the area. No, I'm not actually a complete pizza snob... yet. Sometimes I still eat that giant pool of grease with reckless abandon and enjoy every second of it. But on the nights in question, I distinctly wanted something homemade.

Several years ago I went to this pizzaria in Wisconsin. I've also been to Japan. Somewhere in the amalgamation of those 2 places in my brain, I've grown pretty convinced that you can put anything on a pizza.

So, we rifled through our pantry and fridge and found the following:

olive oil
fresh rosemary
goat cheese
pink lady apples

Pretty good for a kitchen devoid of tomato sauce. We also had enough staples to make a basic pizza dough, so we went for it.

I should stop here and admit that I have a bit of a crush on pancetta. Seriously. It's not quite as salty as proscuitto, but not as heavy as bacon. It has a big flavor for a small quantity. And it has a very high-class-culinary sounding name. Pancetta is all win, all the time.

But I digress. Here's the pizza pre-oven:

Just looking at it makes me want to make it all over again. Good thing I live in a state with lots of Apples.

Here's the finished product (which is a bit messier looking due to some user error involving the pizza peel):

And of course, the concise recipe since I know you're all going to want to make this yourselves tonight.

Seriously. Do it.

Apple - Pancetta Pizza


1 recipe of your favorite pizza crust
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp fresh, chopped rosemary or to taste
1 cup goat cheese (feta also works well)
1/2 apple (pink lady is our preferred, but anything somewhat tart will do)
3-4 slices pancetta


Preheat your oven as high as it will go. Ours only gets to 525 degrees, which is pretty standard, but if you can get hotter, go for it. If you have a pizza stone, make sure that it's in the oven while it preheats.

Prep the pizza dough. Layer the ingredients beginning with the olive oil.

Once your oven is preheated, place the pizza directly on the pizza stone if you have one, or you may use a baking sheet.  Cook until the crust is just beginning to be golden brown and/or until the pancetta starts to brown at the edges.

Cut and serve!

Friday, July 15, 2011


"Some people come into our lives and quickly go. Some stay for a while and leave footprints on our hearts, and we are never the same." - Author Unknown

Not all friends are flesh and blood. If the blossoming of a generation full of electronic communication has made anything clear to me, it's that. But friends of the spirit were around long before technology. And they've always come in many forms.

For as long as I've been reading, which is nearly as long as I can remember, many of my best friends were those I found on the written page. They've laughed with me, cried with me, comforted me, and understood me. They gave me the words that I couldn't find to express myself. They made me think and see the world through different eyes. They were as real to me as my classmate in geometry. More real than the math itself. (and goodness knows I remember them better).

These friends have helped remind me of my values, they've led the way through difficult times and they've shown incredible perseverance in times of adversity. Many of them are so popular that they've had movies made about their lives.

Today one of those movies ended. It's been a long road and an incredible journey that we've shared with them. They've shown the world what true friendship is and we are all the better for it. So for today, all I can say is thank you. Thank you Harry, Ron, Hermione, Neville, Luna, Ginny, Tonks, Lupin, Sirius, Snape, Dumbledore, Seamus, Wood, Mr. & Mrs. Weasley, Fred, George, Fleur, Hedwig, Buckbeak, Hagrid, Professor McGonagall, Dobby, Fawkes, and even Draco. Thanks to all of you for existing, even if it's only in my mind. I'm sure we'll see eachother again soon.

"Harry: Is this real? Or has this been happening inside my head?
Dumbledore: Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean it is not real?" -Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Decisions, decisions

When you don't have a lot of space to work with, you have to do some serious editing to your planting list. Although, having said that, you'd be surprised how much you can grow in small spaces. I'm a pretty no-nonsense, utilitarian type of guy so I went straight for the jugular. For me, planting was decided strictly on usage, cost, viability, savings potential, you get the picture. No froo-froo things, like appearance or food fads (example: swiss chard). It was all by the numbers.

Summing them all up in my head, I found that I could break down the plants into a three main categories: Consumption, Cost Savings, and for lack a better term, "It Just Tastes Better." Here's the roll call.


This is a big deal because what's the point of planting something if you're not going to use it. Kind of a "duh" moment. On the herb front, we use parsley, sage, rosemary, basil, and thyme a lot, so they were the first to go down. We also use a lot of things from the onion family (also called, "allumiums") so we put down green onion, chives, garlic, and shallots. We didn't have room for regular onions, but I think they'll be one of the first things to go down when we reclaim some more space. Last would be potatoes, carrots, green beans, and sugar snap peas. Those guys are staples on our dinner plates so we planted some of those also.

Cost Savings

Cost savings is how much money we'd save harvesting our own produce rather than purchasing it at the grocery store. First, let me say that we are talking about fresh herbs, because well, fresh is just better. When we go to the grocery store, if we get a little plastic container of fresh herbs, it costs us $2.50. That's for about 2 ounces of herbs. Sure, $2.50 isn't that much, and you don't need to use a lot of it for your cooking, but it is probably one of the most disproportionately costed items in the grocery store. $2.50 for 2 ounces means that per pound, the cost is $15.00! That's more than most cuts of meat. After a while, it adds up.

On a different level, cost savings is also minimizing the amount of unused, and thus wasted, produce. Herbs fall into this category again. Since you don't need a lot, half of your package can go off before you ever get to use it and waste like this just kind of gets to me. The same thing applies to green onions actually. Green onions only cost $1-1.50 for a bundle, but they wilt after about 4 days in the fridge. That's much, much faster than the herbs, and that kind of perishibility led me to planting our own.

The nice thing about having your own herb plants is that you can take what you need and leave the rest in a living condition. Perishibility isn't really an option, unless you're getting close to winter, but the nice thing about many plants is that they come back in the spring.

It Just Tastes Better

When harvested at the proper time from your own garden! The last four words can be omitted from that sentence in all honestly, but the only way you'll achieve the sentiment in today's world is by buying your produce at a farmer's market. All of our fruit; strawberries, peaches, pears, and the tomatoes (have we reached a consensus on whether they're fruits or vegetables yet?) fall into this category. The key for all of these things is allowing the produce to ripen on the plant until they reach their maximum flavor content. If that's the case, what could be better than picking it straight off the tree/vine?

Those plants that were going to be long-term fixtures to our garden really had to have everything working for them - we really wanted to maximize their success and minimize regrets in the future. I'm talking about our fruit trees. We toyed with several different types of fruit trees that would grow well up here: cherries, apples, pears, peaches. Our final decisions met all our criteria not only on the big three categories, but the smaller ones too.

Pears and peaches are both things Chrissie and I love so we won't get sick of them (if you haven't guessed, consumption is predicated on not getting sick of what you're eating). They are also quite costly, $3.00-6.00 a pound at farmer's market, so we're doing well on the cost savings front. I already talked about maximizing flavor. We also took care to pick breeds that grew well up here and would fruit at the right time. Get something that bears fruit too early and it won't have enough sunlight to produce really good tasting fruit. Too late, and you risk the weather getting too cold and again, fruit that isn't totally ripe. Also, it can cause stress on the tree because instead of working on becoming dormant as the weather is getting colder, it's still trying to squeak out fruit. The fruit tree decision definitely took the longest of all our plants.

Of course there are caveats to all of this. Chrissie is a wonderful moderating force in our garden and I am really grateful to her for it. She instigated the lettuce and spinach plants in the garden. She really wanted to make fresh salads, but I was like, "We never eat salad." To which she responded, "Maybe we would if we had fresh lettuce." So now, we eat a lot of fresh salad. It's pretty great too. If Chrissie wasn't around to think-outside-the-box as it were, we'd be missing out on that.

Anyway, that's how things came to be in our garden. Like I said before, as we reclaim more land to use, other things will start going down. Those new things, being farther down on our list, won't need to fit as nicely into my growing criteria. I really want to grow a blueberry bush. I love them, but Chrissie's fairly ambivalent towards them. Asparagus is something we both enjoy, but don't eat as much. Same with Oregano. You know, the more I sit here and think about it, the longer the list gets, so I think I'll just stop here. If we ever plant these things, you'll be the first to know!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Bringing the Stadium Home

We haven't had a chance to do much shopping for groceries lately, but that didn't stop us today from creating a little piece of the stadium atmosphere at home while we watched the Seattle Sounders take on the Portland Timbers in soccer.  (GO SOUNDERS!)

I'm a sucker for giant soft pretzels and it had been a really long time since I'd attempted making any, so we decided to make that our stadium food of choice.  I found a nice looking recipe for Soft-Garlic Rosemary Prezels with White Cheddar Cheese Sauce from yumology on Tasty Kitchen to use as our foundation. In the end, we struck pretty true to it for the pretzels themselves and branched away primarily for the cheese sauce.

As it turns out, if you're on a timeline, I'd suggest having a pair of people working and to start the cheese sauce as soon as the first person starts rolling out the pretzels. It takes a fairly good while to get the rue bubbling and ready for the addition of the cheese.

Nonetheless, the results were excellent. The main modifications we made in the cheese sauce were to use medium yellow cheddar in place of the sharp white, 2% milk, and we omitted the cayenne. Most of these changes were simply made based on what was available to us. We chose to leave out the cayenne pepper because we wanted to stick with something pretty mild for today, since the game was destined to be spicy enough. ;)

Recipe - Garlic and Rosemary Soft Pretzels with Cheese Sauce
Adapted from yumology's adaptation from Cooking Light

  • 2-¼ teaspoons Dry Yeast
  • 1-½ teaspoon Brown Sugar
  • 1 cup Warm Water
  • 3-¼ cups All Purpose Flour, divided use
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 clove Garlic (large), Minced
  • 2 teaspoons Fresh Rosemary, Finely Chopped
  • ½ teaspoons Pepper
  • 6 cups Water
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1 teaspoon Olive Oil
  • 1 whole Egg
  • Kosher Salt Or Sea Salt (for Topping)
  • Cooking Spray
  • 1 Tablespoon Butter
  • 1 Tablespoon Flour
  • 1 cup 2% Milk
  • ¾ teaspoons Salt
  • ½ teaspoons Pepper
  • 1 cup grated Medium Cheddar Cheese

Preparation Instructions 

1. Dissolve yeast and sugar in warm water in a large bowl, and let stand for 5 minutes.
2. Add 3 cups flour and 1 teaspoon salt to yeast mixture; stir until a soft dough forms. Mix in garlic, pepper and rosemary.
3. Turn dough out on to a lightly floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic (about 8 minutes). Add enough of remaining flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, to prevent dough from sticking to hands (dough will feel slightly sticky). Place dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray, turning to coat top. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85°), free from drafts, 40 minutes or until doubled in size. (Gently press two fingers into dough. If indentation remains, the dough has risen enough.) Punch dough down; cover and let rest 5 minutes.
4. Preheat oven to 425°.
5. Divide dough into 8 equal portions. Working with one portion at a time (cover remaining dough to prevent drying), roll each part into an 18-inch-long rope with tapered ends. Cross one end of rope over the other to form a circle, leaving about 4 inches at end of each rope. Twist the rope at the base of the circle. Fold the ends over the circle and into a traditional pretzel shape, pinching gently to seal. Place pretzels on a board or baking sheet. Cover and let rise 10 minutes (pretzels will rise only slightly).
6. Combine 6 cups water and baking soda in a pot. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and simmer. Gently lower 1 pretzel into simmering water mixture; cook 15 seconds. Turn pretzel with a slotted spatula; cook an additional 15 seconds. Transfer pretzel to a prepared baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Repeat procedure with remaining pretzels. Combine olive oil and egg in a small bowl, stirring with a fork until smooth. Brush a thin layer of egg mixture over pretzels; sprinkle with kosher or sea salt.
7. Bake at 425° for 17 minutes or until pretzels are deep golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
For White Cheddar Cheese Sauce
1. In a small sauce pot, heat the butter on medium-low. When melted, whisk in the flour until combined. Add the milk and stir constantly until mixture thickens and begins to bubble slightly. Next, mix in salt and pepper.
2. Add the cheese and stir/whisk on medium heat until melted into the sauce. Cook for about 1 minute or until sauce begins to simmer gently. Remove from heat and serve.

Friday, July 8, 2011


I like dirt. I don't know why - maybe it's just a thing. One of Chrissie's favorite anecdotes is that the part of the garden that I was most enamored with when we bought the house was the composting. Not the fruit trees, herbs, or veggies, but the composting. Yeah, I was pretty intent of getting started right away, and yeah, I'm still trying to talk Chrissie into starting a third compost garbage can. I'm into compost because I know that if you want to grow good food, you have to give it the right conditions. Good sun, sufficient water, and good dirt.

Composting is pretty darn easy. That's because you're just letting nature do its thing. The "art" of it involoves managing the process so that it happens in the quickest way possible. I'm not going to tell you how to do it in this blog. There are a ton of places you can go to for that information. For you lazy searchers out there go here. That'll get you started. I will talk about little tips I've picked up here and there and relay funny stories involving our compost.

I am of the opinion that anyone who grows stuff should compost. Even if the "stuff" is just a lawn. It's not because I'm on a crusade to turn everyone into linen-wearing tree-huggers, but because it makes a lot of sense. Creating your own compost saves you from having to go out and buy dirt or fertilizer all of the time. This ultimately means you are saving money. It also saves you money on the other end by reducing the amount of garbage you have taken away.

To give a concrete example, the amount of composting we do equals about half a cubic yard every year. If I were to buy that at my local nursery, that would be about $20.00. On the garbage side, Chrissie and I can skate by using the smallest size garbage can and we do not need a yard waste bin. That is a savings of $60.00 a quarter. $20 of it being the difference between the small garbage can and the next size up, and $40 being the cost of using a yard waste bin. $260 saved. It's modest, but I think it's pretty great because I just got $260 from garbage.

I think that the other thing about composting that appeals to me is that it makes me feel more connected to the land that I'm living on. I feel that way because I take part in shaping and creating it. It's a good feeling to have. It's real and there's a sense of permanence about it. So, even if Chrissie and I leave this place one day, I'll know that I left this place better than I got it, and maybe, some of what we've done will stick around and thrive.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Eating Red, White, and Blue

As you may have guessed, Aaron and I decided to have a little fun with our food on Independence Day so we tried to make sure as much as possible that day that what we were eating was red, white, and/or blue. We wanted to stay away from the stereotypical strawberry/blueberry flag cake, so we had to get a little creative. There just aren't many blue foods out there!  Here's what we came up with:

Blue chips, Red Salsa, Sour Cream

We didn't make much of this one, though I'm sure we could have. We made the salsa from scratch, but we weren't able to get to the farmer's market and while the tomatoes at PCC were decent, the season for them around here is really just beginning. The recipe for our mild red salsa:

2 heirloom or vine tomatoes (peeled, seeded, and diced)
2-3 small roma tomatoes (peeled, seeded, and diced)
3/4 of a red pepper (cored and diced)
7-8 stems of cilantro (chopped)
A dash of lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste

Red, White, and Blue Rosemary Potatoes

I was originally intending to make these crispier but I boiled them a little too long and used more potatoes than my pan could handle. They turned out quite nicely anyway, so here's what we did:

Boil 3 potatoes of each variety (small varieties work best, we used Yukon Golds, Baby Reds, and Peruvian Purple) cut into approximately 1 - 1.5 inch cubes for about 10 minutes. Or until they're slightly less tender than they look above.

Heat 1/4 cup olive oil in a pan over medium-high heat when your potatoes are about 3 minutes away from being finished boiling.

When the potatoes are tender in the water, drain them. If the oil is sufficiently heated, add the potatoes to the oil.

If you're like me, your potatoes won't all be able to reach the heat source, so you'll need to periodically stir them around to ensure that all the potatoes get some chance at being cooked.  Don't stir them too much, or none of them will get crispy on the outside at all.

Once the potatoes look tasty, add about 2 teaspoons of fresh, chopped rosemary (1 teaspoon dried) and salt and pepper to taste. Cook for about 5 more minutes, then serve straight from the pan.

Grilled Strawberry Shortcake Kebabs

We found this recipe originally in Sunset Magazine, but made some adaptations for our taste. Sunset suggested using Angel Food cake, but neither of us prefer that so we made a fresh pound cake that morning. For the topping, Sunset also suggested using a combination of crème fraîche, whipped cream, brown sugar, and lemon zest, but we wanted something a little more simple, so we stuck with homemade whipped cream. All in all, we really enjoyed what we came up with, so here is our adaptation.

2 Slices of Pound Cake
8 Strawberries
2 Tablespoons Strawberry Jam
1/2 cup freshly made whipped cream

Heat the jam in the microwave just long enough so that it starts bubbling and coat your hulled strawberries with it. (We happened to have strawberry jam that was just made a week ago by my co-worker. I think this was a major plus.) Cut the pound cake slices into cubes. Double up the skewers for stability and thread approximately 4 strawberries and 3 pieces of pound cake onto each one. (As you can see, we had varying sizes of strawberry.) Place the skewers onto a relatively low-heat grill (approximately 350 degrees) for about 2 minutes per side. We tried to cook all four sides rather than just the 2 suggested by Sunset, but it might be different with Angel Food Cake. When the cake (and hopefully the strawberries) are lightly grilled on all sides, take them off and serve with the whipped cream!

We realize that our dessert did not have any blue. We had intended to make some blueberry fools to remedy that situation, but we were too full, too tired, and ready to watch some fireworks. So, the blue dessert will have to be saved for another day.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy Independence Day!

A few of our raw ingredients for the day. Do you sense a theme?

Sunday, July 3, 2011


Here are some small projects I've been doing around the house to keep myself busy. None of them are big enough to warrant a post on their own, but they're still worth mentioning.


Chrissie and I took our dog, Helo, to the dog park last week and I spotted a bunch of kelp on the beach. If you were wondering, yes, there is a beach dog park close to where we live. It's actually kind of commonplace around Seattle. Kelp is great for compost and gardens to I filled a plastic bag with as much as I could fit and dumped it into the compost.

Kelp is great compost material. It is packed with a diverse amount of nutrients and minerals. It's possible for people to eat it and it's really good for you. It's considered a "super-food." I've eaten seaweed and kelp before, but seeing as this stuff came from the dog park, I didn't really trust it. It was, however, good enough to throw into the compost.

Another good thing you can do with kelp in your garden is to just insert it into the soil. It will give your soil a really quick boost of goodness. Some plants, like green beans, do much better when planted with kelp around it. If you're skeptical that kelp is good for your garden, go look at the ingredients label of an organic fertilizer. The first ingredient is probably kelp.


We found some orange spots on the leaves of the "normal" pear tree today. They looked a little suspicious, so I looked up what could be wrong on the internet. Rust, the common name for this kind of fungal infection, came back as the likely issue, and a quick call to our local nursery confirmed it.

Rust isn't actually that bad. First off, it doesn't kill the host. Second, it doesn't infect the fruit. A plant with rust will get on fairly well and you probably won't notice much of a difference in your harvest. Me, I don't want to take any chances. I want to do as much as I can to minimize the stress on the trees.

The bad news is that rust isn't something that you can totally kill off, but you can just manage it pretty easily. Fungicides are quite ineffective at killing it after it gets on the tree. They are most effective at preventing the rust from inhabiting the tree in the first place. Getting rid of rust from an infected tree means removing all of the "rusty" leaves and throwing them away. Note - do not compost them! So that's what I did this morning and I'll keep an eye on the other trees as rust can infect them also.

I did wonder why the Charlie-Brown-Pear-Tree didn't get infected at all and I believe it's because of the sulfer spray we applied to it a couple of weeks ago. Not only does the sulfer kill bacteria, it kills fungus too, exactly the way I mentioned above - by preventing anything from establishing itself in the first place. Literally, as soon as the rust spores came in contact with the tree, the sulfer burned it right off. Nasty stuff.