Beck Creek Garden Update

 
 

By CORY FRONING

Hello again, Beck Creek Gardens supporters, and happy spring!!

It’s hard to believe I’ve already been back in the Swan Valley for an entire month. I am so grateful to have been welcomed back into this community with open arms.

When I first got here, the garden was somewhat of a jungle. A beautiful jungle, of course, but the beds, pathways, weeds, and fields of garlic were barely distinguishable from one another. While we all know the weeding will never be over, Beck Creek Gardens is finally starting to take some shape! I don’t want to jinx anything BUT it seems as though the threat of frost may be gone for the season. This opens up a world of possibilities!! Since last year’s hoop house didn’t make it through the cold and snow, I’ve been nervous about planting many things so far, but these upcoming 80 degree days are promising for the sensitive seeds and starts. I know the squash I’ve been keeping under an old truck bed cover are getting claustrophobic and will be happy to stretch their little frost-scorched arms towards the sun (as will I).   

Carrots, peas, beans, beets, kale, cabbage, and arugula started to show themselves this week!! I teared up with excitement and immediately sent photos to Megan, our wonderful intern from last year, when I found the little carrot sprouts that I thought would never come. I am learning that plants are resilient!

Flea beetles are taking up more of my daily thoughts than I would like, but hopefully soon that will no longer be true. I transplanted my kale remainders to a new bed, planted some new kale seeds, and covered them with remae. We’ll see what happens!!  If anyone has ideas for how to deal with these little demons, let me know! Dr. Bronner's solution didn’t work for me, but I am thinking about trying vegetable oil as recommended by two trustworthy sources.

Our May Volunteer Day was a hit!! Many community members showed up as well as some Montana Conservation Corps crew leaders. Together we mulched, weeded, planted roots, and built a trellis. We also made a mean rhubarb pie and feasted on an enormous potluck spread. Thank you to all who came and worked hard and provided great conversations and company!

My favorite and latest recipe from the garden has been Sorrel & Chive Montana Pesto. Sounds weird, I know, but it is irresistibly creamy and green and subtly spicy. Here is the recipe if you would like to try it yourself. The Wildlife in the West students have been mixing it into salads and pasta, as well as slathering it on pieces of toast. Personally, I eat it by the spoonful.

 
 

Throw all this in the food processor gradually, the order doesn’t matter:

  • 0.35 lbs. sorrel
  • 0.2 lbs. kale
  • 1/3 cup garbanzo beans
  • 1/2 of a lemon, sliced into small pieces, peel left on
  • 1/2 of an orange, sliced into small pieces, peel left on
  • 1 large bunch of chives
  • 8 small to medium cloves of garlic
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1.5 cups walnuts
 
 

Okay…I’m almost done, just have to fit in this shameless plug:

Beck Creek Garden's CSA begins July 14th! Sign up now to get a bountiful produce basket every week from July 14th to September 15th! It is $150 for the entire season (what a steal!) plus a one-time payment of $50 if you want delivery or $15 if you want flowers. All proceeds support Swan Valley Connections, our wonderful education programs, and future interns such as I!

Please don’t hesitate to call or e-mail me with questions or just to chat about the garden.

Cell: 734.546.1068
E-mail: cfroning@umich.edu

Stay tuned for more garden news!