Thursday, September 29, 2011

October is a great time to start a garden!

Fall is a lovely time to garden here in Central Texas. The cooler weather is perfect for being outside and perfect for getting young plants growing, even in the midst of drought. Come out to the market on Saturday, October 1st at 10:30am or Wednesday, October 5th at 1pm to learn what garden activities should take place throughout the month, including what veggies and herbs flourish in this time of year and how to divide irises and other perennials.

Fall is also one of the most delicious time of year! For the next couple months we get to enjoy both warm season fruiting crops like cucumbers, beans & squash and the beginning of cool weather leafy greens and roots, like kale, radishes, and bok choy.

We just got in some Japanese salad turnips from Johnson's Backyard Garden, which is one of my favorite cool season roots. They are meant to be eaten raw in salads or with a dip and are sweet and tender. I encourage you to try them. They might become your favorite too! I've got some growing in the Monument Garden that will be ready near the end of the month....

One of my favorite fall recipes is this one for Butternut & Sage pizza. You can substitute any winter squash for the butternut. Consider adding roasted peppers, sauteed kale or mushrooms for added variety!

Butternut Squash and Sage Pizza

½ tsp active dry yeast
pinch of sugar
4 cups white bread flour
1 tsp salt
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
2 shallots, finely chopped
1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cubed, about 1 pound prepared weight
16 sage leaves
2 x 14-ounce cans chunky tomato sauce
4 ounces mozzarella cheese, sliced
4 ounces goat cheese
salt & freshly ground black pepper

1. Put ½ cups warm water in a measuring cup. Add the yeast & sugar and let sit for 5 to 10 minutes, until the mixture is frothy.

2. Sift the flour & salt into a large bowl and make a well in the center. Gradually pour in the yeast mixture and 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Mix to make a smooth dough. Knead on a lightly floured surface for about 10 minutes, until smooth, springy & elastic. Place the dough in a floured bowl, cover and let rise in a warm place for 1 ½ hours.

3. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Oil four baking sheets. Put butter and 2 tablespoons olive oil in a roasting pan and heat in the oven for a few minutes. Add the shallots, squash and half the sage leaves. Toss to coat. Roast for 15 to 20 minutes, until tender.

4. Raise the oven temperature to 425 degrees F. Divide the dough into four equal pieces and roll out each piece on a floured surface to a 10-inch round

5. Transfer each round to a baking sheet and spread with tomato sauce, leaving a ½ inch border all around. Spoon the squash & shallot mixture over the top.

6. Arrange to mozzarella over the squash mixture and crumble the goat cheese on top. Sprinkle with teh remaining sage leaves and season with plenty of salt & pepper. Bake for 15 – 20 minutes until the cheese has melted and the crusts are golden.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Learn how to grow STRAWBERRIES! YUM!

It may be true that if all the strawberries produced in California in one year, were laid berry to berry, they'd wrap around the world 15 times, but they would never rival the flavor of the berries grown in your backyard.

Come out to the Market Saturday, September 24th at 10:30am or Wednesday, September 28th at 1pm to learn how to grow this spring delight.

Medieval stonemasons carved strawberry designs on altars and around the tops of pillars in sacred places such as churches, as a symbol of perfection. Plant some strawberries and you can acheive perfection in your garden!

Garden Visitor & RIGHT 2 KNOW RALLY

I spent longer than I probably should have chasing this Monarch Butterfly around the garden. She was gathering nectar for the long journey ahead. All the monarchs east of the Rocky Mountains migrate to one area in Central Mexico for the winter. There they gather in the forest so thickly that tree branches break under the weight of butterflies. Can you imagine?

The monarchs that make the long journey south (or back north in the spring) live 3 times as long as their family members who live in other times of the year. No one knows how they can do this, let alone how they always find their way back to their winter get-away. Amazing.

Unfortunately, there are signs that the monarch population is in decline, especially in the Midwest. This decrease in population over the last 17 years has been attributed, at least in part by the widespread use of Genetically Modified Roundup Ready crops. Monarch caterpillars can only eat milkweed, and monarchs will only lay their eggs on milkweed. The widespread and liberal use of Monsanto's Roundup on GM crops is killing off a large portion of the milkweed in agricultural areas. One study found that the amount of milkweed on farms in Iowa declined 90 percent from 1999 to 2009. Monarchs are finding fewer places to lay their eggs, thus their population is shrinking. "It [glyphosate] kills everything," said Lincoln P. Brower, an entomologist who is also an author of the paper detailing the loss of monarch population. "It's like absolute Armageddon for biodiversity over a huge area." You can read the New York Times article here.

This is only one of the many reasons to avoid GMO crops, and I think that many of us would if only we could easily distinguish what was made with genetically engineered crops and what was not. Without a law requiring that products containing GMOs be labeled as such, it is very difficult for we as consumers to know what is GMO free. It is estimated that as much as 75% of processed foods in a conventional grocery store contain GMOs. Most people are completely unaware of this because the large corporations who make heaps of money with their GMO seed and herbicide know that if we knew what we were eating, we would make different choices, and their lucrative business model would be in jeopardy. Their millions are made by keeping millions of consumers ignorant about what they are feeding their children. Even China has labels their GMO food. We have a right to know.

You have a voice! It will take a lot of us, but if we shout loud enough for long enough, we can get GMOs labeled, which will be a huge blow to the GMO corporate giants. Come out to the Capitol Sunday, October 2nd and shout with the rest of Central Texas for the right to know what is in our food. fond out more at

This is a part of a 2 week nation wide series of anti-GMO actions highlighted by a 313 mile walk from Brooklyn to the White House to demand to know what is in our food. You can learn more about this historic march at

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

New @ The Market

     Organic gazpacho has been well received; and if you haven't had a chance to try some for yourself then you're in luck! We will have a fresh batch ready for this Thursday. Did you know that all the ingredients come right off the very tables you pick from?

      Delicata squash!!! This delicious squash was in earlier in the season but suffered from heat exhaustion. Lucky for us it's back! With a sweet nutty flavor and smooth creamy texture, it is as easy as cut, roast, butter and herbs.
      Another well received addition has been Serious Sourdough's gluten-free breads. We will continue to offer Buttermilk Sourdough, JalapeƱo Cheddar, Blue Corn and have added Mega-Seed. Serious Sourdough also offers a selection of sweets, quick breads, and other breads that we will take special orders for. Have your order in by Sunday and you can pick up your fresh gluten-free products on Wednesday.
     Also on the special order front is fresh seafood from the coast. Having a special get together, football party, or maybe it's just fish Friday? Have your order to by Wednesday evening and Scott from K & S Seafood will have your tuna, amberjack, blacktip shark, grouper, snapper, oysters, shrimp or crab here at The Market fresh on Friday!

Water Your Trees!

Many trees in our area are suffering under drought stress. It is not to late to save our trees, but they will need some TLC to get them through until the next good rain. The Texas Forest Service has released a helpful video to teach us how to properly water our trees.

Another tree watering guide can be found at:

The highlights I have gleaned from these two sources are that you can know that your tree is getting enough water if the soil is moist down to at least 5 inches, and the most important area to water is from the drip line (the edge of the canopy) to about halfway to the trunk. This is where a mature tree absorbs most of its water. Trees planted less than 3 years ago will need water right at the trunk.

Aside from watering, a 3inch layer of organic mulch starting about 3 inches from the trunk and going all the way to the drip line can help hold water, keep the soil cooler and feed the microbial life in the soil around your tree. Now is a great time to apply or reapply mulch around all of your trees. If you are a Georgetown Utility Customer, you can get free mulch. Find out more here:

Food photos at the Monument Market

We are planning our photo shoot of the gorgeous Monument Cafe desserts for the updated onliine ordering page on our site.  We'll capture the beautiful light in the Monument Market, sun-filled like an artist's atelier.  If you haven't visited yet, you must come see the beautiful products in this beautiful space.  Check in next week at and see the photo results!  Bet you'll want to order a pie.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Composting Class!

Come Join us Saturday at 10:30am or Wednesday the 21st at 1pm at the Market for a much requested composting class. Learn how to turn your yard and food waste into a valuable soil enricher. Adding compost to your garden is the number one way to increase soil health by adding nutrients, microbial life and water holding capacity to your soil. And you can do it for free!!!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Farm and Food Leadership Conference

Monday I had the great pleasure of attending the Farm and Food Leadership Conference in San Antonio. This gathering of people looking to improve the way we as a society think about, talk about , grow, eat, and legislate food was presented by the Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance (FARFA). This nonprofit has been doing incredible important work over the past few years getting the voices of small ranchers and family farmers heard by local, state & federal politicians. Among other things, FARFA was instrumental in getting an exemption in the recently passed Food Safety Law for small farmers who sell directly to the end user - aka - any farmer you find at the local farmers market and whose produce we carry here at the Monument Market. Without this exemption many, if not most small farmers would've been regulated out of business under the mountain of paperwork and fees that would've been forced upon them without actually doing anything to make food safer for you and me. I encourage you to visit their website, sign up for their newsletter, and if you can, become a member. The more members FARFA can claim, the more power they have to bend the ear of politicians. We might not have all the lobbying money that corporate Ag giants have, but we are the ones to have to eat. Our power is in our numbers. Our voices shouting together can be heard.

My head is still swimming with all the information I gathered at yesterday's conference. With discussions on everything from water rights to hunger to raw milk to GMO's, there were a few ideas/comments that stood out out most to me. One was a bit of an office joke that Patty Lovera of the Food and Water Watch told us about. The staff of this non-profit sustainable food & environmental lobbying group likes to play a version of the "6 degrees to Kevin Bacon" game where, instead of movie stars, they can connect any problem in the world in less than 6 steps to the consolidation of the world's food supply into a few very wealthy and very powerful hands. Where this might be a bit of an exaggeration (although I am not totally convinced it isn't possible), it is true that the more you learn about how most of us get our food, you can see how it is connected to a number of problems from childhood obesity to rising health care costs to environmental degradation to faltering rural economies and lack of good jobs for the many looking for good work.

Why is it that the government will intercede between AT&T buying T-Mobile in the name of anti-trust & consumer protection, but they have allowed the likes of Monsanto to buy up every independent seed company they can get their hands on? Did you know that 2/3 of the corn seed sold in the US come from 2 companies? 80% of the beef in this country is slaughtered by 4 companies. There are examples like this all throughout the food industry. There can be no free market competition when so much of the market is controlled by so few. In this system farmers have no power, and consumers have no choice. Why are anti trust laws thrown out the window when it comes to food?

The Keynote speaker of the conference was John Ikerd, Professor Emeritus of Agricultural Economics, University of Missouri, Columbia. It was wonderful to hear from an economist that the economic reality of our food system made no sense, and that we are really no longer dealing with a capitalist structure. Capitalism relies on the competition between a large number of buyers and sellers. Once the market power has been consolidated into a few hands, we have moved from a free capitalist market to a corporatocracy, which is more akin to communism. The only real ddifference is that instead of the government holding the power, a few entities in the form of corporations get to dictate the rules. He admitted that this is a bit of a rradical idea, but he had a lot of evidence to back it up.

Professor Ikerd's suggestion was to end all government subsidies and use the money to offer a tax credit to those farmers who are implementing sustainable practices on their farm. He proposed that with all the subsidy money now, we should be able to offer each small farmer about a $20,000 tax credit until they start making a livable income - somewhere in the 40,000 to 50,000 range.  He also proposed that factory feedlots, or CAFOS (Confined Animal Feeding Operations) should be treated as a factory and subject to all the environmental and public health regulations that any industrial factory is subject to. This would be a big step in abolishing CAFOS all together.

And there was so much more! If any one wants to chat about food politics with me, come on down to the market and find me in the garden! And remember to buy local! The best way you can help support a vibrant local food economy by choosing to eat local food. No solution is as delicious!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Guest Speaker Workshop This Saturday!

We are very excited to be hosting our first monthly Monument Market Guest Speaker Gardening Workshop this Saturday, September 10th at 10:30am. Sam Slaughter from Gabriel Valley Farm will be coming out to give us the secrets to growing great garlic in our home gardens. Not only is garlic delicious and anti-vampire, but it has a long list of medicinal benefits and is easy to tuck in all over your garden and landscaping. Come find out what varieties are suited for Central Texas and get the run down on how to cultivate this pungent favorite. If you can't make it Saturday, I'll be recapping what Sam teaches us at next Wednesday's class at 1pm.

One thing I like to do with garlic is to combine it with eggplant and tahini to make Baba Ganouj. As fun to eat as it is to say, we'll have a new batch of the rich spread in the market on Saturday. So after learning the ins and outs of growing garlic on Saturday morning, you can grab a warm baguette and some fresh baba ganouj to munch on as you dream about your fall garden!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Notes from the Garden: Broccoli Seedlings & Basil Flowers

broccoli seedlings

We're going to take advantage of the cooler weather this week to transplant all the broccoli, cabbage cauliflower & kale seedlings that we started in trays last month.

Napa Cabbage seedlings
 If you missed Saturday's "September in the Garden" Class, do not fret. The class will be repeated Wednesday September 7th at 1pm, so you still have a chance to get guidance on what you can do in your garden this month.

I have had a few people ask me why I let some of the basil in the Monument Garden flower. It is true that once basil starts to flower the leaves on that stem will stop producing as much essential oil, which is what gives basil its flavor. 
Red Ruffles Basil

Lemon Basil
I let the Thai and Red Ruffles Basil in the Herb garden flower because is is pretty and adds color to the garden. Lemon Basil goes to flower so quickly it is hard to keep it cut back enough to stop it and the flavor of this variety doesn't seem to change drastically, so I have decided to be zen and enjoy the color of the flowers.

But the real reason I can tolerate flowers on my basil is this...

and this...

BEES LOVE BASIL FLOWERS!!! And I love bees....ergo, I can let my basil flower without feeling too guilty about it.

Siam Queen Basil

Now, it it should be noted that only the leaves on the stem that is flowering will decline in flavor, not the whole plant, so you can let a few stems flower and still get full flavor from other parts of the plant. Also, you can cut back your basil plant heavily after flowering and get new tender growth that will have resumed full essential oil production. I'd reccomend planting a few plants for harvesting that can you keep cut back, and a few that you can leave to the bees. My favorite basils to let flower are Red Ruffles and Siam Queen Thai basil, which both produce particularly thick and beautiful flower heads.

basil seeds drying
You can also save your basil seeds for next season. Once the flowers start to turn brown & dry you can harvest the spear. Let them dry until you can crumble the flowers easily to extract the black seeds. Basils can cross pollinate, so, if you grow more than one type of basil, don't be surprised to find some rogue plants from the seeds you save. Make sure you start a few more plants than you think you'll need next season to allow for any funny mixes. Who knows - maybe you'll end up with an even better basil!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Organic Gaspacho from Market Items! Fresh and Delicious. We've done the Labor for Labor Day!

Tomatoes, peppers, red onion, zuchini cucumber, balsamic, olive oil, garlic and lime.  Almost too good to be true in this heat.  16 oz. for 7.95

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Fall planting has begun!

Today we transplanted napa cabbage and seeded beets in the garden. The baby broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage & kale are starting to harden off in the sun to get ready to be transplanted sometime in the next couple weeks!

To find out what you should be doing in your garden this month, come to the Monument Gardening Class this Saturday, September 3rd at 10:30am, or Wednesday, Septepmber 7th at 1pm.

Also, make sure to mark your calendars for this month's Guest Speaker Workshop on Saturday, September 10th at 10:30am. Sam Slaughter from Gabriel Valley Farms in Jonah will be coming to the market to teach us all the ins and outs of growing garlic in Central Texas. He's been experimenting with many different garlic varieties over the past few years. I'm excited to find out what he's learned! Garlic doen't need to be planted until Ocotber, so you'll have plenty of time to get seed garlic and prep your garden after the workshop. Sam will also be featured on the Central Texas Gardener PBS show the same weekend, but we'll get to see him in person!