The Grovestead

Farm, Family, Fun.

Tag: sweet corn

Potato & Corn Chowder

Potato Corn Chowder recipe

I’ve been inspired recently to start making my own soups. Simple soups that are made from simple ingredients you can grow in your own garden. The plan is to make a variety of soups in bulk over the winter while our woodstove is burning, so we’ll have delicious homemade soups on hand all year long. I’m also going to start posting the recipes as I experiment and discover ones I like (see the new ‘Cooking’ section on the menu).

I’m calling these “Homestead Recipes”. They taste best if you use homegrown vegetables and cook them on a wood-fired stove. ;-)

Potato & Corn Chowder

This is my new favorite chowder. It will ruin you for store-bought soups. Very simple but loaded with flavor.

Ingredients

  • 4-5 yellow potatoes (eg, Yukon Gold), cubed
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 medium white onion, diced
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup cream (half & half)
  • 2 cups sweet corn
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 bay leaf
  • (optional) 3 strips bacon

Toppings

  • Bacon bits
  • Shredded cheddar
  • Sour Cream

Directions

  1. Cut bacon into bits. Fry up bacon and set aside. (skip this step for vegetarian)
  2. Saute onions and garlic in bacon grease (or olive oil)
  3. Combine onions, garlic, potatoes and chicken stock in stock pot. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes on wood-burning stove.
  4. Add corn, salt, cream, and bay leaf. Continue simmering uncovered 20-30 minutes or until potatoes reach desired consistency.
  5. Add toppings and serve.

Makes 2 quarts.

Potato corn chowder with toppings


Planting a No-Till Garden, Step-by-Step

No-till garden planted

A few years ago I watched the documentary Back to Eden, which describes how master gardener Paul Gautschi uses a revolutionary but forgotten method to suppress weeds and rebuild soil fertility. If you do any gardening at all it’s a must-see (the whole video is free on the website).

This past season I finally got a chance to test out the method, which has come to be known as “no-till” gardening. Unlike traditional gardening where the soil is tilled under every season, with no-till gardening the soil is always covered and therefore never becomes hard and compact. Also, the weeds are virtually non-existent because of the thick mulch.

I sectioned off a portion of the garden and set about converting it to a no-till plot.

No-till garden plot

I’m pretty sure there’s no wrong way to create a no-till garden, as long as you put down enough organic matter. My no-till recipe goes like this:

  • 1-inch compost
  • Sugar (carbohydrates activate the microorganisms in the soil. can also use molasses)
  • Biodegradable paper mulch (for weeds)
  • Another inch of compost
  • Organic fertilizer (a.k.a. chicken droppings from the last coop cleanout)
  • Leaves
  • 4-inches shredded woodchips

Dumptruck leaves giant pile of woodchips

Wood chips arrive.

Layer of compost added to soil

Bare soil is covered with 1-inch compost.

Paper mulch laid down over no-till garden

Paper mulch from the garden store acts as a weed block.

Added organic fertilizer to no-till garden plot

Pine shavings from the chicken coop.

Leaves added to no-till plot

A layer of leaves.

Woodchips spread over no-till garden plot

The shredded wood chips are put down last.

Watering no-till garden

Final step is to soak everything thoroughly.

I came back two weeks later to plant the tomato seedlings and found the ground beneath the wood chips was still moist from this initial watering (it hadn’t rained since).

Seedling transplanted into no-till garden

While the ground right next to it was hard and cracked.

Bare soil is dry and cracked

The results speak for themselves:

Comparison of corn grown in no-till garden

Comparison of onions grown in no-till garden

comparison of plant growth till vs no-till

There was a significant difference in both the growth of the plants and the size of the produce from the no-till plot.

However, there were a couple of drawbacks. There is a cost to getting the woodchips, and the general prep was a little more than just hoeing dirt into rows. But the time saved weeding more than makes up for it. The biggest problem I experienced was low germination rates. Many of the direct-sown seeds did not germinate. But of the ones that did, or of the transplants, they grew significantly better with far less input (I never watered the no-till plot after initial planting the whole summer). I have a couple of theories as to why the seeds didn’t sprout. Mainly, the wood chips have a tendency to fall back over the soil where the seed was placed, making it more difficult for the seedling to sprout. Also, since the black soil wasn’t exposed, the ground would have been cooler in that plot. Some vegetables like corn require very warm temps to germinate.

So as I said it was definitely a success but also had some challenges. I will continue to grow the no-till plot next year and, as always, keep learning.

 


The harvest begins

Really really spicy pepper

With the exception of cucumbers and sweet peas which started ripening in late June, we’ve been waiting patiently for most of our garden to get to the harvest stage. It looks like harvest is now upon us. In the past week I have harvested:

  • 65 lbs of potatoes (about 1/4 our crop)
  • 7.5 lbs of beets
  • 9 lbs of tomatoes (with many more coming)

Tomatoes ripening

Tomato harvest

Digging potatoes out of the ground

Potato harvest

We’ve also plucked salad greens, cabbage, swiss chard, beans, carrots, eggplant and late-season strawberries.

Plenty of peppers are ready to harvest too, like this one called Cherry Bomb, because it feels like a bomb went off in your mouth if you try to eat one:

Peppers ripening

The sweet corn is just about ready too, except we came home from a family vacation to find many of the best stalks shredded and ears of corn eaten. It was raccoons, of course.

Raccoons got into our sweet corn

It’s the risk I take, not having a fence. I would have been more upset except the anemic growth of our corn this year didn’t produce much. I either planted the corn too close together or the weed pressure was too high (or both). However, in my no-till experiment, the corn stalks are mammoth. Look for a post on that later.

My pumpkins are growing great but watermelon and cantaloupe are struggling. Again, I think the weeds won the day in my melon patch.

Rainbow in the distance


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