Almost all plants require the addition of nutrients, unless they have particularly long roots that are capable of mining the soil for all their nutritional needs. Giving plants extra food is essential for cultivated plants that are not in their natural environments. Ashitaba is one of those plants. Native to the Japanese Pacific Coast, ashitaba is out of its element in Maine or just about anywhere else in the United States.
If you look around your local farmers market, you will almost certainly see large heads of cabbage. If your favorite organic farm doesn’t already sell them, buy whatever medley of root vegetables they have, and use those instead. Homemade sauerkraut, kimchi or fermented root vegetables are a treat, and with refrigeration can last well into fall and beyond.
For this project, a special piece of equipment that I use, and you should as well, comes in very handy: a fermentation crock.
One of the first things to be finished in our garden will be our herb and rose garden. Created from the existing rock garden beds surrounding our patio, it will have sage, thyme, rosemary, summer savory, oregano — to name just a few herbs — as well as five large rose bushes. The beautiful pink and yellow lilies will remain. We got a good start on it this past weekend, unperturbed by the requirement to dig up some old shrubs and their roots.
For many of us, our relationship to food is a never ending journey. Sometimes to move forward one finds themselves looking back. For bread and specifically the grains used to make it I find that the best results are indeed found in reflection. It is sometimes true that modern ingenuity has value for us, but that is usually only when paired with ancient wisdom. For grains, that wisdom is in the ancient varieties that have been grown for thousands of years.
During this time of relative uncertainty, we have decided to renew our commitment to gardening. Dr. Cowan’s Garden was originally a place, located in Napa Valley on a plot of land generously donated by a friend. It embodied our ideals and was a sanctuary for growth and learning.
The garden was our muse for new product offerings and for improving existing ones. The garden kept our ambitions grounded to certain fundamentals, as the practice of gardening can be challenging.
Now that you know how to create your own sourdough starter, it’s time to make your first loaf of bread. Make sure your starter has been “fed” consistently for at least a few days beforehand. You will also need some sort of baking vessel, such as a combo cooker or a Dutch oven; a large bowl; bench knife or dough scraper; and a razor for scoring. Once you are ready to begin, make a rough bake plan, either written down or just in your head.
From the beginning of Dr. Cowan's Garden four years ago, we wanted to establish close relationships with organic and Biodynamic farms. Additionally, we have had a vision of sustainable farming that could be realized only by thinking “local” and “small.”
To that end, as we shared in March, we helped Redrange Farm in Pennsylvania achieve Demeter certification.