Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Planting 3/24/09

A few cherry blossoms have opened and the rest are on the verge. Several weeks ago we planted lettuces, rapini and something called beetberries, that I had never heard of before.

A few weeks ago we started a couple varieties of tomatoes from seed and some varieties of basil indoors. I find that most of what I plant can be direct seeded into the garden but in the DC area it is necessary to plant seedlings or plants for both tomatoes and basil.

Today we planted sugar snaps, fava beans, early carrots and bunching onions.

Over the next several weeks as the soil temperature rises we will continue to add new seeds most weeks. This year we ordered most of our seeds from Johnny’s Seeds. gardening!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Dutch Flower Auction

For several years I have been working with a broker on the Dutch Flower Auction to get flowers directly from Holland. During the winter months when it is not possible to use local flowers I get the majority of my flowers from Holland since they are both the most beautiful and are raised in an ecologically conscious manner. The process has always seemed kind of magical. I order flowers via email on a Tuesday they show up early Thursday morning at my door or I order on a Friday morning and they show up on Sunday.

The quality is extraordinary since the flowers are coming directly to me instead of making an additional in between stop with a DC flower wholesaler. By cutting out the middle man the price is also better. Additionally, I have access to all of the cut flowers available at the auction. I work with a company called EZ Flowers, Fred and Martin always answer my endless questions…for example, “ I am looking for the best quality parrot tulip in a hot pink can you tell me what looks great today and send me photos if there is a choice of varieties…”

After years of working this way today I visited the auction in Aalsmeer Holland, about 30 minutes outside of Amsterdam. It appears that everything at the auction happens very quickly and efficiently to ensure that the perishable flowers get to their destination as fast as possible. We sped around the acres of flowers with Martin on a fast and agile small golf cart like vehicle, stopping regularly to walk through racks filled with seemingly endless beautiful flowers. Martin had worked raising tulips before coming to work on the auction and his knowledge about the individual flowers, origin of different flowers and the operation of the auction was immense.

I learned that the auction (which includes 5 other smaller sites) is run by FloraHolland, which is a cooperative of approximately 6000 growers that has been run with a similar structure for over 100 years. About 48 million flowers and plants are sold on the auction daily. Having a chance to see the highly complex bidding and distribution systems was eye opening.

Before going to sleep tonight I will place my order for Thursday morning delivery.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Da Pepper

Quick trip to Amsterdam- a visit the Dutch auction where most of my flowers come from during the winter months, an amazing organic Saturday market, art, Royal Dutch Ballet, a memorable flower store, and a bunch of fantastic meals……The stand out event was tonight at a vegan organic community kitchen called, De Peper.

From what I learned the 3 day a week restaurant is part of the De Peper Collective, which also includes a cinema, gallery, print shop, artist workspace, performance/rehearsal and event space. The project began as a squat in 1999 by a group of artists. The space continues to be run as a collective- work and decisions are made by the group.

To eat at the restaurant you call at 4:00 the day that you want to come to make a reservation. Once you arrive you check in at the bar to let them know you are there, pay and get something to drink if you want. They ask if you want your soup and bring it to you. You get your own silverware, bring your plate to the kitchen when you are done and ask for your main course. If you want dessert after you are done you ask and pay for it.

The meal costs 6 or 10 euros, you choose. The website mentions that if you do not have 6 euros you can ask if you can pay less. We sat at the bar and talked to an engaging bartender and a regular who was there for dinner. Kids were running around, a horror film series was playing upstairs, there seemed to be a mix of regulars and new comers. We ate a delicious and satisfying vegan meal and ordered dessert, chocolate cake.

Conversation, food, music and all around feeling was beyond.

I hope to keep a little bit of the energy with me.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

vanilla snow

Woke up to some nice snow in DC this morning and made vanilla snow.

-Scoop snow in a cup
-Make a syrup with seeds from a fresh vanilla bean, a drop of vanilla extract and agave nectar
-Pour syrup over snow