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Can't Get Your Compost Hot?

compost Jun 30, 2024

So many of my students come to me with stress about their compost. There's a lot of misunderstanding about what compost is and how to do it "right." 

However, I have a strict no-stress policy in my garden and in my course. We don't garden to increase the stress in our lives, right!? 

There's no need to stress because compost is a natural process that is constantly happening all around us. It is nature's way of recycling nutrients. 

But we don't need to worry about that because compost happens. 

You can't really stop it from happening, unless you throw things in the trash.

It actually hurts me to see anything organic thrown away. Did you know that almost half of the trash in the landfill is organic? What a waste of nutrients! Plus it causes all kinds of problems, from methane gas to toxic leachates. 

One of the greatest things about gardening is recycling all those nutrients right in our yard. 

And you can compost ANYTHING organic... even those "forbidden" items like meat, bones, hair, eggshells, etc.  Are you kidding me? Do you think nature doesn't have a plan for dealing with stuff like that? 

In nature there is no waste. There is no "throwing away." Because everything is connected. 

There are actually many ways to do it, from simply digging it into your garden bed to creating a "hot" compost pile. Hot compost can be great, but it is far from the only way of doing it. 

There's not really a right or wrong way......

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Salmon Sausage

Uncategorized May 15, 2024

It is once again freezer-cleaning out season, as I make room for this year's harvest.

I had some friends over last night to chat about living in community, and fixed some salmon sausage chowder. 

I was feeling a little bad because I fixed it the last time some of these friend's came over, but it turned out they were really hoping I would make it again because it had been so good the first time! 

The secret to the chowder is the salmon sausage! 

Salmon sausage transforms the texture and flavor of salmon. It works wonders on end-of-season salmon that you need to clear out of your freezer in the spring!

It's also great for people who don't like the texture of regular salmon. Rylan doesn’t care for salmon filets, but he will gobble up salmon sausage.

It takes a little time to make, but is well worth the effort. You will need a meat grinder and a kitchen scale. The salt and wine are essential but the rest of the seasonings are flexible. Use what you have! 

It can be made into paddies and fried up in some lard or butter, or used in any dish you would normally use sausage for. 

Salmon Sausage

  • 1 large or 2 small salmon
  • Salt: 1.5% of the weight of the fish
  • Dry white wine:10% the weight of the fish
  • 2-3 teaspoons fennel, ground
  • 4-6 cloves fresh garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons pepper, ground
  • 1 bay leaf, ground
  • 3/4 cup packed fresh herbs (chives, thyme, parsley, oregano, tarragon, sage, etc) or 3 Tablespoons dried herbs

Filet and skin fish, scraping...

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Children in the Garden

children community Feb 10, 2024

Is there anything more natural than a child in a garden? There is such wonder, such delight to be found. Such messes to make. And good things to eat. Every season brings with it new delights. 

I have been gardening with my children since they were born. I would put them in a carrier and go out and tend the garden. Of course, some things had to wait until they were napping, but you would be surprised at how much you can do with a baby on your back. 

They loved it. The movement, the fresh air, seeing new things, being close to mama. Sometimes I would just wander around the garden looking at things and thinking while I carried them. 

I also would set them loose to crawl in the garden, keeping a close eye on them. They loved to go after the strawberries, even when they were still white. Once they learned what was good to eat, they would go back every chance they got.


As a toddler, Graysen could strip the gooseberries off the thorny bush with his tiny fingers like an expert. And I could hardly get the Juneberries in the house because he ate them so fast. 

Then he discovered the cucumbers. He liked to pick them and eat them like an apple. Cherry tomatoes didn't stand a chance. He was also generous and liked to share what he picked with me and any other kids who came by. 

We had a small sandbox in the garden where he could dig to his heart's content while I worked nearby. He loved to play with water from the rain catchment barrels. 

As he and...

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Homemade Vinegar

recipes vinegar Sep 22, 2023

I am totally in love with homemade vinegar! It makes the most refreshing drink mixed with soda water. And it is so, so easy. 

Basically, you can use any kind of edible plant material. My favorite so far is rose or rhubarb rose. You can use peony, red clover, basil, spruce tips, chive blossoms... anything fresh.

Fill a glass jar half full with the plant material and if there is no natural sugars in it, add some honey or sugar. A few tablespoons per quart should do it. Top it off with non-chlorinated water. 

Cover with a cloth held on with a rubber band and set it on your counter where you will remember to stir it once or twice a day. 

After a week or two strain out the solids, put the liquid back into the jar with a lid and stick it in a dark cupboard for a few months. Then you will have vinegar! 

AND it will be healthy vinegar, full of probiotics. This is the sort of living food my body craves. It's great for salads and soups, but my favorite way to use it is to make a healthy, refreshing non-alcoholic beverage. You can mix it with honey for a switchel, or just do straight vinegar and water/ soda water. 

Try it and let me know what kind is your favorite!

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Uncategorized Jun 11, 2023

Rhubarb is one of the stars of Alaskan gardens. It produces gorgeous red and green stalks all summer long, and can thrive with very little care. But sometimes rhubarb can get a bit old and worn out and can benefit with some love. 

If the stalks have grown thin and spindly, you can split it. This is best done in the spring right when it comes out of the ground. Just take a number 2 shovel or a spade and go right down the middle of the plant. Dig out half and replant it somewhere else or give it to a neighbor. Fill the hole in with compost if you have it. 

Rhubarb also loves a bit of manure. Any kind will work. Just spread it around the base of the plant, cover it with wood chips, dried grass, or any other kind of mulch, and water well. 

If we have a dry spring, watering your rhubarb will really get it going. This year, it's not so necessary.

And finally, never cut, but pull stalks out with a twisting motion. Twist off the leaf and tuck it under the plant to keep weed down and feed the plant. Cutting leaves little nubs that will rot and damage the plant. 

If you continually harvest your rhubarb it will stay tender all summer long in Alaska. If you are further south, the hot summer weather will turn your rhubarb tough. Stop harvesting it when the weather turns colder in the fall. 

I have tons of rhubarb recipes, but this bread is amazing! Not too sweet!

Rhubarb Bread

  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup melted butter
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ...
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Creamy Cauliflower Soup

recipe May 04, 2023

This soup is perfect for a chilly spring day. It could be made from perennial walking onions or leeks overwintered in your garden instead of the onions. And don't forget to leave some parsnips in your garden in the fall to dig out fresh in the spring! 

Creamy Cauliflower Soup


  • ¼ cup butter
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 parsnip, diced (optional)
  • ¼ cup flour
  • 2-3 cups bone broth
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 pound fresh or frozen cauliflower (or broccoli)
  • 1 teaspoon thyme salt (or regular salt + fresh or dried thyme)
  • A few scrapings of nutmeg



Melt butter in a medium pot over medium heat. Add onions and parsnip and cook until softened. Add flour and cook about 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add broth and milk and bring to a simmer. Cook until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add salt and nutmeg. Add cauliflower and simmer 5-10 minutes until thawed (if frozen) or cooked through (if fresh). Blend and serve. Add more broth or milk if it gets too thick.

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Freezer Season

recipe zucchini May 03, 2023

We are having a super cold, late spring here in South-central Alaska, which makes me think of baking. I SHOULD be cleaning out the freezer, though, so why not do both? This morning I made a blueberry coffee cake, and while taking out the blueberries, I noticed I still have 3 more packages of zucchini in there! Score! 

Last weekend I made this chocolate zucchini cake for a friend's birthday and it was the hit of the party. One person said it was the only chocolate cake they like because it's not too sweet. It actually uses less than half of the sugar called for in the original recipe, and it's perfect! 

So here's the recipe! If you are bummed out about all the snow, this is guaranteed to lift your spirits.

If you don't have frozen zucchini, you can plan some for next year. Now is the time to start your zucchini in 3 or 4 inch pots. Plant 2 seeds per pot, and thin them down one!. These guys DO NOT like to have their roots disturbed and will not produce well if they are crowded. Transplant them to your garden at the end of the month. 

To freeze the zucchini, I let them get a little bigger and then shred them in the food processor. Then I just pack them into freezer ziplocks and freeze. No blanching or other processing required. 

Who can guess what kind of fish this is? 


Chocolate Zucchini Cake


Dry Ingredients:

  • 2 cups flour
  • ½ cup cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt



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Reduce Plastic Use (Granola Bar Recipe!)

Uncategorized Apr 22, 2023

This week we've been participating in a community trash pickup with HoWL, Homer Wilderness Leaders. 

It was so fun to work together with other youth to tackle this dirty job. There is really something magical about working with people towards a common goal that unites you together, and I think we all made some wonderful friends this week. 

It was deeply satisfying to be taking action for our earth and community. So often we may think about or talk about what could be better, but actually doing something is so empowering. 

It was easy to see the difference we were making as we drove past the places where we cleaned and saw how nice it looked. I felt like each piece of plastic I put in my bag was saving it from ending up polluting the ocean or the soil.

So many people honked or stopped by to tell us how much they appreciated us cleaning up. And maybe we even inspired people to do a little cleanup of their own, or help the community in some other way. 

Most of the trash we picked up was plastic, and it really got me thinking about ways I can further reduce the amount of plastic I use. 

All this plastic trash goes into plastic bags to be put in a landfill (in nature) to sit there for eternity. Just so we can have the convenience of single servings of string cheese or granola bars. Juice or water to go. Or tacos to-go. 

It just isn't right. 

Most of this stuff that comes wrapped in plastic isn't good for us anyway. Even water that has been...

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Creating a Food Culture

food food culture Mar 28, 2023

Are you picky about the food you eat? 

Or do you just eat anything that is put in front of you? 

Do you select food that is fresh and flavorful? Food that makes your body feel good? 

Or do you go for immediate gratification? Salty, sweet, or crunchy?

Do you really taste the food you eat or are you just trying to fill your belly, or some other need?

These are not rhetorical questions. I'm sure you fall somewhere in-between. But reflecting on where you fall can give you greater awareness of it. 

I have this huge crush on French food culture. I just really love how they approach food, and I wish that we could create a similar culture here in the states. 

They really value fresh, wholesome food. They cook real meals with a beginning, middle, and end and sit down with their families to eat. They insist on real food in their daycares and schools. They pay attention to flavor and texture when planning their meals. They value top quality ingredients. And they really enjoy their food.

For the French, meals are an important part of the day, not just putting gas in the tank. 

In my own life I am trying to cultivate this same reverence for good food. I put loads of time and energy into growing and preserving my own fresh vegetables. I go out of my way to get fresh, raw milk from a farmer friend a few miles away. I spend time planning and cooking fresh food for the boys and me. I make all our own yogurt, tortillas, bread, bone broth, and more. I share...

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It's time to turn away from pesticides

It's supposed to be a work day for me but instead I am on my couch crying.
I'm crying for my father, who had Parkinson's, a degenerative disease that took his memories, his mobility, his vitality and his joy, until he was just a shadow and ready to pass on.
I'm crying for my friend whose partner has Parkinson's, and their young daughter who will never experience the full greatness of her father.
I'm crying for a family member with cancer, a friend whose mother has Alzheimers, and another whose child had cancer.
I'm crying for everyone who suffers from auto-immune diseases, allergies, autism, and ADHD.
I'm crying because we are creating all of these chronic diseases by isolating ourselves from nature.
We have created toxic lives in toxin-filled homes eating toxic food.
It is time for us to turn away from pesticides.
This is an 80-year experiment that has failed miserably.
In trying to kill weeds and insects we are actually killing ourselves and our planet.
We have lost over half of the life on the planet, including up to 90% of the insects in some areas.
Gyphosate, the number one pesticide on the planet, is present in 80% of the air we breathe, the water we drink, and every morsel of non-organic bread we eat.
Childhood degenerative diseases are skyrocketing and the largest economic driver in the USA is chronic disease management.
This is not ok with me.
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