A FREE 3 Day public arts event is coming round the bend this Labor Day weekend. Mark your calendars and head down to Nasser Civic Center Plaza to see the transformation that occurs when Community Comes Together. Imagine! Public Art in the Plaza is “a multidisciplinary arts event as an opportunity to envision the Corning Civic Center Plaza as a future Public Arts Park. IMAGINE! will be held at the Corning Civic Center Plaza on Thursday, September 2 through Sunday, September 5, 2021. Free and open to the public. Bring a picnic and a chair to this family friendly event!” This event is hosted by The ARTS Council of the Southern Finger Lakes, but the Southeast Steuben Library will be a participant. The best part about this event is the location is our backyard! You can grab your library materials, then find the entertainment just outside our doors.
You will find the Civic Center Plaza transform beyond what we could imagine in the coming weeks. The Library will host this Sunflower Sculpture created by Crows Nest Artists, Gwen Quigley and Tony Moretti. Thanks to the generosity of Tanglewood Nature Center, the Southeast Steuben County Library is renting this sculpture to exhibit in our community. This activity is made possible in part by the QuickARTS grant program administered by The ARTS Council of the Southern Finger Lakes and funded by the Community Foundation of Elmira-Corning and the Finger Lakes, Inc.
Join us on Friday, September 3 for a Funky Birdshouses Workshop with the Crows Nest Artists. Create fun, funky bird houses and feeders out of recycled, found and natural materials with the expertise of Gwen Quigley and Tony Moretti. Decorate the Civic Center Plaza for theImagine, Public Art in the Plazaevent during Labor Day weekend. Take your project home after the workshop, or leave it installed until September 6. This is a multi-generational workshop, fun for families or simply for kids of all ages, plus the results are great for the birds and world. Use this opportunity to be creative, use tools, build and decorate. This activity is made possible with donated funds received in memory of E. Jacqueline Welles.
If you missed our last Outdoor Yoga session with Elizabeth Moses, view the recording of the full class posted above. We visited Lindley-Presho-Caton Little League ball field for a refreshing session of movement. The next class will be at Margaret Smyers Park in Caton on Saturday, August 21 at 11am(if the weather allows). The class will be presented on Facebook Live if weather indicates heavy rain, so stay tuned to our page! Mark your calendars for the last live yoga session on Saturday, September 11 at 11am at Kinsella Park in Erwin.
The latest Crafting with Kimberly class showed us how to make Moon Mirrors. We had a bunch of fun with this inexpensive and easy project. The few items needed to make a moon mirror are a round shaped mirror, flat sided glass baubles and a tube of caulk. We sourced all of these materials at the Dollar Tree and created them in Civic Center Plaza. The weather held up for us this time versus my Hypertufa class on Midsummer Day. We offered some Take and Make kits, but they quickly disappeared before this article could be published. I look forward to seeing YOU at one of our upcoming programs. Always keep tuned to our calendar of events for programs offered for any age!
That’s a wrap for this stationary moment. I’ll check you on the flip side!
Grow bags are a something I learned about in quarantine. Their name describes them precisely. These are bags meant for growing! Since grow bags are made of fabric, aeration and drainage are optimal versus the common plastic or terra cotta flower pots. They can be sourced online or even made on a sewing machine. While just about any supply was out of stock in stores during lock-down, I was able to purchase this pack of bags from the big name we dare not mention. Although I took the easy route to obtaining these bags, they can be sewn with many types of fabric. A couple of patrons sewed dozens of grow bags in our makerspace, Creation Station to plant sapling apple trees in the making of a small orchard.
If you have the will to make your own bags, follow these instructions from Northern Homestead. They recommend using weed control landscape fabric to make the bags instead of using it under your mulch in the garden beds. I concur that landscape fabric has little weed control ability and am certainly intrigued to make bags with the roll I purchased, but never used.
The bags I purchased are durable, more so than the landscape fabric will create, but I’m willing to test that theory for curious minds. Perhaps making grow bags will be a lesson we cover in an upcoming #SeWednesday. Whatd’ya think?
Ginger was a crop I learned to grow this season. I also learned she’s a temperamental girl in this Northeast climate. Our spring literally sprung temperatures to both extremes. It was deceptive weather patterns and an anxious gardener that helped hinder the health of the green sprouts you see above, but the grow bags had their first test and won my approval! For a second try, I decided to put to test a program idea that was in development with Bluebird Trail Farm before our lives were flipped for the foreseeable future. Let me walk you through making a Pizza Patio Pot.
The main ingredient of pizza, after dough, is tomato sauce. A neighbor gifted me a flat of tomato plants–that’s 32 plants! My empty garden beds filled quickly, leaving about 12 plants that still needed love. I took the strongest of the leftovers along with the grow bags and attempted a little tomato plant first aid. Extreme day sun and another frost bit these plants hard, but I wanted to see how much resuscitation I could actually provide, while possibly inspiring some of our readers.
Using the recipe for Square Foot Gardening, I filled up three bags with the materials I had left. Each bag holds seven gallons of dirt, so I felt it worth the risk to place 2 tomato plants in each bag. I had three beets and three basil plants to add to these pots and decided they could be the most delicious Pizza Patio Pots for any gardener. *I would add beets to my pizza, yes I would. For those opposed to beets on pizza, I recommend adding herbs like oregano and parsley that you like in tomato sauce.
After the bags were filled with the growing medium, I wanted to add a layer of wood chips as mulch. As I added the layer of chips to finish each bag, I cupped my hand to cover the tiny basil plant and protect the leaves from damage. I often get lost in the YouTube rabbit hole of curiosities and found these Back to Eden garden tours with Paul Gautschi who recognizes the power of wood chips for bountiful gardens. This was just another layer of experimentation to my experiment. Would the wood chip layer help maintain moisture to the plants, while feeding the plants with nutrients as the chips break down throughout the season? Watch a video with Paul if you have a few hours to be inspired by his admiration for nature’s free fertilizer.
Once each grow bag had their layer of wood chips, it was time to water these puppies and let them process their magic over the growing season. We saw the driest June and July in over a decade of living in the Fingers Lakes, so the little green watering can was my best friend for several weeks. I kept the bags on the grass, so water can flow right through, but they can be place on a patio or porch, as long as they receive enough sunlight. Remember water will flow through, so if you might want to protect the surface upon which you place these pots. I found that baking sheets work very well for keeping the water from sitting on a wooden porch step. Any liquid that is collected gets absorbed over time.
After four weeks, the towering tomato plants above are those I resuscitated. Either the wood chips or an attentive gardener helped them regain health. Each plant is starting to provide cherry tomatoes. The beet leaves are growing large and luscious. I look forward to a fresh salad with them soon. I implemented branches as a support system so the stem stay upright. You could opt for tomato cages instead.
When you’re finished with the tutorial, set your scopes for the skies. July 22 is our last chance to easily catch a glimpse of Comet NEOWISE for another 6,800 years! Be sure to reach a high vista for the best view. I am waiting for my chance to show the snapshot skills I built in the Photo Fun with Dan Gallagher class we hosted over the weekend. My Nikon is charged and ready, I hope you are as well.
We have a terrific announcement for all aspiring yogis. The Yoga with Elizabeth Moses video series we have hosted online since lock-down is now in person at area parks for the next six Saturdays! Please mark your calendars to travel our coverage area and practice sun salutations in together in nature! July 25 and August 1 are our first park visit. Set your GPS for Caton Park, 1180 Riff Rd, Corning, NY 14830.
Stay creative and keep in touch until we meet again.
That’s a wrap for this stationary moment. I’ll check you on the flip side!
My escape plan each evening tends to lead to my garden. Warm weather leaves me craving fresh air and birdsong. A mindful gardener is always at the ready to harvest and process their bounty in preparation of the pending seasons of cold.
It is by virtue of living in the Finger Lakes (#FLX) region that I discovered the delicacy we will discuss today. This type of tinkering is far from the electronic tech stuff we explore in our maker space, Creation Station, but I dare you not to geek out on the genetic code of garlic. It’s a super food and I told myself I’d marry it one day. (Ha!) I believe I’ve achieved that marital status, as the crop is the easiest to maintain and provides two harvests per planting. Garlic is the double duty power plant you need in your homestead (and when I say homestead, that’s anything you call your dwelling—my first “homestead” gardens were in pots and tin cans on a curbside in Philadelphia). Space is not a major concern for this allium. Give a clove a six inch dirt covering to rest inside in the fall and it will show its gratitude as the first green shoot to pop out of the ground in spring.
While I’m busy prepping and planting my remaining garden beds in spring, Garlic is growing and showing off. By late June, the flower stem begins to develop and curl. That is the scape. Once the scape curls, I harvest it by cutting it off of the plant a few inches above the leaves, which allows for more nutrients to go directly to the bulb.
Once washed and dried, I weighed my bounty to assess just how much I could make of each recipe I found in this video. I really love the Garlic Scape Powder recommendation, but Pesto and Pickled Scapes are a favorite in our home, so garlic powder will wait until I harvest the rest of the plant in a few weeks. I decided to put up a batch of pickled scapes to eat throughout the year and process a couple cups of Garlic Scape Pesto to enjoy now.
I used the New York Times recipe for this batch of garlic pesto, but there are many options to choose. You can omit the cheese to keep this recipe vegan. The flavor is still wonderful. What I also love about this recipe is using inexpensive sunflower seeds in place of pine nuts. I have replaced pine nuts for walnuts in pesto recipes previously , but am aware that practice is not safe for nut-free homes.
Check out that fresh basil in the lower middle frame above. THAT basil is from a hydroponic plant I got at the grocery store in April. Remember when we made Chunky Knit Planters? Recall that plant in the final product?? Yep, that’s the one! Harvesting from my kitchen table is incredible.
In order to can the garlic scapes for pickling, I cut off the tips of the harvested end and the flower. Some people prefer to cut their scapes to straight lines for ease of packing, but I prefer to preserve the spiral. We think the curl is the most unique feature of this delicacy, so a little more time in preparation makes for a beautiful presentation.
Before I start preparing the garlic scapes to be canned, I sterilized the jars in a stockpot with at least an inch of water covering them. I learned from a rustic homesteader that a rack is not required under the jars to protect the glass, so I go rogue. You might choose to follow more strict processing rules at the Ball Jar website. Once the water comes to a boil, I know the jars are sterilized and safe for use. I take them from the water bath to dry and fill each one like it is a work of art.
Using a chopstick that I sterilized in the hot water bath, I gently push down each garlicky curl. I work to keep the flower end of each curl up, so that it acts as a handle for the person who grabs it. I ensure no curls are tangled and continue to fill the jar, leaving a half inch of head space. Any straight portions of scape get stuffed in the center to completely pack the jar.
The bounty of scapes I harvested equaled 6 pints for pickling after making the pesto. The bowl of scraps will go to the compost bin for fertilizing the new crop this fall. Once the jars were filled, I made the brine. This Pickled Garlic Scapes recipe from Home in the Finger Lakes was very helpful and the first recipe I tried several years ago. If you don’t have pickling spice mix in your cupboard, use approximately 1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns and 1 teaspoon of dill per pint. If you are a pickling guru, you may have a favorite brine recipe to share in the comments. I put the spices into each jar for equal proportions, then pour the brine over everything, allowing a 1/2 inch of headspace per jar.
As the brine fills the jar, the scapes tend to also rise, so I use the chopstick as a stopper. I hold down the scapes for a few seconds and watch them blanch into a vibrant bright green. At that moment, they seem to back down from the rise, which allows me to wipe the jar rim and place the lids on top for sealing.
We learned in our Homesteading Series at Bluebird Trail Farm in 2019 that the best way to seal your jars is to hold down the lid with one finger, while applying the screw ring with the other hand and twist to close. Then grab a towel to hold the hot jar and tighten the lid with the other hand.
Two jars were reserved as spicy pickles. I added 1/2 teaspoon of crushed red pepper to each jar, then realized I needed a way to mark these separate from the rest of the batch. Using chunks of fresh garlic, I used this as my marking system, which worked better than labeling the jars with marker that could contaminate the water bath.
Each jar was then gently placed into the bubbling water bath and processed for 10 minutes. This gave me time to clean up the kitchen and prepare a pasta meal with pesto and fresh veggies. After the jars boil for 10 minutes, they can be removed from the pot of water and allowed to rest for 24 hours, undisturbed. The best part of the whole process is hearing that distinct “pop” of a lid sealing properly outside of the water bath. It’s like perfect science.
I usually take the pot off of the hot burner and allow everything to cool overnight. Once I’m ready to put them up, each jar will be labeled with the ingredients, so we know what’s inside. These jars make perfect gifts during the holidays and are a great addition to any barbecue or pot luck meal. A recent study found that consumption of fermented foods are linked to low Covid-19 mortality. Pickles could be the perfect food, after all.
Pivoting from the e’Scape plan, let’s talk about future things. There are still a few hours to register for Photo Fun with Dan Gallagher. This class will guide you through using an interchangeable lens camera or SLR. The Southeast Steuben County Library hosted a similar class last summer and all attendees proved better portfolios and family photos with credit to Dan’s excellent teaching.