Local Food and Farm Products 
Volume 8 Number 25   June 21, 2016

FIELD NOTES: Chapultepec Garden, Take Care of Your Iris

I do not know anybody who was not been given surplus Iris stalks or rhizomes. You may put them temporarily into a pot till you find a permanent place for display, and of garden care.  As a matter of fact, you should put them into the earth as a rhizome. The rhizome is root cutoff from a larger clump.
 If the Iris begins to bloom, you should stay away from the flower stem and do not dig up the rhizome before April. Replanting time is in August and September so the Iris has a rest before it sets its blooms in spring.
When you are separating the plant while the iris is still in bloom you are interrupting the iris’ love life.  We have to understand the processes of nature.  The flower develops its reproductive organs in order to reproduce and mate with the other flowers.   As a gardener you can manipulate this, that is, choose the right partners.  But nature is very good at bringing forth wonderful and interesting varieties.
Iris will show best when planted in groups.  But how many irises make for a ‘showy’ group?  A single Iris looks lonely in the garden.  Imagine van Gogh’s Irises.  In order to appreciate the full beauty of the iris, you must see a clump of blooming iris as a picture: the vertical, emerging shape of the flower stalk.  The petals are spectacular with their multiple colors and shades and the sword-like leaves.
 After cutting the flower stem, you have will have a patch of cut dark green leaves in the garden and that is not very presentable. Therefore, one lonely Iris in a garden cannot look beautiful. Plant three varieties of iris, which has a nice textural effect.  You can then combine them with other plants, or plant them in a row along the garden path edge.   Anyone who understands the plant will come up with other planting ideas.  It is a beautiful sight when 50 blue Irises escort you to the front door.
There is another completely different aspect of the Iris: The Orris Root is a ground rhizome, when dried and ground to powder form, it produces an entire line of products for healing and body care . It is a science in and of itself. Orris Root Powder was only allowed as a body odor product used by a properly brought up young woman, who thought wearing of perfume was only for women of ill repute.

Renate Voelcker


Curly Kale (or cavolo nero) with rosemary
 and chilli
3 tbsp extra virgin
olive oil
1 large onion, sliced
2 sprigs fresh
1 medium or hot fresh red chilli, deseeded and thinly sliced
garlic cloves, sliced
250g/9oz curly kale or
cavolo nero, trimmed of tough stems, rinsed and cut into 1cm/½in thick slices
salt and freshly ground
black pepper

Heat the olive oil in a deep, heavy-bottomed lidded pan over a medium heat. Add the onion, turn down the heat and fry gently until very tender.
Add the rosemary, chilli and garlic and fry for one more minute.
Add the kale or cavolo nero and season with salt. Cover with a tight-fitting lid, reduce the heat to its absolute minimum and leave to cook gently for about 20 minutes. Stir once after five minutes, then again ten minutes later.
Remove the rosemary stalks, then taste and adjust the seasoning. Serve at once.



Lettuce, anchovy and egg salad
 with a creamy vinaigrette

3 slices white crusty
1 tbsp olive oil
6 medium free-range eggs
3 Little Gem lettuce
50g/2oz (about 12) large anchovy fillets in olive oil,
 drained and cut on the diagonal into 2.5cm/1in pieces

For the dressing
1 small
garlic clove, crushed
1 large free-range
egg yolk
1 tsp Dijon mustard
2 tbsp lemon juice
½ tsp caster sugar
150ml/5fl oz extra virgin olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the croutons, preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4.
Cut the crusts off the bread and tear the remainder into small pieces. Toss them in a bowl with the olive oil. Spread onto a baking tray and bake for 5-7 minutes or until crisp and golden-brown. Remove and leave to cool, then season lightly with salt.
Meanwhile, put the eggs into a pan of boiling water and boil for eight minutes. Drain and cover with cold water.

For the dressing, put the garlic, egg yolk, mustard, lemon juice, sugar and some seasoning into a small bowl. Mix together briefly with a hand-held electric whisk, then slowly whisk in the oil to make a smooth dressing.
Discard the outside leaves of the lettuce if necessary and tear the rest into small pieces. Wash and dry well, then spread over the base of six medium serving plates. Peel the hard-boiled eggs and cut them into quarters. Arrange four pieces over each plate of lettuce leaves with the four strips of anchovy fillet and a few croutons. Drizzle one tablespoon of dressing over each plate and serve straight away.



Gratin of Chard and
 new potatoes
5 tbsp
olive oil, plus extra for greasing
450g/1lb ruby or
Swiss chard, stems and broad ribs cut into 1cm/½in pieces, leaves finely sliced
salt and freshly ground
black pepper
60g/2oz black olives, stones removed
2 canned anchovy fillets, chopped
2 sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
½ tbsp
capers, rinsed and drained
1 tbsp chopped fresh
400g/14oz new potatoes, scrubbed, boiled until just tender, drained and sliced
gruyère cheese, grated
parmesan, freshly grated

Preheat the oven to 190C/375F/Gas 5.
Heat two tablespoons of the olive oil in a wide, lidded pan and add the chopped chard ribs. Stir, then cover and cook over a low heat for four minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add the leaves, stir, then cover again and cook for a further five minutes, or until just tender. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper and set aside.
Place the olives, anchovies, sun-dried tomatoes, capers, parsley and two tablespoons of olive oil into a food processor and blend to make a smooth paste.
Lightly oil a 30cm/12in ovenproof dish. Place a layer of the chard, along with any cooking juices, and a layer of the cooked potatoes into the dish. Spread a little of the olive paste over the chard and potatoes and season with freshly ground black pepper. Continue to layer up the chard and potato, spreading more of the olive paste between each layer and finishing with a layer of chard.
Mix the gruyère and parmesan in a bowl and sprinkle over the top of the gratin. Drizzle over the remaining tablespoon of olive oil.
Transfer to the oven and bake for about 25-30 minutes, until the cheese is browned and bubbling. Serve hot or warm.




1 Squash - Abbondanza

1 head Garlic – Butte Mtn Farm

1/2 lb Chard -  Somerset Gourmet

1 bunch Thai Basil – Humbug Creek Farm

1/2 lb Kale  - Upcountry

1/2 lb Salad Mix  - Casa de la Pradera

1/4 lb Walnuts - Abbondanza

1 bunch Peppermint - Big Oak



1 Squash - Abbondanza

1 bunch Green Garlic – Casa de la Pradera

1 bunch Green Onions – Casa de la Pradera

1/2 lb Chard – Somerset Gourmet

1 bunch Basil – Humbug Creek Farm

1 head Lettuce – Casa de la Pradera

1 oz Arugula - Abbondanza/Casa de la Pradera

1/2 lb Kale - Upcountry

1 bunch Peppermint - Big Oak

(free, l small bunch fresh lavender from Casa de la Pradera to make up for slight 

shortfall in value)




Customers Dick and Josie


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