How to Harvest & Eat Dandelions

Poor dandelions, always getting a bad rap for wreaking havoc on lawns and in general being a ruthless weed. It’s true that dandelions are a deeply rooted “weed” that are a real nightmare to dig out, but it’s also true that they taste pretty good and are literally everywhere. One need not look very far to find a bed of dandelions fit for eating; they are easily identifiable. Dandelion greens turn bitter and woody quite quickly, so very early spring is the best time to harvest them. Try to clip the small leaves from the plant before the plant flowers.

How to Harvest & Eat Dandelions

Once the yellow flower has bloomed, taste the greens first to see if you find the flavor too off-putting. Harvest by picking off the small leaves and eating straight away. Be sure to wash dandelion greens well, and steer clear of picking them out of public lawns. Those areas are too heavily sprayed with chemicals to warrant
eating. Use dandelion greens in salads, or
cook them in a sauté. I like my greens
wilted with a little bacon and an egg
in the morning. You may also use the
flower petals in recipes. I roll chopped
 petals into cracker or pie dough, for their 
bright yellow color, but the taste will not
shine through unless you use an exorbitant
amount of petals.

Lemon Trout with Dandelion Greens

Whole fish can sometimes be intimidating, but trout cooks quickly and tastes great. No need to clean anything—commercial trout comes scaled and gutted already. I learned this wholesome and healthy recipe from my friend Jaime years ago; it has been a standard of mine ever since.

Whole trout is cooked quickly under the broiler and served topped with a salad of dandelion greens and almonds. The dandelion greens are quite bitter, but work well with the subtle fish. They are also very healthy for you; ounce for ounce, they have more vitamin A, iron, and calcium than broccoli.

Harvest new dandelion growth in spring; older, bigger leaves are too tough and woody, and their flavor is harsh.

Dandelion Greens

Serves 2

1 garlic clove, peeled
1 handful sliced almonds
2 handfuls dandelion greens, coarsely chopped
1 lemon, zested, then sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 whole trout

Preheat the broiler and raise a rack to the highest position in your oven.

In the bowl of a mortar and pestle, mash and grind the garlic clove. When the oils have covered the walls of the mortar, remove and discard the garlic flesh. Add the almonds to the bowl and grind until they are broken up into smaller pieces. Add the dandelion greens and lemon zest and mash all the ingredients together until com- bined. The mixture will look a little bit like a salad and a little bit like a pesto. Inconsistency in the size of the leafy bits is perfect. Add the olive oil and a pinch of salt and give it one last stir with the pestle. Set aside.

Meanwhile, season the trout on both sides and inside the belly with salt and pepper. Insert several lemon slices into the belly of the trout. Place on a sheet pan and lightly coat the trout with a drizzle of olive oil to prevent sticking. Place the sheet pan directly under the broiler, and broil on one side until the skin starts to shrivel and char, 4 to 5 minutes. Take out the pan and flip the trout with a spatula. Return to the broiler and broil the other side until charred and cooked through, 4 to 5 minutes.

Place the broiled trout on a platter and spoon the dandelion salad over it. Serve immediately.

More Garden Recipes: Dandelions are a great green for adding to your salad, but use them sparingly so they don’t overpower the other flavors. Try making a dandelion pesto with crushed garlic and pine nuts. Dandelion greens can also be used as a filling for the Pea Vine Dumplings, which are in my book Apartment Gardening

Small Plants for Small Pots

You might think choosing pots would be the easiest part of container gardening, but interestingly, it is not. Containers and pots come in many sizes and seemingly just as many materials. You can look at your planting vessel in one of two ways—you can choose the pot first and then pick the best-suited plant, or buy the plant and then choose the best-suited pot.

Small pots, illustration

Most plants need a little legroom to stretch their roots. Try to plant in a pot that’s a bit bigger than the plant will actually need. It is better to leave a little wiggle room than to have plant roots mashing up against the container walls. If you allow for some growth, you increase the odds of your plant growing to full maturity. The end goal is for the plant to produce as much as possible.

That said, I find myself consistently drawn to the cutest little pots with the brightest colors, but they end up being fairly useless. There are lots of adorable small ceramic vessels and even compressed bamboo pots in bright and festive colors. (A nice counterpart to all that green, I say!)

In my own garden, the smallest pot I have used is about four inches deep and about that wide—I treat it as an experiment. Nothing really grows well in such a small space, and the plants are typically root-bound. Even lettuces, which are pretty tolerant, suffer in such tight confines. Their leaves never get bigger than baby lettuce size. The smallest pot I recommend is about six inches deep and about the same width.

There are a few plants that work reasonably well in small pots. Shallow-rooted plants work best, as do plants that you will not harvest from often. Lemon balm, for instance, is quite hardy and will survive the tight conditions, though its leaves will be much smaller than those of a plant given room to reach its full potential. This doesn’t matter so much for lemon balm, as it is a strong herb that you will likely use only occasionally.

Keep in mind, also, that small pots need lots of watering on hot days— likely at least twice a day.

Following is a list of some good plant options for smaller pots—as either they are shallow-rooted, or a kind of plant you will not use in large quantities and can harvest in smaller batches.

.Lemon Balm
.Microgreens: arugula, radish
 or amaranth grow quickly
.Mint & Scented Mints – chocolate, pineapple or apple
.Strawberries – one plant per pot!

TGIF Cocktail Hour

It’s FRIDAY! Time to squeeze some fresh citrus, bust out the cocktail shaker and invite a few friends over to unwind. No need to make it a big project, or turn it into a long night, but with TGIF Cocktail Hour, I invite you to slow down, socialize and sip.

I’m starting this series with………stopyellingatme……….a non alcoholic beverage. Of course, you can mix some vodka or gin in here if so inclined, but truly – this drink stands on it’s own and feels every bit as decadent without the addition of booze.

© Esra Paola Crugnale | Dreamstime Stock PhotosAt any party, I like to offer a non-alcoholic drink that is every bit as festive as a fancy cocktail or wine. I’ve been making this one for years after seeing a version in the New York Times holiday section. For this fizz-filled drink, a heavily spiced syrup is added to fresh orange juice, along with a drop of peppermint oil, to make a perfect savory, refreshing drink. You can substitute half of the lime juice for lemon juice, or use all lemon juice if so desired. The syrup can be flavored with many other spice options–try allspice, fennel, or even a red chile for some heat. Make extra–most guests will choose this over Prosecco.

Citrus & Mint Fizz
Makes 4 drinks

1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons ground cloves
2 cinnamon sticks
2 whole star anise pods
3 thin slices fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
2 cups fresh-squeezed orange juice
1/2 cup fresh-squeezed lime juice

Fizzy water or Seltzer, for serving

In a small saucepan over high heat, combine the sugar, water, cloves, cinnamon sticks, star anise, and ginger. Bring to a boil and stir to dissolve the sugar. Once all the sugar has dissolved, remove from heat and set aside to infuse and cool completely. Once it’s cool, strain out the spices and stir in the peppermint extract.

In large pitcher, combine the orange juice, lime juice, and peppermint syrup. Stir vigorously until well incorporated. You will see little peppermint oil bubbles on the surface of the juice, so work to emulsify and whisk these in as best as you can.

In a highball glass filled with ice, add juice to the halfway-mark and then add fizzy water to fill. Serve immediately,  and stir well in between pourings.

PANTRY NOTE: Leftover syrup (as if!) can be stored in a small glass jar in the fridge for many weeks or even several months. You can use this syrup in place of sweet vermouth in a Manhattan, or try some with hot water and brandy for an updated version of a toddy.

Photo by: ©  | Dreamstime Stock Photos
Recipe excerpted from Fresh Pantry

House-Made Mayo – a Novel Approach to Using Leftovers

Miller’s Guild Chef Mixes Up a House-Made Mayo 
(Originally published in Seattle Magazine, April 2014)
Chef/partner Jason Wilson turns waste into wonder with his signature condiment, Motoraioli   

Chef Jason Wilson grew up in a family of butchers, and as a kid in Minnesota, he relished the fatty, gnarly bit on the end of a roast. As a chef, he developed modern techniques and tastes, which are on display at Crush in Madison Valley, but with his newly opened Miller’s Guild downtown, he returns to a more visceral style.

Chef Jason Wilson_0414keyingredient

“It’s wood-fired cooking in a nutshell,” Wilson says of the 9-foot-long, custom-made, open-flame grill that serves as the restaurant’s centerpiece. Instead of traditional grates, the grill is tilted at an angle to funnel “the goodies”—seasoned fat, grease and oils—into a channel. Early on, Wilson dipped some focaccia in it, and proclaimed, “This is good!”

This eureka moment went on to inform the menu. Using the collected grease as an infused oil, Wilson created a house-made mayo, naming it Motoraioli in homage to the brown hue the drippings impart. In home kitchens, leftover roasting juices are more commonly used in gravy, or, gasp, treated as waste. Wilson showcases it in his signature aioli. For brunch, Motoraioli is served alongside fries as a dipping sauce, while for dinner, it appears in an appetizer of corned beef tongue, house pickles and leeks.

How to make motoraioli: You’ll need about 1 cup of fat drippings for a good portion of mayonnaise, which is made by emulsifying the oil with egg yolks, as you would with a traditional homemade mayo recipe.

Save the drippings: “If you’re searing a steak in a pan, or making a standing rib roast or pot roast, collect the fat that’s left over,” instructs Wilson. Depending on the meat cooked and the seasoning used, flavors will vary. Save the fats from several recipes by storing them in a covered container in the fridge, where it will keep for several months. Saved drippings can be used as a basting “butter” for roasts, grilled meats or vegetables—grilled radicchio is a favorite.

Where you can find motoraioli: On the menu at Miller’s Guild or in your own kitchen.

Why you should try it: Using every last bit of an ingredient means you are maximizing both flavor and your budget. Why spend $3 on a jar of mayo when you can make it at home using an ingredient you would have thrown away?

Want step-by-step instructions on how to make it? We’ve got ‘em here.

Materials for Vegetable Beds – Is Treated Wood a No-No????

Spring has sprung and it seems like everyone is ready to hit the dirt, literally. This is the time of year when my garden business, GoGo Green Garden, really heats up (despite morning frosts) and everyone wants a garden RIGHT. NOW.

DIY Timber Raised Beds

Today, I consulted with a new client who has bed materials ready to go, but isn’t sure about their safety. She has a gorgeous stack of thick, old fir beams that were treated way back when when arsenic and other chemicals were freely used. In 2003, the EPA banned the sale of treated lumber, which contained CCA  (chromated copper arsenate), but today that aged wood is often found at construction sites and can be somewhat easily salvaged.

The question then becomes, is it better NOT to use the gorgeous (free?) wood? Or is it ok to use when building vegetable beds? I found a great article in Fine Gardening, though you can read the meat of it here……….

“Sally Brown, a research assistant professor of soils at the University of Washington, knows her way around both food and metals. Starting out as a chef and then a food broker between farmers and restaurants, she became fascinated with soils and went on to earn a PhD in agronomy. Brown’s current research includes identifying the mechanisms by which organic residuals reduce the availability of soil metals to plants. She has some hard-earned opinions.

Brown says that if you already have the older, arsenic-treated wood in your garden, don’t panic. Plants will not take up arsenic unless the soils are deficient in phosphorus. That is not a problem for gardeners who use compost generously. As for the new copper-based wood treatments, Brown believes the actual risk is minimal. First of all, if plants take up too much copper, they will die before a gardener can eat them. In addition, if homegrown vegetables make up a small percentage of the diet, exposure to any metal taken up is insignificant. Do not use copper near ponds and streams because it is toxic to aquatic life.”

Of course, you can always look at other materials like this lovely garden, pictured, which I built that last year for a client on Mercer Island. We re-used leftover pavers (from their new house construction) and built simple timber beds using untreated lumber. I know the masses frown on timber framed beds as inferior, but in my urban farming experience, they’ve held up beautifully. For a fraction of the price of cedar, timber beds maintain their structure for at least 6 years and even then, only demand the addition of re-bar supports  to extend their life.

Was this article helpful?!?!? Please let me know in the comments and I’ll continue adding veg bed material options, of which I have many! 

5 for Friday :: Farmer D aka Daron Joffe

I have the great providence of being surrounded by inspiring people. 5 for Friday questions will be asked of artists, farmers, curators, creators, innovators, entrepreneurs etc – all of the people that I find interesting. Everyone gets the same five questions.

missionI met Farmer D several years ago at a friend’s wedding. I knew in advance we had SO much in common (us being urban farmers and all) that I offered to pick him up from the airport and drive him to the wedding venue out in Carnation. We’d never met before, but I was stoked to connect with a kindred spirit. So, there we were, two strangers who dig on urban farming, hanging out like old friends, and it’s pretty much been the same ever since. The love I have for this man is deep and feels old; I am pretty certain we’ve crossed paths in other lives. D is my hero, truly. Check this out………

Farmer D is an urban farmer (and rural farmer!) extraordinaire. He owns Farmer D Organics – “an environmentally friendly, socially conscious business that creates farms and products for the earth and its people.” I mean….come on. He has been farming biodynamically since the mid-90s and is a figurehead for living a green life. Several years ago he created biodynamic compost (which, BTW, you can have shipped to your garden!) in his then-hometown of Atlanta and opened a handful of small retail stores to support budding urban farmers in Georgia. He also works with his lovely father to create signature veggie boxes, also for sale in their online shop. They are beautifully constructed and an excellent investment, as they’ll last for years.

In his spare time (as if) Farmer D consults on large-scale projects like the amazing Natirar Farm at Virgin Spa in NJ. And when I say “Virgin”, I mean Richard Branson i.e. Virgin Records, Virgin Air – you feelin’ me on this?? Truly, there is too much to tell you here, so if you’d like to poke around, check out this mans amazing gallery.

In short, he’s a one-man dynamo who seems never to lose steam. (Check out #3 below, to see what I mean.) I’m so honored to call him a friend and I’m so excited to be ever-learning from him. And, OF COURSE, he’s now written a book about his mission – Citizen Farmers! The book is illustrated with photographs of gardens designed by Farmer D as well as line drawings and advice on establishing a biodynamic garden, composting, soil composition and replenishment, control­ling pests and disease, cooperative gardening practices, and more. A mouthful! I can’t wait to read it, and you should too. Order direct from D here. And meet him here………

1. What did you eat for breakfast this morning?
I ate poached eggs on millet with arugula, avocado, and hot sauce.

2. What is one thing you do EVERY day, by choice?
I spend time in the garden with my two year old son Tilden.

3. If you had all the time in the world and no budget restrictions, what one project would you take on just now? (Can be a hobby, business, trip, etc)
I would set up demonstration farms in communities around the world to teach people best practices in sustainable and biodynamic agriculture and social enterprise. These demonstration farms would help foster healthier, more resilient communities around the world.

4. Where is your ‘happy place’?
In the garden or on the tractor

5. What is your signature dish – something you make well and consistently?
Collard Burritos. Instead of a tortilla, I slightly braise whole collard green leaves and then stuff them with all kinds of fillings: from mexican rice and beans to indian curry. I always have a grain (brown rice or quinoa), farm-fresh veggies, and a protein (like black beans, free-range chicken or quinoa). It’s fresh and delicious every time.

 

Miami Garden Party – Grow! Grill! Garden!

Over the years, interest in urban gardening has continued growing and I’m thrilled to be part of a movement that gets people out in their gardens and into their yards to grow their own food.

Social_Cities_miamiIn my business, there are plenty of occasions I need extra materials – hoses, bamboo, timber for bed-building – and as a DIY guru, I pick up these supplies at my local Home Depot. (You can sign up for their educational garden club HERE.) It is this dedication to DIY gardening that inspired me to jump at the chance to participate in an upcoming event at a store in South Florida – the Miami Garden Party!

This Thursday, join me and the Home Depot Garden Club – an amazing resource for any gardener, from confused beginners to adept green thumbs. The event boasts several DIY gardening stations, a Q&A with vendors (garden expert Jim Cunneen & event host Ruth Soukup) and celebratory spring food and refreshments.  including DIY gardening stations.

The Garden Party will be an opportunity for people to:

      • Get their hands dirty
      • Get inspired
      • Get informed
      • And share their experience

 

Anyone is welcome, but if you’d like RSVP here so I know you’re coming!

Find us at:
Deerwood Home Depot (Parking Lot)
11905 SW 152nd Street Miami, FL 33186

Hope to see you there!

“I acknowledge that The Home Depot is partnering with me to participate in this “Garden Party” event. As a part of the project, I am receiving compensation in the form of cash, for the purpose of serving as the local culinary expert and for promoting this event and The Home Depot. All expressed opinions and experiences are my own words. My post complies with the Word Of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA) Ethics Code and applicable Federal Trade Commission guidelines.”

Best Salads in Seattle

It’s not easy being green. Literally. Yesterday, after another lack luster salad selection while out to lunch, I took to the airways and posted a note about my abhorrence of “mixed green salad.” You know the one – a small plate full of simply dressed greens that look like the mixed salad bag from Trader Joe’s. I hate those salads, truly. To me, they are the ultimate intimation of either a lazy chef or passionless chef.

Amy PenningtonAm I being judgmental? Yes, of course, and listen….. I know that it is tough stuff to run a kitchen, work your rear off and not make a lot of money. But I also know (know!) it takes so little effort to make a nutritious, green salad that tastes great. Take, for instance, the Leafy Green salad at the Dahlia Lounge. For years, that salad has not changed and for good reason. Expect a generous pile of full-sized frilly greens served with a covering of grated parmesan and a thin crostini with goat cheese. There are herbs in there, but not enough to make it super herbaceous (like the memory-searing, ultimately perfect salad at Mary’s Fish Camp in NYC) – just a subtle hint of the plants oil on your palate.

Thankfully, there are a few places around Seattle that offer amazing salads, according to the horde of people that posted on my Facebook account yesterday. Rather than letting the crowd-sourced info fall to the wayside, I decided to share it here. So in typical blog-y fashion, here is a round up of Seattle’s Best Salads. I took the liberty to break them into sub-categories for ease, and because frankly, I don’t consider a traditional Lyonnaise salad of lardon & eggs to be particularly “green” (i.e. predominantly vegetative & healthy). From the results, however, I’d been clearly (and happily!) overruled.

………..
SIGNATURE GREEN SALADS (expect to find these most any time you visit)

Leafy Greens from Dahlia Lounge

Salade Vert from Cafe Presse – a stack of butter lettuce with a mustard vinaigrette & sprinkling of hazelnuts

Jersey Salad at Delancey - two call outs for this one!

Lettuces Salad at The Whale Wins - three shout outs for this one!

………..

SEASONAL SALADS

Insalata Di Ciccoria from Spinasse - chicory, pear & more

Winter Chicory salad with citrus, sheep’s feta and pistachios at Delancey

Raw Winter Greens salad from Golden Beetle (with a cumin vinaigrette that is so subtly brilliant)

Haricot verts, shaved asparagus, almond and Gribiche sauce, that was noted to be a “simple, rogue, delicious salad,” from Marrow

Brussel Sprouts Salad with The Station Pizzeria - two shout outs for this one!

Kale & Roasted Cauliflower Salad at Grub

…………..

GREENS WITH A LITTLE OOMPH (i.e. Protein)

Salmon Nicoise at Nordstrom Café

Chicken Saigon Salad from Ba Bar

Corned Lamb salad at Revel 

Duck Confit salad at Cafe Campagne

**Special thanks to all the reco’s from (in order of salads listed above): Jenise Silva, Cara Ely, Lara Hamilton, Rachel Belle Krampfner, Tara Austen Weaver, Rachel Davies, Carilyn Platt, Caylee Betts, Henry Lo, Lorraine Goldberg & Regina De Wing (and apologies to anyone I left off, which happened if I could not find your salad online OR you didn’t specify a salad – leave your note in the comments!)

Setting Up Your Container Garden – Tips for Apartment Dwellers and Small Spaces

Many moons ago, I tried to convince a boyfriend to let me grow food in his yard, tearing out existing landscape. (He declined and now has a vegetable bed in the worst place, which I secretly love.) I have a habit of sizing up random yards searching for the perfect place to grow food because sadly, I don’t have a yard or garden of my own. I’m relegated to planting any food I want in pots. It’s honestly not my preference, but still, I like to think that I’ve perfected the art of growing in my microclimate. I know I share circumstances with many of you: without some pots on a patio, balcony, or windowsill, we would be plant-less. No fun. So, here, I am covering container basics for the urbanite looking to supply their kitchen with some garden goodness.

Filling pots

You should know from the onset that not all vegetables grow well in containers. By planting in a contained environment, you are inhibiting the plant’s growth to some extent. Think about it — plants can send out roots and root hairs only as far as the walls of the pot allow. Restricted by the pot, not all plants will come to full maturity and produce food. This presents the biggest challenge of growing food in small spaces.

Deciding What to Grow
The ultimate goal is for your garden to be productive. I aim for a constant supply of ingredients for the kitchen, so I nurture plants that can be continually harvested. I suggest growing plants that will be used frequently, but in small amounts. This gives plants time to regrow between cuttings — no sense in planting a crop that you’ll wipe out in one go. (I figure it’s better to have something available over a long course of time.)

• I rely heavily on herbs in my garden. Herbs will single-handedly change the flavor of most recipes and are often pricey at the grocery; many are not commercially available.

• Plants that produce abundant quantities of ingredients that I know I’ll use often are also a favorite. Lettuces, for example: these are wonderful to grow at home. They take up little space, produce (and reproduce!) quickly, and offer fresh greens for salads, or for a nice leafy garnish. I use lettuce in large amounts, and their fast growing cycle makes them highly productive, economical, and worthwhile.

• Plan on mixing it up to make sure there is always something new and different to harvest. Choose plants that will run through their life cycle in one season (annuals) as well as plants that continue to come back year after year in the same pot (perennials).

• Make the most of what you grow by considering its uses beyond the kitchen. Lavender makes a subtle herb rub for seared duck breast and can also be used as a herbal stuffing for an eye pillow. Scented geranium leaves can be chopped and used in sweet recipes, infused into water for a facial toner, or steeped to make teas.

• A container garden should ebb and flow, just like a large garden. Some plants are grown for their leaves, some for their seeds, and some for their fruits. I try to round out my garden plan so there is always something ready to harvest. Today, as I write this, I have marjoram, thyme, and scented geraniums that survived the winter. Arugula and mache are just popping up, too, having reseeded themselves from last year (at the end of the season I stopped harvesting their leaves and let them “go to seed” — the matured plant grows seed pods that fall into the soil and regrow). Within three weeks, the lovage should be starting to show (the same plants I’ve had for four years) and I’ll be planting a second crop of arugula.

Soil

Getting Started
To start a garden in containers, at a bare minimum you’ll need pots, soil, and a low-level organic fertilizer. A bag of compost is also a great addition. Access to water is an important consideration. In my own garden, I fill eight old water bottles and carry them back and forth from my kitchen sink. Just make sure you have some way to water your plants, as containers require a diligent watering schedule.

Most plants need a little legroom to stretch their roots. Try to plant in a pot that’s a bit bigger than the plant will actually need. It is better to leave a little wiggle room than to have plant roots mashing up against the container walls. If you allow for some growth, you increase the odds of your plant growing to full maturity.

Planting in Pots

Materials
Plastic pots are the least expensive container option, so they’re great for anyone on a budget. It’s true that they are usually the least attractive option, but they hold their moisture longer than clay or ceramic pots and are lighter and easier to move around.

Clay pots are porous, so air moves easily through their walls. This is helpful in that it allows roots to breathe and keeps them out of direct water, but it’s not helpful in that the soil tends to dry out quickly. In hot weather you’ll need to closely monitor the moisture in your clay pots. They are a fairly inexpensive option for the home gardener after plastic, and they come in myriad shapes and sizes. If you choose clay pots, be sure to purchase a saucer or plate to sit under the pot. This works in two ways — to keep moisture off the surface of your deck or patio and to hold in moisture for the plant.

I won’t be discussing it here, but making your own pots is super rewarding, too!

Soil
You must use potting soil in your containers — soil mixes are formulated to maintain a certain level of lightness so that plants are able to breathe, drain well, and still hold in some moisture. (Air is right up there with sun and water in importance to healthy, thriving plants!) Look for organic potting soil mixes from smaller regional companies rather than the national brands you’ll find in big-box stores. Choose a potting soil that has no added fertilizer or nutrients. It is best to add those on your own as needed for the particular plants you will grow.

Remove all Roots

If you are adding new plants to previously used containers, do not rely on simply digging a small hole in the soil and stuffing in a plant start. Old soils often contain dead roots from previous plants (see above). These roots will impede the new plant’s roots and constrict air as the new plant tries to grow into the same small space. For that reason, just as you would in a garden bed, it’s best to rework your soil before planting. As on the farm, till your soil using a fork or your hands. Loosen it up, remove the root hairs, then gently work in some compost and a spoonful of a low-level organic fertilizer before adding a new plant start.

We will cover more container plant topics like feeding your plant, tending for plants, and more in upcoming articles, but for now these are the basics you need to get growing. As ever, I’m looking forward to all of your questions in the comments!

Up next, seed starting: big things come in tiny packages.

Photos by Della Chen