Garden Pests – Cabbage Loopers

Pests in the garden are no fun, but they’re part of the garden’s life cycle and accept that I’ll be dealing with some pest or another in each garden, each year. Yesterday, I had a client with cabbage loopers. His landscaper recommended buying bT, but I’m not a fan of adding any inputs to the garden (whether or not someone certifies them as organic) , in particular bacteria. Then this morning I got the following email from a rooftop gardener in NYC, so I know cabbage loopers are making the rounds this year: Hi Amy, I hope this email finds you well. Had a frustrating morning of discovering my bibb lettuce was gnawed away, holes in my sage and my mint halfway eaten though. I saw a few little green caterpillar culprits, so after a little searching it seems like these enemies may be cabbage loopers?  Any advice on how to … Continue reading

Growing Potatoes in a Bag

Here is some awesome garden geek information on the science behind how potatoes grow. You should really know this if you’re planning on growing potatoes – whether in a bag, a pot or a garden bed. Read on! Potatoes grow underground and are considered a “tuber” — a plant that is enlarged to store nutrients and has the ability to make a new plant. Potatoes, yams and even dahlias are considered tubers. So why do you need to know what at tuber is? Here is some great info for all your science nerds to help shed light on the growth pattern of potatoes. Ultimately, this information is meant to help you — if you’re going to build a potato-loving system that is highly productive, you’ve got to think like the plant! You care about what a tuber is because tubers produce plants from a stolon (a sub-soil, sprout-like, horizontal root). … Continue reading

Must Have Veg for 2012

I fell in love with this wispy, pepper-y green last year when we grew food for the Henry Art Gallery’s Fundraiser, Spring Sprung. The color is unbeatable, the flavor is a perfect balance against softer and more buttery lettuces and it’s quick to mature. The PERFECT green for this years garden. You can find it here: (And it ain’t cheap, sorry!)

Croatian Cooking Class

My grandfather is Croatian, arriving to NYC from Krk – the northernmost island in Croatia. My grandmother is of Yugoslavian descent, as well, so I have double eastern european roots and I love it. A few years ago, I decided I HAD to get over to meet all of my family – cousins, aunts and most importantly my barbara Vlado, my grandfathers brother. He was ill and I knew the opportunity wouldn’t be around for long. So, I set my mind to it, bought a ticket and took private Croatian lessons for about 9 months in anticipation of a major language barrier. Croatia was awesome. I absorbed as much of the food culture as I could, forced myself to go in bakeries and markets and speak to the bakers and farmers (Ne govorim hrvatska dobro) and walked away with memories of family and food that are seared in my mind. What a gift! My cousins in Slovenia made … Continue reading

Too Cold, Too Soon – for Tomatoes, Basil & Peppers

Spring plant sales got the best of everyone this weekend and I saw loads of tomatoes hanging out of sunroofs and read boastful posts of what people planted. To be fair, professional gardening companies seduced you with those sexy plants, promising of red tomatoes and garden abundance, I know. But here’s the thing….IT IS TOO COLD. One more time – it’s too cold just now in the Pacific NW to plant out tomatoes, peppers, basil, squash and cukes. The ONLY exception to this rule is if you’ve planted under a well made cloche that will insulate the plants, keeping them warm. Basil, for instance, will germinate optimally at about 70 degrees, give or take 5 degrees. It is barely cresting above 70 outside in Seattle, let alone in the soil. Further, that warm temp seldom holds and nights are still very cool. By planting too early, plants are prone to disease, and are … Continue reading

Homemade Compost & Fertilizer

This is an excellent excerpt from an article on the role of nitrogen in the garden AND how it is important for every garden to plant mindfully. Many cover crops will replenish nitrogen in the soil (aka ‘fix’ the soil) particularly legumes like favas and peas. It is always a great idea to allow some of your garden beds to rest and remain fallow every few rotations. Plant a crop rotation of peas for both a green manure (like animal manure you add to gardens for fertilizer, but green because it is a plant, see?!) and for the added benefit of nitrogen fixing. Once peas flower, cut the vines into small pieces and turn them completely under the soil to decay. This is like homemade compost + fertilizer!You can plant directly on top or leave it sit for a few weeks – up to you. (I typically cover the beds with burlap … Continue reading