Mid-summer is a beautiful time of year in the garden – most plants are producing flowers and fruit adding to the visual texture of a working productive garden.

Harvesting and drying flower heads (or herbs) is a satisfying project
and the perfect way to extend your harvest. Plus, taking flower heads from plants will prevent prolific re-seeding, which is often the goal. If you’ve ever let your bronze fennel go to seed before removing the yellow fennel blossoms, you know what I’m talking about. (Note to self: dig out bronze fennel this summer.)

In all of my gardens, I plant flowers in order to attract pollinators and add to the list of plants. Many of these blossoms may be harvested and stored for winter Continue reading

Just Eat It – Harvesting the Whole Plant

Urban farming implies that you’re growing in a small space, so maximizing that space with an eye toward production is the most practical way to grow and harvest food. Fortunately, many plants are a virtual buffet, with edible, harvestable parts from root to stem. You need only know what bits you can harvest and how to introduce them into meals for a progressive harvesting schedule that lasts for months. Today: a round-up of goodies to harvest and cook with — a timely, seasonal guide for what to harvest now. Read More over at my bi-weekly column, City Dirt on FOOD52.

Transplanting Squash, Cukes or Melons

Just received this email today and thought it worthy of a detailed post. Read on if you’ve ever considered or worried about moving plants mid-season. Hi Amy, How are you? I have a quick garden question for you. I have one of those gutter gardens and there is a zucchini plant that is growing pretty fast, seems like I should take it out and replant where it has more room. Is this a bad idea to move it at this time? So, firstly, a gutter garden is a shallow-rooted container. Zucchini don’t have deep roots, so this may work well, but I’d be concerned about supporting the weight of the fruit as they came in – seems like it would topple the plant over and out of the gutter. If this were my garden, I’d do an experiment and leave one in the gutter and transplant another to a garden … Continue reading

Using Pea Vines – Maximizing Your Harvest

Spring peas are on their way out (though now is a great time to sow a second crop of peas for fall harvest) and it’s time to pull the plants out of the garden make way for another crop rotation of  summer lettuce, or a row or two of bok choy. Before tossing pea plants  into your compost or yard waste bin (or feeding them to your chickens), consider using the last few inches of pea vine in your kitchen. Harvest by cutting the last 6-12″ of vine from the plant. If tender enough, these pea vines may be harvested and sautéed or tossed in to salads, but this late in the season the odds are greater that you’ll be harvesting woody, tough stems from the plants. It takes little effort to coax them into something delicious, however, and using every bit from the plant is economical for both your … Continue reading

Pea Vine Dumplings

Excerpted from Apartment Gardening Many cultures include savory cakes and dumplings in their cuisine. My family in Croatia eats burek—a strudel-like dough filled with a savory filling like meat and onion, or something sweet like apples. When I was little, my Aunt Janet used to fry us up some frites filled with ham and mozzarella, just as she learned from her Italian mother-in-law. Really, any dough stuffed with something and fried is guaranteed to be the bomb. Pea plants are easy to grow in containers, and while you grow them for the peas, you can also clip tender vines from the plant to sauté. This recipe takes that one step further and makes use of older pea vines that are strong and slightly woody. Normally we would never eat them, but broken down and cooked in this recipe, they shine. These fried dumplings are a great way to use the … Continue reading

What to Do in The Gardens Now

The heat is on! There are several tactics to implement in gardens over summer that will ensure a successful and prolific harvest. I know everyone loves tomatoes, so now is the time to get in the garden and focus on building tomato supports. This keeps tomato stems from breaking and allows for easy pruning. I’ll be honest and tell you I am not a fan of tomato cages. Instead, I build a support system of bamboo in all of my tomato beds. DIY trellising is uber-efficient and less expensive. This also allows for easy pruning, good air circulation and good fruit maturity, as it allows sun to sit on individual tomato fruits. To Build: You need 5 lengths of 6-foot bamboo. Crossing two pieces of bamboo, tie string about 5-inches down, creating a small “X” at one end. Once tied, splay the bamboo apart, making a large “X” – these … Continue reading

Good Garden Bugs

I know plenty of home gardeners that will kill any bug they see in the garden  upon first sight. I was in Long Island recently, and my sister dug up an ant village for fear they would harm her newly planted starts. I can understand the inclination, as bugs are pretty creepy and even the good ones are hard to discern, but it is not a good habit to get into and most bugs you find are beneficial in some way. King County has put together a Good Bug Guide that I highly recommend as weeknight reading. Complete with close up pictures, it is an easy way to introduce bugs to the home gardener. I’m particularly fond of the centipede – I really hate these bugs and they gross me out, so it’s a lesson of garden faith to leave them behind to work their magic. Centipede’s attack slugs, and … Continue reading

4th of July ‘Cocktail’

I wrote this recipe with my nieces and nephews in mind, and Gwenyth Paltrow included it in her rad website, GOOP. (Where they also have a clever “Print Recipe” detail included here!) It’s a GREAT fancy ‘cocktail’ for kids on festive occasions like the 4th. Move over Shirley Temples.