Two years ago this week, gPal included Apartment Gardening on her spring garden round up. At the time, I was over the moon and then of course, promptly forgot about it. In digging through her site today for clean-eating recipes, I came across this post and was reminded of the endorsement. Bragging rights? You betcha. I’m happy to say, this IS a great book full of basic gardening principles. If you really want to know why you’re not successful with your container garden, it’s here, along with some of my favorite garden-inspired recipes.
Rosehips are easily foraged in fall and make awesome jams, purees and tinctures. I was recently reminded rosehip season is upon us, when I read Johanna Kindvall’s blog, kokblog, which I’ve been reading for yeeeeeears. She is a one-woman illustrative dynamo (check out my homepage illo) and I love her recipes and ideas. Her sister, Anna Kindvall (who curates electronic art), makes this amazing-sounding sherry that I think we should all attempt this year. Anna likes to use rosehips before the frost (more acidic), but I’ve always picked them after Seattle’s first frost – in early November.
Check out kokblog for the recipe and notes on making and storing your foraged sherry. And for more rosehip info, here is an earlier piece of writing on rosehips from my second book, Apartment Gardening.
“Rosehips are the seed buds that follow the rose bloom in July. Rosa Rugosa plants make hips somewhere between late July and September. They tend to grow along coast lines and water which is likely why some people call them rock roses. You can identify these bushes when in bloom by their strong rose-scented flowers which bloom in white and pinks all the way through bright fuchsia. Make note of their location and head back in four weeks to collect the rosehips. The rosehips themselves look like little tomatoes hanging off the plant. They are often orange-red and have shiny skins. They are more round than long, and are about the size of a red globe grape. Harvest rosehips by snapping the stem from the plant. They are strong enough that you can toss them in a plastic bag and then a backpack without doing too much damage. Use them within a day of bringing them home. Rosehip puree can be made and frozen and used at a later time in recipes.”
Last week I met up with my friend Sarah, a farmer. Sarah has been farming for years and she’s an absolute pro, so I asked her to meet me out at a new space to help me devise the perfect garden plan. (She’s a genius that way – indispensible knowledge.)
We met up and walked to the garden. On the way, she spotted a old, prolific fig tree and stopped in her tracks. “Oh – I need that,” she exclaimed, and simultaneously reached into her back pocket as she crossed the street. With at quick snip, she cut a couple inches length from the fig plant, looked at me, and whispered, “You want one?”
And of course… I took one! Continue reading Sharing is Caring-Propagating Herbs-my bi-weekly article via my City Dirt column over at one of my favorite sites, Food52. Continue reading
That’s about 4 inches of root depth and just a few root hairs for a BIG head of lettuce! Another great example of why lettuce in pots works – just make sure to use a medium sized pot so you give it room to grow.
I was featured in Garden Design Magazine’s website this week. Following is a photo tour of my apartment and garden, along with some thoughts about what makes a house a “home”. Sort of a funny way to think about your house! I’d love you hear what makes YOUR house a home.
+ Photo by John Chaffetz
Announcing the arrival of my new book!
Buy on Amazon now, or in the local bookstore starting April 11th.
I will be the first to admit I’m actually not thrilled about growing edibles in containers. Or really anything in containers! I much prefer to till fields (no matter how small and unfield-sy they can be) and work to create healthy soil over the long term. But I live in a small apartment and I have only my deck. My east-facing deck, I might add, where sun ducks behind the building by noon at the latest. That said, I can’t not try (I mean, it’s my job to grow food) and over the years, I have learned to adapt. Now, my deck is cluttered with pots and containers full of great-to-grow edibles that supply my kitchen and my pantry with produce for my meals.
Progression of Lettuce, early May
Lettuces, are one of the easiest most rewarding of plants to grow and I grow as many as I can in abundance. Here are some pics from a spring sowing that I am now offiicially harvesting the last of. From seed to harvest was just about six weeks. From there, I cut from each plant for the better part of a month. They are only now just beginning to falter and turn bitter in the heat.
and here is the first week of June
If you sow lettuces this month, be sure to choose varieities that won’t bolt in the summer heat. I like the heirloom Deer Tongue, Little Gem (a small-headed romaine) and Rogue d’Hiver – a red-tipped leaf that has a nice crisp leaf and rib, but also has tender leaves. Perfect.
One of the common mistakes home gardeners make with their vegetable beds revolves around when to harvest. People tend to let things go too long without picking or harvesting from the plant. My personal theory is that you’re all waiting for what you’re growing at home to look like what you buy at the store, but that’s the wrong way to approach it! The beauty of growing your own food at home is that it really shouldn’t look like you bought it from the grocery. Homegrown food is far more ‘rustic’ than anything you will find commercially grown. Embrace it!
With that, I am often asked by clients and friends, “When is the right time to harvest lettuce?” More often than not, I will simply say, “Harvest the lettuce when you want to eat the lettuce.” A typically infuriating answer, no doubt! I don’t intend to be entirely blasé about it, but rather it truly is a matter of taste. Some people prefer small tender baby leaves. Some people prefer something hardier with heavy veins and a cripsy bite. Either way, experiment at various times throught the plants lifecyle. As a plant grows, it’s leaves and fruits develop flavor and the flavor profile will change. Young greens tend to be sweet and mild. Older greens tend to get bitter and tough. As with most things in life, timing is everything and it’s up to you to decide.
To harvest lettuce, try to remove the larger, outer leaves of the plant first. Using a small scissor, cut the stem as close to the base of the plant as possible, leaving the small interior leaves behind. These leaves will soon fill in and become outer leaves, and thus you’re creating a cycle of lettuces to harvest. If you prefer to harvest full heads of lettuce, do so when the heads are full and the outer leaves are starting to yellow and wilt, but know that if you cut the entire plant, the odds of it being regenerative are diminished.
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Check outthis article for great garden books in today’s Seattle Time’s Magazine from garden & plant guru, Val Easton. She gives a little shout to Urban Pantry that rocks!
The last chapter of my book is titled “The Pantry Garden” and I have to admit to thinking I had a stroke of genius with that title. That’s exactly what it is – a section on how to establish a garden that supplies your pantry. You don’t need a lot of space and a pantry garden doesn’t take much care (as its full of perennials and self-seeding plants). Hell…….you don’t even need a yard! Here is a pic of my pantry garden, as it exists right this moment. The anise hyssop from last year re-seeded itself into several pots and is flourishing and the other plants popped last week and put on a ton of growth.
There are a few great sources for buying seed, and a few I steer clear from. Last year, I posted something on seed ownership, and it’s a great link to check out.
Seeds of Change is a west coast company with testing fields in Oregon and beyond (I believe, but don’t quote me on it!) and they have an awesome website with lots of great information. You still have to do your homework, as even though they are located in the Pacific NW, they sell varieties that won’t do well here. Pay attention to the growing cycle of eat plant and make sure they don’t require a long hot season is you’re in a Maritime climate. If, like my family, you’re in hot hot NY – plant some corn!
Seed Savers Exchange – oh my god, these folks have the bomb seeds. They are more costly than others, for sure. That kills me a little but, but it’s a great great organization dedicated to saving and sharing rare and heirloom seeds. I just picked up a packet of “Crisp Mint Lettuce” when I was at Kettle Falls Meyers Market (as if I needed more seeds) last week for a book signing. It’s a Romaine like lettuce with frilly leaves. Can’t wait.
Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds – this company is totally rad, but they carry a lot of hot varieities that would just not do well in the Pacific NW. Check them out for inspiration and rare seeds. They are small and wonderful.
Osborne Seeds – a local seed company that sells varieities just right for our climate. Sorry, east coasters, but HURRAH for us!