HOW TO :: Grow Your Own Fig Tree | Propagating Figs

This is a great fall project as we move into winter. Be sure to position the cutting in a sunny spot so it can put on growth before winter really sets in. It will go dormant over winter (keep the soil moisture consistently JUST damp) and pick up growth as we turn into the new year. I think you’ll be surprised at how simple this is, but for anyone interested, here are the instructions if you want to DIY it: Find a fig tree! Maybe your neighbor has one or maybe you’re in a local park. Using pruning shears, cut a 4- to 10-inch long piece of soft wood new growth, just above a plant node. Fill a large pot with potting soil (a simple plastic pot that shrubs come in is perfect) and stick the fig cutting in, cut side down. Don’t worry about stripping the bark, spacing or … Continue reading

Five Container Plants For Fall

It’s hard to believe, but fall is on its way. Here, a quick guide on what to plant now for the perfect patio harvest come cold weather. It doesn’t necessarily feel like it, but sadly summer is waning. Our days are shorter and while temperatures may remain hot (you lucky ducks!), shorter days means less light for growing plants. In many states across the country this means it’s time to get the winter garden going, if you haven’t already. Late summer begs for cool loving crops that are quick to grow. For anyone starting now, smaller leafy greens are your friend. By nature, leafy greens require less direct sunlight, prefer it when it’s a bit cooler, and can be grown in both a proper garden bed and a smaller container. Most greens germinate quickly and many can be found as starts. Following is a list of five plants to grow … Continue reading

Chamomile and Coconut Granola Recipe

Originally published in my book Apartment Gardening, this is one of my all time favorite recipes. This is also the recipe that was highlighted in this fun interview I did for the Wall Street Journal. (And YES, I still feel the same way about bacon.) With all that recipe sharing, I figured I should probably offer it here, too – right?! I often have a jar of this granola on the shelves of my pantry. It’s a nutritious and filling topping for non-fat yogurt, making it an excellent choice for anyone trying to eat healthy or commit to a morning routine. My friend Lynda worked as a cheese maker at a goat dairy. A few summers ago I got to spend a few days out in farm country with her, and every morning for breakfast I had a deep bowl of her perfect goat milk yogurt topped with spoonfuls of her homemade granola … Continue reading

Best Trellis Ideas

If you haven’t planted your Sugar Snap, English or Snow peas by now, it’s time to get them in the garden! These springtime plants grow quickly and can be used in a vertical garden, thereby freeing up precious space on the ground. I use all sorts of different trellises in the garden and no one exhibits these better than Lily over at Rake & Make. This is her favorite pea trellis, and I’d have to agree. We use string in all of our gardens, but a staple gun and netting is a fine idea – you can roll it up when the season ends. I also love her version of a cucumber trellis – it’s a great way to get those heavy fruits up and off the ground and makes them easy to harvest. Incidentally, both peas and cucumbers can be grown in pots, making them a great choice for … Continue reading

PLANT SPOTLIGHT :: Salvia

Black & Blue SalviaI’ve been growing food for people in their backyards since 2004 and while my breadth of knowledge for edibles is deep, I’ve only just scratched the surface of all other plants. Landscape plants, bushes, annual flowers and trees remain a mystery to me. Solution? Write a column! Introducing PLANT SPOTLIGHT.

Salvia’s are a large genus of plants that include all sage. Everything from the commonly known varieties, like Common Sage (aka Salvia Officinalis) that we use to cook with, to more showy ornamental plants like this Salvia Black & Blue. Woody and fragrant, salvia’s add both color and productivity to any garden. Most importantly, perhaps, they are powerful pollinator magnets – attracting hummingbirds and insects to the garden. With blooms ranging from red to purple and heavily scented leaves, salvias are a hardy plant and will last for years in your garden. (Note that for hard winters, you must definitely mulch!)

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How To :: Building Potato Cages

Potatoes, diggin upPotatoes are one of the most often requested vegetables when I first meet with clients, and they’re a great crop to grow if you have limited space. Potatoes are a ‘tuber’, an underground, fleshy stem bearing buds that eventually turn into the potato. (Jerusalem artichokes aka sunchokes are tubers, too.) Dahlias are also tubers, but those roots are simply food-storing roots for the plant.

Once the potato seed is planted (check out this detailed post with pics for details), the seed (which is a small cut piece of a potato with a sprouted ‘eye’) will put on top growth – a leafy part of the plant that develops in about 4 weeks after planting. This leafy bit produces leaves and flowers. As the plant stem grows, they produce too much energy for the plant and this energy is then stored in the ‘tubers’, which we call potatoes. Get it? Good. Continue reading

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. To harvest and eat dandelions, try to clip the small leaves from the plant before the plant flowers.

How to Harvest & Eat Dandelions

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Small Plants for Small Pots

Small pots, illustrationYou 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. Continue reading

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

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DIY Drying Racks – How to Build a Drying Rack for Food Preservation

Drying ChamomileMy friend Patric is a regular Mr. Fix-It. He taught me how to use an electric drill and build raised beds when I first starting my gardening business. He also happens to be a restaurateur, and his first restau- rant was this beautiful Italian place that he practically built by hand. One afternoon, I was in the basement where all the prep tables are for the kitchen. Behind the table where cooks were filling ravioli was an entire rack of screens used for drying the pasta. I took one look at them and immediately thought they would make awesome drying racks for leaves and seeds.  Continue reading