Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Leaves Turning

I recently transitioned to a new job at Sky Nursery where I will be the Display Creator for the incredible new greenhouse. So far its been fun and challenging and I am looking forward to the next year of creating, writing, homemaking, and gardening galore! HAPPY 2012!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Bountiful Borage

I've been harvesting a ton of borage flowers this summer. I threw some seeds into the soil in April, and the plants came up strong and healthy. Borage thrives in poor, dry soils, so these pollinator attracting plants are easy to grow. There were bees and flies flying all over my plants all spring and into the summer. This was great because it attracted insects to pollinate my squash, tomato, and bean plants, and brought tons of beneficial insects to my garden as well. These hairy plants also keep slugs at bay!
The flowers are a gorgeous bright blue, and can be eaten fresh from the plant in salads or as a garnish - they taste like cucumbers! The photo above is one nights harvest earlier this summer!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Tomato Karma

I have taken a little hiatus from this blog, my my. Well here I am, back in action. It's finally spring and the temperature magnificent! In my garden today I watered my little Walla Walla sweet onion starts, my kale, and my kohlrabi. I noticed some munching on my kohlrabi leaves, so I sprinkled some coffee grounds around their little bases to act as a slug deterant.
Coming on in the garden are my baby spinach greens and my arugula seedlings! Tasty fresh-picked in a little side salad! My potatoes are also going strong, and I think I'll have quite a crop this year.
Now is a good time to start hardening off your tomato, pepper and squash starts - put them outside in the shade during the daytime (full sun with burn the tender little buddies), and bring them back in at night. Once night time temps get at and above 50 degrees, plant those little babies out in the garden!
Hoping we actually get some warm temps this summer, enough to get some good hot-season crops. Last season was so mild that it was a great year for cool season leafy greens and peas, etc. Here's to a long, hot tomato-pepper-eggplant-basil summer!

Above is a photo of my hot-season harvest from last year - sending its good energy to our upcoming Seattle summer! (Tomatoes - Roma, black cherry, yellow pear)

Monday, March 28, 2011

Seed Starting at West Seattle Nursery

I'm now working at West Seattle Nursery, and loving it! Last week we filmed a little ditty on seed starting, check it out!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Northwest Flower and Garden Show Week

Wow, what a great show this year! I've seen quite a few great speakers over the last few days, and hob-nobbed with some great designers, writers, and fun people! I saw two particularly great seminars this year:

Kate Frey: Gardens That Give - Creating Sustainable Gardens that Sit Lightly on the Planet
Inspiring consultant, designer and freelance writer, specializing in sustainable gardens that encourage biodiversity. This made me think a lot about how we can create gardens that are beautiful, create wonderful places for pollinators and other wildlife, and reduce our carbon footprint when we do it. Lots of references to low-water plants and Mediterranean-style gardening, my favorite!

Jessica Bloom: How to Have Your Garden & Eat it Too - Design Strategies to Maximize Space, Function & Resources
Jessi Bloom is the owner and lead designer of N.W. Bloom EcoLogical Landscapes, along with being a Certified Professional Horticulturalist (CPH) and an ISA Certified Arborist.
Designer Jessica Bloom's 2010 award-winning show garden, "A Family's Little Farm in the City," demonstrated how to maximize the potential of a small urban space to provide food and play for a family. Her inspiring "urban homestead" won seven major awards at the show, Including the People's Choice Award, for its creative use of space and inventive ways to include chickens, goats, edible landscaping, conservation, outdoor living and much more. Now she shares her design strategies so you too can create a garden that helps you live sustainable - and beautifully - in the city or a small suburban plot. Think you can't have it all in a small space? Think again! Jessica shows you how to set priorities and squeeze it all in so you can have your own little farm, no matter where you live.
This was such a great talk and was so inspiring for me. I can't wait to use some of her ideas at my own urban homestead!

Get out and go to the show!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Thinking of warmer times...

I put together this succulent collection last spring and enjoyed it all summer. It greeted our guests by the front door! Echeverias and various other succulent beauties, with some nice pieces of glass tucked in to pick up the rays of the sun. I brought it inside this fall before the cold hit, and it makes a great indoor piece of art as well. I'll be sprucing it up soon for another summer in the sun!
I'll be making more of these this spring to sell at some local markets.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Simple Pantry

For this post I want to talk about simplicity in the kitchen. I have been striving to continue this simplicity in my own kitchen at home.

The Italian kitchen is one of simplicity, order, and embibes a deep appreciation and respect for the food found therein. Many are quite small and unassuming. The ingredients that reside in the pantry day-to-day are mostly dry ingredients - beans, pasta, biscuits for breakfasts and baking ingredients. No energy bars, snacks packed with sugars and preservatives or chips. In fact, very few snack foods are present in the Italian pantry (Becuase people there do not consantly snack, they eat sit-down meals, or grab a snack in a bar (cafe) with other commumity members). The refrigerators are small and hold essentials like milk, eggs and yogurt. Real milk, eggs and yogurt. No fancy flavored 'gogurts', very few sauces, no 'diet' anything. Only the real deal. Glass jars and bottles are reused, holding oil, vinegar, and acqua frizzante. Produce is usually collected from the garden or cold storage area, or purchased that day at the local family grocer. The food always takes love and care to prepare, and you can taste it. Fresh bread is either handmade or purchased fresh each day from the local panetteria. The family sits down to eat - all together - nearly every lunch and dinner of every day. Meals are savored, 'buono' is utter by full mouths while loud talking, laughing, and the occasional political debate ensues. It is a wonderful thing.

Now, I am back in my kitchen in Seattle. I have tried to restructure the way I purchase, store, and respect food. Here are some ways that I am merging Italy with the wonderful bounty of local food the Puget Sound has to offer:

1) Buy bulk dried beans, lentils, seeds, nuts and baking products.
2) Reuse glass jars to store bulk items and reuse plastic bags each time you purchase bulk goods at the store.
3) Try not to waste any food that you purchase or prepare. I eat all of my leftovers, and I freeze what I can't eat within the next
few days for the next week.
4) Grown and harvest as much produce from the garden as you can, and try to use it all. If you've got a few items in the pantry
that you don't think you can use, wash them, slice them and freeze them for later use.
5) Use a 'cold storage' area. Basement, shed, or a secure outdoor storage area.
6) Purchase only a few essential items at the store. I try to get my most of my produce from the garden or local farmers
markets. This is more difficult in the winter so I've been eating a lot of potatoes, carrots, dried beans, etc.

The benefits to these practices are many: I have saved heaps of money (bulk is cheap, free vegetables are cheaper), I've reduced the amount of waste that I generate from food production, my pantry is clean and organized and stays fuller longer due to a diverse assemblage of dried bulk items, I have been eating more diversely and having a great time being creative and cooking foods slowly, and I eat more slowly and carefully, appreciating where my food has come from - be it my parents garden or some other farmer's soil out in the Puget lowlands.

Above are some pictures of the kitchen and pantry of Laura and Pietro, my gracious hosts in one little village in the hills of Tuscany. Thier home was a 150-year old farmhouse complete with a beautiful woodfire oven and the cutest little pantry I've ever seen. Notice the small size, fresh produce in baskets, fresh oil, and best of all enough room for a well-stocked wine rack!