Thursday, September 22, 2016

Recipe: Chocolate Tahini Zucchini Bread

Sometime during your gardening career, you've likely missed picking a zucchini in time and it got all sorts of huge. And that zucchini with all its largeness isn't going to be as tasty as its smaller siblings. What to do? Zucchini bread is one of the best uses but I've struggled to really love a zucchini bread recipe, until now. I combined a few different recipe ideas and made a gluten free version to share. It's the best zucchini bread I've ever had--it was so good, half of it was already noshed before I could remember to take photos. Sorry. Not sorry.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Garden Recipe: Covered Bean Trellis

First off, sorry for the delay in posting! This ended up being a more challenging post to write. But here it is, and I'm proud of it.

Ever  since I visited a friend's family garden where the paths were covered by bean trellis', I wanted my own. I've grown beans on teepee structures and on corn, as part of the three sisters. But with each of those models, I'd miss beans. And then the beans would become huge monstrosities, which is no fun. And let's be honest, a bean tunnel looks awesome. So I set about making my own.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Food Tourism: Andy's Orchard

For many years, my sister-in-law has sung the praises of Andy's Orchard. And for many years, I haven't made the hour plus trip down to Morgan Hill. That was a mistake. Andy's Orchard grows over 100 varieties of stone fruit (they list 128 varieties of peaches, plums, apricots, nectarines, and cherries on their website) which they harvest fully tree ripened. The fruit is delicious and the variety is amazing. Andy's Orchard is worth the trip--I can't believe it took us this long to make it.

The day we visited, Andy's was holding tastings and tours (they hold 1 to 2 per month in the summer) and we tried at least 100 varieties of stone fruit, saw their stone fruit drying operation, and toured their orchards all while picking our own tree ripened fruit. It was grand.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

The Best Edible Gardening Books (In My Opinion Anyway)

A few years ago, I knew almost nothing about gardening. I was terrible about keeping house plants alive--I used to run experiments in my head to see how long I could not water my plants before they wilted--but then we moved to the East Bay and everything changed. For the first time, we had a backyard of our own. Since moving to California, I had been enamored with the idea of growing my own food. At one point, I had tried to grow Kale and Chard in pots outside; I watered them maybe once a week and harvested what amounted to large micro greens: delicious, nutritious, but definitely not enough for two bites. When we moved across the Bay, I set my mind to learning to garden; my goal was to grow enough food in the summer months, so that I wouldn't need to buy produce from the grocery store. In the four years since making the move, I have learned so much and truly can call myself a gardener; I'm pretty proud of that. 

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Garden Recipe: How to Build Roof Tile Raised Beds

When we moved into our house in September, we had a roughly square area of grass in the middle of our yard. I'm not a fan of grass in California gardens--still in a drought, despite El Nino--but I am a fan of edible gardens. Duh. So the plan to swap one for the other was obvious.

After having a mixed garden of perennials (artichokes and blackberries--yes, what was I thinking? O how much I've learned) and annuals at our last house, we wanted our annual edibles to be separate from our perennials. Annuals and perennials need different things (soil tilling, fertilizer, and watering schedule to name a few).

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Recipe: Borage Pesto

With the borage growing like crazy in our garden, I needed to figure out how to do something more with it than just add the flowers and smallest leaves to salads. I'm a big lover of any kind of pesto and think it's important to always have a jar of pesto on hand. Pesto is delicious on almost everything from the obvious pasta to potato salad, thinned out as a salad dressing, on pizza, in sandwiches...well, you get the idea. I couldn't really find a solid recipe for borage pesto, so I experimented and came up with my own recipe--it's a nuttier, deeper version of the traditional pure basil pesto. 

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Garden Update: New Raised Beds and What's Growing this Summer

A few weeks ago, I took two days off work to build four raised garden beds that would become our annual kitchen garden. I'll write more about my process of building these raised beds, but in the mean time, I wanted to share how our garden renovation is progressing.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Plant Profile: Borage

Whenever I see my borage plant growing in my garden, in my head I sing the words "My borage brings all the bees to my yard" to Kelis' Milkshake. Seriously though, this plant is a bee magnet. Whenever I walk by a borage plant in bloom, there buzzes a bee. 

Beyond bringing bees to your garden, what can borage not do? You can eat its flowers and leaves, it's a fantastic companion plant, and, if you're particularly crafty, you can make an oil from its seeds that's high in omegas. Also, it's incredibly easy to grow from seeds. For the most part, I use it for it's delicious, cucumber tasting flowers, to attract bees, and sometimes to companion-plant. I find it thrives, despite my ignoring it for much of the spring--only recently have I started trimming and watering my borage.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Garden Technique: Square Foot Gardening

Square foot gardening is the (often edible gardening) technique where a garden's area is divided into squares, often 1' by 1', hence the name, and plants are assigned to a square plot. In comparison with more traditional row gardening, plants are packed together as closely as possible.  I started gardening this way last year and love it for it's efficiency, yields, and simplicity. 

If you're limited on space, square foot gardening a great way to pack your annual edibles into smaller areas. While there is some criticism that this "crowding" of plants will limit root production and thus plant production based on competition for water and nutrients, I didn't find this to be the case. You do, however, have to be very diligent about adding compost and organic plant food throughout the season; I would recommend using a cover crop such as fava beans to add nitrogen and loam to your soil. Planting so many plants close together will be more intensive on the soil, but plan for this by prepping and feeding your beds accordingly.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Garden Recipe: How to Make a Vertical Strawberry Garden

I've been meaning to write this post for a while. A little over a year in fact. So here, finally, goes.

I'd always dreamed of fresh summer strawberries picked warm from our garden. I tried to have a strawberry patch in our Oakland garden, but I didn't mulch properly with straw, and the plants' leaves got mildew and few strawberries were produced. So last year, I ripped out my mini strawberry patch to try something new: vertical gardening in a pallet!

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Garden Update: Wisteria! Anemones! O my!

The photo on the left I know these aren't exactly taken from the same position, but you get the idea! The photo on the left was taken in early March and the one on the right in late March--oh what a difference a few weeks can make!

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Plant Profile: Strawberries

If there's one thing that makes me think of summer, it's a juicy, fresh strawberry. I guess that and sun warmed tomatoes. Throughout the spring, summer, and fall months, we are always eating strawberries, as the season is just that long here in California. Sorry. Not sorry.

When you grow them yourself, they are at least 10 times better. It took me two tries, and four different varieties to finally get it right, but man oh man, when you grow your own strawberries, it's a whole new world of wow. Eating sun warmed strawberries, just picked, is like nothing you can get at your farmers market, let alone the grocery store. When I finally had the right mix, it was like eating Jolly Ranchers, no joke.

And strawberries are not just a delicious, fruit bearing plant, they are also a functional element in your garden. While most plants are low growing, bushy plant, depending on the variety, they can serve as an excellent ground cover and underplanting or as a repeated accent plant.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Garden Recipe: Strawberry Soil

The start to almost any happy plant is in the its soil, and that's no exception with strawberries. And strawberries, despite their reputation of being an "easy" plant to grow, they do have specific fertilizer requirements.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Garden Update and Recipe: Removing Ivy (And Triming Wisteria)

When we started, our garden was a bit of a jungle of ivy divided by a wall of wisteria. While cozy, private, and green, it wasn't the garden we wanted. We wanted a light, open space where we could grow delicious food, host friends, and enjoy the sun. So we started the process of bringing the garden back to it's bones (ie trimming overgrown plants and removing unwanted ones) so we could get to the hardscaping details.

I think this is a process that every gardener new to a space goes through in some way, and it was a process of discovery for us. Not only did we discover a beautiful arbor underneath all the ivy and the full potential for sun in our yard (look at it! And that's in January!), but we also found Cala Lily's being strangled by ivy (we saved the Cala's, obvs), a white camellia (also being strangled by ivy), and even a few glass marbles. 

Monday, January 4, 2016

Hello 2016! New Year, New Goals

I started this blog way back in 2013 as a way to chronicle projects I was working on in the garden and in our house, mostly for myself and slightly for my parents so they could stay up to date from afar. As the years have gone by and as my garden projects have grown more ambitious, I want to do more with what I write on my blog. So with the new year now upon us--and the garden in its hibernation season--I have some goals for this year both for this blog and for our garden.