Monday, March 29, 2010

There Goes the Neighborhood

I just got some new neighbors at the community garden! A local beekeeper convinced the board and the park district to allow the installation of a beehive in the garden. It is a stone's-throw away from my plots, and I am sure they will visit my overgrown radish and mustard plants once they get settled in. I'll leave the flowers in the ground a little while longer, sort of like a bee-version of a covered dish.

Monday, March 15, 2010

March Potluck

We don't have regular locavore potlucks every month anymore by design, but we still seem to get together at least once a month. I look forward to the gatherings, where the guests are almost as colorful as the food.
I was going to make a salad plate of cooked sliced beet, so I created a simple red salad. Here's the recipe:

Red Salad
1 red carrot,grated
1 large red beet, lightly steamed
1/8 t whole coriander seed
juice from one blood orange

Grate the carrots and beets, and mix in with the orange juice. Toast the whole coriander seeds until fragrant, cool and grind. Add the coriander to the grated mixture, stir and let marinate for a couple of hours. Serve with red radish and beet stem garnishes on a bed of fresh salad greens. (You get extra points for using red lettuces, such as Outredgous.)

Sunday, March 14, 2010

The Tea Gardens

During the past few days, the temperatures have risen, the sun has brightened, and I find that if I don't put a thick layer of sunblock on, I'll get a sunburn. Of course, it is my usual intent to go outside "just for a minute" to see if everything is OK. Recently, these dashes into the garden have resulted in more and more time spent in the sun. There is always "just one little thing" that can be done before I dash inside for sunglasses and a hat.
This weekend I have spent quite a bit of time in the backyard, transplanting seedlings, getting new containers filled with new soils, trimming dead winter leaves and dividing the mint plants and dealing with compost. I started a dozen varieties of basil, plus summer savory and hyssop. Almost every planting pot I emptied contained a sprouting coast live oak acorn. The squirrels sure have been busy.
I have started a "tea garden" in an old recycled plastic tote. Since the container is fairly shallow, it will only work for plants that don't need to grow too deeply, like all the mints. When the new plants are established, I will drag the container to a shady spot for the summer. My vision is to have a few of these containers perched along some old steps in a remote and shady part of the garden. I have four kinds of mint and some lemon balm.
I have another "tea garden" tucked under an old olive tree. I just added a new layer into a new worm bin, and harvested the "tea" underneath. I just hope I didn't kill my worms. The bin was full of water after last week's rain, and I didn't see much evidence of worms. I added several new worms just in case.

Friday, March 5, 2010


My first tomato seedlings are up, and they sure are cute. I am not usually that big on getting the very first tomato. I take my time and wait for our evenings to warm up and all the spring crops to be harvested.
Many years I overwinter volunteer tomato plants taken from the garden after fall plantings. But this winter, I got caught by surprise with an early frost and lost all the tomato plants.
This year I am trying the Red Siberian tomato, and not only is it supposed to be the earliest, it can handle cold temperatures during our spring. I got really great germination on some fairly old seeds, and am looking to trade some seedlings for other varieties when the hotter weather arrives.
So many community gardeners are getting into the heirloom tomato craze and have ordered a crazy amount of varieties, all suitable for trading.