Saturday, January 29, 2011

Road Trip to Flora Grubb Gardens, San Francisco, CA

Earlier this month, I was attending the Fancy Food Show in Northern California.  While in the area, I was fortunate to have time to visit Flora Grubb Gardens.  The store in San Francisco is an oasis of green in an urban area.  Eclectic would be the best word to describe the store.  Plants sprawl around the area and as you walk about you enjoy one whimsical planting after another.  Great use of exotic plants in this reclaimed retro sink.

Weekend Harvest of Lettuce and Peas

These snap peas are going to be used in a stir fry and we'll have a lovely salad as well.

Cheddar (Cauliflower)

A few weeks ago I purchased a new variety of cauliflower--cheddar. The cheddar name clearly refers to the color of the cauliflower flower. (That's right--the part of the cauliflower we eat is its flower!)

When in my garden this week, I glanced down and saw the plant was getting busy growing a nice cauliflower bud. I think I will tie the leaves around the bud to make sure it does not discolor from the sun.

Darling, no?

Friday, January 28, 2011

New Strawberry Patch in the Garden

Meet my overachieving strawberry patch.  This new garden addition is fragaria x ananassa 'Quinault'. The quinault promises to be everbearing (berries in spring and fall) with fruits appearing in four to five weeks.  I've planted about 20 plants.  Anticipating fresh strawberries and cereal for breakfast in just a few months!

Brush away dirt around the crown so when planted the crown sits level with the surrounding soil.
Tease the roots gently before placing in soil.
A flower!

One of the plants has sent out a runner. This will develop into another strawberry producing plant.  Conventional wisdom says to pinch off flowers and runners to encourage strong root growth of the newly planted strawberries.
Clearly, I've selected a group of over achieving plants: runners, blossoms and set fruit!
The Patch! Waiting for a top mulching to help retain the moisture.

Editor's note: It was very difficult but I pinched off the buds and blooms in the garden as well as any knobby set fruit. The one thing I was reluctant to pinch off was the runner. This variety touts its ability to produce fruit on unrooted runners. I thought this made the runner more desirable than a detriment to the plant.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Cook's Garden--Planning for Summer

What to do with a lazy Sunday in January? Shop the seed websites!

The Cook's Garden has a very nicely organized site with descriptions that are making me wish it were summer planting season. The plant photography is eye candy for the home gardener.

Also included are two items which I think sound great. The first is a spray on all-natural fertilzer called Sea Magic.  It promises improved yields organically. The second is a clever pot maker for starting seeds. It is a hardwood mold you wrap newspaper around. Plant the newspaper once the seeds have germinated and it biodegrades into the soil.

Besides having a great selection of seeds, the site also has articles about organic gardening and recipes for some of their produce.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Sweet 16--Meet Casey the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Miss Casey turns 16 this month.  She still enjoys a stroll about the garden.  Her first stop is back at St. Francis where she gets a little drink from the bowl at the bottom of the statue.  She doesn't see very well anymore but she can find it everytime!  I think her sniffer is working overtime.

Once she has had a drink, she might make her way to the middle of the grass and enjoy a sit down and bask in the sun.  She's a sweet dog.  We love her.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

My Perennial Artichoke

For it's third appearance, presenting my artichoke.  This artichoke was in my vegetable garden but was moved during some construction.  I had no hopes that it would survive the transplanting.  It has mocked me by not only surviving the first season, but by establishing itself in what seems to be a permanent basis.  During the fall, the folliage died back to the ground and then with the heavy rains, popped back up.

Nifty Note Card with Florals from a Luncheon Centerpiece

Lovely Branches Green 5x7 folded card
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Wednesday, January 12, 2011


During the end of the fall, my miniature pepper plant zealously set tens of blossoms which dutifully turned into tiny developing peppers.  To my delight there are still about 18 peppers on the plant.  I continue to harvest as they turn a lovely chocolate brown shade.

At this point, I think I will top dress the soil with compost and see if I can get another year out of the plant for the 2011 summer season.

Meatless Monday: The concept and a Recipe to Start Your Commitmen

Gardeners may be aware of a movement called Meatless Monday.  One of my New Year's resolutions is to embrace this concept.  So far I have made black-eyed peas the main course as well as a lentil/rice casserole.  Warning to those new to fixing meatless Monday turned into a meatless Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday!

I was able to use tomatoes (frozen from the summer garden) and onion from my garden making it a locavore experience as well.  Here is my recipe:

Lentils/Rice with Saurkraut

2 tbls. olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
2 small leeks, 1/2" slices
1 carrot, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 cups lentils, rinsed and picked
1 cup long-grain brown rice
1 can vegetable stock
2 cups water

2 tbls. tomato paste

2 tbls. red wine (optional)

1/2 cup tomato puree
Sauerkraut  small can
Parmesan cheese in strips for garnish

In a large sauce pan, place oil over medium heat.  Add onion, celery, leek, carrot and saute until onion is translucent (about 5-10 minutes).  Add garlic and saute for another 1-2 minutes.  Add salt and pepper to taste. 

Add lentils, rice, vegetable stock, water, tomato paste, red wine, tomato puree.  Cook for 30 - 45 minutes until lentils are tender.  Add water to pan to keep lentils from sticking as necessary.

When lentils are tender, add one can of sauerkraut.  Garnish with a strip of Parmesan cheese.

Enjoy and please return for other Meatless Monday Recipes.

Pumpkin in the January?

Well, the mystery is completely solved.  The squash plant which volunteered late in the fall is a pumpkin.  Time for the beauty shot today.  The vines died back during our December cold snap.  I'm letting this little specimen ripen in the sunny weather we are now having.  Stay tuned for the recipe I am going to use to prepare this for consumption. 


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