Archive for the 'Greens' Category

Garden Laboratory

May 9th, 2010

garden lab
Well, the weather hasn’t exactly been cooperating with our garden plans thus far. As a result, we have quite the burgeoning garden laboratory going now. We started a fairly extensive batch of SEEDLINGS a few weeks ago (though most of them are still pretty small and frail).

plant saleSo much like LAST YEAR, I went to the infamous FRIENDS SCHOOL PLANT SALE to pad our repertoire. The plant sale is AMAZING. They have everything you could possibly think of. I went with good intentions, but it’s difficult to draw parameters around the endless possibilities. Just think of all the food I could make!  I mean a girl could really go balls to the wall gourmet with so much to work with!

plant sale
Just to give you an idea of why my boyfriend was so annoyed with me, here is a list of all the plants I got:

Black Cumin
Culantro (not cilantro…I don’t know either)
Lavender, Fred Boutin
Thai Basil, Siam Queen
Sweet Basil
Milk Thistle
Mint, Spearmint
Mint, Chocolate Mint
Papalo (described as cilantro on steroids)
Parsley, Curly
Parsley, Italian
African Blue Basil
Boxcar Willie Tomato
Sweet Banana Pepper
Caspian Pink Tomato
Coyote Tomato
Habanero Pepper, Chocolate
Habanero Pepper, Orange
Heirloom Lettuce, Forellenschluss

seedlingsI should note that this was AFTER we had already purchased a wide variety of lettuces/greens (curly kale, dino kale, swiss chard, and a few butter lettuce varieties). Where I’m going to find room to plant all these is anybody’s guess. But every raw food catering business needs all this! Right?! We did inherit an extra bed this year at the COMMUNITY GARDEN that needs some TLC. Someone let it overgrow with weeds. So it kind of needs a nanny for a year. But I think I’m still going to need to get creative..

sq ft garden
Here’s a draft of our SQUARE FOOD GARDEN grid. The blank boxes represent the number of plants I was SUPPOSED to get at the plant sale. (He should have known he was sending me on MISSION IMPOSSIBLE). 🙂

goji bush
In other news, look how well my GOJI bush is doing! ANTHONY would be so proud…


Kitchenette Salad

December 22nd, 2009

revived kale
Well, as I mentioned in the last post, I’m SANS KITCHEN at the moment. So, I’m trying to keep things simple. Today I made a kale salad. I’ve had trouble lately finding kale that isn’t all wilted. This kale was looking pretty limp when I picked it up. So, I cut the tips off and dunked them in a bowl full of water. They livened up quite nicely. Works much better than the fridge.

kale bits
To make my salad, I started by ripping the kale into bite size pieces and rinsing them.

Next, I massaged the kale with a little olive oil and sea salt…

…followed by a little squeeze of lemon over the top.

kitch salad
And since I’ve taken to the THING lately, I garnished with a little nori and VOILA…a quick and healthy meal that even a transient could love!


First Freeze

October 15th, 2009

hub of heaven
Well, it’s already started snowing here in Minnesota. I’m sad to say that GARDENING season is winding down. Here I am in front of our community garden collecting a box of goodies before the first freeze.

lil garden
We actually ended up with two garden beds this year as we inherited one from a gardener who was MIA. This was our second bed where we grew zucchini, tomatoes, nasturtium, strawberries, beets, and some hot peppers. It’s hard to see behind the fence, but you can see some nasturtium flowers.

packingI suppose I could have tried to greenhouse my bed a little to extend the season (my kale is still hanging on!!). But I’m going to NYC next week to play a show with my band, and I’m leaving for CHEF SCHOOL as soon as I get back. So, it’s time to start saving what I can. I’ve got a ton of seeds for next year already. But that’s not all…




I have a ton of herbs to dry down too. Check out the long, spindly branches hanging out the side of the box. Those are stevia leaves! I had a ton of it.

stevia bowl
Here I harvested all the leaves and dried them down to make sweetener.

steviaLook at that! My own homegrown sweetener! I’m gonna be showing up to chef school in style!  I’m sure there are some fancy Christmas cookies in my future somewhere.  I was dehydrating them at the same time as a batch of KALE CHIPS, and my boyfriend asked me if i put sugar in the kale chips.  We figured out that some of the stevia must have fallen into the batch.  Pretty potent stuff!  It’s apparently up to 300x sweeter than sugar.


Our carrots were kind of stubby. I’m not sure why. But they’re kind of endearing that way. Aren’t they?


Harvest Moon

September 6th, 2009

me gardening
I got a cue from the moon that it was time for a GARDEN update. I have to say that after my first season gardening, I am hooked! I absolutely LOVE gardening. It’s so relaxing, and we’ve hardly had to buy any food this summer.

I was worried at first when I saw this marvelously psychedelic swirl on one of our tomatoes. My boyfriend was convinced it was a worm eating our tomatoes.  I was so relieved to find that it just meant they were growing too fast, and the skin was cracking.

This is my boyfriend’s nephew holding our very first ripe tomato of the season. It was a caspian pink tomato and the flavor was stupendous. It was also perfect and flawless. The prettiest tomato to date. Though we have some really pretty ones that are just starting to turn now.





This is my beautiful stevia plant. I’ve dried down the leaves and ground them into a powder to make sweetener. Though admittedly, it takes a lot of leaves to make not very much powder. I should save the seeds so I can grow a bunch next year (or whenever I actually have a yard at some nebulous point in the future).

Yesterday, I picked the first habanero! I think I’m going to make kale chips with it. I’m really addicted to this new chip we’ve developed. It was inspired by my recent trip to the West Coast. They were HUGE there. Though I think we encountered them first in PORTLAND. They’re a notcho cheese variety that will knock your socks off.

Everything is coming up peppers right now. We’ve got a couple red jalepenos. And a bunch of this Korean hot pepper. They’re HO CHI MINH‘s. They’re kind of like cayenne…but yellow…and surprisingly hotter.

I also have these edible flowers called nasturtiums. They didn’t really go in this salad so well. They’re kinda spicy. So I’ll check back with you about those…

But all in all, the garden’s good! Now it’s time to start sharing the wealth.


Getting My Garden Fix

July 2nd, 2009

Since I’m away from my own GARDEN now, I’m having to get my garden fix elsewhere. But as luck would have it my friend, Heidi, is happy to oblige.

She made an APPEARANCE on my blog at this time last year too. We signed up for BIKRAM YOGA this week. There was an intro deal at a STUDIO here – unlimited classes for one week for $20). Here she is doing a spontaneous yoga pose on a cement divider.

toilet planterI love how they used their old toilet as a planter. I suppose it’s not technically a planter. I think she originally planted something else in it, but now it is FULL of super nutritious chickweed. We put some in our smoothie this morning. We’ve also harvested some radishes, baby beets, and raspberries. Her garden is SO HUGE. I need a garden this huge (especially if we are going to start a catering empire with locally grown produce from our own gardens – our not so secret dream).
This is the cute little spider that made a home for itself between her tomato plants.

MMM…SMOOTHIE. It’s starting to turn into a tradition as I always seem to show up when her raspberries are in season.


Exceeding My Expectations

June 27th, 2009

tomato bush
I think it’s safe to say at this point that my GARDEN is exceeding my expectations. Being that it’s my first one, I would have been happy to get ANY growth whatsoever. But yesterday, my boyfriend sent me this insane picture of the monstrosities that our tomato plants have become (Did I mention that I am out of town? I left him in charge of the garden for five weeks. I’m MISSING EVERYTHING.)

sunny side
This is that same area a month ago. AMAZING!

I’m wondering if these aquacones have contributed to the growth spurt. It HAS been hot and sunny. But apparently, we’ve outgrown all the plants in our community garden. My boyfriend had to rip holes in the netting to make room.

lettuce side
This is the other side of the garden. The shady side…where we are growing many varieties of lettuce. I am so spoiled now. I can never go back. GOURMET SALADS for FREE.

happy plants
They just look so happy. And they taste that way too.

salad mix
It would cost a fortune to buy this many heads of lettuce every couple days.

This garden has been blowing my mind. I’ve been thinking crazy thoughts. Things that I would have never EVER considered. Things like…moving out of the city?!

This is going to be the year of the KALE CHIP. I have at least fifteen kale plants going right now!

I think the chard has been the most persnickety of the greens. There is some kind of pest that is making the leaves get this fungus-like illness. We’ve been mostly spraying with cayenne and picking yucky leaves. And that seems to be working alright.

stone arch
I am a little sad I’m missing this. I miss Minneapolis and going to the garden with my boyfriend. If I weren’t having so much fun, I’d be really homesick. But I’m actually finding Seattle to be really friendly to my dietary issues. More updates soon…


Herbalism 101

June 23rd, 2009

milk thistle
Admittedly, the medicinal qualities of plants and herbs are something that I am woefully uninformed about. But you’ve got to start somewhere, right? This is a milk thistle flower from my GARDEN. I haven’t figured out what to do with it yet, but I know that they are helpful for those who have issues with their livers (i.e. ME).

steviaWe also have this lovely stevia plant. Apparently, all I need to do to make my own stevia is harvest the leaves, dry them, and grind them into a powder. Considering how expensive stevia is, this sounds like a great idea. I’ll let you know how it goes.





I also have several varieties of mint which are overgrowing their SQUARE.

I have to tell you that they make a MEAN MINT CACAO NIB ice cream.

I also have some goji seedlings that are doing quite well. Three years from now, they will bear some righteous superfood fruits.


First Harvest

June 18th, 2009

aerial shot
Time for a GARDEN UPDATE. This is an aerial shot of our garden plot. We actually just inherited a second smaller plot, but I don’t have pictures of that yet.

garden back
Being that this is our first garden, I wasn’t sure if it was going to be worth the investment. I would have just been happy if anything came up. But so far, I can say that the output has definitely exceeded my expectations. I think we will save a lot of money on groceries this season. We trying to keep a tally. So we’ll see where we are at the end of the season.

We have a really lovely variety of greens right now. Here you can see the arugula, kale, a little chard, some romaine-like mystery lettuce, and some of the mixed microgreens we have going.

Here’s me pulling our first harvest.

first harvest
It’s a nice mix of greens. The chard is so much puffier than it is in the store.

first salad
This was our first garden salad with some blackberries and dried fennel. WOW. Gourmet greens and they are so fresh.

We got some other things popping up too. But I’ll save that for another post…


Square Foot Gardening

May 12th, 2009

me and garden Hey everyone! Check out my new garden. It’s my very first one (besides the one I started in my WINDOW). My boyfriend calls this the shot of me taking credit for all his hard work. 🙂

It all started a few weeks back when I started some SEEDLINGS in my window. I had little to no idea what I was doing. I planted maybe 150 seedlings! Most of them didn’t survive my incompetence. But the tomato and arugula seedlings seemed pretty determined.

square foot gardening Everyone kept talking about this book. Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholemew. So I picked up a copy. It seemed to make sense. More vegetables in less space. Who could argue with that really? And it was a better idea than anything I had come up with personally. So I went with it. Admittedly, the plans seemed way more ambitious in terms of yield than any novice gardener could hope for. But I suppose it doesn’t hurt to dream big dreams, right?

plans These are my inital plans (now waterlogged). It’s going to be really funny to look back after it’s all said and done to see how much of it actually came true. Our garden has a tree on one side. So one side is sunnier and one side is shadier. Thus, we tried to plan accordingly.

seedlings Once the seedlings got to be about so big, we started planting…Can you tell we’re new at this?

seedlings planted Well, they looked really impressive in my little pots in the window. But once they got into the ground, they looked kinda pathetic.

tomato seedlings Don’t laugh! Apparently, it’s better when your tomato plants are small. They survive the transplant better. Though they didn’t survive the squirrels so well. OY! The Squirrels!!

It became clear before long that we were going to need some help beefing up our garden. We went to the FRIENDS SCHOOL PLANT SALE (a GIANT plant sale at the State Fairgrounds) and picked up a few things.

plant sale Mostly, we got herbs (chocolate and orange mint, basil, rosemary, oregano, milk thistle, some peppers, more tomatoes, and some hostas for my boyfriend’s mom).

fighting back I also picked up some kale and swiss chard from the SEWARD COOP. Once I started transplanting, things started to take shape. Except for the squirrels who were munching on everything and digging up plants. Did I mention that SQUIRRELS ARE MY NEMESIS?! (ASIDE: My battle with squirrels began several years ago. I was getting bombarded with calls from STRANGE old ladies and people who later died on my answering machine. My calls were also getting rerouted to Canada. Very bizarre! I called the phone company, and the phone guy literally told me that my problem was squirrels first. Then terrorists. Terrorist squirrels. That should be a band name. Anyway, I did a radio show about it when I used to be DJ. You can check it out here…VOLUME 29: MYSTERY CREOT.)

netting system Anyway, back to the matter at hand. We needed to find some gentle way of encouraging the squirrels to eat someone else’s food. That’s when my boyfriend designed this netting system to keep the squirrels out. It seems to be working so far (keep your fingers crossed). Plus, now we’ve earned a reputation for being the most anal gardeners in our community garden! Our neighbor saw what we had done and kind of giggled to herself. Like, ‘hey guys, trying to keep the bears out?’

shady side This is a closer look at the shady side of our bed. This is going to be focused mainly on different varieties of lettuce. Here we have swiss chard and kale I just planted. There are some marigold in the back (supposedly to deter pests). And my little arugula seedlings are still hanging in there. We also have a square for the mystery lettuce which was left behind by last year’s gardener. And a square for micro greens.

sunny side The sunny side is mostly tomatoes, peppers, and herbs. The eight squares in back are all different tomato varieties. In front, we three kinds of peppers, and herbs. I’m still filling these in. So I’ll keep you posted on my progress…


Starting Some Seedlings

March 21st, 2009

Well, it’s not quite warm enough here to start planting anything outside, but it’s about time to start some seedlings in my window. My boyfriend is in Austin right now for SXSW. He did sound the other day for HALEY BONAR, who is a fantastic artist from around here you should check out. He promised to bring some interesting seeds back. So we’ll see what he comes up with…

Until then, I started with these guys (brandywine and green zebra tomatoes, arugula, purple osaka, swiss chard, and oregano). I started some basil about a week ago. So I’m off to a good start. We don’t actually have any dirt of our own. We have been living in this ridiculously small STUDIO APARTMENT for two years (while I’m trying to pay off my medical bills). But my boyfriend seems to think that his mom won’t mind if we plant a few things at her house. So I started with 50 little pots. I’ll keep you posted on their progress…