Category Archives: Gardening

Starting the garden, 2nd time around

Maybe you remember last year when me, Ben, and David set out to be “gardeners”?  All that hard work we put into setting up the 2-tier garden, tilling, loving, sweating, cussing…yeah, well, we gotta’ MOVE it.  haha  Aaaahhhh!

Ben and I have been attending gardening classes, where we learned everywhere we went wrong, and that was a lot of places.  We knew last year when our garden didn’t really take off, it was mostly due to location.  But now we know it was several things, like buying your seedlings from “big box” stores instead of starting your own, or buying them from a local farmer that sells them.  Also, good soil, that it be very aerated, and not compact.  Non clay/rock like, which is what we were dealing with.  AND knowing what to plant for your area, and WHEN to plant it.

Hey Texas people, did you know that you don’t plant cilantro in the spring or summer?  Most people think you do, because they think of tomatoes, and summer salsa.  Well, guess what?  It’s a fall herb – who knew!?  Same for dill and parsley.  We’ve learned so much during our 2-class series, and we’re going to continue to take more classes.  We’re mapping out our garden now, and starting our OWN seedlings!  Check out the seed packets, soil, and cell greenhouse we got as our starter kit.  It’s everything we need to start our new garden: snap beans, chard, lemon cucumbers, mesclun lettuce mix, peppers, radishes, summer squash, and celebrity and sun gold cherry tomato varieties!  I can’t wait!

I’m actually going to container garden on my balcony as well with basil, rosemary, tomatoes, and lettuces and micro greens in my micro garden containers.

These are great seeds sourced from Johnny's, and other trusted seed companies.

CSA (Community Supported Agriculture)

I finally joined a CSA/Co-op!  I’ve been looking into a few around the area, but couldn’t ever come up with one that delivered at a reasonable time and location.  Most were during the week around the lunch hour, and I couldn’t see skipping out of work for an hour twice a month.  But I found one that has a drop not far from me, on Saturdays, which I can hit up before I go to yoga.

In the Dallas/Ft. Worth area there’s a co-op group known as Your Health Source, started by a mom of 7 that wanted organic foods for her kids.  While not everything is sourced locally, most is, and all of it is organic.  I bought in at a 1/2 share for $27, a full share is $50.  I think it’s a great way to get a big variety of organic produce every 2 weeks, and I’m looking at it as a challenge to test my recipe books for scrumptious recipe ideas.

Carrots, parsnips, buttergreen lettuce, shiitake mushrooms, onions, fruit, etc.

I picked up my first bounty this past Saturday at one of the volunteers homes.  Each area that hosts the co-op has a volunteer home that divides each persons share into the appropriate tubs.  I simply show up, leave my check for the next pick-up, and take the tub with my name on it.  Easy-peasy!  And I get an e-mail a few days before Sat. letting me know what’s coming in my share, and what part of TX it came from if sourced locally.

I’m really excited about the opportunity to try out new recipes, and hopes the regular allotment of new foods will spark my cooking passion again.  This time of year it’s so cold and dreary, I often chalk up my evenings to cereal or popcorn for dinner – sad, I know!  lol  Let me know if you’ve joined a local CSA in your community, and what it’s meant to you.

The Fabulous Beekman Boys – I’m in love.

Image courtesy of Joao Canziani/Plant Green, via Post-Gazette article (click image for article).

Have you seen this show yet?  Have you heard about it?  Do you get the Planet Green channel?  If so, then you have no excuse for not watching this fabulous show about farm debautchery in its finest adaptation!  Even so, you can watch the episodes online – get to it!  Go here: Beekman1802.

Brent (left), and Josh are a couple, both Manhattanites.  While on vacation in upstate New York, they see this beautiful expanse of land on which a farm and the Beekman mansion sits.  They buy the whole kit and kaboodle, not knowing a darn thing about farming!  At the time, Brent (Dr. Brent, actually) was VP of Healthy Living at Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia and gave it up to be the full-time person on the farm!  Josh stayed on as an ad exec in NYC, because one of them needed to be the steady bacon bringer.  Josh takes the 2-hour train into Manhattan for work and lives in their apt there M-F, and comes back to the farm each weekend.
They knew nothing about farming when they started, and learned everything from the Internet, and a guy they employ who’s lovingly referred to as “Farmer John.”  John came to the farm with his own goats, which is now Josh and Brent’s livelihood, because their main product from the farm is goat’s milk soap and wheels of goat cheese with an ash rind they make themselves!  They sell these products online and in select stores, and of course Martha’ pimps the products and has them on her show all the time.
You can tell the mansion has been redone, but it’s funny, they don’t really use it as a source of income.  It’s not a B&B, and they don’t really rent it out.  It’s their home and they manage the goats, a few pigs and alpacas, and a huge organic garden on the property.  It’s just the sweetest little show, and it’s FUNNY!  Brent is completely OCD (totally Martha-like) and Josh is laid back and non-fussy, so the dichotomy of the relationship is hilarity. 
Not to mention the scenic beauty of this show…makes you want to completely give up your 9-5 and pursue the same dream! 

Oh, and did I mention that Josh used to be a big-time drag queen, and Polka Spot, their llama, is also a huge drag queen, and oh, Brent Windex’s the barn windows.  Yeah, you just gotta’ watch to understand, it all makes perfect sense!  :)

Check out their goat cam.  Sometimes I run this in the background while at work just to hear the birds chirping on the farm and the goats naying, it’s pretty calming, actually.  And those baby goats, so stinkin’ cute!  And if you’re into serene prairie sounds, they’ve got these neat meditative videos as well.  It’s a nice 1-2 minute break while at work.

Give yourself the gift of the funniest 30 minutes on TV, Wednesday nights, and watch this show!

balcony garden – on hold

There’s work going on at my condo building…and living in a highrise means men on motorized ‘death carts’ going up and down in front of my bedroom and living room windows.  Most of this happens during the day, mind you, while I’m at work.  But they start at 8am sharp, which is when my alarm goes off M-F.  So for my lazy 15 minute lie in, I wait to see the ‘bucket’ pass by thru my sheer curtains before I get up and sprint to the non-voyeuristic safety of my bathroom.  It’s really in consideration of the construction workers, I assure you. 

At any rate, I moved some of my plants over to my friend Brandi’s for safekeeping, the tomatoes and succulents:

Wee babies...

One of my succulents w/ a water droplet held hostage.

I decided to bring the meyer lemon tree inside, along w/ one tier of my Mini Garden that held my basil and chives.

Mmmm, fresh basil, nothing like it!

I thought my meyer lemon had died, (read: thought I had killed it), but I started to look more closely at it and noticed all of this new growth on the “sticks” that remained after I trimmed all the dead leaves!  Maybe it was gonna’ make it?

New baby leaves appearing and buds of blooms!

A few leaves that held on, and my 'sticks' of new growth! lol

So, I probably won’t get my balcony back until late summer/early fall, but so far things are fairing nicely in the house.  It will be nice when I can move my metro shelving back out and get back to my teeny balcony garden.  :)

Petite by most standards, but this year was my first green thumb venture!

My first tomato!

Things are kickin’ along in our garden at Ben and David’s, but I brought some small herbs and a few tomato plants home for my balcony mini garden.

Last week I saw my first cherry tomato!  :)

So frickin' cute...I shall hug it, and squeeze it, and call it George - then EAT IT!

Gettin’ Hee-Haw Up In Hur!

This past weekend I put in a garden with Ben and David at their Oak Cliff home, in their Oak Cliff backyard, which is laden with Oak Cliff bedrock and overgrowth.  Good. Times.

Our garden, day one, ready for planting.

We hauled pavers, dug out, cut back wild things, tilled dirt, planted seedlings and seeds, installed tomato cages and fence…we did MANLY things, I got real butch!  We spent all of Good Friday prepping the area, tilling the dirt, and establishing the garden area.  We decided on a 5′ x 25′ foot linear garden that backed up to the fence line, and did a 2nd tier about 1/2 that size.  Then the rains came late afternoon, and we called it a day.

I picked the boys up at 7am. They came ready wearing their Snuggies and carrying pillows and coffee.

Saturday morning was another early start, and we headed out to Akin Farm Organics in Terrell, TX, to see our friend Wendy, who had some seedlings for us!  I’d been e-mailing Wendy about our garden plans, and she told me she had leftover seedlings from their plantings.  Of course we jumped at the opportunity, because Wendy grows varieties that cannot be found at your local home improvement store or nursery.  Wendy uses heirloom seed varieties, which means the seeds have not been genetically engineered.  So, we scored eggplant, 4 tomato varieties, yellow pepper, basil, and thyme to add to our collection.

One of Wendy's green houses where she keeps her seedlings.

After Wendy’s, we decided to head 20 more miles east because it was First Monday’s in Canton, and we wanted to do galvanized tubs for our herb garden.  Now, when I say we “ran in” to Canton to pick up these tubs, I will attest that it is possible to do this.  We were able to scrounge up 3 old galvanized wash tubs in about an hour and a half, for $27.  Score!  (More pics to come of the herb garden, which was a project for another day this week.)

Ben and David with our glavanized tubs...and fried cherry pies in their hands. :)

We returned from Canton, and got crackin’ on planting the seeds and seedlings.  We laid down weed block first, cut holes for the seedlings, and got everything in the ground.  We planted 2 varieties of squash, zucchini, 2 varieties of cucumbers (regular and small Boston’s for pickling), radishes, eggplant, jalepeno, 3 varieties of bell pepper, and then tomato plants and 3 varieties of green beans went in the second tier.

Seedlings in, and fence posts going in for caging to keep critters out and green beans to grow up!

Aren’t they cute:

Boston pickling cucumbers.

The herb garden tubs will consist of cilantro, 2 kinds of basil, thyme, mint, parsley, dill, and we bought a rosemary bush as well.  Soon we will be swimming in veggies!  Ben called me this morning to let me know that 3 days later we have radish seedlings – look!

Day 4: radish sprouts!