Grow Amaryllis Indoors and Create Space for Silence

Grow Amaryllis Indoors and Create Space for Silence

There aren’t many opportunities for silence these days. Even a walk or jog requires a soundtrack streamed from my iPod to my earbuds, and if I choose to listen to the real soundtrack of my life, it’s usually a cacophony of car noises, the steady hum of a nearby freeway, or the rev of an engine, the honk of a horn, the chirping of birds and barking of a dog defending its territory.  I find myself craving silence, though not carving out space or place for it.

Thinking back on memorable moments of silence, I’m transported to Christmas Eve.  Beyond begging to open just *one* gift before our traditional tearing of wrapping paper on the 25th, I remember counting the hours to the one quiet part of our Christmas custom: a candlelight Christmas Eve service.  We gathered just before midnight, so that as we lit the candle of the person standing beside us and sang an old hymn about a silent night or a holy night and created a sea of blinkey lights in the dark room, we could emerge from the church into that dark first hour of Christmas day. We’d wish each other Merry Christmas, my friends and I exchanging cheap gifts of mall-store jewelry, and head home to not-sleep so that as soon as the sun rose, I could rush out to see what trinkets were left in my stocking.

Though I no longer wake at dawn, and a cup of steaming hot coffee and pancakes heaped with butter and syrup are more my speed on Christmas morning, I still love the times I make it to a Christmas Eve service at a church, relishing in the quiet moment that the song ends and the only sound is of a collective held breath at the magic of hundreds of candles creating a gorgeous glow on the faces of the crowd.

Grow Amaryllis Indoors and Create Space for Silence

How can we create more moments of silence?  In “A Book of Silence,” Sara Maitland writes that “In our noise-obsessed culture it is very easy to forget just how many of the major physical forces on which we depend are silent — gravity, electricity, light, tides, the unseen and unheard spinning of the whole cosmos. … Organic growth is silent too. Cells divide, sap flows, bacteria multiply, energy runs thrilling through the earth, but without a murmur. … Gardening puts me in contact with all this silent energy; gardeners become active partners in all that silent growth. … The earth works its way under my nails and into my fingerprints, and a gardener has to pay attention to the immediate now of things.”

If December isn’t the best month for you to spend hours in your garden (hello lovely rain storm in L.A.!), you can spend some time with the silence of growing things indoors.  One of my favorite holiday plants is what is commonly called the Amaryllis, but I learned is actually a Hippeastrum, a genus in the family Amaryllidaceae.  (The generic use of “amaryllis” applies to a South African plant, generally grown outdoors.)

According to, amaryllis that you purchase already potted need only a thorough watering with lukewarm water to begin growing.

  • Place the pot where the temperature remains above 60°F. The warmer the temperature (70-80°F night and day is ideal), the faster the bulb will sprout and grow.
  • Provide bottom heat (by setting the pot on a propagation mat or on the top of a refrigerator) to help stimulate growth.
  • Water only when the top inch of the potting mix is dry.

If you want your bulb to bloom again in a year, it’s important to let it re-build after flowering.

  • Cut the flower stalk 3 to 5 inches above the bulb, but do not cut off the leaves.
  • Place your plant in a sunny window, and continue your watering habit when the top inch is dry.
  • WhiteFlowerFarm recommends fertilizing with a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer once a month, and after the final frost, either moving the pot outdoors or planting the bulb in full sun.

How are you creating space for silence this winter?  Tell us on Twitter @RebeccaSnavely & @TheCityFarm

(Photo Credit: TraditionalHome)

Tis the Season: Favorite Holiday Moments

Tis the Season: Favorite Holiday Moments

From our farm to your home, we wish you heath and happiness this holiday season!

Mr. and Mrs. Claus

Reindeer Peanut

Growing a Patriotic Garden and Menu for the Holidays

Growing a Patriotic Garden and Menu for the Holidays

This Thanksgiving, are you going patriotic on your dinner party? Does your pilgrim menu hearken back to only that which the Native Americans served? That sounds fun!  Educational! And limited!  If your menu is missing some flavors, think bigger.  Like Statue of Liberty big, this land is your land, big.  There are a lot of fun flavors and foods that are very ‘merican.

Because America’s dinner tables are just that, a flavorful mix of other nation’s cuisines.  So while it is good to honor what grew natively in our land, it’s très American to add hints of flavor from around the world, honoring that poem carved on the base of Lady Liberty:

“Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,

I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Emma Lazarus’s words are so powerful, I wouldn’t dare change them. But if I did, it might go a little like this:

Give me your meatballs, your macaroni,

Your spaghetti, yearning to breathe free…

Growing a Patriotic Garden and Menu for the Holidays

If I could add on, it would be to ask all immigrants to continue sharing the food and recipes from their native lands, letting us all continue to learn, taste, and grow.  NPR’s The Salt highlighted this very sentiment in their piece “A Journey Through the History of American Food in 100 Bites.”  “Apple pie isn’t American in the way people often mean. Every ingredient, from apples to butter to nutmeg and cinnamon, came from somewhere else.

“But then, so do most Americans.”

Let’s start with Brussels sprouts.   “Sprouts were believed to have been cultivated in Italy in Roman times, and possibly as early as the 1200s in Belgium. The modern Brussels sprout that we are familiar with was first cultivated in large quantities in Belgium (hence the name “Brussels” sprouts) as early as 1587, with their introduction into the U.S. in the 1800s. They were grown in California in the early 1900s, with the first central coast plantings in the 1920s.”

Mother Nature Network has 10 recipes guaranteed to make your mouth water, though I swear by the same simple one I posted about cauliflower.

To grow your own Brussels sprouts:

  • Start seeds indoors 6-8 weeks before last spring frost.  (Overnight frosts bring out the sweetness in the plants.)
  • Work fertilizer into soil a few days before planting or transplanting.
  • Plant transplant seedlings 12-24 inches apart.
  • According to, small sprouts (about 1-inch diameter) are the most tender. Harvest them as they mature from the bottom of the stalk upward. Remove sprouts by twisting them from the stem. Pinching off the plant tops forces sprouts to mature faster. Just before a severe freeze, uproot the plants, remove any remaining leaves, and hang the “logs” upside down in a cool place for a few more weeks of harvesting.

What are you preparing or planting for your cross-cultural/American Thanksgiving?  Leave a note in the comment section , or tell us on Twitter!  @TheCityFarm & @RebeccaSnavely

(Photo Credit:, ClarendonSquare)

Bourbon-Walnut Yams

Bourbon-Walnut Yams

Every holiday, my friends request this recipe! Be sure to check out my cookbook, All Time Favorite Recipes, for more recipes from family and friends. Enjoy!


4 pounds red-skinned yams

1/2 cup whipping cream

6 Tbsp. butter

1/3 cup pure maple syrup

3 Tbsp. bourbon

1-1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

1 tsp. ground allspice

3/4 tsp. ground nutmeg

1 cup chopped walnuts


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Roast yams on rimmed baking sheet until tender, about 1 hour.

Cool slightly. Scoop inside of yams into large bowl. Discard skins.

Mash yams into coarse puree.

Stir cream and butter into hot yams.

Stir in syrup, bourbon and all spices.

Season with salt & pepper. Sprinkle nuts over and serve.

DO AHEAD. Can be prepared 1 day ahead.

Cover & chill. Re-warm in microwave.

Sprinkle nuts over and serve.

(Photo Credit: Pinterest)

Why Thanksgiving is the Red-Headed Stepchild of the Holidays

Why Thanksgiving is the Red-Headed Stepchild of the Holidays

I was going to work on a “growing gratitude” post for Thanksgiving this last weekend, but then the accounting that I’d been working on all weekend vanished in the spinning (yet colorful!) pinwheel of frozen death. All is well now, but by the end of the experience, my brain was mushy from number-crunching and I felt very little space in my little hard heart for giving thanks.

But! It’s a new day.  And it’s November, even through there’s little evidence here in L.A., where I’m still wearing a tank top on my morning run.  I wanted a reminder of the season, something to trigger a space in my soul that we’re approaching our celebration of gratitude.

Every December, I faithfully watch “Little Women” and Barbara Stanwyck’s “Christmas in Connecticut” to get me in the holiday spirit, but I don’t have a go-to for Turkey Day. Looking for a list of Thanksgiving movies, I find there is a dearth of delightful classics. I guess I could watch Katie Holmes battle her family, a turkey, and heavy eyeliner in “Pieces of April.”  But it doesn’t cut it.  Nor do the giant retailers: The day after Halloween, Starbucks and CVS had Christmas décor lining the aisles, pumpkin flavored everything making way for Christmas blends and blinky lights.

What happened to Thanksgiving to make it the redheaded stepchild of the holiday calendar? And how can we reclaim it, and give it its rightful place on the calendar and in our shopping malls?

Ah – that explains it.  We don’t buy much for Thanksgiving.  It’s the anti-retailer holiday.  People actually go out of their way to volunteer at a homeless shelter this one Thursday of the year. There’s no undercover mascot like a “Secret Santa” to send us to stores to buy electronics for a co-worker we’ve never met.

That’s the beauty of Thanksgiving – we gather bearing casseroles and time-honored cranberries from a can to over-eat and remind ourselves that even without the gifts under the tree or the mad dashes for last minute trinkets, we are grateful.

Another way to find gratitude is to dig in the dirt. Caring for and growing your own food and flowers is a great way to connect with the daily cycle of your life, to press pause on your busy day and check in on your plants. If you’re looking to grow some traditional Turkey day items, take a look at last year’s “Growing Gratitude” post on cranberries and mindful eating, the history of the squash as inspired by Little Women, or the history of carrots and a link to growing your own.  It’s also a great idea to create your centerpiece from your own garden – explore in your garden and get creative with your greens.

Tell us how you plant to grow some gratitude this November.  Leave a note in the comments, or head over to Twitter! @RebeccaSnavely & @TheCityFarm.

(Photo Credit:  Sad Turkey via Snippets & Slappits)

Pumpkin Nut Cake

Pumpkin Nut Cake

I love making this easy Pumpkin Nut Cake recipe around the holidays. My friends and family love it! Let me know if you try it. Enjoy!


3 eggs

1 pound can of pumpkin

3/4 cup canola oil

1/2 cup water

2-1/2 cups all purpose flour

2-1/4 cup sugar

1-1/2 tsp. baking soda

1-1/4 tsp. salt

3/4 tsp. nutmeg

3/4 tsp. cinnamon

1 cup yellow raisins

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

For the icing:

4 oz. cream cheese

3 Tbsp. butter

1 tsp. lemon juice or vanilla

1/2 of a 16 oz. box confectioners sugar


Beat the eggs, pumpkin, canola oil, and water together.

Then add into the mixture the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, cinnamon, yellow raisins, and walnuts.

Pour into buttered pan. Bake at 350º for 2 hours. Cool cake and frost with icing.

For the icing, beat all the ingredients. Frost cake.Sprinkle with chopped walnuts.

(Image Credit: Pinterest)


Living like ‘Little Women:’ Limes, Pears, & Poppies

Living like ‘Little Women:’ Limes, Pears, & Poppies

If you read my post on “’Little Women’ and the History of the Squash,” you know my love for the 1994 film adaptation of Alcott’s book, and my Christmas tradition that surrounds it, trimming a tree and watching the film with a friend over a bowl of popcorn and mugs of mulled wine.

And thus you’ll understand my distress upon reading the recent news that ABC is going to attempt a television version of my beloved book and movie.  I wondered what it is I love so much about the 1994 version, besides the obvious: Susan Sarandon IS Marmee and know one else should ever try to replace her.

It’s also Jo’s imagination, that “late at night my mind would come alive with voices and stories and friends as dear to me as any in the real world. I gave myself up to it, longing for transformation.”  It’s Laurie’s heartbreak when Jo refuses his proposal.  It’s the friendship between sisters who care for each other and burn each other’s books and create the Pickwick Club to critique stories and put on plays. It’s Beth’s love for the poor Hummel family.  It’s Amy’s limes in winter and Marmee’s feminist indignation when Amy’s teacher tells her it is “as useful to educate a woman as to educate a female cat.”

There are so many beautiful details in the film, colors that stand out against the stark, often dark landscape of the lean times surrounding The Civil War.  The bright green limes in the winter snow, the soft green pear Laurie leaves in the mailbox to announce he is home for a visit from college, the bright red petals of the poppy scattered over Beth’s death bed.  (Errr, spoiler alert.  Beth dies.)

Want to live like one of the “Little Women?” Surround yourself in the colors and tastes of the March household.

Amy’s Limes  “I’m so degradetated. I owe at least a dozen limes.”

  • Growing limes works best if you live in a warm climate, zones 8 – 11, with a mild winter.  However, if you live in a colder climate, dwarf varieties grown in protected containers will thrive as far down as USDA Zone 4.  If the temperature drops below 50F, bring your container(s) inside.
  • Plant in full sun, with soil that drains well.  Limes dislike salty or clay soil.
  • Nourish:  According to SF Gate, fertilize your citrus tree every couple of months, using citrus plant food or slow-release fertilizer with extra nitrogen. “The nitrogen content should be nearly double when compared to the phosphorous and potassium content; for example, 20-10-10. Only a third of the recommended amount of fertilizer needs to be used each time.”
  • When your soil is dry 6 inches deep, give your limes a healthy drink of water, approximately once to twice a week.
  • Fun fact – limes actually turn yellow when they are fully ripe, but are most flavor-packed with picked while still green, with just a tinge of yellow. (If lemons are your thing, read “Confessions of a Lemon Addict,” here.)

Laurie’s Pear “Laurie’s home for the weekend! In need of funds, no doubt. We’d have a week’s groceries for what he spends on billiards.”

  • Plan to plant pears? Choose two varieties and check with your local nursery that they are compatible with each other, as pears need cross-pollination to produce.*
  • Plant in full sun in the winter or early spring.
  • If you choose full-size trees, you’ll need a little more room, as they should be spaced 20 – 25 feet apart. If you’re tight on square footage, consider a dwarf variety, to plant 12 – 15 feet apart.
  • Similar to planting peaches ( if you’re transplanting from a container, lay the root ball on its side and use shears to remove any circling roots.  Your hold should be dug a few inches wider and deeper than the spread of the roots, and does not need to be fertilized before you plant.
  • OrganicGardening advises that you give each tree 5 to 10 pounds of composted manure to start and mulch the trees generously.  For the first few years, be sure your trees get an inch of water, whether from rain or your hose.

*OrganicGardening notes that the “available varieties include Asian types, European types, and hybrids of the two. The classic European pear varieties—’Bartlett’, ‘Anjou’, ‘Bosc’, ‘Comice’, and lately even ‘Seckel’— have become highly susceptible to a widespread bacterial disease called fire blight. They’re wonderful pears, suited to USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 5 to 8, but not the best choices for large swaths of the East and other regions where warm, wet springs—prime fire blight conditions—are the norm.”  If that sounds like your region, your best bet is the “Magness.”

Beth’s Poppies “I know I shall be homesick for you even in Heaven.”

Oh my god Beth.  I was trying to end this on an up note. But I do love sobbing in that moment, when Beth tells Jo she can be brave, too. That she’s not afraid to go ahead of her sisters into the unknown.  Cut to beloved hausfrau Hannah, tearing red poppy petals from the flower to sprinkle them over Beth’s empty bed, her worn, wrinkled hand pausing to grasp the hand of Beth’s doll.

SO SAD.  But poppies, although associated with wartime death, don’t have to be. Work with me. They’re bright. Cheery. So here’s how to add some cheerful color to your garden and remember Beth in her better days, writing about the history of squash.

  • Poppies are easy to grow, in zones 1 – 10, and best to grow from seed.
  • Plant perennial poppies outdoors in early spring, as well as annual varieties at the same time for Zones 3-7. If you live in Zones 8-10, sow in the fall.
  • Scatter the seed in your garden, or barely cover, in well-drained soil.
  • Watch them grown, cut for indoor arrangements. Scatter to re-enact the saddest scene.

What is your favorite scene in “Little Women?”  If you haven’t seen it, or it’s been a few years (or days) you can buy or rent it on YouTube.  Pour a glass of gluhwein, pop some corn, curl up with the March sisters, and tell us all about it.

Twitter: @RebeccaSnavely & @TheCityFarm

(Photo credits: Limes – Under a Blue Tree; Pears – Daily Hiit; Poppies – History Mike; Little Women – Abby Rosebrock)

Fall into the Autumn Season

Fall into the Autumn Season

600_7617It’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of the holidays. We see Christmas decorations before Halloween and by Thanksgiving we should have our shopping list ready to go for the Black Friday craze and before you know it Christmas Eve is upon us.

With the blending of the holiday season we can forget to stop and enjoy each holiday. I try and slow down to really savor each season and holiday on their own. After all, I’ve waited all year for the falling of the leaves, I better enjoy it!




My favorite escape to enjoy fall before winter is to make a warm cup of tea and honey or enjoy some sweets by the fire. I remind myself of summer when I couldn’t wait for boots and sweaters or a warm cable knit throw and am grateful that the autumn months have arrived; even if it’s still sunny here in California.

2006-12-04 15.47.41

City Farm Barn Inside

I take a stroll down to the stables to greet the horses and smell the crisp chill of the evening air around the groves. I let my mind wander to the Thanksgiving menu and smile at the thought of family together again around one table.

As I walk back home for the night; I am thankful for the time I’ve taken to live in the moment.

It’s these small moments that bring me into the holiday season and remind me to not let autumn rush by.





How to Hibernate with Your Fall Harvest

How to Hibernate with Your Fall Harvest

Having grown up in relatively mild climates, where fall = rain and winter was a rare snow day, celebrated with pancakes, hot chocolate, and a sad attempt to push an inch of snow into a squat snowman, I never really understood what it meant to winter.  After moving from Oregon to Southern California, I now understand it to mean wearing warm socks, turning on lights a bit earlier against the shorter days and longer nights, and breaking out the knit hat on a night out.  It was only when I moved to Kosovo for one of their coldest winters on record that I discovered that “winter” could actually be a verb, and I needed to learn quite quickly how to do it.  To stoke a dying fire that was the only source for cooking and heat in a place where the electricity was off for most of the day, to balance on icy sidewalks and shovel snow from the drive.

While it’s not *technically* winter until Solstice on December 21st, after our Halloween rain here in L.A., it finally feels like fall!  It’s time “to autumn.” What does that look like for you? Beyond eating soup and wearing my favorite boots, I don’t know how I’d define it that verb.  So I took to the interwebs, and learned that if you’re already feeling the chill of fall frosts coming, canning your veggies or storing them for the winter is a perfect way to welcome the colder weather.  And for those of us in warmer areas, you can still plant cold-weather veggies, like lettuces, radishes, or carrots.

The other cool thing I learned while online boot shopping visiting is that storing your wintery veggies like beets, cabbage, and turnips is in keeping with their biennial nature (“plants that flower and set seed during their second growing season”), so they’re accustomed to hibernating for the winter.  In addition to those root veggies, it’s easy to store celery, leeks, brussels sprouts, peppers, and citrus fruits for anywhere from two to eight weeks in a cool room, and MotherEarthNews says that onions, pumpkins, sweet potatoes will last ‘til spring if you keep them dry and cool.  According to, late-harvested apples store best in trays with shredded newspaper, straw or special padded cardboard liners, in a cool, but not frosty, room.

Are you canning your fruits and veggies for the winter?  Picking proper storage for your harvest? Tell us how you “autumn” in the comments or over on Twitter @TheCityFarm.
(Photo Credit:

Sweet Potato Casserole

Sweet Potato Casserole

I have made this Sweet Potato Casserole many times at Thanksgiving. Everyone loves this recipe. Be sure to check out my cookbook, All Time Favorite Recipes, for more recipes from family and friends. Enjoy!


1-1/2 lb. sweet potatoes

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup milk

1 egg, beaten

3 Tbsp. butter, cubed

1 tsp. vanilla

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

2 Tbsp. butter

1/2 cup pecan pieces

Pecan halves (optional)

Peel sweet potatoes, and cut into cubes. Cook, covered, in a small amount of boiling water for about 30 minutes or until tender. Drain.

Combine hot sweet potatoes, granulated sugar, milk, egg, the 3 Tbsp. butter and vanilla. With a wooden spoon, stir to break up potatoes but not completely mash them.

Put mixture into a greased 2-quart square baking dish.

Combine brown sugar and flour; cut in 2 Tbsp. butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

Stir in pecan pieces and sprinkle crumb mixture on top of potatoes.

Bake, uncovered, in a 350 degree oven about 25 minutes or till set.

Garnish with pecan halves, if desired.

Makes 8 servings as a side dish.

(Photo Credit: Pinterest)

Hocus, Pocus, Magriculture!

Hocus, Pocus, Magriculture!

Artist Sam Van Aken is making magic with agriculture (magriculture?), creating a tree that blooms in various colors and then produces over 40 different fruits.  No, Van Aken is not trying to play God, though he was inspired by the Catholic rite of the priest transforming the wine and bread into the blood and body of Christ.

Sam had been performing “hoaxes” on the radio, hijacking commercial stations with his own versions of ads and songs.  Researching the etymology of the word “hoax,” he was led to the transubstantion of the Eurcharist in the Catholic church, as “hoax” is derived from “hocus pocus,” which is in turn from the Latin “hoc est enim corpus miem,” meaning “this is my body,” the phrase the priest uses to bring the mystery of the body of Christ into the present, physical space for the people of the church.

As an artist, Sam was intrigued. How could he alter the appearance of a thing while the reality of it remained the same?  Combining his childhood, growing up on the family farm, with his work as an artist, he began to build a fruit tree.  To graft together the more than forty stone fruits, he approaches local farmers and growers for their fruit, adding an element of the political surrounding the diversity of food production to his growing statement on art and commerce.

But, Sam told Epicurious in the interview, “first and foremost I see the tree as an artwork. Like the hoaxes I was doing, I want the tree to interrupt and transform the everyday. When the tree unexpectedly blossoms in different colors, or you see these different types of fruit hanging from its branches, it not only changes the way you look at it, but it changes the way you perceive [things] in general.”

You may not get the chance to graft together a fruit tree to blow your mind and neighbors’ preconceived notions about life.  So how can you see the daily or mundane in a new light?  Oftentimes all it takes is a shift in perspective.  Growing your own fruit tree, caring for it, nurturing it, watching it finally blossom and produce delicious fruit can be a way to see your world through new eyes.

If you want to plant a peach tree, put it on your calendar for this spring!

  • Peach trees grow best in full sun, in sandy soil, in USDA Zones 5 to 8. If you live in colder regions, check with your local nursery about varieties that will do best in your neck of the woods.
  • Choose a young tree to transplant, approximately one year old. If possible, plant the same day that you adopt your tree.
  • According to The Old Farmer’s Almanac, if you have a container-grown tree, remove the plant from its pot, lay the root ball on its side, and cut away any circling roots. For grafted trees, plant the inside of the curve of the graft union away from the sun.
  • Dig a hole a few inches bigger and deeper than the reach of the root ball. Make a small pile of dirt to set your tree on in the hole, and gently spread the roots away from the trunk.
  • If you’re planting more than one tree, give regular sized peach trees 15 to 20 feet of space; if you’re growing dwarf trees, place them 12 – 15 feet apart.

I admit, I take compliments ALL the time for remembering birthdays, anniversaries, and first dates and I don’t give Google calendar ANY credit.  But it’s the only way I remember to do anything. Mail my rent? Check. Eat lunch? Check check. Fertilize my peach tree three years after planting?  Definitely need to set an e-mail reminder for that.  It’s like a free personal, electronic assistant. To take the best care of your peaches, add these dates from the time you plant your peach tree:

  • 6 weeks after planting, fertilize your peach tree with one pound of nitrogen-rich fertilizer. Year 2, use 3/4 pound of nitrogen fertilizer once in the spring and once in the early summer. Year 3, add approximately one pound of nitrogen to your tree(s) in the spring. (The Old Farmer’s Almanac)
  • Pruning your peaches is critical. Check out these videos on YouTube for a how-to from Dr. Mike Parker, Tree Fruit Extension Specialist with the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service at North Carolina State University: click here to learn about pruning your two-year-old tree, and here what to do with your three-year-old.

How do you see the magic in your daily surroundings?  Tell us in the comments or over on Twitter @RebeccaSnavely & @TheCityFarm.

(Photo Credit:

Spooktacular Savings – 50% off Caramels!

Spooktacular Savings – 50% off Caramels!

Satisfy your sweet tooth! From now until Halloween, save 50% on our City Farm Caramels, now only $7.50!





While supplies last. Promotion ends 10/31/2014

Introducing Our Mini Horses: The Great Pumpkin Patch

Introducing Our Mini Horses: The Great Pumpkin Patch

In the spirit of pumpkin patches, hay rides and Halloween costumes, we’re celebrating here at the farm.

Mini Horse in Costume

Halloween, being one of our favorite holidays, is a time to enjoy sweets, like our bubblegum, bob for apples and yes, even dress up the horses. The best thing is… they love it! Meet Peanut, Chiquita and Chocolate, even at their young ages, they’ve had their fair share of costumes. From the time I first brought them home in my minivan, they’ve had a hat, sash, or cape on a few times a year. Of course I would never push them to do dress up so the fact that they’re willing to trade an apple for a witch hat adds to the festivities!

This year, we carved our pumpkin patch at night to really let our jack-o’-lanterns glow! Everyone was in costume and excited for the fun. Chiquita struts by Chocolate’s stall each night since she’s arrived so we knew they had to dress up together. In true Chiquita fashion she started to nibble at Chocolate’s hair piece just to get his attention. My life on the farm brings me many pleasures but few compare to the happiness my horses bring. It was a wonderful start to the holiday season and the horses are just another reason I will be extra thankful come Thanksgiving.

What is your favorite way to include your pets at the holidays? Are they as happy as our minis and dwarves to join in the fun? Enjoy more snapshots of our life at The City Farm below… stay tuned for more!

Caring for Cauliflower: Plant Now For a Spring Harvest

Caring for Cauliflower: Plant Now For a Spring Harvest

I was shocked – as shocked as one can get about vegetables, which, frankly, runs pretty low on my shock-scale.  But still, when my brother-in-law ordered a small plate of roasted cauliflower for the table, I didn’t think I’d be (softly) stabbing his hand with my fork in order to eat the last piece.

That night, the Olympic Provisions kitchen handed over the incredibly easy recipe (see below) to replicate the yummy dish at home, so we might make as much as we wanted and ensure familial bliss.

If you read this blog and recently planted easy peas, you’ll have more time to tend to your slightly more needy cauliflower crop.  The benefits are awesome: adding more cruciferous veggies to your plate will not only give you more vitamin C and K, but also add glucosinolates to your diet, “compounds containing sulfer that are found only in cruciferous vegetables. Eating glucosinolates might help lower your risk of cancer, according to the Linus Pauling Institute.”

Cauliflower thrives in a cool climate of consistent 60 degree weather,  and grow best planted in the fall. If you live in a warm area, you can plant any time from now ‘til early winter, but want to wait ‘til the weather is consistently around 75 degrees or colder.

  • Plant 6-8 weeks before the first fall frost.
  • Choose a spot with at least 6 hours of full sun, with soil rich in potassium and nitrogen.
  • Start your seedlings indoors, according to, and plant the seeds ¼ to ½ inch deep in peat or paper pots. Harden off your seedlings for a week by exposing them to a few hours of outdoor sunlight and air each day before you transplant into your garden.
  • Plant the seedlings 15 to 24 inches apart (check with your nursery regarding the variety that will work best for your region).
  • Cauliflower needs consistent water to grow well – 1 to 1 ½ inches per week.
  • Be patient – some varieties take 75 to 85 days after transplant to fully mature.
  • To keep your cauliflower looking fresh and white (unless you’re growing the gorgeous purple variety), The Old Farmer’s Almanac suggests you blanch your plants to protect them from the sun. “When the curd (the white head) is about 2 to 3 inches in diameter, tie the outer leaves together over the head with a rubber band, tape, or twine.”
  • The cauliflower is ready to harvest around 7 to 12 days after blanching.

As promised, the recipe for roasted cauliflower a la Robert the brother-in-law:

Chef’s note: Measurements don’t really apply for this recipe. You go where the spirit leads you. Baking on a pizza stone is ideal, but a baking tray works well, too.

  • Depending on your hunger, take 1 head of cauliflower (or more). Cut out most of the core and detach/cut the florets. Separate florets to make smaller ones – but not too small.
  • Throw into a mixing bowl and add enough olive oil to get them nicely coated but not drenched. Mix around by hand and add more if needed.
  • Grind coarse sea salt and pepper (to taste) into the bowl, then mix again.
  • Heat oven to at least 450 with pizza stone/baking tray in there. I often do these on the barbecue, getting the temp well above 500. Requires being more watchful, but the higher temp seems to result in best combination of charring and firmness.
  • Once you get oven to desired temp, dump cauliflower onto the pre-heated tray and spread out as much as possible.
  • Check in about 8 minutes (sooner at higher temps). On a pre-heated tray, the side of the floret facing down will start to brown first. Watch for this, and if that’s the case, push the florets around a bit for even browning.
  • Check again at about 12 minutes and press on the stems of the bigger pieces to see how soft they are. You want them to be somewhat soft to the touch, but still firm to the tooth. Try one and see if you like the texture. If not, give them a couple minutes and sample again.

Serve to happy eaters who never knew cauliflower could be so good.  Are you growing your own cauliflower?

(Photo Credit: Pirate Kitchen)

Host Your Own DIY Pumpkin Patch / Carving Party!

Host Your Own DIY Pumpkin Patch / Carving Party!

Have you noticed pumpkin patches have become more like mini-theme parks lately?  They start setting up round about Labor Day, and a visit to one can range from overwhelming to downright scary – bounce houses with children’s screams of delight turning to cries of exhaustion, kids running untethered and hyped up on cotton candy and candy corn, their adorable face paintings turning garish as the sweat from a sunny Indian-summer day beats down on them.
I will concede that there’s something magical to a hay-bale ride, so if your local pumpkin patch offers that, plan a quick visit, and then plan your own, home-grown, DIY pumpkin patch and carving party.

To create a rustic, farm-inspired party, find a box to display your pumpkin-carving tools, like the City Farm’s primitive shoe shine box.  Toss in pens for sketching, spoons, carving knives for the grown-ups, and a few orange marigolds to add some bright fall color.

To add a touch of the carnival to your pumpkin patch / carving party, create a cut-out for photo opps.  With a box-cutter, slice apart a cardboard box, and sketch a pumpkin “head” outline on one of the squares, including a neck and shoulders.  Cut out a face-sized hole in the middle of the pumpkin, and paint as traditional or crazy as you feel that day. If the box is big enough, cut out hand holes at the wrist, so your party people have a place to wag their hands through.  Make sure it is dry before your party, to avoid unwanted face painting. For DIY face painting, check out for a video guide of easy tips and ideas here.

The City Farm ENJOY Blog

What will you serve your guests? Pumpkin spice cupcakes? If you want to get a little buggy with gifts for your guests, head over to Martha Stewart and print out a variety of bugs on card stock.  After you’ve cut out the shapes, glue a clothespin to the back to create a candy bag clip, put your favorite candy in a small paper bag, and close with your clip.

To learn more about the history of the jack-o-lantern, check out our Grow post, here.

Share photos of your pumpkin patch / carving party or tell us your favorite fall traditions over on Twitter. Happy Halloween!

(Photo credit: Pumpkins: Tom’s Farm; bug art – Martha Stewart)

Grow Garlic, Avoid Vampires

Grow Garlic, Avoid Vampires

It’s time for me to ‘fess up: I think vampires are real.  Well, maybe not *real* real.  But back in ’92, after watching the Luke Perry / Kristy Swanson cult classic “Buffy, the Vampire Slayer,” I began to seriously consider what it meant to invite some vampire err… someone into your house.   And while it’s *mostly* a running joke about my weird phobias (clowns ARE real and they’re terrifying, people), I’m not opposed to keeping a clove of garlic handy come Halloween time.

Are you planning a ghoulish gathering or hosting a Halloween pumpkin patch party this year? A quick Google search reveals all kinds of ideas for adding vampire-repelling garlic to your menu, from cupcakes to pumpkin sage bread to a warm and savory soup.  If you want to pick your garlic from your garden next year, now is the time to plant! Garlic grows year-round in mild climates, and will be ready to harvest in spring or summer for those living in colder regions.  Just be sure to plant your cloves six weeks before the first real frost.

  • Pick a spot with full sun.  Though garlic will grow in almost any soil, it will best thrive with well-drained dirt and plenty of organic matter.
  • To prep, suggests soaking your garlic bulbs in a jar of water with one tablespoon of baking soda and a tablespoon of liquid seaweed for a few hours before planting.
  • Pull apart the bulb of garlic into cloves, and plant each clove 4 to 8 inches apart, with the pointed end facing up, the tip a good 2 inches beneath the soil.
  • Cover with mulch or straw, and soon you’ll see the shoots starting to pop up.  If you actually have a real winter, unlike those of us in Southern California who are just hoping for a tiny bit of rain, the garlic will stop growing until the spring.
  • If your rain dance doesn’t work, water weekly to meet the garlic’s needs for about an inch of water while the garlic is growing.
  • Prune aggressively.  When your garlic starts producing flowering, curly tops that start to get spiky, sacrifice these “scapes” for the plant to grow a bigger bulb.
  • According to The Old Farmer’s Almanac, your garlic is ready to harvest when the tops turn yellow and start to fall over.  Carefully pull up the bulb, and dry inside for 2 weeks, til the roots are dry and the skin of the garlic is dry and papery.

Even if you’re not worried about keeping vampire visitors at bay, there are many other benefits to garlic.  Rich in antioxidants, it was used to fight gangrene in both world wars, and continues to battle disease as a regular part of your diet, combatting the common cold.  Research is ongoing, but studies show that garlic benefits your heart health and blood pressure, as well as adding tons of flavor to your food.

Do you grow your own garlic? Planning to plant some this month?  Talk to us on Facebook or Twitter!

(Photo Credit: HarvestToTable)

The Princess and the October – Sown Pea

The Princess and the October – Sown Pea

WHAT is it with the October heat wave? I’ve lived in Los Angeles long enough to know that this is our hottest season. Despite my protestations that it should be time for boots and sweater weather, October greets me full of fire-inducing, hot Santa Ana winds and the temptation to buy an air conditioner. But I can’t seem to get over wish for a cold, damp, blustery fall, pumpkin patches, fires in the wood stove instead of the surrounding hills, veggies roasting in a crockpot for a hot, filling dinner.

Whether your weather collaborates with your seasonal dreams or not, October is a good time to sow certain seeds, especially peas: snow peas or snap, if you get them in the ground now, you’ll have a jump on fresh peas for a spring harvest.  I’ve always loved snow peas, whether it’s the crunch they add to a stir-fry or the reminder of the princess who felt the slight change beneath her 20 mattresses, reminding me that I can be high maintenance about a few things.  “You’re the worst kind; you’re high maintenance but you think you’re low maintenance.”  ~ When Harry Met Sally

Despite their princess-y reputation, peas are pretty easy to grow, though you have to give some special attention when it comes to watering them.

How to plant your peas:

  • Pick a sunny spot to plant, but if it’s still hot (heeeey L.A.), pick a place where other plants provide some cooler shade for your new peas. suggests planting where your corn or pole beans might provide some relief from the heat.
  • Peas prefer loamy soil, but you can loosen your heavier soil by adding some organic compost to it prior to sowing your seeds.
  • Sow seeds by hand in a row, broadcasting them to fall where they may.  Cover with 2 inches of soil. Rows should have approximately 18” to 24” between them.
  • Limited for space? suggests you “plant ‘Alderman’ heirloom garden peas or ‘Super Sugar’ snap peas on a trellis or fence. This way you can get maximum yields using only a few square feet of garden space.”
  • Much like the fabled princess feeling that little bump 20 mattresses below her, peas are a bit finicky when it comes to watering: too much will water-log them, too little when the seeds are germinating or blooming, and you won’t get a good crop. Water deeply once a week, and once the pea plants are up, give them a 1/2 inch or more of water every week.
  • No need to fertilize: peas, and especially snow peas, are the hosts to good bacteria, fixing the nitrogen levels in your soil.
  • Peas are ready to harvest about three weeks after a plant blossoms.  Taste the pea pod straight off the vine, and if they’re ready to pick, use them within a few hours for the best, sweetest taste.

“On the side” is a very big thing for you.”  (When Harry Met Sally)  How do you prefer your peas?  In the pod, tossed in a salad or stir-fry?  Steamed or added to a Thanksgiving mystery casserole?  Tell us any tricks and tips you’ve learned about growing and harvesting peas in the comments or over on Twitter @TheCityFarm.

(Photo Credit:

Celebrating Fall: Growing and Harvesting Marigolds

Celebrating Fall: Growing and Harvesting Marigolds

Fall is one of my favorite times of the year, leaves, marigolds, boot & sweater weather is a reminder of change after a hot and dry summer in Southern California.  And since the season isn’t as gloriously marked here as it is in the northeast, I go online and look at photos of the changing colors of the trees. The shorter days and colder evenings remind me that it is natural to slow down, to hold a cup of hot tea, to allow for things to settle in to a fallow period.

But October is not for the fallow in your garden.  In fact, it is a great time to grow your annuals in the soil that is still warm from the summer, from your bulbs that will flower in the spring, to flowers you hope to harvest for a holiday centerpiece.

Marigolds are a fantastic flower to plant this week: they are the birth flower of you October babies, and bloom in oranges and reds, the warm colors of fall, perfect for an autumnal dinner table.  Used around the world in honor of various traditions and religious rites, from honoring Mother Mary to those who have passed away on Day of the Dead, some of my favorite images are from the garlands of marigolds used in India to celebrate weddings and mark holy days.  High in antioxidants, the Calendula officinalis  is not only edible, but has been used medicinally for everything from upset stomach to ointments to treat burns, bruises, and cuts.

Marigolds are easy to grow and maintain, so you really have no excuse.  Get out in your garden!

  • Marigolds thrive in full sun, and do well in almost any well-drained soil.
  • Seeds sown directly into the garden about 1-inch apart sprout within days in warm weather and plants bloom in about 8 weeks. (
  • Water from the base of the plant, not from overhead.
  • Do not fertilize, marigolds actually bloom better without.
  • To harvest when the flowers bloom, cut early in the morning and put directly into warm water.

Add bouquets to your fall dinner table, or sprinkle some petals to add a garnish to your favorite autumnal food.  What are the ways that you celebrate autumn?  Drop us a note in the comment section, or tell us on Twitter @TheCityFarm.

(Photo Credit: