Blog Category: Grow
checkout the city farm blogs to learn about our takes on farm & city life
checkout the city farm blogs to learn about our takes on farm & city life
Ikebana, the Japanese art of floral arrangement, plays with the idea of nature in constant change, and the art of exploring that rhythm and order. Considered an art-form along the lines of painting or sculpture, it was more often practiced by men, and, in the past, “was considered an appropriate pastime for even the toughest samurai.”
As we anticipate spring showers bringing up all kinds of flowers, why not take an ikebana class? Or host one! Have your friends over, and invite a teacher to your home?
What you’ll need, according to Ikebana International:
Containers: most ikebana artists use glass containers, to reflect and play with the light in the arrangement. Bamboo baskets are most commonly used during the warm months.
Holders: There are a variety of holders to fix your flowers in your container. A few:
Click here to find a chapter in your region! Will you start practicing the art of floral arrangement? Share photos with us on Facebook or over on Twitter @TheCityFarm!
(Photo Credit: My Personal MFA)
Happy six more weeks of winter, according to our favorite, favorite groundhog, Phil. But before we worried about more cold weather from the world’s wee, furry winter season soothsayer Punxsutawney Phil, there was the day the Celts called Imbolc, or St. Brigid’s Day, to determine whether the winter would continue six more weeks. Unlike the marmot medium, the Celtic goddess of winter, Caileach, was said ensure beautiful, wood-gathering weather on February 1st in order to gather her firewood and ensure her favorite wintry weather would continue. Monday, it appears it was a good wood-gathering day, as Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow, and predicted 6 more weeks of winter.
The good news? You can plant a terrarium or air plant indoors, no matter the weather!
It’s easy to create and care for your own air plant or terrarium. What do you have in your home to house your indoor greenery? A fish bowl? A jelly jar? The City Farm’s Cow Milk Glasses? A sea urchin from your last ocean dive, such as what LA-based designer Cathy Van Hoang creates, with upside down shells as planters to create indoor, aerial jellyfish? Mother Nature Network gives an easy, step-by-step guide:
Six more weeks of winter? Bring it, Phil.
Will you be planting a terrariums or air plant? Show us your gorgeous indoor garden on Twitter!
(Photo Credit: Air Plant Jellyfish by Petite Beast, Mother Nature Network)
Do you plan to grow your own onions? Tell us over on Facebook or Twitter @TheCityFarm!
(Photo Credit: The New York Botanical Garden)
I’ve used this blog to confess a few of my odd habits and/or stories, my coffee cravings and how the grounds help my garden grow, my sage-smudging blunders, my jonesing for fresh-squeezed-lemon in hot water before I can greet Facebook or the sun.
And now I confess my proclivity to all things odd as I admit, though I don’t remember any of my actions, I am a night-time-showering/sweater-
Even if you don’t ward away evil by planting oregano near your home or dream the winning Lotto digits, the herb has been linked to good lung health, due to its carvacrol and rosmarinic acid content. According to Organic Health’s Website, “both compounds are natural decongestants and histamine reducers that have direct, positive benefits on the respiratory tract and nasal passage airflow.” And it’s a great flavorful seasoning for Italian dishes.
How to grow your own oregano:
And check out The City Farm’s handy garden tote, to keep all your growing tools on hand!
Will you be growing your own oregano? Tell us here, or over on Facebook or Twitter!
I have been living a lie. I don’t remember when I heard that celery was a “negative calorie” food, that munching on the crunchy green stalk burned more calories than it provided as food. Looking up the history of celery on Wikipedia, I learned that is a lie. But celery is part of weight-loss diets, as it provides low-calorie dietary fiber. And, not only great for weight loss, added crunch in your stir-fry, or as a vehicle for peanut butter, the seeds of celery plants are also often used as an oil in the perfume and pharmaceutical industries, as well as in spices (have you tried celery salt?).
Last week I wrote about greening your new year with a garden space inside. Kick off your indoor garden by growing your own celery! It’s quite easy, and after reading about it on RealFarmacy, the boyfriend and I decided to give it a go. I can’t wait to cut a stalk of celery off my own plant.
We (okay, *I*) named our new celery plant Cecil. It’s day 3 in the potting soil, and he’s already growing like mad, helped along by a weekend of rain in L.A. Have you set green-growing intentions for 2015? Will you try growing your own celery? Tell us here in the comments, or over on Twitter @TheCityFarm.
(Photo Credits: Stoop celery: Rebecca Snavely; Celery in oatmeal tins: RealFarmacy)
Resolutions are SO 2014. So this year, instead of making new year’s resolutions, I set intentions. It’s probably no different, but I’m hoping that by embracing a different term I might make these intentions realities, ways of life.
The dark winter days paired with the feeling of a fresh start and new intentions make this month a perfect time to create a garden nook inside, to add some green and growth to a corner of your life. Take a look around — is there a space that is stocked with unused tchotchkes? A stack of sweaters you might take to your local shelter, or that collection of CDs you can transfer to the cloud, and create room to grow green things? Look for a spot with natural light, or where you can connect and hide a cord to plug in some plant lights.
Search your cupboards for favorite jars or cups to create a collection of unique planters – and take a look at our City Farm collection to add a few new pieces for variety: a gum ball jar or wire bottle tote to display cut flowers? A votive cup to house a succulent? A ceramic bowl? Choose different shapes and heights to create an eclectic space that is uniquely you.
Creating a work station is part of the fun of making the most of small spaces – is there a spot to store your potting soil, a small trowel, a watering can?
With weak winter light, if you plan to start seedlings, and you’re feeling extra crafty, check out this how-to guide to transform an old bookshelf into an indoor grow light / plant stand!
Next week, kick off your indoor garden by growing your own celery! Until then, keep up with us on Facebook & Twitter. Happy New Year!
‘Twas the week between Christmas and New Year’s Eve, and Portland Oregon was filled with strangers and cousins and visitors from foreign lands, looking for all that keeps Portland weird. Disgruntled teens returned gifts, tired shoppers sipped cappuccinos, a man dressed as Robin Hood in furry tights walked the downtown streets, collecting dollar bills from the rich, giving to the poor, and I was all zen-ed out walking through the Portland Japanese Garden. I took in the perfectly placed stone path, the carefully groomed rock gardens dwarfed by the over-arching evergreen trees, the pond gardens filled with koi fish and the flash of money tossed into the water in defiance of the “coins prohibited.”
The Japanese garden was a respite just above the city of bedraggled holiday spirits, a quiet stroll filled with sounds of water pouring through bamboo into a shallow pool, a man-made waterfall creating a space of peace. According to the garden’s Website, the strolling pond gardens are a model of Japan’s gardens that were “intended as recreational sites for the wealthy and were attached to the estates of aristocrats and feudal lords (daimyo) during the Edo period (1603–1867), when this style of garden was at its height. These gardens were sometimes created to be reflections of a landscape of some distant place once visited, or the place of one’s birth, or even a famous place in China.”
Do you want to recreate the serene sense of a distant place once visited? Or the place of your birth? (For me, Reno is not exactly a place I want to bring to life in my backyard, but maybe your birthplace is more idyllic than John Ascuaga’s Nugget?) Growing bamboo will work for almost everyone reading this, as it grows anywhere from East Asia to Northern Australia, sub-Saharan Africa to the mid-Atlantic United States south to Argentina and Chile.
Ian Connor, a bamboo expert based in Portland, recommends clumping bamboo such as those in the Fargesia and Thamnocalamus genera, which remain well-behaved without a barrier. Towering timber bamboo, however, provides the “exotic feel” you may expect. “Besides a screen, it can be planted as a hedge and turn a garden into rooms with separate styles. Not all gardens, though, are big enough for rooms. For those, Connor suggests creating private seating areas by planting bamboo in curves.”
Do you already grow bamboo, or plan to plant some soon? Tell us on Facebook or Twitter!
Photos: Japanese Garden Waterfall and Koi – photographer David Gn, Bamboo – photographer Marv Bondarowicz)
It’s hour 23, you’re dressed for your boyfriend’s boss’s | sister-in-law’s | pet vet’s holiday dinner, and there’s no time for Prime to deliver a host gift. What to take? That magnet your kid made in 2nd grade? That block of Humboldt Fog you bought to savor by yourself in quiet after hours of small-talk? That gift card for a sushi bento box from your local fish dealer?
Plants make the perfect gift, as they keep on giving and growing. If you want to keep it festive, consider picking up an Amaryllis, a Cyclamen, or a Christmas Cactus. If you have a bit more time, you could create a “grow” kit, filling a mason jar with rich, organic dirt, to package with a packet of seeds or a box of bulbs, a pretty pot and watering can, and a spade and / or gardening gloves. In your holiday card, you can include the following hand-written instructions for your host to care for her new plant!
Cyclamen are beautiful and delicate, but they’re actually hardy plants that do well in colder climates. HGTV warns that three things will harm your cyclamen: over-watering, heat, and too much light. The coldest room in your house is the best home for your bright plant, which is much easier to grow from one in full bloom than from seed. (But if you like a challenge, check here for tips, and google a “germination chamber.”)
Christmas cactus, or Schlumbergera, a genus of cacti originally found in the coastal mountains of south-eastern Brazil, are winter-blooming cacti that are easily cared for indoors.
Do you have a last-minute holiday host to honor? A growing gift will remind them of your gratitude for their hospitality for months to come. Take a photo of your “grow kit” gift and share it with us on Facebook or Twitter. Happy Holidays!
(Photo Credit: Christmas Catcus: New Floridians)
Confession: I have a past of ignorant mis-smudging. Growing up in Eugene, I am oft called a hippie here in L.A., what with my car-free ways and belief in spirit animals. But even dropping that reference, I realize I am nowhere near knowledgeable about Native American traditions. So though I leapt at the idea to smudge my new home when moving in to a studio that had been inhabited by the tortured soul of an artist in conflict with her landlord, I’m not surprised to learn that I didn’t really know what I was doing.
A friend came and we offered blessings on the … room. (See above reference to “studio.”) While I waved my smoky bunch of sage in the air, I spoke my intentions for each part of the space, to create meals in the kitchen to nourish both body and soul of a visitor, that my desk might be a place for creativity to brew and thoughts to be put to page, that my door might be the way to a place of peace, thoughtful conversations, and belly-laughter.
And I did it WRONG. I mean, part of me believes there’s no wrong way to put out good intentions. But the next time I smudge a space with sage, I’d love to follow the guidelines detailed here by Cat Criger, aboriginal elder-in-residence at the University of Toronto.
Why is sage the herb of choice for purifying a place, ridding it of negative energy? Salvia officinalis, or garden sage, is a short, evergreen shrub, a member of the flowering plant Lamiaceae family, and with its grey leaves and bluish-purple flowers, is native to the Mediterranean region.
Sage’s name hints at its nature: sometimes called S. salvatrix (sage the savior), the second half of Salvia officinalis refers to its medicinal use—according to Wikipedia, the officina was the storeroom of a monastery where herbs and medicines were stored. Historically used to ward off evil, treat snakebites, increase women’s fertility, Pliny the Elder said the plant was called salvia by the Romans, and used as a diuretic, a local anesthetic for the skin, a styptic, among other uses. That plant has a lot to live up to.
Whether you want sage for smudging, to brew, make your own essential oils, or simply add flavor to your food, here’s how to grow your own.
How do you use your sage? Leave a note in the comments, or tell us on Facebook or Twitter: @Rebecca Snavely & @TheCityFarm.
(Photo Credit: Dried Sage, Joene’s Garden)
“I’m not really a “desert” girl,” I’d explain when someone asked why I had never camped out in Joshua Tree National Park. I grew up in the lush green of Oregon’s rainy Willamette Valley. The desert just leaves me thirsty.
“I may be a desert girl,” I said to the boyfriend while we sat on the cold wall of the patio of a Joshua Tree house, watching the sun rise over the stark mountain range, the sky slowly turning a baby blue with streaks of golden-tinged pink, quails waking to scuttle across the hard-packed dirt that is spotted with succulents whose beauty is neither flashy nor brilliant, but spare, somehow both delicate and hardy.
And then I entered Joshua Tree National Park, and I GOT IT. It’s a magical place.
Initially created as an 825,000 acre National Monument in August of 1936, Joshua Tree was designated a National Park on October 31st, 1994 by the Desert Protection Act, adding an additional 234,000 acres to the park. The rock formations look like they must come alive at night, gentle giants that stomp through the park, illuminated by moonlight, campers exhausted from a day of bouldering and hiking too deep in sleep to know. Each rock-monster step shakes the ground, witnessed only by the slow-growing, deeply rooted Joshua trees.
“Yucca brevifolia” the plant species now known to Bono fans and desert-lovers as a Joshua tree was so-nicknamed by a group of Mormons, settlers crossing the Mojave Desert in the mid-19th century. According to Wikipedia, the tree’s unique shape reminded them of a Biblical story in which Joshua reaches his hands up to the sky in prayer.
Joshua trees may need more than prayer; the Wiki entry notes that conservationists are concerned that they will be eliminated from the National Park, “with ecological research suggesting a high probability that their populations will be reduced by 90 percent of their current range by the end of the 21st century, thus fundamentally transforming the ecosystem of the park.”
If you live in a similar region to the Yucca’s native Mojave desert, you could grow your own “crooked cross” from seed. SF Gate gives you the how-to, here:
The tree is a lesson in patience, observation, and quiet, growing only 2.3 inches per year. That morning, as I sat watching the the desert day begin with the swooping of birds, the scuttling of lizards, the crowing of a neighborhood rooster, remembering the soft sound of a cotton-tail bunny’s erratic hops between brush and then, later, the howling of a pack of coyotes in the dead of night, I realize that however slow or quiet the desert seems, it teems with life. Edward Abbey writes about desert music in his book:
“A few flies, the fluttering leaves, the trickle of water give a fine edge and scoring to the deep background of – silence? No – of stillness, peace.
…“In the desert I am reminded of something quite different – the bleak, thin-textured work of men like Berg, Schoenberg, Ernst Krenek, Webern and the American, Elliot Carter. … their music comes closer than any other I know to representing the apartness, the otherness, the strangeness of the desert. Like certain aspects of this music, the desert is also a-tonal, cruel, clear, inhuman, neither romantic nor classical, motionless and emotionless, at one and the same time – another paradox – both agonized and deeply still.
“Like death? Perhaps. And perhaps that is why life nowhere appears so brave, so bright, so full of oracle and miracle as in the desert.”
~Edward Abbey, “Desert Solitaire”
[Photo Credit: Rebecca Snavely]
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.
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 WhiteFlowerFarm.com, amaryllis that you purchase already potted need only a thorough watering with lukewarm water to begin growing.
If you want your bulb to bloom again in a year, it’s important to let it re-build after flowering.
How are you creating space for silence this winter? Tell us on Twitter @RebeccaSnavely & @TheCityFarm
(Photo Credit: TraditionalHome)
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…
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:
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: UndergroundWineLetter.com, ClarendonSquare)
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)
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.”
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.”
*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.
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)
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 MotherEarthNews.com 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 GrowVeg.com, 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: ChugachFarm.com)
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!
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:
How do you see the magic in your daily surroundings? Tell us in the comments or over on Twitter @RebeccaSnavely & @TheCityFarm.
(Photo Credit: Epicurious.com)
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.
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.
Serve to happy eaters who never knew cauliflower could be so good. Are you growing your own cauliflower?
(Photo Credit: Pirate Kitchen)
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.
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)