Saturday, May 16, 2009

We've Moved!

Hi guys! It's true; I've traded this old dig for a swankier pad. Victory Home & Garden has paved the way for Anarchy in the Garden™-an amalgamation of micro urban farming, boot kicking punk rock, with a hard dose of DIY.

There are bugs in the new garden but regularly scheduled blogging will resume as I work out the kinks. In addition to customary homesteading content there are several exciting tidbits to share. Including a second more focused and rockin' podcast, an article contribution to a local zine and a new feature for a rad weekly.

Thank you to Haythem, Creative Director/Owner of DUB Magazine, for taking time from his busy schedule to design my new little blog.

A very special thank you to everyone that has followed this blog. Please update your links and I hope you will follow me to the dark side.

VH&G never die!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Ode To My Chef Knife

Lately it’s the simple things that stoke me out and my New West KnifeWorks Chef 8 knife is really doing it for me. Until now, I’ve never owned any fancy cutlery. Instead I own a whole block of knives. The obligatory set purchased when you move into your first apartment; scissors included.

My block o’knives do serious damage on my homegrown tomatoes. Chiffonade? Forget about it. A more adult blade was needed. Enter New West KnifeWorks Chef 8. It’s not just any shiv. It’s functional and chic; a work of art.

Description from website: These knives were designed for the professional chef. For that reason, we selected a special high-carbon stainless Japanese steel for their construction. The steel has 70% more carbon than a German Wusthof Trident. This blade will take on the finest, sharpest edge of any chef knife you have ever owned. Your best cooking deserves the best chef knife.

Sold! I quickly ordered one with a “Mountain Iris” colored handle. There are 10 handle colors to choose from and it retails for $149.00. It’s first task, slicing and dicing tomatoes, like butter. More:

video

If you’re in the market for a rad new knife I highly recommend a New West KnifeWorks knife.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Picking Berries

Rocky discovered his snack jar:

Friday, May 1, 2009

Anarchy in the Garden™ Podcast

Ugh. Good luck guys listening to my shrill voice. I’ve been sitting on this podcast for a while; wanted to spare you. The conspiracy theories are flying. Why do I mention fish injected strawberries? Oh because mom mentioned it earlier as a cause of my skin rash. Wha? Yeah we're both nuts.

Socialist society, aphid infested squash, radiation treated tomatoes, tasted tasteless tomatoes; say that three times. Those are just some of the gems you’ll be listening to throughout the 27:36 minute podcast. Burpee you owe me seeds. Who do you think dropped your name to the AP writer for said AP article? Hollah!

Special thanks to Rey. He saved me from boring you to tears. Well, I still may bore you. No promises. Thanks to H for chiming in from time to time and putting up with listening to my rants yet again. I promise to wrangle in my ADD for the next podcast and play more songs in between my rambling. Without further a do:



Shout out to Sasha at 1928 Tudor. I hope I didn't butcher your co-op story. And shout out to Judita. We're starting your fan club. Creepy.

"In Food We Trust” Photo Essay Contest

Listen up fellow farmers/music lovahs! HomeGrown.org is gifting two tickets to Bonnaroo! Did I mention I'm a judge? Well I am. Neko Case and Booker T will be performing at Bonnaroo and I'm working on attending the event. I may even give seed starting demos! Ah whut?!

Gist:
In a series of six (6) photos or fewer, show: How are you eating differently these days and how are you connecting to the sources of your food?

Example: Are you growing some of your own food? What are you growing and how? Do you know your farmer? What does he/she look like?

Contest Deadline: Thursday May 14th 2009 at 11:59pm ET
Winners Announced: Monday May 18th 2009

Please visit HomeGrown.org for all pertinent details.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Guide to an Anarchist Weekend

Ok, it’s more of a “what’s-the-happs” run down on events around town. Ok ok, it’s what I plan to cram and/or wish I could cram into my weekend.

Saturday, May 2nd:
Get your tree hug on while the finest Long Beach child labor does the dirty work for you. Wrigley is Going Green is throwing their first tree planting of Anaheim Street with the youth from Long Beach Housing Development Company. Event commences at 14th Street Park and Pacific Avenue in Long Beach at 8:30 a.m. Adult volunteers are needed to help keep this project safe. I'll be there cracking the whip.

For more info email: wrigleyisgoinggreen@hotmail.com

Hey hipsters William Elliot Whitmore will be performing at The Knitting Factory in Hollywood. He’s a farmer, tattooed, and belts out roaring verses. Need I say more? He goes on at ten. *Rawr*

He recently performed Old Devils on Later… with Jools Holland:



Sunday, May 3rd:
Start your week off right. Spreading the good raw vegan word and slingin’ heavenly fudge brownies, Judita will be teaching her Raw Food 101 class. It’s the perfect class for those who want to learn about raw food but don’t know where to start. I walked away inspired and have made some serious changes in my diet since taking her class. Thanks Judita!

I highly recommend this class. Email Judita now at rawjudita@yahoo.com because there are only a few spots left!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Rocky's Snack Jar

Recently H and I witnessed very peculiar behavior while standing next to a strawberry jar. A very brash Rocky was sniffing out three lowly ripe strawberries I was babying. He picked off one strawberry at a time and retired to his weed patch for a little afternoon snack.

Rocky’s love for this healthy snack inspired me to redo a strawberry jar just for him. I set off to Armstrong and armed myself with armfuls of strawberry plants. The person ringing up my purchase shot me a look of disgust when I told him the strawberries were for my dog. He can suck it. On to the pictorial!

Song: All Systems Go from the album ‘You Were Never My Age’ performed by Stepmothers courtesy of Posh Boy Records (c) & (p) 1981

video

Materials:
*One clean strawberry jar (Mine has 9 pockets and the top measures 9" in diameter)
*3 PVC pipes, 1" to 1 ½” in diameter (Depends on the opening of the pot)
*Drill and ¼” drill bit
*Strawberry plants (I used 11 strawberry plants)
*Soil

Directions:
1. Measure the top of your strawberry jar to determine how many PVC pipes will fit. If the diameter measures between 7" to 9" you can fit three PVC pipes.
2. Measure depth of jar to determine length of PVC pipes. Cut about an inch under. You don't want the pipe sticking out of the jar.
3. Drill ¼” holes along the length of the pipe. This will allow water to seep to the strawberries planted at the lower part of the jar.
4. Plug one end of the pipe to hold the water.
5. Position PVC pipes and start filling jar with soil.
6. Pause at the edge of each pocket and carefully shove in plants. I shove them from the inside out. It works for me.
7. Keep the soil and plants coming! Be careful not to get soil in the pipes. I usually cover them with my hands while H fills the jar with soil.
8. Plant the top of the jar. I comfortably fit three strawberry plants.
9. Fill the pipes with water and splash some on top y voila!

Why Do I Plant This Way? Thanks for asking. Ever planted in a strawberry jar only to have whatever you planted die a dehydrated death? Yeah me too. The PVC pipes allow me to water the plants at the bottom more efficiently. Watering the pockets individually sucks and is near impossible.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Just D.I.!

I live in one of the many hoods throughout Long Beach. I have my ups and downs with Wrigley but so far the good outweighs the bad. I have cool neighbors that’ll walk my 55 lb grizzly bear while we’re away. We have the Wrigley Neighborhood Food Exchange where I often score loads of homegrown food and now we have two new guerrilla gardens on Willow (at Golden and Chestnut).

A very special thanks to Scott at So Cal Guerrilla Gardening; he provided all the plants and tools. This event would not have been possible without him. Thank you to Wrigley neighbors, Blanca and Ruben of South Central Resistance, and guerrilla gardeners from near and far that joined.

Song: Simpletones "California" from I Have a Date, 1978/79

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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Raw Vegan Angel Hair "Pasta" with Pesto

Last night’s dinner was courtesy of the garden. The smell of basil is intoxicating; permeable when watered. I don’t think you can ever sow enough basil seeds. I’m considering growing it in my sunny foyer.

I harvested a hoodie full of basil or 3 tightly packed cups and several zucchini including pastel green Clarimore and buttercup yellow Golden Dawn. Seeds are from Squash, Zucchini, "Tricolor Mix" and were purchased from Renee’s Garden Seeds.

I learned to make Angel Hair Pasta with Pesto at Judita’s Raw Food 101 class and speaking of, her next class will be held on Sunday May 3 and I highly recommend it. Since taking her class I have incorporated more raw foods into my diet, feel full and fueled, crave less cooked food, and have experienced weight loss. I fit into 3 pair of old jeans. Woot!

The pièce de résistance; a perfect spring/summer dinner. Not one burner needed for this rich guilt-free dish. This pesto recipe is sans blanching and I used raw almond slivers instead of pine nuts because it’s what I had on hand.

My tweaked recipe for pesto:
1 cup basil leaves, tightly packed
¼ cup of extra virgin olive oil (I use Braggs)
¼ cup of raw almond slivers
1 garlic clove, crushed
¼ teaspoon of sea salt

Pasta Noodles:
3 zucchini, peeled and cut into thirds. Cut in half if zucchini are small.

Thin noodles can be made with a vegetable spiral slicer or you can simply use a vegetable peeler and make “fettuccine” type noodles. Draw the peeler down all sides until you reach the core.

Toss with pesto and enjoy!

Lastly, yesterday I started day 1 of pre-cleansing in prep for THE colon cleanse. The wonderful Judita turned me on to Blessed Herbs colon cleanse. The first three days you gradually decrease your solid food intake in anticipation of a five day liquids only fast. Here’s the satisfying and sustaining food I ate:

Breakfast: Organic Raw Kombucha-Multi-Green flavor
Lunch: Organic apple & a handful of organic flax & sesame seed tortilla chips
Dinner: Raw vegan angel hair pasta with pesto & three vegan chocolate chip cookies. I had a weak moment.

Tonight’s dinner will be sunflower herb pate with shaved beet salad and chard with homemade lemon herb dressing. Beets, chard and lemons are from the garden and I’ll forgo the cookies.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Drink Your Beets!

While watering the vegs this morning I thinned out a few beets. It is important to thin beets because beets are a dried fruit with 1-5 seeds in each fruit. Thinning is très important. If several seedlings emerge from one fruit in the same spot quickly yank out the weakest link and thin to 1 seedling per 1”. After 3-4 weeks thin to 3-5 inches apart.

Or you can soil block your beets like I do and transplant your seedling 3-5 inches apart from the get go. You’ll still have to sacrifice a beet like described above but you’ll only thin your seedlings once instead of twice.

Here’s kind-of- a-meal from the garden. I skipped the usual lemon water this morning and instead went straight for a smoothie. The beet thinnings are from my garden. The kumquats were scored through the food exchange and the vanilla almond milk is homemade. Here’s a short “video.”

Disclaimer: Punk rock will be heard.

video

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

“I Don’t Need Anyone!” – Dead Boys

In the last 24 hours I’ve been riding the rollercoaster of shock and delirium with a big dose of bawling. I was crossing my fingers and hoping I would remain unscathed by the economic meltdown. After all I’m an accountant for an engineering firm that’s going after stimulus money. Silly me. Yesterday I officially became a statistic.

I’ve never experienced a lay off before. It’s weird. I didn’t get much or any sleep last night. My thoughts ranged from joy to being able to dye and cut my hair any way I please to finding innovative ways to further simplify my life to mortgage payment terror.

My husband is a rock. I keep asking him if he’s worried and he doesn’t seem to be. He’s helping me contain my hysteria. He reminds me that I’m not one to feel or act like a victim. He reminds me that I’m a tiger and I am because I’m a Leo. For him I am eternally grateful to his mother.

I draw inspiration from my friends that call this a blessing in disguise. My feelings towards several aspects of my employment were clear. I often referred to where I worked as the soul sucking OC. No offense dude but you are. Don’t get me wrong, I am quite fond of my ex-boss and the accounting group I belonged to but the rest I could do without.

So here’s to a new chapter in my life. I’ve compiled a list of things I look forward to:

1. Anarchy in the Kitchen™ - Recession Cooking from the Garden. If you’re not familiar with Depression Cooking with Clara or Joe Lamp'l and his Twenty-five Dollar Victory Garden then get acquainted. I plan to produce similar albeit lower quality videos. The goal is to cook as many meals from the garden as I can. Whatever I’m not growing I’ll hopefully be able to trade with my neighbors.

2. Consistent blogging!

3. Sow More Seeds! This is my currency. Interested in organic seedlings? I’ll sell you some. Better yet, if you have something you’re growing in your garden that I don’t let’s make a deal.

4. Going back to school. I’m 10 classes away from a second BA in Financial Accounting. I’m a number cruncher geek!

5. More time with my fur kids!

6. Volunteer. I like So Cal Harvest .

This list is incomplete; I’m sure I’ll be adding to it. Who caught the Dead Boys on the TV show Nubm3rs? The TV was parked on whatever channel the show comes on and I suddenly heard angels. If you missed the song here’s a vid.

Monday, April 13, 2009

DIY Deep Watering

Hey, so check it out. Victory Home & Garden will soon become Anarchy in the Garden™. Not to diss VH&G but I was never in love with her. It conjured up too many images of the victory gardens of yore and that’s all good but it’s not what I’m about. The victory I speak of is victory against the man, corpo agribusiness. It’s the ability to whip up an organic vegan feast from the garden in minutes and with two dogs and an omni husband I need to!

Anarchy in the Garden™ is a mixture of DIY ingenuity and tried-and-true old timey techniques with a punk attitude. It’s not your grandma’s grandma’s garden. I’m not trying to reinvent the wheel; just give you my perspective, share my techniques, what works and what doesn’t. Most importantly I’ll share my failures so you don’t screw up 160 soil blocks like I did.

So here’s a short slide show on the high tech deep watering system I employ. A video would have been better but the mic on my camera is useless.

video

Directions:
Step 1: Locate a 1 gallon nursery container (you know you have a ton in your shed).
Step 2: Drill ½ in holes (or get the husband to do it like I do) all around the container up to the lip.
Step 3: Dig a hole where the container will be “installed.” I usually shove one of these between two tomato plants.
Step 4: Fill the container with water. Y voila!

Why do I do this? Good question. Firstly, this is the only way I’ve ever watered my tomatoes. Second, I don’t have a fancy drip irrigation system. That would just be too easy.

These watering containers slowly allow water to seep through the holes and directly to the plant’s roots. Establishing a strong root system equals happy healthy long producing plants. Did I mention I have tomatoes long into December?

Also, it frees up your hands. I’m a multi-tasker. I can’t just do one thing at a time. Dump the hose into the watering container and walk away; tend other garden chores. Keep an eye on the water level, once it reaches the top toss the hose into the next container. You can even splash a little Sea Magic Organic Seaweed Growth Activator like I do. Have fun!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

What's For Lunch?!

I don't know about you but I am having this. It's sitting right behind me and I kinda can't stop thinking about it.

I recently acquired a New West Knife Works Chef 8” knife and I haven’t had a chance to use it. I must have felt inspired this morning because at 7:30am I started to chiffonade rainbow chard. I’m a tad embarrassed to say that the chard had been sitting in the fridge for a couple of weeks. I don’t want to hawk a bunch of goods but let's just say I use a certain as seen on TV produce bag and well, it works!

On to the food, b*tchin Not Tuna (I think it should be called Nut Tuna) that Judita taught at her Raw Food 101 class, homemade sprouts, avocado, jalapeno-stuffed olives, on top a bed of rainbow chard tossed in lemon and a smidge of EVOO. Did I just say that? Let's eat!

*Rainbow chard (not pictured but it's pretty, trust me), celery and Rossa Lunga di Firenze onion from the garden.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

You Are What You Eat

Here I be, footloose and fancy free in 2006. Who knew one day I would resemble a cauliflower.

This badass is Cauliflower-Purple of Sicily. These Italian heirloom seeds where purchased from one of the raddest seed suppliers around, Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. If I don't attend the Spring Planting Festival in May I'm going to run away to Bakersville.

A flawless cauliflower! Planted in the shade garden and undisturbed by the insect infested broccoli raab that sat next to it. I fearlessly snapped off a shoot and consumed it immediately. Normally I wouldn't do that considering I spit out a slug recently. Oh yeah, no joke, it was living in my salad. Bleh.

Pretty and delicious. Mild and not at all caulilflowery. I roasted half in a little olive oil, sea salt, and ground pepper. The other half I’ll eat raw. Clear out room if you like cauliflower because I highly recommend this variety. I’ve never harvested such a perfect vegetable.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

And... We're Back!

I took a brief break from gardening this weekend which basically means I did not mass produce soil blocks and instead transplanted a few, or like 10, seedlings, yanked out the broccoli raab, harvested Lettuce, Container "Garden Babies" and transplanted chives and more lettuce. I also counted 41 tomato seedlings before Rocky murdered 6 of them. *Shaking fist*

Check out these beauties. At first I thought they were marigolds, shows you how much I know about flowers, then I remembered these were the Bouquet Cosmos "Double Click" from Renee’s Garden Seeds I sowed on December 15, 2008. They’re anchoring the corners of one of my raised beds and they’re stealing the show from the zucchini’s. This is just the beginning too. There are tons of buds waiting to reveal their pretty little faces.

Speaking of zucchini's, they're rolling in! Ever since taking Judita’s raw vegan culinary class all I can think of is the dreamy angel hair pasta and pesto she taught us to make. I hope to share this recipe with the “I’m Vegan” crew on April 11th when they’re here filming my contribution to their documentary.

I have about 10 different squash planted. This is Golden Dawn Zucchini from the Squash, Zucchini, "Tricolor Mix" seed packet and also from Renee’s Garden Seeds. I counted 6 zuccs on this plant alone. Did I mention I have 9 others? Looks like I’ll be cranking the spiral slicer all summer long!

*I apologize for all the linkage. Vegetables make me happy.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Anarchy in the Garden™

Hey dudes, I'm working on a podcast, Anarchy in the Garden™. It's an amalgamation of my favorite worlds, gardening and punk rock. My suspicion of the establishment has been called out so now it’s time to yell it out. Growing your own food is revolutionary and empowering and this podcast will echo such sentiments.

I need your help. Submit your edible gardening questions like, "what is soil blocking?" and I’ll answer them during the podcast. Please, no questions about roses or geraniums. I’m not that kind of girl.

Here's a tune by one of my favorite Los Angeles punk bands, Circle Jerks. They formed in 1979. I was 3 years old. This footage appeared on New Wave Theatre and was shot at Florentine Gardens in Hollywood, CA.



*The hubs was at this show. He's sitting next to the amp. That explains his bad ear.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Raw Judita. Part One.

Last Sunday I attended an amazing raw food culinary class. The class was Raw Food 101 - Easy and delicious raw vegan cuisine for beginners. We learned to make Vanilla Brazil Nut Milk, Strawberry Fields Green Smoothie, Not-Tuna Salad, Angel Hair Pasta with Pesto, Mediterranean Kale Salad and decadent Fudge Brownies.

Let’s begin at the beginning. Our raw food instructor was Judita Wignall. She is a certified raw culinary arts associate chef and instructor from the Living Light Culinary Arts Institute. Judita is a chick of all trades. Not only is she an incredible raw food chef but she’s also a talented actor, singer, songwriter and former LA Derby Doll. She’s all around bad ass. You can learn more about her here.

Judita greeted her 10 students with an elegant and delicious spread of kale chips, no-bean hummus with tasty seed cracker thingies, almond joyous and refreshing lemonade. I’ve made kale chips before but they weren’t nearly as flavorful as the ones Judita served up. I could have eaten the whole bowl and almost did. In fact I could have eaten the entire spread and this was just the beginning.

Almond joyous deserves its own blurry shot. What can I say, I was too busy eating. Almond Joy candy bars suck. Almond joyous are melt in your mouth guilt free morsels.

Sadly we didn't learn how to make these in class. Fortunately Judita will be teaching a class called Divine Desserts. Students will learn how to make to-die for desserts like Chocolate Mousse Tart with fresh Berries, Cherry Vanilla Cheesecake, Lemon Tart, Truffles and of course Almond Joyous. Sign me up!

Next we moved on to Strawberry Fields Green Smoothie from Victoria Boutenko's book "Green For Life." Judita uses Brazil nut milk instead of water to make a richer and creamier smoothie. She taught us how to make Brazil nut milk. It was so easy to make that I've vowed to never buy boxed soy milk again.

Judita adds romaine lettuce to smoothies. Wha? It's a b*tchin' way to cram in vitamins, minerals and enzymes. I'm not a fan of fruit. I find the pealing process too difficult. However I've been drinking a smoothie everyday since this raw food class and I add lettuce from my garden.

Judita stressed purchasing organic strawberries since they are one of the most heavily sprayed crops. I did not know that. I grow my own strawberries but sometimes they are picked for me.

No prob. Judita handed her students a 13 page handout that included recipes and valuable resources. I know where to get organic strawberries for $2.29! Woot!

Next we moved on to Mediterranean Kale Salad. I learned how to properly de-stem kale; I've been doing it the hard way all along! Judita taught us some tricks of the trade like how to chiffonade. I really impressed H with this one.

This salad is so savory and such a cinch to make that I've started mapping out a spot in backyard that will be devoted exclusively to growing kale for this salad. Full yet? Two entrees, dessert and a recipe to be covered in Raw Judita. Part Two. Stay tuned...

Friday, March 20, 2009

White House Victory Garden

The blogosphere is ga-ga over the news that the Obama's will be breaking ground on a White House vegetable garden. I'd like to think they were inspired by the recent AP article in the Washington Post.

I might need the same layout.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Beetiful!

Hi garden cohorts! I wanted to thank everyone that has left a kind comment or took the time to send me a gracious email. I'm thrilled that growing your own has really struck a chord across the country.

My friend to the left is Beet Early Wonder. I soil block my beets because that's just the way I block and roll™!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Courting Spring

I wanted to have bragging rights and have the first tomato on the block but instead my premature sowing failed miserably, twice. San Marzano was the lone survivor of December 15th's seed sowing session.

Check out the stem on my tomato! Tomatoes are the only seedlings I pot up. I buried my soil block deep into a container. Doing this makes for a healthy petiole.

I pulled out all mature onions but left behind Onion-Yellow Granex. They’ll be in good company since tomatoes and onions are best buds. You can’t tell from this picture but the soil has been worked. I tilled the New Zealand White Clover previously sown between row plantings and added compost.

I trimmed off several leaves and buried most of the stem. In case your keeping track this is the second time this seedling has been buried deep. This should grow a slew of new roots and the plant will grow strong and steady.

It's also time to pluck off flowers. This will prevent the plant from devoting energy to forming fruit before its roots and foliage have filled out.

Lastly, mulch. Last season I used black plastic mulch. This season I’m simply using compost as mulch. Why? Because I have a bale of the stuff. I’ll eventually feed my tomatoes Sea Magic Organic Seaweed Growth Activator and patiently watch for the first sign of spring.

Resources: Organic Gardening

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Dollars from dirt: Economy spurs home garden boom

The Associated Press recently asked for my opinion regarding recession gardening. Between the vegetables I’m growing in the garden and the fruits and vegetables I exchange with my neighbors our grocery bill has been significantly reduced. This month’s food exchange yielded tangerines, loquats, lemons & parsley.

Pictured right is half the harvest from the raised bed seen below. It took two hours to wash all these crops but the results were four 1-gallon bags of Lettuce-Flashy Trout’s Back, Lettuce-Container Garden Babies, Kale-Dwarf Blue Curled, rocula, and an abundance of three types of onions. Not pictured: two celery stalks and four rogue carrots.

Here are some quotes from the article. Full story at ABC News.

By Gillian Flaccus
Associated Press Writer
Photos by Nick Ut

"Adriana Martinez works in her backyard garden in Long Beach, Calif. on Wednesday, March 11, 2009. With the recession in full swing, many Americans are returning to their roots, cultivating vegetables in their backyards to squeeze every penny out of their food budget."

"Adriana Martinez, an accountant who reduced her grocery bill to $40 a week by gardening, said there's peace of mind in knowing where her food comes from. And she said the effort has fostered a sense of community through a neighborhood veggie co-op. "We're helping to feed each other and what better time than now?" Martinez said."

On a side note, our grocery bill is probably lower than $40.00 a week. Occasionally I’ll burn through cash in the baking isle and H is omni so his items are a bit pricier but even then he doesn’t indulge as often as he used to.

We bake our own bread and make our own pizza dough. The dogs go insane over the pizza crust. Rocky gets what I call “crazy eyes” when I feed it to him so pops is going to start making them their own treats from the same pizza dough recipe. Oh yeah, and we’ll be making our own nut milk and creamer too. Stay tuned for that post.

I don't need you corpo agriculture!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Tomatastic!

The tomato hype has begun! I've never seen so many tomatomania events going on. CSUF's mother of all manias, the Monster Tomato and Pepper Sale, is being held on March 19-22 with over 200 tomato plants on sale. If you would rather hob knob with bourgie tomatoes there's a tomatomania event in Beverly Hills. And if you want to avoid the mania altogether, Armstrong Garden Centers is offering 3 inch tomatoes at $0.97 and buy 3, get the 4th free 1 gallon tomatoes. Ah what?

I have a bin full of madness in the refrigerator. I don't have 200 varieties of tomatoes but rather 20ish different types; enough for a small farm. I grow 99% of my seedlings from seed. The other 1% is seedling impulse buys.

It's blitzkrieg bop in the greenhouse with two flats full of tomato and pepper seedlings and more to be sown this weekend. The tomatoes pictured are from last season's crop. I had tomatoes well into December. If you want your own freakish tomatoes I'll be posting my favorite watering method soon!



And if you don't already know, Fern at Life On The Balcony is having a contest. You have until March 20th to share your smartiest container gardening tip for a six pack of seeds from Botanical Interests (one of my faves). Your choice and shipped directly to you. Go enter!

Monday, March 9, 2009

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

I know it’s hard to believe that Victory Home & Garden exists and grows in only two 4’ by 8’ raised beds. This is where the legend of the seven foot tomato plants live and where a bonanza of vegetables are harvested from a limited space.

Fellow gardeners, I give you my backyard. In search of any appeal I sought out a couple of landscaping quotes including an eye-popping offer from my dream landscape designers. After I regained consciousness I turned to landscaping books. Besides how punk would it be if I had a picture perfect garden installed?

My DIY spirit has gotten me nowhere fast. The backyard is still occupied by dirt and the Victory Home & Garden expansion is stagnant. I not only would love to expand the vegetable garden but I need too. I sow for the masses and I’m quickly outgrowing my current 64 square foot growing space.

So what’s the holdup you say? Well, we still need to outsource some basics like grading and DG installation. I don’t mind digging a ditch or two but not a whole backyard.

I also have to rethink my planting scheme. Rocky likes to roll around in grass and like a good mum I must provide it for him. I refuse to purchase a lawn mower so Blue Grama Grass it’ll be.

So now what’s the hold up? Friends the economy is a son of a b*tch. I guess I’m not helping by waiting on the sidelines. However I do see the light. My goal is to have the front and backyard completed by May. There is a party to be had then so stay tuned.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Shade Garden Revisited

What a difference a month makes. The first picture was taken on January 26. The second picture was taken on February 27.









Ok
, not the exact angle but do compare the wimpy seedlings in the first picture to the robust seedlings in the second picture.

Cauliflower-Purple of Sicily is flourishing. To the right of the cauliflower is Broccoli Raab Rapini. This is my second (or third) stint at growing both crops and planting them in the shade has made growing both a lot easier. My first attempts were planted in raised beds in full sun. Clearly they are thriving in indirect sunlight.

This area of the garden doesn't get watered often; rather I forget to water it. My guess, it’s watered once a week and it’s plenty. I’m very encouraged by these results. When I finally expand the vegetable garden a majority will be in indirect sunlight but with results like these it looks like I’ll be made in the shade.

PS, I am aware of my dork move; planting a bougainvillea in the shade. It’s one of those things I did in the first week of moving into our new old home, over a year ago. It’s grown just a tad, leaves no flowers. I’m transplanting it this weekend. Again.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Garden Pizza Redux

We're fortunate enough to live near pizza dynasty Buono’s. We used to frequent this establishment a least once a week. Before I became vegan their Buona Lisa was one of my favorite pizzas. Buono’s was still a commonplace after I converted to veganism but the veggie pizza sans cheese is no Buona Lisa.

I turned to Whole Foods and discovered a vegan white pizza that left something to be desired well after my second giant slice. I befriended the pizza maven and she divulged her secret. Vegenaise. I grabbed a jar and urged the hubs to make it happen. He did and then some.

H used to hand craft his pizza dough but now he uses the Breadman TR875 instead. It makes dough making so easy I may even try making it. Not. We prefer a thin crispy crust and it must be able to hold a bevy of toppings that may or may not be used. H never knows what I’m having on my pizza until the last moment. It keeps him on his toes.

He fretted when I mentioned this harvest was going on my side of the pizza. I sautéed my favorite onion, Rossa Lunga di Firenze, Rainbow Chard and Summer Squash Sunny Delight in a splash of olive oil and a dash of sea salt. Easy and delicious. I’ve used this combo before and filled blue tortillas for a flavorful and satisfying meal.

Piled high on top of tofu ricotta and marinara. Crappy food staging/picture but it was the bomb! The crust held its own and H out did himself again.

If you'd like to view visually appealing food pictures check out JennShaggy or the QuarryGirl dou. They rule at everything vegan.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Hiatus

Firstly, THANK YOU. I really appreciate your kind comments and supportive emails. It’s hard not to feel a little dorky. =)

The garden is at rest this week. My house is getting fumigated for termites. Fun! Wrinkles is visiting his second family. Rocky has been at the pet motel/hospital since Tuesday morning and is being neutered today. Sniff sniff. And I am commuting from Ontario, CA because H is taking a very important exam. Fingers crossed.

So, what’s a vegan in the IE eat? Beside the massive sack lunch I packed for the week I visited Veggie Era in Upland and picked up freakishly good vegan food. More on this later!

Rocky managed to sit still for exactly one second. Get behind me Satan. This is as close as Wrinkles will get to him.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Sunset Magazine

Hi guys! I'm on page 16 of the March Issue:

A very special thank you to Sharon Cohoon and Gina Sabatella for making me look good.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Cabbage: The Unsung Hero

Cabbage. Not a vegetable I usually care for. I’ve never felt compelled to purchase cabbage. The very idea of cooking with it perplexes me. Where do I even start? Cole slaw? Yawn. The only memory I have of the shredded stuff is of grams topping off posole (pork and hominy soup) with it.

At first, I grew cabbage purely for novelty reasons; for garden kitsch. Then it became a challenge. The cabbage worm and his hooligan wigglers were real jerks but I wasn't going to let them take over my turf. It became my version of the $64.00 Tomato!

Finally! Here she is, Cabbage Copenhagen Market. I sowed these Botanical Interests seeds who knows when. The point is I got a cabbage.

I couldn’t stop eating it raw; mild, buttery and delicious. I didn’t make anything exciting with it last night. Atop homemade bread I topped a Smart Dog with a handful of cabbage, avocado, and tomato. I think I’ll make a variation of Rustic Cabbage Soup tonight.

Those cabbage worms were really onto something!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Garden Interrupted

Hey dude! It’s been a while, I know and I apologize. What’s new? Well, my newly planted basil is getting pounced in the rain but never mind that. I’m going to shift the onus for my absence onto the newest addition to the family. Our brood has grown; we are now parents to a sweet Rottweiler/German Shepherd pup. He’s not exactly a puppy. Many have told us he may be between 8 to 12 months old. Long story but we found him on February 6th by the Metro station, running wild in the rain and ID less.

We named him Rocky and he won’t sit still long enough to have his picture taken so instead here’s an illustration of what he looks like. Handsome, right?


The victory garden has remained rockin’. I transplanted six different types of eggplants into separate containers. I tilled New Zealand White Clover where corn will grow. I amended one of my beds with compost and I harvested a cabbage. It took lots of tries for the one cabbage but success against the cabbage worm was finally mine!

Till next time!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Victory Home Appliance

Gone are the days of $4.50 bread! They really need to husband proof food labels. If they did the husband wouldn’t buy bread containing bleached flour. What?! Oh yeah, and once H bought full price bread. What, you didn’t buy the sale bread? How could you! By the way, I wasn’t even going to eat the bread. I just had a problem with the price. Which leads me to my next dilemma I can’t eat store bought bread! Most market bread has honey in it so I have nothing to spread wonderful organic peanut butter on. Boo!

I’ve been eyeing the Breadman TR875 for a while now. I tried my hand at making wheat bread once sans a bread machine and ended up with an inedible loaf. I’m hoping this guy makes my bread life easier.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

First Seed Order of the Year

The Fresh Dirt folks have been engaged in seed catalog talk for a couple of weeks now. I on the other hand have been hoarding seed catalogs and have placed zero orders. That is until now. I know what you’re thinking; she has over one hundred seed packets she couldn’t possibly want more! Oh contraire.

The kind people over at Botanical Interests offered me a nice discount on my seed order. I restrained myself and only purchased the following:

Turnip Purple Top White Globe Organic Seed
Tomato Pole Aunt Ruby's Green Organic Seed
Tomato Bush Ace Organic Seed
Squash Winter Vegetable Spaghetti Seed
Squash Winter Pink Banana Seed
Squash Winter Burgess Buttercup Seed
Pepper Chile Pepperoncini Greek Organic Seed
Parsnip All American Seed
Melon Charentais Seed
Leek American Flag Seed
Gourd Luffa Seed
Edamame Soybean Butterbean Seed
Corn Sweet Painted Mountain Organic Seed
Corn Strawberry Popcorn Seed
Broccoli Di Cicco Organic Seed
Beet Early Wonder Organic Seed

Inspired by Kathy at Skippy’s Vegetable Garden I chose Strawberry Popcorn Seed in hopes of popping my own corn. How rad is Gourd Luffa? Is there anything you can’t do with it? I plan on growing my own sponge but if I’m hungry I can harvest it young and cook it like squash or toss it in a salad. The whole darn thing is edible!

I’ve never grown winter squash, parsnips, turnips, or leeks. I can’t wait to grow and pickle my own pepperoncini! I could eat bowlfuls.

I’m a big fan of Botanical Interests and have used their seeds with great success. Besides conveniently finding their seeds at my local Henry’s or Whole Foods I feel like I’m purchasing art with every seed packet. Tips and recipes can be found inside and out. They also offer a flat shipping rate of $3.95 on all interweb orders. Score! I’ll be patiently waiting by the mailbox.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Not Just Veggies

Look at me, I grew flowers! A while back Renee of Renee’s Garden kindly sent me her new 2009 offerings. I was a little intimidated when I discovered several of the seeds she sent were flowers. I typically do not grow flowers from seed because I’m just not that good at it. I can’t even get cuttings to root so I usually let my local nursery grow the flowers for me.

But on December 15, 2008 I brought my A-game and sowed Summer Splash Marigolds, Scented Gold Wallflowers, Bouquet Cosmos-Double Click and Bergamo Bouquet. Unfortunately Bergamo Bouquet did not germinate but the others are thriving.

My favorite, Summer Splash Marigolds, will mature to a height of 1 ½ feet and they’ll anchor the corners of my raised bed. Cosmos are neat and I’m looking forward to having a garden full of butterflies and bouquets of cosmos all summer long. The Scented Gold Wallflowers will only mature to a height of 9 to 12 inches. The seed packet suggests planting these is a pot. I think I’ll solicit my favorite container gardener for ideas.

I’m pretty proud of myself for growing these but I think thanks should go to Renee and her high quality seeds for most of my success.

Friday, January 30, 2009

My People Call It Maize

Actually it’s called a chayote. Mother Earth News has a 4 page history of the chayote that I highly recommend. My knowledge of this fruit has been kicked down from my mama and grandma. Grams can grow anything and everything and sometimes even the illegal but I won’t go there.

Mother Earth say, “by February it (seed sprout) should be approximately six inches long” and Mother Earth is right! My seedling is ready to be planted however the challenge is going to be finding a spot where this hefty vine can grow. It’s a climber and can grow up to 30 feet; ah what?! Chayote needs a long growing season; by October fruit should be ready for harvest.

Chayote is a mandatory ingredient in caldo (or caldo de res) and for my non-Spanish speaking friends, beef stew. However I enjoy it roasted or in veggie enchiladas. Cook it like you would any squash or substitute chayote for any recipe calling for squash.

I picked up my seed at Henry’s (Costa Mesa, CA). If you’ve got the space, grow this unique fruit and let’s swap recipes in October!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Shade Happens

Who knew you could grow vegetables in the shade? I’m sure you fellow gardening friends knew but it never occurred to me. Never. I have a narrow ick spot between the side of the house and the space where we park a car that is always shaded. It’s been screaming for an update.

A search on mother Google yielded a plethora of possibilities. An article on In the Garden Online was especially helpful. The article mentions 10 crops that are suitable for shade and I happened to have some of those crops hanging around.

Y voila! I forgot to take a before picture but frankly it was ugly looking and who wants to see that side of me?

I transplanted Cauliflower-Purple of Sicily, Cabbage-Copenhagen Market, Lettuce-Container Garden Babies, Chard, and Parsley. Ah, chard, my arch nemesis. I have 5 different types of chard seeds. I think this is Rainbow Chard or it could be Bright Lights. Who knows and who cares because after about a year of trying I was finally able to grow it! My neighborhood BFF "just throws the seeds out" she says and gets enough bounty to feed the block. I on the other hand only produced three seedlings. What the pickles?

How cute is this lettuce? I mean c’mon it’s called Garden Babies. I haven’t tried it yet but it’s doing well in the new shady vegetable patch.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Neko Case for Best Friends Animal Society

My best bud can be a jerk sometimes. For instance last night he woke up at 2:30am and stared into oblivion. He would lie down, sit up, lie down, sit up, and repeat. Here’s the problem, his erratic behavior takes place on our bed. For you see Mr. Wrinkles shares a bed with mommy and daddy. He is only used to the comforts of a warm bed with maximum stretching capacity while his parents are relegated to a corner of the bed.

Wrinkles gets two walks a day, home cooked food (along with veggie kibble) everyday, and unconditional love. He’s a pain in the neck and I can’t picture life without him.

ANTI will donate $5.00 to the Best Friends Animal Society every time a blog reposts Neko Case’s new track People Got A Lotta Nerve. If you have a best bud like mine or just love animals you should do the same.

*The promotion will run from January 13 to February 3, 2009. The song will remain on my blog till then.*