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


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


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.

, 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.