late summer harvest from my tiny urban farm

Here are the survivors of my own sporadic home gardening attentions, the slug attacks, and a very dry August! I swear, I take better care of my clients’ gardens, but my own often gets a little droopy looking in the hot summer weather when I’m most busy. (I also plant a lot of things in planter boxes and pots since I rent in the city, requiring more vigilant watering.) So these taste all the sweeter for toughing it out so that I can still call myself an urban farmer.

ON THE MENU:

Ground cherries look like golden, marble-sized tomatillos in individual paper-lantern sheaths. With a sweet/acid flavor they make an excellent salsa fresca with red onions and some sweet Sungold tomatoes. And those are basil flowers, pinched off to encourage more leaf growth. I’m still waiting to pounce on the basil plant for a big batch of pesto, but it’s probably about time.

This assortment didn’t all make it into one meal, but it inspired several delicious separate ones:

The kale and fresh eggs from a neighbor went into an omelet with basil & onions from the garden.

Prunings from a huge parsley plant went into a delicious parsley pesto with some sour cream, fresh ‘fromage blanc’, a little olive oil and S&P (no garlic).

Two bags of pilfered plums from an overgrown tree in a neighborhood greenbelt went into a crisp, some are pickling in balsamic vinegar, and the rest got dehydrated into prunes.

Sungold tomatoes don’t last long in a bowl on the kitchen table, no need to do anything with them they’re so sweet and delicious.

Ah, yes, tomatoes– what is the epitome of hope if not the thousands of Seattlites planting tomatoes every spring! After a humbling visit to my parents’ lush, northeastern gardens during the height of corn, peach, bean and tomato season, it’s extra gratifying to pluck a sun-ripened tomato from my special Siberian hybrid tomato vine in the northwest. Greenies go into the frying pan or get pickled.

Artichokes from earlier this summer — they are space hogs but so dramatic and fun that they’re worth it to me. Now they’re looking fluffy & spiky, playing off the later perennials and sunflowers.

Summer sun drops in a jar, are canned peaches! Blanching and skinning them is just one step of many, but probably the most fun. We put up two boxes of Eastern WA peaches and made a lot of peachy desserts. I almost got tired of them but they’ll be a welcome injection of summer sweetness later.

late spring dispatch

These storm clouds over Elliott Bay & Bainbridge Island underscore the drama and variability of this season. Keeps us gardeners in our boots and rain gear, with cracked fingers and grubby fingernails, but this is when plants really take off!

 

 

 

 

And these beautiful new leaves, striking even at night as this Katsura tree, plough ahead through those cool, wet days producing proof that spring is really on its way. Something about the reappearance of new leaves in the up-glow of street lamps really pull at my heart strings. Light in the landscape is truly transformed.

I work with edible and kid-friendly plants and I regret that this Melianthus, despite its sweet name “honeybush,” is poisonous to people and pets. Nevertheless it is striking and delightful with its perennial foliage and exuberant spring blooms. Emerald City Gardens in Fremont features it in their side-lot planting with a golden leaved Spirea, a heather and a beautiful grape vine that really pop on this fun green wall.

Here is one of my favorite places to spend a morning or afternoon– Vibrant Plants wholesale nursery in Woodinville. I drive my little pick-up truck around and pick out plants for my clients — mixing and matching, discovering this year’s new varieties, and choosing the perfect branching structure and from hundreds of pots! It’s hard to part with the plants sometimes when they look so pretty all mushed into my truck bed.

HAZEL at Green Expo, Sat. 4/21 with NW EcoBuilding Guild and Green Depot

> our spring info table <

Join us at the 2012 Green Home Tour Saturday Expo!
Saturday, April 21 2012 from 10am to 4pm at Green Depot Seattle

Presented as a part of the NW EcoBuilding Guild’s Green Home Tour, Green Depot’s Saturday Expo is the year’s event for connecting with green product experts, home energy auditors, living wall installers, solar companies and more!!! Attend the Home Tour to see green building principles applied, then stop by the Saturday Expo to:

+ Learn from green product experts as they demo their products
+ Find out about alternative energy sources for your home
+ See natural plaster applicators at work
+ Walk through an eco-friendly modular home from GreenPod
+ Browse a showroom of sustainable building materials
+ Meet vertical vegetable gardeners and green roof installers
+ Learn about urban chickens and chicken tractors
+ Enjoy fresh pizza from mobile-pizza-oven “Streetzeria”
+ Enter to win a dual-flush toilet
+ AND MORE!!
For more information the Home Tour or the Saturday Expo please visit http://www.seattlegreenhometour.org
Green Depot Seattle is located at 4121 1st Avenue South in Seattle.

MARCH!

This month has come in like a lion but any new seeds you sow will start doing their thing regardless, as the days lengthen and the temperatures climb (however imperceptibly). For us, March has much of the same potential for  freshness, bounty (and creativity) in the new growing season that comes with the new year.

You can already plant out some early season vegetables (as starts or seed) such as broccoli, cabbage, collards, garlic, kale, lettuce, onions, spinach and swiss chard. Carrots, beets and bush or pole beans, as well as potatoes, eggplant, cucumbers and summer and winter squash can get a start inside under grow lights or at a sunny window. Many nurseries have vegetable starts in 4″ pots, and Seattle Tilth is hosting an early edible plant sale on March 17th. We can also help you pick out the perfect varieties of vegetables, berries, fruit trees and ornamental plants for your space and height restrictions, sunlight exposure, aesthetics and taste.

Edible Landscaping in the News

This article showed up in the Seattle Times’ Home and Garden section, detailing the benefits of edible landscaping and offering a few simple tips to get you going. While growing edibles in our gardens and yards makes a lot of sense in our gentle climate, it’s nice to see the trend moving around the country even places with rougher winters like Ohio and Michigan.

We can help you introduce any level of edible landscaping into your existing property. There are a few good examples of edible landscaping on display at the Northwest Flower and Garden Show this weekend, vendors with useful products and ideas, and many useful seminars with information on native plants, shade gardening, planting for pollinators and birds, and vegetable gardening. There are even some examples of rainwater catchment and rain gardens, which are extremely important landscape features to include as they slow the passage of storm water from roofs and driveways into the urban sewer system and out of our urban streams and the Puget Sound.

Edible landscaping sprouts beyond the vegetable patch
Tips on creating an edible landscape that can help reduce some pest problems while benefiting pollinators, enhance soil fertility and provide homegrown fruits, vegetables and herbs. — By Mary Beth Breckenridge in the Akron Beacon Journal

Visit Seattle’s Northwest Flower and Garden Show, February 8-12, 2012

Seattle’s annual Northwest Flower and Garden Show is this weekend, February 8-12. We will be there, soaking up good ideas and networking with fellow designers and builders, but we don’t have a display or table. There are lots of good seminars about edible gardening, as well as some informative programming about creating garden space for wildlife, shade-loving plants, bees, and low-water landscapes.

Drop by the Convention Center to visit the display gardens and glean ideas and inspiration from designers, vendors and innovators in the garden world. More info and online tickets at http://www.gardenshow.com/. If something strikes your fancy, run your ideas by us and we’ll be happy to walk you through the various options for planning a new project in your garden or yard!

Excited. See you there!

A&R

 

February = Spring, Part I

January has been a down time for us and February sees us back at the drawing board, checking out garden catalogs and plant sale dates, and sprucing up tools for a new season.

There may be frost on the chard leaves but inside are little pea plants sprouting in egg shells. This year I will try to do a 2-week pea planting succession so I can have peas all spring and summer, enough to share all up and down the block.