January 14, 2010
Oregano in my recycling bin on our balcony.
One of the benefits of having your herb garden in containers is the ability to bring them inside when the weather turns cold. Fresh herbs are a necessity in the kitchen. Keeping them on hand will not only save time and the hassle of going to the grocery store, but money. I don’t know about your store, but mine charges $1 per small bundle of fresh herbs. The plants I bought at my local nursery were $1.99 and have lasted me 10 months now. Another good reason to keep your herb garden containerized is because some have the tendency to overtake their area once they get started in a good spot in the garden. For instance my thyme that I allocated about a 12″ x 12″ area for in the garden is easily 18″ x 18″ now and my mint is sprawling out all over.
7 Herbs I can’t live without
Here are just a few herbs that I started growing in March and now can’t imagine living without.
- Bay Laurel
- Garlic Chives
I usually use thyme, oregano or marjoram in the same general cooking practices. Be it creating a marinade for my grilling, or cooking with my black eyed peas for flavor. When creating a meal I usually theme everything I’m cooking around an herb or combination of herbs. Even though thyme, oregano and marjoram all have different flavors, to me they fall into the same general category and I use them interchangeably as well as together to create variations when cooking the same grilled veggies.
Basil is always fun to use. Its an awesome addition to the frozen cheese pizzas we buy. I usually try to keep about 3 or 4 different types around so I can make different flavored pestos for pastas and sandwich spreads.
When cooking soups, beans and peas Bay Laurel is a necessity. I just wish I had bought a bigger plant to start because it grows so slowly.
Garlic Chives are fun to have around for garnishing baked potatoes and soups with.
Since I had such good luck and fun with these 7 herbs last year I am looking forward to expanding my herb repretoir in this gardening season. This weekend I plan to order seeds and start some of my own transplants for my garden, some clients and friends. I am looking at The Herb Bible by Peter McHoy & Pamela Westland, Heirloom Herbs by Mary Forsell, and trying to remember what some of the chefs’ gardens I saw last season were growing.
November 17, 2009
Olivia Vegetable Garden 11.17.09
This morning Tara and I went to Olivia to check on the vegetable garden, plant our weekly seeds, and water. It’s always fun to check on a garden after not seeing it for a week; sometimes I want to go by and peek before Tuesday comes around again. Since the garden is at a restaurant, sneaking a peek is easy, but I generally force myself to wait, which makes the impact of a week’s worth of growth more satisfying. I do believe that the English peas have grown about a foot since last week. We also have a few broccoli florets peaking out and two zucchinis forming.
Maintaining a vegetable garden for a restaurant is intriguing. Some of the items I noticed missing or cut off, I never would have thought of using. Olivia’s team seems to love the leaves from the broccoli plants. One week I showed up and they were all almost naked. Morgan, the chef de cuisine is also obsessed with broccoli raab. And they take the tips of the English pea vines for garnishing on the plate. Not to mention showing up every other week to a few rows worth of beheaded lettuces. Its definately fun, and I never know what to expect.
November 15, 2009
Everyone pitching in to build the green house
For those of you who know me you have heard me talking about the greenhouse that I’ve been planning to build for awhile. And, despite my 5 1/2 years of officially accredited training in Architecture I seem to be afraid to design it. I believe that it is due to the fact that I have several complicated things I wish to accomplish while building my green house. Some of them I’ve seen others do and some of them I just created in my head such as:
- building the green house out of all recycled materials – I have some old wood from a friend’s deck and windows removed from a house. My problem is if I do the next thing on this list I’m not sure if I can use these things and not have chemicals in my water run off from the treated wood.
- create a system where I can divert the water run off coming from watering my seedlings into a barrel that I can reuse
- design a green house that can be built on a trailer to be pulled by my truck – I don’t own my house so I want to be able to bring my beautiful new greenhouse with me wherever I go.
Then I heard about this greenhouse building seminar. We are constructing two greenhouses. So far we aren’t addressing much of the issues on my list but I have access to two experienced greenhouse users, Max from Urban Roots and David Pitre from Tecolote Farm. David gave a talk at the beginning of the day that pointed out hoards of issues I never even thought about until now. Like creating heat sources without electricity or gas.
Luckily there is one more day of this class next week. I hope to get some measurements and a drawing down on paper to show David and Max. I would love to get some solid advice on what direction to go.
November 7, 2009
Our baby frog on a broccoli leaf.
On Tuesday Tara and I went to Olivia restaurant’s garden to plant seeds like usual. This Tuesday we planted seeds for: Easter Egg Radish, Daikon Radish, Chioggia Beets, Bull’s Blood Beets, Spinach & Broccoli Raab.
As we were inspecting the broccoli and other Cole crops for caterpillars and aphids I saw a little baby frog. He was so small and cute that we almost lost him in the mulch, but we managed to coax him out onto a leaf for a photo op.
Just wanted to share the joy of cuteness.
October 25, 2009
On Friday I was invited to a happy hour at Greengate Farms. Being the social bee that I am I was not going to turn down an invitation to any happy hour on a Friday evening. There’s just no excuse. Especially when this happy hour was byob. Seeing as how I had been to a few happy hours at Rain Lily Farm during the summer I thought this would be similar. Drinking a beer and socializing on a blanket in a field with some friends and maybe a few new people. Well when I got there I was suprised to find out that it was for the students in the Planning Department at UT.
Skip and Erin,the farmers/owners of Greengate gave us great tour of the property and the farm’s projects. They discussed issues facing farmers within Austin such as waist water fees and zoning restrictions. Then we were shown the animals and their massive composting project. I thought to myself, ‘This is permaculture in action.’ They get old produce that Whole Foods regularly ships across the country back to Austin to be composted in Austin (they really have turned corporate haven’t they.) The pigs and chickens eat the old produce and their waste fertilizes the land. Evidence of the cycle was on the ground growing around us. Volunteer tomato and squash plants were in the chicken coup. I wonder if its too late to get any fruit off of them.
After the tour we all sat around a fire and drank a couple of beers. I didn’t meet anyone new, but I did have a great conversation with Mackenzie about landscape design and gardening. Turns out she’s starting a business too. Now I have a buddy to talk business with.