Category Archives: Gardening

Grow Up!

I’m obsessed… no point in hiding it.  I can’t get over the vertical gardening movement!  I love the aesthetic it gives an urban or office space and love all the extra oxygen it generates… It’s gotta be good for you, right?!  You can see a ton more pics on my Pinterest Board here and swoon of more amazing images in Patrick Blanc’s Book The Vertical Garden: From Nature to the City .


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Get your GREEN THUMB on!

If you’re like me and sad to have it still be winter (darn groundhog), here’s a great gardening gift that you can make inside for the green-thumb in your life.

Begonias are one of the easiest plants to propagate; most varieties only need a little water to start new roots. They come in infinite varieties (I love the leaves as much as the flowers) and stand up incredibly well as city house plants (requiring relatively low light, rather infrequent waterings (a once-a-week soaking will suffice in a pot with good drainage), and they are undeniably gorgeous.  Click below for the how-to.

How to: Propagate Begonias

Prepare a small container by washing thoroughly, making sure to leave no residue of suds.  The smaller the container, the better since the cutting will release growth hormones into the water to help the new roots develop.  Fill with tepid water.

Snip a large healthy leaf and place it in the water.  Leave in a sunny window.

When significant roots show up (2-3 weeks), gently remove the cutting and plant in potting soil in a well-draining pot.  Enjoy!

Here’s a great link for more information
Pics from here


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Tip of the Day: Fertilizing Container Gardens

One of the best gardeing tips I’ve ever received (and is reiterated everytime I see my mother-in-law during the Spring and Summer monts) is the necessity of fertilizing my plants that live in pots on the front porch and in containers on the balcony. 

Every year I say, yeah, yeah, yeah… I’ll get on that… and I do… About once a month during the hot, draining summer.  Well this year has been different.  I discovered Alaska Liquid Fertilizer and I’ve been on it… and on it once a month.  My containers look amazing – it makes me so happy everytime I walk in or out the door and see them. 

So, my tip for today, this week and really all summer is to feed your plants.  Water alone just won’t do it.  Give this plant food a try, just plug your nose while doing it since the dead, emulsified fish that make it up stink 🙂


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Planting Tomatoes

As one of the most ubiquitous and best-loved vegetables, it’s hard to beat the taste and scent of sun-ripened tomatoes (the ones in the grocery store are usually artificially ripened) and the best way to satisfy the craving is to plant them at home! Since it’s just about that time of the year, here are a couple of tips and tricks for terrific tomatoes!

  • Start with healthy plants – If growing from seed or purchasing plants from your local garden center, you want to transplant the short and stocky plants. The greater the girth of the main stem, the better! This means they’ve established a better root system and will grow much stronger after being transplanted outside.
  • Sun, sun and more sun – Plant your tomatoes in the area of your garden that gets the most sun! They like about 8-10 hours a day of full sun.
  • The soil – It should be well-draining and rich in organic matter. Before planting add a little compost to the soil and remember to feed the plants with a tomato fertilizer a couple of times through out the growing season.
  • Wait until the perfect time to plant – Don’t get overzealous and try and stick them in the ground too early! Wait not only until after the danger of frost has passed, but until the soil temperature is 60 degrees.
  • Spacing – Tomatoes like about 1.5 – 3 feet between them to ensure good air flow (prevents disease) and ample space for roots to stretch out.
  • Planting the seedlings – A little trick from my dad – Bury the plant up to its lowest set of leaves when transplanting. Roots will grow along the stem and result in a stronger root system, which equals more tomatoes for you!
  • Support plants – I like to use the tall cages. This helps keep the plant from sagging and the fruit from lying on the ground, which can lead to rotting. It also makes it easier to care for the plant.
  • Pruning – If plants are staked, regularly pinch off the small suckers that sprout between the leafy branches and main stems. This will prevent your plant from getting too leggy and will keep the plants energy focused on producing more fruit.

Happy Gardening!

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Happy Earth Day!

In celebration of Earth Day, here are a couple of tips for being a little more “green” everyday.

  • Wash clothes less often – Wait until you have a large load to run the washing machine. And then, wash with cold water. Save those bright whites until you actually have a full load.
  • Plant something! – As important as it is to cut down on carbon dioxide emissions, it is equally as important to have plants to absorb it all!
  • Iron less – Ironing uses an unbelievable amount of energy. To keep clothes wrinkle free, fold while still warm from the dryer. If there is something that is still a bit creased, hang in the bathroom while showering and the steam will help bring out the wrinkles.
  • Avoid anti-bacterial soaps – Using these soaps ultimately leads to the development/growth of antibiotic-resistant super germs. Many of these products contain the compound triclosan, which is also used in hospitals for its bacteria-busting power. The trouble is, many scientists are worried that such widespread overuse of triclosan is likely to render it useless, as microbes may develop resistance to it, as well as possibly other similar antibiotics.
  • Switch to paper-less billing – Pay utility and credit card bills online to limit the number of trees wasted on paper that you ultimately throw in the trash.
  • Finally, get outside and enjoy the beautiful outdoors. Take a hike, plant a garden, walk to work – whatever it is, be proud to do your share in keeping the Earth beautiful for generations to come!

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A Green Thumb Gift

If you’re like me and sad to have the winter really upon us, here’s a great gardening gift that you can make inside for the green-thumb in your life.

Begonias are one of the easiest plants to propagate; most varieties only need a little water to start new roots. They come in infinite varieties (I love the leaves as much as the flowers) and stand up incredibly well as city house plants (requiring relatively low light, rather infrequent waterings (a once-a-week soaking will suffice in a pot with good drainage), and they are undeniably gorgeous.  Click below for the how-to.

Continue reading

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Perfectly Plump Pumpkins

Just watch the video – it will instill a new appreciation for alliterations.
(My garden didn’t go quite as well as these growers with the gorgeous gigantic gourds)


Happy Weekend!

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Fabulous Find: On the Upside…

52820.EE70CD27I am totally digging (well, not really since it’s hanging upside down), this upside down planter.  It’s the Boskke Sky Planter from Unica Home.  It’s built to hang upside down from a ceiling hook and uses a reservoir system to release water when the soil is dry.  The result, it requires up to 80% less water than conventional planters and needs refills as infrequently as twice a month!  Who doesn’t want that sort of efficiency for the basil pot in their kitchen?

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How to Plant a Fall Vegetable Garden

Though our warm summer days are coming to an end, our days of picking fresh vegetables from the garden don’t have to end when the temperatures drop.  cabbageFall vegetables are considered cool season vegetables, which means that they will thrive under these growing conditions:

  • Daytime temperatures between 60° and 80° F (the cooler the better).
  • Nighttime temperatures above 40° F (a light frost is usually okay).
  • 6 hours of sunshine per day.
  • Rich, well-draining soil.
  • One inch or more of water per week.

Vegetables that Do Well in the Fall include:

  • BeetsLettuce_Mixed_Leaves_Large
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Kale
  • Lettuce
  • Spinach
  • Turnips

When to Plant Fall Vegetables:
In most areas, fall vegetables are planted in August or September, for harvest through October and November. However, unlike spring planting, the fall garden is a race against time, so you have to calculate carefully to be sure your plants won’t be killed by freezing weather before they produce.

You can start planting fall vegetables as soon as daytime temperatures average below 80º F, and you can continue planting as long as they will have time to mature before the first frost and freeze. If you live in a region that doesn’t freeze, you can grow cool-season vegetables until temperatures begin to rise above 80° F in the spring.

Know Your Frost Date:
The first step to planning a fall vegetable garden is to learn your average dates of first frost and freeze. Frost dates for your area can be found in the Farmers’ Almanac. In addition, your local agricultural extension service should have more detailed local information.

Once you’re armed with your local frost and freeze dates, planning your garden is as easy as counting backwards on the calendar. Your veggies should be planted so they will mature before the first frost, and provide most of their harvest before the first heavy freeze.

Most plant and seed labels include information on “average days to maturity,” so you can choose vegetables that will be ready in time. Some cool-season crops mature in as few as 30-40 days while others can take several months to produce.

Happy Gardening!

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In Print: Clips from Food Sections

491198795. – The Baltimore Sun Iced Teas and Lemonades with a Kick “The waning days of summer call for languid evenings or naps in the sun; it’s a time for savoring the more sensual aspects of life. But it’s often difficult to escape the heat, chock-a-block traffic or the cubicle doldrums.”

4. – The Boston Globe Catch the Wave “There’s an emotion travelers bring home from vacation as an unintended souvenir. Call it schaden-food: pleasure derived from the misfortune of having eaten something wonderful, then being unable to replicate the experience. Symptoms include sighing, poking halfheartedly at lesser versions of the dish, and saying things like: ‘This doesn’t hold a candle to the sushi at Tsukiji market,’ ‘The French would never call this bouillabaisse,’’ and ‘Now if only [your hometown here] could produce a good fish taco.’ ”

3. – The LA Times 30 Days of Ripe Tomatoes “Summer always comes late to Southern California, but that seemed to be particularly true this year, as the cloudy gray days of June gloom stretched well into August for many areas. There was a good side, to be sure, but what we gained by not having to turn on the air conditioner was offset by the sorry state of our tomatoes.”

2. – The NY Times Chew it up, Spit it out, Then brew “The Dogfish Head brewery has tried to recreate the Latin American beer chicha, traditionally made with purple corn that has been chewed by the brewers.”

1. – The Washington Post Wholly Mackerel “The family fishing trip, as it turned out, was a bust in more ways than one. Carrie, too, got seasick, and the poor conditions made for poor fishing. All told, the family walked away with only a few pounds of Spanish mackerel — expertly filleted by Wade right on the boat — and one beautiful bluefish that Molly snared. Negotiations immediately commenced over how many of the fish Carrie and I could use for the evening’s dinner. Kay agreed to let us have all the Spanish mackerel, which was generous. The family loves Spanish mackerel, and Kay loves to cook it.”

photo from The LA Times

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