Category Archives: Garden

Reap what you sow as long as you let go…

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One of my first gardens, tucked in a sunny spot of a shady backyard in Seattle, had a tomato. Patiently I waited for this first fruit to change colors…. willing myself to not pick it until it was the bloodiest of reds. When the fateful moment arrived, my tomato had been selected by another creature who hid their thievery from me by nibbling on the back hidden side.

Oh, the disappointment.

There have also been the encouraging carrots with fat orange hats above ground that you finally pull only to realize they have grown an incredible… inch. And don’t even get me started about tomatillos! Dripping with bulbous green lanterns as you stand with basket in hand hours before the first frost is to arrive and there is absolutely no significant fruit inside those papery promises.

Sigh.

All that work, digging, mending, sowing, tending only to be diminished when the harvest wasn’t exactly what you anticipated when you first planted that seed many months ago. Well, now there is a metaphor I cannot let slide by. Much of my life has been work, hit the grindstone, work, plant a seed, more work, sweat and tears only to see the fruit is odd, misshapen, missing in action or quite a bit different than that original dream. How are you supposed to be grateful when you are also a tad disappointed? Or maybe the right word is… bewildered?

Because there is also purslane. Technically most gardeners consider it a weed, but don’t tell that to the up and coming hot chefs. Purslane takes over many a garden including my own, but harvested, cleaned up and bundled with golden string it became a hit at a recent farm stand. It is succulent in texture, with almost a lemony undertone. It is a superfood with rising popularity and it is being sold for several dollars more than the one buck I was asking for my wee bundles.

screen-shot-2016-09-28-at-3-40-36-pmTalking up purslane’s magic while selling them at the farm stand wasn’t hard either. It is a micro green that can be cooked with eggs or it holds up nicely in salads. Stick it in a smoothie and it will thicken your drink into goodness. Or go Mexican with it. Call it verdalagos and create a beautiful traditional dish by the same name.

Despite any disappointments or confusions at harvest time, look closely as your garden (or maybe your life?) probably has other plans for you if you dare to keep present, keep looking and more importantly keep sowing. If you don’t plan any seeds, you will never be in the garden seeking to harvest.

A few years ago, we brought seeds back from Arizona. These sacred desert covenants seemed perfect for our new Rocky Mountain dry climate, and we figured we could simply water them less. All of our attempts to emulate Tucson were foiled by a rather wet and cool season. This fortunately tamed any drought threats to our state so in the end we were more grateful than not, but it was sad to feel our seeds were wasted. We had invested so much love into the beans, chiles and squash we were attempting.  

One of the plants we grew is called Ha:l from the Tohono O’dom tribe of the Sonoran desert. We were thrilled when it reached across our yard, twirling itself up to our porch and then all the way back to our driveway. It was a monstrous mammoth, taking over our garden covered in bright flowers and itty-bitty fruits full of promise. And then, one by one the fruits would make it to about two inches only to rot and die off. We shrugged, trimmed it back and figured Colorado was just too moist for this precious arid beauty.

Fast forward two years and we now have a ‘squash’ plant entangling itself throughout the yellow straight neck and cocozelle zucchini. A few weeks ago the fruit formed, round and glorious, neither zucchini nor pumpkin, but suspiciously reminiscent of those little cuties that were doomed back in 2014.img_6965

I sent our dear Tucson farming buddies a picture of the fruit. He responded there is a good chance it was indeed the Ha:l. He also mentioned that the leaves when mature get white splotches. Bingo! This beauty of a plant in fact has almost white stain glass throughout its leaves. Finally, I sliced up a fruit and tasted what I remembered in Tucson, texture and disposition of zucchini, but with a slight sweetness that is hard to miss. I plan to harvest the smallest fruits for a time, but as the Tohono O’dom do, I plan to leave some fruits for a late harvest once the shell has hardened and it has become pumpkin-like. The two-for-one delight of this plant is what has me beyond grateful to receive this volunteer in our garden.

If you are new to gardening please take heart, we are newbies as well, but we keep coming back to the soil with increasing hope. We had no intentions to grow Ha:l this year and quite frankly after the confusion two years ago and lack of easy access to their seeds, we weren’t planning to try again, but the garden is certainly a place where tiny miracles seem to come and go. As long as you are able to relax into the idea that planting a dream is risky business with the timeline and outcome not yours to dictate. Keep the soil rich, tend, mend, and allow your wildest hopes to slowly take root as something glorious will eventually come to fruition. 

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Nasturtiums, Arugula, Kale, Tomatoes, Summer Squash & Blossoms, Basil

It has been awhile since I have posted here, as this past year has been packed with distractions. But, I have to admit it has been overflowing with joy as we  moved back to Colorado, bought a new home and the peak of the year was welcoming our sweet, full of smiles, son into this world. Fortunately, Kaycie has been keeping you up on the beautiful ways to fill your life with health. I am ever grateful not only for her friendship, but her generosity to me and my family during this crazy, packed with blessings year.

One of the joys of buying a new home was finding one with a large (albeit abandoned) garden box. We have made attempts in the past to garden, but I often claim that despite two parents with a couple green thumbs each, I received a recessive gene with a sad brown thumb. Maybe, just maybe, with the help of experienced gardening friends, that will change…

We moved into our home on May 10th, my daughter’s birthday, and within a couple of week’s we sectioned half of the garden box off and filled it with dirt. We were only a couple of weeks behind Colorado’s recommended start time. We filled that half of the box with five tomato plants, radishes and a variety of my favorite greens including arugula, chard, two types of kale and a mix of lettuces.

The radishes came up and were harvested quickly. They were delicious, but they mostly inspired us to plant more. The tomatoes were the most exciting we have ever grown and they managed to take over the rows of greens we had planted. So, we filled the other side of the box with more of “Mel’s mix” as a dear family friend and master gardener recommended and then filled it with summer squash and several big pots of basil that I kept collecting from the grocery store.

I recently heard the biggest mistakes made by new gardeners is crowding and overwatering. We clearly fit the mold, but for the first time we were complaining about the abundance rather than the lack. Okay, we didn’t actually complain about the delights coming from our garden, rather we were thrilled and then we started looking at the rest of our backyard which was full of dirt, mud and weeds and examined the hours of sun in certain areas. We also have huge, old trees, so we mapped out a plan to expand our garden beyond the box and fill it with even more delicious food.

Our goal is to join those, such as my parents and Kaycie’s family, who eat most of their food from the garden all summer long. I cannot think of a better way to embrace your health then to start by bringing the freshness and nutrients as close to home as possible.

Just last week, we had our first snow and the following night our first frost here in the Denver metro area. A few days before, I looked around at the tomatoes that were started late, with half green, half almost red fruit all over it and the summer squash which seemed to have a rebirth after the intense rain storms and sunny weeks that followed. As I heard warnings of snow, I imagined these plants freezing and figured I would call my favorite Rocky Mountain gardener. When I called Kaycie she was in the process of harvesting everything she could from her plants and recommended I follow suit.

Later that day, just before dinner, we picked our final harvest. Within 48 hours most of the plants were shriveled and brown, but a week later we are still munching away on summer.

Have you harvested summer yet? Or are you still a few days/weeks from your first frost? Tell us about it in the comment section!

Happy Harvest Time! With joy,

Lilly

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Please welcome guest blogger, Dr. Kaycie Rosen Grigel of Golden Naturopathic Clinic

“Rhubarb is, as we know, the secret of the good life”–Garrison Keillor

The above picture expresses my feeling about rhubarb: One pie, one fork please.  When I heard that quote above on Prairie Home Companion this weekend it just summed it up for me.  There is something special about this hardy, massive plant that just bursts out of the garden shouting “Welcome back to fresh food!”

 We have been battling the critters and the weather out in the garden this year so the pickings right now are slim, but we have a bumper crop of rhubarb which is just begging to become a tart, delicious dessert.  Crumbles are the perfect mix of really easy, kinda decadent and pretty healthy, so you  can throw it together quickly and don’t have to feel bad about having it with yogurt for breakfast the next morning.

Rhubarb Strawberry Crisp (Gluten Free)

Serves 1, or 8-10

filling:
4 cups chopped rhubarb
2 cups sliced strawberries
1/2 cup honey or maple syrup
1 Tbsp corn starch

Crumble topping:
1 1/2 cups rolled or minute oats
1/3 cup almond meal
1/2 cup brown rice flour
1/4 cup potato starch
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla
2 Tbsp milk of choice
6 Tbsp melted butter or oil

Preheat oven to 375.  Mix filling ingredients together and put into a deep dish pie plate.  Mix crumble ingredients together until they stick together in little, well, crumbles. If it’s too dry you can add a bit more milk.  Apply evenly atop the filling.  Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until the filling bubbles out the top.