Sunday, October 28, 2012

Fresh Salad in a Hurricane...

A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to get some lettuce starts while at school (thank you Horticulture degree, I don't remember getting free plants in engineering school) and I put them in containers in my cold frame to see how they would do (Lettuce in a Cold Frame).

Turns out they're doing great!! Who would have thought! I decided to harvest some before Sandy came to town and I'm treating myself to a fresh salad for dinner tonight.

Lettuce & Cabbage seem to be loving the cold frame

I'm topping the fresh lettuce with very little, some goat cheese crumbles and a homemade salad dressing. During my recent trip to California I picked up some garlic olive oil and honey balsamic vinegar that together with some fresh cracked black pepper that just makes an amazing dressing! 

As you can see from the mostly empty bottle...I'm finding the honey balsamic hard to resist! 

How do you like to dress your salads??  

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Hurricane Prep ...

Just wanted to wish everyone in the path of Sandy good luck!  I've battened down the hatches here in the Norfolk/Tidewater region of VA. Brought in all of my plants and have them safely tucked away! Here's to hoping power wont be out for too long

Stay Safe everyone!

Norfolk Botanical Gardens

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Mushrooms in London's Underground....

Wow! This is so cool!!  The city of London had a competition to design a green-space similar to the High Line in New York City (A public park in NYC that runs along its west side on old elevated train tracks)

The winning design is was designed by a Landscape Architectural firm called Fletcher Priest Architect and called "Pop Down" They designed a mushroom farm in the old "mail rails" that the postmen would use to move parcels around the busy city without having to fight the crowds.

The design includes a pedestrian walkway, the possibility of some "fungi" inspired eateries at the entrances and daylight would enter the tunnels through fiberglass sculplted mushrooms that would light the tunnel from street level and provide light down to the fungi.

I hope this becomes a reality and I can't wait to go see it! I love the idea of repurposing old structures into new and wonderful green spaces!

Winning Design from Fletcher Priest Architect (image source:

Runner Up from Y/N Design (image source: 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Lettuce in Cold Frame???

I have a problem.... I can not turn down free plants. It doesn't matter if I have space to plant to them... I just simply can not turn them down.

Last night our professor offered us lettuce, cabbage,  and broccoli starts.  I do not have a garden to plant them in but how could I turn down free plants???

I was conservative I only brought home three types of lettuce and some cabbage... that's not bad right?

Free plants ... Lettuce and Cabbage
On my hour drive home from class I started thinking where could I put these new plants. I have a cold frame out back and decided to give that a shot.

Went to Target and bought clear plastic shoe boxes and drilled six holes in the bottom of them thinking they might make good containers or trays for my lettuce. At $1.22 a piece it was worth a shot

Plastic Shoe boxes  with holes for drainage
Then I simply filled them up with potting soil and stuck in the lettuce and cabbage. I have a feeling the cabbage may get a little bit too big for its britches in the box, but it is worth a shot.  Had a few extra cabbage plants so I put them out in the front with a *FREE* sign. I guess we'll see who else likes free plants 

Anyone else want some free plants? 

. I'm hoping this works and I can have some fresh lettuce and salad all winter long. Anyone else have any luck growing lettuce this way? 

Friday, October 5, 2012

Dwarf Orchard

Greetings and many apologies for disappearing.  I underestimated how much time going back to school and working full time would take.  I have missed writing and have made a promise and plan to keep Adventures updated.  I have a lot of new and fun things to share.

On the top of my list to share with you all is my latest obsession, a Dwarf Orchard. At least that is what I am calling my problem of buying trees and having no yard to put them in.

The Dwarf Orchard set up
I decided to purchase some shelves to add to my indoor hallway garden. This spot gets sunlight from both the SE facing window you see and another one across the hall from it facing South.  Seemed to me to be the perfect spot.

I am already the proud owner of a  Kaffir lime tree, which is about a year old. I have greatly enjoyed its leaves this summer (a subject of another post) and am looking forward to its bumpy fruit.  So naturally a lemon tree would provide a nice companion right?

Enter a 3 year old Meyer Lemon tree. Ok I may have ever so slightly misjudged the size of the lemon tree. In my minds eye it was totally fitting on those shelves. In reality.... well you can see it gets its own table.  It has some very teeny tiny buds just beginning to form. It takes about 6 months or more to develop from flower to fruit, so I will keep you posted.

3 year old Meyer Lemon Tree
I spent the last weekend in beautiful Temecula California visiting family. Along with Avocados (YUM!) and Wine (post on Wine Country later too) they grow beautiful luscious olives. Is it just me or could you live off a diet of Avocados, Wine and Olives?? Yeah probably just me. I have been wanting an olive tree for as long as I can remember. When I saw a Lucques olive seedling I just had to have it. When things like trees are involved the logistics of luggage just go right out the window. I think my Aunt thought I was a little nuts buying a tree as a souvenir.

1 yr old Lucques olives tree
And simply because I saw one at a college campus conservatory here in Norfolk and I thought it would be cool to have one, a chocolate tree. Sadly, I ordered this tree from Puerto Rico and it apparently kicked and screamed all the way to Virginia and shed EVERY SINGLE leaf... so its really just kind of a Chocolate Stick right now.. I am babying it hoping it will put out more leaves. Fingers crossed

Chocolate "stick" 

Well there you have it, the 4 players so far in my Dwarf Orchard. I'll go into detail more on each on each of them in future posts. 

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Tomato, Shallot and Goat Cheese Tart

I know I'm a little early for the tomato harvest, but I made this last night with some tomatoes from the Farmers Market as a "practice run" for my own harvest. You know had to check it out with their tomatoes before I was going to risk some of my own home grown gems ;)

I have got to say, this is tart is well worth using some of your harvest! I made a few tweaks to the recipe I found in my first issue of Heirloom magazine. Are any of you out there reading this magazine as well? If not I highly recommend it. It is put out by the folks at Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, and there are some pretty interesting articles! Not to mention yummy garden recipes...

This tomato tart was so simple. I'll admit, it was a crazy weekend and I had a bunch of studying and homework to do for my horticulture course, and I spend most of Saturday in the garden, so I used store bought pastry dough. But we'll keep that our little secret ;)

Tomato, Shallot and Goat Cheese Tart 
1 large sheet of frozen puff pastry
1/3 cup of goat cheese softened at room temp (I just eyeballed this)
3-4 medium tomatoes sliced and patted dry
2 shallots thinly sliced
chopped basil to sprinkle all over tart 
1 clove of garlic minced 
salt and pepper 
Olive Oil 

1. Thaw pastry dough according to directions. Spray tart pan with non-stick spray (If you don't have a tart pan, the original recipe from Heirloom says to just spread out on cookie sheet and you'll leave an edge to curl up around creating like a boat for the ingredients) 

2. Pre-Heat Over to 400F 

3. Spread the goat cheese on the pastry.  Place tomatoes and shallots all over the goat cheese.  Sprinkle with basil and garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Drizzle about 2 TBsp of Olive Oil over tart. 

4. Bake 20-25 minutes until the crust is brown. Allow to cool for about 10 min before serving. 

Tart after baking

Leftovers kept well over night in the fridge. I zapped the tart in the microwave for 30 seconds and it tasted great!

Well...must go back to study latin names of landscape plants and identify them by their leaves. Of course tomatoes, peppers and herbs aren't on this test...noooo that'd be too easy ;)

I wish you all a wonderful week ahead!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Garden Harvest Basket

Well we are under a tornado warning until 2AM tonight, so that should tell you what kind of weather we're having today. So I thought I'd bring in a little of the garden and share with you this awesome new harvest basket I got! 

I am a a fan of anything hand made and local to be honest with you. I think there is a lost art to local handi-crafts. So I often jump at the chance to get something fun and unique.  I was reading through my new issue of Heirloom (its the quarterly magazine put out by the folks at Baker Creek Heirloom seeds, this was my first issue, and I love it! But thats for another post) and they had a quick blurb about these great harvest baskets for sale on Etsy. When I went to go look they're handmade in North Carolina, which pretty much sold me (okay okay I was sold when they said hand-made wooden garden harvest basket) 

This little beauty is there medium size, and made out of old tobacco wood and hardwood, and the produce can be hosed off prior to bringing it inside. 

Medium sized harvest basket

Now I don't normally like to do any advertisement for anyone on the blog but I just couldn't help share this with you. I'll include the link to their Etsy store so you can at least check it out for yourself! (

I really can't wait until those little green tomatoes start turning and I can use this to harvest! (That is if the plants don't float away tonight) 

Here are a few more pictures. Please ignore the kitty "sniffing" the basket in the last one. I couldn't keep them away.... 

Seems like the perfect size for a small household garden

Something new ;) 

Supposed to clear up and be in the mid-70s tomorrow...great gardening day! Hope yours is just as wonderful! Cheers! 
Happy Gardening! 

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Whatever happened to those tomato seeds?

I've been meaning to update on my tomato seedlings, but it seems like something is always getting in the way. I have somehow inadvertently angered the illness gods this year and have continually been sick, from the flu in Jan to salmonella poisoning in March to a cold ad ear ache I just can't shake the last few weeks. Perhaps I shall have to offer some tomatoes to them as a offering for less sickness next year.

I also finally started classes in Horticulture. Twice a week I spend the evenings after work in the gardens of a Virginia Tech extension center learning to identify plants. I can't complain, the classroom is wonderful!

So onto the tomatoes. If you'll remember I started these indoors hydroponically in Jan (MLK day weekend) and hardened them off outside in my cold frame for most of March and April. I moved them into the garden a few weeks ago and they seem to be thriving.

I gave some away of the plants away at work this year and I had a co-worker tell me how great his is doing. That just made my day! Im happy to hear feedback like that!

I'm a few weeks behind in clearing the new gardens (the interest was low in our community plots this year so I picked up 3 additional plots). Trying to figure out what to put in those. Such a tough problem to have (she smiles)

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Onion Update ....

So I went away for the weekend, and came home to some green onions that grew great! I have been changing the water every other day, and that's ALL! I'm serious, they are sitting on my kitchen counter (I have no windows in my kitchen either by the way)
These are them on Sunday (I added three additional ones on Fri)

Just a reminder...these were them on Wednesday

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Never Ending Green Onions????

Well I've been MIA again...sorry about that. I had the unfortunate opportunity to get salmonella poisoning late March/Early April and spent some time as a guest of the local hospital. I feel like I've been playing catch up ever since. Sadly my blogging has taken a back seat. I truly hope and plant to start making it a more regular occurrence. Especially this time of year!! :)

Just because I haven't been blogging doesn't mean I have been gardening. This year for some reason they didn't till our community gardens this year, so I had to learn how to do it by hand. Having mostly done pots this was new and umm...back breaking experience. But I got the job done this weekend and started planting. I plan on sharing more of that later

So I recently saw on Pintrest (who else is loving that site??) that if you don't cut up the white parts of green onions and place them in water, they'll continue to grow and produce more green parts to use. So I decided to finally put it to the test, and take you along on the experiment with me.

On Tuesday I made some Quinoa with green onions and avocados.  I placed the white parts of the green onions in water in a cleaned out spice jar I had lying around

Tuesday Evening...
By the time I woke up on Wednesday morning they had already started sprouting some new green parts.

Not the clearest picture but the green onion on the right the dark green part was new overnight
I'm looking forward to seeing how this experiment goes...I'll keep you apprised 

Monday, March 12, 2012

Moved to dirt...

Well I had to move three of my tomato seedlings to dirt tonight.... they were just getting too tall to be under the grow lamp and they were obstructing some of the smaller seedlings for getting the light.  I'll replace the pods with some new seeds tomorrow.

I hope they do okay in the dirt, I expect they'll wilt a bit at first as they're growing more sturdy roots, but hopefully not too bad. Here are the three of them, they're 4 week old seedlings...

4 week old tomato seedlings 

Here is a shot of my seedling obsession (yes it is an obsession) mind you I have a postage stamp sized rented yard, and a 10x10 community plot, so not a lot of room. I'll be giving away some seedlings this year to friends and co-workers. I think as of right now i have over 100 seedlings growing or germinating in my upstairs hallway.

A shot of a fraction of my seedlings

What the above picture doesn't show you, is the three jiffy green house boxes with over 36 more seedlings, plus the 3 new ones I bought today to grow a few more seeds. 

I can't help it, I love watching plants grow from seeds to full grown and providing vegetables and fruit and flowers for us to enjoy! 

Sunday, March 11, 2012

A Little Spring Indoors

Yesterday was the Mid-Atlantic Home and Garden show in Virginia Beach.  I love Home and Garden shows. The gardens are always my favorite part. I love the displays the landscape companies put together. The time and effort that must go into them, only to be torn down 3 days later.   But I do love walking through all of them, and sitting and imagining they're my back yard.

This show was way more home than garden. I got to say, I drove about 90 minutes to get there (thank you traffic on the bridge tunnel no matter what time of day it seems like) and was a little disappointed.  There were very few display gardens (2-3 I think) and there were even fewer vendors there selling anything garden related.

Even the stage shows were mostly home related. I purposely missed the Sabrina Soto stage show (she's from HGTV) I actually love her shows, but the thought of the crowds made it less appealing. There were no garden talks that I saw on the schedule for Saturday. I would have loved to attend a talk on planting edibles in your yard etc...

I was able to get these adorable little crocus flowers in a small pot. So it made the drive worth it...sort of.

How were the Home and Garden shows in your regions?

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Houston - We have Germination :)

4 days into the experiment of trying to grow all of my seedlings for this Spring's garden hydroponically, I had some tomato's sprouting!

I have to admit .... I am a garden geek! I came home from work everyday last week and eagerly went and checked my seeds, anxiously checking for some sprouts. I was rewarded on the 4th day with a few little tomato sprouts!

1st sprouts of tomato seeds 
One of the things I love about this time of the year is watching the daily changes in the small plants!

How are your seedlings doing?

Monday, February 20, 2012

A Bit of Spring Amongst the Snow....

We had another snowy weekend here in Williamsburg, I gotta say, I loved it! We walked out of the movies last night to a Winter Wonderland.

But I got a hint of Spring today, it was time to plan out the garden and spring planting schedule

Planning out my Spring garden
I live in zone 7A, so that means my Pepper and Tomato plants should be going into the ground between early May and early June according to a great interactive schedule I found online based on the USDA Hardiness Zones ( You can put your zip code in and it'll tell you the best planting window for your zone based on the vegetable you are planting, plus how far apart and how deep they should be. A great resource!

This year  I decided to try to start my seeds hydroponically. About 3 years ago my wonderful boyfriend gave me Aerogardens has Valentines Day gifts.  These have been wonderful! I've had a steady crop of fresh herbs thanks to them.  I've grown a few seeds as experiments before and was impressed with the results, so I'm going to give it a shot with all of my seeds this year. 

They sell a "Grow Anything" kit which is essentially just a styrofoam insert and some grow plugs. Once the seedlings get large enough I'll take the grow plugs and put them in soil and harden them off like normal.  (In this years gift a nice new cold frame) 

Pepper and Tomato Seeds resting snugly in their "grow plugs" Hope to see some sprouts in a few days

So I planted 6 Tomato varieties and 8 Pepper varieties. I'm hoping to see sprouts in a few days, if it goes anything like the previous experiments, they should start sprouting by about day 3 or 4!  I'll keep you updated with how this experiment works out :)

My make-shift Indoor Garden - Gotta make the best of the space :)

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Winter Has Finally Arrived

Just when I thought we could move right into Spring, Winter surprised us here in Williamsburg today! They told us we had a 50% chance of snow flurries with no accumulation. I'd say this miscalculated a bit

About 10 min after the snow started....

So I had a few plants out in the yard still and figured I'd go check on them. The Winter has been so mild the rosemary has been thriving. I left it out tonight, hoping it'll overnight okay.  It is supposed to get back up into the 50s tomorrow

Rosemary dressed up with a little snow

Hope it will be okay through the night

I know the garlic is good in the snow, I left it out last winter during the week long freeze in Atlanta and it did fine. But I thought it looked pretty all covered in fresh snow.  

Siberian Garlic

The weather has been so mild I've been craving seedlings and new plants.... guess there is still a few more weeks until I can get the seedlings started ;)

This has to be my favorite picture from the snow today though. They sat on the window and watched the snow fall for hours

Hope everyone is enjoying the weekend!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

2012 - Year of Herbs

So this herb obsessed gardener was thrilled to discover that The National Garden Bureau has named 2012 the Year of Herbs  ~ we do have a Bureau for just about everything in the US don't we....ah well I approve of a Garden Bureau, in fact I wonder if they're hiring ;) ~

Every year the Garden Bureau (sorry picturing myself in a suite with a badge making housecalls to rescue plants, but I digress) names as flower, vegetable and perennial to be showcased. This year the flower is the geranium (a favorite of mine) and the perennial is Heuchera in case you were wondering

Follow the link for a beautiful slide show put together by "The Bureau" and the Herb Society of America that I wanted to share with everyone

2012 - Year of Herbs      <----- Click for slideshow

So in honor of 2012 being the Year of Herbs (and quiet frankly I'm obsessed with herbs) I'm going to "feature" one herb a month for the year. Give you what their culinary purposes are, some recipies, what they're medicinal qualities are (I will just be relaying the medicinal information from sources, I in NO WAY have any training in the use of herbs for medicinal purposes) and just other general information about growing and cultivating the herb.

I'll start January with one of my favorites, and one that is still growing in my yard right now, Rosemary! I'd love suggestions for other months, are their any herbs that are your favorite or you would be interested in learning about??

Well until next time - enjoy the slide show!

A few herbs at the Colonial Gardens
in Colonial Williamsburg taken New Years Day

Friday, January 6, 2012

It feels more like Spring than January! Garlic Planting?!?!

 2012! I hope everyone had a wonderful New Year!!

The weather here in Southern VA has been so strange, I finished picking the habanero's and jalapeno's off my plants only 3 weeks ago.  So I have been cautious about putting the garlic into the ground.

I put some into containers in late October and they're already growing well

Siberian Garlic planted from stock I harvested this year

One New Years Eve it was 65 degrees (felt so wrong!) so I figured it was time to clear out the Summer garden and get some garlic in the ground before it was way too late (I am already a little behind the curve on this one I know)

I figured I'd share a photo collage of the garlic planting.

Because garlic will not be ready for harvest well after I want to get Spring planting done, I devoted the far left corner of my plot to this endeavor.  I decided 3 rows of 6 cloves each (2" apart) was a good start. Plus I have 9 cloves growing in plots

I went a little crazy ordering Garlic varieties this year (who can blame a girl, there are so many good ones out there)

Here is what I ended up planting in the garden

Row 1
    Cloves 1-4: Ajo Roja
    Clove 5-6:  Xian Turban

Row 2
     Cloves 1-3: Spanish Roja
     Cloves 4-6: Persian Start

Row 3:
      Cloves 1-2: Burgundy
      Cloves 3-4: Chesnok Red
      Cloves 5-6: Susanville

I also planted in pots:  Siberian (home grown stock), Oregon Blue and Red Toch

Preparing the cloves

After preparing the cloves (I LOVE the color of some of these cloves, they're just gorgeous!) I placed them in pre-made holes. I am hopeful, but I have never grown garlic in the ground before.....  Everything I planted this spring in the plot grew very very well. So I'm hoping for the same with my garlic 

Ajo Roja getting ready to be tucked in for a long winters nap