Austin Urban Gardens

Raised Bed Gardening and Eating Well in Austin, Texas

No Grocery Store, Days 119, 120 and 121 May 3, 2010

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Friday through Sunday were crazy busy with garden installations, trips to Natural Gardener for soil, and consultations.  Day 119, Friday, I had strawberries for breakfast from the garden, a Kocurek bacon and lettuce sandwich on Texas French Bread ciabatta.  I’m holding out for my own garden tomatoes.  Family Friday dinner with my folks has resumed and we ate at Eddie V’s.  I had snapper meuneire and broccoli.

Saturday we had 2 garden installations on opposite sides of town.  For breakfast, I had Vital Farms eggs scrambled with Dai Due bulk chorizo and garden onions.    After 5 hours of hard work, nothing sounded more appealing to me than a Hula Hut frozen margarita, sitting on the lake, and chile con queso.   And that was dinner.

Sunday, Day 121, another busy work day, I had Vital Farms eggs scrambled eggs with Dai Due bulk chorizo and garden onions.  I spent the morning trying to sell Earthboxes at the Shady Hollow Farms plant sale.  Then I was invited to have lunch with Christian and Jamie, (www.austinfoodjournal.com) and (www.violaandjean.com).  Christian was grilling fajitas so that’s was I had for lunch.  Jamie was game for heading out to Natural Gardener to pick up soil for my job Monday (today) so we did that then headed back to their house where Christian was experimenting with making french fries.  Then later he made one of his fabulous pizzas.  So they fed me amazing food all day, and I was really grateful, because it was a long, and tiring weekend.

If you would like to learn how to make the amazing pizza that Christian is famous for, head on over to his site http://www.austinfoodjournal.com and register for his upcoming pizza class.   It’s all about the crust, and he has taken years to develop the technique for the perfect crust.  And it is beyond perfect.

 

May 1, 2010 in my Austin Urban Gardens May 1, 2010

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I finally got to hang out in my own gardens a little this afternoon.  I spotted lots of new growth I’d missed the last few days of whizzing by the tomatoes, with my tail on fire, headed to someone’s house to install their gardens.  There are lots of exciting things going on in my garden right about now, and I’m pretty excited at how well everything is doing.

The strawberries are still putting out fruit, as if someone fed them strawberry crack.

More strawberries to come

And by the time the strawberries start to slow down, I will be picking blackberries from two bushes.

Blackberries to be

The Meyer Lemons are budding out, too.

Meyer Lemon toddlers

And one single peach.

Just one Peach

I spotted many more tomatoes this afternoon that I have seen the last few days.

There is a reason they call these Celebrities

Unmarked heirloom tomatos

Another unmarked heirloom

Barely an Ancho Chile Pepper

And about of a third of the onions, drying in their cool dark place.  The rest are still in the ground.

Some of the onions drying

The cucumbers are thinking hard about it, the eggplants don’t seem to be in a hurry.  The herbs are going crazy, and it’s hard to believe it is almost harvest time for the first basil.  MMM, pesto.  I’ve got lots of great Texas Olive Oil, and local parmesan laying in wait for pesto making day.

 

No Grocery Store, Days 115 and 116 April 28, 2010

I survived the Green Living Show, and have getting back into my routine, thankfully.

Monday, Day 115, I had a slice of Kocurek Molassas bacon for breakfast.  Lunch was a salad with farmer’s market lettuce, a farmer’s market tomato, (I’m so ready for my own garden tomatoes!) and some Brazos Valley parmesan with Kelly Jo’s serrano salsa for dressing.  I was happy to find that she had a booth at the Green Living show, and I snatched some up since I’d missed several farmer’s markets.  Dinner was an omlette with Vital Farms eggs, my herbs, Kocurek bacon and Full Quiver pepper jack.

Day 116, I had garden strawberries for breakfast, trout and green beans at Asti Trattoria for lunch, and a  grilled ribeye from Richardson farms, with balsamic carmelized garden onions and farmer’s market asparagus.

 

Mid-April in an Austin Urban Garden April 17, 2010

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I hadn’t seen my garden in a couple of days and knew there were strawberries to pick, so first thing this morning I headed out back.  There were lots of strawberries to pick!

Everything else looks amazing, the rain has really made everything happy.

strawberries before picking

Picked strawberries, minus what I ate

The tomatoes are all getting huge and bushy and the cheater plant I bought at Sledd Nursery has 7 or 8 tomatoes on it.

They don't call this Celebrity for nothing!

More tomatoes

It is hard for me to say, as a promoter of raised garden beds, that the tomatoes in my Earthbox are bigger than those in my raised garden.  I also promote and sell Earthboxes, but I’ve never been a bigger fan.

Tomatoes in my EarthboxThe black bean and corn bed is rocking along as well.  The cheater tomato is in there too, where Nandina once mucked up my landscape.  I planted corn from seed, then found some little transplants and got those.  Then after Carol Ann at Boggy Creek Farm told me I planted a couple of weeks late, and to be wary of worms in June, I found a couple of transplants that were further along.  So, I have corn at three levels of growth.

Black Beans and Corn

I found some lemon cucumber plants the other day and planted those.  That sounds good, lemon and cucumber.

lemon cucumber

And the onions continue their slow march toward maturity.  At least the bolting has halted, with the cooler weather.

Onions, shallots and garlic

The herbs on the patio are happy as well.  I just bought more basil with pesto in mind, and some cilantro, with salsa in mind.

Basil

Thyme

Mint

 

Onions Bolting March 31, 2010

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Every year, I plant lots and lots of onions.  Every year, some, usually the 1015’s bolt, or go to seed.  First they form a flower bulb, then it grows up a hard stalk in the middle.  I don’t usually let it get far, I just pull them up and eat them.  They are still good.

Onions bolting

 

Yay, Spring Garden Underway March 14, 2010

This is the time of year I spend so much time getting gardens in for customers, I barely have time for my own.  This morning I took the time to get some stuff done.  First on the list, making way for the peppers.  I had to harvest a boatload of lettuce.

Boatload of Lettuce

I had already worked on and amended part of the garden, but now had to amend the space taken up by lettuce all fall and winter.  I turned the soil, dumped in some worm castings, Actinoiron, Hill County Soil, Ladybug general fertilizer, and Sylvan compost and mixed it all together as if I was making a mudcake.  Next I planted the peppers, a bell, 2 serrano del sols, and a jalapeno.

Peppers

Next in were the tomatoes.  A Mortgage Lifter, a Celebrity or two, two Chocolate Cherries, a Black Krim, a Yellow Brandywine, a Cherokee Purple, and a a Striped German.  The Brandywine, Mortgage Lifter, and Striped German are new varieties to me.

Tomatoes in the big raised bed

I weeded the Watermelon Radishes, which still need a couple more weeks.

Watermelon radishes, almost done

Tossed some Ladybug fertilizer on the strawberries, which are looking good, putting on new leaves and starting to set fruit.

Strawberry patch

strawberry flower

Weeded the smaller bed, half filled with lettuce and radishes, and ready to receive more plants.

Smaller garden

Next I watered the whole lot with rainwater.

Then went around to the side gardens, and said howdy to the onions, garlic, and shallots.

onions, garlic, shallots

Next, I poked around at the taters growing in their bags.

potatoes sprouting in grow bags

Planted some basil and thyme in a pot.  There is never enough thyme!

Sweet basil

Not enough thyme!!

Then I watered and pondered my next garden moves.  I think this will suffice for this lovely Sunday.

 

10 Great Reasons to Plant a Vegetable Garden in 2010 December 31, 2009

I think there are probably 2010 great reasons to Plant a Vegetable, Herb, Fruit garden in 2010, but I have dinner plans here in a short while, so I’m going to give you just 10 good ones.

1.  You control what you eat.  For years, I just assumed that everything I ate was safe and fresh.  It never occurred to me to ponder where it came from, who grew it, who picked it, what it was planted in, or what it was sprayed with.  Not to mention, whether the seeds had been genetically modified to make the plant more pest resistant, to have fewer seeds, to grow bigger and faster, or what any of that meant.  Many of these things, I’m still learning.  I know exactly what I am planting, that no chemicals are sprayed on any of it, and that no non-organic fertilizer has touched my vegetables.  I know what I’m eating and importantly, what I’m not eating.

2.  Home grown food is as fresh as it gets.    Vegetables start to lose valuable  nutrients the moment they are picked.  Fruits ripen very quickly after being picked, and can be stored for long before they go bad.  Fresh food lasts a lot longer, and is more nutritious.  You are able to harvest only what you need at mealtime, as well.  Much of what is available at the grocery store has been sitting in a truck for days making its way from Mexico, Brazil, California, wherever.

3.  Fresh produce tastes better, because it is fresher and picked when ready, not ripened in a box in the back of a truck.  Fresh herbs make everything taste better, and there is nothing like having all of the herbs you use, available for snipping right from the yard or patio.

4.  Eating home grown foods is good for the environment.  The fewer trucks on the roads transporting fruits and vegetables to the grocery store helps save energy and fossil fuels, which is good for the Earth.

5.  Growing fruits and vegetables, especially from seed, is economical.  A 1 gram packet of lettuce seeds will provide a continuous supply of lettuce for several weeks, for the cost of $1.99 or less.  A bundle of onion starts, about 50 onions, is $1.50.  When properly stored, onions can last up to a year.  Heirloom tomatoes were $5.99 a pound at my local store this Spring and Fall.  One heirloom tomato plant cost around $2.00 at a local plant sale.  Seeds are even less, and plants produce fruit for at least one season.  There is an initial cost to get a garden set up and fill it with good soil, and the soil should be amended from time to time.  Amending with compost is recommended, and if you start a compost pile or bin, compost is free, (leaves, yard clippings, vegetable scraps)

6.  Gardening doesn’t take a lot of time, unless you want to spend lots of time gardening.  Plant, water, harvest, eat.  It is pretty simple if you provide good soil and have adequate sun.  Nature does most of the work.

7.  Gardening is relaxing in a stressful world.  I find that I get my most creative ideas, when I’m digging in the soil, whether dropping in seeds, or digging  hole for transplants.

8.  Gardening provides a bit of free exercise, and the opportunity to get outside and breath in the air and feel the sunshine.

9.  Children will eat what they have participated in growing.  Kids love to garden and are more willing to eat vegetables they had a hand in bringing to the table.  Watching the progression of seeds in the soil, as they grow into something edible, is fascinating and fun!

10.  Austin and the surrounding area has a year round growing season.  Every month is a month to plant and a month to harvest.  You can eat well all year long with a garden.

If growing your own foods sounds like something you might like to do, but don’t know how to get started, or don’t own a wheelbarrow and shovel, we can come get you set up with a raised bed filled with good organic soil, and seeds or plants that are season, and get you started.  In 2010, we plan to offer some continued support options should you find you need help along the way.  For the do-it-yourselfers, we have kits available for pick up, and can offer advice on good soil, plant and seed resources, if  you wish.

2009 was a great gardening year for me.  Here are 10 reasons I’m glad I became a gardener, plus 1 reason I wish I’d picked the broccoli sooner.    With all the lessons I learned this year, I’m truly excited about the possibilities of 2010.

Onions

Garden basil for pesto

Green Bean plant sprouting

Spinach

Peppers

So many peppers I learned to pickle!

Sugar Snap Pea

Woops, didn't pick the broccoli early enough. Lessons learned.

Strawberry Patch

 

 
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