Austin Urban Gardens

Raised Bed Gardening and Eating Well in Austin, Texas

Nice Day in the Garden May 16, 2010

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Today I had some free time, which was a rare treat lately.  I decided to tackle the giant tomato plants in the Earthbox, and see if I could trim them back to a reasonable and manageable size.  The weight of the huge plants covered with tomatoes in that small box wasn’t working and it was toppling over several times a day.  So, I gave them a haircut.  The haircut revealed even more tomatoes than I knew were there.  Tons of these cluster tomatoes and 4 yellow Brandywine’s.

cluster tomatoes

I fertilized all the gardens with Ladybug and put Dolomite around the tomatoes, in an effort to fend off any more blossom end rot.  It felt like rain, so I had hoped this would all get rained in, but so far just sprinkles.  I picked some serranos, which tasted a bit young and green, so I think I’ll let the others mature more before picking.  The cucumbers look like they are on cucumber crack, but no cukes yet, just lots of flowers.  More blackberries are getting close to ripe, just as the strawberries seem to have petered out.  I didn’t pull them up yet, but I probably will in another week or so.

Over the last few days, I noticed some non-food flowers blooming around the side of the house.


Tomatoes Are Coming on Strong May 6, 2010

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My tomato plants are all big, green and lush, but I feared a meager crop this year (I realize it is early) because I hadn’t seen that many tomatoes.  I just hadn’t looked well enough as many seem to be hiding deep within their lush vines.  I discovered all manner of tomatoes emerging, many to remain mysterious until they ripen, since I can’t be bothered to mark them.  It’s a weakness.  I love how different they all are, each beautiful in its own right.

Striped Roman

No idea, but I love it's roundness

Large Red Cherries, probably

I love how these line up in a row, like little tomato band of brothers.

Trying to hide

Another Mystery

Then, someone always has to show off and be first.

Celebrities first to start ripening

I’m looking forward to the best tomato crop yet, I hope.   Squirrels, watch out!


East Austin Farm Tour April 16, 2010

I found my camera!  I’ve been doing my happy camera dance for 2 days.

So, I went on the East Austin Farm Tour, of Boggy Creek, Springdale, Rain Lilly, and Hausbar Farms.  One interesting thing I discovered on this farm tour, was the companion planting of vegetables with flowers.  I know a little about companion planting between vegetables herbs, and other vegetables.  I was so inspired after this tour to plant  flowering plants with my garden, that I got some sunflower plants and put them in the front bed.  I’m not through.

All of the farms had chickens, but not all had roosters, that I could find.  None as handsome as Mr. C0cky, above, for sure.

rows and rows

Perfect rows.  I’m not good at rows, but I don’t have acres planted, so I have no need for a trail between plants.

The food at each of these events was amazing, and all local.  There was a beet and goat cheese slider from Olivia, an all of the broccoli salad on a tostada from Jeffreys,  yummy sausage and marinated vegetables from Dai Due, and lots more deliciousness.

Jeffrey's contribution, broccoli salad

I think Carol Ann and Larry of Boggy Creek are the luckiest folks around. (albeit very hard working).   They get to wake up in this house every morning:

And see this view off their back porch:

Back side of Boggy Creek Farm

For those of  you thinking, darn that tractor is in the way of the view, to me the tractor is one of the best parts of that view.  I’m an aspiring farm girl at heart, and I want it all, the shed, the chickens, the tractor, the home, and the fields of crops.   Some day.


No Grocery Store, day 83 March 26, 2010

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For breakfast, black coffee (still out of milk!) and a scrambled egg.  Lunch was 2 of the Kocurek’s new franks, some of their spicy mustard, and Full Quiver Cheddar.  Yum!  The franks have none of the squishy hot dog texture a grocery store has, but are meaty and wonderful, and of course made with Richardson pork and other local ingredients.  Their mustard is amazing as well.  I have Friday night party plans, so I moved Family Dinner night to Thursday and we ate at Eddie V’s, my dad’s favorite spot.  I had grouper, asparagus, and salad.

The Truck Farm Farmer’s Market was hopping and had some new vendors.  One notable vendor, Humble House Foods, a couple from San Antonio making cheese.  They had a Camembert that was wonderful.  There was also a Chocolate vendor, Art Y Chocolate, I think.  I didn’t try any, but it looks great.  Springfield Farms, had loads of gorgeous lettuce, spring onions, cilantro and broccoli.  I love those folks, great people.  I got some Moroccan lamb rillettes from Kocurek Family Charcuterie, some amazing cut flowers from Blue House (Suzie is awesome!) and of course, Kelly Jo’s Cilantro Salsa.  I’m very much looking forward to milk at the market on Saturday.


Zilker Garden Festival this Weekend

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This weekend is the Zilker Garden Festival!  Lots of plants, gardened themed items, refreshment vendors, talks and fun things to do.  At Zilker Botanical Gardens, on Barton Springs, Saturday and Sunday at 10:00 a.m.  Lots of fun in a wonderful setting.  For the deets, go here:


Interview for Austin American Statesman March 24, 2010

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I was interviewed for an article profiling my garden company (Austin Urban Gardens) and one other yesterday.  I don’t take the Statesman, because I’m not really a sit down, be still and read for a while kind of gal, although I’d love to be.  I think the article likely will be in the Saturday gardening section, but I don’t know when.  If you happen to catch it, please holler so I can check it out.  I found out about my last mention in the Statesman from a neighbor, and had no idea.  Our website was down being worked on that day, so way to screw that up.  Thanks!


What Does Eating Local Mean?

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My friend Kristi Willis, a foodie and farmer’s market afficianado,  has written an intelligent and informed post about eating local, and the myths of some “farmer’s market stores.”  Read it here.

I agree with her wholeheartedly, and also have begun to wonder about some of the restaurants that tout their buying locally sourced goods status.  I understand that no restaurant can source all of its products locally, few folks would eat there, because the variety would be lacking, as it is in my diet.  Some do better than others.  Investigation will ensue.


No Grocery Store, Days 81 and 82

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I’ve gotten behind again.  Spring is a busy time for Austin Urban Gardens.  And I have the tennis elbow to prove it.  Why does something always  hurt?  I guess that’s just my old age.

So, Day 81, I had a breakfast casserole/hash thingy I made the night before with Kocurek chicken sausage, the rest of the anaheim peppers from the market, and some spring onions from Springdale Farms, with salsa from Kelly Jo’s from the Truck Farm market.  Lunch in the car racing to job way North, was 2 Thunderheart bison jerkys.  When I eat protein for breakfast, I’m really still full at lunch.  Dinner was leftover chicken, Lowell Farm’s white jasmine rice (I’m out of brown), garden broccoli, and a small garden salad.  I’m getting tired of lettuce, but don’t want to waste it!

Day 82, today, I had more breakfast casserole/hash thingy – so easy to just heat, eat and run.  I took my employee to lunch on the way to an installation job, at Cipollina on West Lynn.  My lunch was Ceasar salad with Amador Farms lettuce, and Dewberry Farms Chicken.  I suspect the parmesan was from Brazos Valley, because they get lots of cheese from there, but I failed to ask.   This place does one of the most complete local sourcing jobs of most of the restaurants in town.  And their food has greatly improved from this move.    Love.  Dinner was a BLTS, (bacon, lettuce, tomato salad) with garden lettuce, Kocurek bacon, market hothouse tomatoes, grated Full Quiver cheddar, and Kelly Jo’s cilantro dressing.  I finally made it to the Triangle in time to buy food today.  I’ve missed the market a few times due to garden work.  I came home with Kocurek bacon, crawfish boudin, and potted lamb.  They will have lamb rillettes that I tasted tonight at the downtown market.  Seriously good.  I got some Thunderheart steaks and jerky, and some Elevated Artisinal feta.

I’m sure those of you that read my no grocery store posts, have noticed that my food is mundanely simple.  It doesn’t have to be, I’m just overly busy right now and too tired to be creative with food after a long day of physical labor.  I want to make more interesting food with what I have available, I’m just not inspired to cook much after shoveling soil for hours.  I’m bored too, so I need to try to be better about cooking and creating good food.  I ordered some Chorizo Salt, Truffle Salt, and more Lowell Farms Brown Jasmine Rice today.  Looking forward to all of the above.

Sweet, I’m caught up.  I hope it doesn’t hail with the storm on its way, because my garden  is fully planted with tender vegetable transplants, and I’m tired.  Fingers crossed.  I need to go check the weather.  Yikes, its already here!


Spring Garden, 2010 March 23, 2010

Much of the excitement in my garden is from things I planted in the winter, for harvest in Spring.  I’m excited to get tomatoes and peppers in , but the real excitement is for the strawberries which look amazing, and look like they will provide a bountiful harvest.

Strawberry patch The onions present a challenge for me year after year, because I’m an impatient gardener and really want to know what’s going on under the soil where I can’t see.  So, I always pull one up early.  This is fine, as they are just immature onions, or Spring onions, but my goal is to maximize my harvest, so I need to wait another 6 weeks or so.


Spring onion

I am a sucker for two things, plants already growing food, and plants closer to bearing fruit than mine.  Hence, this cheat of a tomato plant I picked up at Sledd Nursery yesterday, because it was covered with flowers.  It’s a Celebrity.

Cheater tomato plant

I still have lettuce coming out my ears, and it needs to be eaten soon, before it gets much warmer.


I’m headed outside right now to water, plant more peppers and tomatoes, and corn and turtle  beans.  The corn and beans are new for me.  I’ll keep ya’ll posted.


No Grocery Store, Day 80

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For breakfast yesterday, I had a scrambled egg plain and black coffee, as I am out of milk.  Bummer, no milk until Saturday unless I can squeeze in a trip to Boggy Creek tomorrow before my garden installation.  Lunch was a Thunderheart beef jerky.  Dinner was to be leftover chicken, but my friends Christian,  who makes amazing food, keeps track of the Austin food scene, and takes amazing photographs,  ( and Jamie Bowers, gardener and maker of exquisite jewelry, ( were heading to Jeffrey’s and invited me to tag along.  I did, and we had some amazing food in the bar.  Thumblina salad, oysters 2 ways, pommes frites, and pork belly soft bun.  Jeffrey’s is listed on Boggy Creek’s website as one of the few restaurants that sources locally, shopping at Boggy Creek twice a week.  That warmed my heart.