Have you subscribed to the Living Homegrown Podcast yet? If you’re interested in homesteading, canning, preserving, or gardening, it’s an absolute must. Masterfully produced and hosted by Teresa Loe, one of the loveliest people I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing, the Living Homegrown Podcast is all about living “farm fresh without the farm.” Just like Teresa’s blog, it’s interesting, informative, and a lot of fun. Teresa is super knowledgeable on everything from cheese making and fermenting to chicken keeping and edible landscaping.
That’s right: a new book! Well, sort of. Let me explain.
Small-Space Vegetable Gardens is designed to give you all the information–and inspiration–you need to start your first (or second, or tenth) edible garden. It focuses on successful container gardening, but as the subtitle suggests, it also covers other small-space gardening options such as raised beds. It’s truly a great growing guide, full of amazing photographs and practical advice.
Sound a lot like my first book? It is. Think of it as a Sugar Snaps and Strawberries redux. Not quite a sequel, not a second edition, Small-Space Vegetable Gardens has an interesting backstory.
After Sugar Snaps and Strawberries was published and the initial flurry of book touring and promoting passed, I had several conversations with the wonderful Juree Sondker, acquiring editor at Timber Press, about a possible second book. For a couple of years, we went back and forth with different ideas, but nothing really stuck. Looking back, I know my head wasn’t in the game. I was exhausted. Writing another book was, frankly, beyond my emotional capacity.
Then, in June 2013, Juree approached me with a new idea. Timber Press wanted to revise and re-release Sugar Snaps and Strawberries. While the content of the book remained relevant and engaging, Juree said, the team felt the packaging (title, design, photos) didn’t accurately reflect the hard-working, practical nature of the content.
Juree proposed that we tighten up and repackage the text from Sugar Snaps and make it a practical and timeless reference on edible gardening in small spaces. How could I say no?
While I was (and remain) very proud of my first book, I was also happy to change it up, and more than happy to ditch the title. (To me, Sugar Snaps and Strawberries always sounded more like a tea shop than a gardening book.)
We got to work. The incredible Julie Talbot was assigned as editor, and began to look at the manuscript with a critical eye, removing things that just weren’t all that suited to really small spaces, while asking me to expand the sections on small-space gardening techniques and growing options. To provide just a couple of examples: we added quick-reference helpers such as a troubleshooting guide and a month-by-month planting chart, and removed the section on making seed bombs (while fun to make, seed bombs aren’t the most effective way of starting edibles). In short, the text is concise yet jam-packed with relevant and useful instruction. Hardworking, as Juree would say.
Visually, Small-Space Vegetable Gardens also looks brand new. Obviously, it’s got a new, straightforward title. And I’d say about half of the photos are new, showing many more garden settings and designs, providing the reader with practical inspiration. The book design makes the information accessible and easy to find, which is everything you want in a reference book, right?
I am so grateful for Julie and Juree’s thoughtful insights on the manuscript. Thank you for everything, ladies, and thanks to everyone at Timber who contributed.
I also want to thank anyone who’s come out to listen to a talk, emailed me a gardening question, or reviewed my book. In Small-Space Vegetable Gardens, I was able to incorporate feedback received over the past few years, as well as everything learned from chatting with people at workshops and gardening events. Your questions–about things like growing edibles in shade and vertical gardening–have been answered in this book.
I’ve always loved fresh starts. The chance to improve, the possibility of doing better. Maybe that’s why I’ve always liked New Years. It’s definitely part of why spring and the start of a new gardening season is my favourite time of year. So it seems fitting that at the start of 2015, I’m writing about a fresh start. I hope you’ll take a moment to check out Small-Space Vegetable Gardens. And as always, let me know what you think.
The latest Edible Vancouver is out, and with it, “In Anticipation of Summer,” my article on peaks and valleys, and the inevitable excesses of summer. It’s my favourite Edible Gardens column yet. I’d love you to read it and let me know what you think. Here’s a teaser:
There’s a rule among gardeners that no matter when someone visits your garden, it always looked better the week before. The week before, the roses were in full bloom. The week before, the mustard greens weren’t riddled with flea beetle buckshot. The week before, the weeds hadn’t yet surpassed the growth of your plants.
The latest Edible Vancouver is out, and with it, “The Virtuous Vegetable,” my article on getting drunk in Athens and my stint as a holier-than-thou vegetarian. It’s also about kale. Here’s a teaser:
I had a run-in with vegetarianism that started during tenth grade and ended, abruptly, in front of a fried-chicken counter in Athens. (It was carnival. There had been retsina.) Months later, back at university, I promised myself I’d once again forswear meat. And this time I’d do it right: I’d break my dependence on peanut butter and banana, mac and cheese. I’d actually eat—gasp!—vegetables.
I know it’s been a little — okay, very — quiet over here. Most of you probably gave up checking in months ago in favour of pinning cute earrings on Pinterest and obsessively checking Instagram. I know I have. You can’t spend all day online, after all. So to save all of us the time, I’m not going to get into why I’ve been a bad blogger, or promise to write more, or say any of the things I’d typically say when returning to my blog after a long absence.
The latest Edible Vancouver is out, and with it, “Making Friends with Favas,” my article on growing and enjoying fava beans. Favas (aka broad beans) are one of the few things you can actually sow in November. Plant ’em now for a spring harvest.
After a gloriously long summer (we had our longest dry spell in over a hundred years), autumn has finally arrived in Vancouver. While most of the active planting and harvesting is over til spring (garlic and favas excepted), there’s still lots to be done in the garden.
We recently moved from our townhouse into a house (yay!), and our new street is lined with gorgeous old oak trees (double yay!). For the first time in my adult life, I’ve got leaves to rake (not sure whether I’m yay or nay about that task yet. It’s still new. Although I do know it means no more collecting bags of leaves from the neighbours for the compost!). Which means I need a rake.
Enter the Enviro leaf rake from Garant. Made with 25 percent recycled plastic and a handle made from Forest Stewardship Council-certified, sustainably-harvested wood, Garant claims a 14 percent reduction in manufacturing-related greenhouse gas emissions on this rake, shown above, compared to similar products made with virgin materials. This is a basic lightweight, flexible rake with a comfortable grip. It does the job nicely. No frills, but just enough thrill.
With all the renovations we’re doing (draintile, anyone?) I’ve also found the Garant Enviro square point shovel, shown above, helpful for moving quantities of sand and gravel. The shovel features the same handle design as does the Enviro rake, as well as a 20 percent recycled steel blade.
Another Garant product I’m enjoying is the Tubby, a flexible, lightweight tub that has seemingly endless uses. I use it as my weeding bucket, for holding grass clippings and leaves, and as a catchall for cleaning up the kidlet’s outdoor toys. It comes in 26L and 40L sizes and a ton of bright, fun colours. I could also see this used as the basket in a garden-themed gift basket, in kids’ rooms, or filled with ice and beers at a summer barbecue.
Garant products are affordably priced (under $20) and made in Canada to boot.
Full disclosure: Garant provided me with samples of the above products for review purposes. I was not financially compensated for this post. The opinions are completely my own based on my experience with these products.
The latest Edible Vancouver is out, and with it, my article: “Hardy and Uncommon Fall Greens,” which is, you know, all about fall greens. In it, I provide tips on growing kale, collards, and arugula – the fall salad garden’s usual suspects – but also some of the lesser-known greens: claytonia, mache, and komatsuna, to name a few. Check it out – and plant a fall salad garden of your own!
Does your garlic look like this? Like it’s decided to shed its trustworthy girl-next-door image in favour of something a little more loose and blowzy?
Don’t worry: it’s cool. Just means it’s garlic scape time. If you planted a hardneck variety of garlic last fall, you’ll see a looping central stalk emerging right about now. Those stalks are called scapes, and they’re delicious steamed, stir-fried, or—my personal favourite—made into a pesto.
Instead of letting the scapes form a bulbil, lop them off just above the topmost leaf: not only can you eat them, but losing the scape forces the plant’s energy into producing a bigger bulb.
Ta-da! A garlic scape harvest (and all from a container on my balcony). There are about 10 scapes here: the perfect number for whizzing in the food processor with a little olive oil, Parmesan, and nuts (I use pine nuts or walnuts). Toss over warm new potatoes, or stir into pasta. Perfect.