Archive for the ‘Veggies & Edibles’ Category

Small-Space Vegetable Gardens: the book

Small-Space Vegetable Gardens

Hello friends. Happy New Year.

I have good news! With the start of the new year comes the launch of Small-Space Vegetable Gardens: Growing Great Edibles in Containers, Raised Beds, and Small Plots.

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 from Edible Vancouver: In Anticipation of Summer
Andrea Bellamy |


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.

Read the rest of the article on the Edible Vancouver website.

Photo credit:


The latest from Edible Vancouver: The Virtuous Vegetable
Andrea Bellamy |


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.

Read the rest of the article on the Edible Vancouver website.

Photo credit: Sue Salisbury.


The Latest from Edible Vancouver: Nurturing Neighbourhoods
Andrea Bellamy |

Mrs. Mie Ma

Mie Ma is my new neighbour. Meet her in “Nurturing Neighbourhoods: It’s as Simple as Sharing.”

Hey there.

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.

Instead, I’ll just say happy (almost) spring! And share this article with you. It’s called “Nurturing Neighbourhoods,” and it’s my latest article from Edible Vancouver. Enjoy.


The latest from Edible Vancouver: Making Friends with Favas
Andrea Bellamy |

crimson-flowered favas

Crimson-flowered favas

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.


The latest from Edible Vancouver: Hardy and Uncommon Fall Greens
Andrea Bellamy |

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!


Harvesting and cooking with garlic scapes
Andrea Bellamy |

garlic scapes - growing

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.

garlic scapes - clipping

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.

Want to try your hand at growing garlic? Check out my article on successful garlic planting and growing.


The latest from Edible Vancouver: It’s a Snap
Andrea Bellamy |

Beans growing up a trellisThe latest Edible Vancouver is out, and with it, my article: “It’s a Snap: Bean Basics.” Beans really are incredibly easy to grow, and you probably don’t need me to tell you how. But if you’re looking for reassurance, check it out for the lowdown on how-when-where of bean growing, as well as tips on what to do in your garden now. Happy almost-summer!


The latest from Edible Vancouver: Salad Days
Andrea Bellamy |

Garden Babies butterhead lettuce

The latest Edible Vancouver is out, and with it, my article: “Salad Days.” Check it out for tips on what to plant now through late summer for a continuous supply of fresh lettuce and salad greens. Happy Spring!

Photo: Jackie Connelly.


How to grow leeks and make potato leek soup
Andrea Bellamy |

potatoes, leeks, and garlic

Every month, Heavy Petal collaborates with Willowtree — a website for those with food sensitivities who want to find their culinary bliss — to bring you a celebration of an in-season edible. I’ll tell you how to grow it; they’ll tell you how to eat it. Yay!

Although spring feels like it’s just around the corner, it’s still wet and chilly enough for me to be craving comfort foods like soup and starches. This classic soup serves up both in no time flat.

Potato Leek Soup

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Makes: Four servings


1/2 large red onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, chopped
splash of extra virgin olive oil
2 large russet potatoes
2 large leeks
6 cups of organic vegetable or chicken stock
salt & pepper to taste
white truffle oil


In a large pot combine red onion, garlic, and olive oil over medium heat. Continuously stir until onion is translucent, about 5-6 minutes, being careful not to let the garlic burn.

Chop your potatoes in quarters. Chop the whites of your leeks, including about a inch of the green portion. Add the potatoes, leeks and stock of choice to your pot and gently give everything a stir.  Let simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally until potatoes are soft (stick a fork in one to test).

Blend with hand mixer until desired consistency is reached; the potatoes will keep this a thicker soup, but ideally you want to blend until everything is entirely pureed.

Add salt & pepper to taste, and a small splash of white truffle oil as a garnish in each individual bowl for a special occasion (or because you’re a truffle oil addict, like Jackie).

Serve hot, or keep in the fridge to easily warm up for the following days lunches.

potato leek soup

How to grow leeks:

Frost-hardy leeks are the rock stars of the winter garden. Start them indoors in early spring (or purchase seedlings) and transplant them out after the last frost. Leeks want full sun and fertile soil. Plant seedlings in furrows, burying them to just below the first leaf. The furrow will fill in over the season, blanching the bottom of the leek stalk and giving it its familiar white colour and mild flavour. Harvest when stems are 1cm thick or larger. If the ground’s not frozen, you can harvest them all winter long!


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