Archive for the ‘Veggies & Edibles’ Category

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!


How to grow kale and make a kale smoothie
Andrea Bellamy |

curly kale

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!

If you haven’t already succumbed to kale’s seductions, now is the time to try it. This hardy, healthy leafy green can be found in gardens and markets throughout the fall and winter, and the Willowtree gals recommend trying it in a smoothie.

If the idea of a kale smoothie makes your gag reflex spasm, I do understand. Until very recently, I’d be right there with you, running for the bag of refined sugar. But then I tried this recipe, and not only is it tolerable, it’s good. I especially appreciate the license I feel it’s given me to eat like crap for the rest of the day.

Kale Smoothie

Cook Time: 10 mins
Makes: 2 cups


2 cups organic kale (ribs removed)
1/2 banana
1 apple (peeled & chopped)
1” piece of ginger, chopped
1/2 tsp raw organic agave syrup
1/2 cup almond milk

Method: Add all ingredients to food processor or blender; set on high and blend until smooth.

kale smoothie

How to grow kale

Kale should be a staple of every healthy-food-lover’s garden. It’s attractive, easy to grow, and frost tolerant (so makes a great winter-garden crop!). Plant in early spring and again in midsummer, harvesting outer leaves as the plants reach 4 in. (10cm) tall. Kale likes full sun and rich, fertile soil (though it will tolerate a little shade). Help it along with a nitrogen-rich organic fertilizer such as fish fertilizer. Kale will overwinter in all but the coldest climates; harvest all winter, then eat the flowers that emerge in spring. My favourite kales are ‘Lacinato’ (aka Black Tuscan, or Dinosaur kale) and ‘Red Russian.’


How to grow apples and make Apple Yam Soup
Andrea Bellamy |

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!

Every fall I look forward to seeing the first of the local apples appear at the market. Though they’re available year-round, there’s nothing quite like the first crisp, sweet-tart bite of a newly picked BC apple. This month’s recipe celebrates the notorious fruit.

Apple & Yam Soup

Makes: 8 servings
Cook Time: 1 hour (prep time only 15 minutes!)

1/4 cup butter or coconut oil
2 large yams, peeled and diced
3 large carrots, peeled and diced
2 in-season apples, peeled, cored, and diced
1 large white onion, chopped
2 inch piece ginger, grated
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp medium curry powder
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 cup red lentils (uncooked)
4 cups organic vegetable stock
1 cup water

In a large pot over medium heat, melt butter/coconut oil. Once melted add yams, carrots, apples and onion. Cook together for about 10 minutes until onions are translucent. Add ginger, salt & pepper, and spices. Stir mixture. Add dry, uncooked lentils and vegetable stock. Turn heat to high and let mixture come to a boil. Once boiled, turn heat to low and let simmer for 30 minutes, until vegetables are soft.

Remove pot from heat. Using a hand blender, puree the mixture until smooth (you can use a blender or food processor if you don’t have a hand blender), and if too thick, adding water to reach desired consistency. Once smooth, let the soup simmer for 10 minutes on low heat. Serve hot and enjoy!

How to grow apples

Start by choosing a variety that’s suitable for your area and needs (ask your local nursery for help). Some popular apple cultivars require a long stretch of cold weather to set fruit. Unless you have room for two trees (and since dwarf apple trees can be quite small, that’s certainly possible for many of us) choose a self-pollinating variety, or one that has multiple varieties grafted onto one root.

Apples prefer full sun and moist but free-draining soil. With the wide use of dwarfing rootstocks, many apples are small enough to be grown in containers, making them great options for small-space growing. In spring, mulch with compost and thin baby fruits as they develop. (Thinning reduces the risk of limbs breaking from the weight of the fruit. It also produces larger apples.) Harvest ripe apples in late summer or fall.


How to save tomato seeds
Andrea Bellamy |

Want to save tomato seeds for next year? Tomatoes are a great choice for beginning seed savers. Here’s how you can make sure you’ll never go another summer without a taste of your favourite variety.

As tomato season winds down (booo!), it’s time to think about saving the seeds of your favourites. Tomato plants that produced early, resisted disease, and had prolific and flavourful fruit are good candidates for seed saving.

You’ll also want to make sure that the plant is an open-pollinated variety, that is, one that is pollinated by wind or insects rather than deliberately cross-bred by a breeder. The latter type, known as hybrids, are marked F1 (“First Filial Hybrid”) on the seed packet (or sometimes on the label). Hybrids do not reproduce accurately from seed, so saving and growing their seeds is a bit of a crap-shoot. Heirloom varieties are always open-pollinated (OP), which is why they’ve been saved and passed down through the generations like granny’s silver.

After you’ve chosen your tomato, it’s time to save those seeds.

Step one: Slice the tomato width-wise (rather than through the stem) to expose the seeds.

Step two: Scoop out the seeds and surrounding gel using your finger or your favourite piece of cutlery. Or simply squeeze the contents of the tomato into a shallow bowl. Remove any large bits of tomato debris.

Now, this is where things get weird. Each tomato seed is protected by a jelly-like sack that prevents germination inside a ripe tomato. Only after a process of fermentation (which, in nature, would occur as ripe fruits dropped to the ground and rotted) is the gelatinous membrane destroyed, leaving it open for business. Of course, that means you have to ferment your seeds to make them viable, too. And that means you’re going to purposely let a bowl of tomato junk rot. It’s going to stink, so put it somewhere it’s not going to ruin your appetite.

Step three: After a couple days, the surface of your bowl will be covered with mold. Check it frequently; you don’t want to overferment or the seeds may begin to germinate.

Once the surface is entirely covered with gray or white fuzz, add water and mix well. Let it settle, then skim the mold and bad seeds off the top. Viable seeds will sink to the bottom.

Step four: Set your seeds to dry on a plate or tray in a well-ventilated area. Once they’re dry, why not make yourself a pretty little seed packet to store them in?


Lawns to Loaves wheat harvest

See that? That’s me, standing in my little urban wheat field just three and a half months after it was planted. Running my hands along the top of the spiny heads of golden wheat as I walked the rows. Living the dream, folks.

The whole process – of turning and prepping the soil, planting, weeding, and now, finally, harvesting – has been an incredible experience. This is perhaps overly simplistic, but I now have a much deeper appreciation for the work that goes into producing the grain we consume.



How to grow tomatoes and make tomato gazpacho
Andrea Bellamy |

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!

If your garden is like mine, it’s overflowing with tomatoes. It’s about this time of year I start looking for new tomato recipes. Thanks to the Willowtree gals, I’ve got a keeper.



Birrell garden at the Garden Blogger’s Spring Fling

In late July, I was lucky enough to meet up with 70 wonderful and somewhat crazed garden bloggers at the fourth annual Garden Blogger’s Fling, held this year in Seattle. Hosted by Lorene Edwards Forkner of Planted at Home, Marty Wingate of In the Garden with Marty Wingate, Outdoor Living Expert Debra Prinzing, and Mary Ann Newcomer of Gardens of the Wild Wild West, the Garden Blogger’s Fling was a four-day garden-touring, people-meeting, drink-swilling extravaganza. Good times.

We saw so many fantastic gardens during the Fling, but one my favourites was actually the very first. Belonging to Suzette Birrell and her husband Jim, this North Seattle garden stood out for me for a few reasons: it was personal (and infused with personality!). It was full of charming vignettes and subtle garden art without veering into kitsch or having the details overpower the garden as a whole. And it had the most fabulous vegetable garden.



How to grow potatoes and garlic and make Roasted Garlic and Potato Pizza
Andrea Bellamy |

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!

Until recently, I was a pizza purist, shunning over-the-top toppings in favour of a simple margherita or capricciosa. Then someone convinced me to try a slice of potato pizza, and I was hooked. And really, what’s not to like? Pizza and potatoes are perfect comfort foods, and together, they’re simply fabulous.

The Willowtree gals put their spin on potato pizza with this recipe (eggless, gluten-free crust optional) featuring two of summer’s garden stars: garlic, and of course, potato.

Roasted Garlic and Potato Pizza

Makes: one 10″ pizza

Cook Time: 1.5 hours for the pizza (includes dough rising time)


1 pizza crust (gluten-free folks, make Willowtree’s Eggless, Gluten Free Pizza Crust)

1 medium garlic bulb

1/3 large red onion, sliced and caramelized

1 medium Yukon gold potato, sliced thin

3-4 tbsp olive oil

coarse sea salt & pepper

fresh basil leaves, stems removed and roughly chopped



Orange nasturtiums and purple basil
Andrea Bellamy |

If there’s an upside to accidentally ripping out an entire climbing nasturtium, it’s that you’ll have a beautiful salad that night. A peppery, colourful, beautiful salad.


My edible balcony garden
Andrea Bellamy |

Here’s a peak at my third-floor veggie patch. It’s pretty utilitarian. There’s no room for a barbecue or even a chair. Heck, squeezing between the planters can be a challenge. But we’ve got other spaces for those fripperies. This balcony is dedicated to production. And boy, it’s productive. Everything is grown in containers, and this year, “everything” includes peas, beans, tomatoes, carrots, dill, basil, thyme, cucumbers, zucchini, poppies, nasturtiums, and a fig tree. All in a 4’x10′ space. I like it.


<< Newer Posts | Older Posts >>