What a gardener really wants for Valentine’s Day
Andrea Bellamy |

potato on valentine...

Forget the drugstore chocolate in the velvet heart, or even dinner at a swanky restaurant. What I want right about now are seeds. (When I think “Valentine’s Day,” I think, “time to plant peas!” not “better buy a card!”)

Here are my picks for some vegetable seeds that would make great Valentine’s Day gifts. No tacky stuffed animals required.

Who says practical can’t be romantic? If your love is of the puppy variety, buy your sweetie some Sweetie tomatoes, Blushing Beauty peppers, Tenderheart Sui Choi, or Cupid grape Tomatoes.

Want a little more sugar in your bowl? Try Sugar Daddy peas, Sugar Buns corn, or Sweet Mama squash.

Is your love the tempestuous type? Drunken Woman lettuce, and Passion or Obsession corn are perfect choices.

And if your lover doesn’t mind a little dirt under his or her nails (or in the bedroom), you’ve got to pick up some Quickie corn, Mr. Big peas, Fat n’ Sassy peppers, and Sweet Meat squash.

Don’t even get me started on the flowers you could buy.

Photo by lovelypetal on Flickr.

February 2nd, 2010 | COMMENTS (11)

Felted stone mat
Andrea Bellamy |

felted stone mat

Leave it to VivaTerra to carry this gorgeous felted stone mat by South African textile designer Ronel Jordaan. Made of 100% merino wool, I can just imagine how beautiful this would feel underfoot. Yum.

January 19th, 2010 | COMMENTS (6)

Bring on the birds
Andrea Bellamy |

Song Sparrow in the Snow

I love this time of year in the garden, when I don’t do much more than look out at it from the shelter of our cozy home. Birds definitely are the primary users of our garden during the winter; every morning there are at least a dozen hopping around the patio, examining the husks of sunflower seeds for any remaining nibbles, and jostling for a turn at the feeder.

I look forward to hanging my feeder in late autumn, because I know that the songbirds will soon appear. I don’t see them during the rest of the year. In summer–and spring, and fall–the only birds around here are urban scavengers: crows, pigeons, seagulls, starlings. But in winter, the chickadees and finches and little brown birds of unknown name arrive to feast.


This year, in addition to a little wooden feeder, I’ve been hanging dried sunflower heads, harvested in mid-autumn from my plot at the community garden. I hung them to dry inside for a month or so before hanging them in the hornbeam on our back patio. The birds seem to dig them.

Top photo by Noel Zia Lee via Flickr.

January 14th, 2010 | COMMENTS (4)

My first week on the Cure, plus some inspiration from Pad Outdoors

Pad Outdoor POD Aluminium Planters

My husband and I are attempting to (re)decorate our living room. (I’m not sure whether we’re decorating or redecorating. We’ve lived here for almost four years, and the living “room,” which is part of an open plan kitchen/dining/living space, is completely dysfunctional.)

As an attempt to finally wrangle the beast, I’m reading—and following—a book called Apartment Therapy: The Eight-Step Home Cure. It’s written by Maxwell Gillingham-Ryan, creator of the massively (and deservedly) successful Apartment Therapy blogs. It’s an  inspiring, energizing book that steers you through an eight-week rehab program for your home. (That’s right. I’m having an intervention with my living room.)

My goals?

1. Pull together the jumble of styles (mid-century modern meets what I can only describe as cabin chic… then they both meet toddler.)

2. Acquire some vital missing furnishings, such as the area rug (which we got rid of once we realized the deep, cream, wool shag was not compatible with ground-in bunny crackers), a decent lamp, and some art for the walls.

3. Be able to manage clutter better.

But this is a gardening blog. So why am I talking about home decor? Because I like these  Pod Aluminum Planters by Pad Outdoors and wanted to share them with you.

Pod Aluminum Planter grouping

Despite having no talent for houseplants, I would love to find a place for a really great-looking plant in my new living room. Obviously, choosing the right planter is key. A bit of a splurge at $175 each (and extra for the stands), these spun aluminum planters make me happy.  They’re going in my “style tray,” as the Apartment Therapy book prescribes.

There are so many great options for indoor plants/containers, so I’m going to continue to explore and share my discoveries/living room decor possibilities with you. Check back often this month, and help me create a home I love (please?!). I’ll be eternally grateful.

PS: Yes, I’ll post some “before” photos. Soon.

PSS: Check out my only other online foray into decorating with Lila’s nursery on Flickr.

January 4th, 2010 | COMMENTS (11)

The big reveal: announcing The Book

sneak peek at book photography

Posts were few and far between on Heavy Petal in 2009, and if you’re still reading, I’m grateful (and a little surprised!).

I was busy writing a book.

There, I said it. I’ve been afraid to mention it here in case I jinxed it, but I’m forcing myself to do it now. Kind of a start-the-new-year-off-with-a-bang thing.

The book is about gardening, of course. About growing organic edibles in small spaces, to be specific. I can’t give you a title, yet, but I can tell you this: the publisher is Timber Press, and it’s coming out in the fall.

Despite the neglected blog (you should see my home! Thank goodness my husband picked up the slack in the child rearing department), the days (and nights) spent hunched over my computer, poring over books, and attending photo shoots were (almost) entirely enjoyable.

I feel so incredibly grateful that I had the opportunity to write this book. To write about things I am passionate about. To be able to share, beyond this blog, my experience in growing food in the tiniest of spaces; on balconies, rooftops, and patios; in community garden plots, back alleys, and in all the rented apartments I’ve moved plants in and out of. I feel so lucky that my publisher saw something in this blog and asked me if I’d be into writing a book (my answer? Hell yes). I am grateful that they liked my ideas and believed in my vision for the book.

I’d like to thank all of you, my readers, for helping to make this happen. For the community created here, and for the endless inspiration you all provide. I couldn’t have done it without you. Oh, and, now that the manuscript is in the publisher’s hands, I promise I’ll have more time for Heavy Petal. Stay tuned. And have a fabulous 2010.

Photo credit: Jackie Connelly Photography. I am so fortunate that I was able to work with the fabulous Jackie Connelly on this project. Here’s a sneak peek at just one of the beautiful photographs appearing in the book.

January 1st, 2010 | COMMENTS (20)

Sneak peak at It’s Complicated kitchen garden
Andrea Bellamy |


Remodelista has a wonderful post up featuring the kitchen garden from the forthcoming movie, It’s Complicated (with the inimitable Meryl Streep). It’s all very idyllic in a potager-meets-Spanish-Colonial kind of way, and I want it desperately. Unfortunately, I don’t have the space (or the cash) but for those who do, Remodelista provides a simple breakdown of ways to steal the look. Check it out!

garden set up

December 17th, 2009 | COMMENTS (6)

Best gifts for gardeners 2009

Wait—how did it get to be December already? We just finished the Halloween candy.

Since there are obviously fewer minutes in an hour these days, I give thanks every time I click “add to cart” and check another name off my shopping list without setting foot in a mall. So here’s a little treat for you: a round-up of gifts any gardener would love. And they’re all available online.


The book vase by theshophouse has ferns and foliage tucked into its leaves ($44.00 on Etsy.com).


These lovely botanical screenprinted napkins by Bloomsong add a touch of rustic luxury to your table ($17.00 for two, on Etsy.com).

acorn necklace

This sweet sterling silver acorn necklace by GurKimel uses real acorns ($60.00 on Etsy.com).


The Cobrahead weeder and cultivator is a fantastic all-purpose hand tool that is great for small spaces (it also comes in a long-handled version). ($19.95 on Amazon.com.)


The Grobal self-watering container lets you go a week between watering. At this price, pick up a few to give as hostess, teacher, or babysitter gifts ($14.30 on Amazon.com).


Jane Joss turns fabric into fantastic foliage. I like this houndstooth fabric potted plant ($28.00 on Etsy.com).

felco pruners

Felco classic pruners. There’s a reason these hand pruners have “classic” in their name. Felco is the name in secateurs, and you’ll never regret the investment in this quality product. This is another gift that will last a lifetime ($43.18 on Amazon.com).

birdhouse stamp

This custom address birdhouse stamp by modernartstamps is a practical gift—yet one that is sure elicit smiles ($10.00 on Etsy).


Atlas gloves. Lightweight, breathable, and durable. What more could you need in an all-purpose glove? Great stocking stuffer. ($5.95 on Amazon.com)

December 6th, 2009 | COMMENTS (4)

I’m scaaary…to aphids
Andrea Bellamy |

Lady Lila

Only a gardener would dress their child as a beneficial insect. Happy Halloween!

October 30th, 2009 | COMMENTS (11)

All kind beans
Andrea Bellamy |

all beans are kind

You know, I tend to agree. All beans are kind. Especially Fortex. I’m still harvesting handfuls of this delicious French filet pole bean, and loving every morsel.

What were the standouts from your garden this summer?

September 30th, 2009 | COMMENTS (11)

Michael Pollan’s The Botany of Desire now on TV
Andrea Bellamy |

I recently had the opportunity to watch The Botany of Desire, a two-hour special that will premiere on PBS on October 28 at 8pm. You should make a note of that date, because you won’t want to miss this.

Subtitled “A Plant’s Eye View of the World,” The Botany of Desire is based on the best-selling Michael Pollan book of the same name. It examines the unique relationship between humans and plants, with the premise that plants use us for their purposes just as we use them. Linking our fundamental desires for sweetness, beauty, intoxication and control with the plants that gratify them — the apple, the tulip, marijuana, and the potato — The Botany of Desire shows that humans are intricately woven into the web of nature, not standing outside it, as so many of us like to believe.

This is a beautifully-shot film that is as fascinating as it is entertaining. Watch it on PBS on Wednesday, October 28 at 8pm, or buy it online.

September 24th, 2009 | COMMENTS (9)

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