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.

April 5th, 2012 | COMMENTS (4)

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

Ingredients:

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

Method:

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!

February 4th, 2012 | COMMENTS (10)

The latest from Edible Vancouver: A Reformed Slacker’s Guide to Garden Planning
Andrea Bellamy |

Once the holiday rush has rushed by, maybe we’ll have time to dream of spring and new gardens. Plan yours with help from my latest Edible Vancouver article, “A Reformed Slacker’s Guide to Garden Planning.”

December 23rd, 2011 | COMMENTS (7)

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

Ingredients:

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.’

November 27th, 2011 | COMMENTS (11)

Stuff a stocking with Sugar Snaps and Strawberries

Looking for the perfect gift for everyone on your list? I have just the thing.

Use Sugar Snaps and Strawberries: Simple Solutions for Creating Your Own Small-Space Edible Garden as your inspiration and “cornerstone” gift. Of course the book (and by extension, you!) will be adored and appreciated all on its own, but you could take it a step further and personalize it with one or more of the following tokens to really make hearts swell.

Here’s the formula: Sugar Snaps and Strawberries + personal token = holiday bliss.

Sugar Snaps and Strawberries was written with the novice gardener in mind. It’s perfect for those who are interested in trying their hand at growing their own herbs, fruits, or vegetables (and, frankly, these days, who isn’t?) or anyone who’d like some winter eye candy. But it’s not just for gardeners. It’s for food lovers, entertainers, the health- and eco-conscious…guys, gals, young and old. Pair it with…

For new or aspiring gardeners


  • A high-quality hand tool like the Cobrahead weeder and cultivator: a great, multi-purpose hand tool that I use for nearly all my garden tasks (digging, planting, weeding) and is built to last.
  • A colourful pair of gardening gloves. Some people go for leather, but I prefer flexible nitrile for the West Coast’s wet soil. Atlas is my preferred brand—cheap and cheerful!
  • Plant labels. Essential for marking rows and containers.

I love the idea of packaging these items together with a few packets of vegetable seeds in a cute little gardening trug or harvest basket.

For the eco-conscious


  • A compost keeper to hold kitchen scraps – odorlessly – until it’s time for the trip to the compost bin.
  • Reusable hemp produce bags to store garden- or farmer’s market-fresh produce.
  • A bat house. For our mosquito-eating friends.

For the dude


For the design-savvy


For the hostess


For the foodie


For the health-conscious

November 22nd, 2011 | COMMENTS (5)

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!)

Ingredients:
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

Method:
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.

October 18th, 2011 | COMMENTS (7)

Check it out: Leaf Magazine
Andrea Bellamy |

Leaf Magazine preview issue cover featuring a garden designed by Topher Delaney and photographed by Saxon Holt.

Today marks the launch of Leaf Magazine, a brand-spanking-new digital publication created by fellow garden bloggers Susan Cohan (Miss Rumphius’ Rules) and Rochelle Greayer (Studio G).

The free (yes, free!) publication is focused on “Design Outside and Outdoor Style,” and despite the already-overwhelming number of garden- and design-related blogs and magazines I subscribe to, I’m pretty stoked about Leaf. It’s not just that Susan and Rochelle have amazing design sense and style (which they do), but also that they’ve set their sights high. Really high. Leaf‘s mission statement includes this fabulous line: “Leaf Magazine operates at the intersection of great design and the great outdoors.” (Trademark that one, ladies. Love it!)

They’re aiming for “a fresh approach to outdoor style that is both aspirational and accessible,” thank goodness. I hope to see some ideas and products that are truly affordable for those of us with more dreams than dough.

Sign up for your free subscription here.

October 17th, 2011 | COMMENTS (1)

How to make a DIY seed packet

If you’ve ever wanted to save seeds from your garden for next year, now’s the time. Many vegetable, flower, and herb seeds are easy to save, and they make great gifts when packaged up in a pretty little seed packet. Here’s how:

Step one: Collect seed heads or pods from the plants you wish to save. Choose the healthiest and heartiest of your plants; no point in perpetuating a dud! Poppies, calendula, nigella, beans, peas, tomatoes, peppers, lettuce, dill, and cilantro all have easy-to-save seeds.

Step two: Download a free, pretty seed packet template, like the one on my freebies page, print it out (plain ol’ 8.5″ x 11″ printer paper is fine), and cut along the solid lines.

Step three: Fold along the dotted lines and get out your glue stick. Glue all but the top flap.

Step four: Write the seed info on the packet. Sort your seeds on a piece of paper, removing any debris. Use the paper to create a funnel and tip the seeds into the packet.

Step five: Seal the packet and store in a cool, dry place. Or give as a gift. Ta da!

October 10th, 2011 | COMMENTS (1)

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?

October 7th, 2011 | COMMENTS (1)

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. DIG DEEPER…

October 2nd, 2011 | COMMENTS (6)


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