Lawns to Loaves wheat field update

In May, along with some friends, I planted part of a City-owned lot with Red Spring wheat as part of Lawns to Loaves, an experiment in urban agriculture (a project, I’ll add, that has been quite controversial). The hubbub has subsided, but the grain’s still growing. Seven weeks later, we’ve got ourselves a wheat field.

The wheat is about three-and-a-half feet tall, or the approximate height of a toddler wearing a bike helmet.

Other than the initial toil involved, the field has been pretty low-maintenance. I haven’t watered once. I’ve kept the morning glory, creeping buttercup, knotweed, and burdock at bay — barely — by hand weeding every few weeks. I’ve never fertilized.

Next up: harvest, threshing, milling, and baking! I can almost taste that pizza.

For more information on this project, read my initial post, visit the Lawns to Loaves blog, or read these Globe and Mail articles here or here.

July 15th, 2011 | COMMENTS (2)

‘Sungold’ tomato
Andrea Bellamy |

‘Sungold’ tomato wins the Great First to Ripen Race of 2011. Growing alongside fellow hybrid ‘Super Bush’ as well as heirlooms ‘Black Krim’ and ‘Radiator Charlie’s Mortgage Lifter,’ this little orange cherry tomato easily beat out the pack in terms of earliness. Such an unexpected treat; who knew there had been enough sun to ripen anything?

Do you have ripe tomatoes? Which varieties are doing well for you?

July 14th, 2011 | COMMENTS (2)

How to grow radishes and make grilled tuna with radish salsa
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!

With such a slow start to summer and a spring that seemed to redefine “cool and damp,” the Willowtree gals and I had radishes coming out of our ears. I have to admit that I didn’t really mind when my last sowing of radishes bolted in the recent warmth; I’d long since grown tired of radish salads and salted radishes and… well, what else can you do with a radish?

If you’re Jackie and Tina, you make salsa. Read on for the recipe and growing tips. DIG DEEPER…

July 4th, 2011 | COMMENTS (0)

Growing mushrooms indoors using a kit
Andrea Bellamy |

Ever lamented the fact that you don’t have enough sun to grow food? Rejoice! There are edibles you can grow in shade—even indoors (and it’s definitely easier than making a mushroom log). Here’s how to grow mushrooms indoors using a mushroom kit.

Last month, on my birthday, I picked up a few things to make my favourite kind of lunch: a couple of gooey, stinky cheeses; a good, crusty baguette; some nice olives; paté; and an arugula salad tossed with balsamic and olive oil. And because it was my birthday, some bubbles.

While at Whole Foods, I noticed kits for growing oyster mushrooms indoors (by fresh-thinking Back to the Roots). They were compact, utilized recycled materials (used coffee grounds! Hello!), and (here’s what really got me) had irresistible packaging. So, because it was my birthday, I bought one. DIG DEEPER…

June 21st, 2011 | COMMENTS (6)

Oh, and peas
Andrea Bellamy |

Can’t believe I forgot to mention the peas! We have peas. Lots of ’em, in fact. These are ‘Sugar Ann,’ a snap pea that grows to about 2ft. tall (and thus doesn’t require staking. Yay!)

Are you growing peas this year? What are your favourite varieties?

And one more thing: Sugar Snaps! Yippee!

June 20th, 2011 | COMMENTS (8)

Now harvesting: mid-June 2011
Andrea Bellamy |

Last year I decided to introduce a series of blog posts I called “Now Harvesting.” Every week or two, I chronicled the food coming out of my garden. I thought it would be a good way to identify lulls; times when my garden wasn’t producing to its full potential. It would, I thought, help me become a better planner, and thus, grow more food.

Um…yeah. It’s a good idea in theory.

Unfortunately, I don’t think better planning could have helped my garden during this dismal spring. Lack of sunlight and warmth conspired to keep even the coolest of the cool-season edibles stunted and sad.

But things are looking up! I’ve been harvesting arugula and radishes for a couple of weeks, and now the lettuce is really starting to put in some effort.

Funnily enough, this time last year my Now Harvesting post didn’t look all that different than this: greens and radishes. The only difference was that I’d been eating them for at least a month. This? This was my first homegrown salad of 2011. And damn, it was good.

Now harvesting: ‘Red Sails’ lettuce, ‘Garden Ferns’ heirloom Italian lettuce, arugula (leaves and flowers), ‘French Breakfast’ radishes.

What are you harvesting now?

June 16th, 2011 | COMMENTS (4)

Fresh from the garden: How to grow rhubarb and make a yummy rhubarb apple crumble
Andrea Bellamy |

I’m thrilled to announce a new monthly feature on Heavy Petal: a collaboration between me and Willowtree, a beautiful and informative website created by my friend Jackie Connelly (the woman behind the gorgeous photographs in Sugar Snaps and Strawberries) and her sister, Tina.

“Willowtree provides information and inspiration to people with all types of food sensitivities and intolerances to help them live a hopeful, healthy and informed life,” write Jackie and Tina. “We have been struggling with food sensitivities for most of our lives. We are first-hand, front line, food sensitivity mavens.”

But despite catering to some very specific dietary needs, Willowtree isn’t a niche site. Jackie and Tina believe in eating whole foods—“local where possible, and organic if given the choice.” And that’s something I think we can all get behind.

Here’s how the feature works: Jackie, Tina and I will choose an in-season ingredient to profile. I’ll tell you how to grow it; they’ll tell you how to eat it. Fun, right?

Right now, we’re harvesting armloads of crispy rhubarb from our gardens, and while I’m freezing most of mine to pair with this summer’s strawberries in jams and pies, the Willowtree girls are already turning this delicious spring vegetable (yes, vegetable!) into Apple Rhubarb Crumble. Read on for the recipe and growing tips. DIG DEEPER…

June 3rd, 2011 | COMMENTS (4)

Lawns to Loaves: growing grain in the city!
Andrea Bellamy |

A few years ago, I became fascinated by the idea of growing grain. I explored small-space grain production, saw first hand how a community garden had integrated a grain-growing project into an attractive edible landscape, and pored over Small-Scale Grain Raising, Gene Logsdon’s classic text on small-space grains. But all my research didn’t change the fact that I couldn’t start even a teeny plot of wheat on my balcony. In fact, none of my many garden spaces was all that practical for growing grain. But the idea of a pocket-sized prairie has stuck with me, maybe because, with my feet firmly rooted on the West Coast (and, let’s face it, the city), I’ve never seen a wheat field up close. In my (fantasy-prone) brain, the iconic wheat field is romantic, wistful, sublime. (Prairie folk, please don’t disillusion me.)

So when I heard about Lawns to Loaves, an experiment in small-space urban grain growing, I jumped at the chance to participate. Lawns to Loaves is the brainchild of Chris Hergesheimer, aka the Flour Peddler. Vancouverites might know him as the guy who mills flour on a stationary bicycle (really!) and sells his whole wheat flours at farmer’s markets around the Lower Mainland and on the Sunshine Coast. DIG DEEPER…

May 26th, 2011 | COMMENTS (19)

Making seed bombs on TV
Andrea Bellamy |

I appeared on entertainment talk show Urban Rush yesterday, and showed hosts Michael and Fiona how to make seed bombs. Check it out!

May 10th, 2011 | COMMENTS (4)

Urbio Vertical Garden
Andrea Bellamy |

From hanging baskets to Woolly Pockets, green walls to palette gardens, vertical gardening is hot. (Just flip through the inspirational Garden Up! by Susan Morrison and Rebecca Sweet to get a sense of how many options there are for smart use of vertical space.)

I recently came across a vertical gardening concept different than anything I’ve seen so far. It’s called Urbio, and it’s a sleek-and-modern-looking system of magnetic pots that, according to the designer, “will help us transform any wall or ferrous surface into a beautiful vertical garden.”

Urbio is comprised of a team of designers lead by Beau Oyler and Jared Aller of Enlisted Design and Tim Cui of Volare Studio, and they are currently on Kickstarter, a crowd-sourced funding platform for creative projects. As of posting, 574 backers had pledged $52,816 toward making the Urbio concept a reality.

Intrigued, I asked creator Beau Oyler for the details on Urbio:

Heavy Petal: Enlisted Design, your product design studio, has a wide range of clients—not just the gardening industry. How did Urbio come about? What inspired the design?
Beau: I’ve lived in apartments, condos, and last year, finally bought a 1014sf house. Everywhere I’ve lived, I grown something. Whether it was herbs in a cup on the window mantle or a potted garden on the porch, I’ve found a place to grow herbs, veggies, flowers, etc. Urbio is the solution I needed all along. Once the idea was expressed, the design team branched out to urban gardeners in their sphere of influence and questioned the concept. Their findings and our design and development skills combined to create a fun product!

Each pot is made of eco-plastic and is equipped with large neodymium magnets that are strong enough to hold almost anything to the wall, or to each other. Stick ’em together for a neat vase or centerpiece. DIG DEEPER…

April 28th, 2011 | COMMENTS (4)

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