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I wrote a book about preserving food. The same step-by-step instruction and full-color photos you find in my blog. Buy it at Yes, You Can 

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Amazon.com is a terrific source for certified organic seeds intended for home sprouting. Dress up salads, stir-fry, sandwiches, spreads, and other dishes with homegrown sprouts of all kinds. Follow this link to order your sampler or to find home sprouting kits.

 

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Posts Tagged ‘friends’

Small Kitchen Garden: The Friend Maker

Your Small Kitchen Garden catches up with even more posts about what went on in the garden this season while the kitchen gardener (Daniel) was busy writing his book Yes, You Can! And Freeze and Dry it, Too.

When I first photographed this small kitchen garden, it held mature vegetable plants of many varieties along with a whole bunch of weeds. For a household of one, the garden was pleasingly overplanted (always plant too much so you have produce to share).

A Kitchen Garden Photo Session

I’ve spoken a few times about a man I met in 2009 when I spotted his small kitchen garden and asked whether he’d let me photograph it for my blog. In the summer of 2009, this man had a somewhat weedy planting bed supporting mature tomatoes, greens, beets, summer squash, and asparagus. I tried to add depth to my photo of this planting bed by capturing a heavily-laden grape arbor in the foreground.

During my photo shoot which, sadly, I tried to complete on a heavily overcast day, this friendly old man shared stories about his gardening and his family. Turns out that his wife had cooked rhubarb into treats, but since she’d died he had no further interest in the plants. The enormous bed of asparagus apparently had fed his family, but now produced so many shoots that he’d harvest and compost them to keep the plants producing for his occasional meals into the summer.

Kitchen Gardening Twilight

Some chard growing in my new friend’s garden begged me to get artsy with my camera. Sadly, the light wasn’t so good that day, so there weren’t many reasonable shots from which to choose.

This nice man told me he planned to remove his rhubarb plants, so I offered to do the job for him in exchange for the plants. I returned in the spring, moved the plants to my garden, and reported about my experience in a post titled Small Kitchen Garden Rhubarb Project.

To thank my new gardening friend, I baked and delivered a strawberry-rhubarb pie. After a short chat at the front door, he invited me around to the planting bed where he explained that he just couldn’t get motivated to plant a garden this year. Strawberries were in season, but he’d planted nothing yet.

So I asked whether he wanted a garden; of course he did.

The Two-Hour Kitchen Garden

My friend’s soil was in spectacular condition. In less than two hours we’d planted climbing beans along the back fence, set six tomato plants, as many pepper plants, broccoli and cauliflower seedlings, and a few hills of winter squash. As we packed up our tools, I told my fried that he was responsible for weeding.

This had been the season of too many. I had ended up with double the tomato and pepper seedlings I’d planned, and I had broccoli and cauliflower plants that simply weren’t going to fit in my garden. As well, I had bought extra lima bean and string bean seeds… and quite a few butternut squash seeds.

I also had kids (still have them, come to think of it). They agreed to go with me and plant a garden appropriate for a bachelor.

The planting bed had spent winter and early spring under black plastic. We were able to peel back the plastic and, with very little digging, raking, or hoeing, plant all the seeds and seedlings we’d taken along with us. I used several stakes from my garden to erect a trellis for the tomato plants, and we covered as much soil as we could with black plastic. We finished the job in about two hours.

Kitchen Garden Challenges

I visited about a month later and found the garden was way, way behind my own. I had watered during an early dry spell, and my friend had not. Worse: a woodchuck had dined on beans and broccoli before my friend had captured it and released it many miles outside of town.

I meant to visit one more time in the fall, but that clearly isn’t going to happen. Still, I’ll check in mid-winter so I’ll know whether to start extra seeds for my friend’s 2011 small kitchen garden. My kids clearly don’t like gardening, but I think they’ll be willing to chip in if we can finish the job in under two hours.

Call To Action

I posted this story before I went to bed early on Saturday morning. As I woke up later that day it occurred to me: I should have encouraged the world to act! Here’s an amendment to the story.

Please help in an aged neighbor’s vegetable garden! It’s likely there are hundreds of thousands of aging gardeners who lack the energy or motivation to plant the family vegetable patch. Find one and extend an offer to help! We spent just TWO HOURS to plant in a well-established bed. For that, a lonely, pleasant, and very appreciative old man had a season’s fresh vegetables that called back decades of produce he’d grown with his family.

It was a simple, painless gesture that I’d love to see repeated by my gardening friends all over the world.

 

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Excursion from my Small Kitchen Garden

Daughter on Rock

My daugher and I attended a tweetup of garden writers, landscapers, and other enthusiasts in upstate New York. On the way, we stopped for a day of rock climbing in the Gunks. That’s my daughter about 35 feet up the cliff face on our second climb of the day.

My small kitchen garden is a busy place in mid spring, and I hate to travel during this critical time of year. However, the announcement came out recently across my online social network: come to a tweetup in upstate New York.

I couldn’t pass up this opportunity to meet in-person the people with whom I interact regularly on blogs, Twitter, and Facebook. Some I had met last autumn, and looked forward to seeing again. Others I’d not met in person, but I enjoy them so much on line that I was excited to know they’d be at this gathering.

Great Venue for a Tweetup

Our host for the tweetup was Margaret Roach who is an accomplished garden writer. You can visit her garden online at A Way to Garden blog. Margaret’s yard/garden is delightful… a terrific assortment of gorgeous plants and landscaping features that could hold my attention for hours. And, while Margaret’s emphasis seems to be on ornamental plantings, she also has a kitchen garden: a collection of raised beds in which vegetables were already coming on.

Group Photo

Had no tripod on this trip, so we enlisted my daughter to take the group photos. This is one of three she shot with my camera. She took better shots with other cameras, though this isn’t too bad.

Usually, I snap a whole bunch of candid photos of people at social events… this may be my most favorite photographic pursuit. At Margaret’s tweetup, I was not in top form. I shot many photos of people and plants, but I repeatedly caught the people with unflattering expressions on their faces.

So… my photo collection from this event is a bit heavy on foliage and flowers. I hope they provide some sense of how fine a day I had visiting.

Dual Purpose Trip

Rhubarb Flowers

Margaret Roach’s kitchen garden features a dramatic rhubarb patch that was in full-bloom during the tweetup. I encourage you not to let your rhubarb flower, but if your emphasis is ornamental rather than food, this display could add drama to your landscape

In considering this trip, I knew that between Margaret’s home and mine, I would pass quite near the Shawangunk mountains. There there is a rock climbing preserve where I used to climb 30 years ago. My daughter enjoys climbing, and she decided the bother of waiting out my tweetup was an acceptable trade for a day of rock climbing.

So, my daughter and I drove to the Gunks on Friday evening and slept there in our car. We were on the rocks by about 9AM, and we climbed until 2PM. It was very satisfying, though I tried to rearrange some rocks with the top of my head and succeeded only in irritating my scalp.

After climbing, we drove toward Margaret’s and within a mile or so of her house found a State Park that allowed camping. Social activism alert: That NY State park (and so, probably all of them) has added a surcharge for out-of-state visitors. I will not be camping in NY State parks as long as this surcharge is in place. There’s no stupider way to try to recover budget shortfalls than to charge tourists more to be in your state than you charge people who actually live there. If you want to bring more money into the state, run a marketing effort in which you offer discounts to visitors from out of state. Of course, if your parks already draw to capacity, do what you want.

Anyway… my daughter did homework and some cross stitch while I socialized and toured the gardens. My small kitchen garden is a week behind—I’d have planted potatoes, carrots, and peppers had I been home. Still… the tweetup was well worth the time away and the nearly 4-hour drive. I so look forward to the next gathering of garden writers, gardeners, and gardening enthusiasts.

Here is a slideshow of some of the photos I created during the tweetup at Margaret Roach’s garden. I hope you enjoy it:


 

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Friendly Visitor to my Small Kitchen Garden

By late summer, squash and pumpkin plants dominate in my small kitchen garden. There are bush wax beans, carrots, potatoes, tomatoes, broccoli, and cauliflower still producing, and they’re all packed in so tightly that it’s nearly impossible to navigate among the leaves.

Within a few weeks of starting Your Small Kitchen Garden blog, I realized it had taken me somewhere I’d always wanted to be: out in my garden with friends. Within days of my first post, Your Small Kitchen Garden had visitors. And, as I’ve posted more of my gardening experiences, more visitors have come. I’ve enjoyed the comments and the conversations, though seeing the number of visitors, I often wish more of them would leave comments, suggestions, or questions.

Where to Find Gardeners on line

When I wrote my first post, I had no idea that there are, perhaps, thousands of gardening blogs. You can find these by reading blog rolls—lists of the blogs bloggers like to visit. (I recently started a blog roll to which I’ll be adding more sites over the coming weeks; you may need to scroll down quite far to find my blog roll, but please check it out; I hope you’ll enjoy some of the blogs I enjoy.)

My “Imaginary” Gardening Friends

You can also find gardeners on Twitter. There, home gardeners, landscapers, farmers, nursery owners and workers, gardening magazine and book writers, garden products producers, and radio and television personalities exchange thoughts and encouragement. Connect with one or two of them, and the interaction will lead to hundreds of others. Float a question to the gardeners on Twitter and you’re likely to get some helpful answers within a few hours.

I’ve interacted with several hundred gardeners and garden-focused folks on Twitter, but because I haven’t met them in person, my daughter refers to them as my imaginary friends.

Imaginary Becomes Real

Someplace along the on-line gardening path, members of the community find ways to meet in person. So far, two of my imaginary friends have become real. Each visited me in my isolated homestead in central Pennsylvania.

Yes, I had an awesome tomato season, despite the trench foot and the very late expression of late blight. We’ve eaten a lot of tomato salad, various pasta dishes with tomato sauces, risotto with tomatoes, and sandwiches with tomatoes. On top of all the great tomato dishes, I’ve put up 36 pints of tomato sauce and 18 pints of diced and whole tomatoes. Still, there is about a half bushel of tomatoes awaiting attention, and, perhaps, two or three more gallons on the vines.

I’m pleased that an upshot of one of these visits is that my no-longer-imaginary friend, Punkrockgardens (Laura Mathews is her given name) has featured my tomatoes in her blog. In her post, Tomato Tidbits: Why do we do all this? she captures the motivation of home tomato growers, and highlights some of the quirks of this nearly past growing season.

I enjoy Laura’s blog because she reports at-large about the gardening scene in central Pennsylvania… which is where I live. I also enjoy the photos she includes with her blog posts; she is a professional photographer with a thoughful and creative eye.

Expand Your Small Kitchen Garden

Please check out the Punk Rock Gardens blog, and visit other blogs on my blog roll. As you browse my blog posts and those of other garden bloggers, leave comments and bookmark entries that you find useful; comments are just about the only measure bloggers have of whether they’re reaching their audiences.

But don’t stop with blogs. Join Twitter if you haven’t yet, and participate in the gardening chatter. Follow me as @cityslipper and you’ll quickly find hundreds of gardeners and gardening enthusiasts with plenty to share.

 

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