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Posts from the grow Category

IMG_8683thank you for the kind comments from the previous post. i was surprised at the interest in my writing. frankly, i am more of a picture person vs. a reader…so, i guess i assumed what i wrote was the least important part. so, thank you for reading. with that said, let me go off on some more tangents.

i have made the decision to leave the cabin. it was a hard one, but i feel confident it is the right one for now.  i am sad to not see some of the things around the property come to life or change in the fall, but anxious to see what kinds of things can surprise me still the next month.  i haven’t a clue where i shall end up after this. denver is an option, putting my stuff in storage and roaming around seems to be the main focus. there is something super exciting about that, as well as a bit daunting. where will i end up after it all? it is possible i will wander on forever.

even though most of my thoughts lately have been about leaving the cabin, oddly enough, i find myself missing LA again. the past few days i have been listening to some old yo la tengo albums. the one’s that were on repeat in my first apartment in LA. music always takes me right back. i can almost taste the foods i ate back then, i can see myself as i was- the clothes i wore, driving in my car, the feelings i had.  after getting through the first year there i started to find a little place for myself. i stayed up late, drank lots of wine, had a very large stack of cd’s accumulating in my living room, made t-shirts with lace and dye, took polaroids,  and was just starting my career. seems like yesterday, seems like forever ago. back when i was a magazine horror, wore converse, was addicted to amoeba and friendster, and had a very large boxy computer.  i’m not sure why these memories are popping up in my head lately. maybe, leaving the cabin somehow means i am leaving LA behind too.

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everyday, i have been taking walks around the property.   piking wildflowers for bouquets and yesterday, i spent the afternoon harvesting all sorts of these other goodies. sucking in all that the sunshine and mountains behold. stopping to see what surrounds me, to see what is growing. you should try it sometime, you might be surprised what you find. every single day i see a new flower, a new plant, hell, yesterday, i discovered a cherry tree outside my bedroom window. for the past month i thought it was an apple tree with stunted apples, but a few started changing color and i stopped to look up and realized they were cherries…i was ecstatic. as i walked away from my new exciting discovery i remembered how sad i was to leave LA and all the lush vegetation of my backyard. the lemon tree, the fig tree, the rosemary bush…never would i have guessed i would have found all that i have here, in colorado. it reassured me of the future, that it can always surprise you.

there are a million apple trees around the property. a few pear trees, tons of chokecherry bushes, a grapevine, now a cherry tree, and even a peach tree, though she isn’t producing anything this year.  it has been raining a lot- thunderstorms or clouds almost everyday.  there are a plethora of mushrooms growing everywhere. i havent a clue what kind they are, nor do i intend to find out. i know a lot of the puffball mushrooms have turned out to be poisonous. i am continually fascinated by the eco system i am living in. the cabin sits in a bowl down by the river, allotting for shade and sun with rich soil from the river.  a short walk up the road and you are in a desert.  open space and to my surprise tons and tons of sage growing. i can’t begin to explain my joy when i discovered it…which i will try in my next post about the harvesting of it. i have even discovered yarrow on the property . there are cacti and all sorts of strange looking desert flowers. i have never stopped to notice a pine tree growing it’s branches, or what a baby pine cone looks like.

it is the perfect combo of desert and mountain…. because it is just that -a mountain desert.

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IMG_8899 IMG_8732then there is my own garden. i admit, i have been a little bit lazy about it. i have it watered on a timer, and only occasionally do i go over to trim and de-weed. the tomatos are doing pretty decent, but some of the other things, like the zucchini, are growing slowly. i have been a little too lazy to figure it out though. i’m just happy with whatever she wants to provide me with, naturally. one evening, the sun was glowing on the garden. the colors were so incredible. one of my favorite things to do everyday is to visit her and see how she is doing…what’s newly ripe or getting bigger.

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i am so thankful for the bounty this place has surprised me with.  nature, is my church, it is my god. it’s what allows me to discover what i hold within myself. i couldn’t be more thankful for the time i have spent here. i know in my heart, i will find my way back to this lifestyle  time and time again.

i suppose , ten years down another road, i will put on that yo la tengo album again, remembering these moments now…walking outside my back door discovering a cherry tree, harvesting a basket of sagebrush, and breathing in the smell of pine.

never underestimate the small moments- my biggest lesson thus far.

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IMG_6689i have been growing herbs for a few years now, and though i am no expert, i find these tips to be helpful.  living in southern california, i could grow herbs year round and it was luxurious! here in colorado, i have been growing them inside for a few months, but have had a few mishaps with bugs, or simply leaving them by a very cold window for too long.  i recently bought a new batch and am back in business with the little gems. they are currently sitting in the front window and so far so good! when i first moved here, i cringed at buying a $4 box of herbs when it is so easy to grow them yourself. there really is no excuse not too!

there are many books or even tutorials online about your herbs. these are just a few simple helpful hints for flavorful herbs.

1. learn where your species are from in order to mimic their preferred environment. lavender, rosemary, thyme, savory, and sage are Mediterranean herbs and like lots of sun, sandy soil that drains well, keeping fertilizers to the minimum.  all this will help keep the flavor in the leaves. herbs like basil, mint, lemon verbena prefer lots of water and rich soil, maybe some compost. an easy way to distinguish is by the leaves. the softer the leaf, the more water it will want! perhaps, you plant your mediterranean herbs together and your more delicate herbs together so your watering doesn’t get mixed up!

2. harvesting: new leaves tend to have the most flavor vs. the leaves at the bottom. some say harvesting in the morning is also the best time!  when herbs like basil and dill have flowered, that means they have matured…no more leaves. for basil, cut down just above the last branch and new leaves should begin to sprout again!
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rosemary: year round if you live in a frost free area. dry soil, full sun. companions: beans, broccoli, carrots, hot peppers. keep dry.

sage: grows in brisk dry summer, dry soil, full sun. companions: cabbage, cauliflower, carrots, rosemary, broccoli, don’t over water-likes it dry!

cilantro: grows in spring/summer.cool nights, sunny days.rich soil. companions: anise. adequate water.

chive: spring summer. well drained average soil, 4-6 hours of sun. companions: parsley, broccoli, eggplant, mustard, rhubarb, strawberries, tomatoes. water: once a week. these babies will keep coming back!
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thyme: brisk days of summer. well drained, sunny airy spot. companions: everybody! keep fairly dry, don’t overwater.

dill: grow in summer. plant early spring. average light. companions: cabbage, lettuce, cucumber, onions, beets. lots of water. IMG_6692

basil: grow in summer. plant when soil is warm. full sun. companions: tomatoes and asparagus. adequate moisture.

mint: grow mostly in summer. plant anytime. open airy spot with room to grow. companions: cabbage, tomato, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, broccoli. needs lots of moisture.IMG_6690

tarragon: winter in some zones. well drained soil and sun in the mornings. if too hot, place in shade in afternoon. companions: anything. pests don’t like tarragon. keep well watered.

oregano: spring/summer. full sun and well drained soil. companions: cabbage, cucumbers, grapes.  moderate watering, but more while young.

now, these tips are simple and again, i am not an expert. i just thought this would be fun post to do to inspire those who may be timid to start a garden. there are so many different great websites out there for growing herbs. not only are they great for cooking, but have been used for centuries in many medicinal purposes. one day, we might just discuss that! we didn’t go over a few great ones either like anise, lavender, chamomile, but you can easily find this info online. check your thrift stores too for garden books! it is one of my favorite places to look!

i can’t wait to get started on my garden outside. i was hoping to dig into it before i left for three weeks, but that might not happen.  another tip, is to check about local growing. different areas will have different species of bugs, critters, or animals that will pester your herbs or garden. for example, the squirrels were a pain in the ass last spring in LA. apparently, growing tomatoes here in colorado is best done next to chervil (i believe, i gotta check that one again!) i also can’t plant any fruits or the bears will eat em up! another fun tip about tomatoes, if your leaves are turning a bit blue green, producing lots of leaves and no fruit…clip back your leaves as the plant is being too taken care of. the fruit grows in order to procreate. it is where the seeds are they will germinate the next batch. i found that to be so exciting! sometimes, you want to make the plant thrive in order to get it to produce. but more to come on the garden beds and veggies! i can’t wait!

as i mentioned in my last post, i may or may not have illegally picked some california white sage on my adventure to ojai last week! once, i discovered it growing on my first day of hiking, i immediately began a hunt and a mission… to hoard as much as possible.  it was so fun to forage this beautiful treasure, and couldn’t help but to think of mushroom or truffle foragers. how fun to be on the search ending in an instant gratification of triumph! the prize is yours. kind of like thrift store shopping! i have always felt this sense of peaceful accomplishment when finding my most prized possessions in nature. some sort of natural instinct turned frivolous vs. survival? 🙂

california white sage, only grows in southern california, but you can find it for sale in many places. there are other types of sage that are harvested and sold for the same purpose.  sage is used in many global indigenous practices to cleanse the body, the soul, sometimes tangibles,and mostly negative feelings. the sage can be burned taking the smoke cupped in ones hands and and rub or brush it over the body. when harvesting it is best to cut at the soft part of the stem, not the woodsy part. this will allow the plant grow two more branches the following year, otherwise it will grow none. traditionally, indigenous people would leave a gift like a piece of hair or a seed to honor the gift they have been given. if you wrap your own be sure to use cotton or hemp, other unnatural products will smell awful.

after doing some research on the internet, i have come across some negative feelings about the new age connotation of using sage amongst “rich white people”, or the misleading use of native american culture.  we are clearly currently seeing this in trendy clothing stores and boutiques. pendleton blankets are a commodity, even my jewelry line is inspired by native americans.  i couldn’t help but to ask if this is a shame for the native american culture? i can see where people might be taking advantage of such and not respecting the true context of the culture.  for me, it has always felt personal. i have always identified and extremely admired the indigenous tribal traditions of this land. as a child we were always taking trips to the mountains as a family. i would buy all the indian trinkets and children’s books. to this day i can remember vividly reading a story about a young boy sent out on a journey at the coming of age. the book was bought in jackson hole, wyoming and and am still on the hunt for it again (even scouring my parents basement). it inspired me so much as a child.  my mom loves to bring up how i am channeling our sioux ancestor. now, this was a long time ago, but we love to talk about it, much like we love to talk about being italian, even the small amount we are.  it is said that my dad’s uncle looked truly native american. this is when i wonder about past lives and the link to our ancestors. perhaps, this is where it begins for me subconsciously.

i do believe the founding fathers deeply wronged the natives to america, i do believe they suffer to this day and their cultures and lifestyle are badly badly bruised as a result of our ancestors. i do believe this is spiritually their land, unfortunately, like many things, violence won.   such beautiful traditions and beliefs destroyed and i hope that my love and inspiration only helps to keep it alive and perhaps help in the future through education and respect. check below for some links i have looked into for donating or volunteering.

PLANET YOUTH

RE-MEMBER

ST JOSEPHS INDIAN SCHOOL

it is getting to be that time of year when the garden will slowly start fading away.  even if living in socal gives us year round gardens, the summer garden is the most exciting for me!  i am sad to see her go soon, she gave me such smiles and warmth on a daily basis.  i love watering her soil and discovering the treasured buds her plants would give life to.

i attempted a winter garden last year, but somehow forgot to tend to her. i have started research on what to grow this fall, but if i book it out of LA soon, i won’t have the ability to garden. i will have to forfeit until next summer. that is one of the many beauties of southern california, the lack of harsh winters and distinct seasonal changes, allowing for year round gardens. it can still get pretty chilly and rainy here, and i have gotten use to the mediterranean climate.  i keep thinking about the winter i might be about to embark on, and wonder if i will frolic in the snow, or have a minor breakdown? i have always been nostalgic for winter ( i grew up in northern indiana where there is plenty of it) and believe the seasons have a great purpose and lesson for rebirth.   i will have to let go of her until next year when i can give her life again. drying the herbs might just be a way of holding on to the luxury of being able to grow such wonderful specimens…and not letting her bountiful beauty go to waste.

this year i am growing two kinds of basil, oregano, two types of thyme, mint, rose geranium, and parsley. a bay tree already grows tall in the yard sharing many, many leaves for use. my dad took home a bag full on his last visit. everyone might just be getting jars of bay leaves for christmas this year!

harvest your herbs before they flower.  this will need to be done throughout any growing period. once annual herbs flower, they have gone to seed and will produce no more leaves.  cutting back allows you to grow more! lots more! cut back basil to above bottom two sets of leaves. thyme, at about 1/2 to 1/3. you can use what you cut back to cook with or this is when you start drying or freezing.

smaller leaves, like thyme, oregano, and even the bay leaves can be dried on baskets or even screens(window screens, perhaps purchased from the thrift store?).  if you need to wash off dirt, do so and pat dry before spreading them out on the basket/screen. store out of sunlight with good air circulation until dry, possibly up to 7 days.

some leaves with a lot of moisture content, like basil, mint, and tarragon, can not be laid on top of each other to dry (sometimes oregano too, but mine worked out fine. if you live in a humid environment i would try this method for any tender herb) instead, you can make a bundle of stems (3-5) tied together with gardeners string to hang upside down.

if the leaves are not quite dry, like sage, you can pop them in the oven at the lowest possible temp for 5 minutes.  you do not want to store any herbs in a jar with moisture, as this will cause mold.  if you have a dehydrator, you can also use this. check out the website at the end of the post for more info on using the dehydrator.

to test if the herbs are dry and ready for storage…check the crumble and the crackle.  if the leaves have turned brown they are not good for culinary purpose. you can find other purposes for these brown herbs on the web.

store the leaves whole, away from light and heat. crumble  at time of use to release the essential oils, giving a more intense flavor.

this is a great website for gardening tips!

 

this was the harvest from my garden a few weeks back. i was quite proud, even if it is a bit on the smaller side.  i feel like a kid on christmas when i walk outside and peak in my garden to actually find things growing. currently, there are some baby cucumbers that look so cute and frankly, fake. i harvested another squash a few days ago, and the basil is looking large and luscious after a bit of a trim! sadly, two of my tomato plants aren’t producing. i have tried a few things to fix this, but i will just have to learn the lesson for next year. sometimes, i dream about learning to farm and garden! just one of the many things to add to the list of what i want to be when i grow up!

i am out of town again next week for work, meaning it will be hard to blog. i have some fun posts coming up though!! stay tuned. have a great week!

lately…

patchwork craft fair (our booth set up)

my lovely/dirty neighborhood

work and too many polos

my ONE marionberry that turned purple!

squash and tomatos

those sweet animals that live with me

i don’t have a food post for you today. haven’t been cooking that much lately…but busy doing lots of other stuff. although, i did attempt risotto for the first time last night…certain i would be blogging about it today. it wasn’t bad…it wasn’t great either.

i deleted myself off Facebook, but got back on instagram. i realized, i could only handle one social network at a time. now, when driving around LA, i notice people taking photos with their iPhone…i am pretty sure they are going to upload it to instagram. oh, our lovely addictions as a society. if you want to follow me you can @sunandglory.

it is june gloom here in LA. which means, gloomy mornings. kind of a joke after spring blooms and summer like days. now, we must wait until july.

i head to florida with my whole family on saturday. counting down the days!!! looking forward to humidity, salty air, ocean waves, family, and food! oh, yes…oh, yes!

hey guess what??? my backyard was featured on apartment therapy today for their great outdoors edition! i was so excited when i was scrolling through google reader and saw a picture of my backyard. at first, taken back wondering where did this come from? i am super happy and honored to have made the cut again. ( my last apartment was featured a few years back!)

the one thing i didn’t mention(and wish i would have) in the post was that i share the yard with my lovely neighbors dede and tom and their pup, gary! they are such great, nice, charming neighbors and we all love the backyard.  tom has been helping me garden and dede loves being able to bask in the sun. gary, of course, and wylie are best of friends and the backyard is a luxury for them to run around in!

check out the link here!

here are some new pics of the garden. things are still blooming and i love waking up in the morning and walking around to see how everything is doing, you know just to say a little hello! the pomegranate flowers are showering the tree and ground with bright red flowers. the loquats are reedy to eat. the lemons i have been using for weeks now.

we also have finally started the garden. the herbs are going strong! so far we have planted: tomatoes (3 kinds), zucchini, strawberries, mesclun, kale, cilantro, fingerling potatoes, eggplant, beans, and lots of peppers! the berry bush from last year looks so pretty too! i hope it brings us some berries!

and of course, a few detail shots for fun!

thank you so much apartment therapy!!

Apples emit a lot of ethylene gas. It has the effect of speeding up the ripening process of fruits and vegetables kept together with apples. When combined with potatoes, apples prevent them from sprouting.

Keeping roots in a vertical position allows the organism to save energy and remain fresh for a longer time. This shelf gives a place for them to stand easily, using sand. At the same time, sand helps to keep the proper humidity

Rice absorbs humidity easily. The spice container with rice inside helps spices stay dry without forming into lumps.

An egg has millions of holes in its shell. It absorbs the odour and substance around itself very easily. This creates a bad taste if it’s kept in the fridge with other food ingredients. This shelf provides a place for eggs outside of the fridge. Also the freshness of eggs can be tested in the water. The fresher they are, the further they sink.

this is even better than the vintage printables from earlier today. found via all the mountainsthis website is about saving food from the fridge.

we abuse our food so badly…so badly. in so many ways, i sometimes find it overwhelming. i find this super inspiring and i love the tidbits of knowledge.

check out jihyun ryou’s creations at save food from the fridge

and the blog too… where you can share your knowledge. for example, did you know that tomatoes should not be put in the fridge for they loose their flavor?  if you buy fresh herbs or greens you can put them in a vase with water(below the leaves) to help them last longer. and it’s pretty! actually, cookbook, my favorite  little grocer here in LA, does this!

anyone else have any tidbits?

my travel italia post was featured on freshly pressed today! what an honor! and what an amazing adventure this day has been reading all of the lovely comments and nice words. to inspire people through my own desires or my own eye (that of the iPhone camera at the time) is quite a glorious feeling. i will try and go through to respond to most of your comments. too bad there isn’t a “like” button on each comment like good old Facebook. just to let each and every person know i read, heard, and appreciate their comment. and thanks to all the new followers. i hope you enjoy each post as much as the italy post!

i had a few different options for posting today. i try to do as much original content as possible. i have been inspired by all the little green things popping up around my yard. living in southern california there is always some new kind of plant or flower i have never seen before or noticed. i also finally replanted my herbs yesterday.  looking forward to starting the garden sometime soon.