So unexpected (plus a recipe)

Me? Write a cookbook?

Well, after deciding a meal my husband made was too pretty to eat and took out my new studio lights to take pictures – I was hooked. I have awakened a new passion the past few days to design recipes and artistically and visually capture the love I have for food, cooking, and a SOUL (seasonal, organic, unprocessed and local) lifestyle.

Want to take this journey with me?

Continue reading “So unexpected (plus a recipe)”

7 ways your garden can save your life

 

Gardening is not just for flower lovers, and is moving out of people’s window boxes and into their backyards. In the past few years, food gardening has increasingly become an activity done to facilitate better physical fitness, healthier eating and well-being.

And science backs this up. Gardening helps you:

Continue reading “7 ways your garden can save your life”

From scraps to scrumptious: Regrow your groceries!

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Mother nature always shows that when there is a will, there’s a way.

I never realized until I started gardening just how easy it is to grow food. Because life, in any form, is engineered to grow, live, and flourish. It’s just the design. And any living thing in nature is also endowed with a healthy sense of self-preservation, so that even in the most adverse conditions life persists.

And this lettuce pictured above is a good example. Now that summer is setting in, my partner and I are eating many more raw greens and a LOT of salads. While we throw a lot of the leftovers of our inedible green remnants into the compost bin, my partner and I decided to try and follow a Facebook picture post we saw recently about growing food from scraps. So we spared two romaine lettuce butts this week, and dipped them in the smallest coffee cups we own.

Even though the head of romaine was lobbed from its roots weeks ago and its greenery denatured for our benefit – simply putting its root stub in water is inspiring the circle of life to start all over again. See those teeny tiny green stalks coming out of the center of this head? That’s new life. And a new food source.

We are officially growing lettuce in our kitchen. And I guess we can officially say that we’re growing using the hydroponic method!

So give that a try next time you have have a spent lettuce, green onions, bok choy, carrots, potatoes, basil, ginger, garlic…try placing its roots in some water and place it in a window and let it do its thing.

You’ll be amazed at how easy it is to foster life!

Desert gardening

It’s spring! Well, at least it’s starting to feel a lot like it here in Arizona. We’ve had an unseasonably warm winter thus far.

And so, my partner and I have decided to FINALLY break open the boxes of raised beds I had bought several years ago, shovel out some of our compost dirt that I’d been working on (ongoing) for at least three years, buy some good organic dirt from a local nursery, and finally plant some organic food and herb seeds I’d had lying around the house for years.

My dream of a garden has been held off for so long, because I have been trying my luck with small projects first. But my first few projects did not bode well. My first ivy houseplant died due to an infestation of spider mites (which, I’ve learned, they’re prone to here in the desert). The subsequent ivy also died… mysteriously. My first tomato plant and pepper plant I bought just withered before my eyes once the scorching summer hit. My first two potted seed-start experiments were utter disasters.

It looked hopeless.

But about six months ago, my partner and I bought each other houseplants as housewarming gifts. Those two houseplants have grown to six (and counting!) and are thriving! So, my dream of being able to play in the dirt and dote like a proud mother on strong green plants may soon be a dream come true. I hope to be able to share with you the triumphant stories of my harvests in the next few months.

We planted spinach, tomatillos, beefsteak tomatoes, and cucumbers in one of the raised beds, and herbs in the other such as cilantro, chives, basil, rosemary, catnip, sage, parsley, and lemon balm.

And to think, it all started with a compost bin and some horse manure – and a dream.

Keep posted, as I provide updates on the pitfalls and prideful successes this new adventure in gardening provides! Eat clean, locally, and well, everyone.

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Want to start your own compost? Here are some basic tips.

Gemme’s famous “from seed” experiment

Well, for good or for ill, I have opened up four packets of veggie/herb seeds, and planted them in a starter situation to see what happens.

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I took spent newspaper rolls (biodegradable – and good for your compost bin, as well!), cut them in half and planted them firmly inside of a the bottom of an egg carton. I filled each half-roll with organic from-seed dirt, planted the seeds, took a deep breath (and yes, maybe even sped through a prayer), and set them aside after wetting them down.

It feels late in the season to plant. But in Arizona, there is no such thing as spring frost. So the weather is probably more than perfect to coax a seed to sprout.

Why am I so hesitant, though? Well, my sordid history with plants looks more like willful herbicide. I’ve taken home plants from the store all excited to repot and start my much-sought after garden. Yet within a week, most have bitten the proverbial dust. The best I did was an indoor ivy, before spider mites made a feast of it. And with three all-too-curious cats and very few light-heavy areas in the house, I just gave up on growing anything for a while.

But this year is the year, for some reason. So …

The sample specimen hopefuls are: Organic Genovese Basil (because it sounds aromatic, and possibly good for future recipes), organic beefsteak tomato (c’mon, the whole point of a garden is having tomatoes!), green onions (yum), and the queen of the crop, the wonderful smelling rosemary. Even if I don’t use rosemary for food, as it can be overpowering, just using it as potpourri will make for a happy household.

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Rosemary germinates within 14-21 days, so if I’m lucky, it’ll be ready to call a pot a home by April 21 or so.

Chives/green onions are 15-21 days, so it should be about the same time I see those shoots…if all goes well.

My belov’d tomatoes, on the other hand, are much more eager. Within a week’s time by next Sunday, I could see sprouts. God, here’s to hoping!

The basil is just as eager, with a 5- to 10-day germination period.

Once sprouted, I can transplant the seeds WITH the toilet paper rolls, which will eventually rot away naturally.

Many of the plants I’ve brought home in the past were boxstore-bought, and probably not the pick of the crop. Time after time, I’d lose them each one of them, no matter what tactic I tried. Not enough sun? Moved it? Oh maybe it’s too much – moved it again. Not enough water, too much sun?  Or maybe I should let it dry out, get LOTS of sun and….oh, plant, just TALK to me! What do you NEED?!

And so it went. I probably shocked them to death.

On the other hand, I’ve always been terrified of seeds. I can’t explain why. Growing from seed seemed so complicated and frightening. Seeds. Like babies. Breathing on them wrong could cripple their growth, right? Even opening the seed packets this evening made me shake my head in awe. When I usually think seeds, I think gigantic pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, bird seed even! But each of these seeds was something so small and insignificant, so tiny, I would never have looked twice at them out in the wild. To think this tiny wisp of organic matter that could fit three shoulder-to-shoulder through the eye of a needle would grow into such large plants is indeed amazing.

Despite their underwhelming size, they still made ME feel insignificant. I handled them like a frightened yet already proud mother seeing this tiny “creature” for the first time, depending on me for everything to make it grow strong and healthy.

So today, I am hoping with the right amount of TLC, growing plants from seed may be my salvation. I am hoping they’ll be stronger and more acclimated to my backyard. I want a garden in the worst way, but I’m starting off very small: Four potted plants

Baby steps. Talk to me in a week 😉