The theme for this week, Purple/Red/Burgundy, is an intentional one. It started when I chose a few plants that were all the same hue and then I figured, Why not? Let’s go with a theme. Turns out I could do this theme for weeks. It’s a popular colour in my garden.
It has already been an exciting week full of new prospects and events (there are more to come), but to add to that I am thrilled to announce that in early September I will be traveling to the Berkshires in New York State to conduct a full-day workshop on saving seed and preserving garden bounty in Margaret Roach’s [of Awaytogarden.com] garden.
Over the years, Margaret’s property has taken on near-mythical qualities in my mind’s eye and I am absolutely giddy with the prospect of having it blown apart by all that I imagine there is to discover in a well-loved and established garden built and tended by a creative force like Margaret.
I hope you will be able to join us for a day of fun, sharing, discovery, and learning, but since we know that not everyone can make the journey, Margaret is offering a giveaway of two copies of my most recent book, “Easy Growing: Organic Herbs and Edible Flowers from Small Spaces.” Please head over to her site to enter to win.
Banking the Bounty Workshop
Saving Seed and Preserving the Harvest
Saturday, Sept. 8, 2012
A Way to Garden HQ (Margaret Roach): Copake Falls, NY
Join me for a full day of hands-on learning in an inspiring indoor/outdoor space, the garden of host Margaret Roach of A Way to Garden. The focus is on preserving the garden’s bounty for the future, and our day will be broken up into two, 2½-hour workshops, plus light breakfast and full lunch:
9:30 to 10:00 – greeting and light breakfast
10-12:30 – first session: Seed Saving
12:30-1:30 – lunch with Q&A/discussion
1:30 to 4 – second workshop: Preserving Garden Bounty
4:00 – book signing, etc. (departure by 4:30)
Each jam-packed, 2½-hour learning session will cover everything you need to know with lots of thrifty tips and inspiring ideas pertinent to both large and small-scale gardens.
$165 for the day, including breakfast and lunch; limited to 15 students. Tickets can be purchased here, but will sell out fast as space is very limited.
The theme for this week is fruit. Fruit as a plant part as opposed to fruits such as strawberries and bananas, although you’ll notice some of those, too. It seems that fruit — some edible and some not — is forming in every corner of the garden. Flower diversity is still high, it’s just that many of the flowers are there in the service of forming fruit and are not there to be pretty in their own right.
The Scorched Earth. This is also the first week that marked significant loss and suffering as a result of the intense heat and drought we are experiencing. There are going to be some significant holes in the garden by the time the summer is out. I don’t think I am going to have extra ‘Hahms Gelbe Topftomate’ seeds as a result. I inexplicably gave all of my seedlings away but one and that one was in a pot that was cooked during this week’s heat emergency. Drat. The plant went from green and lush to yellow within the span of a single day. It is holding on and could recover if things stay as cooled off as they are now. It’s amazing what one bad day can bring. It’s a good lesson and reminder in how much we should respect our farmers who are at the mercy of whatever insanity the season brings. Amazingly, all of my other tomatoes are perfectly fine.
This project has been a year in the making, and even longer in the dreaming and planning. I was going to wait a little while longer before announcing it, but as we draw ever closer to publication, I am finding it nearly impossible to contain myself a minute longer. So here it is: My partner Davin and I are collaborating on a series of homemade living, eating, and gardening instructional booklets that will be done up in our style and sensibility: personable, practical, and doable writing with clean design and loads of inspiring color photos and illustrations. Lots of experimentation and everything coming from our own experiences and the things that we personally enjoy in making a homemade life. We are having a blast with this project and can’t wait to launch!
The first in the series, “Drinking the Summer Garden: Homegrown Thirst Quenchers, Concoctions, Sips, and Nibbles” will be made available in two weeks time, within the first week of August. Since this was slotted to be a summer release, I decided to launch the series with an 80-page, full color recipe booklet dedicated to imagining and creating summer drinks utilizing the garden’s bounty. We are generally hot (OMG so hot!) and lazy through the dog days of summer. This is the time to spend chatting with friends on the patio or laying back in a hammock with a good book and a drink in hand. Keeping that in mind, the focus of this booklet is on fun and innovative ways to use herbs, edible flowers, fruit, and even vegetables to create an assortment of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages as well as a handful of summertime treats and nibbles to accompany them. I have also added in a few handy techniques as well as strategies and suggestions that will allow you to adapt the recipes to a wider range of ingredients and flavors using the produce that is available in your own garden. There’s canning, infusing, syrup-making, fermenting, preserving, baking (sweet and savory), deserts, iced lollis, drinks for the kids, drinks for adults, healthy drinks, wickedly unhealthy drinks, and so much more! And we fit it all into 80 pages along with loads of photos. Phew.
Getting this endeavour off of the ground has been absolutely frightening and exciting at once. I truly hope you enjoy this first release and the others that follow.
There will be something for everyone starting with a print version (for people like us who love ink on paper) as well as a range of digital options.
If you work in media and would like to write a review or conduct an interview with either of us please don’t hesitate to get in touch. We will be making a few pdf media copies available shortly.
How is it that my last book roundup was published all the way back in April? Just today I was remarking to Davin that this gardening season feels like it is going by in a blink of an eye, and this proves it. One minute I am waiting impatiently for the winter to recede, and the next it is mid-July and I am eating the year’s first ripe tomatoes off of the plants.
They say (whoever they is) that time moves faster as you get older and/or also when you are having fun. My birthday is in two weeks. One more year before I am officially confirmed as OLD. Fortunately, I am having fun.
Agaves: Living Sculptures for Landscapes and Containers by Greg Starr
This first book showed up at my door as a review copy from the publisher. I may be repeating myself here, but I rarely include review copies in my book roundups (they are typically personal purchases) because the publishers tend to get it wrong and send me the strangest titles from their catalogues. Not this time. I gasped aloud when I opened up the envelope and this book popped out. I was headed out to an appointment at the time and brought it along in my bag because I simply could not wait until later to dive into it. If you’re an agave lover (as I am) or just have an interest in learning more about them, I think you’ll love this book. It would be especially useful to those of you in warmer climates who can actually grow some of these beauties outside year-round. I should note here that the topic of sort-of hardy agaves is covered in the first chapter called “Growing Agaves.” This section also includes a list of the hardiest species, of which there are two that can withstand my zone given the right conditions: Agave toumeyana and Agave utahensis. Note to self that I must try to get one to test in my Dry Bed! An agave outside year-round, in the ground would make my life. I noted on my trip to the Denver Botanic Gardens last year that they had several Agave parryi growing year-round in their alpine garden and it has had me thinking since about the possibilities here at home.
The book is full of useful information as well as photos of gorgeous plants that had me drooling and itching to expand my potted collection even though I can barely handle the nearly 20 plants I have as-is. Many shots in the book depict agaves in their element set against gorgeous mountain-scapes and dry scrubland. It has brought the wanderlust back full force. Another field trip to the desert where I can see fully mature agaves in their majesty is imperative! And because the book is first and foremost about using agaves in the garden, there is plenty about that, too.
In case you are wondering, the fermentation addiction is still going strong. I continue to juggle several cultures at once — a feat that is at times tedious and tiresome and other times exciting and challenging in the best possible way. And yet I struggle everyday with the eagerness to start another. Alas, there is so much to ferment and not enough time!
To make matters worse, Sandor Ellix Katz, author of “Wild Fermentation: The Flavor, Nutrition, and Craft of Live-Culture Foods” has come out with an impressive, nearly 500 page tome that dives down much more deeply into the world of fermented foods and beverages. This book is a real achievement. There must be hundreds of accounts of fermented products from around the world within the books pages. I haven’t had a lot of time for reading lately and have found myself stealing glances whenever I’ve had a few spare moments. It has served to increase what was already a fervent enthusiasm for the subject. I really can’t say enough good things about this book.