Soup season!

As the equinox bears down upon us and the leaves start to turn, my appetite craves anything of the soup variety. The Classic Lentil stew is my most favorite soup from my vegan cookbook and even carnivores would agree it’s wholly satisfying. I do a few tweaks. I use an entire bunch of parsley since saving it is pointless for me and the juice of half a lemon. I also use a 28 oz can of tomatoes since I like it a bit more tomatoey. I like to make my own stock because it’s easy, fast, cheap and ends up tasting to your preference. I find a lot of store bought stocks and broths are too “carroty” and therefore too sweet. I like mine celery and onion based, heavy on the bay leaf. Oh, and salt to taste. The recipe isn’t salty enough for me. And I also suggest cooking it longer; until the potatoes are almost melting. Adding a tablespoon of sugar doesn’t hurt either if you want to cut the tomato acidity.

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Truck Farm!

a truck farm

This truck is always parked in my neighborhood. I tried to go to the website but it was blacked out so I just googled the words “wicked delicate”. I guess they’re a Brooklyn-based production company and there are a few shorts on youtube about the truck farm itself. Check it out. http://www.youtube.com/user/wickedelicate

Onward and Upward

Finished

I finally decided to renovate my little plot at the new apartment. Since we’ve moved in I’ve just had all my plants in pots sitting on top of pavers which lined the floor of the garden “bed”. I’m not sure whose idea this was, whether the landlord or previous tenant but I’m guessing it may have been an attempt to keep the shoots from the nearby tree from taking over. They weren’t really effective in that manner since the shoots were popping up in between every paver. Anyway, I removed all the paver under which was some sort of filter cloth which i also removed and lo and behold there was some pretty nice dirt under there with earthworms galore. I bought about 20 bags of topsoil and compost to fill it out and planted my existing plants into the bed, leaving room for annuals and maybe a few more flowering perennials. It’s still a mess out there but here are a few photos documenting the process.

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Say It Ain’t So

As it turns out, that big ole tree in my new backyard is, well, dead. So there goes the shaded garden. Now I will be plagued with bird crap and broken branches all the live long day. Not to mention the threat of the thing falling over into my bedroom. Sigh. In other news, here’s some new pics of the ever-developing garden.

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Shady Business

Here in Brooklyn I’ve been spoiled for the last three years with my south facing, relatively unencumbered, sunny garden. I’ve easily been able to grow vegetables and herbs and even an occasional fruit. But now, settled in the new place I realize there is a monster of a tree that will eventually blanket my yard with shade.  Some typical shade-loving perennials are hosta, ferns, brunia, hellebore, heuchera and hydrangea just to name a few. They are all pretty hardy and should come back each year depending on variety although i’ve found some ferns can’t take the cold winters up here and never rear their fronds again.  You should choose some shrubs and perennials for depth and texture and then add annuals for color and tone. Here are some great annuals for shade: Impatiens which will fare well all season long. Coleus which comes in so many amazingly colorful varieties nowadays. The Polka-dot plant is just plain cool and gets pretty tall.  Ipomea aka sweet potato vine is perfect for container plantings. Lobelia is a cute and delicate flower that is great for borders. And of course the ever-classic pansy or it’s little sister, viola, can be used to fill a window box.

I admit I planned on documenting the transplant of some of my old plants to the new apartment but I was so distracted and busy by the move I shirked my duties. Mea culpa. Here are some pictures of the current garden. A few are new additions but mostly old pals I couldn’t bear to part with.  It’s no where near complete but it is only April so there’s still time. On a side note, my computer display is broken so I don’t really know how this final draft is going to look. Here’s to hoping!

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Philadelphia International Flower Show

My sister, an avid gardener and landscaper by profession, attended the flower show in Philly this past weekend, running now through the 13th. Since she is our official upstate New York correspondent I asked her to do a write up on the show. Enjoy:

The theme was Paris in spring. There were certainly displays that followed that theme, but then there were ones like the bayou scene, where it’s hard to make the connection, except maybe that cajun’s speak french. There was a giant bottom section of the Eiffel tower as you entered, which was pretty impressive, and supposedly can-can dancers, but it was so crowded in areas we were hard pressed to find them. The orchids were lovely as always and a garden lover would appreciate it on the sheer basis that there were a ton of flowers in bloom in early march. By far the most looked-forward-to for me were the shops with great deals on cut flowers, bulbs, and other plants. Roses for under eight dollars for a dozen! And I bought two Siberian tomato plants that produce tomatoes down to 39 degrees. There is a lot to see and two days would really give you time to enjoy all that it has to offer but a few hours is sufficient to get the idea. And forget about the Reading Terminal Market across the street which is a huge enclosed market with meat, fish, cheese, breads, produce, chocolates, pastries, not to mention the eateries there where you can sit at the counter and enjoy any number of international foods ranging from Thai to Greek.

The city itself offers great historical hot spots, such as the Liberty Bell and Betsy Ross’ house, among others. Even the old architecture and row houses are impressive. For garden lovers this is a worthwhile trip. Put this one on your bucket list for sure.

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