Roots=?

lettuce

It’s 10:32 p.m. EST. What can I write about food in 15 minutes?

Let’s see.

Today, I spent a couple of hours in the garden. As the light waned and we relied increasingly on the glow of a remote street lamp, we weeded and transplanted. The plot never fails to serve up metaphors. Today, a poignant one came care of some dandelion roots. These sneaky things had lodged themselves under the soil, snaking out beneath the surface of the arugula patch. No leaves whispered their secret. Not even a sprout hinted at their proliferation. Yet all the while these roots grew.

What are these things? Continue reading

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Michelle Obama’s right-on message

Guantanamo is out, stem cells are in. Could the administration get any more progressive? Oh yes. This week, everyone was buzzing about the appearance by Michelle Obama (ok, not a sworn-in administration member, but still a crucial part of it) at Miriam’s Kitchen in D.C.

The New York Times did a story on Mrs. Obama’s healthy eating message, and the whole thing is like a dream come true. When she says something like “When you grow something yourself and it’s close and it’s local, oftentimes it tastes really good,”  how can a farm on the White House lawn be far behind? And when the First Family is ditching juice boxes and processed foods, American families have just one more reason to go whole.

Also: At Five Guys, Michelle had a regular Coke. Thank you, Miss Biceps!!! The more people you can strong arm to forgo those nasty fake sweeteners the better.

Adventures in garden hardware

In the past week, Operation High Nutrient Density Garden (OHNDG for short, I guess) went into the hardware collection phase.

Last Tuesday, one of my co-gardeners and I headed to an alley in Van Ness to collect about 100 free bricks. This was a Freecycle find, and therefore a you-haul kind of deal. She and I each stacked about half of the bricks in the trunks of our respective cars, which proceeded to lug them across town like babies with loaded diapers scooting along the living room floor. Continue reading

Make your own fall

The kind of cold frame that you can make yourself!
Keep things toasty with a cold frame! (Image from http://the-plant-directory.co.uk)

After the session with Fannie, I headed to “Extending the Growing Season for Increased Harvests” with Vinnie Bevivino of Master Peace Community Garden.

Though the Riverdale, Md. operation is technically in the ‘burbs, Vinnie had brought a very applicable idea to present—creating a cold frame. This is basically a small-scale version of a greenhouse. It can keep conditions nice and comfy for your veggies into the late fall, or let you start your plants earlier in the spring, thus extending a growing season of six months to nine or 10. Continue reading

Learning about urban gardening at Rooting D.C.

Freshly dug garden plot
Rooting D.C. 2 began at 10 a.m. last Saturday with the invocation of a Chinese proverb: “If you want to be happy for three hours, get a bottle of wine. If you want to be happy for three months, fall in love. If you want to be happy for a lifetime, plant a garden.” After that introduction and a few more words from one of the organizers, we were free to move on to our workshop sessions.

At first, all I could do was mill around the front hall of the gorgeous Carnegie Library building in Mount Vernon Square in a daze. Who was this crowd of people of all ages and backgrounds who all wanted to garden, or were already raising produce out of concrete? How had we all stumbled into this forum where we could learn about everything from herbs to compost to harvesting rainwater, all for free? What karmic forces had conspired to let me and the dozens of other walk-ins actually get a spot? Continue reading

From Weed to Treasure–Callaloo

Weeds. They spring up in sidewalk cracks, between rows of your favorite garden veggie, and everywhere else they’re not wanted. But as more and more gardeners know and I’m realizing little by little, they’re not all bad. A recent epiphany came from a line on my CSA’s blackboard in the pick-your-own list:

Pig weed (callaloo)

Now, I’d heard of callaloo and I’d seen pig weed make itself at home in the garden, but never connected the two! The next time I yanked out those straight green stalks with Ace-of-spades-shaped leaves, instead of tossing them in the compost, I was debating whether I should steam or saute.  Continue reading

Brushes with Fame

So you know that picnic I mentioned in the last post? It was for the birthday of Ms. Abbie Turiansky, who CNN just happened to feature in a segment on Clagett Farm’s CSA last week. It’s nothing new for me to have a friend on the news because, you know, I associate with so many local foods activists and television stars. But I thought I’d pass it on.

And this photo? I took it on that farm. Yeah–I was there, where all the magic happens, just yesterday. No biggie. Just rubbing shoulders with the news makers as always.

What Makes Mama Happy, part I

Big Mama’s been happy this past week or so. Food adventures abounded, from the ground to the table, and most importantly to my mouth.

Yes, this is the closest I come to a Mothers Day post. I could talk about the breakfast in bed we used to make my mom, garnished with the pink crab apple blossoms that always popped open at the right moment, but, well, I decided radio personalities and wild ingredients are more exciting–and, perhaps most importantly, mush-free.

Here’s what’s been doing:

Gardening at the community garden! And finding a tiny garlic bulb no bigger than the tip of my index finger just hanging in there in the tilled soil. Continue reading