All posts in category “In the Garden”

  • How to preserve herbs like you and basil are BFFs

    I originally wrote this post for Niagara Life magazine.

    Most herbs would agree — I am probably their worst enemy, alongside a lawn mower.

    Save for chives and lavender, I struggle to grow herbs in my garden. The heaps I get in my weekly vegetable baskets from a local farmer are really just flavourful races against time to use them up before they disintegrate into brown liquid in my fridge. Oh, the guilt that comes with wasting them. But how much dill, parsley and thyme can one human possibly eat in a sitting?

    The antidote to my careless ways was to get smart with my sage and be more thoughtful with my tarragon. I’ve started preserving herbs to use when the garden is another summer memory, and to spare having to dart out, last minute, to the grocery store to buy a clam shell of coriander from far-off places.

    Here are three simple ways to alleviate guilt, save time, and preserve that bounty of parsley, those mounds of mint and loads of lavender:

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    Category In the Garden, Recipes

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  • Peach Tree
  • Bombs away: It’s seed bomb season

    seed bombs

    It’s around this time of year that I start to miss being a downtown daytime dweller.

    When the snow gave way to grass and those perpetual grey clouds parted to reveal that the sun did indeed still exist, it was a sure sign that I’d soon be able to forgo lunch al desko for noshing al fresco on the library steps.

    When I worked downtown, the library courtyard was my favourite spot to take a break from the demands of the office and revel in the sounds of my city: the chatter of the other average bureaucrats enjoying their midday break, the cacophony of traffic, the harmony of singing birds.

    And then there were the sights, most notably the yellow flowers — lillies, I think, but I’m bad with blooms — that emerged from the bed at the base of the library’s water fountain. I often daydreamed of sneaking some rainbow chard into their midst to break up their golden monochrome. I gave thought to planting a tomato or two that would creep up the sides of the dreary grey edifice of the police headquarters across the square from my spot on the steps. Lavender, chives, which are such beauties when they flower, oregano, and basil would add something to those plain municipal gardens, too, I figured. Continue reading

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    Category In the Garden

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  • Peach Tree
  • The Canadian Food Experience Project: Five garden weeds to put on your plate

    My garden is barely a postage stamp.

    Right now, it’s mostly a barren swath of soil, home to a clematis that keeps hitting the snooze button and some early rising rhubarb that’s up but barely at ’em.
    I love it, though, for the gifts that it provides. Sure, I feel grateful when the herbs and vegetables I plant each year grow and thrive and reward me weeks and months later for what little effort I put into their upkeep.
    It’s the surprise gifts that I love more, though. The ones I don’t plant.

    The weeds.
    Yes, what other gardeners despise and work out the day’s frustrations by pulling, I take delight in letting grow. I don’t fret about these herbaceous squatters competing for sunlight and nutrients with those perennials who have seniority in my plot or any annuals who lease prime real estate for a season. The reason is simple. Most of the weeds in my tiny plot are edible, packing a health kick and more flavour than some of those invited guests we go to great lengths to make comfortable. I’m looking at you green leaf lettuce.
    Ever since the province imposed a cosmetic pesticide ban in 2008, lawns and gardens everywhere have become virtual salad bars. They’re filled with roots, leaves and blooms that had been all but banished from existence by those poison-carting tanker trucks that homeowners once hired to spray them into oblivion. And for that we should be grateful.
    As some food security advocates lobby for insect farming to feed the world, I say we should eat more weeds. Looking outside my back door, they’re plentiful and effortless to grow, so why not take advantage of what’s on offer? Here are five common garden weeds that we should be putting on our plates instead of the compost heap:
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    Category In the Garden, In the Wild

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  • Peach Tree
  • Weeding and Eating: The Great Purslane Giveaway returns

    My name is Tiffany and I am a weedaholic.

    There’s a reason for that, not the least of which is they taste good. But when you’re purslane, not only are you pleasing to the palette, you’re super healthy, so the benefits of dining on this garden gift are seemingly endless.

    It is the misunderstood superfood, often landing in the compost heaps of annoyed gardeners when it should be landing on dinner plates, given it has more omega-3 fatty acids than just about any other edible plant. These are fatty acids that are good for heart health.

    Antioxidants? Purslane is packed with them. Vitamin A to help keep you seeing clearly? Purslane has nearly every other leafy green vegetable beat.
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    Category In the Garden, In the Wild

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