In the heat of summer almost all our peppers are turning the most beautiful true red. With all the other greens growing in nearby beds it looks like an early Christmas. The peppers are part of the “Salsa Garden”, growing alongside Big Boy and Early Girl Tomatoes, a few sweet bell peppers and onions to be sown soon.
Some plants are natural bedfellows. Their symbiotic relationships make their jobs of growing beautiful green leaves and delicious fruit easier. Our Salsa Garden relies on these bedfellows to make our work as gardeners and cooks easier.
The first time we met the garden it was more than wild. It remained wild until a profound thing was said to me, to be a great gardener feed your dirt. Feed it and turn it into rich soil. The problem with composting for many is that to generate adequate heat to transform food waste into rich organic matter more space is required than most people have. Enter Vermicompost, which I’ve touched on very briefly before. Vermicomposting requires very little space, is tidy enough to be done indoors if space is truly limited.
Vermicomposting is also very fast, 10 weeks, compared to regular Composting which can take 6 months or more. Vermicomposting requires no turning, only that food be buried under soil (this keeps unwanted guests such as flies from visiting) and the worms will do the rest. Regular composting also requires watering to the consistency of a wrung out sponge, again not necessary for Vermicompost where the worms create their own moisture. Make sure you situate your worms under some shade so they don’t dry out.
Red Bread and our own Test Kitchen keep our worms happy with regular food scrap feedings. We’ve become quite fond of them and refer to their little corner of the garden as Squiggle University. We even have a fight song. Continue reading
Today there are beets and watermelon sprouting in the garden. Basil has broken through in the nursery. The tomato and strawberry transplants look full of promise for future fruit. And the radishes continue to grow ravishingly in the raised beds! I am helping things grow! But I get way ahead of myself…
Two years ago I killed three basil plants while in student housing. We moved and to see what was growing we let our new small garden go to seed for the season…and the next and another one because I had no idea what I was doing. Until a short time ago, I had not given gardening a second thought. That there were trees around, flowers blooming and food growing was lost on me, or rather common place. I like most people, had no real idea what food looked like in its natural state. The dirt. A little over a month ago, I took on the LA Victory Garden for Beginners. And dirt was only the beginning. Gardening like most things is about paying attention. With some basic knowledge, a watchful eye and sense of adventure your green thumb will grow. Let’s cover knowledge here!
The last couple of days there has been an odd icy chill to the days. It hasn’t helped that it has poured and no one in Los Angeles is prepared for cold weather. It’s one of the rites of passage moving to LA, you give away all your winter coats and sweaters. I gave up most, but couldn’t bear to part with a bright indigo blue military beauty. (I wear it when others are still in flip flops.) But today, today! There was no need for such things. We awoke to sunshine and the world washed a brighter green. So we went to the Garden.
Within this lovely little town is a little yellow cottage flying Tibetan Flags. A little yellow cottage my husband found. When we came to the open house, the water was red with young couples hoping to live here. And after a very apprehensive week, we won! Beyond my wildest dreams it came with a garden. Both thrilling and devastating news, as I had a steady history of killing plants. Without shirking all responsibility I would like to put forward that my previous apartments were the main culprits. Both were in urban areas that though they had windows, none of those windows faced the sun. So there was no light and yet I persisted with the slaughter of innumerable African Violets and one brave basil plant. But now I have my very own patch of mother earth to lavish upon. I’ve been reading a wonderful garden/cookbook hybrid, that has me constantly inspired to garden. I dream of digging my fingers into rich earth, biting a red ripe tomato, even fending off pests. OH! And trying his grandmother’s blueberry slump tucked away in the recipes in the back. Jimmy Williams has become sort of a personal hero, which I barely managed to hide when I met him at the farmer’s market last week stammering out “I..have..a …garden!” Currently the garden is a bit of a process, I inherited a garden and have let it bloom through the spring in order to identify the plants. Only to learn, I don’t know many!