U is for Umbelliferae

  • Post published:April 25, 2016

U is for Umbelliferae. Umbelliferae is the family of plants that includes carrots, cilantro/coriander/ dill,  lovage, parsley, parsnips and Queen Anne's Lace. As well as a few others. I hadn't thought about the range of this family until I read Vegetable Literacy, a wonderfully informative horticultural book - and cook book filled with delicious recipes. The name Umbelliferae refers to the type of flower form - umbel. I wrote about Queen Anne's Lace here  and identified it as Daucus…

How to Start Seeds Indoors

  • Post published:March 26, 2016

It is easy and fun to start seeds indoors. Seeds are just magical - tiny bits of stuff that can turn into a delicious fruit or vegetable or gorgeous flower with only the help of a little soil, sun and rain. That magic is available to us all. All of us can plant seeds, and wave our magic wands to keep ourselves busy while we watch the magic show produced by Mother Earth, Father Sun and Sister Rain.…

Root Cellars and Root Vegetables

  • Post published:December 4, 2015

Our Thanksgiving table will include  root vegetables like Yukon Gold potatoes, sweet potatoes, onions, beets, parsnips and carrots. Even the Pilgrims might have had some of these vegetables at the first Thanksgiving. Root vegetables were an important part of the food supply in Europe before canning and freezing were available. Root vegetables were harvested in the fall and stored for winter use without preserving them in some way, like pickling or drying. When I was a child living…

Epic Tomatoes by Craig LeHoullier

  • Post published:April 19, 2015

Tomatoes are the most popular fruit in the world. First grown by the Aztecs and Incas around 700 AD, they spread to Europe in the late 16th century and are now grown all around the world. There aren’t too many tomatoes used in dishes at your local Chinese restaurant, so it may come as a surprise that China grows and consumes more tomatoes than any other country. Still it is not so surprising when you consider that China…

A Plethora of Peas – From Snaps to Sweet

  • Post published:February 27, 2015

There are peas that need to be shelled, peas that only need to be snapped, peas named snow, and sweet peas that can be smelled. There are pea plants that are small, and many that are tall. There is a pea for every taste, and every eye and nose. Peas are one of the first vegetables that can be planted in the spring. What more could one ask of a humble legume? All peas prefer a fairly neutral…

Greenfield’s Winter Fare – February 21, 2015

  • Post published:February 19, 2015

Greenfield's Winter Fare is more than a Farmer's Market. Last month I attended the first  Winter Farmers Market of the year, held at the Greenfield Middle School. I came home with two heavy bags full of apples, winter squash, watermelon radish, golden beets, bread and frozen ground lamb.  And wonderful bread from El Jardin bakery.  Walking into that space was like walking into Ali Baba's cave full of jewels. A little brighter, but with so much wealth spread…

Watermelon or Beauty Heart Radish- beautiful either way

  • Post published:January 4, 2015

Watermelon or Beauty Heart radish? At the farmer's market on Saturday I  bought Watermelon radish. However, I first met this radish in China where the Chinese name was translated as Beauty Heart, so much prettier than Red Meat Radish which is the way it is sold by some seed companies. I love Beauty Heart, but I can easily live with Watermelon Radish.  When my Chinese colleagues first served me this radish in a pickled salad I insisted it…

What’s New for 2015

  • Post published:January 3, 2015

What's new for 2015? In just five days we’ll have entered a new year where unimagined things may happen. How much of 2014 did you forsee on January 1, 2014? I’ll bet lots of the unimagined entered your life, and I hope that much was positive and joyful. You know that there will be many banners of NEW in the nursery and seed catalogs that are starting to fill our mailboxes. Perhaps the most unimagined new plant I…

Last Minute Trio of Gift Books for You or a Friend

  • Post published:December 22, 2014

We are not slaves to the calendar at our house. If you cannot buy any of these gift books for delivery before Christmas, who cares? I still want to remind you of three different types of books that would make great gifts. Groundbreaking Food Gardens (Storey $19.95) by Niki Jabbour will indeed give you 73 plans that will change the way you garden. If you have limited space or no land at all you can grow a container…

Indoor Kitchen Gardening by Elizabeth Millard

  • Post published:December 19, 2014

When I first started reading Elizabeth Millard's new book, Indoor Kitchen Gardening: Turn Your Home Into a Year-Round Vegetable Garden, ($24.99) I had some idea about growing herbs and sprouts indoors during the winter, but I wasn't so sure about tomatoes. For that reason I dashed right past all the basic information about getting started to the back of the book, past microgreens and herbs, past the potatoes! and straight to  tomatoes. Millard acknowledges that growing tomatoes, which…