The Root

One gardener’s quest to get to the bottom of it all.

Growing Again December 16, 2008

Playing with dirt

Almost eating dirt

This weekend I pulled out the dirt and the seeds and I started some lettuce, arugula, chard, spinach. It was very rewarding to have a tiny helper who was all too willing to get her hands dirty with the project. And it was wonderful to smell soil again.

It’s the heart of winter — cold blue outdoors until 7:30 am, on overcast days, and this town just shook off an ice storm that slicked every last twig and lasted for days.

But we might just (knocking on wood, not counting any chickens) have homegrown salad soon. I have had the urge for several weeks to grow greens right here at home — maybe on the balcony in some elaborate miniature hothouse contraption, maybe under the dreaded, sap- and soul-sucking fake lights…or maybe, as it turns out, on the living room windowsill. That might do just fine.

Midwinter lettuce sprouts

Sprinting to the head of the class is some red leaf lettuce, which sprouted in three days and earned a place on said windowsill. This is pretty exciting stuff. The arugula and chard are sending up spindly shoots, over on a top shelf of the media center.

This is all it takes. I am already imagining a pea plant on the windowsill, sending tendrils all the way up to the curtain rod. Freya and I will eat snap peas for breakfast. I will just keep trying until it works, until some vegetable grows green enough to eat. Dude. Nothing like optimism on a sub-freezing day.


Winter Squash: Garden-Planning Escapism December 14, 2008

Freya’s napping, I’m perusing the seed catalog again, and I can’t help posting a quick-and-dirty poll asking everyone what their favorite winter squash variety is. Do you love any of these? Do you have a different favorite?

Using space efficiently is definitely a priority, here — I have pretty much decided to completely turn over Firstplot to herbs and picking flowers — so my remaining vegetable-growing plots consist of Vineplot (approximately 3’x4′), the pumpkin patch, and my balcony. I’m looking for a very compact squash plant, if there is such a thing…I don’t know, as I have never grown winter squash before…


Coconut “Faux-Pound Cake” December 11, 2008

Filed under: Recipes,Winter — Kate @ 11:26 am
Tags: , , ,
Butterless coconut pound cake

Butterless coconut pound cake

Neville and I have always joked that the kitchen is never really clean because we use it; lately, this has actually been the case. It’s thoroughly winter, everybody’s hungry pretty consistently six times a day, and we all need energy to be/keep up with a one-year-old. But since I’m also a sucker for efficiency, it’s my de facto mission to get good at making several simple recipes and then use variations on them forevermore — last summer it was pizza, grilled chicken salad, and frittata.

This winter it’s been more of a crapshoot, but we do seem to eat a lot of Indian dishes and “experimental” baked goods. That has generated a lot of half-used cartons of coconut milk, yogurt, and buttermilk. Which is good cause for more experimentation. That’s how this cake was born. Buttermilk is amazing — I have been using it as a substitute for butter in a lot of things, and I love how they turn out. (I used to substitute store-bought buttermilk with regular milk mixed with vinegar, but that has none of the frothy good thickness of cultured buttermilk. It’s worth the extra cost, in my book.)

Coconut Faux-Pound Cake

2 eggs at room temperature
1/4 cup buttermilk at room temp.
1 C. lite coconut milk at room temp.
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tsp baking powder
2 cup flour
3/4 cup unsweetened coconut

Stir together dry ingredients in a large bowl. Whisk wet ingredients together and then add them to the dry mixture, along with the coconut. Pour into a greased, 9×5 inch loaf pan. Bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes, until just brown on top and firm to the touch. Let cool completely on a rack. Eat, eat, eat!


Freya! December 9, 2008

Filed under: Meta,Winter — Kate @ 12:51 pm

Some of you have been banging pots and pans for a photo of what I’ve really been growing, so here she is, this big girl of mine. She turned one year old on November 13th…and decided to start walking last night…!!!





Saturday Seed Survey: Peas December 6, 2008

So, it turns out my local food co-op makes an annual bulk seed order, which means merry Christmas to me: New seeds at a discount from a regional, largely organic, non-GMO supplier. Virtue + thrift = legitimized greed!

Now I have a gloriously dense seed catalog full of crops I’ve never heard of, and my garden plans for ’09 are totally in flux. I would like to grow a nice big batch of peas, but which ones?

So I’m appealing to you: What are your favorite pea varieties? Below is the list of peas available in my seed catalog; check your favorite, if it’s among them, and/or write your true favorite in the comments.


Rosemary Flowers December 5, 2008

Filed under: Container Gardening,Houseplants,Winter — Kate @ 8:44 pm

Rosemary flowers