Welcome to Sassy Plants - a blog about urban gardening, edible landscaping, and other plant rants.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

2010 Garden

Another beautiful day!  I neglected to plant garlic last fall, so today I planted the remainder (52 to be exact) of our 2009 garlic cloves.  I also went to a few garden centers and bought: 1 package of Anaheim Pepper seeds, 1 package of Snow Pea seeds, 1 Rhubarb plant, 1 Horseradish plant, 1.5 lbs of organic German Butterball Potato seed, and 1 bag of seed starting mix. The grand total for all of these treasures was $18.13.  Not bad!  I got a few good deals.

Two years ago I was taking Master Gardener classes where a discussion about the value of homegrown produce was brought up.  One person said that his time was worth so much that it was simply not cost effective to grow his own tomatoes, and that he would prefer to purchase tomatoes that had been shipped here from Mexico. Kind of a quirky perspective coming from a Master Gardener...
Two years later times have changed and many people have more time than money. This year I plan to keep track of how much I spend to grow food, what I harvest from my yard and the dollar value of what I have grown.  I think that, particularly in these economically challenging times, it will be interesting to see how much can be produced out of a city garden.

Monday, February 22, 2010

It might as well be spring

It has been a warm and sunny winter here in Portland! March 21 is still weeks away, but it looks and feels a lot like spring.  In my yard there are blooming daffodils, vinca, violets, grape hyacinth, forsythia, primrose and flowering currant. 

Thursday, February 11, 2010

I heart Hinoki

I love Hinoki.  I do.  I get weak in the knees over a good Slender Hinoki. Once someone told me that they thought Hinoki look just like Arborvitae.  I can't remember who said that because, in all honesty, I probably wrote them off as soon as the words left their lips.

Hinoki are a false cypress, native to Japan. They have sprayed vegetation that is somewhat twisted and cupped, which gives it really interesting contrast and depth. And they are evergreen, and low maintenance.  What is not to love?
Above is a courtyard garden I designed at NW 11th & Kearney in Portland.  
Look at the beautiful Hinoki!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Getting Down To It

I just took our last gallon of diced tomatoes out of the freezer to make Penne all'Arrabiata.
The tomato purchasing fate that awaits us for the next five months is a little sad.  On the other hand, getting to mid-February on home grown tomatoes is pretty darn good.  Especially if you are Italian.  And you make a lot of tomato sauce.
Last year was very successful for our tomato harvest, but there were things that we'll do differently this year.  For starters, we planted about 14 tomato plants in the garden, and they were fairly close together. The result was that some tomatoes went bad because we simply didn't see them in the tomato jungle.  We also experimented with leaving some plants in 5 gallon containers in the greenhouse, and on our deck.  That was pretty much a bust.  Each plant only gave us a few tomatoes.
This year the plan is to have about 16 tomatoes in the garden, with more space in between.  We'll see how far that crop gets us into 2011.
What else is left from the 2009 backyard bounty? One frozen pureed butternut squash, garlic, elephant garlic, and chili flakes. And a box of purple potatoes that are full of shoots and trying to grow right out of my basement.  We also have spinach and mache that was seeded in November.  And I seeded some lettuce in the greenhouse a few days ago.
Can we make it a whole year and have something home grown on hand to eat at all times?  I think so.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

When Life Hands You Meyer Lemons...

Yesterday a friend bestowed two home grown 'Improved Meyer' lemons upon me, which reminded me that they are on the 2010 list of things I must grow! I haven't tasted the lemons yet, but they smell unbelievably good.
'Improved Meyer' is the hardiest of dwarf lemons and does well in containers, so it is not terribly difficult to grow here in the Northwest.  You can grow the lemon as an indoor plant, or keep outdoors and either protect it during a cold snap or bring inside during colder months.  I have read that they will survive brief cold snaps dipping as low as 18 degrees.
'Improved Meyer' lemons are evergreen and prolific.  They can produce fruit year round, although the majority is produced in the winter.  They are also, in fact, a cross between a lemon and a mandarin orange, so the flavor is more sweet than other lemons.  That sweet flavor apparently lends itself well to lemonade.  I can't wait to try some!