A Tramp in the (Organic) Garden

Seeds, Smack Talk and Assorted Gardening Madness in South Pasadena, Los Angeles

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Big Gardening Plans, Baby, Big Plans! and Edible Estates Talks

I can't listen to ABBA and write about my Big Gardening Plans at the same time. That's just to preface my distracted ramblings. It's like rubbing your stomach and patting your head at the same time- it takes a lot of concentration. (Knowing Me, Knowing You...unh haaaanh. There is nothing we can do, Knowing Me, Knowing You...unh haaaaanh.)

I had big plans for the garden this weekend! (Take A Chance, Take A Chance, take a chance, chance, chance, chance) Clear out all the leftover summer vegetables, remove the bamboo tepees trellises, remove the layer of mulch and fallen pine needles, and amend the soil, digging in a bag of kelp meal, more amendment, and healthy handfuls of Dr. Earth fertilizer. And plant the winter seedlings- lettuces, garlic, beets, sweet peas, etc. Along the way, to my dismay I discovered more freaking nematodes and ground termites. F*ck! I will douse you in neem and garlic extract and scatter your feeding ground with tilled in marigolds... I didn't manage to plant the winter seedlings, but I did plan the layout and vow that I would wake up early before work each day and plant one row. Yeah... (Money, Money, Money, must be funny, in the rich man's world, Money, Money , Money, must be sunny, in the rich man's world. So I must leave , I have to go- to Las Vegas, or Monaco...I wouldn't have to work at all, I'd fool around and have a ball...)

This is what it looked like before; I'm kind of embarrassed at the state... ( So when you're near me, darling can't you hear me, S.O. S. The love you gave me, nothing else can save me, S.O.S.) It doesn't look so bad in the pic...

This is a neglected corner of the garden that was left lingering while our fence had to be rebuilt. We gained an extra foot of land that I'd like to plant with some papyrus in the corner and bougainvillea against the fence, give it some agave and other succulent shoes and I'm not sure what else right now. I change my mind every other day. Right now I'm turning it into a pile, throwing disease free clippings from the garden, free coffee grounds from Starf*cks, and clean veggie scraps from the kitchen. There's some gray Plectranthus growing there that I grew from cuttings someone generously donated. (Chiquitita, you and I know,.....how the heartaches come and they go and the scars their leavin', you'll be dancin' once again! Chiquitita, you and I cry, but the sun is still in the sky and shining above you!!)

Let's use the moody out of focus picture so you really can't tell how crappy it looks. (There's not a soul out there- no one to hear my prayers-- Gimme Gimme Gimme a man after midnight, take through the darkness through the break of the day)

The little seedlings in cell packs are growing and they are ready to be planted in the fresh beds and given away to some peeps. (Voulez vous-un hah! Take it now or leave it! Un hah! Now is all we get! Nothing promised, no regrets! Voulez vous! Ain't no big decision! You know what to do! ) The blank spaces with nothing growing are the cipollini onions and black viola seeds. Hmmm, upon recollection, I realized these seeds were like three or four years old. Nothing happened. I'm surprised. I thought at least something would pop up, that maybe at least one here or there would still be viable. I guess this is what happens when you have a 5 year old compulsive seed buying habit. I just like to look at my seed collection and know that they are there- like my shoes . You don't need to plant them or wear them! Sheesh. (Take it easy, try to cool it, girl, take it nice and slow, Does Your Mother Know? I can see, what you want, but you seem pretty young to be searching for that kind of fun.)

At 2:00 I had a break from straightening up the garden and headed over to Machine Project in Echo Park to listen to some peeps talk about how they converted their front yards and lawns into vegetable gardens in affiliation with a project called Edible Estates. I'm sure you've heard of it by now- their initiative is so right on, you need to check it out right now. A few people talked about the conversion process, their experiences. But unfortunately I can't form sentences detailing what was said and how it was profound and important while ABBA is on. The vision is so important and makes so much sense. (My my! At Waterloo, Napoleon did surrender! Oh yeah! Waterloo! Couldn't escape if I wanted to. Knowing my fate is to be with you. Ooo-oooh- ooh!) Oh, yeah, let the beat take me back to Shallow-ville!

PS- I'm leaving in 2 1/2 weeks for a month long trip and am struggling and stressing to get everything done, in the garden and otherwise before I go. It should be a very interesting journey...more on that later.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Ghetto Gardening Tips

1- Dispose of Garden Debris by Tossing it Over the Fence into Neighbor's Yard. This includes, but is not limited to: caterpillars, grubs, half eaten tomatoes, toys dug up in soil you suspect might belong to their kids, slugs, snails, vegetables leftover from crudité, wine corks, pieces of dried tortilla (just found this yesterday), anything gross that must be spontaneously deleted from the garden. For a successful toss over the fence, make sure no-one is looking or in their backyard. That their backyard is mainly full of brown weeds somehow appeases any guilt you might feel. Make sure not to hit their rottweiler in the nose.

2- Use an Old Sheet to Haul Your Garden Waste. Why use a tony bag or nice basket when you can use an old sheet? It's declassé element adds a certain "je ne sais quoi" for that ghetto garden you've always wanted. They won't teach this in Garden Design or Fine Gardening, nosirreebob. Hauling sacks of trimmings and leaves will make your neighbors think you are like a Ghetto Garden Santa! Hooray.

3-Leave Your Laundry on the Line for a Few Days to Protect Tender Plants Underneath. Laundry hanging on the line acts as sort of a ghetto cloche for plants that need extra protection from the elements. Plant tender plants like fern, begonias, and coleus especially underneath your laundry line to take full advantage. Leave laundry on the line for 4-5 days and only take it down when you have done another load.

PS-The events depicted in this blog post are fictitious (truly fig-ticious, Bombay in LA). Any similarity to any person living or dead is merely coincidental.

Forget the garden, it's 88 degrees today and we're off to the beach!

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Distractions (Away From The Garden) Abound

Nothing...can distract like a cat can distract. Last weekend and a couple of days before and after we've been catsitting the cats that used to frolic in our backyard and "belong" to our landlady. (Really, "owners" "belong" to their cats.) Oh, how I missed them! The little furball explosions of movement chasing squirrels in the backyard. How you never really get anything done when they are around, because you end up just plopping on the ground to have a love session. Oh, and the feeling of cat hair sticking to my lipgloss. You can see why I've been distracted. Then early last week I had to jet to Palm Springs for some last minute work stuff (I don't want to say anything, but international art counterfeiting rings plays a role. Shhhh.) Then it was my husbands birthday and I had a lasagna request to fulfill. Phew!

It just seems for the past few weeks with the combination of a frenetic work happenings, general googly-brainedness and even some debauchery and just plain life in general, I haven't really gotten to the garden lately. Oh, I look at it from inside the house and outside. I ponder it, plan it, think about it and manage to feel a little bit guilty while leftover crops lanquish and call out for my attention. I've even started seeds that are growing mightily. But it just seems I haven't made it out there to clean up the beds in preparation for the cooler weather and our Californian Winter. The temps have been dropping at night- down to 60 degrees! BBBrrrrrrr. Angelenos have it rough!

Sunday, October 01, 2006

In Love With: Le Paludier Fleur De Sel de Guerande

This Le Paludier Fleur De Sel de Guerande is abso-freaking-lutely amazing on your last tomatoes warm from the garden. It's so melt in your mouth, exquisitely good, that it will make you want to lick the salt marshes of Guerande. Apparently, it's harvested according ancient Celtic methods- which resonates just a little with my little bit Scottish Celtic blood. My Mexican side likes it, too. It's taken me year to actually get some of my own, and-my friends- it's a year I will never get back. Get it at Nicole's in South Pasadena...Rock on...

Now it's time for a shameless plug:

On a side note, I was first introduced to this delicious salt when I coerced Crisi Echiverri of Providence Restaurant in Los Angeles to drag me along to a Food and Wine photo shoot at Jay Griffith's place in Malibu for a feature on a Malibu Garden Party/August Issue 2005, featuring the exquisite dishes of chef Michael Cimarusti. All because I wanted to see Jay's home garden (that was not featured on the annual fundraising Venice Garden Tour) and because I'm such a fan of his work. The pleasure was all mine as I got to meet Jay Griffith- our chemistry was intense and we are currently having a mad passionate love affair. Oh My God- just kidding!! Sheesh...just being silly and K-razy. The real truth is that I was behind the scenes helping a little to lightly prep some things (I sorted favas, helped to put together some fennel packages for the grill, plucked some perfect cilantro leaves for the prawn and shaved vegetable salad). I remember it as being a wonderful day...

Dining at Providence, by the way, was the most profound culinary experience I've ever had. Please rush your booty there-Michael Cimarusti and Paul Shoemaker and crew hook up your taste buds and your soul in a deep way...