Time to Plant: Lettuces

Wednesday, March 02, 2011


You can plant lettuces as soon as the ground thaws, and up to 8 weeks before the last frost date. That means now! Hurray! I planted my first lettuces tonight - yugoslavian red butter lettuce, red romaine, green butter, and red and green romaine. You can sow seeds directly into the ground, 1/4 inch deep, seeds spaced about one inch apart, and rows 10 - 12 inches apart. Pat down the dirt over your seeds, water and fertilize, and get excited about an early spring crop!

Posted by Erin on 03/02 at 12:14 AM

Buying Heirloom Seeds

Monday, February 28, 2011

Why is it important to buy heirloom seeds? Heirlooms help protect genetic diversity in crops. The more diverse varieties that you plant, the less likely they will all be wiped out by a single blight or bug or disaster, like the great potato famine. As grocery stores and corporate farming have slowly narrowed down the public’s concept of any particular plant, we’ve lost history, flavor and beauty. Heirloom varieties are often beautiful and seem unique - think purple varigated carrots - and may be more resistant to your local pests. I ordered seeds this year from
D. Landreth, the oldest seed company in the United States, located right here in Pennsylvania. I’m so excited for my breakfast radishes, chiogga beets, garlic chives, fairytale eggplant, giant california scarlet king zinnias, and and mexican sour ghercins, among others. Many seed companies, D. Landreth included, let you purchase individual seed packets or collects - like their neat patio plant collection of miniature vegetables that grow well in containers.

Get a group of friends together, place a big order, and get excited for your seeds to arrive!

Posted by Erin on 02/28 at 02:33 AM

Start Your Own Community Garden!

Monday, January 17, 2011

I can personally attest to the awesome-ness of this course - after I took the winter and spring sessions I started not one, but two community gardens in West Philly!

Garden Tenders:  Create a Neighborhood Garden

These self-help courses are designed for individuals and groups who want to improve their neighborhoods by turning vacant lots and other spaces into both community and individual gardens.  Garden Tenders participants learn how to get gardens started, and how to keep things going once the garden is in the ground.

Winter:    Saturday, January 29, 9:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m.: Fee $10 Preregistration deadline: Jan 21.

Spring:    Wednesdays, March 23, 30, April 6, 20, and 27, May 4 and 11, 5:30-8:30 p.m. &
                    Saturday, April 16, 10:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m.:  Fee $25 Preregistration deadline: March 18.

These trainings are held at the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, 100 N. 20th Street, 5th Floor.
To register and pay online, go to
Act 48 credits are available.

For more information, contact Sally McCabe at 215-988-8846 or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Posted by Erica on 01/17 at 07:34 PM

Seed Starting Workshop

Thursday, January 13, 2011


Every year I faithfully start my home garden plants from seeds, and invariably, most of them die. I just don’t seem to be good at it. Maybe I need a workshop! Not only does starting plants from seeds save money, it allows you to save your favorite varieties and grown them year after year.

Alexis Kidd a Philadelphia Master Gardener will present the different seed starting methods, resources to get you started, and how to build a light stand. All for just $10!

Fairmount Park Horticultural Center
N. Horticultural and Montgomery Drive, Phila., Pa. 19130

Registration 9AM $10.00 admission fee
To pre-register call 215-471-2200 Ext 100

For more information go to:

Posted by Erin on 01/13 at 06:04 PM

Short, inspirational documentary about Mill Creek Farm

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

garden photo

Check out this great, two-part short documentary about Mill Creek Farm in West Philadelphia. Jo and Jade have been going at it for years and have built a real community resource, supplying education, organic local food, and a safe community space. Learn more about how to get involved on their website.

West Philly Grown Part 1

West Philly Grown Part 2

To help ensure that Mill Creek can continue its work, help it become part of a landtrust. Let Councilwoman Blackwell know that this land shouldn’t be on the auction block for future developement”

Please take a minute to send a message to Councilwoman Blackwell.
To submit your comments online, use this form:

To learn more about the land trust issue and how Mill Creek Farm is threatened, go HERE.

Posted by Erin on 01/05 at 08:52 PM

Get to Farming!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


Great news Urban Farmers! The Pennsylvania Abandoned and Blighted Property Conservatorship Act allows concerned citizens and neighbors to claim abandoned lots and “refurbish” them - which means you that you can turn that trash lot next door into a garden. Recently, the Urban Tree Connection in Haddington section of West Philadelphia tested the law and won, striking a victory for neighborhoods dealing with blighted property. You can read more about the recent case in this Philadelphia Inquirer article. Now, get to planting!

Posted by Erin on 11/23 at 08:50 PM

Time to plant the garlic!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


Here in the East Coast, its not too late to plant your garlic for spring - in face, it’s just the right time! And planting couldn’t be easier. Just choose a healthy bulb of organic garlic and break it into cloves.


Dig a hole in healthy dirt about an inch and a half deep. Plant the clove of garlic, tip up, and cover well with dirt. Tamp down the soil and water. Make sure that your garlic gets at least an inch of water a week until the ground covers with snow. Now, just wait until those beautiful garlic scapes pop up in the spring and enjoy!


Posted by Erin on 11/16 at 02:51 AM

John and Kira’s launches seasonal chocolates

Friday, October 22, 2010


For the last few years, local sweets darlings, John and Kira (Baker-)Doyle, have been producing artisinal quality chocolates from their kitchen in the Northeast using Philadelphia ingredients ( I love the garden mint from Drew Elementary and UCity High School). Now they’ve sweetened the deal by adding seasonal specialties. This fall’s line features spiced pumpkins filled with pumpkin pie caramel and spices, chocolate cherries and rosemary bergamont and mint “urban garden” chocolate bars. you can find John and Kira’s at local farmers markets, the Reading Terminal Market’s Fair Food Farmstand, or order direct from their site at

Posted by Erin on 10/22 at 03:47 PM

Winter Herbs and Wreaths

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Check out these workshops at Urban Jungle (1526 E. Passyunk Ave.) to wrap up your gardening season, and stay tuned for more coming up next spring!

November 4th, 6pm - Herb Gardens - REGISTER
Enhance your home-cooking experience by growing fresh herbs on your windowsill this winter!  Smell and taste a range of fresh herbs, learn about new varieties of herbs, and taste home-made herbal tea and snacks.  Cost includes instruction, herb seeds, recipes, wine, and snacks.  $20 per person.

herb container

November 18th, 6pm - Winter Wreaths - REGISTER
Celebrate the changing of the seasons with Doris Stahl, Penn State Philadelphia Urban Horticulture Educator, who has been making wreaths and other crafts from her gardens for many years.  The wreaths will be made with natural materials, if you have something special to include or a preferred ribbon please bring it to personalize your wreath.  Cost includes instruction, material, wine, and snacks. $35 per person.

Posted by Erica on 10/21 at 04:25 PM

Calling All Teachers!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society’s Green City Teachers training starts soon - sign up to learn how to integrate horticulture and environmental education into your classroom, and to get up to 16 Act 48 credits!

What:  Green City Teachers Basic Training
When:  Thursdays, October 21 & 28, November 4 & 11. 5:30 - 8:30 pm and Saturday, October 23. 10 am - 2 pm (bus tour)
Where:  Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, 100 N. 20th St.  5th Fl., Philadelphia, PA 19103
Why:  This five-session course will encourage Philadelphia educators to integrate horticulture and environmental education into their classrooms as they participate in a forum for sharing ideas. Topics include Basic Horticulture, Food Gardening, Trees, Indoor Gardening, and Habitat Gardens.
How much:  Pre-Registration Fee: $20.00 . Walk-in Registration:$25.  To register online, visit  Online registration fee includes an additional $2.09 handling charge.

For more information:

And stay tuned for the summer session where you will learn to build a school garden!

Posted by Erica on 10/12 at 02:33 PM

Drying Fresh Herbs

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


Sadly, almost all of my herbs got eaten by squirrels, killed by the heat wave, poisoned by black walnuts, or crushed by construction materials. This past week I decided that instead of harvesting my own, I’d order some lemon balm from the Lancaster Farm Fresh CSA and still have plenty of winter tea. Lemon Balm can be dried like most herbs from your garden - easily. The fastest method is to lay the herbs on a cookie sheet and place them in your oven. Just a little heat - 100 degrees - can try the herbs in an hour or two, or if you have a gas oven with a pilot light you can leave them in there overnight and wake up to dried herbs in the morning. I usually remove leaves before drying, but with some tough leaves, like rosemary, it is easier to dry them on the stalk and then remove them later.


Some people prefer to hang their herbs by their stalks. These bunches, hanging over a kitchen sink, in front of a window, or in a dry attic look and smell lovely, though they can take a bit longer to dry. If left undisturbed, they may hang intact for months, but watch out - they can also get dusty!

Posted by Erin on 09/15 at 03:00 PM

A Festival Weekend

Friday, September 10, 2010


I’ve already mentioned the Kennett Square Mushroom Festival, but there all kinds of festivals happening this weekend for you local food-minded, outdoorsy, green folks. Initially, I was going to write an entry for all of them, but they stacked up! Instead, I’ve compiled a linked list of all the fun events this weekend.

Safe Routes Philly Family Phest - 8am-1pm
Elkins Oval, on Ben Franklin Parkway between 23rd and 24th Sts., in front of the Art Museum.
Learn bicycle skills and safety during this youth oriented lead-up to Sunday’s Bike Philly

PHS Fall Garden Festival 11am-4pm
Naval Yard
This year this festival is open to everyone - member or not! Demonstrations, children’s activities, annual plant sale, and more.

Bike Philly - 8am
The Bicycle Coalition has organized this family-friendly bike though the car-free streets of Philadelphia. 10, 20 and 35 mile courses are available. Get out there and enjoy our beautiful city!

Greenfest Philly -  11am-6pm
2nd & South Streets
Philadelphia, PA

Over 200 vendors with green eats, clothing, construction materials, and house supplies, this fun outdoor festival features a clothing swap and eco-poetics competition.

Posted by Erin on 09/10 at 02:27 AM

Potatoes, My Way

Monday, August 30, 2010

Last year was my first experiment with growing potatoes and it was revelatory.  When you eat potatoes that were harvested that same day, the flavor is unbelievably earthy and complicated.  I never knew potatoes could taste like that and I am truly a convert.


So this year I expanded my crop and grew four different types of potatoes:  ‘Yukon Gold,’ ‘Red Pontiac,’ ‘Katahdin,’ and some mysterious small blue potato that my friend gave me.  By far, the ‘Yukon Gold’ potatoes were the most dense, buttery, and delicious and I am definitely going to be growing more of them next year. 

I planted my potatoes in April, they bloomed in June, and I started harvesting in July.  There are still some potatoes in the ground and I plan on leaving them for a few more weeks while we eat the ones I harvested this weekend.  If I wanted, I could leave them in the ground and harvest as late as November.  Potatoes are amazing.


My favorite way to eat my potatoes is chopped with onions and sauteed in left over bacon fat (from bacon that I sometimes treat myself to from Milk and Honey Market at 45th and Baltimore in West Philly.  Yum).


Toss in a few slices of tomato with salt and sugar and presto!  Lunch.


Posted by Erica on 08/30 at 02:20 PM

August Harvest

Saturday, August 28, 2010


  *  ‘Katahdin’ and ‘Yukon Gold’ potatoes
  * one tiny (and slightly tasteless) watermelon
  * habanero peppers
  * ‘Sungold’ and ‘Tomaccio’ cherry tomatoes
  * ‘Long Slim’ cayenne peppers
  * a ‘Cherokee Purple’ and two other tomatoes
  * red onions
  * an eggplant
  * leeks
  * deformed, end-of-season cucumbers

Enjoy your own summer harvests!

Posted by Erica on 08/28 at 06:47 PM

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