Fall Vegetable Gardening

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


It’s Fall!  Okay, maybe I’m getting ahead of myself, but I just can’t wait to get to my favorite season (and the weather these past two days has been such a tease).  But even though we’re still in the thick of the summer crop harvest, it’s not too early to start thinking about cool weather crops again.  If you want to get a jump on your fall garden, come to this fun workshop taught by Sally McCabe at the new South Philly garden store Urban Jungle!

When:  September 9th, 6pm
Where:  Urban Jungle, 1526 E. Passyunk Ave. (at Tasker)
WhatFall Vegetable Gardening - Join community gardening guru Sally McCabe of the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society to learn how you can grow vegetables in the cooler weather of fall.  Find out what kinds of vegetables can be grown, how to extend your harvest of vegetables into the winter, and how to do it all in a small space!  Cost includes instruction, wine, and snacks.  $20 per person.

Click here to register!

Posted by Erica on 08/24 at 07:38 PM

Current Harvest

Monday, August 23, 2010

On a recent trip to my community garden plots (one at the St. Bernard Community Garden and one at the Woodlands Community Garden) I brought home the following haul:


A huge bouquet of zinnias, over a pound of potatoes (‘Yukon Gold’ and a mystery blue), and several ‘Cherokee Purple’ heirloom tomatoes.  I also picked a bag of swiss chard, and a half pound of ‘Sungold’ cherry tomatoes.

My butternut squash is starting to really take over my Woodlands plot, and my cayenne and habanero peppers are all starting to ripen now.  My cucumbers have been a disappointment, along with my tomatoes overall.  But the swiss chard is going gangbusters and I will have potatoes to harvest well into September.  So I can’t complain, not really.

Happy harvesting!

Posted by Erica on 08/23 at 01:37 PM

Support the Emerald Street Urban Farm at a Puppet Performance

Thursday, August 12, 2010


Take a trip up to increasingly green Kensington to support the Green Street Urban Farm project at York and Dauphin. PuppetTyranny will perform JM Barrie’s magical story “Peter Pan in a Kensington Garden” (not Philadelphia’s Kensington, but a Kensington all the same) in the park across from the farm on 8pm on Friday August 13th and Saturday August 14th for a suggested donation of $5 - $10. Bring a kid, bring your dog, bring a local picnic and enjoy!

Philadelphia Weekly Press Release:

PuppeTyranny! brings its trademark sock and marionette whimsy to J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan prelude, transposing the adventures of Peter from Edwardian London’s posh Kensington Gardens to Philly’s own urban Kensington. The troupe’s ragtag band of actors, musicians, puppeteers and Lost Boys patch together shadows, animation, live music and dance to bring to life the story’s various fantastical characters, including fairy queens and invisible flying goats. Peter is as strange a creature as any: Not yet the boy crocodile hunter of Disney fame, he’s a downy newborn, escaped from his crib and convinced he’s a bird. Baby Peter’s dreamy after-hours adventures in the park are enough to push the old nostalgia button—even if our own childhood idylls involved more tube slides than immortal birds. The show repeats on Saturday. -Lauren Smith

8pm. $5-$10. Emerald Street Urban Farm, 2312 Emerald St. 267.909.2633.

Posted by Erin on 08/12 at 11:10 PM

West Philly Garden Day

Monday, August 09, 2010


Come check out this great event in September.  I’ll be teaching a workshop on “Starting a New Community Garden” at The Woodlands Community Garden (pictured above) at 2pm, so come by and say Hi!

West Philly Garden Day

From Noon to 3:00PM on Sunday, September 19th, visitors will have a chance to learn more about the many beautiful ornamental and community gardens in University City on a self-guided tour of these often hidden gems.  Community gardens across University City will open their gates and welcome visitors to learn more about growing their own food in University City.  Along the way, visitors will be able to stop and admire the nominees for University City’s annual Inspirational Garden Awards.  Throughout the day, a series of workshops will offer opportunities to learn about starting your own community garden, bee keeping, planting fruit trees, and other gardening topics.  At 4:00PM, join us at the Woodlands Mansion for a presentation of the annual Inspirational Garden Awards to some of the most beautiful gardens in University City.  Contact Seth Budick at (215) 243-0555 for more details.

Posted by Erica on 08/09 at 07:33 PM

TODAY: Philadelphia Orchard Project Festival and Fundraiser

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Come on out to Liberties Land Park and celebrate the Philadelphia Orchard Project. Tacos, Cupcakes, Beer and great bands!


Posted by Erin on 07/17 at 03:07 PM

The Penn Garden

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Through the efforts of U Penn undergrads, spearheaded by Sandra Zhao, there is now a community garden on campus.  The mission of The Penn Garden is ” to educate the Penn community about urban agriculture and to advocate for environmentally friendly, fair food systems.”  There will be an Urban Studies course on urban ag developed around the garden, and lots of work days for the greater West Philly community to help plant and harvest.  The food will be sold to the dining hall, sold to the community at the on-campus farmer’s market, and donated to local food banks.  Here’s the garden’s blog.

Posted by Erica on 06/20 at 12:06 PM

What to do with Garlic Scapes?

Wednesday, June 09, 2010


Perhaps garlic scapes have popped up in your CSA share, or you’ve seen them recently at a farmer’s market and thought “what do I do with these?
You’re not alone. Before I signed up for my first CSA last spring, I’d never seen a scape or even heard of them. A garlic scape is the greens that garlic bulbs shoot up out of the ground while they are growing (much like onion greens). Farmers remove the scapes so that the garlic bulb devotes more of its energy to making itself big and fat. While farmers used to throw scapes into the compost or feed them to animals, they’ve become a popular market produce and herald of the new Spring season.

So what do you do with them? Basically, anything that you would already do with garlic. Scapes taste like garlic, but with a milder, greener flavor. You can chop them (all the way through the flower) and add them to stir-fries, soups, salads, casseroles, burritos, and really, anything else. Many scape lovers find them especially delightful ground into pesto. I like to fry the scapes before using them (like garlic). Because they are milder, you can use many more scapes than you would white garlic cloves. A good estimate is about one full scape per garlic clove (if you are substituting) and you will still have milder flavor. And if for some reason you just can’t stand garlic, they also look beautiful in a vase!

Posted by Erin on 06/09 at 03:14 PM

Help Odwalla plant a tree in your state!

Tuesday, June 01, 2010


Odawalla, the natural juice and smoothie company, is planting trees all across the US this summer with their “Odwalla Plant A Tree” Campaign. Just click on the site below, select your state, and vote using either your email or Facebook accounts. It’s that simple! PA is currently in second place for number of trees planted. The sky’s the limit!

Posted by Erin on 06/01 at 05:14 PM

Green cherries

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

This little dwarf sour cherry tree I planted in the backyard 2 years ago was not thriving, so I dug it up in March and moved it to a giant pot out front. Even with the unintentional root pruning it endured, I have way more cherries in development than before. I counted 41. Not exactly a pie yet, but a couple of nice handpies, perhaps!

Posted by Allison on 04/28 at 01:29 AM

Dandelion Wine

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


All this sun and rain and sun again left me with a bumper crop of dandelions. Before I covered the lot next door with raised beds and obliterated their yellow-bloomed bliss, I decided to use this bright “weed” for something useful. Crouched in the yard on a 70 degree Saturday, my basket of dandelion blooms garnered a lot of attention. Folks walking by stopped to ask what I was doing. A mini-van of curious neighbors pulled over to discuss my harvest, and turned out to be State Representative and her husband. My elderly neighbor got so excited he dug up a giant ceramic crock from his basement and donated it to my wine making effort. But what exactly is dandelion wine, and how do you make it? I’ve done some internet and word-of-mouth research and this is what I’ve discovered:

1. You only use the buds of newly opened, non-sprayed dandelions. If you want less bitter wine, use only the yellow petals.
2. Many old recipes call for the addition of orange juice and zest, cloves, even ginger to enhance the flavor.
3. Dandelion wine needs a LOT of sugar. Depending on how little you use, you can brew with traditional yeast, but a larger sugar addition needs champagne yeast (available at brewers stores) and will produce a drier, more alcoholic wine.
4. The wine needs to ferment anywhere from three weeks to one year.

I’ve started my first batch, but who knows if it will be a success. Have you ever tried dandelion wine? Ever made your own? Post your tips here and we’ll all benefit from this old recipe for “liquid sunshine” that makes good use of a lovely, if bothersome “weed.”

Posted by Erin on 04/13 at 01:25 PM

Mason bee house

Sunday, April 11, 2010

mason bee house
I don’t think my garden suffers from a dearth of bees, but this mason bee nest looked fun. I ordered mine from Miller Nurseries in upstate NY (not so local, but family-owned and has good prices and service—my dwarf cherry and raspberries came form there), but there are lots of places to purchase them. The female bee lays eggs in the tubes (usually holes in trees or in reeds) and walls them up with bits of mud, hence the “mason” part. When somebody moves in, I’ll post an update.

Posted by Allison on 04/11 at 07:38 PM

Heat Wave

Thursday, April 08, 2010

The summer-like heat we’ve been getting lately is sending mixed signals to all of my plants.  The cool season crops that survived the record-breaking winter have had only a few short weeks to produce and now they are all bolting!  The kale, brussels sprouts, cabbage, and broccoli are all reaching for the sky and opening up their yellow flowers.  I’m just going to pinch the flowers and hope for the best.  The kale I harvested this week is delicious, despite the developing flowers.

Posted by Erica on 04/08 at 01:01 AM

Compost Matters!

Friday, March 26, 2010


Want to learn more about how composting can save the planet and increase your garden yield? Registerd for the “Compost Matters” one-day conference and learn about current and proposed local compost projects, how YOU can start composting (yes, even in the city) and hear from Will Allen - sustainable urban farming promoter who received a MacArthur “Genius Grant” in 2008 for his efforts. And hey, while you’re in the neighborhood, grab a drink or dinner at The White Dog and support a business that supports local farmers!
Register Here

April 9, 2010

8:00 – 8:45     Registration

8:45 – 9:00     Welcome
                Nancy O’Donnell, PHS and Linda Knapp, ILSR

9:00 – 10:00   Keynote address; Growing Food and Community in the City
                Will Allen, Growing Power

10:00 – 10:15 Break

10:15 – 10:45 Food Composting Projects in Pennsylvania
                Patti Olenick and Carl Hursh, PA Department of Environmental Protection

10:45 – 11:15 Wilmington Organic Recycling Center: the Region’s Largest Composting Facility
                Nelson Widell, Peninsula Compost Group

11:15 – 12:00 From Kitchen to Farm—A Composting Partnership
                Ned Foley, Two Particular Acres, and Marvin Dixon, Four Seasons Hotel

12:00 – 12:45 Lunch (provided on site)

12:45 – 1:15   On-Site Commercial Composting
                Maurice Sampson II, Niche Recycling, Inc.

1:15 – 1:45   The Journey to Sustainable Landscapes—Let’s go!
                Mark Highland, Organic Mechanics Potting Soil

1:45 – 2:00     Break

2:00 – 2:45     Compost Policy Panel Discussion, with audience questions
                Mike Giuranna, US Environmental Protection Agency/Region III
                Patti Olenick and Carl Hursh, PA Department of Environmental Protection
                Katherine Gajewski, Director of Sustainability, City of Philadelphia
                Moderator: Nora Goldstein, Editor, BioCycle magazine

2:45 – 3:00     Closing remarks
                Katherine Gajewski, Director of Sustainability, City of Philadelphia

4:00 – 5:00   Tour of Moravian Court
                University of Pennsylvania campus, 34th & Spruce streets

Posted by Erin on 03/26 at 01:52 PM

Crocuses and Pansies!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


My crocuses are coming up! All my hard work last fall is starting to pay off, and purple and white crocuses has popped their pretty heads up all over my front garden / lawn. Soon, the daffodils and tulips will appear! If you didn’t get to bulb planting before this season, it’s the perfect time to plant pansies, which are hardy and perennial, so not only can you enjoy them this year, they’ll come back for you next spring, too!


Posted by Erin on 03/24 at 03:54 PM

And so it begins . . .

Monday, March 22, 2010

The weather this weekend was perfect for putting shovel to soil, and that I did.

In my plot at The Woodlands Community Garden I planted three rows of seed potatoes (Yukon Gold, Red Pontiac, and Katahdin), chive and leek transplants, and lettuce and arugula seeds.  The kale and escarole made it through the winter, along with some sad little carrots that I harvested.

In my plot at the St. Bernard Community Garden I planted Dwarf Grey Sugar peas, Space spinach, and Bloomsdale Longstanding spinach.

Mid- to late-March is also the right time to plant onion sets, garlic, shallots, fava beans, radishes, beets, carrots, turnips, bok choy, parsley, and plants in the cabbage family.

Happy planting!

Posted by Erica on 03/22 at 10:00 PM

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