Web Site: http://www.sweetbriarlandscapedesign.com
Posts by Avis Licht:
- 4 medium green tomatoes
- 2 small red peppers (hot or not)
- 1 onion – peeled and chunked
- 3 – 4 cloves pressed garlic
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- dash salt
- sprinkle of sugar
- 2 avocados
- juice from a lime
- a little more salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- chopped cilantro – 1/4 cup
by Avis Licht
Edible landscaping has become more popular than I ever thought it would or could. Every day we hear about some new project in cities all over the world. We’re seeing gardens that are both beautiful and have delicious, healthy produce. I mean, it only makes sense.
In Marin County the municipal water district has been encouraging people to conserve water by planting low water use plants as well as food gardens. In May they have a tour of the best gardens that use principals that they call “Bay Friendly”: organic, drought resistant, permeable surfaces, habitat friendly for beneficial birds and insects, and lovely to look at.
On the tour last weekend I took some photos from a few of the gardens that incorporated some good edible landscaping ideas. See if anything inspires you for your garden. (Click on the photos to enlarge them.)
Be sure to leave a comment or shoot me a question by going to the Ask Avis page.
To find out more about growing in containers read my post on self watering planters.
To find out more about growing strawberries read this post.
by Avis Licht
I’m starting a new feature on my blog as a result of popular demand. Whatever your reason, it’s going to be easy to send me your gardening questions and get a quick answer. If I don’t know the answer, I’ll direct you to a good source.
Here’s chance for all of you far flung fans to ask me questions about gardening. No question is too simple. Gardening is a wonderful, yet perplexing activity. Why something works once and then the next time it’s a total bust can be frustrating.
Nature will have her way, but there are methods that work to ensure success in the garden. After 40 years with my hands in the dirt, I’ve probably made as many mistakes as you could imagine, but trust me, I haven’t given up yet. And you can be the beneficiary of my experience.
Ask a question in the comment section below and I’ll get back to you pronto.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Yours in the joy of gardening,
by Avis Licht
In the middle of a cold and wet winter day it’s hard to think about what needs doing in the garden. But there are a few items on the to do list that will give your garden a jump on the spring rush.
Be sure to take a walk around the garden and check for erosion from rainy day run off. We’ve had some amazingly strong downpours this year that caused some unwanted waterfalls. Read these posts to correct drainage problems. Sometimes there’s just too much water at once and you have to clean up after the fact. Take a look at my veggie garden: (click to enlarge)
Protect tender garden plants by covering them on frosty nights. You can use row covers, sheets, blankets or plastic.Succulents, citrus, bougainvillea and fuchsias are among the frost-sensitive plants. Use stakes to keep material from touching foliage and remove the coverings when temperatures rise the next day.
Many deciduous trees, shrubs and vines can be pruned now. Do not prune spring-blooming plants until after they bloom. Consult a pruning guide that lists optimum pruning times for different species.
Order seeds for your spring and summer garden. Read these posts I wrote on catalog offerings and seeds choices. Be sure to order my e book : The Spring Garden Made Easy. It will help you get your garden going in Spring. It’s only $4.99 and you can download it right now!
It’s perfect timing to plant those hardy perennials during this season of rain and plant dormancy. It’s important to get down to your local nurseries to check out their stock of bare root fruit trees, soft fruit, and more. Think asparagus, artichoke, rhubarb, blueberries, raspberries, pomegranate and all those great fruit trees. Just don’t work the soil when it is too wet.
by Avis Licht
As far as we know there is still only one of these for us to live on: together, all the peoples of the earth. Today, December 21, 2012, is the shortest day of the year in the northern latitudes. The longest night. Out of darkness is born the hope of summer and light. No matter how stupidly we humans behave, the light always comes back.
Gardeners by nature are an optimistic lot. They have to be. When you take a tiny seed and put it in the ground, planning, waiting, expecting a seedling to come up despite numerous obstacles, like slugs, snails, earwigs, birds, and so many more possibilities for failure, you have to have a heart of determination to succeed. So in spite of the horrific tragedy in the shootings of small, innocent children, in spite of the wars, and fighting that go on around the world, where many innocent children and civilians are hurt and killed, I call on the deepest part of my heart to remain positive that the light will prevail.
Let us sow seeds and plant trees in honor of the fallen.
Let us take care of these seedlings and trees to remember and honor those for whom they are planted.
Let the food you grow in your garden be a sacrament to feed your family and neighbors.
Let the work in your garden encourage you to take care of those in need around you.
Every day now, there are a few more minutes of light. Each small step we take towards a positive future will bring us closer to that vision we hold.
MAY YOUR HOLIDAYS BE FILLED WITH HOPE AND LIGHT
by Avis Licht
I’m sitting in my office, looking out the window at the pouring rain. A huge winter storm has descended on us. For the water we are grateful. We just need to make sure that it doesn’t all run off and erode our precious soil. Erosion of topsoil is one of those strangely ignored problems that can create huge problems, but can be addressed with straightforward solutions.
In their book, Topsoil and Civilization, Vernon Carter and Tom Dale, make the convincing case that our misuse of topsoil is directly related to the downfall of civilizations. It takes 500 years to form 1 inch of topsoil and with unsafe soil practices this important layer can be washed away in minutes. They write, “Civilized man was nearly always able to become master of his environment temporarily. His chief troubles came from delusions that his temporary mastership was permanent. He thought of himself as “master of the world” while failing to understand fully the laws of nature.”
Topsoil supports life. Through thousands of years topsoil was formed as organic matter decayed and was deposited in layers. For 350 million years the quality and quantity of soil and life increased. With the advent of civilized man, soil building processes was reversed in most places.
A tiny fragment of the land area on the earth represents the soil that we depend on for the world’s food supply. This small fragment competes with all the other needs – housing, cities, schools, land fills, etc. It is up to each one of us to take care of, protect and enhance our own topsoil.
THINGS YOU CAN DO TO PROTECT YOUR SOIL:
1. Plant to cover your soil. In vegetable gardens use cover crops in the winter where you don’t have vegetables growing.
2. Judicious use of wood and stone to form retaining walls can make a big difference in stopping erosion.
3. Create ditches and/or swales to slow and redirect water runoff.
Check out these photographs of waterfalls in my own garden after 10 inches of rain!
by Avis Licht -
People who live in urban areas or in apartments often think they can’t grow food. But using planters can be a fun and easy way to grow certain crops. Containers have their challenges, particularly because of limited soil and need for careful watering and fertilizing. On the up side, you can put them in small places, in the right light conditions and keep the bugs away. For more on container growing, read this post.
A confession – for two years I haven’t been able to grow any carrots, though I’ve sowed a whole lot of seeds. I prepare the bed carefully, rake and smooth it. Sow it. Water it. Watch and wait. Sure enough the seeds germinate, I give a victorious shout. The next day I come out and all the seedlings are gone. Some ravenous sow bugs, earwigs, slugs, snails or combination of any or all of the above have managed to decimate my crop. For gardening beginners, this could be very discouraging, especially if an experienced gardener can’t seem to have success.
See those carrots in the photo? Those are mine. I grew them. In a container! Here’s how:
1. Get a pot: clay, wood, plastic or cloth – doesn’t matter. For carrots, the pot should be 10 -12 inches deep.
2. Fill container with planting medium
3. Keep seed moist to germinate, keep pot watered, but not soggy. Thin seedlings: 1/2 -1 inch apart.
When harvesting, gently separate the greens and look for the largest carrots . Pull them out carefully, making sure not to disturb the neighboring carrots. It wouldn’t hurt to give them a little water after harvesting to settle the roots.
In a 3 gallon size pot (like the one on the left) I will harvest more than 50 small carrots. They are were incredibly sweet and I had NO bug problems.
Be sure to read more about container planting in this post. Sign up for an email subscription to this blog so you won’t miss a post.
by Avis Licht
At the end of the summer we’re always left with a bunch of unripe tomatoes. The nights are cold, it rains, the plants start to rot. It seems like such a shame to lose those tomatoes. I was looking around the internet and found a number of yummy recipes for green tomatoes.
This recipe is a combination of several good ones. If you have left over sweet peppers you can use them and then add a little cayenne to the recipe to spice it up or down, just the way you like it.
Follow the pictures for each step and the recipe is written out at the bottom of the post.
Be sure to sign up for my blog in the subscription tab at the left. Put in your email and you’ll receive a notice of my blogs the day I write them. Here’s one on growing tomatoes.
1. Preheat oven to 350 deg F. Chop green tomatoes, onions, peppers and garlic in chunks.
2. Toss tomatoes, onions, peppers, garlic with olive oil, salt and sugar in a bowl.
3. Roast in 350 deg oven for about 30 minutes until soft.
4. Chop your vegetables into small pieces.
5.Put these veggies into the bowl with avocados, lime juice, salt, chopped cilantro and cumin. Mix well.
There you have it. 40 minutes and you’ve got yourself an incredible dish. Make it spicy hot or not, as you like it. A great way to use those green tomatoes and you don’t even have to fry them!
Here it is:
1. Preheat oven to 350 deg. Chop tomatoes, onion and pepper and toss with olive oil, salt and sugar.
2. Spread on lined baking tray. Roast for 30 – 35 minutes until softened.
3. Chop vegetables into small pieces.
4. In bowl, smash the avocados, salt, lime juice and mix with chopped vegetables. Add the cilantro and cumin. Taste for flavor.
5. Enjoy as dip with chips or raw vegetables. My family took care of that bowl in no time.
by Avis Licht
Whether you plant edible crops for the winter or not, there are a few things you can do to keep your garden healthy and protected for the winter.
1. Clean out the old beds and if you have room, be sure to compost your old foliage. There are a lot of nutrients in those plants that came out of your ground and you can put those nutrients back into the soil. Composting is an important part of garden health.
2. Plant cover crops to protect the soil from erosion and add nutrients as well as humus to the soil. Fava beans and bell beans can be sown even in cold, wet weather.
3. Sheet mulch to cover large areas to improve the soil, get rid of weeds and prepare for future planting without having to dig the soil. Sound too good to be true? Well it really works. Here’s an article about sheet mulching in my own back yard.
4. Mulch the soil around plants. This is one of the most important things you can do in the winter to protect the soil from erosion, hold moisture, protect roots from extreme weather and add nutrient. There are many types of mulch. Leaves, straw, wood chips, compost, and manure are some of the most common and easiest to use. As with everything else in the garden, there’s always lots to learn. Different mulches work better in different conditions. Check out my article on best mulching practices.
by Avis Licht
In Northern California where I live, we can grow many crops over the winter. I’m getting my seedlings in for the Fall and Winter garden. In this slide show I’m planting lettuce seedlings. I’ll show you how to gently pry to roots apart and plant them to reduce shock.
Getting the soil ready is an important part of growing healthy plants. In my book The Spring Garden Made Easy, I set forth a simple, straightforward guide to planting that you can use in any season. Check it out!
After they are planted you need to make sure they don’t dry out. Check the soil for moisture if it doesn’t rain. Just looking at the surface of the soil doesn’t tell you if it’s moist underneath. Check with a trowel down a few inches. If it’s dry at 2 inches or if the plants are wilting, be sure to water them.
You can find out more about extending your season in this article on row covers.
by Avis Licht
The changing seasons in the garden can leave us with mixed feelings . The end of the summer season means that we need to clear the beds for the winter garden while it’s still warm enough to plant. The regret is that we have to take out plants that are still producing.
I still have tomatoes, but they are ripening verrrry slowly due to the cold evenings and shorter days. Sadly, I’ll be pulling them out. You can bring in the green tomatoes and they will ripen, though not as perfectly as they did on the vine in the middle of summer.
Happily, this will make room for my winter crops, like broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and lettuce. I’ll be writing about what to grow for winter and how to do it. Be sure to subscribe to my blog so that you can get updates every time I write.
At the Indian Valley College Farm and Garden, the students were busy pulling out the summer crops like cucumbers, beans and squash to make room for the cool weather crops. They were making wonderful piles of compost. Layering greens, dry material, manure and water. Nothing goes to waste in the garden. We may loose a few cucumbers, but gain a lot of compost.