Backyard Tea

How to brew tea from herbs in your own garden. But, beware, the taste of freshly mown lawn awaits.

Green Garlic Redux


I ripped up my Square Foot Garden the other day after attempting (and failing) to plant some spinach, carrots, peas, and chives from seed. I still don't know what exactly went wrong, but I'm blaming the seeds.

I filled the rest of my square-foot plots with garlic cloves to grow green garlic, which I had successfully harvested last summer. That time, the cloves sprouted tall shoots about the size of a scallion, but this time the growth was very subdued, so I pulled them out.

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San Francisco's Compost Controversy

San Francisco residents say that compost given to them for free by the city government contains dangerous sewage.


Where Does Your Garden Grow

Governors Island is home to a three acre garden from which gardeners will grow and sell produce. Student volunteers from New York Harbor School will also volunteer and conduct science experiments there.


If It's Spring, It's Hip to Be Square


Based on the relative success of last year's square foot gardening experiment, I've been at work on this year's sequel.

The 2009 edition will be a beefed up version of last year. I added two more narrow boxes (our space is limited) primarily for salad greens, on either side of the two original boxes. I've also been planting thyme between the boxes as an edible groundcover.

So, what's new for this year?

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Snails in the Garden: What Would Pollan Do?

What does Michael Pollan do to get rid of snails intruding on his garden? "He puts out small bowls of beer. The snails and slugs dive into the beer and expire."


My Square Foot Garden: Late Summer Slowdown


The excitement of starting my diminutive (but fast-growing) garden back in June has given way to some late summer doldrums. The cucumber vines are withering, leaves on the once-lush green tomato vines are either shriveling or turning yellow (or both), and carrots and lettuce planted in July have failed to grow.

All is not lost, however. While the tomato plants are looking a little humble lately, I'm excited to see the actual fruit are finally growing. And the little finger eggplants have been very prolific, growing at least two to three eggplants per week.

Another surprise comes from the bean plants I planted in July. I thought I got in the game way too late, for the bush bean plants have looked pretty puny, and the pole beans, while quickly climbing to the top of the wigwam, had few leaves (and those that did grow were looking a little drab). Nevertheless, on closer inspection, I discovered that the beans were growing. There will probably be only a handful, but its more than I was expecting.

The cucumber vines have now slowed down (I think one of them is on its deathbed). But, before the wilting started, cucumbers were growing fast and furious. Below, a sample of the harvest as presented by my daughter in my best Saveur-style composition.

I haven't planted anything for fall. Is mid-September too late? I thought I might as well try planting some spinach and more salad greens since I have plenty of seeds. If you have ideas, please let me know in the comments.


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My Square Foot Garden: Harvesting Radishes and Beginning Beans

French Breakfast Radish Harvest

French Breakfast Radishes with Bagna Cauda

Radishes with Butter, Sea Salt, and Baguette

We had our first major harvest in the square foot garden recently: French breakfast radishes. Some were misshapen, others were puny, but the bottom line is that they grew at all! Not that this harvest was huge anyway. After all, this was only a 1'x1' crop, so the radishes were gone by the end of lunch. Such is the life of a square foot gardener.

Above is your basic combination of radishes with butter and sea salt on a baguette. This was pretty scrumptious, but you how can you go wrong with Plugra and Maldon sea salt? The creamy, rich butter tempered the peppery radishes. Smooth, crunchy, and delicious.

With the other half of the bunch, I made radishes with bagna cauda (recipe here). This was easy and pretty fantastic. You simply warm extra virgin olive oil with garlic, salt, and anchovies, and then spoon the mixture over the radishes. I've never made bagna cauda before, but I'm sure that I'll be making it again soon with other crisp, raw vegetables.

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My Square Foot Garden: Week 3

Cucumber emerges

Week 3: A baby cucumber makes its debut. 

When I last wrote about my new square foot garden, I left you with something of a cliffhanger: What shape would the garden be in after spending two weeks away in Italy?

The good news is that when we returned home last week, everything I planted was still alive. Thanks to my neighbor, who kept each of the boxes watered, the plants had not only survived, but were actually growing. And, the seeds which I had planted for radishes, beets, chard, arugula, and frisee had actually sprouted while I was gone. The only sign of neglect were the basil plants, which beefier, but now sporting white flowers. I pinched those off (according to everything I've read about what you're supposed to do with basil).

The Garden: Week 3

Here's a blow-by-blow update, box-by-box (and row by row, left to right):

Box #1
· The Cherokee tomato plant are looking good as the vine makes its way up the stake.
· Sweet 100 cherry tomato plant is also coming along nicely.
· The cucumber plants are growing very fast, extending thin tendrils to climb even higher. Small, embryonic cukes are visible!
· That malabar spinach, too tall for this spot, is out. In went seeds to grow red chard. Little red sprouts are visible.
· Basil is looking taller and bushier.
· It's status quo for the orange pepper plant. Not too much new going on (on the other hand, it's still alive).
· Arugula seeds have also sprouted.
· Leaves of frisee have emerged from the seeds I planted before the trip
· Greek oregano is spreading. In retrospect, this seems like a waste of space. I'm inclined to pull it out and replant with something else. Any recipe ideas for using up the oregano?

Box #2
· Vintage wine tomatoes are growing.
· Brandywine vine has continued to grow.
· Hillbilly tomato plant, the tallest, is nearing the top of the stake. It must have almost doubled in size.
· The finger eggplant continues to grow.
· The rosemary is taller.
· Italian large leaf basil is growing.
· The spicy/globe basil is really doing well.
· The beets I planted have sprouted.
· Leafy radish greens have popped out where I planted French breakfast radishes. They should be ready to pick this week.

Stay tuned for more updates, or follow along as I post photos of the garden's progress on flickr.


The Food Section's Square Foot Garden photoset The Food Section's Square Foot Garden photoset