Being a Resilient Gardener

I finally got into the garden after several months of hiatus.  I planted red russian kale, dinosaur kale, swiss chard, an asian pear tree, and bull’s blood beets.  While I was planting, I was excited to find many sun chokes and some russian banana fingerling potatoes under the soil surface (ready to eat).  Sun chokes (also known as “jerusalem artichokes” are great nutrient accumulators, and thus, help build your soil).  Yarrow is another nutrient accumulator I put right in my raised bed to help build good soil.  In November I planted favas as a cover crop towards the back of the bed so they would not shade out other later winter plantings.  They fix nitrogen in the soil, which is important for beds that are continually planted with garden greens (that use a lot of nitrogen).

It was a remarkably warm day for January in Northern California, so I was reminded of the importance of learning how to deal with climate change-related changes in weather, as plants may be confused by strange weather events such as winter heat waves, parched by drought, or washed away by floods.  Christopher Peck of recommended The Resilient Gardener to me as someone who’s interested in learning how to grow food in unpredictable conditions resulting from climate change.  Below is a review from

“In The Resilient Gardener, scientist and author Carol Deppe offers readers an inspiring approach to gardening. For many, gardening is a hobby-a source of solace and an experiment in self-sufficiency. Gardens are designed to offer up good things during good times-handfuls of bulbous tomatoes after weeks of careful watering, weeding, and monitoring for invading insects, for example. But what happens when gardeners-along with the rest of society-face uncertain times?

Uncertain times, caused by an unstable economy, changing weather patterns, or personal injury, result in an expanse of time when the “garden suffers because people have other priorities.” With this premise in mind, Deppe introduces the concept of resilient gardening. In Deppe’s world, gardening transcends the world of leisurely pursuit and transforms into an act of empowerment.

In twelve intensely detailed chapters, The Resilient Gardener empowers readers with the knowledge they need to design, build, and maintain gardens that can withstand intense hardship and thrive despite periods of complete neglect. The first half of the book marries the practice of gardening with emerging global issues, such as climate change, increasing attention to weight control, and the rise of food allergies. Readers must first achieve a firm grasp of how these issues intersect with the process of gardening in order to fully benefit from the hands-on guidelines provided later in the book. Deppe’s analysis is thorough; her research delves deep. By discussing the interaction between gardening and prevalent world issues, she establishes gardeners as hubs of sustainability and survival, their individual efforts producing movements of resilience that can benefit society as a whole.

One of the major strengths of this book-and what sets it apart from the deluge of gardening books currently on bookstore shelves-is the union of Deppe’s scientific knowledge with her personal gardening experience. The second half of the book details the five essential crops of self-reliance-potatoes, corn, beans, squash, and eggs-and how to grow them. Though these sections are largely “dip and skip” depending on the reader’s level of knowledge, they are expressed in crisp, detailed, and incredibly fluid prose. Deppe is able to transmit the nitty-gritty of gardening through invaluable parcels of personal anecdotes that make the material relatable and a pleasure to read.

Deppe’s unique approach to her topic makes The Resilient Gardener an appealing selection for both experienced and beginner gardeners, as well as readers interested in issues of sustainability and global reform.”

This entry was posted on Monday, January 24th, 2011 at 7:15 pm and is filed under Climate Change, Permaculture. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Responses are currently closed, but you can trackback from your own site.

Container Gardening in a Box

While over visiting with friends recently, I discovered a creative new way to garden in small spaces for cheap: plant in milk crates using a fabric liner.  Ella was excited to show off this new technique and show me her wares (both the tutu and what was planted).  Photo below…

This entry was posted on Monday, July 26th, 2010 at 7:14 pm and is filed under Container Gardening. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Responses are currently closed, but you can trackback from your own site.

A Most Delicious Salad

Last weekend while tucked away in the mountains for a quick getaway with friends, I had one of the better salads I’ve ever eaten.  Maybe this is because it was one of the most beautiful salads I’ve ever seen or maybe it was because the ingredients were mostly home grown.  Below is a photo, with special thanks to Elisabeth Hathaway and Nancy Blake for helping create this delicious treat.

The ingredients (clockwise from top left) included red carrots, lavender, nasturtium, radishes, golden beets, borage, zucchini, and calendula.  Arugula was the base leafy green with a sweet Champagne dressing to offset the bitterness.  The chopped zucchini really helped to round out the flavor.  I find colorful salads (usually including edible flowers) much more satisfying than monotone salads and they are certainly more nourishing as well.

This entry was posted on Monday, July 26th, 2010 at 7:00 pm and is filed under Edible Flowers, Health, Nutrition, Recipes, Seasonal Cooking. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Responses are currently closed, but you can trackback from your own site.

Honey, Bee Cool

As someone susceptible to heat stroke, I’m always looking for ways to stay cool on hot days.  Here are a few strategies that I’ve read about recently in Heinerman’s Encyclopedia of Fruits, Vegetables, and Herbs.

On hot days, bees keep a drop or two of nectar honey in the folds of their tongues in order to transfer heat from their heads to their thoraxes.  The passive shifting of heat between body parts has a cooling effect.  A similar phenomenon has been observed in people: A study of people in Salt Lake City found that chewing a small piece of honeycomb and keeping it in the mouth during periods of strenuous physical activity in hot weather produced a drop in body temperature. Check out some books about bees.

This entry was posted on Friday, July 16th, 2010 at 3:35 pm and is filed under Cooking and Drinks, Natural Remedies, Nutrition, Seasonal Cooking. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Responses are currently closed, but you can trackback from your own site.

The Magic of Lupines

I have taken a recent renewed interest in lupines because I discovered that they are nitrogen fixers, but I have loved them ever since I read Miss Rumphius as a child. (For those that haven’t read this children’s classic, Miss Rumphius spreads beauty around the world by planting lupines).  After reading up some more, I have discovered that some varieties of lupine seeds are edible and quite nutritious as well (see below for more detail on that).  Of course, the bees love them and they grow wild, making them great for creating habitat in your yard while feeding your nitrogen-hungry vegetables (sometimes called “companion planting“).  Being perennial, they make a good choice for anyone into permaculture who wants to avoid disrupting the soil whenever possible.  Below is more detailed information about lupines and photos from Wikipedia….

Lupins or lupines (North America) are the members of the genus Lupinus in the legume family (Fabaceae). The genus comprises between 200 and 600 species, with major centers of diversity in South America and western North America, in the Mediterranean region and Africa. Lupins can fix nitrogen from the atmosphere into ammonia via a rhizobium-root nodule symbiosis, fertilizing the soil for other plants, this adaption allows lupins to be tolerant of infertile soils and capable of pioneering change in barren and poor quality soils.

The seeds are used for different foods from vegan sausages to lupin-tofu or baking-enhancing lupin flour. Given that lupin seeds have the full range of essential amino acids and that they, contrary to soy, can be grown in more temperate to cool climates, lupins are becoming increasingly recognized as a cash crop alternative to soy.

The yellow legume seeds of lupins, commonly called lupin beans, were popular with the Romans, who spread the plant’s cultivation throughout the Roman Empire.  Lupin beans are commonly sold in a salty solution in jars and can be eaten with or without the skin. Lupini dishes are most commonly found in Mediterranean countries, especially in Portugal, Egypt, and Italy, and also in Brazil and in Spanish Harlem, where they are popularly consumed with beer. In Lebanon, salty and chilled Lupini Beans are called “Zbib” and are served pre-meal as part of an aperitif. The Andean variety of this bean is from the Andean Lupin and was a widespread food in the Incan Empire.

This entry was posted on Friday, July 16th, 2010 at 3:07 pm and is filed under Companion Planting, Creating Habitat, Edible Flowers, Nutrition, Permaculture, Sustainable Local Food Systems. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Responses are currently closed, but you can trackback from your own site.