Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Welcome to Woodlands

Woodlands Community Garden

A few weeks ago, I had my introduction to my new community garden!

The space is really neat- in 2010, a group of volunteers cleaned up an abandoned lot where a building had burned down decades earlier. Last year, the Woodlands Community Garden was born in that space. That's why all the gardens are in raised beds- we're growing on rubble! In addition to the plots, there are community growing areas and a teaching center made of recycled wood pallets. The whole thing is very eco-ghetto-fabulous.

The view into the garden from across the street.
Note the walls of the adjacent buildings on the sides of the photo.

Garden entrance catwalk, with geometric wall grafitti

I met the organizers as well as half my fellow "plotters." There are 4 of us so far and we are starting to get things sorted.  We've ordered our seeds and last weekend we got our beds weeded, turned and composted. We can't wait for our seeds to arrive so we can get planting!

Working away, with pallet shed in the background
p.s. Happy Leap Day!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Another belated GBBD - February 2012


The flourishing of Glasgow continues!  February must be the month of purple, blue and gold.

The plants are not entirely convinced that spring is here yet, but you can feel it getting closer by the day.  Every morning the sun rises a little earlier and every night it sets a little later.  The crocuses have been continuing their display, as have the snowdrops.  Joining their ranks are the first daffodils and irises!  More bulbs are blooming by the day.  As I walk around I can see wee crocuses popping up in almost every patch of soil around.  I think next month the flowers will really be spectacular.

Teeny little irises

Yellow crocuses


A field of wild crocuses

Friday, February 17, 2012

My First Woodlands Harvest

Ta Da!  There it is- my first harvest from the Woodlands Community Garden in Glasgow.  It's not much, but it's the first fresh picking I've done outdoors here in Scotland and it made my very, very happy.

The wee spring onions came out of my new plot!  There are still a small group of onions growing in the bed.  These two were picked as we investigated what was still growing in the plot and tried to decide what we want to plant and where to fit it all.  I sliced up the onion and sauteed it in butter for about half a minute, then added toasted garlic and tossed it all with fusilli.  It was a very simple pasta that had great flavor from the combination of aromatic garlic and sweet, grassy onion.  The onions were so small that the taste was reminiscent of chives.  Speaking of chives, I should add those to the planting list.

The four sprigs in the picture are two varieties of fresh thyme.  These were from my garden-neighbor's plot; she grew at the garden last year.  The skinny one is your standard thyme, while the other one is a variety of creeping thyme.  The leaves are more succulent and really lovely, but it's taking over her plot.  The creeping thyme sends out runners so instead of growing like a little shrub, it grows (creeps) laterally, sending out roots all over the raised beds.  I've been instructed to take as much as I want and I intend to!  I also want to separate some divisions so that I can add thyme to the windowsill parsley and get a proper windowsill herb garden growing.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Baby Steps

As I battle the cats over trying to keep houseplants, there is one plant that I have managed to keep on the kitchen windowsill for three weeks without it being destroyed.  It's a curly leaf parsley plant.  I decided it was time to pick up my first little wee herb for the flat when two recipes I planned to make in one week both called for parsley.  I would have preferred flat leaf parsley, but beggars can't be choosers.  I am lucky that the fancy grocery store nearby sells little pots of herbs in the first place.

Potted parsley

Growing herbs is definitely the way to go.  Whenever I buy fresh herbs at the grocery store, I get more than I need and they just rot away in the fridge.  With a little plant, I can pick parsley as needed for recipes and it adds a little greenery to the kitchen in the meantime.  Also, herbs are one of the easiest plants to grow.  As long as they get reasonable amounts of light and water (and don't get mangled by cats), they will be happy.

However, there is another perk to this windowsill parsley that I didn't anticipate: I am using it much more often in my cooking.  It's right there, all the time, and gains my attention.  To be honest, most of the herbs in the MKG just languished in the garden unless they were specifically called for in a recipe.  With the parsley right there, it gets added as a little burst of fresh green flavor much more frequently.  For example, I made sauteed mushrooms with garlic, butter, and cream the other day and thought, "Perfect- I'll add a handful of chopped parsley to the mushrooms."  Without the plant at arms reach in the kitchen, the mushrooms would have been a little less tasty. 

Now I'm looking forward to expanding my wee indoor herb garden.  Wherever you live, in a flat or in a house or on a boat, I encourage you to add a few little potted herb plants to your world.  Your cooking will thank you for it.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

A Living Living Wall

Living walls are quite the rage in the gardening world right now.  There are new products popping up regularly to help create mosaics of plants up walls both indoors and out, as well as repurposed items being used to fill spaces with greenery.  But one thing that I haven't seen a lot of recently, are living living walls.  Not planted by human hands, but growing spontaneously in the vertical.

This is a lovely natural living wall along the banks of the River Kelvin within the Glasgow Botanic Garden.  Snoutface and I often walk past it during our daily wanders and I have not tired of it yet.  The wall is built of blocks of sandstone like much of Glasgow's West End.  The stone itself is obscured by masses of mosses and ferns and accented by draping ivy.  However, you can still see the outlines of the building stones and that's one of the things I love about it.

I've walked past it repeatedly and thought to myself, "I really must take a picture of this wall, but the light just isn't right. It's in the shadows again."  This happened multiple times before it finally dawned on me that the reason it's always so wet and lush is that it's constantly in the shadows.  Um, duh.

It really is beautiful to see so much greenery in the dead of winter and the textures are amazing as well.  The stones are covered by a plant that looks almost like algae the way its leaves form little mats of green.  If one day we live somewhere in Glasgow with a shady stone wall, I'll do my best to recreate something like this.  Perhaps its because I spent so long in an arid Mediterranean climate, but it feels really decadent to be surrounded by such lushness.

Friday, February 3, 2012

One Year Blogiversary!

Wow. I started this blog a year ago and I had no idea how the Mighty Kitchen Garden would change in that time.  From my dream kitchen garden, built up over four years, to living in a flat on the other side of the world with no garden at all!  The details of the blog will change with my gardening situation, but it's still about growing and cooking food and all the fun things that entails. 

I look forward to starting my new community garden and daydreaming about the day when I can put together another Mighty Kitchen Garden.
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