Gastronomy 101, a blog about food and Los Angeles restaurants

January in the Garden

So, I know it's not cooking, but ever since I moved and now have this lovely big yard, I've become obsessed with gardening. And since growing is one of the beginning processes to eating, I'm shoehorning it in here, since it's my blog and I can do whatever. It's really rewarding to grow your own food and there's nothing fresher than something just plucked out of the ground or off of the branch. So I thought I'd keep a log of what I'm doing in the garden each month, the successes and not so much successes and what chores each season brings.

Paperwhite Narcissus: Paperwhite Narcissus is a bulb that can be forced in the winter time and has becomes a traditional decorative plant for Christmastime. This year I tried growing my own and it is super easy. You can just toss the bulbs in a glass container with rocks or a regular container with soil, water and leave them. They grow into these beautiful white flowers in a couple of weeks. Unfortunately, it turned out that my husband just despised the smell of these. They smell like flowers to me, but to him they smelled of something chemical - like burnt plastic. So they live outside now, and when the flowers die back I'll plant them somewhere out of his nose range. They do well in the ground also and I saw several of these in gardens around the neighborhood this winter. It may take two years for them to bloom again if I plant them in the ground now, but we will see.

Planted - Renegade Spinach: I had one container of lettuce where only two of the seeds sprouted, leaving me a bunch of open spots, so I planted this spinach. I had planted it earlier in the fall but it was still so warm and the spinach bolted - meaning it grew too fast and went to seed before I could harvest it for eating. This can happen in warm weather, so I am trying again now that it's colder to see if the spinach grows better now. Hopefully in about a month and a half I will have some hearty spinach leaves for salads.

Growing - Lettuce: This green and red lettuce that I planted in my EarthBox is now big enough to eat. I have been making salads with this and there's really nothing like it. The lettuce grown in the cool weather and picked straight out of the ground to eat is more tender than anything I've ever had. I have grown both a red and a green lettuce for a pretty salad mix. Winter is also a nice time to grow lettuce because in my area there are no bugs to munch all the nice leaves. In summer, you have to monitor pretty closely around here because pretty much everything tends to get chomped on by someone.

Something New: There has always been a little bird feeder in this area of the garden. Unfortunately, it's hard to keep it stocked because birds are PIGS. They gobble up a whole package in a couple of days so I can only fill it once a month or so. But my dearest madre got me this pretty bird bath for Christmas and now I can at least provide them with fresh water while they await their next feeding frenzy. This part of the garden is starting to look really pretty between the herb boxes, the bird stuff and the citrus tree. There's also a lavender plant that I hope will grow nice and bushy and fill in some of the blank space there.

Maintenance: Now is the time to prune those trees. Lemon trees do not need a lot of pruning, and right now there is still a ton of fruit on this tree, but we had a bunch of branches that were dragging on the ground. That creates a nice pathway for any bugs or bad stuff that wants to get on your tree to just stroll on up, so I hacked off a bunch of those really low hanging limbs.


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