Category Archives: Sustainable Gardening

Pickling Almost Anything

A reader with a boatload of cucumbers asked for some recipes to help preserve the bounty. As it happens, I have an abundance of cucumbers as well, and spent a happy morning turning them into snappy garlic dills. While I was at it, I also pickled several other things, because I love the contrast a piquant pickle provides to a rich or lean meal. Spicy, savory or sweet, pickles can be made with fruit or vegetables and sometimes combine both. Back in the day, our ancestors pickled lemons, onions, and watermelon rind, and enjoyed garden-based concoctions like chow-chow, piccalilli and relishes. Before refrigeration, pickling was an easy way to preserve fruits and vegetables well into winter. Every well-stocked larder boasted rows of pickled beans, pickled peaches, pickled lemons, and even pickled eggs. Whether tart-sweet or savory, pickles graced American tables nearly every day of the year. Continue reading

Posted in preserving food, Recipes, Sustainable Gardening, Vegan Recipes | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Singing With the Bees

As I thinned the vigorous stems, I found tomatoes ripening on every plant. As always, I interplanted annuals and a few perennials with my edibles and am happy to see them alive with bees and other pollinators. While tomatoes are self-fertile and pollinated mainly by wind or vibration, it turns out that fruit set is greatly increased by the presence of certain bees, who vibrate their wings to the tone of middle C. In this case, the beneficial bees are not European honeybees but native bumbles and mud bees as well as various other native pollinators. To encourage the bees, I’m planting lots of annuals, and to encourage great tomato set, I’m humming favorite songs. Fortunately, the key of C is nearly universal; you can sing almost anything in C, as lots of folk songs demonstrate. Can’t sing? Use a middle C tuning fork to help tomatoes, peppers, eggplants and blueberries shed way more pollen by vibration, aka buzz pollination. Isn’t that so amazingly marvelous? Continue reading

Posted in Annual Color, Care & Feeding, Early Crops, Grafted Plants, Pollinators, Recipes, Sustainable Gardening, Sustainable Living, Tomatoes | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Building Bodacious Flavor In Tomatoes

Print PDFOf Soil And Sea Salt My new garden is charming if miniscule; the (very) narrow frontage is our parking area so squeezing in plants required some thought. However, where there’s a will, plant nerds will make a way. Now, … Continue reading

Posted in Care & Feeding, Planting & Transplanting, Soil, Sustainable Gardening, Sustainable Living, Tomatoes | Tagged , , | 7 Comments

Sneezing Through Super Pollen Events

Though few gardening references include information about how much pollen a particular plant sheds, a book called Allergy-Free Gardening by Thomas Leo Ogren is a reliable resource. In it (and on his website) Ogren offers both plant lists and strategies for pollen avoidance. For starters, most heavy pollen shedders are male. Thus, we can seek out shrubs and perennials with big, showy, scentless or lightly scented blossoms. These tend to be female and/or pollinated by critters rather than wind. Pollen-rich, wind-pollinated flowers (candidates for allergy triggers) tend to be small and less vividly colorful, so eye-catching showboats are safer bets. So are bird-friendly plants, which are generally pollinated by nectar-seeking birds. If your allergies are acute, pick sterile hybrids of any kind, from ornamentals to annuals, since they don’t produce pollen at all. Continue reading

Posted in Annual Color, Gardening With Children, Health & Wellbeing, Pollinators, Sustainable Gardening, Tomatoes, Weed Control | Tagged , | 1 Comment