Seed packets
Random Thoughts

Five Things Friday

The five little things that made my week…

1. Seeds! I inventory all my seeds twice a year (spring and fall) and so far I’ve counted a little over 300 packets of seeds, ordered from seed houses or saved from my own garden over the last couple years. Seeds don’t last forever, unfortunately. Have you looked at the dates on some of your older packets? Check out my cheat sheet on seed storage life to determine when it’s time to throw them out.

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Adventuring across America with the Kia Sedona
Outdoor Adventures, Road Trips

Adventuring Across America With the Kia Sedona

Camping. Climbing. Kayaking. Biking. None of these adventures feel right in a minivan to me… heck, not even a road trip feels sexy in a minivan. I’ve always associated minivans with soccer moms and suburban families, so when Kia offered up their Sedona MPV (that’s Multi-Purpose Vehicle, not minivan, mind you) for The CSA Cookbook Road Trip this summer, I’ll admit I was a little hesitant at first.

But the large windows, ample storage, and great gas mileage swayed me enough to give it a go, and seven weeks later, it was a sad, sad day when I had to return the vehicle. The Sedona has completely changed my impressions of MPVs and their possibilities on the road.

Exploring Sonora Pass in Northern California

Skateboarding in Sonora Pass, California

Getting comfortable in the Kia Sedona

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Last ripe tomato of the season
Random Thoughts

Five Things Friday

Indian summer in SoCal. It sounds rather nice at first, with visions of balmy beach days and barbecues and frozen drinks with umbrellas in October, but I think I can speak for everyone in SoCal right now that we are ready — hoping! — for fall to start soon. (It was 102°F in my town today, which is unheard of for the coast. We usually average in the 70s this time of year.)

The ceaseless heat this summer (hotter and drier than I remember from years past) means there hasn’t been a whole lot of gardening happening on the homefront. In September, we reduced (or completely turned off) the drip irrigation in most of our raised beds and let our summer crops start to die back. With the ongoing drought and rising water costs, we simply couldn’t afford to keep our water-intensive vegetables (the annuals, at least) hydrated through the constant heat waves.

We’re continuing to water our containers, and our perennial beds, and of course our fruit trees and shrubs, but the edible garden is mostly empty and mulched in straw at the moment.

Here’s hoping for a little relief from the weather soon! In the meantime…

1. The last ripe tomato of the season. This little cherry lingered for weeks after all the other tomato plants had withered. A true survivor.

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Smells of summer: fresh, fragrant tomato leaves
Garden of Eatin', Vegetables

Smells of Summer: Fresh, Fragrant Tomato Leaves

Coconut, Coppertone, saltwater, freshly cut grass and charcoal heating on the grill. These are some of the smells that reminded me of summer while I was growing up. And now as a gardener, tomato leaves make that happy list.

While there’s no shortage of Coppertone and saltwater on a California summer day (or any day in any season here, for that matter), the one smell that truly ushers in summer and closes it out is the heady, earthy, viney, fragrant aroma of fresh tomato leaves as you brush against them — either to stake up the vines in June or to pull up the last lingering plants in September.

Have you ever wondered where, exactly, that distinctive smell comes from? It’s not in the fruit, no matter how richly perfumed that heirloom variety may be. It’s only in the leaves, stems, and sepals (those little green “hats” on the flowers and fruits), and even on tiny seedlings that have barely seen the sun. It’s an unmistakable scent that no other plant shares, and people either love it or they hate it.

Tomato trichomes on sepals

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Mother Earth News Fair at Seven Springs Resort, Pennsylvania
News & Events

I’ll Be Speaking at the Mother Earth News Fair Next Weekend!

Who’s going to the Mother Earth News Fair at Seven Springs Resort in Pennsylvania next weekend? Exciting days ahead — not only will it be my first time attending, it will also be my first time speaking at the fair!

I’ll be taking to the UTNE Stage inside the convention center on Friday, September 18, 2015, at 4 pm to present on the topic “From Leaves and Flowers to Stems and Seeds: Exploring All the Delicious Possibilities of Your Vegetables.” Afterward at 5 pm, I’ll be signing copies of The CSA Cookbook at the official fair bookstore.

If you aren’t able to make it to the fair on Friday, you can still look for me all weekend at Quarto Publishing, Booth 2706 inside the exhibit hall, where I’ll be on hand for questions, comments, hugs, and laughs. Quarto will be selling my book (and I’ll be signing it!), so you can pick one up at the fair if you haven’t already. Perhaps some early Christmas presents?!

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Exhibit hall at the Heirloom Expo
News & Events

Meet Me at the National Heirloom Exposition!

I am a huge fan of Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company, so it’s a real honor for me to be speaking at their event this year at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds in Santa Rosa, California!

For the last four years, Baker Creek has staged the “World’s Pure Food Fair” as a not-for-profit event that celebrates gardening, homesteading, small-scale farming, sustainable living, and of course, whole, local, pure food. Preserving heritage seed stock is the focus of the fair, and you’ll find food porn for days in the exhibit halls and all over the fairgrounds. The Heirloom Expo is truly a foodie paradise!

I’ll be speaking on Tuesday, September 8, 2015, at 11:30 am in the E.C. Kraft Building with the topic “From Leaves and Flowers to Stems and Seeds: Exploring All the Delicious Possibilities of Your Vegetables.” Tuesday will be my only day at the fair, so I hope you can join me! I’ll be signing copies of my book, The CSA Cookbook, after the presentation.

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Delicate Arch in Moab, Utah
Random Thoughts

Five Things Friday

After being couchbound and under the weather these past few weeks, I finally feel some of my energy returning… and just in time, as the hubby and I are taking off to Oregon this weekend for a rafting trip on the Rogue River. It’s the old man’s birthday (wink), and paddling the Rogue has long been on his list of dream adventures since taking up kayaking a few years ago. While he’ll be tackling the rapids in his kayak, I’ll be sitting on the support raft, soaking up the sun, shooting lots of pictures and getting some much-needed outdoor time!

Because embarrassingly, I’ve been far behind on work but well caught up on TV. In the midst of my tea-sipping, movie-watching, blanket-snuggling, midday-snoozing daze, I somehow (finally) managed to sort through all the pictures from our book tour/road trip and whittled them down to just under 1,700 shots. So let’s make this Five Things Friday a Flashback Friday as I revisit some of my favorites from our trip!

1. Taking the trail less traveled to Delicate Arch in Moab, Utah. (Special thanks to Duluth Trading Company for the duds! Pictured here are the Armachillo Long Sleeve Solid Shirt, DuluthFlex Dry on the Fly Convertible Pants, and Lifetime Leather Convertible Messenger. They’re not necessarily made for hiking, but the technical fabrics and generous cuts actually make them perfect for outdoor pursuits.)

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Favorite Things: a new resource for readers
News & Events

Favorite Things: A New Resource For Readers

Among the most frequent questions that land in my inbox are the type of gear I recommend for gardening… or cooking… or camping. And when I look around my house, those questions are sometimes tough to answer because I’ve used those things for so long, I’ve often forgotten what they’re called and I rarely remember where I bought them.

That’s where my Favorite Things come into play. No more digging up an old receipt or searching for a style number on a tag!

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Fresh sunflower seeeds for the chickens
Random Thoughts

Five Things Friday

The five little things that made my week…

1. Bringing a spent sunflower head down to the chicken run. The ladies love their little treat! If you have the space, it’s worth growing a crop of sunflowers near your run every summer. As the flowers fade, they naturally drop their seeds. It gives them something to scratch for in the soil and offers a nutritional boost that will keep their feathers soft and shiny.

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