Grow bigger and better tomatoes this summer
Garden of Eatin', How-To, Vegetables

Grow Bigger and Better Tomatoes This Summer!

Tomato planting is something I look forward to every spring. I start counting the days from the time I sow my first seed to when I might have that first vine-ripened tomato in my hand, juices dripping down as I take a bite of the sweet, succulent flesh before it even makes it back to the kitchen.

If you’ve never tasted a homegrown tomato, you haven’t truly lived. And if you’ve never started your own tomato plants from seed, you’re definitely missing out — on the thousands and thousands of beautiful, colorful heirlooms that exist in this world.

Take a look! My only advice for choosing tomato seeds is to go with ones you’ve never heard of before, and to simply start with your favorite color! (I personally love purple and black tomatoes… it might be a mental thing, but I feel the darker the flesh, the smokier and richer it tastes.)

Tomatoes are fairly fuss-free. They don’t require any special conditions to sprout and they grow relatively quickly. But once they start producing more foliage, they need a lot of love to perform their best — their best meaning lots of flowers and lots of fruit.

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Bloomin' onion: why some onions have flowers
Garden of Eatin', Vegetables

Bloomin’ Onion: Why Some Onions Have Flowers

Over the weekend, surrounded by fragrant allium blooms, I harvested the last of last season’s crop — a mix of red, white, and yellow onions that I had grown from seed back in October. I loved the display of pompom-like flowers, even though onions are not supposed to bolt (and why not?). Even then, only a handful of onions out of the hundred I had planted had bolted.

What causes some onions to flower while others do not?

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Quick and easy kimchi (even if you don't live near an Asian market)
Fermenting & Pickling, Recipes

Quick and Easy Kimchi (Even If You Don’t Live Near an Asian Market)

It’s been seven months since I moved to Bend. When I meet new folks in town or talk to friends back home, one of the main questions I’m always asked is, What do I miss most about LA?

Aside from the obvious — our community of friends and the good fortune of having lived near the ocean — the one thing I really, truly miss about being in a big city is the variety of Asian food and Asian markets within close proximity.

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Garlic harvest
Garden of Eatin', How-To, Vegetables

The Trick of Knowing When to Harvest Garlic

Your garlic cloves went in the ground last October, grew through winter and spring, and now that it’s May, they’re ready to be plucked from the garden, right? Well, maybe.

Garlic is one of those things where timing is everything, and the harvest period can span from late spring through late summer, depending on the weather and the variety of garlic grown. But since the bulbs are all underground, how can you really tell when your garlic is ripe for the pickin’?

The short answer is: It’s all in the leaves.

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Grrr... garlic rust and how to deal
Garden of Eatin', Pests & Diseases

Grrr… Garlic Rust and How to Deal

After a particularly rainy and dismal spring, followed by May Gray (the sometime predecessor of California’s coastal June Gloom), a small patch of my garlic plants started developing white and yellowish-orange flecks on their leaves.

The flecks intensified, spread to neighboring garlic plants, and soon were infecting entire leaves, causing some to wilt and die off early. I even had the disease consume an entire plant, but luckily, it was close to harvest time and the garlic bulb survived.

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Security for Chicken Coops: Tips for Predator-Proofing and Protecting Your Backyard Flock
Backyard Chickens

Security for Chicken Coops: Tips for Predator-Proofing and Protecting Your Backyard Flock

This post is in partnership with 3-IN-ONE® Lock Dry Lube. All thoughts and words are my own.

Whether you live in the city or out in the country, predators are always a concern if you have a flock of backyard chickens. Raccoons, foxes, coyotes, weasels, owls, hawks, and even neighborhood dogs have been known to attack chickens at night or in plain daylight, especially if they free-range and you’re not nearby to deter unwanted visitors.

By their domestic nature, hens are easy prey: They have few survival skills, rarely take flight, and tend to flock together so they’re easier to target in one fell swoop.

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Boost your brain power: rosemary can make you smarter
Flowers & Herbs, Garden of Eatin'

Boost Your Brain Power: Sniffing Rosemary Can Make You Smarter

Rosemary, derived from the Latin word rosmarinus meaning “dew of the sea,” has long been known for its healing and cognitive benefits, seemingly helping with everything from hair loss to memory lapses.

The Mediterranean herb has been associated with memory for thousands of years, as evident in Shakespeare’s Ophelia where the eponymous character described various herbs and their powers: “There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance…” (Hamlet, Act IV, Scene 5)

But can rosemary actually improve memory, or is it merely folk medicine?

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Garden Betty's homemade whole grain chicken feed
Backyard Chickens, Nutrition

Garden Betty’s Homemade Whole Grain Chicken Feed

Update: I also have a corn-free version of my homemade feed! And for easy formulating, download the Garden Betty Chicken Feed Calculator to easily manage costs, calculate protein content, and custom mix your feed on the fly.

Several years ago, I started mixing my own soy-free, mostly organic, whole grain chicken feed. The decision to feed a whole grain diet — versus a commercially formulated diet — is a personal one based on what I believe is best for my chickens. Luckily, it also turned out to be an economical decision and a benefit to my own diet.

Homemade feed is not as expensive or complicated as you may have thought or been told. My small flock of chickens lays over a dozen eggs a week on a hippie diet of whole grains and leafy greens. Their feathers are soft and shiny, their personalities as perky as ever… so I must be doing something right!

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How much to plant in a vegetable garden to feed a family
Garden of Eatin', How-To

How Much to Plant in a Vegetable Garden to Feed a Family

I should know better, but it happens every year: I start too many seeds, feel uncertain about whether or not I planted enough, then realize I’m growing more than my family can possibly eat. And I don’t think I’m alone in this!

My eyes are much bigger than my stomach — and my garden — at the start of every season, and I inevitably end up with hundreds of seedlings that I scramble to find room for in any patch of bare soil.

Or sometimes, on the flip side, I don’t plant nearly enough of my favorite fruits and vegetables.

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