bloggingfundamentals · cooking healthy · Healthy Gardening

Under Appreciated Produce Parts – Part 2

I’m having so much fun discovering all I  can do with what normally winds up in the trash ! Well, my trash anyway. Please share any recipes and ideas you may have to use up the leftover parts of  your fruits and vegetables .

Corn Cobs

Summer is on its way  and that  means fresh corn on the cob will soon be at all the markets. I’ll freeze as much as I can of local corn while it’s available too, so I turn out a lot of naked cobs that usually just get fed to neighboring animals , composted or just tossed away .  Turns out the cobs are quite useful.

Have you ever heard of or tried corn cob jelly ? It’s delicious ! It has a unique “corny” taste – almost like “corny  honey” . It’s sweet as all jelly is , but it’s flavor is just different enough the guests you serve it to will ask ”  Wow, what is this?” .

corn cob 2

  • 12 large corncobs
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 package (1-3/4 ounces) powdered fruit pectin
  • 4 cups sugar


  1. Cut corn kernels from cobs and reserve for another recipe. In a stockpot, place corncobs and water; bring to a boil. Cook, uncovered, 10 minutes.
  2. Discard cobs; strain liquid through cheesecloth. Liquid should measure 3 cups. Add additional water if necessary.
  3. Return to stockpot and stir in pectin. Bring to a full rolling boil. Add sugar and bring back to a boil. Skim foam and add a few drops of food coloring. Transfer to covered jars; refrigerate up to 2 weeks.Yield: 5 cups.

If you like to preserve , you can go one step further and process the jars to enjoy over the winter.

Fennel Stalks and Fronds

Fennel is another favorite herb, vegetable? It’s actually both . Several types are grown for their bulbs and others grown more for their fronds. I’ve always used it as a vegetable using the bulb only , but  now  I use the entire plant – bulb, stalk ,and fronds no matter what variety I have on hand!


  • The stalks resemble celery stalks in texture and crunch, so you can add them raw to green salads or cook them down as you would an onion into quick stir-fries, pastas, or braises. Toss them into the roasting pan when you’re roasting the fennel bulbs.
  • As for those fronds? They have a mild anise flavor, but because they’re so delicate and beautiful they’re most often used for garnish. As long as you chop them away from the stalks and keep them in an airtight container, they should last about one week in the refrigerator, so you can continue sprinkling them on salads, finished vegetable dishes, or just about anywhere you find could use some color and bright flavor.
  • Fennel Seed is used in all sorts of wonderful dishes and also in pickling  ! So , if you grow  it  , let some go to seed and collect it for your pantry. Fennel seeds are very  expensive at market.

Cauliflower Leaves

cauliflower leaves

Believe it or not , many  salad greens (especially mustard greens ) and leaves of all sorts are  easily roasted into amazing chips . You may have heard of kale chips.  They certainly have become all the rage. Cauliflower leaves will  also get delightfully crispy , not quite a chip, but they taste so decadent .

Simply toss your washed and chopped leaves  in a little olive oil making sure you don’t saturate them,  and place on a baking sheet in a single layer. Roast at 375 for about 20 minutes,  and check for crispiness . Pop back in the oven for 5-10 more minutes if you feel they aren’t quite the way you would like them.

If you have enough of them you could serve them as your vegetable side dish !

Pineapple Rind and Core

What the heck do you do with that?

There is always so much waste after cutting up and enjoying  your fresh pineapple. The crown , if it’s a nice green one, can be used to grow another pineapple plant. Super easy to do , but it will take a few years to actually grow a pineapple. The plant looks great on a porch or patio though , even without the fruit. Cut the crown off , and peel down the bottom leaves.   Leave it out for a two or three days to dry and then just plant it bringing the potting soil up to the leaves. Plant in a large  pot,one big enough  that you won’t need to transplant it for a while or directly outside if you are in a warmer zone and don’t have to worry about winter freezes.  It will need lots of sunshine , and be careful not to over water.  That’s it!   You will start to see it really take off after about a month. It makes a great ,easy to care for houseplant.

pineapple ginger tea
Pineapple Ginger Tea

Another discovery for me ! You can make a delicious tea with the rinds and core. Place everything in a stock pot along with a knob of peeled ginger, cover with water,  and bring to a medium to low simmer. Simmer for 25 minuets then cover and let steep for another 25 minuets – then strain.

Serve your tea  warm , or  I think it’s best over ice !

What have you done with some of your under appreciated produce parts ? !

cooking healthy · Healthy Gardening · Uncategorized

Under Appreciated Produce Parts :)

I struggled with a good name for this post . It’s true though.

Saving and using kitchen scraps is not just about being frugal  which is great,  and   we  should all  be less wasteful , but there is some very serious cooking to learn from great chefs that not only don’t want to waste food, but are out there creating the very  best foods by using what we all often just  throw away.

This is not big , new- news. Great chefs have always depended on parts , stuff  , bones and bits- what most of us  often discard.   Most chefs would proclaim looking down on what would appear to be headed for the trash can ,  ” Now there, that’s  the good stuff” .

Always and forever chefs  have used these under appreciated produce parts to enhance whatever they may be creating. Our grandparents did too. What  our elders  may have done daily out of frugality is exactly what chefs strive to do  everyday to enhance their plates.

Let’s face it , grandma made great food . Grandma was proud of her great food too . She and grandpa knew that these “parts “made the flavor happen. They may have had to make do , but tough times also  taught them  the intricacies of cooking , creating,  and of how to make  food taste incredible  with only a few ingredients – the best  ‘ parts”. It may have been simple cooking  , but there is a reason why it tasted so amazing .  It’s all about the good  ” stuff” – the bits , pieces and parts that we casually discard most everyday.

So here is some good stuff, really good stuff !

The  more obvious “parts” 

Ends of onions, celery and carrots

Don’t throw them away, just give them a quick wash, and put them in a bag and into the freezer. Important ! Find a spot in the freezer that will just be for your unappreciated  produce parts and bits. This way they won’t wind up in the freezer abyss ( we all have one ! ) to be found, possibly years in the future, totally unrecognizable.

Not a bad idea to label them too. Maybe keep your carrots, celery and onion ends all together in a separate bag that you can keep adding to. When you manage to collect enough , it’s time to make your own vegetable stock or add them  to a beef or chicken stock. Just throw what you have collected ( make sure it’s a  nice, super  big bag full , you ‘ll want to have enough “parts ” to really season your broth) and cover with water in a slow cooker or stew pot. Add some  fresh or dried herbs ( thyme, rosemary, garlic powder or any favorite ) , light salt and pepper, and let it slowly simmer for several hours. There ,you have made your first, very own simple  vegetable stock that you can now use instead of paying 3-4 dollars for a box or can of stock that is loaded with salt. Even the low sodium stocks are full of salt. Your stock will also taste so much better ! Very often I let it simmer once and then do it all over again the next day – just works for me – seems to condense the flavor that much more. O f course, when you are satisfied with the taste , you then strain out the vegetables and store or use  your beautiful vegetable broth. It will freeze fine , but using it right away is always best or keep in fridge for a week .

If you are making chicken or beef stock , it’s basically the same thing. Take your  beef or pork bones or chicken  carcass, and place it into a slow cooker or big stew pot , cover with water and your carrot, onion and celery ends that you have collected, your herbs of choice , a little salt and pepper ( I always use very little – you can add salt later in whatever dish you make with your stock ) , and let it simmer 2-3 hours. Again, I do this one day and then again the next day . You don’t have to .  I just find it makes the stock even more flavorful . I may have to add a bit more water the second day and make sure it is always at very  low and  slow simmer.

The not so obvious “parts”  

Broccoli  and asparagus stems

These can be kept in their own bag. Purchase the whole broccoli .  Purchasing the entire head of broccoli is less expensive than purchasing just the broccoli heads,  and most markets nowadays still offer both. If they don’t, get the manager and ask why they are only selling broccoli heads. There is no reason for you or any other consumer  to be forced to pay more for less product. Stems are useful! And no , you are not just  being cheap. It’s about the good stuff.  No matter how tough you think those stems are, they are going to make you the most amazing delicate broccoli – cheddar soup ! So save some money,  and buy the whole head, cut the stems off , chop up , and save in the freezer ( not the abyss, but that  special spot in there that you just newly created ).

Asparagus stems also make great asparagus soup . You would never think so because they seem to be so woody , but it’s true ! Chop up , save, and freeze !


Super Easy Asparagus or Broccoli  “parts” soup

Ingredients :

leftover stems from two bunches of asparagus or broccoli – chopped small so they will soften quickly, 3 Tablespoons olive oil , 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter, 2 small yellow onions chopped fine, 3 cloves of garlic chopped fine, 4-6 cups vegetable or chicken broth ( your own would be great! ) , 2 Tablespoons lemon juice, 1/2 cup grated Parmesan, handful of fresh herbs of choice ( thyme, dill , basil )

Heat your olive oil and butter in a large skillet. Soften your onions and garlic in the olive oil and melted butter, add your asparagus or broccoli  “parts” chopped small – let them soften in the olive oil , garlic and onions. When they are super soft ( careful not to brown ) transfer them to a stock pot or slow cooker.  Then add your stock , your herbs of choice, a little salt and pepper , and simmer 30 min.   Now , if all is nice and softened, take all the vegetables out and blend in a blender until smooth and pour back into your broth. You will now have a wonderful creamy soup ! You could add some heavy cream , but you will find , as I did,  to be  unnecessary. It’ s great just the way it is . Add the Parmesan or sometimes I use cheddar , stir and add the lemon juice and maybe a little more salt and pepper to taste.

Enjoy as is or add the steamed asparagus tips or some steamed broccoli florets  to the soup before serving. You don’t need these if you are working with leftover frozen asparagus  and broccoli  “parts” . With them or without them  the soup is wonderful ! And it’s yours  made from scratch ! No added ingredients that you wouldn’t want  your family to eat !

Leeks Tops

I use a lot of leeks. I’m  kind of hooked on them , so I always saved the rooty  white ends for an addition to a future  vegetable broth , but I never did save the leaves until now . I don’t know why I didn’t add the long green leaves to my homemade  broth to begin with. I just assumed they didn’t taste like much.Well,  I was wrong- learn something everyday! Turns out these long dark green leaves can be used in so many other ways too,  and they are quite delicious. They just take a little extra care to prepare so they don’t remain tough. Grilled Leek Tops with Chili -Garlic sauce here :

These were delicious. Be sure to slice them longways and very thin. They will soften right up.

Use leek tops as a bed for steaming  your favorite fish. Place washed dark green leaf tops on the bottom of your baking dish along with a few thinly sliced lemons, a little water or vegetable stock. Not too much liquid though, and place your seasoned fish on  top. You don’t want your fish to be swimming in liquid, you just want it to steam. Love this idea  !

Wrap and tie fresh herbs inside a square pocket made of leek top leaves and use as a bouquet garni . You could make these little pillows ahead and freeze them to take out and use in the future. This is great if you have a lot fresh herbs  available .  Use these within 2 months if you do freeze them .

Sliced longways and super thin, leek tops are great added to stir fries too !

Beet Greens

Did you ever try to simply saute your beet greens in a little olive oil , salt and pepper? They are so delicious ! Something else I didn’t  discover  until I was over 50 !

Don’t throw them away !!!!  Saute them this way , throw a few pine nuts on top and serve at a dinner party – what  a hit !



Sometimes I’ll chop them up into smaller pieces just so they will  cook and soften more quickly.  I’ll do this especially if the tops are very large and , yes, they are tough, but they will soften right up if chopped up into smaller pieces ahead of time.

Chopped up  raw and super fine , they are also a great addition to your salads.

Apple Cores and Peels 

Especially in the fall  , when your kitchen is cranking out all things apple , don’t throw away those cores and peels. Make your own raw apple cider vinegar. Have you priced this at the supermarket ? If you enjoy the benefits of a raw apple cider vinegar everyday  ( a little , not a lot ! moderation ! )  this is a great way to save some money and have plenty on hand to cook with too .

I would only use organic apples to do this though. Take your peels and cores and place in a quart jar or a large crock if you have a lot of them.

Mix 1 tablespoon of sugar to one cup of water and let dissolve completely . You need to make enough to fully cover your apple “parts “. You can do this without sugar ( apples contain their own ) , but adding sugar does help the process along. I have done it both ways ,and both are equally good. Sugarless takes longer to develop into vinegar.

Fully cover your apple ” parts ” with the dissolved sugar mixture,  and cover your container with a coffee filter or cheesecloth . Then let it do its fermenting thing. Start checking it at 2 weeks and carefully remove the scum on the top – it’s o.k., that’s supposed to happen. Take a little taste . It should have a ways to go yet to get that vinegar tang. One time I did this , and  it took  5 weeks before I was satisfied with the flavor.

If you are really lucky  you will  find a big blob in the container . That is the vinegar “mother”  and it can be used to quick start your next batch. It’s O.K. if you don’t develop one too. I have yet to be lucky enough to have found one !

Now , when you are satisfied with the flavor and tang, strain and save like you would any other vinegar only this is soooooo  much better,  and it is raw – not pasteurized. Great for you to use in salad dressings too.  If you use it to ward off colds or just for its nutrient values, use with discretion.  Everyone tends to overdue everything these days. More is not better – a teaspoon a day is fine and , just in case , check with your doctor.


The take away-

Before you toss to the trash all that “stuff, parts , and bits ” , think for a moment what it may be good for. It just may have a second life.  I’m sure that it does.

There is always soup !

Going to pursue a Part 2 to this as I have  discovered so many new recipes  for “parts, stuff , scraps , and bits ” .

Healthy Gardening

The Juice Garden

Finally getting out in the dirt and planting some peas today! This would be  in our personal garden at home.  The greenhouses are now planted in mixtures of greens and our wild arugula. It’s nice to be home today instead and  getting  our home garden started  up too.

Juicing has become a big thing . I don’t know anyone who doesn’t juice ( except for me ! I’m just starting out ! ) , but not all juice is created equal. Everything in moderation!

While juice is certainly a better alternative to  drinking soda, certain juices still contain a lot of sugar (especially fruit juices )  and calories, so stick to an 8oz glass of juice, not one of those super sized , mega , behemoth sized containers of juice everyone is selling you on drinking. Too much of anything is never a good thing. I don’t know who said that originally  ( do you ? ) , but it’s so true.
That said, let’s make the best, most nutritious juice we can make, and let’s start by growing most of what we need or even just some of what we need to accomplish that in our own backyards . You’ll get some fresh air, sunshine and exercise to boot, and  yes, you can grow a juice garden in containers on your deck or patio !

I am so excited that it is spring. I always am ,and I am sure you are as well!
We often think of juice as citrus based and it can be, but vegetables make great juice and even sweet juice. Best to eat your fruits or use them sparingly in your juices so as not to overdo it on the  sugar.

Grow some sweets for your juice !

Beets – love ’em, hate ’em?

I know so many people that HATE beets. I don’t know why. They are so sweet !

Beets are rich in a variety of essential vitamins and minerals, making them an excellent addition to your diet. Beets benefit  your body in so many ways such as reducing inflammation, supporting your heart, and protecting your digestive, brain, and eye health. Beets are a versatile food that can be eaten raw in salads and juices, or cooked and added to a variety of recipes spanning from breakfast to dinner.

I know you will love them in juice ,and maybe  I can change your mind about them by sharing some recipes that will make you love them as a vegetable side or in a salad on another day, but for now, they are so sweet and will contribute to your juicing pantry just like sugar only better.

Carrots – another sweet vegetable especially if grown organically. If you can manage your garden in such a way as  to plant these in late summer and let them overwinter – WOW. The taste is amazing for your table and for your juice. Overwintering your carrots brings out the best of the best in carrot sweetness. There is no comparison ,and the super market carrots, even the organic ones,  are usually not  grown this way. You may be able to find them at  farmers’ markets early spring or  from a local grower.

Grow greens for your  juice !

Kale – This Veg has become a rock star .It’s super easy to grow too. A real stand out in green juices. You can’t go wrong- so many health benefits !

In just one cup of chopped kale, you’ll find: (2)

  • Vitamin K (684% recommended daily value)
  • Vitamin A (206%)
  • Vitamin C (134%)
  • Manganese (26%)
  • Copper (10%)
  • Calcium (9%)
  • Potassium (9%)
  • Vitamin B6 (9%)
  • Iron (6%)
  • Magnesium (6%)
  • Folate (5%)
  • Riboflavin (5%)
  • Thiamin (5%)
  • Phosphorus (4%)
  • Protein (4%)
  • Niacin (3%)
  • Zinc (2%)
  • Pantothenic Acid (1%)
  • Selenium (1%)
  • Sodium (1%)
  • Omega-3 fatty acids (121 mg)
  • Omega-6 fatty acids (92.4 mg)

Parsley – My mom always ate her parsley when out a restaurant – that creepy curly green thing on the plate, yes , that thing. Parsley would sit there as a garnish and almost no one ever ate it, but she always did. She said it just made her feel good. Well ,  evidently there is a good reason for that.

½ cup of fresh chopped parsley (or about 8 tablespoons) has about:

Parsley would be  great to add in your juice, depending on the recipe, and  I have grown to love flat leaf parsley in my kitchen. I buy some most every week , just to have on hand. It adds great flavor to soups and just last night, I made a parsley , garlic and breadcrumb crust for some baked codfish.It was wonderful  !

Celery–  We are growing celery for the first time this year. Not only is it great to add to juice, but the leaves and seeds are a wonderful addition to your kitchen pantry.  I do grow a perennial called lovage, which tastes very much like celery  or a stronger version of it.  I use it in everything – soups ,stews, whenever  I need a punch of flavor. It’s awesome , and it comes back year after year !  It’s leaves can also be used in juice just like celery providing many of the same benefits.

The benefits of celery begin with it being an excellent source of antioxidants and beneficial enzymes, in addition to vitamins and minerals such as vitamin K, vitamin C, potassium, folate and vitamin B6. It’s just plain good for you !

Well, that’s a start for your juice garden. There are , of course , so many more vegetables for juicing ,  but it’s best to start small and grow . Even if you manage just one or two of these this year , you’ll have so much fun and the health benefits of being a grower of your own foods for juicing or your table are almost greater for you than the juice itself!

Healthy Gardening

The Potted Garden – continued

Are you familiar with the saying ” I’m so far behind I think I’m first .” ????

That’s about where I’m at . I think I’m ‘first’  most everyday lately here in this never ending northeast winter !

So let’s get growing – it’s not too late  !!!! There’s plenty of time to  get even your tomato seeds sprouting. If you live  further south , you are probably on a roll already ! We love seeing your photos ! Keep sharing !!

While searching new seed varieties this winter , I came across some other seed suggestions perfect for your potted gardens that I wanted to share.  Good varieties to know even if you can’t try  them out until next year. Most of these were totally new to me .  Collecting ideas and keeping journals are a  very enjoyable part of the gardening process , so try to never feel overwhelmed. Easy for me to say and not so easy to do ( especially for me ) , but try to stick to a manageable plan ( I should listen to myself )  and just enjoy collecting ideas for the future.

So here you go – MyTop 10 Picks  ( I had about 50 , eeek ) !

Minibel Tomato –  65 days , bite size flavorful fruits. Plants only get about a foot high , so they are perfect for containers. ( Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company , everything from them is organic and non GMO)

container tomatoes

Tom Thumb Pea  – 50-55 days , 8-9 inch high shelling pea, but when picked young the pod is also tender and sweet. Heirloom variety originating from England.  So cute !


Tumbling Tom Tomatoes – 65- 75 days , A great one for hanging baskets. The small red or yellow cherry type tomato will cascade down over your basket. Use a large basket. – 12-14 inches or a comparable size pot. We grow these in our greenhouses with great success, and they are incredible for drying or roasting. They are our go to tomatoes during the winter months. I’ll roast them and then process them in canning jars.  Shmear some roasted tumbling toms on some pizza dough and make yourself the most flavorful pizza eva !

Eggplant Fingers Mix – 80 days , this is a mix of smallish eggplant in different colors, long and narrow fruit. We are also growing these in hanging baskets but for the first time . Using a 12 -14 inch hanger. I will try a few in pots just to see the difference.  Use a large container . I do think these will be a good choice for containers


Cucumbers – H-19 Little Leaf  – 58 days, Great for pickling or fresh eating . High yielding plants, good for containers.  ( )  I prefer  using a pickling cucumber in my salads. They are super crunchy and seem to be less watery than the standard Marketmore variety.cucumberpot

A pot of mixed baby greens – You can have your own mixed greens all summer and well into fall and winter. Now , the amount of mixed greens you plant depends on how much you think you may use each week . We are big salad eaters . so one pot of greens would never cut it for us . But maybe one or two pots is plenty for you. Totally worth growing mixed greens  because you can toss it up into sprouts and other “salady ” things. Make up your own mix or purchase one of many now offered by most seed companies. Make sure you use a large pot or even one of those long 3-4 foot  ones. Fresh greens are ready in about 28 days . You will simply give the lettuces a haircut every 10 days . If you plant 2 pots -10 days apart , that will help you have greens always ready,  especially if you like to eat a lot of salads.  Succession planting should be done in potted gardens too.Try something new like a mustard blend or Asian greens. They are spicy and flavorful and would mix well with some iceberg from the market.   All greens will tolerate some shade too.   See that speckley one ? That’s called Freckles ! 


String Beans – Pick a bush type variety  and have a large pot 14 inches at least. Again, sometimes  you can find greenhouse 5 gallon containers for a buck or even less. If you find them , they may not be  not pretty, but they  are useful  –  buy them !  Make sure you wash used pots thoroughly as they may be carrying things  you don’t want to know. So, most any bush type variety will work . I love the yellow string bean. It just seems more tender to me. Always harvest your string beans on the young side. They tend to toughen up if left on the vine too long .bush bean

Zucchini and Yellow squash- Again there are many bush type varieties that will grow great in a large pot. I bet you didn’t think you could grow squash in a pot  ! Silverbush  or  Buckingham Patio are two good choices !


Herbs -gotta have a pot of herbs, or maybe many pots of herbs !  — Basil or YOUR favorite herb ( basil is mine ) all  grow great in pots and some you can pick up already started at your local garden center. Basil is easy to grow from seed, just like dill, cilantro, and all different kinds of  parsley , ummm ….  and chervil. Then there are those that take a lot of time to grow like rosemary, thyme, and oregano  – buy those as started plants. Growing these from seed is not hard , but takes a lot of time, and if you are here in the northeast , you will be waiting a bit too long . Same goes for sage another favorite of mine. Save some time and purchase the started plants.

I can’t wait for this !!!!!!

Want a challenge ?  Olive trees or figs? Both easily grow in containers. They  need extra care if you live near me, but what an awesome addition to a potted garden space !potted olive

Oh, and some berries – most strawberries will grow great in containers or hanging baskets and Top Hat blueberries are just awesome in a large pot on the porch !

I think I may have gotten carried away . There are so many more, but as  you can see you are not limited by space. Maybe you can’t fit it all , but even a few additions will help you begin on a path to healthier eating. Harvesting your own herbs and vegetables saves you money,  and you don’t have to be concerned about where your  food came from . You grew it !

The take away – Space is not an issue! If you can only grow one tomato plant or one potted herb , consider yourself a successful gardener !!!! Be happy !

Gardening is  therapy with benefits !

Healthy Gardening

The Potted Garden

It occurred to me that there are a lot of you out there that don’t have the space I  have to plant a garden in. Perhaps  you are  just starting out in an apartment or are enjoying the big city life where you  have a balcony or a stoop, front steps, or an  apartment kitchen window. Our daughter lives in Brooklyn ,and I  love to stroll the streets admiring some of the most amazing  tiny space gardens  in front of those  old brownstone buildings and now,  urban community- lot gardens are popping up in cities everywhere.They kick out a lot of food and flowers !

How exciting for you !!!! No worries ! Time to get your art on. Greenhouses and farms are pretty much planted in straight rows, right ? That’s great , but there are  some serious design opportunities to be had creating  edible gardens in tiny spaces.  So,  lucky you !

Challenge accepted !

So before I get all caught up in chatting about  spring greenhouses and our farm , I would really like to share some ideas that I have seen and some  great plants that are  perfectly suited for your smaller spaces.  You can create a totally magical and edible landscape right on your front porch.


Choosing containers – the skies the limit !

If you love to frequent garage sales or street markets, keep your eyes open for containers you love. Just buy it because you love it. Maybe it ‘s for its color or its shape or  size, but if it struck you , buy it .  There’s a reason it caught your eye. That says something about you !  As long as it’s a good deal, purchase it . Very often you’ll find pots for a buck , AND it doesn’t even have to be a pot. It could be anything that you think will hold enough growing medium ( your plants need space to grow ) for whatever plant you have in mind.

Important ! You do need to have a drainage hole if you intend to plant in it . You may be able to drill one or punch one into something that doesn’t already have one, but it is necessary. Some will say you can fill the bottom with rocks and the water will drain down to that area,  which is true , but what will happen is that bottom water will turn really nasty in a short period of time . Also your outdoor pots will fill with water after the first  good rain . Without a drainage hole ,  you will come out to  a garden of floating plants . Your  pots  will just fill up with rainwater. So , just my opinion, but I would opt to always make sure you have a drainage hole into whatever cool thing you found to plant in.

Let’s look around your home and see what  you might have just laying around.  Your container just has to be something that can hold enough growing medium to support the size plant you are planning to  put into it and still  have room to grow .  I had a friend that took all her collected conch shells, and she converted them into growing containers. She mixed some other pots in with them and created this beautiful seascape of a garden on her porch.  Just gorgeous !

Up-cycle some cans ! We all have those !
Make sure your pots are large enough like these for those sprawling type plants. One herb per pot will give you a much better harvest during the season.

Now what ?

So gather up those containers and play with where you will be placing them. You will need good light for most plants, but there are some for shaded areas as well . Lettuces will do well in partial shade. Think about rain shedding off of roofs too. That can easily make a mess of  pots  even with drainage.

Perhaps you are setting  up an area in your kitchen window. No worries about the weather outside there.

Easy access – you want to enjoy this experience , so make sure you locate your potted garden in an area easy for you to water, harvest, pinch and prune. You don’t want caring for  this magical place  to become a dreaded chore , so take a little time to think your plan out  and locate your potted garden in an outdoor space that is easy to access.

Combine  vegetables, flowers, and herbs !

The hard partchoosing your plants.

Start slow and grow.

We all get carried away and often don’t take into account the amount of time it takes to properly care for this ,your  new amazing garden space. If working outside, take into account the sun or shade. Start with a  wish list. Keep it manageable. You can always add on as you grow.

A few suggestions  for small space gardens.

Blueberries – Top Hat

Great choice for a patio  or any small space. It’s nice to have some berries if you can manage to beat the birds to them  !


Strawberries- you can grow many varieties of these  in hanging baskets too if you have a place for hanging pots!

Tomatoes -choose a patio type , or some of the new dwarf varieties.  Sweet and Neat Scarlet  ( )  .We grow one in the greenhouse called  Tumbling Tom   ( ) in hanging baskets.  They are red or yellow ,and the growth habit of the plant is flat, so it hangs down over the pot. They have a wonderful robust flavor perfect for roasting or drying.  We roast ours and process them for a quick pizza sauce all winter long! Our friends always ask for our pizza  when they visit ! It’s the tomatoes that make it special .

Yup – those are tomatoes in the hangers. We grow them as a crop, but steal enough for ourselves at the end of the season ! They are so good !

Herbs- most any kind will thrive in a container , but I would plant one per pot. You see photos all over with combinations of herbs, but if you cook a lot and really need a substantial amount, plant one per pot. Constant trimming will promote growth, so don’t be afraid to cut them and use them. If too much is coming on too fast, many are easily dried just by laying out on a rack and turning every few days. Rosemary, thyme, and dill all dry well this way.

Cucumbers – Patio Snacker   (  ) – great for pots !

We grow National Pickler in hanging baskets in our greenhouse. You can grow it on your porch too ! ( )


The list of what you can grow in containers is endless. Oh !!!!! don’t forget a lemon tree or pineapple. I am trying a pineapple this year on my deck .

So let’s get creative . You are not limited by space –  citrus , berries, vegetables, herbs, and flowers can all be orchestrated into your own  magical edible space. Hopefully you have put a chair or two out there to sit and enjoy a cup of tea or a cocktail and relish in all  your hard work !

The take away – no space is too small, start small and grow,  choose  a container sized appropriate for what you would like to plant with a drainage hole in the bottom  , a container that you love, good organic potting soil, good light and easy access to your personal amazing space !

Oops – we will talk about fertilizers ! For now , pick up a good organic fertilizer. We use Vermont Organics in the greenhouses and everywhere else for that matter.  Organic will appear more costly , but it saves you money in the long run as it lasts in the soil for a very long time feeding your hard work , not washing through and having to be replaced every week like many synthetic fertilizers.

Your potted garden will nourish you in so many ways – mind , body and spirit  as well as any big farm could.

Healthy Gardening

Gardening your way to better health

We are still under a pretty thick blanket of snow  here in Vermont , but many of us have started planning that summer garden, and that’s half the fun  of having one. But , especially if you are new to gardening , it can be a daunting experience looking though all those beautiful pictures in seed catalog after seed catalog. It’s overwhelming even for the very experienced gardener. So many ideas, so many color schemes, so many types of vegetables – and you sit there wanting to plant it all. Heck , half the time I get caught up  staring at  the artwork  and photographs alone!

Well, take it from me , it’s not possible. Too many years of starting too many plants and not being able to get them in the ground on time ! Yes, that’s me , and I’m a professional grower to boot !
A little advice –
Start your gardening in bite size pieces. You will be much happier with the results. Try to enjoy  the slower process  of adding a few new ideas each year instead of becoming completely overwhelmed by attempting to  create some grandiose  landscape plan that you would realistically need to hire an entire work crew to accomplish.

If you are not fond of cooking , I would start with a herb garden or maybe just incorporating a few perennial herbs in with your flowers.
Yup, I did say if you are NOT fond of cooking because when you discover how ridiculously easy it is  to cook with fresh herbs , you’ll be surprised how often you will be drawn to using them in the kitchen or, for that matter , all over your home ! I love arranging them with flowers  –  such beautiful textures and scents.  They’re addictive . I guarantee you will start using them everywhere and in everything!

Fresh herbs super charge your recipes with flavors that far surpass the dried herbs you get in those little jars at the market. Most of the time those little jars sit on your pantry shelf for years, half of which you don’t even remember buying , right ? And have you seen the prices on those tiny containers of  fresh herbs at market? Crazy  !

That won’t be the case when using fresh-cut herbs from your garden. You’ll use them in everything from salads to soups to burgers ! You’ll make soap, infuse oils and sugars, you’ll dry them, freeze them , make wreaths with them – you get the idea ,they’re fun !
Start by  maybe choosing a few perennial ones ( they come back year after year )and a few that are  annuals. The annual ( single season ) herbs can even go into containers to decorate your porch or deck.

And fresh herbs are full of vitamins and nutrients. A simple dinner of lemon chicken with a few sprigs of thyme and rosemary beats that full of salt and whatever else rotisserie chicken available at the super market.

We are  fortunate to have greenhouses, so we will start with seeding  our dill this week. Dill is an annual and you can find it already started at a nearby garden center to pop right  into a pot or  into your garden. Just wait until well after the  last frost date in your area , but it’s super easy to start from seed. Full sun, good soil and constant trimming ( use it up ! ) will keep the plants fuller for a longer period of time. If it gets by you , let it  go to seed and use the dill seed head in some quick refrigerator pickles. Plant another pot of dill 3 weeks after the first one and you will have dill all summer long in case your first planting  kicks the bucket a little too soon.

Dill  just smells of summer to me.  I don’t know ,maybe I’m craving that summer yogurt dill dip ! I do have summer on my mind this morning  as I stare out my window at all this snow .It’s only 10 degrees out there !

And look how good dill  is for you ! I had no idea it  contained so much vitamin C !

Dill herb has all the characters to consider it as one of the most valued functional foods. 100 g of dill weed provides only 43 calories, but its phytonutrients profile is no less than any other high-calorie food source; be it nuts, pulses, cereals, or meat group.

100 g of this herb provides (%of RDA per 100 g): 37.5% of folates (vitamin B11),14% of vitamin B-6 (pyridoxine),23% of riboflavin (vitamin B-2), 140% of vitamin-C ,257% of vitamin-A, 21% of calcium,82% of iron and 55% of manganese.
(Note: RDA- Recommended daily allowance)

So pick out a few herbs from that beautiful catalog or from your favorite garden shop that you  know you  already like and enjoy watching them grow , and have some fun in the kitchen with them this summer.

I would  suggest a few  perennial herbs that are  easy to grow and super useful – Lovage, Oregano, Thyme, and Chives. These are all very  hardy ( can handle some very cold winters),  kitchen friendly herbs that will  return  for you year after year even if you don’t have a green thumb – yet !

Nature nourishes my life . I hope we can grow together a bit each week and share what inspires us towards better health and a happier , fuller life.

Ta DAH!!!  My first blog !!

Hope you can be patient with me. I’m still learning  how to work this site !!