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.