Archive for Food

June 2011 Garden Update

Posted in June 20th, 2011, under Food, Gardening, Home Decor

After several weeks, my small Las Vegas garden has blossomed into a lush green oasis. There is plenty of progress to update you on so I’ll just let the photos do the talking.

Las Vegas isn’t the ideal place to grow blueberries, but I’m going to give it a try. I planted seven varieties of blueberries in nine mini raised beds. Cross your fingers!

Above are my Bluecrop blueberries. These are commonly grown in the Northern states.

These ones are called Sunshine Blue. They are very compact and bushy.

My Misty blueberry doesn’t seem very happy. The leaf cutter bees are messing with her foliage.

This one is really neat. They call it Pink Lemonade. I doubt they taste like lemons, but their berries are actually pink when ripe!

Brightwell and Premier are rabbiteye varieties. They grow very tall and will produce bigger berries.

Blueberries love acidic soil. A mixture of peat moss, soil and compost should keep them happy.

I planted about 50 pepper plants in four beds and several pots. I also added marigolds on every bed to help keep some pests away.

Remember these from last time? The plants are already growing! In fact, I just harvested some banana peppers the other day.

This was originally my cabbage bed. I pulled out all the cool season crops and planted more peppers. Pictured above are the habaneros, bells and the hottest Bhut Jolokia ghost peppers.

Do you like banana peppers?

Or, are you more of a bell pepper person?

Maybe you don’t like peppers at all?

Focused in front are more pepper plants. The raised bed in the middle of the photo is my okra bed. I don’t really like eating okra but my family enjoys them. It find it too slimy in the mouth.

I originally had strawberries on this bed. Unfortunately, they didn’t do very well. I replaced them with okras instead.

In the very front are my eggplants. You can also see the L-shaped bed I built for the peppers. There are actually two facing each other.

I am currently growing two varieties of eggplants: black beauty and Japanese

Unfortunately, she will eventually turn into an eggplant parmigiana.

I’m also growing some zucchinis. I heard these are monsters.

My wonderful friend, Jason Tucker gave me this tree collard. This rare plant will produce leafy greens all year round. Isn’t that neat!

I also planted some tomatoes. I may have to plant more next year. In the background are my mint beds. I was forced to build them to keep all mints 100% contained.

Have you ever had chocolate mint before? They totally remind me of girl scout cookies! The mint on the right is the spearmint I moved from the herb bed.

On top is the yerba buena mint and at the bottom is the peppermint.

The candy mint and banana mint. I can’t wait to use them for desserts!

Finally, here is my herb bed. I dug out all cool season herbs and added new ones.

I harvested my boxwood basil daily until it became all twigs. This is why I replanted a new one.

This spicy saber serrata basil was ready to die until I chopped half of it off. It’s now looking bright and healthy.

Gosh, this is actually the third time I replaced my Thai Basil. It just kept dying on me! So far, this one is looking good. I pinched all it’s flowers off to encourage more growth.

I added this dark opal basil to my collection.

The sweet basil is definitely doing well. It has given me some good marinara and pesto sauce.

Italian oregano, anyone?

Or, do you prefer Greek?

Maybe you like yours variegated?

I had to move the lemon verbana on the upper herb bed because it was blocking everything.

The curry plant is already blooming flowers.

I also moved my lavender and added another variety.

I also added a pomegranate tree/bush.

I love pomegranates!

See you again next time! Happy gardening!

For updates, you can subscribe HERE, follow me on Twitter or join me on Facebook. Thanks!

Desert Gardening 2011

Posted in April 29th, 2011, under Food, Gardening, Home Decor

Some of you probably figured out that I live in the fabulous city of Las Vegas; however, not many know that Las Vegas is actually a desert. So, what does this have to do with cakes? Well, nothing.

What I really want to talk about is growing your own food. I have always wanted to grow vegetables and herbs but the desert climate keeps intimidating me. Remember, when visiting Las Vegas for the first time, you should either bring a fur coat or a swimsuit. That being said, it either gets too hot or too cold over here. We have our occasional good weather but it never lasts long.

So, what grows in the desert? Not just cactuses that’s for sure! Take a look at my herb bed.

I built this stacked herb bed a couple of weeks ago with just regular, construction lumber. I would actually prefer to use Trex, redwood or cedar (rot resistant) but since we are just renting, I didn’t invest too much. Also, when building your raised beds, make sure not to use treated wood. Chemicals will leach into the soil and contaminate your food. Of course, if you are just growing ornamental flowers, that is okay.

I added the dividers to keep each herb contained. I also think it looks more organized this way.

This boxwood basil is probably the lushest herb in my bed.

You can use chives in endless possibilities!

Italian parsley for pastas, salads and garnishing dishes! Doesn’t it look like cilantro?

How about some lemon verbena on your iced tea?

I haven’t cooked with Thai basil yet but I’m sure they would be great for Southeast Asian cuisine.

Sweet basil is definitely a staple in Italian dishes. This is probably my commonly used herb, too.

Doesn’t this lemon thyme look beautiful in the herb bed?

This one is called pineapple sage. When I first saw it, I was intrigued by the name. It actually smells like pineapple!

Ready for some lavender ice cream?

I was surprised to see some curry at our local nursery! I love the aroma!

There was a huge variety of rosemary to choose from and I only get to pick one. One day, I’ll have a rosemary garden!

Keep your oregano and mint trimmed and contained so it doesn’t spread all over. These herbs actually inspired me to add the dividers.

Do you like adding dill to your tar tar sauce and potato salad?

I also have a raised bed with three varieties of strawberries. A few days ago, I picked off all the strawberries and blooms. I wanted the plant to first focus on growing some leaves than bearing fruits. That way, I get a better harvest next time.

I’m also growing six varieties of peppers. Peppers are actually perfect in the desert; as well as eggplants, okras, melons and some varieties of tomatoes. I wish I can plant them all!

I planted several of these collards and I’m not exactly sure of the variety. I’m guessing they are Georgia collards?

Of course, I can’t forget my bok choy. They are wonderful for stir fries and stews!

As you can see, plenty of things can actually grow in the desert. Of course, you wouldn’t want to plant cabbages during the desert summer nor plant tomatoes in the freezing winter. Keep in touch with your local nurseries and see what grows well in each season. Get some good organic soil and compost; plus don’t forget to water them regularly (just don’t water them too much).

Special thanks to Jason Tucker for giving me advice on growing edibles here in Las Vegas. I couldn’t do it without him! Also, I would like to thank John Kohler for inspiring me to start gardening! Thank you!

What are you waiting for? Start growing now!

For updates, you can subscribe HERE, follow me on Twitter or join me on Facebook. Good luck!