Gone to Seed

“Gone to Seed – the stage in gardening in which the flowers are not blooming and the leaves have fallen off the tree sending it’s seeds into the soil.” ~ Oxford Dictionary

Ever since I started gardening I have heard and lived slightly in fear of my fruits and vegetables going to seed. I swear everyone talks about it!img_8489.jpg

  • I showed a picture of my eggplant to my boss the other day and her immediate response was, “you better hurry up and pick that before it goes to seed.
  • I didn’t pick my cauliflower and instead let it grow into pretty little white flowers. When I looked up what happens when you don’t pick cauliflower the online response was that it was going to seed.
  • When I have an especially tasty crop of peas and my dad asks me to save the seeds. (Ok that one was a little different but still relevant).

Ok – maybe EVERYONE isn’t talking about it but its still a popular topic amongst gardeners – when and how to pick your produce so you don’t lose it when it goes to seed.

Is going to seed really as bad as I think?

I did a bit of research on the topic. Some people call is bolting when your crops go to seed. Also – it is not necessary a bad thing to go to seed. In fact, its nature’s way of perpetuating crops year after year.  Some gardeners even recommend that you let some of the things in your garden go to seed so that you can perpetuate a crop that is used to the conditions in your garden. This is especially recommended if you have a particularly good crop of something or if its extra flavorful. Also if you collect the seeds from your current crops – you don’t have to buy new ones each year.

How do I save my seeds after something has gone to seed?

Apparently you can not just collect seeds and throw them in a baggie. They will mold (I know this not from experience but from a certain farming friend emphatically informing me when I innocently suggested such a thing). First you need mature seeds – for some plants (like cucumbers and squash) this means waiting longer than you normally would to pick the produce – usually this is when you can hear the seeds rattling around inside. Next you need to dry your seeds. You can place them on paper towels and then put them in a safe, dry, cool storage area like a dark closet or basement (if you have one). Once the seeds are properly dried you should put them in a sealed airtight container where you can store them in the refrigerator or freezer until you are ready to use them! Important tip – be sure to label your stored seeds so that you know what they are when its time to plant again!

The cilantro has gone to seed.

 

Right now my cilantro is going to seed. Its been going to seed for awhile now and is actually starting to move past the flowering stage to develop the actual seeds. It has been kinda fun watching the process however it means less fresh cilantro for my recipes! After much googling (as per usual) I have learned that you can extend the growing season by picking the cilantro more before the flowers begin to sprout. Once the flowers start to sprout you can still eat the cilantro but the flavors will be more tempered. Sometimes that can actually be a good thing – especially if your cooking for people that don’t love the taste of cilantro but its important to the integrity of the dish (like in my homemade pico de gallo).

The other interesting thing about cilantro is that when it goes to seed it actually becomes the spice coriander.  Coriander seeds are used for curries, curry powder, pickles, soups and stews.

FUN FACT: Coriander is actually a member of the carrot family!

Happy planting and eating!

~ The Gardening Dietitian

 

The Gnome Herb Garden: An Introduction

“Gnomes Made Me Do It!” ~ Unknown

We did a thing this week. After weeks of staring and contemplating what to do with our front garden we finally made a decision. Herbs! We need more herbs! Herbs are kinda like the cowbell – you can never have enough! Yes, we have the aerogarden that currently contains dill, basil, thyme and parsley. Yes, we have the basil plants in the front garden but we NEED more!!!!

Supplies and Materials: Next it was time to shop. My mother in law was in town so we were provoked to go over for an adventure at Flamingo Gardens to peruse the herbs. Of course, we never do anything small so we left Flamingo Gardens with 8 herb plants and some organic planting soil.   Since this garden was going right in front of the house, where I will see it every day, I didn’t want to make it just an ordinary herb garden. I also have been trying to think of fun ways to get small child involved with our gardening efforts. Thats when the idea behind the gnome garden came to me! So we headed to Michaels and got some small white picket fencing and a few gnomes! It was then time to get to work!

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What We Did: We started by pulling out all the dead flowers, plants and other organic materials that had been hanging out in the garden since we moved in. We left the 3 eggplant plants, 2 tomato plants, 1 orange pepper plant, basil, the asparagus garden, purple sweet potato bush and the butter lettuce I planted a month and a half ago in the center of the garden. This left the two ends of the garden completely open and ready for re-planting! We added the soil to the garden bed – being careful to spread it evenly so the existing plants could soak up the nutrients as well. Planted our herbs. Added the gnomey (yes I just made that word up) details and labeled our herbs. Alas the gnome herb garden was born!!!

 

Meet the Herbs!

 

 

Happy planting and eating!

~ The Gardening Dietitian

Planting Day

“Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds you plant.” ~Robert Louis Stevenson

Saturday was planting day at my house. I woke up in a tizzy of excitement and anticipation for what the day would hold. First I re-reviewed my garden plans with my garden assistants (my husband and dad).

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Since this was our first real garden, I spent a lot of time developing the garden plan. To develop the plan, I reviewed my gardening books, read the seed packets to determine how much light and space each piece of produce needed and also tried to think about how each would grow for optimal use of our garden plot.

Then we went over to evaluate the space where we had prepped the garden to see if there were any additional supplies we would need. We determined we needed additional soil (for some reason we always need more soil), stakes (for the tomato and bean plants), plant velcro (to velcro the plants to the stakes), twine, a new rake and the plants we weren’t going to grow from seeds (tomatoes, peppers, strawberries, blueberries and marigolds).

IMG_5945So after picking up our additional supplies it was finally time to plant our garden! I was especially glad my dad was with us – he has actually created a garden before so he took the lead.

  1.  The first thing we did was plot out the rows. I wanted at least a foot in between each row so we measured it out and found out we had room for 9 rows in our garden bed.
  2. Then we started to make the mound of dirt using a hoe to space out our rows.
  3. Once our mounds were created it was time to plot out where the seeds/plants were going to go – using my garden diagram as a guide.
  4. It was finally time to start planting the seeds. For each seed packet, I read the instructions on the packet for how many seeds and how far apart they should be planted. I made a slight trough in the dirt, planted the seeds and then covered them with dirt.
  5. Next we planted the plants we had bought by digging holes, planting and then covering the plants with dirt.
  6. We added the trellises for the tomato and bean plants.
  7. It was finally time to water our garden. We wanted to give the garden a great start in life so we gave it lots of water to drink. New seeds need lots of water in order to germinate. SO MUCH WATER!

 

Now we wait, water, wait, water and more waiting to see if things start to sprout!

In the meantime, happy eating and gardening!

~The Gardening Dietitian

The Pineapple

“Be a pineapple, stand tall, wear a crown, & be sweet on the inside.”

Without a doubt, pineapples are my very favorite fruit. You have to admit they are pretty cool – with their tough exterior and bright, sweet meat inside. Plus they always remind me of summer, which is by far the best season of the year.

Nutritional Benefits of Pineapple:

Pineapple is a great source of Vitamin C, is fat-free and low in sodium. When we think of pineapple we typically think of bromelain. Bromelain is just a mixture of enzymes found within the pineapple plant. This enzyme can act as a meat tenderizer making pineapple the perfect addition when you are cooking meats like ham. Some people also take bromelain as a dietary supplement due to research showing it is effective in reducing symptoms of acute nasal and sinus inflammation (i.e. reducing the causes of your stuffy nose!) when used with traditional medications.

Growing Pineapple: 

So my mom calls pineapple a garbage food because you can grow a pineapple by the part you would typically throw away – in this case the crown of the pineapple.

Step 1: Chop off its head! Cut the pineapple about 1/2 inch from the top.

Step 2: Separate the top and bottom portions of the pineapple. The top will be used to grow a new pineapple!

Step 3: Take a photo with your pineapple – because gardening is fun!

Step 4: Pull off some of the lower leaves to expose the root.

Step 5: Let the roots dry out. There is some debate online about how long they should dry but my plan is to let the roots dry out for 1 day before planting.

Step 6: Take a break to enjoy your fresh cut pineapple!

 

 

So currently the top of my pineapple is sitting in the kitchen drying out a bit. My plan is to plant it in a large pot with planters soil in the next day or two and update you on the progress. Until then – happy planting and eating!

~The Gardening Dietitian