Tag Archives: gardening

Chicken Wrap with Spicy Greens

I’ve been working on our patio for a few months now trying to make it more functional and enjoyable.  It’s a narrow area that wraps along two sides of our house and much different than the half-acre of hillside we tended at our former house.  At first, the idea of having so much less to manage outside was attractive because we were busy with our jobs and moving closer to the ocean and a beautiful seaside community that would inspire us to get out more and enjoy weekends full of sun and fun.  But I’m a gardener — I always have been.  And as much as the weather is often quite gorgeous here, I’m content to spend time outside digging in the dirt.  Unfortunately, that hasn’t been very easy for the past few years.

A former owner had planters installed on the patio and made less than smart choices about what was planted in them, so now, several are completely root bound.  Old flagstone capping has loosened from the planter walls, much of it cracked or broken completely.  The fence, although beloved by my cats for its great scratching post qualities, was more a termite high rise.  Tearing it down took little thought.

I’ve always kept pots of annuals and herbs, and for the first time two years ago, began growing tomatoes in pots.  About a year ago, I put together a small herb box as well.  This year, one of the tomato pots has become a salad greens pot.  It may not seem like much, but I can tell you the snails would be quite upset if I ever got rid of the little herb box.  And this year, they’ve truly enjoyed picking out all but one variety of salad green from the new pot.  Who knew snails had such discriminating palates — erm — radula?

Even though my patio is small by suburban yard standards here, I could squeeze the few things I enjoy harvesting in an even smaller space such as a balcony if I had to.  In other words, it doesn’t take much to grow a few of your own veggies and or herbs.  I’d enjoy planting even more among the roses and succulents I’m currently planting in the newly filled, capped, and painted planters, but until those plants are established, adding anything edible to them isn’t advisable and may never be.  Hence, the pots I have are a great idea because I can move them around according to the seasons and sunlight.

My tomato plants are sporting grape-sized fruit, but the idea frying tiny green tomatoes isn’t as appealing to me as plucking some of the salad greens, a few leaves of the perennial bloody sorrel that continues to thrive, some wild arugula, and purple basil.

Perfect for a wrap with a bit of left over chicken and, if the patio was finished, a nice lunch outside with a good book.  All in due time.

Are you a gardener?  Do you have an outside space to relax in when the weather is pleasant?

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Red Sorrel and Arugula Salad with Avocado and Orange

Red Veined Sorrel Salad

I live in an area that is perfect for growing just about anything all year long if one can forget the pesky dilemma of drought we’ve endured for the past many years.  I’ve been a reasonably capable gardener most of my life — thanks to my mother who most likely could grow a stick in the Sahara —  so I’ve always had plants that needed tending.  Whether they were house plants, everyday geraniums, or wildflowers I grew from seed scattered over moist soil, I’ve enjoyed the peace that has come from caring for them.

Fast forward about 10 years.

I no longer have any property to speak of to plant things in;  instead, I have what I’ll call an extended patio that wraps around one and a half sides of our house.  It all seemed so wonderful when we bought it, not to have to worry about fixing a leaky roof or painting it, and for the most part, I still agree.  But there are days when I long for a yard — or at least a yard that is more than eight feet wide.  On other days, I’m thankful that I don’t have to take care of that dream yard.  I used to have one and know that as much as it provides a sense of accomplishment and overall beauty to a home, it can be overwhelming to care for.

Last spring, I finally decided to purchase an herb box.  Of course, I’ll be the first to admit that an herb box (dimensions roughly 8″ x 36″) isn’t quite the replacement for a dream yard, but I can deal with the delusion when the Pacific is a short 10 minutes from my door.  My rosemary bushes grow like weeds in my planters, so they were the least of my concerns.  It was more the need to have parsley, or oregano, and maybe marjoram, or salad greens.  Now that would be a luxury!  A year has gone by, and I’ve been so busy I haven’t spent much time on my patio.  The herb box hasn’t gotten much attention.  Thyme has disappeared in more ways than one, and the purple basil never really flourished to begin with.  What I’m surprised to find is red sorrel bursting with life and all but wearing an advertisement for snails and worms to have lunch.  It never really died down over winter, and now, after our recent rainy weather, it’s flourishing along with the parsley and marjoram.  Granted, the level of soil in the box is about 50% of what it once was, but still.  Surprisingly, the arugula is sending out tender shoots as well.  Go figure.

I decided that it was the perfect reason to make a spring salad, even though the vernal equinox is still a week away.  Anything surviving the neglect my herb box has had to withstand deserves to be celebrated.  And I suppose it’s proof that one only needs a strip of space with bright light most of the day to lull her into the notion of being an urban gardener warrior.

Nice.

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