Less Noise, More Green: 2014

Monday, December 29, 2014

Winter Tool Care

Winter Gardening  Tool Care

Seasons Greetings! I hope you had a joyous and peaceful Holiday with those that you love. Ours was just the right mix of family chaos and quiet at home time!

As we move beyond the busy Christmas week, I have been able to cross off an important gardening chore from my list - taking care of my tools. My tools are constant companions during the growing season and are crucial to the success of my garden so they deserve a little love and attention as they go into storage for the winter.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Growing lettuce indoors and winter salad recipes

Growing lettuce indoors over winter
The few weeks leading up to Christmas are always busy around here with holiday activities, family obligations and gifts to organize and wrap. This year, I've had writing deadlines and radio shows (three this month) to prep for and record. I've also been filling out financial forms for colleges and planning a family trip to England next spring. Needless to say my stress levels have been rising!

Interestingly, one of the radio shows I just recorded was about garden therapy and how our gardens can be a source of much needed stress relief, both physically and mentally. I was planning on waiting until after the Holidays to start my indoor lettuce garden but I feel the need to get my hands in the soil and lose myself in the rhythms of planting.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Providence Journal Poinsettia Article

My latest URI Master Gardener article for the Providence Journal is out today in the Decor section of the paper. The story is about the North American Poinsettia Trials which are conducted by Master Gardeners at the URI test site. Poinsettia breeders send new varieties to locations across the country for trial. It's a very cool project!

Here is a link to the online version of the story.

Master Gardeners Test for the Perfect Poinsettia


Thursday, December 4, 2014

All is gathered in

 Last January, I wrote on this blog that one of my goals for 2014 was to extend the growing season into the winter. I had plans for a hoop house. As the summer progressed and I was working flat out maintaining my gardens and preserving the fruits of my labors, I came to a realization - I was tired and I was going to become even more tired before the autumn months were over. The thought of growing food for all four seasons and digging my way through the snow to tend crops in February was not making me excited. I am not a winter person. I hate the cold. I hate ice. I know Eliot Coleman loves his winter hoop house but I need a break.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

December RI Local Magazine

Good morning!

Just popping in to let my fellow Rhode Islanders know that the December issue of RI Local Magazine is out today! My URI Master Gardener column this month is about caring for poinsettias. Pick one up if you see it!


Monday, December 1, 2014

"For the Love of Gardening" Radio Show : Sustainability and Green Gardening

The latest  "For the Love of Gardening" radio show, with me as the host, is now available as a pod cast. The show is about sustainability and green gardening and my guest is URI Outreach Center Interim Director, Kate Venturini.

The pod cast is in two ten minute parts:

Part One 
Part Two

The take away from the show is that nature provides us with all that we need in our gardens, we just need to know where to find it and how to use it.



Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Autumn leaves are gardening gold

This time of year in New England is all about the leaves - not the colors (that is so last month) but the clean up. seemingly endless amounts of leaves are now on the ground, in yards and on the roads. Everywhere except for my house. Over the last year we lost two trees in front of our house to disease and our neighbor lost one of their trees. The result is very few leaves littering my property. On one hand that is a good thing - less raking- but on the other hand I want those leaves!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Softened Kale, Chicken and Citrus Salad

Softened Kale, Chicken and Citrus Salad, salad recipes

 I am growing both Tuscan and Red Russian Kales in my front yard edible landscape. Both of these varieties are attractive additions to the garden and as the plants grow, their spreading leaves become more dramatic. I also chose these varieties for their tender leaves. I love using kale in winter soups and stews but I wanted to be able to add more winter green salads to our diet this year.  Softened Kale, Chicken and Citrus Salad uses a massaging technique on the kale to tenderize the leaves so they can be eaten raw.  The result is a satisfying salad with greens robust enough to support hearty toppings.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Putting the bees to bed, honey tasting and feeling grateful I'm not a drone

Honey from Edible Forest Garden, RII haven't been able to help out with the URI Master Gardener Edible Forest Garden bee hive as much as I would have liked over the last couple of months but I was able to be there as the bees received their winter food and were tucked in against the upcoming cold.

Monday, November 10, 2014

My gardening split personality

Less Noise, More Green Edible Landscape Project, November 2014
What does your garden and gardening style reveal about you? I have been cleaning up and prepping my beds for their New England winter sleep and thinking about my gardening plans for next year: what crops will I grow again, where will I plant them and what new plants do I want to add?  As I'm working, it strikes me how different my thought process is regarding planning for my front and back gardens. I have two gardens and two completely different gardening styles, resulting in sort of a mullet haircut in reverse with a party in the front and all business in the back!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Monday, October 27, 2014

Finding fall interest in my edible landscape

We are at the end of October and I am amazed and delighted at how much of what is growing in my front yard edible landscape is still green and healthy! My fear of an ugly dead mud pit for a garden has not materialized. The garden is, of course, responding to the change of season and the annuals and summer perennials are fading and dying but they are changing into beautiful brown, orange and gold sculptures, freezing the plants in a moment of time. This is the fall 'interest' in my garden, a variation on the theme.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Planting garlic and strawberry runners and loving fall vegetables

Assorted beets

The pace of my fall garden is wonderfully slow. The frantic harvesting and preserving of summer has relaxed into small bursts of "beating the frost" activity, followed by large quantities of sitting and enjoying. There are a few tasks left to do in my garden in October, though, namely planting garlic and transplanting strawberry runners. The rest is clean up and prep for the winter months ahead.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

In my kitchen this week

Today I am joining the Beauty That Moves Blog Hop, celebrating the food prepared and enjoyed in our kitchens over the last week.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Protecting and Harvesting Sunflower Seeds

Harvesting Sunflower Seeds, urban farming Edible landscaping

I grew Sunseed Sunflowers in my new front yard edible landscape this year.  They did not grow very tall and bloomed quickly but they brought me joy every time I saw them waving in the breeze. I grew them not only for their beauty but for their edible seeds, which this variety is known for. Bringing these seeds to maturity and harvest, however, was going to be challenging and would write another chapter in my ongoing "Gardener Verses Squirrel" Saga.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Stuffed Delicata Squash

Stuffed Delicata Squash recipe, fall gardening,

I'm sorry, buttercup squash, but you are no longer my favorite fall vegetable. I have a new darling and it's name is delicata.  With a much shorter maturity date than other winter squashes and an edible skin, there are a lot of reasons to include this squash in a four seasons garden. Oh, and it is delicious!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Beauty That Moves Blog Hop

Today I am participating in the Beauty That Moves Blog Hop, which celebrates the week's activity in the kitchen and the food created there.

Preserving herbs and eggplant, too

Frozen oregano, preserving herbs.

My culinary herbs grew really well this year and it would be a shame not to preserve them for use in the coming months. Herbs can make such a difference to meals cooked during the winter, when we are using much less fresh and more preserved ingredients. Capturing the flavor and aroma of the herbs is key and there are several ways I like to do it.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

One potato, two potato..

Beauregard Sweet Potatoes

Over the last couple of weeks, the pace of activity has slowed down in both my garden and my kitchen, and for that I am grateful. It is a cherished brief moment of time wedged between the fever of summer work and the preparations for winter. Mid-October is here all too soon and planning has to begin for the first frosts of the season, which for me can happen as early as late October. Break time is over and the clock starts ticking on harvesting, protecting and prepping before it is too late!

The next weeks will be about bringing in and preserving the remaining frost sensitive vegetables and herbs, protecting the veggies that will tough it out outdoors this winter, moving strawberry transplants, bed clean up and planning soil amendments and mulch.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Sauce, Vinegar and Cake - How 'bout them apples!

Cooking with local apples
A few weeks ago I visited a local orchard with my friend Roda and came home with half a bushel of assorted eating and cooking apples. Making the most of this seasonal fruit is traditionally the start of autumn for me and I look forward to the time spent in the kitchen creating and preserving. There is nothing like the smell of cooking apples filling the house.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

WADK "For the Love of Gardening" Radio Show Podcast - with me as the host!

Last Sunday, I hosted the first "For the Love of Gardening" Radio Show on WADK 1540 AM, out of Newport, RI. The show is a URI Master Gardener project and I am one of four rotating hosts!

Click on the link to hear the entire thirty minute show.

10/5/14 Preserving the Harvest
Using dehydrating and freezing methods to preserve fruits and vegetables.
My guest is University of Rhode Island Outreach Center Educator, Sejal Lanterman.

This project is a lot of fun and I'm looking forward to hosting the show once a month. As the shows become available I'll link to them through the tab at the top of the blog.

If you are local to RI, you can hear the shows as they air, if you tune in to 1540 AM on Sundays at 8:30am.


Monday, October 6, 2014

Harvesting Coriander Seeds and Honey Roasted Coriander Squash Seeds

Coriander seeds, harvesting seeds
Drying coriander seeds have almost an opalescent sheen.

Cilantro is one of those herbs that people either love or hate. I personally love it fresh in all kinds of dishes.It can be a frustrating plant to grow, however, because it goes to seed at the drop of a hat. I planted a lot of cilantro in my edible landscape this year and when it seemingly bolted over night I let it go.

Friday, October 3, 2014

I'm Co-Hosting a radio show!

I'm excited to share with you all that starting this Sunday I will be co-hosting a new radio gardening show! The show is called "For the Love of Gardening" and is a URI Master Gardener project.

The show will air on WADK 1540 AM on Sunday mornings at 8:30am.

There are four hosts, of which I am one, and we will take it in turns to host the show. I am first up, this Sunday. My guest is Sejal Lanterman, an educator from the URI Outreach Center. Local folks may know her from NBC 10's Plant Pro. Our topic is preserving by dehydrating and freezing.

Hope you will listen in! The show will eventually be podcast and I will link to it when that happens.

How fun is this?


Thursday, October 2, 2014

Blackberry bushes, it's time to move on, but its not you, its me.

Blackberry, urban farming
There was definitely more than a little hubris happening when I planted three blackberry bushes in a small space between a row of rhubarb and my neighbor's fence. I was sure I could control their growth and still have a bumper crop of berries. Of course I was wrong on both counts! Not only was I not able to control the bushes spreading into my neighbor's yard but they swamped the rhubarb and sent out shoots into all the surrounding beds! When all was said and done, the yield was not justifying the growing bramble jungle. It was time for them to go.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Coppicing: an ancient wood management technique

Rose of Sharon
One of the tasks on my 'to do' list for the fall was pruning my Rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus) bushes. Although, they are so big they are more like trees! We knew that one of the bushes was not doing well and there were a lot of dead branches. When I went to inspect the bush to decide how to prune it, half of the bush came away in my hand - it was completely dead. With a little coaxing, the other half came up, too.

Looking at the bush, now lying in my driveway, it suddenly dawned on me that we had been coppicing the branches!  This made me very excited because coppicing is a great frugal and sustainable gardening practice.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Frittata- the ultimately adaptable meal


I wrote the following recipe for the URI Master Gardener Produce Donation Project newsletter over the summer. After putting together the recipe page for the blog, I realized I didn't post it here. Frittatas are such a great last minute dish and infinitely adaptable. These are summer variations but I've added some ideas for autumn versions at the end of the post.

Friday, September 26, 2014

New Recipe Page

If you look at the bar under the Less Noise, More Green banner, you will see a new tab - recipes! All the links to the recipes on this blog are now in one place, sorted by category. This will make finding the recipes you want so much easier.



Thursday, September 25, 2014

Frugal and Sustainable Gardening

Home grown food, urban farming, gardening
At the end of the day, this is what it is all about for me.

This has been an expensive gardening year. Yes, I installed a new garden in the front of my house but looking over my budget for 2014, I see that I have spent more than I'm comfortable with on supplies, seeds, potting soil, etc. This prompted a hard look at how I am gardening and what my goals are.

The number one goal for me is food production. I grow food because I care about the quality of the food I feed my family, but also to lower our food bill. To achieve the second part of that statement I need to spend my gardening dollars wisely and recommit to being a frugal and sustainable gardener.

To that end, I will be writing more posts about this topic, highlighting what I am doing, my failures in this area and how I will do things differently in the future. Here are some of the things I can improve on:

Monday, September 22, 2014

Edible Landscaping - transitioning into fall

Edible landscaping, fall plantings, urban farming, gardening

My front yard edible landscape is going through some changes. Maybe I should say it is 'maturing'. It is time for some plants to bow out and time for others to make an appearance, but it is all as it should be. I will be sad to see some of my favorites go but I'm enjoying the challenge of keeping this garden attractive and productive season to season.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Hollyhock rust - a cautionary tale

holly hock rust, gardening
This is not going to be a pretty post but I share both my successes and failures here and this is definitely one of the later. When I was designing my edible landscape, I was given a packet of hollyhock seeds. Hollyhocks (Aithaea rosea) are a quintessential British cottage garden flower and I have always loved them. Growing up in the UK, many of the gardens in my village had them growing in their gardens and I remember them being swarmed by bees. I decided to add them to my garden design.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Fall Garden Clean Up: compost, lawn bag or trash?

Fall Clean Up: what to compost, what to lawn bag and what to trash. gardening, urban farming
Time for some trash talk. I don't enjoy cleaning my garden any more than I like cleaning my house. It is certainly not the fun part of gardening but is a necessary evil and can prevent problems with disease in future seasons. When doing fall clean up, I follow the same strategy I use when purging my house, where I create three piles - keep, donate and trash. In the garden, this translates to compost, lawn bags for the recycle truck, and trash.

Here's how I decide what goes into each pile.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Harvesting Poppy Seeds

Poppy Bread Seed Hungarian Blue, harvesting poppy seeds

I didn't think I was going to have any poppy seeds this year. Poppy seeds need to be sprinkled over the soil in the fall or late winter and with the installation of my edible landscape happening in the spring, the earliest I could sow was late May. I almost didn't bother but I'm so glad I threw caution and seed to the wind and tried anyway.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Rose Hip Recipes: Chutney, Jelly, Syrup and Tea

Rose Hips, Rose Hip Recipes

On a beautiful, bright, sunny morning, my friend Roda and I went to the beach on a mission. We were looking for rose hips. Rosa rugosa loves the beach and this little stretch of sand, hidden away in a small waterside community, is my secret spot for foraging hips.

Monday, September 8, 2014

September Garden Chores

Rudbeckia, Cherokee Sunset

Summer doesn't seem to want to let go here in Rhode Island. We've just had one of the hottest, most humid weeks of the year and my garden is not happy about it. Many of my summer crops, such as the squashes, lettuces and basil, did not fair well and the winter squashes have fallen victim to powdery mildew.

September is really a transition month in the garden, anyway.  As the month goes on, the temperatures fall and the rainfall increases. The weather gives us a window of time to assess our gardens, plan for the future and make changes before the frosts come and we tuck our plants into their beds for the winter. Now is the time to move unhappy plants, divide perennials and plant bulbs and new perennials. Trim back shrubs and vines this month so they have time to recover before the cold sets in.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Roasted Tomato and Zucchini Soup

Roasted Tomato and Zucchini Soup, recipes
What do we all have too much of right now? Tomatoes and zucchini!  In my garden, while the tomatoes are in top gear, the zucchini are on their last legs. I must admit I'm ready. It has been a challenging couple of months trying to staying ahead of the never ending supply of squash. At the same time, I am grateful for the full freezer and pantry. Fall crops are not far off and there is still plenty to harvest and enjoy coming from the summer garden. The change in ingredients, however, is very much anticipated!

Here is a recipe for Roasted Tomato and Zucchini Soup, which I wrote for this month's URI Master Gardener Produce Donation Project Newsletter.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Friday, August 29, 2014

Shiso and Shiso Pesto

Shiso, Shiso Pesto, gardening, recipes
One of the pleasures of edible gardening for me is growing new plants and finding ways to incorporate their uniqueness into meals. Sometimes the anticipation is better than the reality (New Zealand Spinach, I'm talking to you) and sometimes you find something new that adds a different twist to favorite dishes and inspires creativity in the kitchen. Shiso, or Perilla, is a new herb in my garden this year and has been fun to grow and experiment with.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

September RILocal Magazine and looking to fall

RILocal Magazine, September 2014

Rhode Island folks, the September issue of RILocal Magazine is now available. Look for it at your local supermarket and cafe. My column this month is on transplanting strawberry runners and taking advantage of the cooler, wetter weather in September to make changes in your garden - planting new perennials and shrubs,or moving old ones.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Preserving Hot Peppers

Goliath Jalapeno Peppers
Some of the happiest plants in my garden right now are the jalapeno peppers. They are loving the hot weather and producing like crazy. I am growing a 'giant' variety and the peppers are living up to their name - they are huge and very spicy. My family loves 'hot' food so preserving this crop for us to add to our winter meals is a must.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Sunflowers and the solitary Long-horned Bee

Sunseed Sunflower, gardening, urban farming
The sunflowers in my front yard edible landscape bloomed this week. This has made me ridiculously happy. They really are a joyous flower. I planted the variety Sunseed, specifically because it is a heavy seed producer. Once the seeds start forming, I will have to cover the heads with a paper bag if I want to harvest any of the seeds (sorry birds and squirrels). Until then, I am soaking up their yellow goodness. Apparently, I am not the only one. As soon as the petals started to open I began to see a new variety of bee in the garden which seems especially enamored with the sunflowers.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Storing garlic

Cured garlic, preserving, urban farming, gardening

In the middle of July my garlic was looking a bit brown and droopy, which meant it was ready for harvest. After gently freeing the bulbs from the earth, I hung them in my garage to cure. It has now been several weeks and the garlic is completely dry and ready for storage.

Monday, August 18, 2014

15 ways with zucchini, or how I'm surviving the squash tsunami

Vegetable Chowda, zucchini recipe
This vegetable 'chowda' is full of zucchini

It is the middle of August and I have a love/hate relationship with my garden right now. On the one hand, all the hard work is paying off and the garden is productive and thriving. On the other hand, the garden is productive and thriving, which means an endless stream of edibles piling up in the kitchen waiting to be cooked, processed and preserved! As they say, be careful what you wish for.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Welcome Providence Journal Readers

If you have found your way here from the August 16th Providence Journal article about my garden - welcome!

Here at Less Noise, More Green, I blog about home food production in my urban gardens, as well as cooking and preserving. I'm striving to find new meaning in old skills and believe they have a place in our modern world.

I hope you stay and explore. If you like what you see, you can subscribe by email or 'like' my Facebook page. I will notify you when I upload a new post.

To see all the posts concerning my Edible Landscape Project, click here.

To see a complete plant list with photos for this project, click here to go to my 'My Edible Landscape Project' Pinterest site.

To see the online version of the article, click here.

Thank you for stopping by!


Thursday, August 14, 2014

Pollinators Aplenty

Sweat Bee, bees, pollinators, urban farming
Sweat Bee. Green bees - who knew?

One of the joys of this summer has been watching the insect activity around my flowering plants. As you know, this is my first year as a beekeeper and I have been mindful of my little friends as I chose plants for my gardens. What has been unexpected is the variety of insects I see every day on the flowers. Over the course of a couple of days I took photos of as many different pollinators as I could. Identification of some of these insects is tricky, so if you know what they are, please let me know!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Rhode Island Edible Landscapes: Cyndee's Barrington Garden

Thornless Blackberries, Edible Landscapes in Rhode Island

This is the first in an occasional series highlighting edible landscapes in my home state of Rhode Island. I find looking at other people's gardens inspiring. I hope you do, too!

In Barrington, Rhode Island, there is a typical ranch house in a peaceful neighborhood, with a garden flaunting character all of its own. My friend and fellow Master Gardener, Cyndee Fuller, has turned her 7,500 square foot property into a beautiful mix of fruits, flowers, vegetables, herbs and shrubs. Her garden is designed around where the plants will best thrive, regardless of whether that is in the front or the back of the house.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Help the Monarch Butterfly - plant milkweed in your garden!

Butterfly Milkweed, Edible Landscaping, monarch butterfly
Butterfly Milkweed
When I was creating a plant list for my Edible Landscape Project I knew I wanted to include milkweed. Not only is it a native plant and a great source of quality nectar for pollinators, it is key to the survival of one of our most beloved and easily identifiable insects - the Monarch Butterfly. These beautiful creatures are in real danger of extinction and as gardeners, we can do something about it.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Pickled nasturtium seeds, roasted veggies and powdery mildew

Nasturtium seeds, nasturtium capers, edible flowers
Nasturtium Seeds
 Have you tried pickling nasturtium seeds? I came across this idea while reading a fermentation book and immediately looked up some recipes online. Nasturtium "capers" are supposed to taste like, well, capers! As I have many nasturtium plants growing in my gardens this year I thought I'd give pickling the seeds a try.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Edible Landscape Project: Garden Photos

Less Noise, More Green Edible Landscape Project, August 2014
My deadline for the feature story I am writing for the Providence Journal is later this week and these are the final updated photos to be added to my "My Edible Landscape Project" Pinterest Board. I will be directing readers to this blog and the board for more information on the Project. I can't believe how much the garden has grown over the last month. Looking at photos taken at the start of June, the beds were empty with just the hint of seedlings pushing through the earth. Now it is so full and lush I am pushing my way through the plants!

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Edible Landscape Project: Vegetable Photos

Here are more updated photos of the vegetables growing in my edible landscape. See all the plants in the project on My Edible Landscape Pinterest Board.

Less Noise, More Green Edible Landscape Project: Patio Star, Hybrid Zucchini, annual, vegetable
Patio Star Hybrid Zucchini