Life at home

Life in Grant Park, Atlanta. Summer 2014. Our almost century old home is half way between the Braves stadium (leaving) and the Cyclorama (leaving) with an amazing view of the downtown skyline. A lot of people might be surpised that everything you see below is living and growing in the center (literally) of one of the Southeast's largest cities. 

This summer our urban "homestead" includes:
• 4 Ameraucanas
• 3 Silkies
• Peppers: Thai, Poblano & Red
• Tomatoes: grape & several heirloom varieties
• Corn (not shown)
• Strawberries (not shown)
• Eggplant (not shown)

Homegrown radishes

Six weeks ago we planted radish seeds in the front garden. And according to the packet I should've picked them three weeks ago - opps! I suppose that explains why you can see them BURSTING from the soil. These radishes are the MOST peppery radishes I have ever tasted. They taste more like horseradish then radish. To cut the intensity (and make them edible) I'm going to mix them with chick peas to create a hummus with an extra kick! 

Summer Garden: Week Seven

We planted a handful of pumpkin seeds this week; they're all coming up nicely. Hopefully they'll do better then our watermelon. The watermelon vine goes on forever, has plenty of blooms but not one fruit. Our strawberries suffered a similar fate; in the end we didn't get even half a dozen berries. Fortunately strawberries and watermelon are the only plants we've had problems with this summer. Everything* else is going great.

*Two varieties of eggplants, four varieties of tomatoes (two heirloom, two hybrid), green peppers, hot peppers, leeks, basil, mint, thyme and parsley. 

Spring Garden 2012: Week Ten


It's week 10 for the cabbage and bibb lettuce. The bibb lettuce shown in the top right photo is over 2 feet tall. (I had no idea lettuce could be 2 feet tall.) The cabbages have started to form solid heads and should be ready to pick in a week or two. I plan to make some of my jalapeno cole slaw but I think we also need to start looking for a sour kraut recipe or two! 

The strawberries are ripening one by one... I wonder if we will ever have more then one at a time. 
I added a watermelon vine today. It's our first time trying melon; I'm excited to see how it grows. Fruit should be ready to eat just in time for the hottest part of the summer! 

The three tomato plants are doing well. The top photo is the Phoenix Hybrid; the bottom photo is the Beefmaster. Not shown is the Rutgers heirloom. We transplanted it from a pot into the ground today and it's not looking too good. Hoping it rebounds soon. 

Also in the garden but not shown here: many pepper varieties, eggplant, spinach, leeks, spearmint, kale and arugula (left over from winter), onions, carrots, basil and thyme. 

Spring vegetable garden 2012


February 18, 2012: The start of our vegetable garden for 2012! This is the first time we've planted in front of the house; until now there has been a slowly dying, ancient dogwood in the same space. We chose the spot because it gets the most direct springtime sun (something all of these plants require). The side and backyards get hardly an hour or two but we will return to them for tomato and eggplant season. (Speaking of tomato season - notice the grape tomatoes in the Blood Mary. They're the ones Oliver pickled from our very last summer 2011 harvest. Dill flavor, yum!)

I'm excited about the possiblity of eventually eating all of our pretty little plants but I'm equally apprehesive about squirrels running off with them. It's a problem I'm not sure how to address. Also, we're not sure the leeks are actually leeks. How could they be? They're so densely packed and skinny? Time will tell. Oliver thinks they are mislabled chives. And finally, was this too early in the season to put plants in the ground (as opposed to seeds)? Guess I'll be watching the weather closely and be ready with a ground cover if needed! Wish us luck!

Honey I shrunk the garden...

The frigid temperatures snuck up on us. After weeks in the 50's I wasn't even following the weather. The second night with unexpected (to me) temperatures in the teens shriveled the garden greens. In particular the bibb lettuce, bok choy and pepper plants. The romaine lettuce and kale look like they might pull through. It's disappointing that we didn't get to eat them but at least we learned. To be honest, part of me believed these little plants would pull through until spring! 

As I said to Oliver after I realized what had happened "It's a good thing we can go to the grocery store. We'd make terrible pioneers." Live and learn! I don't think I'll make this mistake twice.

Fall Planting: Final update

Three more days until the official start of winter. The fall garden has done well - but I do wish I'd have started everything a few weeks sooner. I don't want to eat the kale until it's had a chance to grow at least twice as big as it is now. The lettuces we grew from seeds are still too little to be anything - but I am happy they've gotten this far. They reassured me that I can grow from seeds; I don't have to purchase baby plants. The pepper plants mostly died during one unusually cold night. The leaves a withered but the fruit is still holding on. We pick them as we need them. The onions? Well they are still anyone's guess!

Overall, the fall garden went well enough that I'm eager to try it all again in the spring. Perhaps on a larger scale too.


Topher wishes you warm blankets for cold nights and a spot of sunlight to rest in everyday. Bring on old man winter! We're ready!

Fall Planting - 4th update

It's the Sunday after Thanksgiving and I'm looking forward to a week of "normal" food. That's not to say our Thanksgiving meal* wasn't normal food. In fact it was surprisingly healthy (for Thanksgiving) and comprised almost completely of real food from the farmer's market. The only pre-packaged/processed foods were sugar, flour, butter, a couple of boxes of crackers and a tub of roasted red pepper goat cheese. Everything else, from the cranberries to bread crumbs, were purchased fresh. To meet the non-dairy needs of two family members Oliver substituted organic goat milk almost everywhere dairy was called for. (The exception was the creamed spinach; it was full on dairy loaded with marscapone and cream cheese.) There haven't been any extravagant left-over Turkey sandwiches but we've made up for it with homemade cinnamon rolls for breakfast every morning and bowls of oyster dressing for lunch. 

So I guess what I'm really looking forward to is a week of eating light. And what could be better for eating light then enjoying our first homegrown salad of the season! I think one of the Bibb Lettuces is ready to harvest - and the bok choy isn't too far behind. The fate of the littlest bibb lettuces, the ones we grew ourselves from seed, still seems undetermined. I think they may still be too little when the weather finally turns cold (it's 70 degrees now but will be in the 30s by the end of the week). The kale, onions and peppers are doing great. 



*Photo of Oliver's oven schedule for Thanksgiving day. I was so impressed with his ability to organize so many dishes all at once. He really did a perfect (and delicious) job with a very complex meal. Thank you Oliver! I love you.

Fall Planting - Round Three

As I write this post about my fall vegetable garden the "historic October snowfall" is just getting started in Philadelphia and NYC. If I lived there I'd be so disappointed to see all my work disappear so early in the season! Thankfully the weather here in Atlanta is still conducive to growing and my only challenge seems to be squirrels.

The chicken wire cage I improvised on Tuesday night is successfully guarding my plants from whatever animals might like to eat them and I think the bok choy will eventually rebound. The lettuce sprouts are delicate but growing quickly. And I added two kale plants from a local nursery. I can't tell a thing about the onions.

There is still a good amount of room for more vegetables so I'm on the look out for more plants to add.

First freeze = sad tomatoes

The weather forecast for tonight predicts the first frost of the season. Frost combined with several blustery days and sustained cool temperatures meant we had to face the facts. Tomato season is over. It is time for the tomatoes to give up their real estate.

Oliver pulled up our two plants today and separated the fruit into grocery bags for me to see. We had 5lbs 3oz of growing heirloom tomatoes and ANOTHER 2.5 lbs of grape tomatoes. Oh what might have been!

This summer we learned a lot about fertilizing tomato plants. I'm really looking forward to applying this year's lessons to next years crop. Onward tasty kale!