Red, White, and Blue Berries

What kind of fruit comes in red, white, and blue? Berries, of course!

Blueberries are a huge treat. Our daughter in western Washington grows them by the bucketful, although our granddaughters have a habit of grazing on them in the backyard, so they don’t always make it into the kitchen.

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Going Seedless

vitis labrusca - grapes @tacomawa 14oct07 lah 004I sat munching my seedless grapes, enjoying the sweet juices. I bit one in half, and focused on the tiny, immature lumps that would have been seeds in another variety. I’ve always taken seedless grapes for granted, but now I wondered—why didn’t the seeds develop in this cultivar? It clearly goes against a plant’s nature to grow fruit without seeds.

And what about watermelon? Is the same process involved? And those name brand tangerines we just polished off didn’t have seeds either. These days, even bananas are seedless. I miss the little black dots that used to decorate my banana bread. Then there are seedless tomatoes and cucumbers, two more fruits, at least from a botanist’s perspective. I had never stopped to consider how many seedless fruit crops are now available.

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Beyond Fall Foliage

Want to add autumn interest to your garden? Frost has arrived and flowers are finishing their season, but we don’t have to settle for a boring landscape. Even in Colorado, it’s possible to create a garden that is beautiful all year.

Colorful foliage is everywhere this time of year, but there’s more to fall than just leaves, no matter how spectacular they might be. Look for bright berries, persistent seedheads, and even colorful or thorny bark and branches.

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Eggplant Sex

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Girl eggplants? Boy eggplants? Does one taste better than the other? And what does all this have to do with plant sex?

In researching  my recent post on eggplant, I discovered a bunch of discussion about “male” vs. “female” eggplants. We’re talking about the fruit—the eggplants that we eat—not the individual plants on which the eggplants grew.

From a botanical point of view, this whole debate is nonsense. Let me explain:

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Subscribe to Good Eating

264-wheelbarrow-of-veggies-closeup-nxMy daughter supports it in Idaho. My brother-in-law supports it near Denver. My friend supports it here in Colorado Springs—maybe it’s time I join the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) movement too.

Let’s say you’re eager to enjoy locally grown, organic produce but you don’t have the time or room for a garden (or you just hate yard work). Your first inclination is to head for the neighborhood farmer’s market. But there’s another option. You can buy a share in a farm.

This is how CSA works: one or more small, family farms grow a variety of produce. How much variety depends largely where they are and what will grow there. The growers estimate how much they’ll harvest over the season, and divide the yield into family-sized portions.

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Grow a Garden of Eatin’

264-wheelbarrow-of-veggies-closeupDo all the fresh veggies appearing in the local farmers’ markets have you inspired? Victory gardens are back in style. Maybe it’s the economy. Growing your own can save you money, although your initial investment may take several years to pay off. Or perhaps you want to plant crops that are normally expensive at the market.

Gardening is good for you. You control which chemicals (if any) you use in your garden. Plus, it provides a great excuse to go outside and get some exercise.

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Eating Your Landscape

Rhubarb surrounded by dianthus in a 4x4 ft bedCrunchy, greenish tomatoes at $2.75/lb. Wilted, road-weary lettuce and limp green beans. We’re supposed to eat more veggies, but the offerings at the local supermarket aren’t very appealing. You’d like to grow some of your own food but you don’t have room for a vegetable garden. What can you do?

Try edible landscaping! While it’s traditional to sequester our food plants apart from the ornamentals, many fruit and vegetable plants are very attractive. Let fruits and vegetables take center stage in your garden, as well as in your kitchen.

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