Tuesday, April 28, 2009


I've decided to design our community garden plot using "Square Foot Gardening" by Mel Bartholomew. The grid appeals to my science /math brain and I don't want to leave too much empty space because our plot is tiny to begin with.

So last Friday I used cotton string to make the grid and planted potatoes, sugar snap peas, carrots, swiss chard, beets, leaf lettuce and flowers. I know it's already too late for potatoes and peas but I will plug ahead regardless.

Here are the specs on what I planted:
  • Golden beet
  • Emerald oak lettuce
  • Oxheart carrot
  • Dwarf grey sugar pea
  • Fordhook giant swiss chard
  • Giant strawflower
  • Double pinwheel marigold
  • Zinnia
M and I also built a trellis for the upcoming tomatoes. Don't laugh at it. It looked better in my head.

The temperature has been in the 90s for the past four days and we've been running out to the garden to water every day. Thankfully tonight it's going to thunderstorm so we should have spring back tomorrow. But this little taste of summer has been oh so sweet.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

It's official

I start today!

Yesterday was my last day with the family I've been nannying for and I have to say it was a bit heart-wrenching. The new nanny shadowed me and she hit it off with the girls right away, so I don't worry about them. But there's a little hole in my heart where those girls will always belong. They drew me pictures and wrote letters to me as a surprise and I totally teared up when they gave them to me. Here's the one from Zizi, three (as dictate to her father):

"Dear Erica,

I will miss you so much. I really want to play with you right now and I don't want you to go away. And I want you to stay in your house forever and don't leave the city. And I love you a really really lot, and I hope you like all of these colors on the envelope. And I hope you love everything and I hope you love flowers and green. And I love you, too.


Erg, bittersweet day.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

April showers . . . .

. . . bring tulips in my front "yard" . . .

. . . a flower on my transplanted strawberries (eeee!!!!) . . .

. . . cherry tomato seedlings on the front window ledge (okay, the rain didn't have that much to do with these) . . .

. . . and baby salad greens in our St. Bernard Community Garden plot.

Bring it on, rain, bring it on.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Phila Street Art: 47th and Baltimore

I see this little sticker every morning as I wait for the trolley. It's a good way to start the day.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Work with your HANDS

My friend Metthea embroidered this awesome sweatshirt (that she is modeling). She also made me an incredible sweatshirt for my birthday a few years ago that has an anthropomorphic carnivorous plant on the back (ala Audrey II). I love having crafty friends, they are such a source for inspiration.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Mini greenhouse!

I made these little mini greenhouses to start my seeds and I'm seeing some activity in there!

They're basically just plastic sushi containers with a cardboard egg crate inside. I used some fabulous potting soil from a local company called Organic Mechanics; I met the owner when I was volunteering at the Philadelphia Flower Show (he gave a talk on vermicomposting). I covered the top with a thin layer of fine vermiculite, watered and placed on the radiator, which is hopefully around 70 degrees so the little guys will germinate.

I planted Yellow Perfection Slicing Tomato from Seeds of Change and Miniature Red Bell Pepper, Bush Pickler Cucumber, and Sweet 100 Cherry Tomato from the wonderful local D. Landreth Seed Company (I had the novel experience of actually talking to some from D. Landreth on the phone, and I got my seeds three days later. Bonus!).

For another example of egg crate seed starting, check out Phil's blog Phigblog. Phil manages the Philadelphia Orchard Project and coordinates the St. Bernard Community Garden where our current plot is.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter!

I gave the natural Easter egg dyes another try this year. Top left is spinach, top right is yellow and red onion skins, bottom left is beets, and bottom right is red cabbage. I'm happy with the right side, not so much with the left. I created the striped pattern by putting rubber bands around the eggs before boiling them

And I made small baskets for my family members. Jelly beans, smooth 'n melties, licorice, a chocolate-covered marshmallow egg, hard boiled eggs, and a "bath bomb" in the shape of a bunny rabbit. Oh man, I love Easter.

Friday, April 10, 2009

cherry blossoms, Washington D.C.

everywhere's here
(with a low high low
and the bird on the bough)
-we never we know
(so kiss me)shy sweet eagerly my
most dear

the new is the true
and to lose is to have
-we never we know-
(the earth and the sky
are one today)my very so gay
young love

we never we know
(with a high low high
in the may in the spring)
(forever is now)
and dance you suddenly blossoming tree
-i'll sing

- e. e. cummings

from 95 Poems (1958)

Monday, April 6, 2009

West Philly's Pedal Co-op

I've been wanting to post about this awesome West Philly business for a while now. The video says it way better than I ever could, so take a peak. Good work West Philly!

Saturday, April 4, 2009


The smell of rain and daffodils is in the air, it's officially spring! Here's where I've been getting my seed porn this spring:

The pictures in the Seeds of Change catalogue are truly stunning and I love that all of their seeds are organically-grown and mostly heirloom varieties. Another great (and local!) seed source I'm ordering from this year is the D. Landreth Seed Company, in New Freedom PA, another company with an heirloom focus.

I also raided my parents house for gardening books and came back with the motherload!

In other news, chives are definitely not something I will try to plant from seed again. Look at those puny things.

But I did acquire some strawberry transplants from a friend which I put in a tub on the porch. We'll see what happens with them; I decided not to put them in my garden plot because they can take over (the reason I got the transplants is because my friend was cleaning out her new community garden plot which was overrun with the little buggers).

Finally, check out this amazing video:

The Seed from Johnny Kelly on Vimeo.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

My fifteen seconds

Last Thursday I got a call from Sally McCabe who runs the Garden Tenders workshop series at the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (have I mentioned how much I love this program?). A reporter from Reuters TV had contacted her about getting in touch with some local gardeners for a series he was doing on beating the recession. He wanted to talk to people who are growing their own food as a means to cut down on their food budget. Within an hour I had agreed to do a TV interview at my community garden (this one)!

It's horribly exciting and embarrassing (I feel abnormally sheepish about being on camera), but here it is. I have one little line and M got to be in some background footage too!

I also watched a movie called "The Garden" tonight, which I highly recommend. It's about a community of farmers in South Central L.A. at the country's largest urban community garden (14 acres!) and their fight to keep the land they have been cultivating for ten years. It addresses issues of food justice and racism and it's heartbreaking and beautiful.