The Three Sisters & Some Exciting News!

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Source: Almanac.com

I’d like to preface this post by mentioning that Plant Lady is moving on up! (…in planting terms). For the past 4 years I’ve lived in a little townhouse that has the most frustratingly shady patio as the only outside space. The first spring I was there, I had super high hopes about what I would be able to grow, but I was quickly disappointed by the (maybe) 3 or 4 hours of late afternoon sun that I would get on that patio. It did teach me to adapt – I learned about shade tolerant plants & flowers, grew lettuces that I could pick as baby leaves, and it’s even what got me into community gardening.

But this spring, however, I’ll be moving into a new condo with a super sizeable & sunny south-facing patio! Barring a major deer problem (it is New Jersey so you never know), I should be able to grow all kinds of interesting things out back. I will still be participating in a local community garden, to plant larger crops & also to get involved in the wonderful foundation that runs the garden. So I will have lots of exciting things to share! I plan to get a small grow light system to start seeds indoors, and I’ll be trying out lots of different heirloom varieties of plants. I’m also taking a horticulture class at a local college, so I’ll even be getting some formal education in plant propagation.

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Field Trip: Exposition Park in Los Angeles

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Juicer’s Garden at the museum’s Edible Garden. I spot beets, kale, parsley, carrots & more.

Exposition Park is a huge cultural center, with museums and acres of gardens, right in the middle of urban Los Angeles. One of the most stunning features is the Rose Garden, featuring thousands of rose plants of hundreds of different varieties. At one point there were plans to tear down the garden and replace it with a parking garage, but luckily it was added to the National Register of Historic Places in time!

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Totally Worth It: Replace your Store-Bought Herbs with Homegrown

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Rosemary

It all started with an oregano plant.

Just a simple oregano plant in a small container on my patio. After it grew to a decent size, I figured I should actually do something with it aside from watering and staring at it. I knew that to dry herbs you typically leave them out for weeks on end, and I didn’t really have the time or space for that. I found some information on a quick oven-drying technique, and I was off to the races.

Then I actually used some of the dried oregano in cooking – holy smokes is this what oregano is actually supposed to taste like?? Like most people I just used the McCormick stuff I got at the supermarket in recipes. After using the homegrown, I could never go back…

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Now for Something Different: Minimalism

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Still sneaking a plant in here

I’ve always been someone that loves throwing things out.

It just always seemed that the more things I owned, the less meaning each individual thing had. When that whole KonMari decluttering method blew up a couple years ago, I was pretty peeved someone was making millions off an idea that seemed intrinsic to me. I know some people buy things to meet an emotional need, but I think I’m more likely to get rid of things if I’m trying to de-stress or work through something.

So how do I end up with so many things I’m willing to part with? Er, poor money management & too many cute ‘trendy’ things for sale are the biggest reasons that spring to mind. Also, there totally is some Pavlovian response to getting free crap – ‘Congratulations you get a free tote bag with your purchase!’ ‘Woohoo I’m totally getting one over on these suckers cos its freeee.’

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Community Gardens – Urban Agriculture in Suburbia

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Community Garden in Warren, New Jersey

What exactly is a community garden? If you’re reading a site called Plant Lady you probably already know, but in short it’s an area of land made available to the public to grow food for home use (i.e. not commercial production). Different rules and policies vary among them, but typically they require a nominal fee to join and a certain amount of volunteer hours towards the upkeep of the property. Some have sections devoted to growing food for local food banks – which is an awesome way to donate food that isn’t the reject canned goods from your cupboards!

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Field Trip: Desert Garden at The Huntington

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A variety of Aloe plants

On a trip to California I got to visit of the best botanical gardens I’ve been to – The Huntington, in Pasadena. The Huntington itself is a massive cultural, art museum & education center, but clearly I only cared about the gardens. They have over a dozen different ‘themed’ gardens, but this Northeastern-er was most blown away by the Desert Garden. Its one of the largest succulent and desert plant gardens in the world. Beautiful but also look like underwater sea monsters at the same time, no?

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