British actress Helen Mirren cracks me up.
Pictured: Nepenthes ‘Helen,’ a carnivorous plant named after her, on press day at the Chelsea Flower Show in 2011
As we all know, tomatoes like it HOT. It really hit me just how hot when I saw the plant in its native south america growing rampant as a weed. Most of us in the cooler temperate climes are trained to prune tomatoes, forcing the plant to put all of its energy into one crop of fruit arriving in the middle summer. However, naturally, tomatoes like to sprawl and branch, flowering and fruiting sporadically throughout the summer. They look more like a clambering vine than the upright well-staked poster child of summer eating.
It’s the tomato’s tendency to branch that led me to my ‘Eureka!’ moment and current tomato planting method, which I’ve seen echoed in numerous gardens since. Tomatoes, like willows, or dogwoods, hydrangea, or hen and chicks, root along the stem. To prevent that late summer wobble owing to a pruned tomato’s top-heaviness, plant tomatoes deeply, at least 6″ down, or to the first set of leaves. Fill the hole with your best compost- tomatoes love the richest most fecund soil or composted manure- and water in well. Slide a stake in next to the plant’s root ball when you first put it in the ground. This will ensure you don’t disturb developing roots later in the summer when your tomatoes are going gangbusters.
Photographer and writer Morgen Van Vorst has been traveling the world for the last year and documenting every bit of her journey on her site Blue and Yellow. These photos of The Salkantay trail and the five day trek to Machu Picchu
caught my eye this morning. The writing make me think I need to get out of New York for awhile:
“Under bright sun, we wander for a few hours, blissfully alone. Dozens of oil-blue swallows chitter along the stone walls, swooping overhead. We find stairs that lead to the end of the line, all the way down to a big boulder at the jungle’s edge, where we sit, undisturbed, in a shady spot. Hummingbirds are buzzing each other in and out of a trumpet vine.”
Van Vorst says on her about page: “Blue And Yellow documents places and people, traditions, food, nature, beauty, and the odd dog on travels far from home. I like to look.”
I want to go look, too.
Established shortly after the end of the civil war, memorial day was created to give remembrance to fallen veterans. Determining the holiday’s timing were the late spring flowers used to adorn churches and graves. Originally the North and South had two separately appointed holiday dates to allow for best floral foraging when lilacs, poppies, and dogwood (to name just a few) would be at their peak.
‘Let us, then, at the time appointed, gather around their sacred remains and garland the passionless mounds above them with the choice flowers of spring time’ – Commander in Chief James Logan, 1868
I’m not a birder, but last night this doc had me enthralled after just the first few frames.
Remedy Quarterly is a food magazine based in Brooklyn, NY. I’ve become a huge fan of its themed issues and content based on people’s food memories and the recipes that they love. It’s a little bit This American Life and a little bit old school cookbook. The new issue, Escape, is out now and it’s the first time the publication is in color. It looks terrific. I’m really looking forward to reading the crabbing in Louisiana story. And also… there’s also a section of the Remedy website where people offer up their own remedies for the common cold to a hangover and broken heart. Pretty cute.
Wilder Quarterly’s fantastic Art Director, Monica Nelson, was recently featured on W-O-W. She deserves it. From the interview:
Was it easy to shift from art direction in the fashion world to a magazine dealing with nature and gardening? What did inspire you?
I think it is an easy transition. I don’t think that I’ve ever been interested in Fashion in a frivolous way. Not to say that fashion is entirely frivolous, but I am interested in the culture and the presence of the people in fashion–the person wearing the clothes, the way the body moves, the shape. All qualities that translate to gardening as well. Wilder is about the person in the garden and the culture that surrounds it, the dirty hands, the colors, beautiful shapes, sunlight. (In the same way that Apartamento is interested in the mess and personality of a personal space — not the perfect alignment of the coffee table and the picture frame).
I’m headed to Las Vegas soon and I wanted to find some interesting sights-to-see in Nevada other than the casino lights. That’s how I came across Michael Heizer’s Double Negative (1969), which is located in the Moapa Valley near Overton- a little more than an hour from Vegas. Double Negative was among the first “earthworks,” artworks created as part of a movement known as “land art” or “earth art.”
“The work consists of a long trench in the earth, 30 feet (9 m) wide, 50 feet (15 m) deep, and 1500 feet (457 m) long, created by the displacement of 240,000 tons of rock Two trenches straddle either side of a natural canyon. The work essentially consists of what is not there, what has been displaced.”
The photos I’ve found don’t seem to do it justice. The aren’t great photos capturing the double trenches from above, which is one reason I’m interested in standing in the crevasse. If you don’t have time to get out to Nevada, Heizer most recent work Levitated Mass is currently traveling around the country.
In case you’re near New York, you might want to put this talk on your calendar for tonight: NASA astrobiologist Lynn Rothschild is going to be at Studio-X to discuss the “nature of biology, the possibilities for synthetic life, unexpected alternatives to DNA, and other mind-bending experiments that ask, in Rothschild’s words, “Where do we come from? Where are we going? and Are we alone?”
Sounds pretty awesome.
Imagine 1970s East Village, populated by blown out buildings and vacant lots, when urban gardeners first moved onto the scene in critical mass. Fertilizing the metropolitan detritus were groups like The Green Guerillas and the Plant-a-Lot Program, haggling for abandoned lots and cleaning up Alphabet City. From the heroic beautification efforts of the late Liz Christy to the first municipal-funded school garden at Marion High School, a dramatic Gilded Age in city greening comes to mind, and figures like Gerard Lordahl are the keepers of these historical moments’ key.
Lordahl is currently the Director of GrowNYC’s Open Space Greening Program, which helps to establish multiple new green spaces in the city each year. He describes the Open Space Greening program as moving through annual “themes”:
“For a long time there was a green playground theme; and we’re coming out of a school garden theme; the next theme is food production, figuring out ways to design space holistically. Permaculture is big right now… We never wanted to be beholden [exclusively] to tax dollars… But we’ve always had the fortune of being this quasi public/private service… One of the things I’m most proud of is that we’re able to give material assistance as well as financial — we’re able to give concrete things.”
Lordahl has had the unique experience of scaling multiple decades of NYC gardening from the iron curtain of Robert Moses to an era where developers actually donate their undesirable plots. Prior to GrowNYC, Lordahl served in multiple posts across the city from the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens to grassroots operations in the Lower East Side.
Lordahl has also helped to establish Randall’s Island Learning Garden. What was once the command center from which Moses sat overseeing projects that threatened all manner of NYC neighborhood green space, now invites all NYC classrooms to come get their hands dirty, participate in nutrition and planting workshops.
“Sometimes I’ll stroll away from the garden and look at that magnificent Art Deco building where it all happened and think about how much things have flipped!… Back then we had to really bang on doors to get people involved. You know, only ten or twelve of us at a time… And now Developers and businesses are actually working with us.”
“I was always interested in the social service factor of gardening, as well as the scientific side. I’m an educator, primarily. I had that feeling, coming out of college, that I wanted to do something of real value — to make a difference — which I guess is what every post-grad feels. I wanted to work with people… My favorite thing was showing kids earthworms.”
One project that Lordahl is particularly excited about right now is People’s Food Project in East New York, a garden and farmer’s market in a predominantly underserved Hispanic community.
“It’s run by immigrants who are scientists, agriculturalists… The property it’s on was actually owned by a developer, but because of zoning laws, they couldn’t build anything on it other than a single residential building, and it just wasn’t profitable enough — so they donated it to this community and worked with them to bring it to fruition.” These were the people we used to fight against! And a lot of people think that these underserved communities are without people who really want to make this kind of thing happen, but it’s so untrue… People pretty much want the same things every where.”
70s supermodel Pat Cleveland
Pictured: Rose (rosa)
GrowNYC’s is one of my favorite growing non-profits. One reason is their GrowTurck – the mobile lending program that brings tools, donated plants, soil, compost, and lumber to growers across the city, for free since 1977. The group has been making these deliveries with the same truck for the last 23 years. Let’s help them get a new truck by voting for GrowNYC in Toyota’s 100 Cars for Good contest on Facebook. The vote is May 20th. This Sunday. I won’t remember so I signed up to “attend” the event on Facebook. This way, it pings me with a reminder to vote for GrowNYC.
If you’re not familiar with the organization or the program, the video above will give you a good idea of how great GrowNYC truly is.
Twiggy, of course.
Pictured: Blue plumbago (Plumbago capensis)
Our heartfelt thanks for helping to make Wilder’s first three issues a tremendous success! As a publication obsessed with the seasons, we have taken to heart that spring is a time of growth and have spent our season building a strong foundation so that we can continually create Wilder Quarterly long into the future. In light of this, we have decided to forgo our spring issue and move on to the summer season. Like our fellow gardeners know, work hard in spring and a beautiful and bountiful summer will follow. Current subscribers shouldn’t despair: you will still receive four issues despite the season skip. We hope you will enjoy our bigger, badder summer issue with world-exclusive images and stories and more photography to love and inspire. We will also be creating a limited edition poster of the cover to be sent to our subscribers as a thank you for their commitment to Wilder—and for their patience. Cheers to the warm weather to come!
The 2012 Summer issue of Wilder Quarterly takes a look at indie-darling Melanie Lynskey’s passion for home-grown veggies, examines the mystical practice of dowsing and goes foraging for delectable edibles in suburban Texas with Mark “Merriwether” Vorderbruggen. We check in around the globe with the experimental garden eatery of chef Andoni Aduriz in San Sebastian, Spain, visit farm and garden expert––and blueberry connoisseur––Lee Reich in upstate New York and do a sound check with Los Angeles-based plant musician Mileece. As the season heats up, we share instructions on making your own backyard a wilderness, a recipe for Rosemary ice cream with James Beard Award winning chef Christina Tosi, get advice on community-building with artist Dustin Yellin and give you loads of tips and tricks for keeping your cool through the summer swelter. Let the Dog Days begin!
The image above and the summer issue cover (which we’ll unveil shortly) were shot by the fantastic Grant Cornett
Although Sweet Shrub (Calycanthus) looks as though it hails from some hot and steamy jungle, it’s native to southeastern part of the USA. And even though its rich red blossoms (smelling sickly sweet of fermenting fruit) are summery in essence, this plant blooms in spring. Best of all, sweet shrub is blithely tolerant of most soils, and flowers its heart out in full sun to part shade. Another added benefit- deer spurn it, as even the leaves exude a noticeable aroma when bruised. Although this plant can grow somewhat leggy in the often shaded spaces of urban gardens, its inherent planed structure is beautifully architectural. Gardeners considerate of the meaningful role native plants play in our landscape, but looking for something different should give definitely this plant a try.
On Earth Day, I had the pleasure of attending a special Sunday Supper – a class-cooking-dining experience, pairing friends and food in Williamsburg Brooklyn. The classes are held in this spare, gorgeous waterfront loft with a view that’s worth drooling over. The evening is hosted the lovely Karen Mordechai and a local chef. In this case, that chef was Stacy Adimando, the author of The Cookiepedia and the current Food Editor at Every Day With Rachel Ray.
Despite by very basic, but constantly improving cooking skills, I had a wonderful time. Especially because some of the guests included Wilder friends like Kelly from Remedy and Judy from Artisan Books.
Everything was truly delicious, but my favorite dish was certainly the globe artichoke soup crispy salami, quinoa, and salsa verde. Love. Looking forward to when Karen posts the recipe. It would be perfect for today’s rainy New York weather.
When it comes to bats, the majority of us think of leathery winged flying mice. Or maybe you have some kind of sharp-fanged, blood-drenched Dracula association? Although most North American bats are insectivorous, some do drink blood. But a few species drink nectar, too. In fact, bats are the primary pollinators of the iconic cacti of the American southwest, and right about now, they are performing that ritual under cover of the sonoran desert night. The luminous white trumpets of the saguaro cactus unfurl for but one night of seduction. Rich with the scent of over ripe melon, these funnel shaped flowers advertise nutritious pollen and nectar- the bats’ payment for the service of pollination. Two species, the lesser long nosed bat and the Mexican long tongued bat undergo grueling migrations from the neotropics to arrive in time for the desert spring. Saguaros aren’t the only cacti visited by these bats. Organ pipes, agaves, and cardons are all bat friendly, and can be cultivated in the garden. When selecting bat-sustaining plants, choose species with night blooming, light colored, strongly scented, large flowers. These kinds of plants speak bat, and know just what they like.
Image by Merlin D. Tuttle
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