Container Gardening At It’s Fullest

This is a story about two dear friends, Celia and Scott, who have amazed me and other friends over the past three years with their “Container Gardening” project. There are many names coined for this type of gardening which are: Square foot gardening; Patio gardening; Rooftop gardening; even Waist-high gardening (building a planter in the garden and installing a sawhorse to the top), then you can sit in a chair and do your gardening in a small area.

Their small plot sown successively produces garden fresh salads, herbs and vegetables all season long and even into the fall months. The incredible yield’s the garden produces as well as the delicious entrees and salads Celia has generously shared with family and friends are the talk of the town of Oyster Bay.Here’s how they do it: Let’s look at it in three sections, for a total of about 30 pots.

His tomato garden is area is: 3’x10’x3′, grown in 8 pots that line the driveway In this space that is slightly bigger than a picnic table, you can have fabulous meals all summer long!As early as April 1st, Scott shops locally for new plants and seeds, all Organic when available. He starts preparing the garden with great enthusiasm and zest. They both choose early season crops first, so this will bring an early harvest. By the second week in April he gets the pots ready. To get off to a great start, he adds the very best quality fertilizer to the mix. He has drilled holes on the bottom of the pots the previous years, which is great for drainage. The pots are all plastic, rather than clay, which is a good material, due to the fact that Scott likes to move the pots around. The garden has about 5 hours of sun, which is ideal. Scott treats his plants with such loving care, that if he’s home, he will physically move the pots around to get the sunlight longer. The secret to really enjoying the gardening is that they plant only what they love to eat.

Here’s what they plant and enjoying eating:

For early starters: Lettuces- Endive, Arugula, Mesclun, Romaine, Red Leaf and Green Leaf Spinach, Kale, Swiss Chard and Broccoli

The varieties from June to October are: Peppers; Red, Orange, Yellow; Cucumbers; Eggplant- Purple,White and Japanese and 4-5 varieties of tomatoes. The Herb garden: Basil, Italian Flat Parsley, Cilantro, Dill, Rosemary, Oregano, Thyme, Chives, Mint and Spearmint.

Celia and Scott’s talents are tasted in these dishes they cook up with ease:
Roasted Red Peppers, Eggplant and Vegetable Parmigianino, Pesto Sauce for Pasta, Tomato, Cucumber and Mozzarella Salad with fresh Basil, Chinese Spring Rolls (using Cabbage, Spinach and Swiss Chard), Spinach Salad, Broccoli and Red Potato Salad, Swiss Chard Casserole with Garlic and Herbed Oil, Chunky Tomato Sauce, Mixed Green Salad with Goat Cheese and Vinaigrette, Infused Herbed Oils, Spa water with their Cucumbers and Mints.

I am a great admirer of anyone with a green thumb. I aspire to have one (a green thumb) one day, but for now my Herbal garden and Tomato garden is a great accomplishment for me. I am so thrilled with myself when I can just step out by back door and snip green Chives for my morning eggs, or stir the beautiful Basil, I’ve grown, into my Italian sauce to complete it at the end.

What inspiration and delight is within their garden. As a Professional Holistic Chef, I see all the possibilities for true nourishment at their fingertips. These Vitamins and Minerals are abundant from the sunlight, pure water, the soil, the love in the preparation. The choice of nutrient-Rich green vegetables, fresh from the garden provides Vitamins C and A, Calcium, Iron and Folic Acid. The cruciferous family of vegetables, Broccoli, Cabbage, Kale, are cancer fighters, big time. Herbs that have been important in our life’s since Ancient times are healing and energizing for us. Many medicines today contain the same plant materials that have been used for centuries. The wisdom of Ancient gathers and Cultivators of the earth can be read in the color and the textures of the herbs planted their garden. It is easy to see how gardening nurtures and mirrors the soul. Celia and Scott take such pride, pleasure and satisfaction in their garden. As friends walk up to their patio, on a summer day, the path is lined with beautiful flowers in antique and colorfully painted pots that Celia has collected over the years, the aromas from the garden are so inviting and fragrant, and dinner is soon to be enjoyed. Celia serves up vibrant looking, fresh meals made with heart and soul. I truly believe this is most people yearn for, “A home cooked meal, from garden to table”. It is attainable for all, good planning is needed to accomplish this, and there is fun in the planning together. You can start small, as I did with Herbs and Tomatoes and aspire to be like Celia and Scott.

Here is one of Celia’s recipes for:
A Summer Raw Kale Salad
Ingredients: 3 strips bacon
1 lb Kale, stems, removed, leaves chopped
1/2 small red cabbage
1 small red onion
1/2 red and orange pepper, seeded and finely chopped
1 tsp.mustard
1 cup vegenaise ( dairy-free mayo)
1/2 teas. curry powder
salt and pepper to taste
2 tbsp. chopped Italian parsley
Procedure: Sauté bacon until crisp, Drain, crumble and reserve.
Combine kale, cabbage, red onion and peppers in a large bowl, lightly toss
Combine vegenaise, mustard, curry powder, s&p. Pour dressing over salad, toss
Sprinkle with reserved bacon and chopped parsley

“In the garden the souls finds harmony between the opposing forces of Life, Sun and Water, Earth and Air, Mineral and Vegetable, Male and Female and other forces of duality work together in Ecologies of Health and Vitality”…By Anthony Lawlor, “A Home For the Soul”

Enjoy your gardening whether big or small.
Blessings to all,
Chef Kathryn