March 21, 2013 / Issue #35

Planning Ahead: Order Your Seeds!

Photo Credit: Scout Miakisz

Photo Credit: Scout Miakisz

Bring yourself back to late last summer…recall those beautiful heirloom tomatoes your neighbor grew…and that smug expression on his face…

Don’t let him parade around with his perfect tomatoes again while you slink off to Whole Foods. This is the year you become the smug neighbor. Grow those perfect tomatoes. Grow enough mint to fuel your summer obsession with mojitos. Throw a pesto party for 100! This is the year!

You don’t have to be fully agro to be an agrarian, but you do have to plan ahead a little bit. Some would say you need to fully plan your garden space before you go online and start ordering seeds and starter plants. At the OFC, we disagree. Get online and get inspired. Find a few things you remember wanting last year, a few you’d probably never thought of, and something that just plain looks weird. And don’t forget the old standbys.

Photo Credit: Greg Greene

Photo Credit: Greg Greene

Here are a handful of the plants we’ll be putting in our gardens this summer:

Cherokee Purple: Pull one of these out of your garden and share it with your neighbor and he’ll know you aren’t kidding around. This heirloom tomato is our favorite. It’s big, beautiful to look at, and its taste is unmatched. This is the kind of tomato you want to slice and eat with a little olive oil, red wine vinegar and salt.

Sun Gold Cherry: Because these are cherry tomatoes you only need a few plants to pull loads of tomatoes off the vine. This variety is orange in color, super sweet, and begins giving ripe fruit after 60 days (that’s early).

Black Cherry: Again, a few of these will go a long way. This cherry is unique; they yield slightly larger cherry tomatoes and the flavor is far more complex than most sweet cherries. You’ve probably seen these at the farmers market. You only need 2 of each of these.


Photo Credit: Rob Ireton

Photo Credit: Rob Ireton

Other Veg:
Interesting Pumpkins: Buy a handful of these packets but only use a few seeds from each and either share them with friends or store them away for another season. If you plant a few of these in your flower garden and let them run during the summer, in the fall you’ll have an assortment of unique looking pumpkins weaving their way through your now less-flowery garden.

Snow Peas:  The gateway vegetable to stir-fries. Tastes phenomenal. Fun to grow and watch climb. Kids can pick ‘em. You can plant a second round in mid-August for a fall harvest.

Asparagus: Don’t buy these unless you have the room for a separate patch dedicated to asparagus. If you do you’ll get nothing this year, but starting next year you’ll be able to harvest asparagus for 7-10 days. The year after you’ll reap 2-3 weeks of harvest, and after that you’ll get 6 weeks of asparagus every year for the next 15 years. That’s a guaranteed 45 days of smelly pee!

Photo Credit: Oakley Originals

Photo Credit: Oakley Originals

An herb patch near your kitchen will inspire your cooking. You can grow plenty of herbs in a small space and the perennials will come back every spring. Adding a hand full of virtually any variety of fresh herbs to your salads will greatly improve it.

Kids can help define random shaped sections for each herb by lining up small pebbles or shells and write the herb names on popsicle sticks.

You’ll want basil (plant this around your established tomatoes instead of in the patch to maximize your use of space), oregano, thyme, tarragon, tarragon, rosemary, chervil, mint (think: unlimited mojitos), savory, lemon verbena, parsley, and if it doesn’t taste like soap to you, cilantro.

Blueberries. We covered them last year. If you missed the boat, get on board.

Seven Things To Remember:

  1. Dependable standbys may be less exciting than crazy heirlooms and other funky veg, but they are the mainstays of a successful garden. Tomatoes, basil, cukes, lettuce, etc. You know what they are, don’t leave them out because they aren’t as exciting as artichokes.

  2. Imagine a few recipes you’ll be able to make with veg and herbs entirely from your garden before you plant. Pizza, summer stir-fries, and salads all taste better if their key ingredients all came from your yard.

  3. A couple weird plants make it all more interesting.

  4. If you have kids, include them in the entire process for one or two of their favs.

  5. Heirlooms are great but less dependable, yielding less than the more modern varieties. A mix is a good idea to make sure you aren’t left spending all summer growing three tomatoes.

  6. Fresh herbs are great in cocktails.

  7. Planning is key. Get your seeds/plants ordered at the right time or you’ll be stuck grabbing the leftovers at Home Depot on June 3rd.


First Hike (Walk) Of Spring


Alright people. It’s officially Spring. The vernal equinox is in our rear view and the snow storm has melted to mud (cue next snow storm). It may not feel or look like it outside, but in the near future you’ll be pulling your shorts out of an oversized tupperware container and stuffing all your wool socks and mittens in there instead. Let’s greet this spring with a relaxing walk. No need to find the perfect trail for a hike this weekend. Chances are, if it’s above freezing the trails will be full of thick, deep, kid-boot-swallowing-mud anyway.

This weekend open your front door and take that extended walk. Whether it’s a route you’d normally drive with your family into town for breakfast or a long, windy trek along the back roads of your neighborhood—just get out and go. If you are flying solo, perhaps an IPA at a local watering hole will be your destination…you never can tell with those wild and crazy…walks.

While you are out enjoy the low sun and the brisk air. Soon enough we will all be wishing it was cooler and talking about global warming again.

If you have kiddos with you use this checklist to record the signs of spring you see along the way. If you take the list with you each weekend for the next month, they’ll be able to see the changes emerge before their eyes!

Happy Spring!

How To: Join (or start) A Weekly Bike Ride

Photo Credit: Global Jet

Photo Credit: Global Jet

If your bike is sitting in your basement/garage collecting cobwebs and you are looking for an easy way to motivate yourself to get outside and bike more—Join a group!

Setting recurring plans with reminders (like, in your google calendar) will help you add it to your mental list of actual to-dos. Once your rides reside in your calendar they will take on more importance; they morph from ideas into actual concrete plans. Inviting a few friends to join you on a recurring ride ups the ante even more as you’ll be able to keep each other honest from ride to ride.

However, as the years go by and friends like that become more few and far between, check out as tool to fill the gaps and find a group to ride with in your area. Whether it’s mountain biking or road biking, there are loads of greats groups just waiting for you to join them. You could join a group near your house or look for one that rides somewhere between where you work and where you live. If you are lucky, you’ll find a ride that is on your way home and that leaves at a time you can make it to right after leaving work. How’s that for motivation to leave work on time? And if you need an extra incentive, you’ll be shocked how many of these rides end at a pizza place for pies and pitchers.

By the way, don’t see a ride that fits you as perfectly as you’d like? Start one.