Urban Gardener How-to: Growing container radishes

The weather in Northern California is amazing for growing radishes nearly all-year-round. A hardy, cool season vegetable these are also easy to grow and care for. It's a great addition to a new gardener's container with a variety of uses - my favorite, to add a peppery kick to a fresh garden salad.

Two heirloom radishes: (left) Pink Lady, (right) Watermelon Radish, known for its green outer flesh and red interior, much like a watermelon.

Two heirloom radishes: (left) Pink Lady, (right) Watermelon Radish, known for its green outer flesh and red interior, much like a watermelon.

Sun exposure: Full sun.

Soil: Well-drained with consistent watering.

When to plant: Plant 4-6 weeks before the average date of last frost.

Planting: Plant seeds 1/2 inch deep, one inch apart, in rows 12 inches apart. Thin to 2-inches apart, crowded radishes will not grow well and shaded radishes will cause the plants to put all their energy into growing larger leaves.

Care: Keep watering consistent. Plant consecutively about every two weeks for constant harvest.

Harvest: Depending on the variety of seed, radishes mature very quickly and can be harvested about 21-28 days after planting. You should start to see the radish bulb above the soil and leaves will be well grown when the vegetable is ready for harvest.

I was able to harvest these organic pink lady-variety radishes in 21 days after planting

I was able to harvest these organic pink lady-variety radishes in 21 days after planting

Other great gardening resources on radishes:

A growing guide - from Organic Gardening

7 illustrated steps, planting to storing radishes - from Wiki How

Discover Daikon and Icicle variety radishes in this video - from California Gardening

Urban chickens tip: What NOT to feed your chickens

The little flock at West and Wander is growing, and looking for treats to add to their regular feed has brought up a few don'ts. Here is a quick list of what chickens can’t eat to keep handy. Remember, chickens will eat nearly anything and everything so be sure to know the basic do’s and don’ts before introducing new foods to their diet.

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Food to Keep Away From Your Chickens

1. Raw potatoes and potato sprouts. Potato sprouts contain solanine which is toxic to chickens, and raw potatoes can be hard on the digestive system.

2. Avocados. The skin and pit of an avocado is known to be toxic to chickens, even fatal.

3.  Most vegetable plants’ leaves and stems. Eggplant, peppers, tomatoes, rhubarb, and again potatoes can all be toxic to chickens and may contain solanine. (On the other hand, greens from carrots, beets, and radishes are a great treat and a good way for these nutrient-rich parts of the plants not to go to waste!)

4. Rotten, salty or oily food. Good rule of thumb for table scraps – if you wouldn’t put it into the composter don’t feed it to the chickens!

5. Dried beans. Dried beans contain a natural insecticide that can be harmful, hemaglutin. Cooked or sprouted beans are OK to feed, sparingly.

6. Chocolate. Same rule for dogs (and most pets) chocolate can be toxic. Avoid any processed food containing sugar.

7. Raw meat. While chickens can eat meat (including chicken), it is best to steer clear of raw meat to avoid disease risks.

8. Apple seeds. Apple seeds contain low amounts of cyanide. Avoid the pits of stone fruits also, like plums, apricots and peaches.

9. Citrus and spinach. This can affect calcium absorption, leading to thin-shelled or fewer layed eggs.  

10. Onions and onion greens. Onions contain thiosulphate that destroys red blood cells. Excessive amounts can cause jaundice, anemia, even death.



D.I.Y: Preserved Meyer Lemons 2 Ways

This sweeter lemon variety can only be savored one time of year, but to bring this flavor to your dishes after season-end here are two simple ways to preserve meyer lemons. Read on for two recipes: Meyer Lemon Finishing Salt and Meyer Lemon Preserves

Meyer Lemon Finishing Salt Recipe

For the Meyer Lemon Finishing Salt, first let's get some ingredients together:

  • Zest of 6 Meyer Lemons
  • 1 cup of coarse sea salt (I use maldon sea salt, coarse kosher salt will also work)
  • 6 sprigs of fresh rosemary (optional) *You can also substitute or add thyme, oregano
Meyer Lemon Finishing Salt Ingredients

How-to:

1. First wash and dry your meyer lemons and rosemary. 

2. Pre-heat the oven to 170 degrees.

3. Zest the peel of 6 meyer lemons onto a dry baking sheet. 

4. Next, remove the rosemary leaves from stems. Discard stems. Place leaves onto the baking sheet. 

5. Measure one cup of coarse sea salt. Place onto the baking sheet. Mix ingredients to combine.

6. Bake at 170 degrees for about 30 minutes. You will know the salt is ready when the lemon zest and rosemary are dried of all moisture. This oven drying process will give your infused-salt a longer shelf life. 

Tip: I cut rosemary from a small container herb garden. While the recipe calls for 6 sprigs, eyeball about how much you would like in your finished product according to your tastes.

After mixing ingredients to combine, you're ready for the oven drying process

After mixing ingredients to combine, you're ready for the oven drying process

Meyer Lemon Preserve Recipe

Let's start with ingredients. It's pretty simple!

  • 1 dozen + 6 meyer lemons 
  • 1/2 cup coarse salt 
Meyer Lemon Preserve Ingredients

Next, how-to:

1. Wash your meyer lemons. Prepare your canning jars by washing and placing in a "canning bath" for about 5 minutes. "Canning bath" boil a large pot of water, ensure jars and lids are submersed. Let cool before using. 

2. Next juice about 6 lemons, and reserve in a bowl. 

3. Cut meyer lemons into quarters. 

4. Starting with a layer of (about 2 tablespoons) salt, begin filling jars in an alternating pattern of salt and meyer lemon quarters. 

5. As the jar is full. Top off with reserved lemon juice and be sure no part of the lemons is exposed. Cover jars tight with lid. 

6. Let sit for 3 days in a cool, dark place (like a pantry cabinet). Gently shake the jar once a day to combine the salt and encourage lemons to produce juices. After 3 days, place in refrigerator. The preserves should keep for 3-6 months as refrigerated. Enjoy!

Here are some great recipes that call for preserved lemons:

Chicken Tangine with Preserved Lemons and Olives, from the Amateur Gourmet

Spring Pesto, from the Kitchn

Meyer Lemon Preserves

Brew Review: Uinta Brewing HooDoo Kolsch

Tasting Notes: More hoppy than expected for a Kolsch... in a good way. Slightly bitter. Malt notes. Crisp and refreshing. 

Other particulars: Deep golden color. Pours a decent frothy head. Sweet aroma - caramel notes.

Alcohol   4% abv,   IBU   25,    SRM   6

The takeaway: Definitely "I'll have another" drinkable. Aside from being surprisingly hoppy and rich bodied - your standard fare Kolsch. Perfect to pair with (no surprise) bratwurst with the fixings -  sauerkraut and roasted shallot brussel sprouts. 

Uinta Brewing HooDoo Kolsch Style Ale

Still wondering what a 'Hoodoo' is? It is, in fact, a tall thin spire of rock that protrudes from a dry, arid drainage basin. Like the ones you can spot in southern California's Joshua Tree National Park. Or, in the case of Salt Lake City-based Uinta Brewing what you would find plenty of at Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah. 

[Editorial note - While I am not a self-proclaimed connoisseur beer expert, I will occasionally post about brews I like and why I like them. This is one of those posts.] 

Design eye: Tillandsia a.k.a. Air Plants

So, I've had a love affair with succulents for some time now having potted and planted quite a few. The latest flora to capture my attention: air plants. Just as easy to care for and watch grow as a succulent, but the no-soil-required temperament makes arrangements as decor fixtures almost limitless. Here are just a few inspired designs:

As a wreath, from Robin Charlotte

As a wreath, from Robin Charlotte

Terrariums, an obvious choice but still gorgeous, from Captive Creativity

Terrariums, an obvious choice but still gorgeous, from Captive Creativity

A hanging planter, from Oh So Very Pretty... it really is oh so very pretty.

A hanging planter, from Oh So Very Pretty... it really is oh so very pretty.

As a living wall, from Unusual Farm Chick

As a living wall, from Unusual Farm Chick

Ethereal, light and airy - I just love it...

Meet the Urban Backyard Chickens

Meet the newest editions to West & Wander - an Ameraucana and Silver Laced Wyandotte. Just days old, check back soon for more updates (and hopefully tips along the way) on urban chicken keeping. 

Left: Ameraucana, Right: Silver Laced Wyandotte 

Left: Ameraucana, Right: Silver Laced Wyandotte 

These little ladies are just one reminder that Spring is on the way. Check out the sprouting garden Kale.. seedling transplants into the raised beds are next!

Lacinato Kale

Lacinato Kale

Here are a few urban chicken keeping resources that helped me get started:

Design eye, or my latest obsession: Insta-canvas

In a search for wall decor to liven the place and I came across this lovely find, CanvasPop, to print your favorite photos on canvas.

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The best part, you can select photos right from your Instagram account. I ordered a few canvas prints from some places traveled. Can't wait to share the final arrangement!

Looking for ideas to decorate a space? Here are a few blog inspirations:

Gorgeous 'photos as wall art' gallery of ideas, from Shelterness - http://www.shelterness.com/50-ideas-to-decorate-walls-with-pictures/

Library as a decor focal point, from Today's Wine Country Lifestyle - http://inspireyourlifestyle.com/2010/08/02/book-smart-a-library-in-the-home-is-design-worthy/

How-to hang a rug as wall art, from CB2 - http://blog.cb2.com/home/2011/7/22/how-to-hang-a-rug-as-wall-art.html

Harvest + West&Wander Begins

Now is a time of harvest, bounty - the turning of sepia leaves. What better time to turn a page on this new blog: West&Wander. Here you will find stories about culinary adventures, and inspirations from design, art, fashion. Thank you for visiting and if you like what you see, please leave a note in the comments.

More on Twitter & Instagram: @westandwander

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