Monday, April 1, 2013

Happy Spring!

Hi everyone,

We are excited to begin posting again for the 2013 gardening season. You might notice a few changes around here. First, we have a gorgeous new banner created for us by Heather Smith Jones. Heather has been a Tend contributor for the past two years and though she won't be joining us this year, she created a lovely new banner for our site. Thank you, Heather!

We'd also like to welcome Abby as a new contributor who will be posting every Tuesday. You may know Abby from her blog and Etsy shop, Infusion Fibers. Please join me in welcoming Abby to Tend!

Our posting schedule has changed so be sure to pop on over to our About page to read more about the contributors and when we will be posting.


Here in Vermont we are knee-deep in mud season. I've been helping my neighbors collect sap from all of the beautiful sugar maples on our property. The snow is slowly pulling away, and patches of my garden are being revealed bit by bit. I'm trying to be patient, but I'm eager to begin the season.

All of my gardening activities have been taking place inside. My husband and I heard a very inspiring talk by Ellen Ecker Ogden last month. Ever since the talk,  I've been thinking about adding vertical elements to our two gardens as well as pondering a new rotation system for our crops. My husband and I do rotate our crops, but we aren't very organized about it. Do you have a specific rotating system? If so, I'd love to hear about it in the comments.

Our brassica seeds (kale, collards, broccoli, Brussels sprouts) have sprouted under grow lights as have the alpine strawberries, parsley, and leeks. I'm beginning to grow a few medicinal herbs as well such as spilanthes, an herb that is good for gum health and can be used in making a mouthwash.

Because we still have garlic hanging around from last season, I wanted to share two quick and simple ways to preserve your garlic. At this time of the year, the garlic often begins to sprout. Many people dislike the bitter taste of the yellowish-green sprout growing inside of the clove. I have to admit that this doesn't bother me so much; I still use the clove even if it's sprouting. However, you can preserve your garlic if you'd like it to have more keeping power as we move into the new gardening season.

1) Quick-pickled garlic.

Peel the cloves and pack them into a half-pint jar. Add spices (I used whole coriander seed, dried hot pepper, and black peppercorns). Pour a mixture of half apple cider vinegar and half white vinegar over the cloves. Let them steep for about seven to ten days. Sometimes, the garlic cloves might turn blue! I hear that this is totally normal chemical reaction and not to be feared. Do a quick Google search to read more. After ten days, move the pickled garlic to the refrigerator. Eat whole cloves or chop the cloves and add them to soups and salads.

2) Garlic pickled with honey and apple cider vinegar

This recipe comes from Rosemary Gladstar's wonderful book, Rosemary Gladstar's Medicinal Herbs: A Beginner's Guide. I particularly like this recipe because I can use honey from our own hives.

Peel the cloves and pack them into a half-pint jar. Cover with unpasteurized apple cider vinegar. Let sit in a warm place for 3-4 weeks. Strain liquid and reserve half of it to be used in spring salad dressings. Warm remaining vinegar on the stove top with equal parts honey being careful to heat very slowly. Pour the warm honey/apple cider vinegar mixture over the garlic cloves. Let sit for 3-4 more weeks on a sunny windowsill. I store my jar in the refrigerator. This method creates delicious cloves that can be eaten as is. You could also chop them and add them to curries or dressings.


  1. I've never tried preserving garlic but imagine this tastes zingy in dressings. I'll have to do this!
    And our rotating system is rather loose. We just plant nutrient needy plants in a spot that previously had some kind of legume or nitrogen rich crop.
    Thanks Shari!

  2. I have used spilanthes in the past - quite an interesting herb. And it has a unique flavor, that is for sure :) I hope you might show some pictures of it, as it comes along. For crop rotation, we use a loose system similar to what Heather mentioned above, going back and forth (needy / feedy) year to year. I haven't been very organized about it either though, and each year try to plan a little more wisely.

  3. shari, such a great post even though you still have snow on the ground. we are growing garlic for the first time in our garden & i am so excited!

  4. Welcome back. Love your new banner! I won't be gardening this year, but I will be visiting Tend. Looking forward to seeing what you all have happening in your gardens.

  5. heather: let me know if you try it. i'm hoping to really work on our rotation system this year. (love our new banner! thank you!)

    abby: yes. spilanthes is very interesting especially upon first taste. i will definitely show photos of it as it grows. i'm going to try ogden's system which is leaf to legume to root to fruit.

    denise: thanks, d! glad you stopped by and said hello.

  6. I just found your posts and I'm so glad! We just moved into our first home last October so I've started planting my little city backyard and frontyard for the first time (I'm in West Mt Airy in Philadelphia). Looking forward to seeing all you do!

  7. thanks ashley! we're glad to have you following along.

  8. love this garlic recipe! we get so much from our CSA and I am always looking for new ways to use it! so glad to be back here at tend with you all!! and Ashley we live so close! i live in Media!

  9. Yaaaay! So glad Tend is back. I always enjoy your posts so very much, and now I'm extra excited about growing my little backyard garden this year!