Behind the Scenes: Fall and Winter Garden Prep

In this week’s Optimistic Gardener, I’m signing off for the 2020 Victory Garden season and sharing tips for getting your fall and winter garden prepped. We cover annuals, perennials, bulbs, trees and shrubs, vegetables, herbs, mulch, grass, and houseplants. Shazam! It’s a lot.

Because the article was lengthy, I didn’t include any links for more information–so here you go.

Behind the Scenes: Microgreens

Last week I caught up with Tenita Solanto, Navy veteran, farmer, and all around badass. She owns Green Panda Farms in Siler City, where she and her wife live, and is a fount of knowledge on a gigantic subject: microgreens.

According to the NIH’s National Center for Biotechnology Information, “As the World’s population grows at an unprecedented rate, food systems must be revised to provide adequate nutrition while minimizing environmental impacts.” It goes on to state that “in the US, food production utilizes 50% of land and is responsible for 80% of total freshwater consumption.” Smart farming is the way to go, and microgreens are a smart solution.

You can read about Tenita’s journey from technology and electronics to farming in this week’s Chatham News & Record. She’s been and done a lot of things on her life’s journey, but she says with great humor, “I consider where I am now a success. Maybe not a financial success, but me as a person and how much more growth and development I’ve had, and my connection with the community.”

But I wanted to give a little more background on microgreens here.

Runner’s World has this easy explanation: microgreens are vegetables and herbs that haven’t yet matured—the middle ground between sprouts and baby greens. “Tiny as they are, these young plants deliver intense flavors, vibrant colors, and unique textures.”

If you’re going to try and grow your own microgreens, consider this list from Healthline, listing the most popular varieties of microgreens are produced using seeds from the following plant families:

  • Brassicaceae family: Cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, watercress, radish and arugula
  • Asteraceae family: Lettuce, endive, chicory and radicchio
  • Apiaceae family: Dill, carrot, fennel and celery
  • Amaryllidaceae family: Garlic, onion, leek
  • Amaranthaceae family: Amaranth, quinoa swiss chard, beet and spinach
  • Cucurbitaceae family: Melon, cucumber and squash

Tenita told me that if I wanted to grow them at home, I just needed good soil, with densely sprinkled seeds on top (in a single layer), and a little water. I planted a patch of arugula yesterday, so I’ll let you know how it goes. If you like more formal instructions, check out:

If you’re a fan of cilantro, try Tenita’s recipe for Butternut Squash Soup:

Microgreens from Green Panda Farms are available directly through Green Panda Farms, at the Durham Co-Op Market, and Chatham Food Hub.

NOTE: All photos in this post, along with the recipe (and pretty recipe card) are copyrighted by Tenita Solanto and used with permission (even though the newspaper copy didn’t attribute it correctly).

Behind the Scenes : Beekeeping

The Optimistic Gardener ran in today’s Chatham News & Record, and we talked about keeping honeybees: The A-to-Z’s of Bees. This week’s community gardener is my friend Brian Flick, who is also helping my husband get his hive up and running. Here are some photos from behind the scenes, taken by photographer Peyton Sickles. Be sure to check out the article in the paper (either online or in print), and subscribe to the CN+R if you’re local.

Resources: