Green Living — July 6, 2010
Make compost from your food scraps – grow your own vegetables
Hello, My name is Scott and welcome to The Blue OK, and this is Amy, she’s our chef here at the Blue OK. And today we’re behind the cafe and we’re in our urban garden. I want people to know that it doesn’t take much space to create a beautiful garden. In fact, from here to here is all the space we were allowed behind our building.
So it’s just 7′ and across this way we have another 20′. So our urban garden is 7′ wide and 20′ long. And you can grow a lot of food in this small space.
Amy: A lot.
Scott: A lot, and Amy is going to tell you more about it. But the first thing I wanted to show you, is how we handle the compost at the Blue OK. Because compost is kind of a dirty job, and I get to do it.
Amy: A very import one, though.
Scott: Thanks, Amy. So let me show you what I do. We have large compost buckets right here in the garden. And here’s one right here. You can even see there are some sprouts coming out of it. So what I do is I take our compost. This is everything we don’t eat inside the cafe. This is the pulp from our green drinks, and the edges of the carrots, and the tomato skins, if we are taking them off. This is still good food but not to eat. And we just put it right inside our compost, because this going to be what we plant our garden in the fall and again next spring. And as you can see it’s not very attractive because the food is breaking down.
Scott: Excellent. So we put all our leaves that are turning brown that we are not using, along with our food, we store it in a compost bucket and cover it with soil. Now, I’ve already introduced some earthworms to our compost so they are inside there eating our food scraps right now. And with the dirt on there it will begin to decompose. In the fall and late spring we are going to have a big bucket full of pretty nice soil to plant our garden in. In fact, this entire garden was planted with compost from inside the Blue OK. That’s just exciting. There’s not fertilizer in here but compost broken down food that will actually cause the plants to grow.
Amy: And some tomatoes even like your whole compost scraps right into the bottom of their bucket.
Scott: So, there’s a lot you want to do with your food scraps. You want to turn them into compost, return them to the soil, and then grown your food in it. It’s a full loop of sustainability and highly recommended. Now, I’m going to go in the back of the garden and do a little weeding and Amy is going to tell you a little bit more about the plants here.
Amy: Well yeah, I’m excited. This is the time of year that our greens come on. We have kale here, we have chard, we have Lacinto Kale, the Dinosaur Kale, we also have Vates Kale, different collard greens in the back, and we use all of these in our fresh green drinks. I have spinach on this side right behind me plus all of our herbs. We love to throw mint in our green drinks. We also like to put parsley in our green drinks. We have our parsley right back here. We have lettuce behind us and a bunch of herbs over on this side. We use so much lettuce the cafe, we serve so many salads, that we actually made a second tier out of rain gutters. We just took some rain gutters, mounted right here on top.
Amy: Lettuce roots don’t run very deep so they don’t need too much space as long as you put some good soil in there. You can grow a second tier of lettuce in a limited space in something as simple as some rain gutters. So we’ve got those mounted up there and another tier of lettuce down below.
Scott: And Amy what’s good is that because of the way we put the gutters here on the wall, the sun goes away pretty quick. The lettuce doesn’t get much sun. It gets a little bit of early sun. But that really all it needs. So the lettuce is vibrant and strong throughout the day because it’s not wilting in the sun. So if you plant your lettuce where it doesn’t get as much sun or in a gutter against the wall, you’re doing good.
Amy: It’s really true. Lettuce likes a little bit of sun but not too much. So you want to find the spot where it’s happy. And we also like to grow some edible flowers. We’ve got our marigolds in here and we have some nasturtiums up here. In fact, our nasturtium plant was going wild, and for a long time it was full of these beautiful nasturtium blossoms that we use on top of salads, but we are actually letting this whole plant go to seed because we also like to use these nasturtium pods to pickle and make a nasturtium caper out of them. They are delicious. You can use the leaves in the salad, you can use the flower, then you can go ahead and use the pod. You can even replant them to seed your next round of nasturtiums or you can actually pickle these pods and sprinkle them on top of salads. So really you can use everything from your garden and you can also use a lot of the scraps from your food again in the compost. So we love having a garden here. There are few things that are so satisfying then to be able to come out to your garden and pick the greens for the green drink that you are about to drink, pick the lettuce for your salads that you’re about to serve.
Scott: And soon we’ll be able to picking tomatoes.
Amy: Pick the tomatoes that you’re going to slice up in your salads. And pick all of the herbs that you might need. And that’s another really fun part about having a garden. You can plant a variety of herbs that you might not be able to find in the store year round. You can even plant some wild foods like purslane lambs-quarters to sprinkle throughout your garden that make for an interesting mix into your salads. So you’re not always just eating plain lettuce. You can have some of these wild herbs and wild foods growing as well, kind of between the rows between your garden. We have a lot growing in our wine barrels which is the medium we chose to plant in. We did redwood box on this side, but wine barrels on this side filled with dirt. We’ll have peppers with marigolds with a pot of tomatoes on top and down in front edible flowers.
Scott: We already have some peppers happening right here. Little banana peppers.
Amy: Beautiful. Our peppers were a little slow to start this year because we had a cooler spring, but now they are getting the summer heat and really starting to take off along with our tomatoes. But of course, the lettuce loved the cooler weather and so did the kale. So we’ve got the lettuce and kale ingredients are really happy down on this side.
Scott: And Amy over here, this is the spinach we planted last winter. So it’s winter spinach that’s starting to bolt, that’s going to seed. But we haven’t removed it yet cause there is still really good spinach leaves coming off the spinach, which occasionally we pick for green drinks and even for our salads. We’ll pull the spinach soon and we’ll plant something else because it’s in the bright sun and spinach is a cool weather crop. But even though it’s gone to seed and it’s bolting we’re still harvesting some of it because we have the space and we want the spinach.
Amy: And who can through spinach away when it’s sitting right there that green and delicious you end up eating it until you can’t eat it anymore.
Scott: So, we just want to encourage all of our viewers to plant your food, if you can. And then watch Amy’s recipes and make your food when you can. It’s more satisfying, it’s less expense and you can invite other people to do it with you. It’s fun to have multiple people working in the garden and multiple people that you eat with as well.
Amy: And that’s one of the things I love about a garden–It’s worth doing just because it’s worth doing.
Scott: Absolutely. So we’ll come back to the garden. We’ll shoot some more when our tomatoes are ripening and we get some more fruit coming out, but we wanted to give you a heads up–how to start out with compost. It’s going to be a fantastic summer. And I hope you are growing a lot of vegetables. And we hope to see you in the cafe again very soon. Thanks.
Amy: Thanks a lot.