Spring Gardening Is Soon Upon Us…

Even though the weather in Southern California has been nothing less than stunning the last few weeks (or months, right?), and it seems like perfect planting weather–we are still in for a few more cold days here and there! We are busy here at the Nursery getting ready for our big Spring Planting Sales. Pretty much the month of March will be Tomato sales and April will be Veggie sales! (Don’t worry Tomatoe will be available through May)  We will have the dates of all our sales soon–Are you cleaning up your garden? Getting ready? It is time dear sweet Gardeners to prepare for this seasons Veggie Bonanza!

Sweet Little Southern California Sweet Peas!

Could it be already? So you have potentially cleaned out your Spring and Summer Garden and notice a few blank spots here and there. If you are quick about it, and do not dither, here in Southern California you can pop some sweet pea seeds into the ground and have blooms by the end of December, early January.  Here is the deal though–they HAVE to be day length neutral or Early varieties. Some of those would be “Mammoth” “Early Spencer” “Early Flowering Multiflora” some others are ” Winter Elegance” “Velvet Elegance”

It is too hot to plant the English varieties right now. (Cupani, etc) but even if you did accidentally plant them now they would bloom around late Spring.  Here are a few key tips from Pat Welsh:

  • Always make sure you have a nice North South Bed in full blasting Sun.
  • Amend your soil so that you have at least a good amount of compost or manure to the bed you are going to plant them in.
  • Soaking your seeds overnight in warmish water or clipping the ends with a toenail clipper will give the little seeds a head start.
  • Give them a good home in the ground and water every day through our Fall heat.

Voila! You should be posting your sweet little sweet pea pix somewhere around December or January! Please let us know how you do.

Garden Love,


Adieu Spring and Summer Adieu…

Every Fall I have the same problem. Yes even me, organic nursery owner, landscape designer and overall pretty grounded person when it comes to nature. I just can NOT bare to throw away the old veg if it looks like they might still produce.  Clearly, they are past their prime. The leaves are wilting. The fruit is coming in less and less frequently, and still I grip on tight and hope against hope that this does not mean (gulp) Summer is actually over. No more outdoor BBQs, No more swim parties, No more carefree running around barefoot, (although we are pretty barefoot in this house most seasons) Frozen-y treats and another birthday has passed for me. Yes, maybe each Fall I realize that I am one year older and one more Summer is gone.

Which the thought in itself is odd. Due to the fact that Fall is my absolute FAVORITE season. I love Back to School feelings, I love the change in leaves, I LOVE Halloween, Thanksgiving and the impending of the Holidays. Love it all. However, I still do find it hard to rip a potentially viable plant out of the ground and just pitch it in the bin.  It might be my thrifty mentality. It might be my preserver of the Earth save all living things ideals, Hell it might be because I nurtured these darn plants from seed back in JANUARY!! Whatever it IS, what it isn’t is helping me move forward to my fall garden.

As I type this I think…Hmmm Fall=Lettuce. Fall=Broccoli. Fall=Rapini. Fall=Cauliflower. Fall=Peas. Fall=Lettuce (Did I happen to mention I LOVE LETTUCE from my own garden??) I get excited at the thought of the new season and the new opportunities that await outside my kitchen door to a bounty of goodness that my family and I will pick each afternoon. Fall is also all about cozy sweaters, reposing and thinking about how to burrow in and take care of ourselves for the upcoming Season.

If you are having problems saying Adieu. Do not Fret or feel alone. Think of the possibilities and how many delightful Fall salads you are going to gobble up!

Happy Planting and Garden Love,


Spotlighted on Reed Davis’s Blog!

We had the pleasure to install a kitchen garden at Reed Davis Photography last week. Reed touts such amazing efforts as Martha Stewart Living, Teen Vogue, Pottery Barn Kids, you know nothing too fancy! He had his camera out shooting a zillion photos (of which clearly I am not used to) and snapped the most gorgeous shots! Thank you Reed for letting us help you with your garden. It was truly magical on your slice of the hill!

Reed Davis Photography Blog!


When I started this blog…it was just supposed to be a documentation of things happening at the nursery and design studio. You know. the day to day. Not like anyone was reading it. Just a record of what happened that day of any interest to mainly I guess myself down the road. Did it Frost in Early February or was that March? Of course what with being a Mom, Designer and Chief Cook and Bottle Washer at my petite Nursery that left little time to document this whole Shabang. But I digress. I was recently moved by a friends new blog…Kelli Bean is one of the most intelligent ladies I have been blessed with meeting and spending time with. She is an inspiring Writer, Homeschooler and all around Super Model Mom. (No really she is drop dead gorgeous) So I just read a few of her posts and got a bit inspired to ask myself “Why do I blog”? and I can’t really say that I know. So I will just continue to sometimes document this thing I am doing and hope that something “turns up in the wash” as my mom used to say.

A lot has been happening the last few weeks with my health. A decline in energy and overall stamina which led to a few trips to the e.r. and urgent calls to my favorite doctor led me bedbound and not really thinking of anything but surviving through this mess, and just feeling back to my normal spunky self.

I had to finally look away from the news today and concentrate on what I can do to make the Planet a bit better today, and that is seed 20 trays of vegetables and water the nursery. That is just the small bit I had to give. So I did.

Bundle up baby! It’s cold out there!

This has been a crazy few weeks. We got 1200 tomatoe seedlings started. 1600 basil seedlings a few hundred this that and the other in the squash, melon and cucumber category going. So between planting, watering. frost protection and managing the nursery–this blog gets a bit neglected. Excuses Excuses.

One thing fun we participated in yesterday was the Altadena Urban Farmers Market. Looks like we will be back for March 20th. It is a monthly farmers market held at the Zane Gray Estate and is just really a special gathering of local artisians selling their goods in a super cool location.

Our good friends and Market neighbors, Winnetka Farms, put together a sampler basket of goodies that they grow from Italian Heirloom Seed. You can see from the photo that the fresh crispy colors, and textures are going to make some fab meals this week. This is the part of the life I am in that I just love. I have great friends with like-minded food awareness that grow amazing stuff, that I get to cook for my family. Tonight proved a tasty treat of the Leeks, Spring garlic, Fennel, Apple and Turnips in a puree. Absolutely Amazing!!


Happy New Year. Welcome 2011.

2010 was quite a year.  There were so many interesting changes in my life. Namely starting ardenwoods edibles and actually making a go of it. I met many new and interesting people. Learned more and more where my food comes from and why it is important to value and cherish this new food movement. There were some not so pleasant things that happened along the way–but in retrospective that is life.  I grew from them. I learned from them and I moved on.

On the way plus side, I got to spend enormous amounts of time with my gorgeous daughter and look forward to our routine getting back in order with this coming new week. I am reading a wonderful book “Animal Vegetable Miracle” by Barbara Kingsolver. If you have not read it-run. get it. and read it. I know I am a few years late reading this particular book–but we find things when we need to hear them I suppose. There was a particular chapter that really spoke to me (chapter 6 if you are curious) and it talks about being a career woman and how women were kind of sold a bill of goods back in the 70’s and 80’s–“hoodwinked” is the exact word Barbara used to describe balancing work, motherhood and food. That is all I will say–but the chapter really resonated with me…and with how I spend time with my baby and balancing career and food in this house. I also feel lucky I will have a perspective to share with my daughter about these precious years in between her being out of baby and toddlerhood and me being her mom and how incredibly lucky I was to be able to have her here with me at the nursery while still maintaining my foot in some sort of career dance.

It was so clear in Pasadena on New Years Day. Just some lovely clouds that streaked across the sky. If you look close between the tree branches you can see one of the Planes that made a zillion circuits over our house. First super high…and then lower and lower to let the stunt parachuters jump out. Garth and I laughed and said maybe the jumpers are having second thoughts, is why they are making so many pass overs. New Years morning from the middle of the nursery

Tony P’s Pozole Party

Every Day after New Years Day  we make our trek to Eagle Rock (all 5 miles) and enter a world of Uncle Tony’s Pozole Party. Clear and Red. The crowd has been the same not for prime time players for years. Now since we all have kids it is tough to get together…but one thing we all know is that at New Years, Easter Egg Time and 1x during summer we will all gather (sometimes more of us, sometimes less)  The food, company and libation will be amazing. Tummy’s will be full. Kids will be racing around like wild banshees, and a dance party might erupt! Thank you and happy new year Tony P!

Winter Gardeners Unite!

As I type this, it is a delightful 78 degrees outside my studio in Pasadena, California. The Winter crops are still selling at the nursery and garden designers and chefs have yet to stop calling for their last minute winter gardens. I am struck by how glorious it is to live in a climate that offers us so many days to prosper in the kitchen garden.  It is also a bit frantic in my head, because as a designer and nursery owner..I have to always be at least 3 months ahead of those wanting to purchase our seedlings, as opposed to just solely focussing on what is actually go on in the present! So as I sit here, I am constantly drawn to look at the newest seed catalogues, and wonder how many varieties of tomatoes should I seed this year? is there ever too many?? What squash will people find interesting this year? Do we have enough heat mats to get those babies comfy in January and February?

Many of you have already planted your Winter Crops, some our still puttering and getting a few things in for January and February harvest. Never fear, with our lovely weather you can either squeeze a few things in, or hold out for March and our second season together.

Start planning now. Think about what you want to grow, and more specifically what you want to eat this year. The New Year is upon us and is filled with wonderful possibility of a garden full of fantastic fruits and vegetables, that you planted and harvested with your own hands!