Sunday, March 12, 2006

Quail Botanical Gardens

I promised this blog would be about all aspects of food - so far we have covered restaurant reviews, places to buy good food, recipe books and the recipes themselves. Today I would like to add one of my other interests- growing food, something I believe all those involved in the culinary arts should consider.
Today we headed up to Quail Botanical Gardens for their annual Herb Festival and TomatoMania
Tomatoes are by far and above one of my favorite foods, is there anything to beat a god caprese salad made of ripe heirloom tomatoes? So as we finally have our own place to grow some plants now we headed up to the festival to learn all the tricks of the trade. We started the day with a great lecture on tomato growing- 2 interesting things I learned were that a) over watering tomatoes dilutes their flavor- you should water less and less as the season advances, b) you should leave it as late as possible to harvest your tomatoes- ripening them on the windowsill is not as successful as leaving them on the vine until the last possible moment- they should almost drop off into your hand when they are ready to be eaten. We were also given some tips as to how to grow tomatoes in pots- having no garden of our own currently we have to use our balcony. After the lecture we browsed the aisles of the tomato seedlings and left with a red pear tomato and one called "Sweet Millions"- a cherry variety that produces tons of fruit. So fingers crossed!

Next we moved onto my other great culinary love- fresh herbs. We attended a very interesting lecture on how to grow herbs hydroponically. I find the whole idea fascinating- really stretching the bounds of nature- however I wasn't quite sold on the advantages of hydroponic growing in a place like San Diego where we can pretty much grow plants outdoors year round. Maybe one day when we have our dream kitchen I will set up a hydroponic herb garden in a corner of it, and we can harvest at our leisure.

We ended up buying some herb seedlings and indeed seeds also, to add to our collection - although these going to be planted in the old fashioned way! We got a very interesting variety of basil along with some more usual chives, rosemary and oregano. If everything goes to plan we should have some delicious meals come the summer time!

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