City Summer, Urban Garden

Refreshing Swims in the Ocean.

Barefoot runs on the beach.

Boat rides.

Sun bathing pool side.

Eating crab feasts.

There are a lot of fabulous things about summer…

But I don’t belong to a pool. I don’t own a boat. And the closest beach is 2 hours away. So what is the point? What is good about city summers? I’ll tell you… although, everything above is fabulous, and every begining of every summer I tell myself, “This summer I am going to be at the beach every weekend, the pool every morning, on a boat on the Fourth of July…” the truth is I never do. These fabulous things just don’t exist in a city, but guess what does… Vegetables.

“You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” Some people truly believe that people don’t change. Well I couldn’t disagree more. I actually find it funny how people grow and change. The one thing that will never change about me is the simple fact that I am happier when surrounded by beautiful things. But is it possible that what I find beautiful has changed? In my early 20s, I always considered myself a city girl, well that is what I was… But now in my late 20s I have found a greater apprieciation for both worlds, and actually find myself longing to be surrounded by less archetechturally beautiful buildings and more nature.

The more educated I become about food, the more deeper my desire is to grow as much of my own food as I can. My love for plants first began when I was a child when my mother planted a flower box garden outside my bedroom window. It was my job to water them a couple times a week. I also always had some sort of cactus or indoor plant in my bedroom to tend to. As an adult having a garden had always been in the back of my mind, but seemed impossible, when living in a rented apartment.  But last spring (Spring 2011) after reading the book, Crazy Sexy Diet, by Kris Carr, I started to consider attempting to grow my very own vegetable garden, rented apartment or not.

In the, Crazy Sexy Diet, Kris Carr is a cancer survivor, that changes her life, by changing her diet. She goes from eating the average american diet, full off processed foods to a vegetable based diet, that revolves around juicing. The juicing part of the book is what stuck with me most. I was inspired and immediately bought a juicer and began making yummy juices.

green juice, sweetened by farmers market bought, honeydew melon.

Juicing was an easy way for me to get in a morning breakfast pre run or post run. But it also got expensive, always buying fresh produce. Especially when juicing Kale or Spinach because this type of produce perishes so fast. I then began to think- It would be awesome if I could grow this stuff.

As you may know, I am a hairstylist, and one of the many amazing things about my job is that everyday I get the opportunity to converse among several different clients. Of corse I brought up my idea of starting my very own vegetable garden to each and every one of them. And to my surprise, many of my clients had gardens of their own, and they were openly willing to share their tips of the trade with me. One of my clients actually told me not to be discouraged. “You don’t need a yard.” She’d say… “You can grow anything, in a container.” ¬†So that is what I did, successfully.

This year, I actually moved. I only moved one zip code over, but I am no longer in a rented apartment, but rather my very own first home. Home ownership feels good, but moving is a lot of work, so unfortunately I wasn’t able to plant my garden in my yard. Plus I was debating on building a raise bed. I also wanted to test the yard’s sunlight. So I continued my container garden, successfully.

I spy a pepper.

Basil, Mint, Sage.

Herbs

Lemon/Lime tree

Cucumber/ Melons.

Kumquat Tree

Rosemary Jungle

Tomato Plant

Eggplant, my pride and joy.

Basil, rosemary, fresh from the garden.

So let me tell you some wonderful advantages you have when growing plants in containers. The most awesome advantage is that you have all the control.

  • Soil:¬†You can can control the soil. For example if your plant is organic, then use organic soil. If your plant contains mainly water, such as cucumber, then choose moisture locking soil.
  • Sun Exposue:¬†You can control the amount of sun or shade your plant receives, by simply picking it up and moving it to a more sunny spot or more shady spot.
  • Temperature: You can control the temperature. If it is to cold outside and your plant can’t survive in cold temperatures you can bring your plant indoors. If it is to hot¬†and the leaves are dry and wilting, let your plant spend the day inside.
  • I also find that when plants are in a container, animals tend to leave them alone. I could be wrong about this, but that is my experience.

The only real disadvantage of a container garden is that your plant will only grow as big as the container lets it. This can be limiting in harvest, but for those plants that grow like weeds, such as rosemary, mint, basil, etc. you have the control to set their boundaries by planting them in a containers. Also another slight disadvantage is that your plants may not come back the next year, but to my surprise last year my romaine lettuce reappeared in its container this spring. So I guess anything is possible.

I love having a vegetable garden. I would have a farm, but my yard simply isn’t large enough. I love eating fresh summer vegetables ripe, right from the vine, it is my favorite thing about summer.

Questions for you…

  1. What is your favorite thing about summer?
  2. Do you have a vegetable garden?
  3. What are you growing and eating?

©2012

Running or Flying…Was it the Watermelon or just me?

This week I had some really amazing runs. Lets talk about today’s…

This morning I hit the Mount Vernon Trail. On average I run this trail a couple times a week, so I guess you can say I am a regular on it, or lets put it this way, normally if I am on a trail, I am on this one.  The Mount Vernon Trail is my favorite because it runs along the Potomac so it has beautiful views of DC. It is also refreshing to run by the river. Another great thing about the trail is that it is surrounded by trees, so it has some shady areas, which is nice on hot summer days.

It totally relaxes me when I am surrounded by nature, and even though, the trail is a paved path, I sometimes feel like I am on a trail run, through the woods. ¬†When running on this trail keep your eyes open WIDE, ¬†you don’t want to miss the Wild Life.

The Mount Vernon Trail has many different entrances, and each entrance has a different vibe. Today I drove to the entrance south of Old Town. I parked at the Bell View parking lot and ran 2.60 miles south and then headed back.

Running 2.60 miles south is a mix of up hills and downs. It is mainly shady on the trail. In a couple places you have to run over wooden plank bridges that carry you over some swampy marshy areas. It ends in a residential area, with some gorgeous houses.

Today, my run was amazing. I ran a total of 5.11 miles in 41 minutes. That is super fast for me. I don’t know if my speed is because I have been running in my Newton running shoes since the end of April, and I am just getting faster. ¬†Or maybe it is because it has been 100 degrees the last couple weeks and today was a refreshing cool 79 degrees. Or maybe it was the Watermelon I ate for breakfast. Whatever, it may be, it felt cool, breezy, and I was running, but it felt like I was flying.

During this run I figured some things out…

If I am going to run some serious distance like 10 plus miles, I usually eat a bagel with peanut butter, because it is a good source of calories, fat, protein, and carbs.

But today my pre run meal was Watermelon. And this was a  fabulous choice. I recently saw on Dr. Oz that watermelon is a super food. Why?

  • Because it cleans your arteries. Dr. Oz says swap your morning glass of water with watermelon juice, because it reduces body fat, lowers LDL cholesterol, cleaning heart -threatening plaque from arteries. I juice mine fresh with my Breville Juicer.
  • It drops blood pressure and boosts circulation. It is one of the few foods that has a powerhouse protein called citrulline. Citrulline produces powerful stuff called nitric oxide, that opens and relaxes arteries. It helps heal wounds and divide cells. It helps with blood flow enhancing circulation to all your vital parts. (just like Viagra does)
  • Watermelon is loaded with lycopene, which fends off heart disease and cancers (other than prostate.) Tomatoes are considered lycopene superstars, but watermelon has 40% more.
  • It makes you think faster.
  • It is low cal.
  • Another great tip: Always keep your whole watermelons out of the fridge. Watermelon stored at room temperature delivers more cell-protecting antioxidants. They continue to ripen and build antioxidants even after they are picked.
  • It is also made up of mostly water. So before my run I was pretty well hydrated. I literally had to pee 2 x before I hit the trail. I also sprinkled a little salt on my watermelon chunks before I ate them. I just like the taste, a little salt won’t hurt an athlete, its actually¬†good for electrolyte balance.

Picking a Watermelon: A common question I have always asked is, How do you know which watermelon to pick? Well this is what I have discovered. When picking out a watermelon, always look for one that has a flat yellow side. This side is where the watermelon was sitting on the ground, and if your watermelon does not have this, then it was picked too early.

My boyfriend’s grandma once said, “The way to find out if your watermelon is sweet is to look for bug bite marks.” Every time I look for bug bite marks on my watermelon, it ends up being really sweet. I promise.

This morning I ate watermelon cut up in cubes with a little bit of sea salt sprinkled on top. Right now as I type this I am sipping on some fresh watermelon juice that I just juiced with my Breville juicer. I added a hint of mint fresh from my garden. Add cucumber for additional flavor.

Watermelon the Superfood! Great for pre run meal.

The Breville Juicer is amazing. Buy it and then try juicing watermelon.

Crush ice, pour juice, top it off with fresh mint.

Enough about watermelon… more about what I learned on my run…

While running I really got into my music. Music for me is a tool I use to enhance my running. Sometimes when I run I use my music as background sound, and when I am done I realize I am barely listening. Today I listened hard and found a rhythm.  Sometimes it is really nice to get lost in a run, in your breath, in your music.

I also became one with my hills. That may not make since to you, but I’ll try to explain.¬†Hills bring me variety, a total flat course makes me bored. Just as I use music as a tool, I use hills as a tool as well. I take them one at a time. Sometimes it hurts running up, but it feels amazing running down. Sometimes I feel slow running up, but boy can I fly running down. After a down hill I try to use that momentum on the next up hill.¬†Some hate hills. I actually quite enjoy them. Some think a flat course is a fast course. I think the opposite.

I know I was a little all over the place in this post, but I had a lot on my mind. I hope you learned a little bit about watermelon, and juicing with the Breville juicer. I look forward to sharing more juicing tips and recipes.

I also hope I motivated you to run a little further, a little faster, a little harder. Today I ran an amazing 5.11 mile run in 41 minutes in my Newtons. This isn’t far for me by any means but it was super fast. It was cold today, 79 degrees, but should be even colder tomorrow. So take my advice: Get out there. Don’t hold back. And just run… run as fast as you can.

©2012