Community gardener since: 2014
Plot Size: 10 x 10
Gardening background: One of my most favorite activities as a kid was picking peaches at a local farm not far from where I grew up on the outskirts of Houston. I remember vividly the experience spending time with my mother, outside in the 100-degree heat, eating a sun-warmed, perfectly ripe, yet firm peach with the sweetest sticky juice running over my hand. The farm has long since been sold off to housing developers but the imprint was made — I love growing (and eating) food!
For most of my life, I’ve planted in containers or in small spaces outside my apartments, but until getting the community plot in Santa Monica I had never had much more than a small patio or corner to work with. Having a plot is an investment in time and energy, but the hours spent working in the garden are the happiest, most peaceful and rewarding time for me.
Favorite things to grow: From a tip from another community gardener, I planted sorrel and it has been a fantastic addition! I grow it in a big round tub and it stays green and healthy year-round, plus it’s a surefire stand-in for spinach. All I do is remove the older leaves every month or so, adding some compost a couple times per year, and it stays happy.
My strawberry patch is also awesome, although I think the squirrels have now discovered it! I’m expecting my yield to decrease by 50 percent as a result.
And I really enjoy the four roses that form the back border of my plot. The Chrysler Imperial hybrid tea in particular has flourished, but two others have not, so it’s time to remove and replant a couple of new bushes. I’m looking forward to seeing the first flush of blooms in the next few weeks.
Plot-to-pot recipe: I like to incorporate lemony sorrel in lots of dishes from gratins to pasta dishes and sandwiches, and I think it makes for a unique chimichurri-like sauce I throw together in the food processor. The formula is loose, so feel free to incorporate different herbs and greens; the fresher, the better.
Tiffany’s Green Sauce
1 and 1/2 cups of sorrel* leaves (the smaller, younger leaves are best)
1 cup of parsley leaves
1/2 cup of cilantro (or better yet a combination of herbs — chives, basil, tarragon, and oregano are
2 garlic cloves or a shallot (I like to throw in a green onion too if I have it)
1/4 cup rice wine or white wine vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
juice of a lemon or lime
Blitz everything in the food processor. I usually start with the garlic and little bit of oil to get it going, then add the greens, pulsing to blend. Continue to add oil, vinegar, lime or lemon juice, and salt. Continue to season to taste, until you have a bright, tangy, herby sauce.
It’s perfect on steak, thinned with more vinegar for a salad dressing, used as a marinade for seafood or meats, drizzled on vegetables, spread on sandwiches or just dolloped on crusty bread.
*A note about sorrel: Sorrel contains oxalic acid, which can be quite upsetting to the stomach if eaten in large quantities. Tempering it with other herbs or greens helps reduce the effect.