Tips for the green gardener
You’ve scouted the summer farmers markets and delighted in the gifts from the earth. Now you want to try growing your own veggies but don’t know where to start. It’s easier than you think!Dustin Beckner, Chef de Cuisine at Restaurant Avondale, spent the past week laying out the establishment’s first garden. He chose a spot on the south side of the Westin Riverfront to build his five beds. Surrounded by river rocks found on the property, three of the beds will receive full sun and the other two are partially shaded by aspen trees. “The more delicate herbs and micro greens will be transplanted to the protected area,” he said. Beckner started his plants from seed several weeks ago, allowing them to sprout on a sunny western windowsill in the restaurant’s pastry kitchen.Following the lead of Larkspur Restaurant, which has had success with alpine gardening for the past two years, Beckner is planting many varieties of lettuce and herbs, as well as radishes, cucumbers, squash, and turnips. “These are good choices for someone who wants to try gardening in the short growing season offered by the Rocky Mountains,” he said. “Lettuces were the original crops of this area’s homesteaders, and today we have so many choices of greens.”The novice gardener should start plants in containers. Having the flexibility to move the pots to a less sunny or windy area is a big benefit. Watching the success of a small, “container garden” grow can be a learning process you can improve upon each year.Another consideration is your soil. If you have access to compost, use it! Compost will enrich the soil with organic nutrients and will improve texture, fertility, and drainage of the soil. Commercial fertilizers are a good replacement; you will need a bit of trial and error to determine how often to feed your plants and how much at a time. Water often – most vegetable plants like to be kept moist and will drink from the tray beneath the pot.By planting lettuces and micro greens, you will start enjoying salads from your own garden within just a few weeks. Beckner offers some easy dressings to toss with your greens for healthy summertime salads.
1 cup red wine vinaigrette1 cup extra virgin olive oil1-1/4 cup canola oil3 shallots, minced1 clove garlic, minced1 teaspoon sugarSalt & pepper to tasteCombine vinegar, shallots, garlic and sugar. Slowly add the oils, whisking till emulsified. Season to taste with salt & pepper. Keep refrigerated, shake well before each use. Makes 3 cups.
2 cups mayonnaise1 cup sour cream2 cloves garlic, minced1 shallot, minced1/4 cup chives, snipped1/4 cup parsley, chopped1/3 cuplemon juice1 Tablespoon WorcestershirePinch cayenne pepperSalt and pepper to tasteButtermilk Mix all ingredients except buttermilk together in a large bowl. Thin to desired consistency with buttermilk. Makes 3 cups. Will keep refrigerated for one week.
1 cup ginger, finely chopped1 Tablespoon minced Thai chile1/4 cup soy sauce1/2 cup sherry vinegar1/2 cup honey2 teaspoons rosemary leaves1 cup grapeseed oilUsing a blender or small food processor, combine all ingredients except rosemary and oil and puree. Add the oil in a steady stream with the machine running to emulsify. Add the rosemary and blend for 15 seconds. Makes 2 1/2 cups. Keep refrigerated.
3 anchovy filets, soaked in cold water for 5 minutes, dried, and coarsely chopped 3/4 cup prepared or homemade mayonnaise 1/4 cup sour cream 2 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh chives 2 tablespoons minced flat-leaf parsley 1-1/2 teaspoons minced fresh tarragon leaves 3/4 teaspoon finely chopped fresh basil 1 tablespoon minced shallots 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice Salt & fresh ground pepper to tasteCombine the anchovies, mayonnaise, sour cream, chives, parsley, tarragon, basil, shallots, lemon juice, and ? teaspoon of salt in a blender. Puree to make a smooth dressing. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Use immediately or store, covered, in the refrigerator, for up to 2 days. Sue Barham is the marketing director for Larkspur Restaurant and Restaurant Avondale. Larkspur, at the base of Vail Mountain, has been serving American Classics with a fresh interpretation since 1999. Avondale, (avondalerestaurant.com) opened in September 2008 in the Westin Riverfront Resort and Spa and features a West Coast inspired, market driven menu.
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