08.13.13 beanstalk

We tried growing these lovely vining beans last year without success. I’m pretty sure the squirrels dug up the seeds. So when I spied this one growing along the back fence, twisting through our neighbors’ garden, I had to wonder if it was a carryover from last year. I like to imagine that the squirrels dropped this one seed from high up in the elm tree giving us all a welcome surprise this summer.

blog081313_scarletrunnerbean225/365: scarlet runner beans

08.07.13 finding gold

It’s a painfully slow tease this season, but the tomatoes are finally beginning to ripen. My favorite are the sungolds – adorning their vines in groups of green orbs, turning orange by one slow, subtle shade, one sphere at a time.

blog080713_sungolds on the vine219/365: sungolds on the vine

08.01.13 viva verde

Brad thinks that perhaps I have unknown Mexican ancestry, such is my love for Mexican food. I have big ideas for this year’s garden, including ingredients for my own habanero hot sauce, rajas, and salsa verde. The tomatillos are the most fascinating to watch as they form expanding green lanterns – the future husks around the fruit. I can’t wait to see what’s happening inside.

blog080113_tomatillo213/365: tomatillo

06.21.13 they’re back!

Nothing is more welcome after a long winter than the return of fresh, local produce. While the growing season started off a little slow due to all the cold and rain, things are finally getting back into full swing.  We had to wait till our 3rd CSA delivery this year but it’s finally pea shoot pesto time again! Farm-fresh, hyper-green, and worth the wait.

blog062113_peashoots172/365: pea shoots

04.25.13 seeing green

I had the chance to visit a local farm yesterday with Zola’s preschool class. Gale Woods Farm is a great place for city kids to learn where their food comes from, how animals are raised, and what fresh produce tastes like. While I enjoyed the lambs and the chicks, it was the site of all the lush, green plants that really made me swoon…

blog_greenhouse salad115/365: baby greens

01.19.13 eat more

I was so delighted to have things STILL GROWING in my garden around Thanksgiving that I got a little greedy. I wanted to see how long the kale could last. I heard it could grow under snow, but how much cold could it truly endure?

As it turns out, the answer is: A LOT! But, I pushed it too far. After a period of really deep freeze, I discovered sad, discolored remains of chard and parsley – seemingly melted by the frozen air; the kale had become a kind of frozen snack.

The thing is, though, it’s still green. On January 19th with temperatures plummeting to way below zero, the kale is still green. And, judging by the tracks in the snow, the rabbits are really loving it.

blog011913_omkale19/365: old master brass(ica)

P.S. The post title, “eat more” is a reference to Bo Muller-Moore’s ‘Eat More Kale’ t-shirts, hand-screened in Vermont on organic cotton. I own one and wear it proudly. Although, only when I’m up for garnering a lot of attention.

tis the season

As I shared in this week’s newsletter (check out the link or, better yet, subscribe here), I’ve been busy in the studio getting ready for the holidays. I did my first craft fair a few weeks ago with two more coming up. Plus, I designed a whole bunch of new items and I re-launched the AvantGardenPhoto Shop on Etsy. It’s all a big, merry blur at this point!

For those of you in the Minneapolis area, I’ll be at two upcoming holiday art fairs: Lyndale Winter Market & Festival of Lights TOMORROW (Saturday, Dec. 1st) from 4-8pm. This event will be lots of fun with live music, free s’mores & cocoa, art activities for the kids and Santa himself. Local artisan market, a fire performer, and free parking, too! Plus, I’ll have many of my new designs available, things that make great gifts like journals, calendars, and framed mini prints.

I’m also rolling out new holiday card designs for 2012…et, voilá!

Avant Garden Holiday Cards

Cards come in two sizes: note (4.25″ x 5.5″) and greeting (5″ x 7″). They are printed on 100% PCW recycled heavy card stock. Singles and box sets available in the SHOP.

It’s not too late to order. Really! Are you thrown off by the early Thanksgiving this year? I keep feeling like I’m way behind until I realize it’s still November! No worries.

Another thing I’m very excited about are the new Avant Garden Photo Calendars.


Calendars come in three styles: FloralUrban, and Vegetable. And two sizes: 4×6 ($19.50)and 5×7 ($28).

These babies are a true labor of love. I print them in the studio on 110lb Crane’s Lettra 100% cotton letterpress paper. I’m kind of a geek about things like beautiful paper but, seriously, this stuff is gorgeous. It’s so thick, I have to feed it through the printer one sheet at a time.  I know you have a calendar on your phone, but having something artful on your desk or fridge will brighten up your life on a daily basis. It’s good to surround yourself with beauty. Or, treat someone else to a beautiful 2013! Calendars make a super gift; they always fit.

One more cool thing about the calendars: the 5×7 calendar will magically turn into 12 fine art prints. As each month passes, simply trim away the calendar part. You’ll have a 5×5 archival print (includes a 1/4 inch border) that will fit beautifully into a square frame kind of like this:


You can decorate your house or give the framed prints as gifts. Pretty cool, right?

If you haven’t already, I hope you’ll visit the Etsy shop and I really would love to hear what you think. Now, I need to get back to work. Have a lovely weekend! And don’t forget to stop by the Holiday Fair tomorrow if you’re in town. 64th & Lyndale, right here in South Minneapolis.

because you can…

I have that feeling of panic right about now. The tomatoes that were so abundant just weeks ago are tapering off; there is only one left in the bowl that used to overflow with a dozen or more at a time. Last night, I went out to the garden to pick another bowl of ever-bearing beans only to find the vines shriveling in the autumn sun. Can it really be too late? Again?One minute I couldn’t chop or chew fast enough to keep up. The next, I can’t scrounge up a cucumber for the dinner salad.

Or maybe not. Maybe there is still time. Time to gather up the green tomatoes and the tender herbs. Time to dust off the dehydrator and line up the Ball jars. Time to bring home bushels of this and that from the farmers market and make good on the season’s bounty. Time to make hay while the sun shines and, perhaps, to make pickles. For that, I favor dill.

dill at the market

veggie love no. 10: garlic

This photo just makes me want to COOK. There isn’t much that smells better than garlic as it starts to sizzle in the pan. Stinking rose, indeed! Perfectly plump with delicate purple streaks and brimming with possibilities. What could be sweeter?


Garlic from Swede Lake Farm / Global Garlic where they specialize in organic produce and rare garlic varieties.

veggie love no. 9: broccoli

It’s no secret that broccoli bears some resemblance to trees what with those trunk-shaped stems, and spreading branches topped in an abundant canopy of florets. But I think the comparison is even more compelling at close range. Like an aerial view of the forest, the crown appears first as one large mass of green. But a closer look reveals tiny, distinct flower heads, each doing its very best to reach the sun.