Guest Article: A Bountiful Fall Container, by Jacqueline Murphy of Semperflora
Fall is for planting — and for planning.
And it’s the perfect time to consider planning a container design that involves beautiful, colorful edibles. Below you’ll find a few recipes for edible container gardens using locally grown plants. You’ll find one container planted with three different ornamental edible designs below.
These recipes are inspired by some the plants currently on offer from Fall Line Farms and Local Roots' producers. Recipes are designed for a single half whiskey or wine barrel planter or a comparable container 26–28 inches in diameter. A half barrel holds about four cubic feet of soil and you can find bags of soil for sale at Fall Line Farms and Local Roots, too. Each design includes a mix of edibles that are also ornamental.
1 Rosemary ‘Salem’
Thyme ‘Golden Edge Lemon’
Plant the rosemary at the center and use a mixture of Johnny-Jump-Ups and thyme around the edges of the container. If you’re placing the planter against a wall, place the rosemary slightly off center and toward the back of the container and cluster the smaller plants in a half-moon shape at the front.
3 Red-veined Sorrel
Plant three red-veined sorrels. Harvest from the outside of the plants (cut-and-come-again) often to prevent overcrowding.
Thyme ‘Golden Edge Lemon’
Plant the lavender at the center and use a mixture of Johnny-Jump-Ups and thyme around the edges of the container. If you’re placing the planter against a wall, place the lavender slightly off center and toward the back of the container and cluster the smaller plants in a half-moon shape at the front.
Place your container garden in a location that gets about six hours of sunlight per day for the most bountiful harvest.
The Plants and How to Use Them
Rosemary ‘Salem’ is an upright and particularly hardy form. It makes a fine-textured architectural focal point in a container. It also makes a great addition to hardy fall soups and stews, to roast chicken and other meat dishes. You can also snip a few stems and add them to a hot bath to help soothe tired muscles. Tie up the stems in a clean cloth to prevent leaves from sticking to you.
Toss the flowers of Johnny-Jump-Ups, or violas, into salads or to add a touch of color to any dish. They’re particularly lovely as cake decorations.
Use thyme in scrambled eggs, soups, or almost any dish for its clean, slightly astringent flavor.
Red-veined sorrel is another architectural plant with a dramatic upright form. Add a few leaves to salads and to season soups, omelets, poultry, beef, pork, and fish dishes.
At the moment, our farmers are offering a variety of potted edible plants including:
Red and green cabbage
Jacqueline Murphy loves to talk plants! She practices her garden artistry at home in Cumberland, Virginia, and also at the homes and businesses of her clients. Visit semperflora.com or find Jacqueline on social media at Instagram @semperflora_virginia or Facebook @semperflora. Roughly translated, Semperflora means “always plants.”
Storing Winter Squash
It’s that time of year when gorgeous winter squashes are widely available. If you love them, you can buy now and enjoy them almost all winter! Many will last from two to four months when properly cured and stored.
Delicata and spaghetti squash shouldn’t be cured at all. They’ll last two or three months in storage, so you should plan to eat those first. Hubbards and butternuts, on the other hand, are great keepers and will last 5 to 8 months under the right conditions.
Interested in giving winter squash storage a try? Here are a few tips that will help you prolong your stash:
Make certain your squash are properly “cured.” If you’re purchasing from a producer, ask whether they’ve been cured for storage. If so, you’re ahead of the game. If not, then you can do it yourself. Just leave the squash in a sunny, warm (80 to 85 degree) place for about 10 days. When your fingernail won’t cut the skin, the squash is ready for storage.
Store the squash in a single layer. You can use a basket or box of any kind—something breathable will help them store the longest. Place the squash in the box with crumpled paper between them to keep them from touching. Store only unblemished squash—you can preserve any with broken skins by freezing (but that’s a different blog entry!).
Keep the space cool and dark. Winter squash will store best between 50 and 55 degrees. If you can, keep the humidity at about 60%. Before I had a basement, I used to keep mine in a seldom-used guest room with the door closed.
If you’re unsure about whether your squash needs to be cured or how long it will last, Google it! Charts abound on the internet, so it won’t take you long to discover what you need to know.
Winter squash are delicious and nutritious, and with a little care you can enjoy the pies, soups, and other dishes to which they add their beautiful flavor and color. This is the time of year when many of our producers have winter squash on their buying pages. Enjoy!
Pounds of Plenty: How Our Producers and Community Members Come Together to Give Back
Members make a difference every time they purchase from Fall Line Farms and Local Roots. Every order brings you great fresh food and made-in-Virginia products like flower essences, goats milk soap, and beautiful flower bouquets. But did you know that every order also strengthens the local food system right here in RVA and Central Virginia by creating income and opportunities for small farmers, makers, and food entrepreneurs? You're doing good stuff!
And there's another way that we work to strengthen our Central Virginia market region. It's called 'Pounds of Plenty." With the touch of a button, you can donate food from FLF&LR to neighbors in need and other worthy causes. Pounds of Plenty is our way of collaborating with producers to make great food available to a food bank near you.
Producers choose what they can discount for donation during any particular week. You choose and order those items from a producer. We deliver what you ordered to the food bank closest to your pick-up location. Your donation goes directly from the producer to folks in your neighborhood who are in need!
Selections change weekly, depending upon the season and producers' supply of certain items. This week, you can donate natural deodorant or granola from Misty Morning Sunrise Farm, ground beef from Thornebrook Farms, and butternut squash or potatoes from Thistledowne Farm. Or you can choose to donate tomatoes to this week's featured program, the Culinary Arts Classes at Goochland High School.
Chef Dave Booth teaches Culinary Arts at Goochland HS. He's also chair of the Center for Rural Culture's Education Committee. Dave's going to be teaching his students how to can food, and some of our producers are banding together to get him tomatoes.
You can support this effort by going to the Pounds of Plenty page, then scrolling down to the section that says "tomatoes--bulk seconds." The tomatoes you order will go straight from the farm to Dave's classroom!
We're committed to LOCAL, and this is just one way that we take care of our market's region. Thank you for your support of this non-profit online farmer's market, and for your generosity in giving through the Pounds of Plenty program!