Blacken or Bloom Watch Begins

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May 9, 2013 by caitlinvaclark

When Chris and I were living in North Carolina we had a small but thriving garden, just some herbs and a few tomato and pepper plants, along with a few house plants. Then Chris left for law school. I followed exactly what he did. Everyday, the same amount of water, same sunlight, everything. The verdict- the plants were dead within a week.

I would love to be better at gardening. I adore fresh cut flowers and outdoor entertaining. I even come from a family of gardeners but I have never been able to keep a plant alive. My Aunt Lori can grow everything from asparagus to edamame to Meyer lemons. My dad has had his success with herb gardens, even in awkward sunlight. And my Aunt Cynthia has a backyard that should be in Better Homes & Gardens.

My mother also had the magic gardening touch. Every spring growing up, we would have loads of flowers and a mountain of mulch delivered and spend a long weekend planting. She also had the most beautiful rose garden, delicate, colorful, and vast. But what was my job? To weed the gardens. I’ve always been pretty good at the killing of the unwanted plants.

Living in our current London flat, with a conservatory that affords me a constant view outside, the “garden” has been begging me to try again. Be forewarned, I will likely fail. But I have allowed myself to buy two plants this month. If I succeed, next month I can make another addition. Last weekend, along with some grocery store herbs and a stub of a rose bush that was already in the garden, I embraced the dirt.


I grew up with hearty azalea bushes out front and nothing says spring like the annual return of their blooms. They seem to come back every year with little work, so maybe if I can get this thing to thrive it would be proof that I was getting somewhere.


Time to get down and dirty.


I also picked a raspberry bush because if I succeed, I could truly enjoy the fruits of my labor. I read that these plants do well growing near garlic, so we threw some garlic chive seeds in the mix too. Maybe next spring I’ll have my own wild garlic?? Unlikely.


So here it is, my finished mini-garden experiment. I’m now putting myself on Blacken or Bloom Watch. I’ll be updating you with my plant status along with some perfect patio entertaining recipes…

A Broad Gardening: Month 1

Thrive or die, we will see if my garden grows or I call it quits. Will I celebrate with cocktails or wash down my defeat and return to weeding? Stay tuned for updates and enjoy the summertime happy hour suggestions along the way!

Pineapple Margarita & Blue Cheese and Bacon Guacamole: A Broad Cooking

Pineapple Margaritas

serves 4

1/2 cup fresh squeezed lime juice

1/2 cup pineapple juice

3/4 cup tequilla

1/2 cup cointreau

course salt & ice

Pour the lime and pineapple juices, the tequila, and the cointreau into a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake aggressively. Rub lime against the lip of each glass then roll in salt. Pour margarita into glasses with ice.


Blue Cheese and Bacon Guacamole

serves 4-6

*adapted from Michael Symon’s Guacamole Stir-ins @

3 avocados

1/4 red onion, diced

1 jalepeno, chopped

Juice of 1 lime

2 Tbs chopped fresh cilantro

1 roma tomato, diced

4 slices bacon, crumbled

2 oz. blue cheese, crumbled

Mash together the avocado, onion, jalepeno, and lime juice. Stir in the tomato, cilantro, bacon, and blue cheese. Season with salt and pepper and serve with tortilla chips.


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