One-Block Feast: Spring Garden Plan

This spring garden guide is complete with tips and adventures from the staff at Sunset Magazine. Read along as they prepare a spring feast from their one-block garden, brew beer, treat broody hens, hand milk their Jersey cow and navigate honeybee swarm season.

| October 2012

  • Spring Garden Plans
    Sunset Magazine's spring garden plan includes the following: 1. tea, 2. nasturtiums.
    Illustration Courtesy Ten Speed Press
  • Spring Garden Plan
    Check out Sunset Magazine's spring garden plan and how their efforts to eat only what they grow takes local eating to the next level.
    Illustration Courtesy Ten Speed Press
  • The One-Block Feast
    “The One-Block Feast” by Margo True and the staff of Sunset Magazine is for readers nationwide who believe that dinner starts with earth, the sea, and a few animals. Take local eating to the next level with this cooking and gardening guide, complete with DIY food projects.
    Cover Courtesy Ten Speed Press
  • Honeybee Swarm Season
    Around the beginning of the month, our bees began pouring from the hives. We saw them everywhere, dancing over the flowers and herbs, their golden bodies glinting in the sun.
    Photo By Thomas J. Story (c) 2011
  • Jersey Milking Cows
    Our cow lived about one hundred miles to the south, at Claravale Farm, a raw-milk dairy near Pinnacles National Monument.
    Photo By Thomas J. Story (c) 2011
  • Hand-Milking
    We got to milk her by hand, which is much harder than you might think: milk shoots sideways, down your sleeve, or refuses to come out at all.
    Photo By Thomas J. Story (c) 2011
  • Harvesting Tea
    We had assumed that growing coffee and tea would be impossible, that the plants needed to be shrouded in tropical mists. But no! Tea could survive our climate, apparently, if coddled.
    Photo By Thomas J. Story (c) 2011
  • Cow Pasture
    It was a beautiful place set in a remote, grassy valley framed by mountains, with chickens clucking in the bushes, a pistachio orchard, several century-old buildings from the town that once stood there, and a milking herd of fifty-five Jersey cows.
    Photo By Thomas J. Story (c) 2011
  • Radish Harvest
    Radishes are cool-season crops, meaning they grow best in cooler temperatures. Long periods of hot weather can cause them to turn bitter and to bolt (set seed) before they produce edible parts.
    Photo By Thomas J. Story (c) 2011
  • Jersey Cow
    Ron Garthwaite and his partner, Collette Cassidy, let us pick out a young, good-looking, chocolate brown Jersey, No. 64. We named her Holly, after Hollister, the nearest big town, and arranged to buy her.
    Photo By Thomas J. Story (c) 2011
  • Fava Beans
    The favas were ready now, in April (right on schedule for favas), and so were the radishes, but everything else needed a few more weeks of grow time.
    Photo By Thomas J. Story (c) 2011
  • Bean Harvest
    We harvested twenty-five pounds of big, meaty pods from those fava vines in about half an hour and packed them away, along with their entirely edible greens, in the fridge.
    Photo By Thomas J. Story (c) 2011
  • Strawberries
    Strawberries are best of all, especially when you pick them when they are most ripe.
    Photo By Thomas J. Story (c) 2011
  • Tarragon
    French tarragon numbed our tongues with a hit of potent licorice, like it was supposed to.
    Photo By Thomas J. Story (c) 2011
  • Green Onions
    Sometimes called scallions, green onions are either bulbing onions that you harvest young (before the bulbs grow), or bulbless bunching onions.
    Photo By Thomas J. Story (c) 2011

  • Spring Garden Plans
  • Spring Garden Plan
  • The One-Block Feast
  • Honeybee Swarm Season
  • Jersey Milking Cows
  • Hand-Milking
  • Harvesting Tea
  • Cow Pasture
  • Radish Harvest
  • Jersey Cow
  • Fava Beans
  • Bean Harvest
  • Strawberries
  • Tarragon
  • Green Onions

Based on the James-Beard-Award-winning One-Block Diet, The One-Block Feast (Ten Speed Press, 2011) is the ultimate guide to eating local. Complete with seasonal garden plans, menus, 100 recipes and 15 food projects, this guide explains how to raise and produce everything needed for totally made-from-scratch meals, all from your own backyard. The following excerpt is taken from “The Spring Garden.” 

You can purchase this book from the GRIT store: The One-Block Feast.

Spring starts early in the San Francisco Bay Area. In February, stone-fruit trees puff out in popcorn-like balls of pink and white. With every passing week, new flowers open on trees and from bushes and beds: mock orange and rose and lilac vine, sending out a sweet blended perfume.

Around the beginning of the month, our bees began pouring from the hives. We saw them everywhere, dancing over the flowers and herbs, their golden bodies glinting in the sun. Despite the pleasure of watching them and anticipating the honey to come, Team Bee braced itself. Spring is swarm season.



Navigating Swarm Season

Swarming typically happens because the hive is overcrowded. The crammed-in bees will raise a new queen (or several), and then she and up to half of the colony will fly away. It can seriously deplete the hive, and beekeepers try to prevent this by stacking on another box to give their bees more room.

We had added boxes to both hives a few weeks earlier, but it wasn’t enough to keep Betty from swarming. One morning, we spotted a big, buzzing clump of bees up in a nearby tree—and more bees cascading thickly down the front of Betty. Luckily, bees are gentle when swarming; their goal is to protect the queen (hidden in the buzzing ball) and find a new home, not attack, so even though we had rushed out without suits or veils, we had little to worry about. But we were helpless to intervene.






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