Monday Miscellany: The Drunken Botanist, Organic Eggs, Top Perennials, Garden Eyesores, and Free Reading

Lots of great discoveries around the web this week!

The Drunken Botanist

photo courtesy Amy StewartFirst up, Amy Stewart launched the website for her new book, The Drunken Botanist. I for one cannot WAIT for the book to drop, but since that’s still a year off, we shall have to console ourselves with the columns she’s been writing for the site. Elegant, botanically-inspired recipes and stories about – what else? Cocktails and spirits. Oh yeah, and plants!

Why are you still here reading? Go on over to The Drunken Botanist and check out her new site.

Organic eggs

EsthertheChicken_thumb1-150x150Love eggs? Yeah, me too! Only, after having my own free-range birds, there’s no way I can go back to the insipid pale-yellow yolks of the usual supermarket eggs. My search for real, pastured eggs with bright orange yolks that shows the birds have been eating Real Food (you know, bugs and grass) has been a tiresome one, filled with pretenders (“free-range”, “happy hens”) that are only giving lip service to the idea of treating their hens with any manner of dignity.

I’ve found two brands locally that pass the flavor test and are from actual pastured birds who get to squabble and catch flies and generally have a proper good time of things: Vital Farms and Alexandre Kids Farms. No, they’re not cheap ($6-8.50/ dozen), but I would much rather eat fewer good-quality eggs than support places with sad chickens and nutrient-deficient eggs.

Anyway, if you want to know which brands are really doing good by their birds, visit The Organic Egg Scorecard.  For bonus points, check out the Organic Dairy Scorecard. I’ve been so relieved to finally KNOW which brands are worth paying for and which are best avoided if you have a commitment to eating fresh, healthy food from well-kept animals.

Top perennials

tassel fern northcoastgardeningErin of The Impatient Gardener, one of my favorite bloggers (seriously, she is so cute I just want to hug her!) asked me and two other bloggers to share our favorite perennial picks. Of course, whenever someone asks me a question like that, I choose to read it as selecting one of my many favorites, because it is completely impossible to choose just one.

The funniest thing is that the other two bloggers she asked both chose the same plant! No, I’m not spoiling the surprise – you better just get on over there and read the blog post yourself.

Garden eyesores

garden-upMy latest over at Landscaping Network is about hiding garden eyesores. Every garden has them – those functional but ever-so-unattractive barbecues, air conditioning units, vents and propane tanks. I provide plant suggestions and pro tips for hiding these elements.

Extra credit: Check out Garden Up! by Susan Morrison and Rebecca Sweet. The book shares designer tips, extensive plant suggestions, and stealthy secrets for making the most of a small space (and that includes hiding unattractive elements).

Free reads

american gardener magLastly, I made a supercool discovery the other day on The American Gardener website. You can actually read full issues of their magazine online for free! While I am old-fashioned and still love the experience of a paper magazine, this is a great way of discovering whether you might like to subscribe. (I am going to!)

Reading a digital mag is a little confusing at first, but just click around to figure out how to navigate – it’s not like you can screw anything up. Hint: the button on the very top left is the one to click to view all the issues available to read online, so once you’re done with the current version you can go back and catch up on what you missed.

And if you missed the announcement a while back, Leaf Magazine is also available as a free digital read. It’s a great new magazine for anyone interested in landscape design, so definitely check it out if you haven’t already. Susan Cohan and Rochelle Greayer are the editors, so you know it’s worth your while.

That’s it for this week. Have you read anything cool online? Let me know in the comments below!


  1. Terry says

    Hi Gen,

    Where did you find the Vital Farms eggs? Their website doesn’t show any local stores, and I don’t think I have ever seen them. After reading that Organic Egg Scorecard when it came out (not to mention prior behind the scenes knowledge gained), I am automatically distrustful of ALL organic or natural eggs – the USDA has made it so easy for producers to fool you into thinking you have eggs from happy, healthy free ranging hens. Alexandre Kids eggs are hard to find too! Nobody in Southern Humboldt carries them, and I can’t always find them when I journey north…

    • says

      I know, Terry, that’s a toughie. I was buying Vital when I couldn’t find the more local eggs, since I feel like local food is more fresh and uses less fossil fuels. But I have been buying Alexandre since it’s been in stock again. They even have a crescent city location! I buy Vital and Alexandre at the co-op in Arcata, and Alexandre from Eureka Nat Foods. They all seem to vary in quality. Perhaps when it is raining the birds choose to stay inside and eat feed more than grass.

  2. says

    I am currently attempting to talk my wife into adding a few chickens to our little homestead. Something I’ve been interested in for many years, and I’m really thinking seriously about it now. I have a pair of questions for you, my dear. If you are growing your own chickens and harvesting the eggs they produce, why do you need to purchase eggs from other organic farms?

    And now a question for my wife (who is… how shall I put this? Somewhat germophobic.) The thought of chickens, free-ranging about the garden, gives her quite a fright. Poo and disease and all that, you know. Anything you’d like to say in the chickens defense? (sorry about being so off topic – respond to email if you like).


    • says

      Hi, Ed! Well, birds don’t lay all year round. They quit in winter when there is less light. You can install lights in the coop to increase winter production, but I have read it also increases reproductive cancers in the ladies. I felt like a jerk once I read that and decided to suck it up and buy eggs from (I hopefully think) sunnier areas. Probably they have lights on their birds in winter, which is not what I’d prefer, but. . . there we are.

      There’s not much I can say in the chickens’ defense on the poop issue. They poop everywhere they go. Sometimes I’ll take my lunch outside and sit in my chair. Being inquisitive ladies, they’ll stand there and stare at me for a while, then peck around my feet for any possible scraps. I’m not that messy of an eater, they’re just hopeful. And about two minutes into my meal, someone poops. And I move my chair because it smells. They rush over and soon another one poops. You get the idea. They have very many fine qualities but if poop is an issue I’d find some area where it is not an issue that you can pasture them. Maybe let them in the beds but not the lawn, or vice versa?

  3. says

    Wonderful posts!
    Oh the heartbreak of facing the reality of the Costco/Trader Joe’s/Safeway Organic milk and eggs………. but then, I had suspicions all along.
    Also, the one gardener who loves Akebia?
    She can have mine- all 1,796,041 yards of it. for free.
    Keep bringing on the blogs- I’m addicted!

  4. says

    Hey Gen,

    A little behind in my blog reading so only saw this now – thanks for the shout out for our digital edition of The American Gardener magazine! We’re pretty pleased to be able to offer it!

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