Craig Williams is a novice gardener who lives in Ottawa, Ontario. Craig enjoys the great outdoors, cooking, and brewing his own beer. His various domestic adventures are shared at dubyasgarden.blogspot.com
1. When did you start gardening and why?
I started in May 2008. We had a patch of lawn that got lots of sun but wasn't really used for anything, and I was getting tired of mowing it. So I ordered a load of topsoil, built some boxes for raised beds, and just followed the directions on the back of the seed packages. The experiment went pretty well so I decided to keep going.
I started the garden blog just over a year ago, just to keep track of things for myself really - transplanting dates, what was going well and what wasn't, and a few pictures to go along with it. Since I was already jotting all this stuff down, it was easy to put it on the web and share with my family and friends, just for a laugh really.
2. What types of herbs and vegetables do you grow and how do you use them in your everyday cooking?
Nothing too fancy - peas, yellow beans, tomatoes, some pretty standard herbs like basil, thyme and oregano. We were overrun by zucchini last year and had to come up with some creative ways to use it up - my favourite was a rich chocolate cake. I also planted asparagus from seed; I'm curious to see how it comes along this year and trying to be patient - it takes 3 years before it's ready for first harvest. Each year I try a few new things - this year it's beets, shallots and rainbow chard. I mostly enjoy the simple things like fresh lettuce for sandwiches and salads, making fresh pesto with the basil, and of course we have to have the occasional mojito just to keep the mint under control.
3. Do you have any tips for our readers on how to dry herbs?
From what I've read, it depends on the herb - some you're better off drying, which we did by stringing them up in the basement for a few weeks, while others are best preserved by freezing them just after harvesting and washing. So with the oregano we dried, crumbled and jarred it, while with the basil we made a simple pesto and tossed it in the freezer. Both worked out pretty well.
4. Being from Ottawa, you must go stir crazy not being able to garden in the winter. Do you do any indoor gardening?
Not yet, although I'm debating getting into sprouts. They look fairly easy to work with, and they're a good sandwich filler. This winter I kept myself occupied with other things like obedience classes with our new dog, Angus. Once the snow starts melting the garden fever really hits me though, and I do go a little crazy waiting for the soil to warm up.
5. Okay, totally unrelated to gardening, but I just have to know; what is your favourite chicken dish?
That's a tough one! If it's a meal on the go, it has to be chicken shawarma, especially here in Ottawa - I think I could eat that 7 days a week. A close second would be chicken korma with naan bread and a cold pint. Both are hard to beat!