Small Gardens Produce a Healthy Soup

How about some Healthy Gazpacho Soup?

It was a great day in the garden.  The cherry tomatoes are growing like crazy as they always do.  We never did cucumbers before, but they are sure producing really well.  So well, that I had to figure out something to make with them, because a simple salad was not enough.


According to wikipedia (, it is a Spanish dish

One thing about the internet that is nice, is all the different recipes. All the recipes call for

  • Tomatoes (some say tomato juice also but is really only took a few tomatoes to make a good 4 adult servings)
  • Cucumbers
  • Bell peppers (I didn’t have)
  • Onion, usually red (I only had white/yellow)
  • garlic
  • olive oil
  • lime juice (that I have because the wife was making margaritas)
  • Worcestershire sauce (warning you have to leave this out if you want it to be vegan or gluten free)
  • balsamic vinegar
  • salt and pepper
  • cumin
  • basil leaves for a topper
  • stale bread (this I did not have so I guess it will be gluten free) – left over bread from the Italian market works best.
  • Jalapeño (this was my add because we have so many and the spice might work and it did)

I used Alton Brown’s recipe from the food network (  He always seems to have good basic recipes.  I did not use as much tomatoes as he suggested and I threw in another cucumber, juts because I had so many.  The blanching of the tomatoes in boiling water worked perfectly to remove the skin.  Also I highly recommend removing the seeds from the tomatoes, cucumbers and Jalapeño, it makes the final product so much better.  Without the seeds, the texture is perfect. In some recipes the mixture is blended really well, but I left it some what choppy on purpose.


So I realized also that Worcestershire ( will make any recipe non-vegan ( and non-gluten free (  The ingredients include barley malt vinegar (barley is not gluten free) and anchovies (not vegan, but I love them).  I don’t know how you all do it.

I tried it after a couple of hours of sitting in the frig, but if you let it sit over night!  The flavors are amazing the next day and you can really taste the cucumber.

We let you all know how this cucumber and avocado dish comes out.

Please don’t forget to sign and share our petition to save small open spaces in new developments in Philadelphia.

Tree and Green Space Haters in Philly

Tree and Green Space Haters in Philly

We got a kick out of the comments on Facebook and other sites regarding our campaign to maintain open space and a 80 year old tree in South Philadelphia.  Some will make you laugh and others will make you go what?  Please help save open space in development projects and sign and share our petition today.

Here are some of the best:

Hey Suburbanites, welcome to Philly, land of concrete. If you want trees everywhere, move back to the Culdesac!

Want more trees. Move to Jersey! Worried about oxygen. Get rid of the factories. Car exhaust. Ride a bike.

If you’re stupid enough to live in an urban environment you should have to take a bus to see a tree.

Really?! Wildlife?!!!! Rabid pigeons? Rats? Roaches… Progress

Other comments for or against were items that one could discuss and debate.  We have learned a lot from all sides and perspectives.

The land of concrete one inspired the cartoon.

Hey look we missed a green spot...more concrete please
Hey look we missed a green spot…more concrete please

Please don’t forget to sign and share our petition to save small open spaces in new developments in Philadelphia.

Dating the Tree alongside the Neighborhood

History from 1962 recorded with our Tree

Long before this issue with the tree and the development came along we had found the picture of the tree in a 1962 photo posted by the  Here you can see the tree and even in 1962 it was pretty big and we estimate at least 20 years old.  During our walks around the neighborhood, many older residents have said they remember the tree from when they were kids and they are in their 80’s. Permission was granted by to share these images with you.  The picture below can be found at

Tree in 1962 on manton and 2nd
Tree in 1962 on Manton and 2nd

Neighbors commented during our petition walk about that they remember swinging on the old tree in the 60’s and landing on old mattresses in the empty lot.  We are hoping to get some stories for another post.

Here are some additional pictures from around the neighborhood in 1962.

Please don’t forget to sign and share our petition to save small open spaces in new developments in Philadelphia.

The Tree Brings Neighbors Out for a Night Out

Neighbors and Friends Out for a Night Out Under the Tree and a Movie

Trees can be amazing neighborhood builders.  Our efforts to discuss development, open space, zoning, trees and development have brought out the neighbors for a night out.  On Saturday, July 23, 2016 about 30 plus neighbors and friends sat with the tree in the background and had Ice Treats and watched the movie The Lorax.

Everyone loved the movie night and we got more signatures from friends and neighbors for the petition.

A special Thanks goes out to the Friends of Jefferson Park ( for loaning the equipment and Chris of D’Emilio’s Old World Ice Treats for stopping by and providing Ice Treats.  It is great when we can support local neighborhood business (

We learned a lot about holding block parties and getting a permit for the party. We included a link to Philadelphia’s online Block party permitting application

Some key points is that the weekends are easier to get and cost less than weekdays and that the signature for the permit has to live on the block.  Owning the corner property does not count.  Everyone on the block was great and very supportive of the event and pretty much all signed the petition.  We only missed people if they were not home.  We also learned that even the Friends of the Parks have to get permits for their events.  Go figure that one out!

Why the Lorax?

Well, when we were researching the movie “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn”, we saw this movie The Lorax and it was a perfect movie.  From Wikiepedia (

The Lorax is a children’s book written by Dr. Seuss. It chronicles the plight of the environment and the Lorax, who speaks for the trees against the Once-ler. As in most Dr. Seuss works, most of the creatures mentioned are original to the book.

The book is commonly recognized as a fable concerning the danger corporate greed poses to nature, using the literary element of personification to give life to industry as the Once-ler and the environment as The Lorax.

This was perfect movie for adults and kids showing how greed and over development can easily wipe all the trees off the neighborhood.

Here is a clip link:

If you are interested in playing movies for public consumption there are basically two places to go to and you have to purchase the movie license for the night.

We got the Lorax license to play the movie from (

We are still thinking about the other movie and that can be licensed from Criterion Pictures USA (

Please don’t forget to sign and share our petition to save small open spaces in new developments in Philadelphia.

Value of Small Gardens in Tiny Houses

Small gardens are now the in-thing to use in marketing and sales ads for tiny homes and small living spaces .

With people feeling like they paid too much for their homes, having a small piece of garden is an oasis in a sea of concrete and stucco.  We were walking along South and 2nd Streets the other night and noticed all the Real Estate images that contained gardens and patios in their sales pictures in the show room windows.

The city of Philadelphia calls for open space to be a part of any building project.  In the Philadelphia Zoning there is a RSA-5 requirement of 9 ft per Zoning Code Table 14-701-1 which reduces to 5 ft per note 7 for lots of 45 ft or less in depth.  Note 7 says: In the RSA-5 district, the minimum rear yard depth for lots less than 45 ft. in depth shall be 5 ft. for the first 12 ft. of building height. Portions of buildings above 12 ft. shall comply with the minimum rear yard depth as set forth in Table 14-701-1.


table 14-701-1

Also in the International Building Codes (IBC.2009) accepted by the State of PA and City of Philadelphia, Section 1206 Yard or Courts: 1206.2 Yards shall not be less than 3 ft in width for building two stories or less. Increase 1 ft for each additional story.

Yards help allow light and air to flow in to our homes and the building code was written with that in mind.

Roof decks across South Philly to escape the confines of small space living.

roof decks
roof decks with our tree providing some greenery for the view

Even cities like Japan cherish their small gardens.

Small Garden in Japan
Small Garden in Japan

Locally Real Estate agents will add the garden plug in a second.

full real estate sign
full real estate sign
full real estate sign w garden2
full real estate sign w garden promotion

Please don’t forget to sign and share our petition to save small open spaces in new developments in Philadelphia.

Tree of heaven – AILANTHUS – the Junk Yard Dog of Trees

Easy to hate, but very easy to Love.

The Ailanthus is a rough tree to kill and is probably why it is considered a weed.  They spread fast.  However, back in the day they were considered ornamental trees. But things change. In New York, this type of tree had for decades been the centerpiece of the sculpture garden at the Noguchi Museum in Queens.  From the article “A Tree That Survived a Sculptor’s Chisel Is Chopped Down” by GLENN COLLINS,MARCH 27, 2008 in the New York Times (

“It was a survivor, always there,” Ms. Rychlak said of the junkyard dog of a tree. The ailanthus, an invasive species brought to the United States from China, is currently designated a “noxious weed” by the United States Department of Agriculture. Given its offensive odor, it has won such epithets as “stink tree” and “ghetto palm,” thriving despite neglect, water deprivation and even physical abuse.


But the Chinese call it Tree of Heaven, and have long found its leaves, bark and wood useful in traditional medicine. And this ailanthus was spared by Noguchi when, in 1975…

“Ailanthus is about survival, and grows where no other tree dares grow, even in polluted soil,” said Mitch Cope, an artist with the collective. He added that the tree “is easy to hate, and just as easy to fall in love with.”

Another article

I would have to agree with Mitch Cope’s quote, it is easy to hate but it is very easy to fall in love with.

easy to love tree
easy to love tree

As many commentators have said, the tree is a tough one to kill and you have to dig deep into the ground to get the roots.  It is not a little expense to do so especially in such a confined space.  So we say, let it live until it has lived out its life and then we will do it soundly; much like they did at the Noguchi Museum in Queens.  However, we will have to take it to below ground, because the developers would just chop it again.  Plus add to that, the cost of repairing the brick wall and patio work that would have to be done.  This endeavor should not be done just for the sake of doing so. We hope the developer realizes the costs to do this and the choice they make on their own.

The tree’s annual rings revealed its age to be 75. But even as a stump, the Noguchi tree may have the final say. “The ailanthus is well known for regenerating from its roots,” Ms. Dixon said. “If it revives, the original could be here again, as a symbol for the museum.”

tree trunk in small space kissing the neighbors garage
tree trunk in small space kissing the neighbors garage

Please don’t forget to sign and share our petition to save small open spaces in new developments in Philadelphia.

Bumble Bees in the Garden – It would be Cool to make Honey

While in the garden today, there was lots of Bee action.  Today, I mainly saw Bumble Bees and a flew wasps/yellow jackets.  I wish I saw some honey bees.

Here is a video:

I remember seeing this youtube video below on facebook awhile ago.  Wouldn’t it be cool to set up a bee hive in Philly.  I bet the veggies would love it.  I wonder if it really works and if I could set one up in the City of Philadelphia?

Please don’t forget to sign and share our petition to save small open spaces in new developments in Philadelphia.

Gardens on Philadelphia Vacant Lots

With all this muckety muck going on about zoning and use permits and such, we did some research on vacant lots, licenses and gardens and we found this, under Philadelphia Code, Title 9, CHAPTER 9-3900. PROPERTY LICENSES AND OWNER ACCOUNTABILITY:

§ 9-3904. Vacant Lot License.
(1) Required.
(a) The owner of any lot on which no structure is built and no productive activity has been conducted with the owner’s permission for at least the past three (3) months shall obtain a Vacant Lot License.
(b) Exceptions. No license is required for the following:
(i) Vacant lots contiguous to and in common ownership with a vacant lot that has a current vacant lot license. This exception shall include building lots in common ownership within an approved subdivision, provided there is a current vacant lot license for the subdivision tract.
(ii) Vacant lots contiguous to or separated by a driveway from a building where there is common ownership of the lot and the building. This exception includes a contiguous lot owned and maintained by the abutting property owner as a side yard.
(iii) A lot that is continuously maintained as a garden.

The link to the code is here$fn=default.htm$3.0$vid=amlegal:philadelphia_pa$anc=JD_9-3904

My favorite line is under exceptions paragraph (iii).  So I guess Philadelphia is pro-garden after all. 🙂

We are not lawyers, but the code says what it says. I wonder if they know this?

The Tree of Heaven Nature’s Gardening Clock

The Tree of Heaven (Ailanthus altissima) is admittedly a very tricky tree to maintain.  We have been maintaining our for many years now.  I have to say, it loves to create seedlings.  The Tree has a long Philadelphia connection.  From

Sprouts from the first tree-of-heaven in North America, planted in Philadelphia’s Bartram Botanical Garden 1784, still existed at the turn of the 21st century


In Philadelphia, tree-of -heaven sparked the interest of amateur and professional horticulturists alike as a desirable and unique shade and ornamental tree for the gardens of larger home and farm landscapes

I have to admit it is a great shade tree and I can understand why people used it in cities where gardens were small and limited.

So why do I call it the gardening clock.  If you get lazy at keeping your garden or yard cleaned and trimmed, this definitely reminds you of your gardening duties.  You will start seeing little sprouts.  I think this might be why people in Europe and America were so fascinated with the tree.  They would see it in gardens in China that were well maintained.  What they did not realize is that, it had to be done.  So the tree became its own promoter because the gardens were so beautiful.

This tree does keep its owner on their toes, but it rewards with shade, filter light and a great wind block.

Tree sprouts when not maintained
Tree sprouts when not maintained