Tag Archives: indoor

Preparing to Overwinter Your Herbs

August 29, 2013 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

September and October can be some of the most rewarding months for a gardener. Plants are fully grown and pumping out as many fruits as they can before the first frost. It’s like they know their time is up.

But it doesn’t have to be the end for some plants if you know how to help them out, according to Tony Cirian of Cirian’s Farmers Market on 50th and Leavenworth. Most herbs, for example, are as simple to grow indoors as they are outside. So if you’ve developed a taste for fresh basil on your tomatoes or tarragon in your scrambled eggs, don’t despair the coming winter. These tips will keep you in fresh herbs no matter the cold:

  • Let annuals go to seed. Annuals, such as basil, cilantro, chervil, borage, and dill, are going to seed by now (and probably have been ever since temperatures started soaring). Collect the seeds and plant them in pots right away. Set the pots inside under a grow lamp or in a very warm windowsill. Keep them just moist until you start to see shoots.
  • Salvage smaller mature annuals. Dill, cilantro, and chervil are too tall to transplant easily and probably don’t have many useable leaves left anyway. Cirian says that you can pot up smaller annuals such as basil and parsley (actually a biennial) if they still have leaves to harvest; they’ll last a bit longer if you bring them inside, but they will die eventually. “You might get an extra month or so out of them,” he says. But by that time, the seeds you planted will have germinated. You’ll only have a small gap, if any, without fresh herbs.

Know the needs of your perennials. Perennials are essential additions to an herb garden, but they can vary in their care:

  • Rosemary, for example, is technically a tender perennial but isn’t usually hardy enough to endure our Zone 5 winters, according to Cirian. You can attempt to pot up the entire plant and bring it inside. Cirian does warn that the plant will get a bit woody and lanky over the winter. “It’s just not getting the sunshine and warmth to be really vibrant.”
  • Tarragon is another perennial that benefits from potting up over the winter for extra protection. It can be handy to divide a root clump, leave a few plants outdoors, and just bring one inside. (Note that Russian tarragon is unfortunately more commonly sold, though it tastes more like a weed than the licorice flavor of French tarragon.)
  • Other perennials, such as chives, common thyme (thymus vulgaris), sage, oregano, and lavender, are easily left in place throughout the winter and will come back nicely next spring. To enjoy them inside as well, root thyme, sage, oregano, and lavender cuttings in pots. Keep the cuttings moist until you see new growth. You can add chives to your winter kitchen by digging up a clump and dividing into pots.
  • Some perennial herbs can be invasive and so should only ever be grown in pots. A large pot of mint or lemon balm adds a fresh smell to your patio and can easily be moved inside before the first frost.

To make the most of your indoor herb garden, use potting soil (never garden dirt) and only water once a week. “You don’t want that root system to rot,” Cirian says. He adds that there’s not much need to fertilize over the winter, as “potting soil already has a slow-release food.” Just make sure light and warmth are in good supply, and that’s all it takes to keep yourself in fresh herbs all winter long.

 

Get Your Game On!

June 20, 2013 by

Staying fit can be a real challenge for a busy mom, particularly when she spends a good chunk of her day behind a desk at work or playing chauffeur to active kids. So, too, can finding time for socializing with friends, who often have similarly hectic schedules that make planning a get-together nearly impossible.

Committing to play in a weekly beach volleyball league is an ideal way busy moms can ensure they get regular, quality exercise time in the outdoors, while at the same time enjoying a few hours socializing with teammates. It’s scheduled “me time” with physical fitness built in!

The Digz, a beach volleyball facility at 4428 S. 140th St. in Omaha, is a popular destination for many who enjoy the bump, set, spike sport. The sports arena features eight outdoor sand volleyball courts and, beginning this summer, four indoor/outdoor sand courts that can be enclosed during the colder months.

The Digz offers sand volleyball leagues year-round. New sessions of six-on-six recreational co-ed leagues, and four-on-four competitive leagues start every eight to nine weeks. Games are scheduled Sunday through Friday from 6:30-9:30 p.m. Courts are lit for nighttime play, and the facility also features a sports bar and grill, so players can catch a bite before or after a game or spend a bit more adult time catching up over a beverage.

Manager Mary Nabity says Digz sees about 400-600 players each night for league play during its summer session, which runs through Aug. 11. “We’ve been open now about eight years,” she says. “People really enjoy it. It can get crazy-busy here some nights, but it’s a lot of fun.”

Sempeck’s Bowling and Entertainment Center, at 20902 Cumberland Rd. in Elkhorn, offers its Sandbaggers Beach Volleyball in three sessions: spring leagues run April 21-June 20; summer leagues run June 21-Aug. 20; and fall leagues run Aug. 21-Oct. 15. Recreational, intermediate, and power play leagues are all offered, as are women-only and co-ed team play. Games run Monday through Friday from 6:30 p.m. on, and on Sundays beginning at 4:30 p.m.

The Sandbaggers’ facility, which opened in spring 2012, features six outdoor courts, all with nighttime lighting and automated scoring. A nearby playground allows older kids to enjoy some outdoor playtime during Mom’s matches (though it’s unsupervised). A horseshoe court and beanbag games are nearby as well. After games, Sempeck’s large, outdoor patio offers guests full-menu service and features live entertainment on Friday nights in the summer.

Owner Steve Sempeck says more than 180 teams were registered to play in the center’s spring leagues this year—that’s double last year’s team count. “We anticipate our summer leagues will fill to capacity with 275 teams,” he adds. “That’s about 1,500 players.”

Sempeck says Sandbaggers attracts a wide array of players. “Everyone from young singles just out of college to old guys like me in their 50s,” he jokes. “The majority are here for the recreational leagues and the social aspects of play. But we do have a power league—two on two, just like in the Olympics—and they’re in it competitively. They’re great to watch.”

This spring, Omahan Vicki Voet joined a beach volleyball league after a long absence from the game. “I just started back in April,” she says. “I had been in a league about 20 years ago with my husband, Perry, at the Ranch Bowl—before kids.”

Now an empty nester, Voet says she was looking for a way to reconnect with her interests and friends.

“I have been trying to find myself since the kids left for college,” Voet shares. “Volleyball is something I’ve always enjoyed…it’s very competitive and requires endurance, and exercise is very important to me. It’s great because [playing again] allows me to be with my friends and socialize at the same time. And I enjoy playing as a team.”

Since joining the spring league, Voet says she’s thoroughly enjoyed the experience. “The weather is usually good, and I love being outdoors. And it’s something I look forward to each week. We all just get out there to have fun!”

The Digz
4428 S. 140th St.
402-896-2775
thedigz.com

Sempeck’s Bowling & Entertainment Center
20902 Cumberland Dr.
402-289-4614
sempecks.com

Tomato Tomäto

December 25, 2012 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Tomato Tomäto, a year-round, indoor farmers market whose name plays off the debate over how to pronounce the name of the versatile fruit (Yes, it’s a fruit, not a vegetable), is a must-stop-shop for many in the Omaha area who enjoy fresh produce, eggs, nuts, many organic goods, and more.

Tucked back from street view near 156th and Bob Booser Drive (just north of West Center Road) in West Omaha, the store carries products from dozens of vendors, all of them local. However you say it, it’s a win-win for the entire Omaha community.

Jody Fritz and her husband, Jeremy, were no strangers to the local farmers markets. As regular weekend representatives of Jody’s father-in-law’s O’Neill, Neb., farm, Garden Fresh Vegetables, the couple got to know the other vendors pretty well.20120904_bs_9299 copy

As the weather grew cooler and the outdoor markets closed up shop, the couple realized they and their fellow vendors still had plenty to offer would-be consumers. “There still is a lot out there when the markets end, so we kind of came up with this idea,” says Fritz. That idea was to utilize the front portion of the Garden Fresh Vegetables’ Omaha warehouse as a year-round farmers market. Vendors bring their products into the shop and set their own prices, and Tomato Tomäto receives a commission off of everything that sells.

“We didn’t really have any capital to start, so that’s where the consignment idea came from, and it’s worked out well,” explains Fritz. “Consumers pay a little less than they would at Whole Foods…and the producers make more money than they do selling wholesale, so it’s kind of a nice middle place for everybody.”

“We’ll have winter squashes and greens that grow in greenhouses—lettuces, cucumbers, tomatoes, some peppers, those kinds of things—all year round.” – Jody Fritz, co-owner

Since the store opened nearly five years ago, the number of vendors has grown from five to 100. “As more vendors come in, each kind of has their own following, so then all their customers come in and they become customers of a lot of the other vendors,” says Fritz.

Products range from-fresh produce, eggs, milk, and meats (farm fresh chicken, beef, fish, ostrich, and more) to local wines, salsas, soup starters, breads, and pastas, just to name few. “There are always a lot of things going on.” All inventory is fresh and local; organic, as well as gluten-free, options are available.20120904_bs_9295 copy

Regarding the year-round produce selection, Fritz says that, understandably, there is an ebb and flow throughout the year. “We’ll have winter squashes and greens that grow in greenhouses—lettuces, cucumbers, tomatoes, some peppers, those kinds of things—all year round.”

But Fritz concedes that because Tomato Tomäto specializes in locally produced foods, there are certain items that her store will never be able to offer her customers. “We won’t ever have bananas in Nebraska,” she says through a chuckle. “I get that there are limitations to the place, but I’m just going to embrace those rather than trying to be something we aren’t. I can’t compromise…there are so many foods you can eat in season.”

The colder months bring with them opportunities for customers to order free-range, organic turkeys for Thanksgiving, as well as buy homemade holiday pies and find locally produced spirits to ring in the New Year and celebrate Valentine’s Day. “There’s always a season for everything, it seems,” says Fritz.

Alyssa LeGrand has been a customer of Tomato Tomäto since the market opened and says the quality of the produce is fantastic. “I like to support local farmers and anybody with their own business,” she says. Appreciating the competitive prices, LeGrand says she often stops in on a weekly basis.20120904_bs_9291 copy

On the supplier side, Ryan Pekarek, owner of Pekarek Produce in Dwight, Neb., has been bringing his produce to Tomato Tomäto for three years and says he looks forward to continuing to work with Fritz in the future. “[Tomato Tomäto] is nice because you come back with an empty truck every time.”

In addition to the market side of the business, Tomato Tomäto also runs a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Program in which customers can become members of the CSA by purchasing shares in the program and, every week, receive fresh produce and local products. “I just didn’t have enough room for everything people wanted to bring in, so we were trying to find a way for the farmers to bring their food here and to get it into the hands of people quickly.”

For some, this indoor farmers market may just be the best-kept secret in Omaha. For others, specifically the approximately 100 vendors that supply a wide variety of products to Tomato Tomäto’s devoted customers, it’s the answer to their prayers.

Tomato Tomäto
2634 S. 156th Cir.
402-933-0893
tomatotomato.org