Escaping The City for a Day of Apple Picking

I settled in Washington, DC after finishing undergrad for one reason. “It’s the perfect balance of southern open space and northern urban living,” I told all my family and friends back home in Atlanta. But after a few winters in the capital city, even that perfect balance was enough to make me miss my southern homeland.

Every summer in my childhood, I was sent to live in rural Greenville, Alabama with my grandmother. The days were long; the hours moving slower than the molasses on my granny’s homemade biscuits. I passed the time not by watching YouTube or IM’ing friends (mostly because there was no internet access,) but by shelling purple-hull peas, shucking corn, and riding in the back of my uncle’s pickup truck. 

Handy Chef Lex Black People Apple Picking
Handy Chef Lex, and friends, picking apples.

As an adult, summers don’t feel so long anymore. Instead of running through fields of bright collard greens and tomatoes, I spend more time running through metro stations. In childhood I abhorred the sweaty boredom of those slow Alabama summers. But now I purposefully spend my time and money travelling to pick vegetables and play in dirt.

The Farm

The abundance of “Pick-Your-Own” farms in the DC region is like a well-kept secret. With so many options to pick from, I’ve been loyal to one farm for four years; Larriland Farms in Woodbine, MD. Larriland is about an hour outside of DC. But the trek is all a part of the fun. Every year, I round up some friends, rent a car, and drive until I’m surrounded by apple trees.

Larriland Farms is the ultimate autumn escape. Local families fill up the fields and the Red Barn Farm Market. The farm offers hay rides, a straw maze, food trucks, and the friendliest staff around! The first time I visited Larriland Farms, I came only seeking apples but was delighted to find other fruits and vegetables ripe for picking as well. Needless to say, I am a huge fan of the produce and festivities at Larriland Farms.

This Year’s Haul

Larriland Farm Apple Cider
  • 1 bag Spinach
  • 1 bag Kale
  • 7 lbs Apples (Stayman and Braeburn mix)
  • 1 bag Fresh Kettle Corn
  • 1/2 gallon Apple Cider

Be on the lookout for new apple recipes from The Handy Chef, as I figure out what to do with seven pounds of apples.

Alexis Henry Handy chef Lex Apple Picking
Handy Chef Lex picking kale.

Will you go apple picking this autumn?

How (and Why) I Take Care of My Indoor Plants

In classic millennial fashion, I proudly call myself a Plant Mom. While I don’t have any roommates, I am accompanied by my many indoor plants. I’ve had most of my plants for over a year. Needless to say, they were all long overdue for some TLC.

Lex The Handy Chef. Black lifestyle blog
Me, holding my Snake Plant

For the past few weeks, many of my indoor plants started drooping and browning. My largest plant is a **corn plant that sits on my living room floor. It was losing life with each passing day. I was confounded by what could be killing my plants. I hadn’t changed my watering schedule or light levels. Then it dawned on me, it’d been a full year and I had not fertilized or re-potted my plants!

So I took a trip to Home Depot to buy a few new pots, potting soil, and all-purpose plant fertilizer. Then I spent the afternoon carefully re-potting my plants.

**Okay, the corn plant died. But I stealthily replaced it with another from Home Depot.

Why I Keep Indoor Plants

Lex the Handy Chef. Indoor plants

For me, and droves of other millennials, caring for plants is a way of grounding my life. I work in a field where everything I create is digital. After working all day, I have no finished product that I can physically touch. With most of my day happening behind a screen, plants provide a tangible outlet.

When properly watered and cared for, they liven up my space, freshen my air, and bring me joy. When neglected, they droop as if literally disappointed. This is real; it’s concrete. And having these plants’ lives depend on me is an anchor to a reality that doesn’t require software updates, but may require some debugging.

I grew up surrounded by lush greenery, often eating things directly from the soil instead of the grocery store. Moving to an urban landscape has been rewarding in every possible way. But I miss that connection to the Earth. So I keep my living room full of as many plants as I can keep alive. While I haven’t started growing my own vegetables yet, I’m excited for the small amount of dirt that I do get to play in.

How many house plants do you have?