Video #9 – Our Garden Tour & Swiss Chard Stuffed BBQ Pork Loin

It all started with a potted herb back in 1996. Then it became two herbs, then three, then what ever potted plants we were able to cram into the 10’x5′ patio of our second story, 800 sq. ft apartment, which we shared with another couple. Times were tight back then, both financially and space wise, but we still made sure that we made time, money and space for our common love of gardening. Literally, we dragged home all and anything that had roots, leaves, flowers and branches and filled this ridiculously tiny patio to the brim with plants, making it our container garden oasis. Two years and a U-Haul truck full of potted plants later, we all took root to new living quarters, equipped with an extra bathroom all to ourselves, but still, with the same, pygmy patio for our terra cotta and porcelain potted family of plants.

Our Patio Container Garden, 1996

Finally, six years ago, after many years and long hours of work, saving and putting up the the general public’s crap at work, we finally moved ourselves into a house. Yes! No more sharing common walls, no more neighbors banging on their ceiling (our floor) with a broom stick, their bathroom wall (our living room wall) to tell us that it’s past the 10 o’clock courtesy curfew! This time, the house was equipped with a garage, a driveway (yes! no more street parking!), an extra shower and a backyard. An actual BACK-YARD with a rotting fence, a dead lawn, four dying fruit trees, and one “Charlie Brown” peach tree, which we were able to salvage. This precious, neglected outdoor space was screaming out for water, nurturing and love, which we were glad to surrender to, with abandon.

Finally, our very own backyard, 2002

For 2 straight years, we gave this garden everything we had, including our backs. We laid out a cobblestone pathway, one stone at a time, all 4,000 of them, throughout the garden, giving us the meandering, garden pathways that we’ve always seen in magazines, but could only dream about. Next, was the arduous task (as if laying a stone pathway wasn’t hard enough!) of tilling and conditioning our terrible CLAY SOIL with good draining soil, compost and anything else that would not choke our plants roots. We had many midnight episodes of shoveling yards full of new soil into the back yard, which at that time, our neighbors were watching us behind their window blinds, thinking we were preparing our garden to grow marijuana. Once the soil was a little better, we started to carve out sections of the garden to create our vegetable plots and our fruit trees to finally establish our edible garden oasis, our outdoor retreat, our ZEN sanctuary.

Garden Today, 2008

We do not have green thumbs by nature! Our thumbs are brown, but slowing turning green by trial and error. What we do have is the understanding that once two plants have died in that same spot, there must be something wrong with the soil? drainage? air flow? sunlight? you dumb-ass! It took us hundreds of dollars worth of DEAD plants and months of frustration to finally realize that some of what looked so pretty in the magazine and on TV just doesn’t grow in Southern California! So what we have now in the garden is starting to settle in, leaf out, bloom and fruit! Yes, all the nights of aching backs and dirty, cracked hands have paid off. With the exception replacing the wood fence with a 6 ft. high block wall, we did it all ourselves, one stone, one tree and one plant at a time.You can see the results here on the video.

No matter how small of a space you have, you can always start a garden. Having an single herb in a pot, a garden full of veggies or an orchard bursting fruit is all gratifying. To sow, grow and reap from your gardens bounty and beauty is priceless. So get out there and get your hands in the dirt!!


5 from 1 vote
Swiss Chard Stuffed Pork Loin Recipe
Total Time
45 mins

We created this “on the fly” as we were doing our “Garden” video and were quite pleased with the result. Unfortunately we didn’t measure anything as we were cooking, so the ingredients are approximations. However, this is one of those dishes which it is easy to cook everything to taste. Hope you enjoy it as much as we did.

Servings: 4 Servings
  • 4 Pork Loin Chops , or similar cut (@ 1″ thick)
Marinade Ingredients:
  • 4 cloves Garlic , crushed or minced
  • 1 Tablespoon Sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 teaspoon Ground Cumin
  • 2 Tablespoons Soy Sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Sesame Oil
  • 1/2 cup Grapeseed Oil
Stuffing Ingredients:
  • 6 Lrg. Swiss Chard Leaves , stems removed
  • 2-3 cloves Garlic , crushed
  • 2-3 Shallots , diced
  • 1/2 cup Pineapple , diced
  • 1 Tablespoon Grapeseed Oil
  • 1 Tablespoon Sesame Oil
  • Sea Salt
  • Fresh Cracked Black Pepper
  1. Combine marinade ingredients, then marinade pork for 30 min.
  2. Bring pot of water to boil, add sea salt to taste, then par-boil swiss chard for 3-5 minutes. Drain, place in a ice bath until cool, then drain again. Squeeze out excess water, then slice into 1″ pieces.
  3. Heat grapeseed oil in pan over medium-high heat, add garlic and shallots and saute for 1-2 minutes. Add swiss chard and sesame oil, saute for another minute or so, then add pineapple. Remove from heat and season with sea salt and pepper. Allow to cool a bit.
  4. Remove pork from marinade. Slice a pocket into pork that goes less than a 1/2″ from outer rims. Stuff cavity with swiss chard mixture, then place on a pre-heated BBQ. Grill approx. 4-5 minutes on each side, controlling BBQ heat so it isn’t overwhelmingly hot. Remove from grill & eat.
{ 70 comments… read them below or add one }
  1. chau

    Hi Todd & Diane,
    My family has recently bought a house, and we’re in the process of cosmeticizing the yards. The first place I go to for inspirations is your garden! (I’ve already seen this post back in ’08.) I’m currently looking for metal garden arches, like the ones you have in your garden, particularly an extra wide arch. Would please let me know where you got yours? I live in SoCal also.
    Thanks much!

    1. White on Rice Couple

      hi! we bought all our arches at Smith Hawken in costa mesa, but that location went out of business. You can still buy the arches at their online store. We just LOVE their arches! have fun!

  2. Eve

    We’re planning on starting our garden soon and I just loved watching your video. I am so inspired to expand our originally planned garden of lemons, tomatoes and basil into more varieties of veggies and fruits. I’m curious to where you got your plants/seeads? Could you recommend a reputable nursery? Have you purchased anything online? Hmm not sure if you’ll respond since this video is 2 yrs old. Anywhoo, I’d love to hear from you. Thanks for the inspiration!

    1. White on Rice Couple

      Good luck with your garden plans. Most of our plants come from a lot of different local nurseries, local gardeners, or grocery store cuttings of herbs. We’ve explored nurseries from San Diego to Santa Barbara. We’ve yet to find a nursery we didn’t like, no matter how simple, but each offers something slightly different so it just depends what you are looking for and what time of year it is. More often than not, it is a hidden discovery at a nursery, even occasionally the garden sections at home improvement stores, where we will find something we love. Same with seeds. Kitwana seeds are great for many asian vegetables, but the rest have been a huge medley of companies. Try, explore, and try again until you find what you love the most.

  3. RemerumpNeimi

    Many thanks!

  4. Dawn (KitchenTravels)

    I’m only about a year and half too late for your garden party, but I just had to comment on the great video! Amazing what you’ve done with all that empty space. I am inspired. Thanks so much for sharing a little bit of your home with us.

  5. Geno

    Very nice garden, thanks for sharing. I’m sure you inspire a lot of people into making their backyards more edible. I have a 1 yr. old manila mango given to me for father’s day and it had a nice starter growth so far. Hope it will fruit also. Will keep watching your videos.

  6. Jessica@FoodMayhem

    I’m in NY and this video makes me want to pack up and move to CA. I’ve sent it to my husband already with subject heading: can we move to CA?

  7. Louise

    Wonderful! So lovely that you both share this creative and energizing activity! I will be back to catch up on your posts.
    Love and peace in the garden


  8. npm

    hello, saw your garden video today. looking at the ‘before’ & ‘after’, it is just super amazing what you both have done and achieved through your dedication and creativity to turn an empty space into a lovely sanctuary full of fruits, flowers and greens. i truly admire the both of you! i feel so happy looking at your garden, altho’ i’m thousands of miles away!.

  9. Maricela Coronado

    Hi guys…………….just viewed ur garden video………………wow………’s just amazing.U’all did a great job with your herb and fruit and flowers…………..u have inspired me to start our own garden.We r in Texas,however,not too much grows down here with all the three digit temps.we have………but I am inspired by u’all and will have to start something in our backyard.Thanks guys for sharing.

  10. Christine D.

    WOW!!! I can see how much work and love you put into that garden. It’s so beautiful and full of life! I’m gonna show this to my parents later…they would just love it.

    Cute bullfrog! I haven’t seen mine in a few days…I hope that I didn’t overpower the pond with mosquito-eating bacteria dunks. 0_0

  11. Anjali

    I loved the tour, how it wants me to do all of this but my job keeps me moving from place to place. You are lucky guys 🙂

  12. finnyknits

    This recipe looked so good (and I have so much chard growing) that I had to make it.

    Thank you! it came out great!

    Also, you have cute dogs. Which has nothing to do with the recipe, but I have to shout out to the cute pooches.

  13. Andrea

    Wow, what a great garden (and video)! You’ve put so much work into your garden and now you can literally enjoy the fruits of it! My husband and boys were watching your video over my shoulder and they are very impressed! Thanks so much for sharing your garden with us and for another great entry for Grow Your Own!

  14. bee

    dear todd and diane,
    that was amazing to see how you tranformed the space in just six years. i am in awe.

    you truly inspire us.

  15. noobcook

    woah what a huge and beautiful garden!

  16. Kalyn

    Finally made it here to see the garden, which is really fantastic. I loved seeing the Vietnamese herbs especially.

  17. RecipeGirl

    How exciting to see the transition and transformation! I’m sure it’s something you really treasure. And yes, theoretically anyone can have a garden… if mysterious creatures don’t invade it. That’s my problem. Fortunately it looks like I’ll get a good crop of tomatoes though. Your dish looks great. I can just imagine hanging out in your backyard enjoying it with you guys 🙂

  18. Susan at Sticky,Gooey,Creamy,Chewy

    Holy Cow! You two live in the Garden of Eden! Or should I say the Garden of Eatin’? I am totally bowled over! Your garden is amazing! I’m heading out to the Farm & Garden tomorrow.

  19. White on Rice Couple

    Hi Everyone!! Thanks for watching the Garden Video! Look out for the garden BLOOPERS video soon too!

  20. aforkfulofspaghetti

    Well, the pork loin looks magnificent, but on this occasion I’m won over even more by your gorgeous garden… What a beautiful private paradise, the stuff of dreams! You must be so pleased with what you’ve achieved.

  21. Homecooked

    Wow….your garden is so beautiful…a real labour of love 🙂 Even the patio garden looks beautiful.Forgive me for my ignorance but are those pink flowers cherry blossoms ? They look very pretty.And the pork dish looks yummy!

  22. Tiina

    Your video is absolutely brilliant! Thanks for the laughs. 🙂 It was very nice to get a peek into your garden. It looks lovely.


  23. Pixie

    I think I shall now go and post a photo of my tiny pot of herbs. And weep!!!! Thanks so much for sharing your unbelievable gorgeous garden with all of us.

  24. dhanggit

    great garden you have there 🙂 i love all the photos and this recipe sounds delicious;

    ps,i’ll check the video later my baby is still sleeping dont want to wake her up:-)

  25. Simply...Gluten-free

    I can attest – your garden is spectacular. Your stuffed pork is making my mouth water so much I think I am drooling all over the key board!

  26. Cynthia

    I love this post. Makes me want to come and live in LA. 🙂

  27. Jessica

    Nice garden!!

  28. Sandie (Inn Cuisine)

    I now have a serious case of garden envy!!

    We can’t grow all of that lovely produce here in the Midwest (without an amazing greenhouse anyway…) and if we could…I would (at least try!) Your garden is phenomenal and I’m crazy about your winding, zen-like path path weaving through the whole thing!

    Fabulous work you guys, and congrats on another fun video. Your shows, photos (and now garden shots) always make me smile!!

  29. Mike

    That garden is spectacular, especially after seeing what you started with. Not to mention the pork loin–I’ll be right over! 😉

  30. ivy

    You guys are fantastic. I enjoyed every moment of the video and every inch of your garden. Lovely, lovely, lovely and this is exactly how my dream garden is. You should call it Garden of Eden. I always want to grow some herbs in pots (as I live in an apartment) but don’t know how much water they need, I’ll probably drown them.
    Oh before I forget. I laughed with the part you said in your post that your neighbours thought that you were preparing the garden to grow marijuana :)) I forgot all about the stuffed pork. Yummy.

  31. Nan

    I’m so impressed with your Garden of Eden! Last Saturday the mister actually transplanted a WEED because he thought it was a real plant…we not only don’t have green thumbs, we have dumb thumbs! I hadn’t noticed your posts before on Bahn Mi….and I was thrilled to read them! The mister travels to Vietnam twice a year for business and he is always telling me about this great sandwich he had…but he could never remember the name of it and at every Vietnamese restaurant we’ve been to we haven’t seen anything like it on the menu! You posted the names of 3 places here in Seattle where we could find one so that’s what we’re doing for lunch today! We’re going to all three for a taste test!! I’ll let you know what we find out! THANKS!!! They sound delish!

  32. Luna Pier Cook

    Oh, sure … as though that garden would ever grow here in Michigan outside of a greenhouse …

    And do we need to chat about this image you have of yourselves of being “anti-social”???

  33. veron

    What an amazing garden!!So encouraging to start my own!

  34. toontz

    Wow, beautiful garden! My husband has the green thumb in the family, I am totally jealous. It is very hard to garden in the Dairy State. We haven’t done well with vegetables, just so-so with flowers and herbs. Our soil is very rocky, and we have a lot of dry shade to deal with! But we keep trying! 🙂

  35. Renee

    You two ROCK!! *smile* And your garden??? THE most beautiful thing I’ve EVER seen! (And I thought B and I were doing good to get our tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, rosemary, peas and beans in the ground! *grin*)

  36. Cakelaw

    Thanks so much for posting about your amazing garden and how it began! It proves that if and when I move back into a flat with a balcony that I can still have a garden – even with limited space and a definite brown thumb! I have looked at the photos of all of your wonderful garden produce – I especially love your collection of citrus, not to mention pomegranates and dragon fruit (which are considered very exotic here and hence are quite expensive). Finally, thanks so much for the package that you sent me – it was a wonderful surprise, and really made my day. I had so much fun opening it, and I know I will enjoy the contents (especially the chocolate!!).

  37. matt wright

    Holy crap!!!! I want you garden. Badly. All I have is rosemary is sage growing 🙁

    You guys have to get your own cooking show. This video was awesome! Great to see your characters coming through! Great stuffed pork too.
    OK.. so is that really your garden, or did you sneak into someone elses and shoot some video really quick? 😀

  38. Warda

    Gorgeous, gorgeous and mostly fun video EVAAAH!.
    I want it all: the figs , lemon, tangerine, pears, herbs, pomegranate, tomatoes, carrots, eggplant, figs, figs and mooooore figs.
    But you can keep the pork and “Adam” ;),

  39. swirlingnotions

    What a gorgeous garden! You guys have to feel SO great about creating such a place of beauty on your own. My husband and I gutted our yard (crappy grass and concrete) and relandscaped with our own four hands too, and I know how backbreaking (literally) it can be, and how satisfying once it’s done . . . oh so many months and years later.

    Tasty looking recipe too! Thanks!

  40. Big Boys Oven

    Gosh this is awesome, I am so jealous of your beautiful and yet so refine garden as we can’t have a garden as we stay in a condominium. 🙂 Love the way the both of you plan your plants in your secret garden. Gosh this is something to die for, worth the hard work! well done mates!

  41. Marvin

    Holy cow your garden is HUGE! The bellini tree and margarita tree look especially good;) And manila mangoes?! Can’t wait to see how those turn out.

  42. canarygirl

    Wow. Just, WOW! What an incredible garden you have! All those luscious fruits, vegetables and herbs! It’s like a paradise at home. That loin recipe looks delicious as well. 😀

  43. Christine

    I really liked how you showed the before and after pics of your garden — what an evolution!

    About visiting you next time….well, the thing is…I’m debating whether I should tell you — I might prefer to show up in th middle of the night and run off with all your garden booty 🙂

    You guys sure you don’t wanna come to Ann Arbor? I hear the crappy weather and lack of good Viet restaurants is great for patience- building 😉

  44. Kitt

    Holy cow! I can’t decide what I’m most green with envy over. Probably the rosemary hedge and citrus trees.

    You have turned that desert into an Eden! Sure gives me hope for that big empty new yard of mine. (And makes me miss my old garden that got my best 10 years of gardening energy!)

    Did you have a master plan from the beginning or did you just add things as they occurred to you?

  45. Nina

    Gardening is backbreaking stuff. We got a landscaper in at first, but now it is hard labor to keep thing going. I am at a dead end with my herb garden – I did not like the design and are now starting from scratch.

  46. ovenhaven

    Oh gosh, you have such a beautiful garden! I love the toad sneaking in 😛

  47. Antonio Tahhan

    can I pitch a tent in your garden and move in?! You have the coolest garden EVER! I’ll make sure the basil-killer/tomato-killer doesn’t strike 😉

  48. melissa

    What a fabulous post. Another one. 🙂 I’d love to start some herbs on my patio, but have been hesitant. Thanks for more motivation.

    …though fresh herbs or no (and I have “fresh” in containers in my refrigerator ha!) I have organic swiss chard and pork loin. I think I know what I’m cooking later in the week.

  49. Toni

    WAAAAAAA!!!! I wish I had a huge garden like yours!! But I DO have a small one, which gets a little bit of sunlight. That’s really my biggest problem – light. But herbs will forgive just about anything, so I’ve got rosemary, thyme, basil and lavender. I think that’s it.

    LOVED your video! Next time I head up to L.A., I’ll be making a point to stop along the way. That pork looked fabulous, but so would anything Vietnamese. 😉

  50. richa

    great job on the garden, guys!
    very well done 🙂

  51. We Are Never Full

    we’re on our way… i’m leaving brooklyn now and we should be to your place to party in this kick-ass beautiful garden around 7pm on thursday. see you then!

    ps: better have some of that pork waiting for us.

  52. Schnookie

    Thanks so much for sharing your beautiful garden here! You’ve done such an amazing job creating such a gorgeous space. I wish I could grow citrus like yours here in New Jersey… but I guess I’ll just have to be jealous from afar. 😀 (Oh, and from now on I’m calling our baby peach trees “Bellini trees”!)

  53. kate

    ok !!! after seeing that … i’m moving in with you guys. I hope u have an extra room. I’ll water your plants for u everyday and walk your dogs too !
    theres no way i can beat that garden of yours. Love the strawberry arches, love the zen – buddha statues, love the curvy pathways , and basically i love it all ! u should’nt have shown me your garden … now i’m gonna stalk you guys ! .. ooh those blood oranges …i’m comming !

  54. kate

    Now thats what i call a well organized garden. Well done you guys, i gotta get my gloves on now. U’ve inspired me to clean up my messy space and start digging n sowing . Now i jut gotta get back n see the video.

  55. katy

    so impressive! i’ve never had a green thumb at all, but i am growing tomatoes in my apt for the first time ever, and love them! i can’t wait to (someday) have a real backyard!

  56. Lisa

    I can see the video now! What a beautiful garden. There was lots of love and labor that went into that land and it shows. I am jealous of all the fruit (and drink) trees! I have been gardening all my life, but never had the variety that you guys have. What a treasure! Thanks for sharing it with us.

  57. Donald

    Great pix (as usual) and vid.

    Now that loin is fantastic!!

    I would have never thought of stuffing pork with chard. BRILLIANT!!

  58. Denise & Lenny

    GREAT video, love the garden, we are jealous! And Lenny is drooling all over the table over the grilled pork, damn you Todd! We are looking forward to hanging out with you both, in a couple days! Hmmm, a video, that could be a very fun possibility. What do you have in mind?

  59. Wandering Chopsticks

    Yay! Finally the garden tour! 🙂 I can’t believe what all you two have packed into every inch of your garden space. Love the meandering brick paths. I want to do that! Your garden has given me so many ideas for my own space. Don’t think I’m a stalker if I replay the video again and again, OK? 😉

  60. evil chef mom

    Yea! Rice for me! Sous Chef Nancy wants to come over and show off her soccer moves and play with Todd and ‘the plant killer’. I want try some of that bellini and margarita tree. Your garden is truely spectacular and I love that you don’t a 10,000 dollar bbq sitting in your back yard! How soon can I move in?

  61. Jen Yu

    YAY! This was the best video EVAR! It has the PUPPIES, your GARDEN, your smiling FACES, awesome FOOD, and almost Todd’s NEKKED BUM 😉 Loved it. Thanks for putting the tour together, I feel like I’m almost there. Sierra is such a cutie and I was really happy to see Dante romping about with you guys. Good times!

  62. evil chef mom

    Ahhh! what do you mean no rice for you (video is no longer available)?! No fair!

  63. grace

    i’m not sure which is better looking, that fabulous pork or the lovely patio garden. i’ll probably lean toward the pork, just because i can eat it now, rather than later. 🙂


  64. Lisa

    Video is no longer available?? Booo! Hiss!

    Lydia – I thought it was just me!

  65. Erin

    Gorgeous post! I’m still a little weary of planting anything on my balcony just yet in New England. It’s pretty frigid at night and I’d hate for my little baby herbs to freeze. Looking forward to your video tutorial. It sounds like a lot of fun!

  66. Lydia (The Perfect Pantry)

    Boo hoo — the video link isn’t working this morning, and I so wanted to see your garden!

  67. MyKitchenInHalfCups

    Great tour and history of your garden and the process! We really enjoy our back yard tremendously, surprises us sometimes how much. And growing things just does seem right.
    Your pork loin just seems right as well. Most excellent.

  68. Manggy

    Hahaha! Yes, I blame her too! Just kidding 🙂 I might be back sooner than you think! And this time the lure of Vegas won’t get to me! (er, hopefully I’ll have more time.) If for anything, I need to participate in your fun barbecue! (nice touch on the pineapple– I didn’t see that one coming. Very ingenious 🙂
    Whoa, it’s been ages since I’ve seen a toad.. You guys sure have made a wonderful place for yourselves there. I’ve seen the bloopers from the last video– I was beginning to think you *did* plant a fun weed in your garden! Kidding! 😛

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