Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Merry Christmas to all  Posted by Picasa

Heading South

Tomorrow we head off on our “southern sleigh ride.” There will be a night at Walatoola, Christmas in Chattanooga, the new home of friends in Pell City, AL and then settling in with family in Daytona Beach, FL until mid-January. Since my sister-in-law, Anne and her husband, Ronnie, run a nursery near Daytona, I suspect there will be grist for the garden blog while I am away. I am working hard to learn my palm tree varieties.

In the meantime rejoice in the winter solstice and the promise it holds.

the Christmas cactus Posted by Picasa

Monday, December 12, 2005

Oh Tannenbaum

I love the smell of green in the house.  Just when it gets too cold to be outdoors, we bring the outdoors in.

The tree is waiting to come inside. Posted by Picasa

Saturday, December 10, 2005

The garden is resting ~Patience Brewster, Illustrator Posted by Picasa

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Let it snow ...

The snow caught me by surprise this morning.  I was so glad that I had taken in the tools and pulled the last few carrots yesterday.  It was a lovely day and I got the chores done without too much fuss.  I’m still working with a cast for my foot so it was a little awkward and LOTS slower.  But the gate is closed on another season.  The snow blankets the beds like a down comforter.  Let winter begin.

Closing the gate until spring Posted by Picasa

winterberry against a bright blue sky Posted by Picasa

Covered spinach Posted by Picasa

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Ahhhh the aroma ! Posted by Picasa


Well I was inspired by the warm weather the past few days to try some experiments. First the artichoke has been a disappointment. It didn’t even get to sending up a stalk. There were just a bunch of spiky leaves. Though they are a perennial, they are not hardy in my zone (5a) but with lots of covering and the luck of a not too cold winter, I might be able to get this one to come back next spring.

The saga of the spinach continues. I HAVE harvested a few leaves this fall, but it has not been a winning fall crop. So I covered it with a little fabric and am hoping that I might over winter them. One bed has 16 plants and the other has four plants. I weeded the beds thoroughly ( weeding felt REALLY good to do after such a long break ) and then put all my leftover spinach seed in where there weren’t any plants. Tune in next March for a full report.

The one other task that I do when the weather softens this time of year is I like to gather pine needles to put in the pathways between the raised beds. I put some down on other pathways this spring and they did a good job of holding down the weeds.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Olfactory joy

There are a few garden smells that stop me in my tracks and one of them is the smell of a carrot when it first comes out of the ground.  It is soil and sweetness.  I love it.  

Friday, November 25, 2005

Brassica napus
"Your Root in the Third Millennium" Posted by Picasa


It was a raw rainy cold that greeted us on Thursday morning. My contribution to the T-giving table was to be squash and rutabaga. Rutabaga is much maligned, I think, but I find it’s not T-giving without it. While searching for a rutabaga recipe I came across the ARSI website. There are few things that make me laugh uncontrollably these days, but the webcam about did me in. It is the kind of healing belly laughter that Norman Cousins wrote about.

There were a few moments when the sun came out as yesterday’s front crossed over us. Once it was the opportunity to catch the raindrops and another it was a chance to see (but not photograph) a stunning double rainbow.

You have to love a day when the sole purpose of it is to eat a meal with friends. The tradition is to take a long walk and work up an appetite, but the rain got in our way yesterday. So we drank champagne, toasted Perry’s article in December’s National Geographic, and told stories by the fire.

Enough brown sugar will make even a rutabaga taste good.

Rutabaga Apple Scallop

This rutabaga and apple scallop is baked in the oven.

  1. 6 cups shredded rutabaga, about 1 1/2 pounds

  2. 1 large apple, peeled, cored, chopped

  3. 2 tablespoons brown sugar

  4. 1 teaspoon salt

  5. 1/8 teaspoon pepper

  6. 4 tablespoons butter
Mix turnip, about 3/4 or the chopped apple, brown sugar, salt and pepper in a 1 1/2 quart baking dish. Sprinkle remaining apple over the top of rutabaga; dot with butter. Cover and bake at 350° for 1 1/2 hours, or until rutabaga is tender.Rutabaga and apple bake serves 6

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Soup fixin's Posted by Picasa

Soup from the underground

It was a dark and stormy morning, the kind that cries out for a soup to be bubbling on the stove. Here is a perfect fall offering from my underground treasures.

Apple-Rutabaga Soup
6-8 Servings

One stick butter
1 cup coarsely chopped onions
1 cup peeled cored and coarsely chopped Granny Smiths
1 cup peeled and coarsely chopped rutabaga
1 cup peeled, seeded and coarsely chopped butternut squash
1 cup peeled and coarsely chopped sweet potato
1 quart good chicken stock
2 cups heavy cream (may substitute 1 cup fat free half and half for one of the cups of cream)
¼ cup maple syrup
Cayenne pepper

In a large saucepan over medium heat melt the butter. Add the onion, apple, rutabaga, squash, carrots and sweet potato and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are translucent, about 5 – 10 minutes. Add the chicken stock and increase the heat to medium high, so that the liquid comes to a boil. Reduce the heat and cook for 20 to 25 minutes, or until all of the vegetables are tender and cooked through.

Transfer in batches to a blender or food processor and puree until smooth. Using a fine mesh strainer strain the mixture and return it to the saucepan. Add the cream, maple syrup, salt and cayenne pepper to taste.

Return to the stove and heat on medium low until it is heated through.

Can be served hot or cold and it freezes well.

Adapted from Patrick O’Connell’s “Refined American Cuisine” (Bullfinch Press)

November offerings Posted by Picasa

Before ... Posted by Picasa

... and after Posted by Picasa

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Return to the garden

It was a gloriously sunny day today! I hobbled* out to the garden fairly early after a 6 week absence (*I broke my foot in Amsterdam and am two weeks into an eight week cast). Somehow I haven’t quite put the plans I have for putting the garden to bed in line with the reality of my limited mobility. Thanks to Hunter’s help, much important work got done today.

First I surveyed the tomato crop (that might have been harvested had I been here) lying rotten on the ground. Next I brought down the bamboo, weeded lightly and blanketed the beds in a compost of grass clippings. Most of this was done via my pointing and Hunter’s moving. Tomorrow we will work on taking down the dead asparagus, cleaning and clipping the bamboo for winter storage, and tightening up the fence around the apple trees. I also have to bring in the dahlia corms and I have to pot the amaryllis.

The weather is not very promising after tomorrow and the “S” word is in the forecast for the weekend. So we will work hard tomorrow and move the focus indoors to the much neglected basement during the inclement weather.

There are wonderful sweet treasures waiting for me underground. The rutabagas have swelled and the parsnips and carrots have sweetened with the recent frosts. AND the pesky spinach looks like it will put a little something on our plates we while we are here.

Right now a Hubbard squash is in the oven filling the house with its sweet perfume. Yummmm.

Friday, November 18, 2005

a blooming rhododendron in NOVEMBER ! Posted by Picasa

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Late Fall

I fully expected to return to a landscape of fallen leaves and morning frosts when I returned from Europe last week. Instead I still have a shady back yard and a rhododendron that is in full bloom! Yesterday morning it was 70 degrees and breezy. This is an unusually delayed fall.

Meanwhile the Christmas cactus has begun her budding and it is prodigious! It was a gift from Kathy probably six years ago. It is amazingly healthy given the neglect I give it.

Saturday I will return north and open the garden gate after six weeks of absence. Hopefully there will be rewards waiting for me underground.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

THE market street in Paris Posted by Picasa

Markets in France

Though I was separated from the soil during this trip to Europe, I was never far removed from the fruits of the garden. For example, one of my favorite streets in Paris is the Rue Mouffetard. Long ago it was the way you left Paris for Rome. Now it is a bustling market street. I was particularly taken with the Charentais melons for sale there. I have memories of slicing into one for lunch some 30 years ago when I was traveling through rural France by motorbike and the flavor was divine. I guess they just weren’t made to grow in New England.

The following Saturday I found myself in the market at Aix-en-Provence. I saw my first Cardoons there that day. Cardoons are a cross between celery and an artichoke and are suggested for use with a dish called “Bagna Cauda.” There were spices and beans and olives and …and ... and,

The pictures say it best.

pumpkins and mint Posted by Picasa

all kinds of mushrooms Posted by Picasa

luscious charentais melons Posted by Picasa

melons for sale Posted by Picasa

spices galore Posted by Picasa

Cippolini's Posted by Picasa