Wednesday, June 28, 2006

We have liftoff ! Posted by Picasa

Garlic scape harvest Posted by Picasa

garlic scapes

I had to be away from the garden last week and when I returned it seemed as though someone had pushed the UP button. UP went the asparagus. UP went the tomatoes. Houston, we have liftoff.

Last evening I went out and harvested the garlic scapes. This past spring I had run across a recipe in Mother Earth News and with the encouragement of my house guests, Harry Judy and Elaine, we cooked it up last evening. It involves two things that are new to me. One is carmelizing olive oil and brown sugar, and the other is haloumi cheese. Haloumi is a cheese from Cyprus that you grill and then chop into small dice.

I had Elaine at the computer reading from the recipe and Judy was my sous chef. Every now and then one of us would shout out in a Julia Child’s accent “More GIN!” to gales of laughter.

I’m not sure what to say about the recipe. It is very Greek tasting … as though it has olives in it but it doesn’t. I think it would go better with seafood or chicken than it did with flank steak. I’d cook it again, I think. So here it is.

Garlic Scapes

2 TBS dark brown sugar
8 oz young garlic scapes
1 ½ cups coarsely chopped tomatoes
¾ cup white wine
¼ tsp freshly ground pepper
1 tsp salt
I TBS parsley chopped
¼ cup grilled haloumi cheese cut into very small dice

Heat the oil in a broad sauté pan and add sugar. Stir to caramelize the sugar for about 2-3 minutes and add the scapes. Cover and sauté over a medium high heat for no more than 3 minutes occasionally shaking the pan to prevent the scapes from scorching. After three minutes, add the chopped tomatoes and wine. Stir the pan and then cover and reduce the heat to low. Continue cooking 5-6 minutes or until the scapes are tender but not soft. Season and then add the parsley and halouimi and serve at room temperature

NOTE: Haloumi cheese is made in Cyprus. It can be sliced or grilled or fried in skillet. Other salty cheeses can be substituted

From a recipe in
Mother Earth News

pretty scapes all in a row Posted by Picasa

a classic rocambole twist. This one is called "Sandpoint" Posted by Picasa

Monday, June 19, 2006

the smell of wild roses Posted by Picasa


About a week or two after the aroma of autumn olive fades, up comes the smell of wild roses. Usually it is borne on a southwest breeze on a warm morning right through the door and up my nose. Even though I SEE the flowers, the aroma always catches me by surprise. And then it is everywhere, like Saturday morning when I was riding my bike to Farmer’s Market. I must have smelled this smell as a child because on Saturday when I was riding my bike I had one of those olfactory moments that took me, or my amygdala, to a warm early summer when school was just out and the joy of an entire summer stretched before me. Suddenly, before I am quite conscious of the aroma, I am in that place and that feeling without knowing quite how I got there.

I had that same sense when I was spreading straw on the asparagus bed. The aroma took me back to when as a young girl I owned and cared for a burro named Pixie. Cleaning his stall and spreading fresh straw was part of the daily chore routine. Memories of that time are not at all in my conscious thoughts, but the smell of straw brings it all back. No wonder it takes me so long to get things done in the garden … I’m off time traveling and don’t even know it.

So back to the wild roses. There is a downside. This wild rose bush (perhaps a not too distant cousin of the trumpet vine) is taking over the yard. I don’t know HOW we missed it, but last year we looked up and this bush had climbed up a spruce tree pretty much killing the northeast side of it and was resting comfortably on top of some wild viburnum choking them as well. Hunter took on this monster in the spring and removed large portions of it to the brush pile with a promise to finish the job this fall. But I must say I would miss this aromatherapy just outside my door.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Lippety, Lippety

It isn’t just about getting it IN the ground. It’s the maintenance. Like the asparagus bed. It is at the end of its season (Mother’s Day to Father’s Day) and I’ve spent yesterday morning and this morning moving the straw from it to the tomato bed and once exposed doing a final asparagus pick and then weeding the bed to within an inch of its life, then feeding it with manure ( this year I used “Moo Doo” and finally spreading fresh straw on it. It is a satisfying process. Now the asparagus gets to finally do what it has been wanting to do … grow tall, fern out and use the sun for energy. The asparagus is one of the few plants that will add height to my garden this year as my mantra is “If it doesn’t grow below, let it go.”

Every time I turn around the potatoes have grown another 3 inches and so I had to spend part of today moving dirt into the potato beds to hill them up. I am keeping the CPB’s at bay by picking them off by hand and removing any egg clusters I find. With the exception of the Yellow Finns this year’s potato crop is an experiment in varieties of fingerlings. I have Banana, Red Thumb, La Ratte, and Rose Finn. I’m not much of a potato fancier, but twice I’ve won blue ribbons for my Yellow Finns. Maybe I will like the taste of these fingerlings.

Then tonight when I was staking the tomatoes (the exception to the “grow below” rule) I found way too many aphids for my liking on them. I’ll address that tomorrow morning when the wind is calm.

There is a young rabbit in my view now on the lawn moving casually from one clover to another. Beatrix Potter had it right. The only word to properly describe this movement I see before me is “lippety.”

Friday, June 16, 2006

My favorite new t-shirt Posted by Picasa

Eat Local Continued

All during May I was gathering information about places where I could buy local meat, eggs and milk. “Go through the gate and in the back door of the barn and you’ll find a fridge and a money jar.” Or “Wander through the yard following the “eggs” sign until you get to the barn.” I managed quite well eating from the left over eat local larder from May. And just when I was getting ready to venture out to find new places along comes a pamphlet put out by Island Grown a cooperative venture of 28 local farmers with a MAP and addresses and phone numbers and hours. How perfect!

Last Saturday the local supermarket hosted an event in the store (it was raining outside) for as many of the 28 farmers who wanted, to come and advertise their wares. I tasted divine goat cheese, tender salad greens and excellent lamb.

Then I went home that night and had a great local meal. The adventure continues!

My eat local dinner Posted by Picasa

Thursday, June 15, 2006

manure mission accomplished! Posted by Picasa

Thanks to the farmer across the field

There is a flock of sheep that lives across the field from me. The sound of their bleating is part of the music that accompanies me in my garden. The farmer is a 7th generation sheep farmer. Last year he offered me manure from his compost heap. Well I don’t have a truck, so I have been gathering containers that I could both fill and that weren’t too big so I could heave them around by myself. Tuesday my dream came true, and I met him at the west end of his manure heap and started shoveling.
As I came through the gate, he pointed out a new lamb in the herd that had taken everyone by surprise the day before since lambing was over in April. Apparently there was a young ewe that he had not allowed in the pen while the ram was around. But later, after the official breeding, there had been a mixup and some sheep got free and that is when we suspect the ram had his way with her. I asked him years ago what the ram’s name was and he said, “Well I don’t know that he has a name, but I call him Lucky Pierre.” Well Lucky Pierre has long since been retired – too much inbreeding – but his successor has added to the health of the flock not to mention the corruption of a young ewe.

So back to the compost operation. I left with five bins of manure and I’m planning to use it to start a Charles Wilber style compost pile. Please, if you’ve not read Charles Wilber and you care at all about growing tomatoes you must read his book. It is a hoot! I have always relied on table scraps and yard waste to feed my compost bin. Now I’ll get to make the really hot stuff. Stay tuned.

Monday, June 12, 2006

sunshine on the iris Posted by Picasa

It's a big job! Posted by Picasa

Life's Lists

This is the first evening it has been warm enough to sit out on the deck and write.  It is nice to be here again.  I worked HARD today.  The fellow who said he would do my lawn seems to have evaporated so I was out there myself again.  It is a solid two hour job and it is the kind of power mower you have to push.  Once again I was dodging caterpillars, but we are on the down side of this infestation.  

So now I am showered and wrapped in long pants and a sweatshirt looking out over the fruits of my labor.  The bird bath is full, there are daisies in the hayfield beyond, and there are wild turkeys strutting through the field lowering and raising their long necks like Nessie in the Loch. A most amazing bird has just landed in the lawn and when I reach for my Peterson’s I learn it is a female yellow shafted Northern Flicker.  It’s always a good day when you can add a bird to your life list.  And I notice that a pair of wrens has taken up residence in the birdhouse at the edge of the lawn.  Papa wren is putting those long pieces of grass I cut today to good use as he flies across the yard and returns with the long grasses which he pokes through the hole for mama wren to pull inside. As I look out over the garden the blue iris and the garlic behind it are catching the last of the sun.

There is much still to be done in the garden.  Saturday it rained, Sunday I played, and today I mowed.  Finish planting the carrots, plant out the leeks that are under lights in the basement, put in the winter squash, start the summer squash, and last but not least get ready to fertilize and re-mulch the asparagus bed.  

the birdbath Posted by Picasa

the new neighbors are expecting Posted by Picasa

Thursday, June 08, 2006

making mincemeat of an oak tree Posted by Picasa

This picture of an oak in the yard is a perfect example of how they work from the top down devouring the tree like an ice cream cone.

 Posted by Picasa

Old Testament Saga

I have joked often in here about the sort of Old Testament saga I encounter in my garden, but right now there is a natural disaster taking place on my landscape. I first noticed it last June when I went for a walk on the island’s north shore and noticed leaves missing from the oak trees. When I inquired, my friend Annie told me that it was caterpillar damage. I filed that away and went on about my year.

Then in mid May of this year, I noticed that my apple trees had stopped growing. When I inspected further I discovered green caterpillars munching away on the leaves. After putting out an SOS on Gardenweb decided to use Bull’s Eye on them. It worked. Then gradually over the next ten days I began to realize that these caterpillars were “ballooning” off my oak trees onto the apple trees and the roses. The lovely little red oak leaves that I photographed in late May were all being eaten.

It turns out they are the caterpillar of the Winter Moth ( Operophetera brumata ) and they have moved into southeastern Massachusetts for a long, uninvited stay.

There are lots of things I could write about here. I could tell you about how disgusting it is to come in from mowing under the trees and to have 25 caterpillars crawling around under your shirt. Or I could tell you about how when you stand still in the woods you can hear their frass dropping like little rain drops on the dried leaves of the forest floor. But let me write about the reaction of people in the neighborhood. I ran into Matt, the nurseryman who planted my apple trees last year and he is taking a very philosophical view. “Let’s let mother nature run her course.” Sure if you want to protect apple trees or rose bushes, that makes sense, but there is no reason to spray our way out of this. Friends visiting their summer home here from California are saying “Maybe we’ll sell.” People on the eastern end of the island are saying “What caterpillars?”

In the meantime, I will monitor my roses and my apple trees and make sure that they are well mulched and well fed as they try to recover. And I will learn as much as I can so I can do a better preventative job in the spring.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

managing the asparagus crop Posted by Picasa

Soup on the stove

It is a rainy, windy day. It is a day that cries out for a soup on the stove. I just happen to have enough asparagus ends to make a double recipe of the Joy of Cooking standard recipe. Long ago I gave up on the thickening agents and cream. I might add a little skim milk to it, but basically what this is, is an essence of asparagus exercise. The rough proportions I have adapted are:

1lb. of asparagus ends : ¼ cup onion : ½ chopped celery : 4 cups water : 1 ½ Knorr chicken bullion cubes. Simmer for ½ hour, run through the blender, then run the blender contents through a sieve.

I have another asparagus soup recipe that I enjoy that has parsnips and leeks. It’s pretty special as is the sorrel soup recipe that I’ve made three times already this spring.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

What's THIS ???? Posted by Picasa

it's a turkey about to leap into my garden... Posted by Picasa

...and leave a tell tale track in my radishes Posted by Picasa

Friday, June 02, 2006

Clematis Posted by Picasa

Rhododendron Posted by Picasa

Coming home to summer

I had to spend about five days away from the garden. When I returned it was clear we had moved from reluctant spring into impending summer. All kinds of flowers were in bloom … the rhododendron … the clematis. Among the vegetables were


My first garlic scape !

Potatoes that needed hilling

Tomatoes that needed staking

And a whole crop of spinach that needed to be pulled and washed