Monday, June 30, 2008


There is this bird that has been scolding me in my garden all week. Whenever I show up, it flits from one garden support to another whining at me. "You talkin' to me?", I ask? It is pretty clear I am the one he is after. This time of year, with young in the nests, it is all about territoriality. Apparently my garden belongs to him for now.

So it was with some satisfaction that I saw my little friend displaced from his spot at the birdbath yesterday by a big, fat robin.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Win some; lose some

The relative humidity continues to hover near 80% even at midday. This high humidity is not good for flowering heirloom tomatoes.

successful fruiting on the Principe Borgheses
blossom drop on an Italian Sweet

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Blossom time

From left to right top to bottom: green beans, snap pea, zucchini, Big Zac tomato, potato, cucumber (male), scapes, clematis, iris

It is blossom time in the garden. It makes for colorful morning visits and puts one in the mood of wonder while reflecting on the miracle of reproduction on this planet. I always feel sorry for those first zucchini fruit that whither on the vine for lack of a male flower at the time of her flowering. And I am forever fussing over the cucumbers in this early stage trying to play bee between the early male and female flowers.

The tomatoes do not rely on such timing, but they have problems of their own. The heirlooms do not like these wet mornings and humid days during blossom time, and I have already seen some blossom drop on the more finicky varieties.

When the potatoes blossom, then you know that potato production has begun underground. Not all varieties of potatoes produce blossoms and SOME varieties even produce a little fruit sometimes called a potato apple.

The garlic has a a fall back method of reproduction that you have to admire. The hard necked varieties send up scapes that turn into flower heads that can reproduce in hard times. I remove them in order to promote bulb growth below.

And then there are the flowers. Anything that goes straight from flower to seed seems a little hedonistic to me. As a vegetable gardener, I find flowers a bit frivolous. Where is the fruit, the root, the tuber, the bulb? Where is the usefulness to the rest of us? What is your legacy? I guess it is the beauty. Not a bad life's purpose.

Friday, June 27, 2008

OLS Week #4 ~ Enlisting the house guests

I have found it difficult recently to fit in an OLS meal with all the guests who have been coming through. So this week I decided I would ENLIST my house guests in the process. Using left over lobster from our meal out the night before, we decided to pull together a grand lobster meat salad from local ingredients.

So off on our bikes we went to the local farmer's market. We walked the length of the market to see who had what. Ethel Sherman had the tiniest little new potatoes. Morning Glory Farm had beets, snap peas and even a few hot house tomatoes. But it was the kids selling at the FARM Institute's WISP program that captured our lettuce dollar.Olivia and Mary here, were able to explain how these middle and high school students had grown, prepared for market and were selling the produce before us. "I planted these radishes," Mary said.When we got home, we spread out our "loot" on the table and got to work making THE best lobster salad.While Glen roasted the tiny new potatoes on the grill, I prepared the beet greens with a little horseradish, onion and mustard. (Joy of Cooking). Our dressing used New England maple syrup, shallots from the garden, some balsamic vinegar and olive oil.(Raising the Salad Bar)

And VOILA. In no time we had put together a salad worthy of kings from ingredients living around us. And last but not least, let's not forget the wild blueberry pie from Little Rock Farm.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Making Progress

I have worked hard the last three days to plant, to weed, to fertilize and to stake the garden.
Tomato Ladders from Gardener's Supply are holding up the tomatoes
The second half of the asparagus bed is weeded and watered and fed with cow manure
the cucumbers are starting to climb the trellisthe potatoes are thriving despite the arrival of the dreaded Colorado Potato Beetle.
the garden from a different angle

From the Garden Gate Sunday, June 22, 2008

OLS Week #3

I relied on my garden and the spice cabinet for this vegetarian meal. I had grilled asparagus and garlic scapes and a healthy serving of fresh kale with young garlic. Here is the kale recipe:

Sesame Kale
2 cloves garlic

1 bunch kale
1 tablespoon sesame oil

1 tablespoon water

1 teaspoon soy sauce

Salt and pepper

Wash the kale, leaving it a little wet. Discard the stems and tear the soft leaves into bite-sized pieces. Mince or chop the garlic (your preference). Heat the sesame oil in a large pot or skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic to the hot oil until the kitchen smells delicious. (This should take under one minute.) Add the kale and water to the garlic and oil, and cover. Let it cook for about a minute, then stir the kale and re-cover. Cook for about 2 more minutes, and when the kale is wilted, stir in the soy sauce, a pinch of salt and a few grinds of fresh pepper.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Garden Views

the Principe Borgheses are starting to flower
pole beans emerge on the launch pad
a view from the back of the garden
I am trying an experiment this year. Where I have spaces in my garlic beds I am planting butternut squash now. The hope is that it will not take over before the garlic is harvested in early July. That way I can use the garlic bed for two purposes but with a crop that I know will be ready for harvest BEFORE the garlic goes in again in October. The only flaw in this plan is that the garlic beds are OUTSIDE of the fence. So let's hope the deer don't take a fancy to squash blossoms.

From the garden gate Wednesday June11, 2008

Sunday, June 08, 2008

OLS Week #1

My first OLS (One Local Summer) meal looked to the ocean for protein. I grilled some sea scallops and glazed them in some local honey and chopped young garlic from the garden. Salad was from greens and radishes from Blackwater Farm.and to that I added some grilled aspargus and garlic scapes from the garden.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

a hobo in the garden

I never know for sure how many of each tomato I will have until they are at last in the ground. I am operating under the assumption that there is no such thing as "too many tomatoes." This year's roster is as follows:

Big Zac- 5
What a surprise this tomato was last year! Not only did it give me THE biggest tomato, but the flavor was outstanding. These are the only tomatoes I grew from seed this year.
Italian Sweet - 7
While they CAN be fussy, with blossom drop and other heirloom maladies, they are to me the quintessential tomato flavor. Longdale Nursery
Better Boy - 8
This is my insurance tomato. No matter what the weather conditions, I always get a full load of tomatoes off of each plant. Longdale Nursery
Boxcar Willie - 4
Is it the name that keeps me coming back year after year? I think it is the size and the flavor. Or maybe I just like the idea of having a hobo in the garden. Walatoola
Giant Belgium- 2
I grew these a few years ago with an eye toward having it give me a contender for the biggest tomato category at the fair. In the end, I took a Boxcar Willie that was bigger. I want to test the taste again. Longdale Nursery
Little Moma- 4
This is a beautiful Roma tomato that forms in big clusters of 5. They are classic looking and took first place in Roma tomatoes last year. Unfortunately, the deer were particularly fond of them during an unexpected midnight rampage, and I cannot remember their flavor. Walatoola
Principe Borghese- 2
These can be fussy at first, but stay with them. I may be on an island, but it is NOT Sicily, and the humidity here is a problem for them. But they are designed for sun drying and can be enjoyed all winter long. Walatoola
Mortgage Lifter- 1
One? Well I have a four pack and no more room left. So I stuck it in the last space I had. It has never done well for me. Maybe it will surprise me this year. Longdale Nursery

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Preparing for the tomatoes

As always I have more tomatoes in my nursery than room in my garden. So I have been busy preparing the holes for the lucky ones that are garden bound.
First I dig the holes and to the holes I add ...composted lamb manure that has been curing since last summerand then I add a cupful of calcium (Aragonite) to prevent blossom drop and a generous cupful of greensandthen I mix that all up and water well and let it warm up in the sun for a day before bringing out the transplants. It leaves a little well that is good for wind protection and early watering.