Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Every Christmas I marvel at this cactus. It came to me a as a gift from a friend and colleague at least a decade ago. I have re potted it twice. When it starts to bloom I give it cactus food. But the rest of the year ... well, neglect would be a kind word to describe how I treat it. In May I put it on a shaded back deck to face the trials of a Washington summer with nothing but the rain God chooses to bestow upon it. In November, when I return, I rescue it just before the frosts and without the least bit of prompting from me, it starts its Christmas show.
Tuesday, December 08, 2009
So true to Vonnegut's new scheme I have been going around "locking" things up in the garden. I have made a new iteration of deer fencing for my young apple trees. I also set up the wall-o-water around my rosemary to help it over winter. I do that by trimming it back and placing a plaster bucket over it and slipping the wall-o-water over the bucket while I fill its sleeves.This form of overwintering has worked for rosemary, so I tried it last year on my artichokes and it failed. But last winter was particularly harsh, so I am trying it again though admittedly with a less hardy variety of artichoke. These are Green Globe. And I adjusted my game a little. I let them grow into the light frosts of November December. Then I cut them back to 12 inches of leavesand then I mounded them with grass clippingsand finally added the wall-o-waters.I harvested the last of the rutabaga, carrots, greens and Brussels sprouts. I will leave the parsnips in the ground for spring dug parsnip chowder when I return.And last, but not least, I removed the dead asparagus ferns to the brush pile.
Wednesday, December 02, 2009
Sunday, November 29, 2009
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Friday, October 30, 2009
I will return to put things totally to bed in early December. But for now I need to say goodbye to this season. It is hard to let go this year. I guess it is the disappointment of the tomato crop and the harvest that never really peaked. I never had too much of anything really, and maybe one needs a little harvest fatigue in order to feel OK about taking a rest from it all.
If someone told me I could come to southern Florida and plant 80 tomato plants right now, I would consider it. I just did not get enough this season.
I am off for a few weeks for a tour of Eastern Europe. I MAY get to post on the travel blog ... we'll see.
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
The First Artichoke
Though everyone said no one could grow
artichokes in New Jersey, my father
planted the seeds and they grew one magnificent
artichoke, late-season, long after the squash,
tomatoes, and zucchini.
It was the derelict in my father's garden,
little Buddha of a vegetable, pinecone gone awry.
It was as strange as a bony-plated armadillo.
My mother prepared the artichoke as if preparing
a miracle. She snipped the bronzy winter-kissed tips
mashed breadcrumbs, oregano, parmesan, garlic,
and lemon, stuffed the mush between the leaves,
baked, then placed the artichoke on the table.
This, she said, was food we could eat with our fingers.
When I hesitated, my father spoke of beautiful Cynara,
who'd loved her mother more than she'd loved Zeus.
In anger, the god transformed her
into an artichoke. And in 1949 Marilyn Monroe
had been crowned California's first Artichoke Queen.
I peeled off a leaf like my father did,
dipped it in melted butter, and with my teeth
scraped and sucked the nut-flavored slimy stuff.
We piled up the inedible parts, skeletons
of leaves and purple prickles.
Piece by piece, the artichoke came apart,
the way we would in 1959, the year the flowerbuds
of the artichokes in my father's garden bloomed
without him, their blossoms seven inches wide
and violet-blue as bruises.
But first we had that miracle on our table.
We peeled and peeled, a vegetable striptease,
and worked our way deeper and deeper,
down to the small filet of delectable heart.
"The First Artichoke" by Diane Lockward
Saturday, October 10, 2009
Thursday, October 08, 2009
So bed by bed things are neat and tidy ... the pathways are another story. I may break down and just let it go to grass and keep it trimmed with a trimmer next season. I need to save my weeding muscles for tasks more closely linked to crop production.
And while in my heart of hearts I do not believe it, there IS more to a garden than a successful, lingering tomato crop, I am still getting green beans, Swiss chard, spinach and potatoes. Meanwhile, butternut squash, carrots, parsnips, sweet potatoes, Brussels sprouts and rutabaga lie in waiting. So there is still reason to revel in the garden and its production.
On Monday I prepared one of my garlic beds with plenty of composted lamb manure. I laid it out in a 6x8 inch grid and on Tuesday I planted six varieties of hardneck. A total of 112 cloves. The second bed is still housing sweet potatoes, but I shall harvest them this weekend. I took a peek in there last weekend and it looks to be an adequate crop. So I recommend to New England gardeners who are trying to make maximum use of garden space to consider interplanting sweet potato slips in a garlic bed on Memorial Day. You can harvest the garlic without disturbing the sweet potato vines and you can have your bed back by Columbus Day in time to plant next year's garlic. ( I KNOW I should rotate, but I have never had disease, and I like using these beds because they are outside the garden fence and garlic is deer resistant ... although sweet potato vines are not and I did use some Bobbex on them in the early summer when they were getting started.)
Tuesday, September 08, 2009
"I'll be at your house in 15 minutes."
So I had a big round of it last night. Sauteed it with some shallots and garlic and thyme from the garden. I started using butter ... but it is a thirsty little mushroom, so after half a stick of butter I switched to chicken stock. YUM !!!Had I known I would be so lucky, I would not have bought a bag of shitakes yesterday at a roadside stand. So this morning I had fried egg over shitakes with a side of Chicken of the Woods.Note: In my original, pre-edited post, I had used the term Hen of the Woods ( Latin name: Grifola frondosa) to describe this mushroom. It is, most likely a Laetiporus cincinnatus often referred to as a chicken of the woods. It is a reminder that mushroom hunting is not to be done lightly or in an uninformed manner. Thanks to comments from Andrea for that reminder.
Thursday, September 03, 2009
Sunday, August 30, 2009
The bean that has 100 names, the one I call October Cranberry Bean (harvested in August ...go figure), has been arriving in profusion in my garden. It is a beauty.
I decided to pair it up with some local lamb shanks from the Allen Farm for a special OLS meal this week. ALL of the non meat ingredients, except the Morning Glory celery, and (of course) the olive oil, came from my garden.The thing I like about this recipe is that it can be done inside the outdoor grill, so you do not have to melt your house on a hot August afternoon. But be advised: It takes a minimum of 3 and a half hours to slow roast these shanks, so start early in the day.
I take my inspiration from Chef John at Foodwishes.com. He has become the new voice in my kitchen. Here are the lamb shanks:
And to finish it off, Chef John suggests a white bean ragout in which I substituted the cranberry beans.
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
That was Saturday. Today the compost thermometer registered 140 degrees. When it starts to cool, I will turn the pile into an empty bin and watch it heat up again.