Friday, October 30, 2009

A Garden Pause

I celebrated my last night on the Vineyard with a little tomato that had ripened on the windowsill. I seasoned some olive oil with a special balsamic vinegar brought by a friend, sprinkled some salt and pepper, and decorated with the very last basil I had.Forgive the photography ... the cameras were all packed and I was using my phone.

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

Today's Poem

Today's poem was right up my alley

The First Artichoke

by Diane Lockward

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

More Vegetable Love

They met during the sweet potato harvest ... he spied her across the curing rack

It was love at first sight

So they went to the preacher

And lived happily ever after

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Garden Update

No, I am not trying for some kind of absentee record ... cannot explain my absence from here ... but since the last post the garden clean-up has gone quite well. Perhaps the most stark contrast is this before and after of a tomato bed.
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.)