Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Moving ahead

This warm weather is inspiring. Most of the beds are amended and ready for planting. Here is a wheelbarrow full of composted lamb manure (decorated with a buttercup). Each barrow full is delightfully rich and teeming with wriggling earthworms. Life as it should be.Two weekends ago I went to Brimfield, MA for their spring antiques extravaganza. It was there that I found this old shutter for the garden. I will plant nasturtiums at its feet for climbing.Things continue be about two weeks ahead of schedule out there as evidenced by the early appearance of garlic scapes. These are definitely a mid-June PHE-nom in these parts.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Artichoke update

This is one of my over-wintered artichokes. It looks like it usually looks in late JULY !!! Seeing these is a source of daily satisfaction this spring. I have been keeping them well watered and each week have given them a good dose of manure tea. With this much of a head start on the season, I want to milk these plants for all they are worth.

The shady back bed

I have a bed at the back of the garden that each year gets more and more shade. Last year it grew potatoes. This year I decided to do a combination of shallots and Brussels sprouts, Swiss Chard, Cippolini onions, carrots, parsnips and radishes. I find I get the best results with carrots if I sift the soil first and place it back in a trench ... not very wide nor terribly deep, but enough to give the little guys a fighting chance of pushing their way in to the ground. I also have found that one of my best spring planting tools is the reused dish soap container. Poke a hole in the ground, squirt in some water. Nest in the shallot, or the bean or the seedling. Very handy indeed.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Asparagus Soup Revisted

The asparagus rolls in at the rate of nearly a pound a day. During high season I keep a plastic bag in the fridge where I store the snapped off ends and use them to make soup.I found a new soup recipe in the spring issue of Edible Vineyard. Edible Communities, Inc. sponsors the publication of these local magazines on a quarterly basis. Do you have one in your area? Any good recipes to share? If you do have such a magazine in your area, make a point of supporting the local advertisers who help to make the publication possible. And here is the recipe which I tweaked a little bit.

Asparagus Soup with No Dairy Garlic Cream

1 lb asparagus stems


1 cup yellow onion small dice

½ cup rolled oats

5 cups Vegetable stock

Garlic “Cream”

1 medium head separated into cloves and peeled


1 cup water

4 sprigs thyme

Freshly ground black pepper

2 tsp fresh lemon juice and chopped parsley for garnish

During asparagus season I save the snapped off ends of all the asparagus I prepare and I use these ends to make soup. For this recipe use one pound of those ends which you have slit down the middle. In addition select maybe 6-8 thin spears and slice 4 one inch slices off each of them to add to the finished soup. Cook these tips for 4 minutes in boiling salted water and set aside.

Warm the oil in a soup pot and add the onion and sauté for 8-10 minutes until they soften. Add the oats, the slit stems and the stock and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer partially covered for about 30 minutes.

Once this has cooled put in the blender, puree, and then run the mixture through a sieve using the bottom of a soup ladle to push through the juice. Discard the fibrous remains. Return to a saucepan.

In a smaller saucepan prepare the garlic “cream” by combining the garlic, oil water and thyme. Simmer uncovered until the garlic is soft, about 20 minutes. Discard the thyme sprigs and transfer to a blender. Puree and add back to the soup. Add the reserved cooked tips and salt and pepper to taste. Just before serving, freshen with lemon juice and a sprinkling of chopped parsley.

adapted from Hara Dretaki Edible Vineyard Spring 2010

Raw Milk

I invite you to read this Salute to Raw Milk on Jan Buhrman's blog. Jan is organizing a rally tomorrow morning 8 AM on Boston Common (complete with a cow) to protest proposed changes in the language of regulations concerning the sale of raw milk in Massachusetts.

I grew up on raw milk. My mother, a physician, believed that it would help us develop a better immune system. When I retired after a 30 year teaching career, I had 2 years of unused sick leave, a testament to the effectiveness of the raw milk of my childhood.

I guess I am a little cranky these days about a world in which people who want to feed their families from sustainable farms bump up against a highly tuned regulatory mechanism working for the benefit of the big milk producers, while Congress wrings its hands about how to (or even IF to) regulate a financial industry that took us to the brink of disaster and then took OUR money to cover their bad choices.

I am not a tea-paryter ... but I could become a milk-partyer.

Friday, May 07, 2010

Let the games begin !

I arrived on a breezy, sunny afternoon to find some nice gifts in the garden. I was able to harvest about 4 pounds of asparagus and set to work cooking it on the grill for dinner. I have been eating asparagus from the farmer's market for a few weeks now, but still it does not have the flavor of fresh from the garden. The next morning I found some random greens ... spinach and sorrel ... and I set it aside in the fridge. So the harvest has begun. Now I must set to work doing all the things that other gardeners have been doing since March ... pulling weeds ... cleaning beds ... working compost ...

I must say I feel that the season is at least two weeks ahead this year. The landscape looks like Memorial Day not May Day. I even got my first whiff of autumn olive this morning. Two extra weeks of growing season is fine with me.