Monday Musings: the Garden Variety Edition

Been a busy but not unpleasantly so time here in the soybean field. Visitors, walks, and work in the garden have kept me occupied the last couple of weeks.

The cherry tomatoes set blossoms this last week. We wait, not very patiently, for the tiny green bumps to transform into lush red spheres. No need to do much with them. The little balls of sunshine need no special prep. Maybe slice in half before you put them in your salad, but no need to do much else.

Green beans have unfurled themselves. They are ready for picking. Not as many as I’d hoped for, but it’s still early in the harvest. They can easily produce until first frost, usually mid-October around here. Simple is best. I love them stir fried with garlic. Or steamed with olive oil and lemon juice.

Lettuce and basil maintain their lovely leafiness, and will likely keep producing for a while. They look like parasol-balancing ladies at a garden party. Both have enhanced salads and pasta sauces with their presence. I should have enough basil to make and freeze pesto for winter. I use walnuts instead of pine nuts. Easier to find and less expensive.

The radishes bolted. I’ll pull them, then plant another round of seeds in another week or so when it cools off. Note to self: thin them out when they sprout. They had good flavor, but emerged from the soil in odd thin shapes due to crowding. The tiny sprouts enliven salads and sandwiches by their spicy presence. A few on your tuna goes a long way towards elevating it from the mundane.

Carrots are nowhere near ready. They push themselves to the surface when they are.   Root veggies, except for radishes. are usually the last ones to mature, so no surprise there.

Broccoli? This is the first year I tried to grow it. The foliage is impressive, but anything that looks like what I buy at the store hasn’t emerged yet. We wait.

On  a whim, I bought a pack of French mesclun seeds. I don’t know what I unleashed when I sowed them, but what came up looked neither French or mesclun. I’m cleaning that out as it emerges. Note to self: don’t buy seeds on supermarket end caps from growers you’ve never heard of, even if there are references to France of French anything.

Oakley isn’t a big veggie eater. He sits outside with me, or finds grass to nibble. When I finish pulling and watering, I sit on the back step. He sits next to me. I rub his ears with my cleaner hand, and we watch the sun lengthen the rays across the fields together.

 

 

 

Garden Report for 7/24/17

Image courtesy Old Design Shop

Around the time of the sun transiting from Cancer into Leo as it did last weekend, the ancients and those who follow their religion celebrate Litha, the first harvest festival. The veggies and fruits have started coming in, some not quite at their peak, but definitely on their way there.

Oakley and I have added weeding and watering to our morning routine. He walks around the bed, giving it a good sniff, then finds a sunny patch where he lies down curled in a half-circle, tilting his nose to the sky. I pull weeds, give the plants a pep talk. Some mornings I do standing yoga poses; others I take my coffee outside and watch the veggies grow.

I’m pleased with the results to date, considering that the last garden I planted was seven years ago, the horrible summer after Orion crossed the Rainbow Bridge. I just dug holes and threw things in the ground between sobs while smearing mud and snot across my upper lip as I tried to dry my tears. We ended up with some herbs, a few tomatoes, and several zucchini worthy of concealed carry permits.

This year is going much better, but as with any other literal or figurative growth experience, there are lessons at hand. For example, next radish planting, thin them out after they sprout. Otherwise the radishes will be long skinny roots and not the intended globes of rosy, spicy goodness. Still work in salads and you don’t have to chop them, just trim off the leaves and the taproot. The greens work best as sprouts in sandwiches. The mature greens work best in tandem with less assertive colleagues like spinach. Otherwise, the flavor is overwhelmingly spicy.

Green beans have morphed from blossoms to actual beans. Not ready just yet, but after the storms of last week, heartening to see them. I like them steamed and drizzled with lemon juice and olive oil or butter. The fresher, the less fussing they need.

Cherry tomatoes…I don’t know what to say about them. Some blossoms had appeared last week. Then came several days of storms with the type of winds that make a person wonder when the siren will begin its wail. I didn’t see any blossoms today.  Time will tell if they the wind ripped them off the stems or if they just dropped their petals in preparation for becoming tomatoes. It’s been and will be hot enough for another round of blossoms to emerge.

Broccoli: I don’t know what’s going on with that. Lots of foliage, but no signs of buds just yet. It’s really pretty, though.

Carrots: their lovely fernlike tops have emerged, but no signs of their readiness. Like potatoes, they push themselves up to the surface. Likely next month.

Basil: oh, yeah…basil. In scrambled eggs. Pesto with walnuts is a possibility. And insalata caprese, made with fresh mozzarella, tomato, and basil. Drizzle with balsamic and your taste buds will bless you.

Lettuce: the plain lettuce is just fine. We’ve had a couple of salads. Delicious. But the mesclun mix? I have stared at it and cannot tell what came up. Another note to self: buy next year’s seeds at a garden supply house, not a supermarket end cap. I’ve checked whatever that is against the picture on the seed package and can’t tell what it is.

Maybe next year will be the year I’ll have enough produce to freeze for the winter, but for now, I’m having too much fun to care.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Garden Report for 5/31/17

Hubby built the raised bed for the garden last week. It’s 4’x8’x18″ and can accommodate all kinds of root depth.

We filled it with some fine organic soil premixed with sand (for drainage) and compost (for nutrients). After we shoveled the beautiful dirt into the bed frame, I tucked the seeds into it. Short and root crops go along the eastern edge. The taller, bushier ones went to the west side. I  watered, watered some more, and hoped for the best. We have tomatoes, some herbs, broccoli, lettuce, green beans, radishes, heirloom carrots, and spinach incubating in their lovely bed. Now we wait.

image courtesy of The Graphics Fairy

I hadn’t planted in seven springs. The last garden came into being just after Orion made his journey across the Rainbow Bridge. In the haze of early grief,  I half-heartedly poked holes in the ground, stuck the young plants into them, and watered. And walked away. And still had decent produce, including a zucchini the size of a baseball bat. Really. As I cleaned out the bed that fall, I bumped something buried in the leaves with my foot. There was the zucchini. Hubby and I didn’t know if we should cook with it, bronze it for posterity, or apply for an open carry permit.

I think I made some bread with it, and soup.  Good soup, if I remember correctly.

This year, I wanted, needed to get my hands back into the dirt. I needed to do something, anything to counterbalance the craziness in the world. Working with the cycle of nature keeps me sane, reminds me that all things will pass, eventually, and to have patience as they come to fruition.

Plus as the meme says, I’ll get tomatoes. You can’t beat that.

Foods That Just Don’t Do It For Me

I’ll try almost anything foodwise once. I loved clams and spinach in my early elementary years; one of the most memorable meals I had in adulthood was on a trip to Chinatown with a coworker of Hubby’s who was from Taiwan. Within our parameters, she did the ordering. I have no clue what we ate, but oh, my, was it good.

However, there are some foods that I just do not care for at all. I just don’t like them. Period. I will take a bite or two for politeness’ sake, but please do not try to feed me the following:

  • Kale. I really don’t care for kale very much. I have tried it in salads, braised in ginger, garlic, and soy, and in green drinks. I don’t hate it; I just don’t care for it for some reason. Yes, I know it’s supposed to be the best thing since the last big trendy veggie, but I just don’t like it. In chips (de-stem, spread on baking sheet, sprinkle with melted coconut oil and garlic, and bake at 350 for 10 min. or until crunchy), yes, but otherwise, no, thank you.
  • Bananas. Between the dizzying amount of sugar, the pasty texture, and the trigger for memories of mashing them up for Orion his last days, spare me these. I like banana baked goods and in green drinks where the protein powder and berries or cherries mask their presence, but sweet Baby Jesus, keep them away from me. 
  • Most pork products. Yuck. Bacon on occasion, but ham and the rest? YUCK. Especially on pizza. YUCK YUCK YUCK YUCK! If I had a dollar for every piece I gagged down when I was in college to keep peace with roommates or while trying to impress a date, I could make a significant donation to some worthy cause.
  • White wine. Even when sipping mindfully, the only notes I detect are rubbing alcohol and lighter fluid.  
  • Raw mushrooms and cauliflower. No. 
  • Donuts. The combo of the fat and sugar and the texture repel me. Except for the one’s from Freddy’s, the long-demised donut shop of my childhood that cranked out perfect cake-like glazed cherry ones.

 Other than that, I’m pretty easy to feed. Nothing hip and trendy, please, and make it nicely seasoned. And I will be a happy WolfMama, indeed

A Trieste on Green Drinks

We’re trying green drinks for breakfast these days. You know, the smoothies with green veggies, fruit, and other good stuff like protein powder and almond milk. 

This morning, I had one with spinach, banana, a spoonful of peanut butter, and chocolate protein powder with enough almond milk to facilitate blending. Yum. 

The theory is that the blending process causes the cells in the fruits and veggies to open up, making it easier for the body to assimilate the nutrients. In turn, the body feels nourished and the cravings are reduced so you don’t have urges to overeat. 

So far, I’ve found this to be true. On days when I make a green drink for breakfast, I don’t get the munchies through the day, and if I do get hungry, I can make rational choices about what to eat instead of standing and stuffing my mouth with random bits of food.

Basically, you take one or two kinds of veggies, a half a banana or avocado, and at least one kind of fruit. Add in enough water or milk alternative and protein powder. Buzz in your food processor or blender until liquified and drink. For a thicker texture, use frozen fruit. I also throw in a couple spoonfuls of ground flax seeds.

The only limits are what you have on hand and the blender’s capacity.