It is that time of year when the garden just sort of hums along, needing only for me to water and do light weeding. The first round of soup beans have been pulled up and the second round planted. The cucumber vines have just about reached their end. The zucchini slowed down, but is now making a come back. The peppers are coming on strong. And the tomatoes, oh the tomatoes. I am in the middle of a sea of tomatoes. And I am in the kitchen. A lot. Continue reading
Well, I have finally succumbed to the urge to pull, pull, pull. Much of the winter garden is gone, and, on its heels, come the delights of summer. I have 12 tomato plants in the ground, plus a tomatillo and a ground cherry. I have lots of tomato starts left and might squeeze in a few more. I want to make sure I have enough tomatoes to roast and freeze, dry, and make into sauce. Enough to see us through to next summer. A tall order, I know. Continue reading
Today is Earth Day and this past weekend was filled with all kinds of festivals, lectures, classes, etc. to commemorate the day. I am glad that we have a day to celebrate the earth, to raise awareness, to bring people together around common interests and to educate. This is good. However, I think most of us agree that it takes an everyday commitment to honor our planet, and by doing so, we make changes within our own lives and hopefully are getting creative and working hard to create change on a larger scale.
“Mommy, is it getting too warm for apples?” asked my daughter as we ate lunch a few days ago.
“Well,” I replied. “I think most apples ripen in the fall. Why do you ask?”
“They don’t taste like bubble gum anymore,” she answered.
I agreed, “I know, they are not tasting as good as they did a few months ago.”
I arrived at Muir Ranch, just after 9:00 a.m. on a Monday morning. Their indoor space was already stacked with boxes and crates full of fruit and vegetables waiting to be split up into that day’s CSA shares. Students trickled in and began bagging peas, lettuce, and broccoli. A couple of women were there parsing the 10 half shares they would be taking back to their school. Before 10:00 a teacher from a local elementary charter school arrived with her students to harvest kale and then put together the CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) shares that would be distributed on their campus.
A year can be marked by what is growing in the garden, birthdays, the start of school, by anniversaries, by so many things. A blogging anniversary is a milestone, especially the first year. I started this blog not really knowing what to expect. It was a completely new endeavor. I like to write, but need “assignments” to motivate me to actually do it. Blogging seemed like a good way to give myself assignments, and gave me a forum to write about something I am very passionate about.
I have a funny relationship with celery. I really do not care for it in its raw state, but absolutely love the way it smells in its raw state, especially the scent it leaves behind on my hands after I harvest, touch, or chop it up. There is something so pure, earthy, crisp about it. Now, I completely love and appreciate celery as a flavoring in soups, turkey stuffing, stir fry. These things would not be the same without a couple of ribs.
Backyards, while glorious in so many ways, have their limits. They often have fences to separate us from our neighbors. They have trees (also glorious) and other structures like garages and patio coverings. These things create a lot of shade, especially in the winter. In my backyard, in the winter, these things create too much shade.
All winter I have watched my garden creep along, eking out an existence with very little sunlight. I just harvested the first bunch of kale, which I sowed in September! I fantasize about tearing up the lawn, taking a swipe at the neighbor’s hedges, anything to gain another hour or two of sunlight.
When I began this blog I shared with my readers that I was going to plant everything from seed in 2012. It would be a first. And, with the exception of three pepper plants, everything in my garden was grown from seed last year. Making the promise to grow everything from seed motivated me to expand my seed buying options, and I turned to seed companies that grow and sell heirlooms.
- Heirlooms are far more interesting than the typical varieties you find in the grocery stores. Grocery store veggies are often grown from hybrids that produce fruit and vegetables that can withstand mechanical harvesting, are stronger for transport, don’t blemish as easily, or are resistant to certain pests. Genetically modified crops are designed to resist particular pesticides or herbicides. These varieties are not bred for a particularly rich flavor or color. They are bred for mass production, transport, and a good shelf life at the grocery store.
I had a dream just before I woke up this morning that all the flowers that didn’t make it onto Rose Parade floats ended up at a warehouse for a public give-away. I had some project in mind and went in hopes of scooping up some free flowers. I ended up there on the last day of the three-day event and all that was left were rose stems. No flowers. Just thorns.