22 July 2008

thoughts

I always knew I wanted to have a garden of my own someday. I have strong memories of the green beans and tomatoes in mom's garden, of making strawberry jam, doing our own canning, picking cherries and plums. But I never knew how much I would enjoy having my own garden. I feel such a peace sitting on the garden wall in the cool of evening, listening to the birds, snapping green beans and watching the bees bumble in the cucumber blossoms, the smell of basil and mint growing. I usually feel pretty indifferent about cooking (and it shows) but now that I'm trying to put something from the garden into a meal every day (even if it's just one fresh herb), I feel so much more involved, interested, and creative about cooking.

I love involving Isa in the whole process, so that she understands where food comes from. She is always eager to put scraps on the compost heap for me, and knows it "makes food for the plants". She helps dig the soil, drop in the seeds, water the plants, pull the weeds, pick the produce, wash it off and eat it! Funny thing, she never used to like pizza much at all. But yesterday we picked handfuls of fresh basil, layered it on a plain cheese pizza with chopped tomatoes and a bit of swiss (all from the grocery except the herb) and she helped with every part of the picking, cleaning, and pizza assembly, and ate two whole slices. I was so pleased.

And it makes me feel so satisfied and rich in a way, to hold the garden products in my hands. Today we picked cucumbers, another zucchini (bound for cookies again!), peas (great steamed w/their pods and lightly salted) and Isa found some flowers in the weeds along the back fence. It all looked so pretty I took a picture to share with you. And now I'll stop yammering about the garden. Alfonso is sick of hearing it! (He likes to eat what I produce, but it bores him silly to hear the details of how it's grown.)

21 July 2008

Does anyone know what these plants are? They're trying to take over my yard, all through the grass. The first one is a groundcover, grows on a creeping stem. The other one grows in rosettes everywhere, now is shooting up these seed stalks so I'm anxious to pull it all out before it's even more widespread. I think it might be plantain, but I'm not sure.



16 July 2008

map

of my backyard. I'm getting ambitious. Everything blue is what I planted this year (but in different locations)- black are the ones that didn't grow well yet. All the red is what I want to add next year. Ha ha! do you think I can do it? I wouldn't think to try corn except I saw some at a petting-zoo farm just down the road we took Isa to and it looked fabulous.



Isa added a drawing of her and me working in the yard. I'm not sure who is who!

I just realized you can't read it well off this photo. So here's the list.

Have planted: ...........Want to add:

zucchini ......................squash
cucumber ..................cantaloupe
green beans...............pumpkin
bell pepper................cilantro
peas .......................... sweet peas
broccoli .....................corn
mint ..........................rhubarb
oregano ....................asparagus
nasturtiums ................leeks
beets .........................green onions
carrots ......................yellow onions
radishes ....................garlic
spinach ......................kale
lettuce .......................swiss chard
basil ...........................potatoes
parsley ......................more tomatoes
rosemary..................wildflowers
tomatoes
chives
oregano
sage
lavender
thyme

14 July 2008

I can't sleep

because my head is full of the garden. It's really pathetic, since I didn't plant until june, but some things are growing, and my head is spinning with plans for next year. We just picked handfuls of green beans, and the first fat zucchini. Today was our first dinner where every dish featured something from the garden. We had: pork chops simmered in "homemade" maple syrup and chicken broth with fresh thyme, a salad of baby lettuce greens, thinned beets, raisins and shredded carrot, a pasta dish cooked with thinly sliced radishes, radish greens and parmesan, side dish of sauteed beet thinnings and onions with bacon bits thrown in and fresh green beans cooked lightly with onions and almonds. It was scrumptious! And for the first time A didn't complain that I was cooking lots of vegetables, but ate it all up. We even argued over who got the last bit of salad (and I'm not a big salad eater). Isa loved helping to pick the beans and pull the beets, discover the dark zucchini hidden under the leaves, and wash them all. I am glad I found that pasta recipe; I didn't know you could cook radishes or eat their greens until today (I like them better cooked). Did you know radishes are related to chard? Next week we'll have peas to shell and add to our menu.

I'm reading Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle right now, which is real inspiring for gardening to feed your family. I don't think I'll ever try making my own pickles, yogurt or cheese like she does, but I want to start baking my own bread, and maybe someday try my hand at canning...

08 July 2008

We're actually eating out of our garden, now. Just lettuces, spinach and herbs so far, but it makes every meal taste better. Fresh oregano is great with sauteed mushrooms. And we love pizza with just basil and tomatoes heaped on it. The cucumbers, zucchini and beans are all in flower, and I spotted the first green infant tomato today. My second-planted garden plot is sprouting now, too: small watermelons, more lettuces, lots more herbs and flowers. And the carrots are finally coming up. Maybe we'll get some after all.

But, more exciting: we have a froggie friend. (Or toad?) Twice we've caught him while weeding - he hangs out under the thick plants where the ground is damp. I put him in a jar so Isa can look at him for a while, and then we let him go. He's brown and pretty small, almost the length of my thumb. Here's some pictures:









Oh, and our mantis is thriving. He's shed his skin and doubled in size. He now eats houseflies, and moths, but not spiders. I stuck a firefly in there once and he tried to catch it, bit it, then immediately let go and bit a leaf! They must taste terrible. We don't give him fireflies anymore. I did catch a small brilliant blue dragonfly (or damselfly? I don't remember the difference) once and he caught and ate that. It was nearly as long as the mantis himself.

Irwin has been catching (and leaving on the patio) voles every now and then. And today Asher our supercat caught a bird- I saw him nab it on the lawn. He chewed on and played with it for a while, then I buried it in the garden before Isa could see. That cat was pretty pleased with himself!