May 2010

So, when you defrost shredded zucchini (see here), you end up with a ziploc bag full of what looks like white worms swimming in a bunch of water. If you drain off the water and use those worms to make zucchini bread, it sucks. Just so you know.

My lettuce haiku…ahem…

Live long, lettuce leaves

We happily crunch salads

Made with love from thee

Our lettuce bed is looking great. In the past, I’ve always bought lettuce six-packs and planted them. I can’t recall how long it took them to bolt (non-gardening fans of the Patch – that is when the plant flowers and the leaves usually lose their flavor),  so now that I’m starting from seed, I figure I’ll just keep planting seeds every few weeks until I run out.  This year, however, I’ll pay attention to when it is no longer, “lettuce season” so I know what to expect next year.

We had a delish salad last night. Granted, with grocery store tomatoes (although ours aren’t far off!) but still! Slivers of parm cheese fresh off the block and some balsamic, it was nummy. Spinach, Mache, Arugula, Red Salad Bowl, Drunken Woman, Bibb.

There is one problem with freshly grown baby lettuce and greens. I planted the seeds very tightly and am thinning them to eat, leaving some to grow bigger. I pull them, roots and all, which is the goal, but a bunch of dirt comes up too. So I have 1/2 a bowl of lettuce and 1/2 a bowl of dirt. Rinsing them in our sink results in grit and sand in the disposal. Not good. Last night, I put a paper towel over the disposal, but I need to come up with a better plan. Rinse them outside perhaps? Any ideas would be welcome.


I’ve been reading a book called The Four Season Harvest by Eliot Coleman.

Hey, look, he’s wearing mucks!

This is going to be my bible, I can tell. The basic premise is, you can grow veggies in the Winter, you just need to find ones that like the cold. That’s fine, but I live in NEW HAMPSHIRE. It gets pretty cold here. I’m wearing a sweater right now and it’ll be June in 5 days. I bought it, though, because the author, Mr. Coleman, lives in Maine. Sweet. Maine is definitely colder than here. He describes cold frames, root cellars, greenhouse growing, etc. I am sure I’ll be mentioning this book in the future. I bring it up at this point because he starts salad greens in the Fall and harvests them all Winter long. THAT is what I want the greenhouse for.


Meanwhile, the strawberry flowers are crazy. When we first moved into this house, there was a small strawberry patch. I moved over 100 strawberry plants to a bigger patch to the side of the steps to the back deck. Slugs love strawberries, the little bastards, so we usually got only a few that didn’t have holes. When we rebuilt the deck a few years ago, the patch had to come up. I put the strawberries in pots just to be able to save them. Last year, when Keith and his brother built the Chef’s Garden (formerly the Side Garden and, for a brief, yet shining moment, Peber’s Point), Keith put in a section for the strawberries. They outgrew it already.

Last year, the strawberries did well. I would pick them every morning in June and early July on my way to the DJ (day job), sometimes eating the clean ones in the car, rinsing the rest went I got there and eating them with yogurt for breakfast. Seriously, what could be better? They were so good. If you do not have a strawberry plant, get one. I mean it. Grocery store strawberries, all big and heart-shaped have just NO flavor.  They are picked too early in order to make the trip to the store. Also, I firmly believe as do some other gardeners (I read as many garden blogs as I can! I want visitors, I need to be one too!), that the bigger the fruit or vegetable, the less flavor it has. (You know all those contest-winning veggies? They’ve been fertilized beyond the point of good flavor!) Anyway, ours are small/mid-sized and really fantastic. I have NO idea what variety…we inherited them.

Well, this year, the plants are spilling out of their bed, and they’re super “fluffy” is the only way I can describe them. I have a pot with flowers in the middle of the bed and the strawberry plants have pretty much engulfed it. I shouldn’t have bothered putting the flowers in.  So, as I sit here with growling tummy, I fantasize (well, “think fondly of,” “fantasize” might be a little melodramatic!)  of strawberry spinach salad.

Strawberry Spinach Salad

Baby spinach leaves, washed and spun; Fresh strawberries, sliced; Orange segments, cut into bite-sized pieces

Mix together

Dressing: Stir 1 tbsp dijon mustard with 3 tbsp honey, about 4 -5 tbsp balsamic vinegar, about 1/4 cup evoo, pinch of kosher salt and pinch of paprika. (Those measurements might need to be adjusted, I don’t measure. Basically, it is thick and dark. It should pour like pancake syrup). Put the dressing on last as it’ll make the salad soggy. Sprinkle with crushed cashews.


It is story time. The gardens are growing and all is well on the homestead. I promised in Feeling Sappy, that I’d share the story of the time I had to protect some malamutes from a pack of wild dogs. This story really shaped who I am now. Funny, I don’t know why. I think mostly because it is so freaking hilarious and, to my current friends and co-workers, it is surprising that the person in the story is the same person they know now.

I will spare no details, so don’t judge me.

>fade to memory sequence< (and if you’re like me, you’re picturing Wayne and Garth go into dream sequence, “doodle do, doodle do, doodle do”)

In 1993, I married Paul Bunyon. I didn’t realize I was truly marrying Paul Bunyon, but I think he stepped out of the story books and proposed.

Paul (seriously, not his real name, but close your eyes and picture the story book from your childhood, that was him) and I made friends with a couple who built a beautiful post and beam home in the Mt. Snow area of  Vermont. They decided they’d pack up and travel the country. Good for them! That sounded cool. They had a husky and 2 Alaskan Malamutes and were going to take the husky with them and asked us to watch their home and their dogs. Uh, sure. I mean, what’s a couple of dogs when I’m renting the tiniest-ass apartment above the garage of a doctor’s office and have the option to live, for the same rent money/month, in a 3-bedroom home with a wood stove, a normal sized-oven and a kitchen counter longer than 3 feet? SURE! TAKE OFF to the great white North or wherever the hell you’re going.  Bye bye!

You know, it’s funny, I can’t remember the dogs’ names. One was named after a town in Alaska, I think. Whatever, not important.  There are, however, several VERY important pieces of the story that you need to know in order for me to bring it all together.

1.  The bathrobe. My mother-in-law had given me a very nice Victoria’s Secret terry bathrobe the prior Christmas. It was lime green and was one of those long ones that just about touched the ground. You know those matchsticks that are really long? Like, a foot long? Well, I had been wearing the bathrobe when I lit one of those matches to light a candle. The match head flew off and, still flaming, landed on the bathrobe and set it on fire. Terry is very flammable, it turns out. I am very calm in an emergency and was able to get the fire out without much fuss. (Basically, in full freak-out mode, I was jumping up and down while patting the fire out, all while screaming, ‘MY BOOB! FIRE! FIRE! MY BOOB! Now you know where the match landed.)  Unsure what the jumping was about, but I got the fire out without getting hurt. Unfortunately, the bathrobe didn’t fare so well.  A big hole was burned into it, effectively releasing my right breast into the world. Great.

2. The boots. Paul was a lumberjack. (No joke). He had 2 pairs of boots that he wore on alternating days. While wearing one, the other would be in the hallway, drying (the inside…drying, meaning, they got sweaty every other day, ewww!) These boots were tall boots and I guess, now, I’d call them mucks. Back then, I called them shit-kickers.

3. The wild dogs. This was the Winter of 1995. The entire town was up in arms about a pack of wild dogs that had killed a child just up the road a few years prior. (Please note, “Just up the road” in Vermont terms is a few miles away.)

3-Year-Old Boy in Vermont Is Killed by Wolf-Dog Hybrid

Published: December 12, 1993 (link to full article here)

  • MONTPELIER, VT, Dec. 11— A wolf-dog hybrid mauled a 3-year-old boy to death on Friday after the youngster wandered away from his day-care center in Townsend, the police said.

Said wolf-dog-murderer was put down and so was her entire litter. There was a junk yard up the road from the house we were sitting and the guy basically had a whole bunch of dogs tied up to whatever wouldn’t move. The theory was that one of them got away a few years earlier and got busy with wolves in the wild, creating the pack that was running around, of which this female was one. So, the town stayed on high alert. (Ok, I have to tell this small story within the bigger story. One time, I had been speaking to my sister on the cordless phone, and mentioned I had a problem with my car, needed some part or another among other sister-sister talk. I hung up the phone and within a few minutes, it rang. “Hello, may I speak to your husband?” (Seriously, he said that. Well, feathers ruffled, I got pissy.) “Who is calling please?” I asked in my sickiest-sweetest voice. “Please put him on the phone.” (Are you kidding? F U buddy.) “May I ask what this is regarding?” Him: “I own the junkyard up the road and heard you talking on my scanner. I want to tell your husband I may have the parts you need for your car.” YES! That actually happened. There is so many things wrong with that, I really don’t know where to start. a) He was listening on the scanner to my phone call! How many other phone calls did he hear? Jerk. b) He asked for my husband when I, CLEARLY, was the one talking about the car part. Asshole. c) He had our phone number. Creep. d) He decided to CALL IT and try to SELL US SOMETHING FROM HIS FREEKING JUNKYARD!  Scumbagloser. What did I do, you ask? I, shocked, gave the phone to Paul and proceeded to yell in the background about how pissed I was and this guy was an asshole and I can’t believe he LISTENED TO MY PHONE CALL and had the freeking nerve to call about what he heard and ASK FOR MY HUSBAND! Oh my GOD! I am still dumbfounded! No, we didn’t buy the part from him.) Back to the town on high alert. Let me explain to you what that means. Every truck-owning, gun-toting, hunter-with-an-orange hat redneck AND HIS BROTHER were itchin’ to get them some ah that killer-wolf-dog pack. (Best written-Vermont-accent I can come up with.) The town even had a Dog Constable -a person elected by the town selectman to respond to calls about loose dogs and was authorized, should said Constable deem necessary, to humanely put down any unlicensed dogs or wolf-hybrids. (Yes, I lived here.)

4. The gun. Ok, here’s where it gets interesting. I had a gun. I don’t remember the real information about the gun, I just remember this (and I think it is incorrect, but who gives a crap, this is what I remember and it is my story.) I had a 32 caliber semi-automatic Ruger target rifle with silver engraving and a 10-bullet clip. How did said gun get into my possession? I got it for Christmas. Yes. It was under the tree. I am serious. You see, Paul was a hunter. I knew this about him when we dated, when I said, “Yes” and when we got married after 4 years of being together. (Did I mention I started an animal rights group in college? Perhaps now is the time to remind you he is my EX-husband. We just had nothing in common, like, oh, he was a hunter and I started an animal rights group. Like that.) So, there we were, unwrapping gifts under the tree at my in-laws and there was a long box under the tree with no name on it. It was purposely saved to be the last present. Paul slid it toward me while his mother backed up with the camera ready to catch my reaction of joy. Other family members, also in the know, had big grins on their faces, knowing this was my big present from Paul. All I could think of when I opened the box was, “What the fuck?” I must have had that look on my face because he quickly explained, “I thought we could shoot targets together, you know, give us something in common.” (Good response because if he even considered me going hunting with him, I would have shoved that thing so far up…) This wasn’t the first time I held a gun, I had shot skeet with my Uncle when I was around 12 and was a crack shot back then. I still was, apparently. We went outside to sight the gun in (that’s the lingo for making sure it shot straight) and I hit the target every time. I didn’t like the gun though. Actually, I hated it. What was he thinking, giving me a gun? I am a cute, peace-loving girl who STARTED AN ANIMAL RIGHTS GROUP IN COLLEGE, thank you very much.

Ok, there are all the pieces. Here’s what happened.

The malamutes were in large kennels outside. They had their dog houses, each in a separate pen that had a chain link fence with a latched gate.  This fence was about 6 feet high. The pens were surrounded by an outer perimeter chain link fence that was about 8 feet high, with about three feet separating the inner gate from the outer perimeter fence. This way, you could walk into the big gate, shut it behind you, walk up to each of the smaller pens, unlatch it’s gate, let the dog out into the bigger pen while you, cleaned their houses, gave them fresh water, etc. and they weren’t out roaming the neighborhood.

One early Winter morning, I’m not sure, probably in March because it was cold, but more muddy than snowy, Paul had already left for work. I woke up to what can only be described as a, “Ruckus.” Howling, growling and the sound of a a thousand freight trains rumbling down a track. I looked out the upstairs window to see a whole bunch of dogs jumping up against the chain link fence that made up the outer perimeter of the dog pens. Meanwhile, the malamutes were in their inner pens, also jumping up against the fencing. ALL of them were barking like mad and, basically, making, well, a ruckus.

So, being the rugged Vermonter that I was (my toes had not seen the pampering that is a professional pedicure until I moved out here!), I decided to take care of it. I grabbed the closest thing to a coat – the mint green Victoria’s Secret bathrobe with the burned out boob. (Yes, it was close by, which means, yes, I had still been wearing it despite the flaw in coverage. Shut up. It was warm – well – except my right boob, but everything else was warm so shut up.) I ran to the gun closet (I told you he was a hunter), unlocked it (proper gun safety!), grabbed the 32 caliber semi-automatic Ruger with silver engraving and a 10-bullet clip. While running down the stairs, I put the clip in to the gun.

All this took just moments, meanwhile the frenzy outside was mounting. Ooh, that sounded so beginning-of-a-thriller-novel suspensful. Perhaps I’ll use thriller-novel-language to add some excitement.

Our heroine found herself about to bound outside without so much as a slipper on her feet. She spotted Hunter’s boots in the hallway and, making a quick decision, stepped into them. They were large on her, they came to her knees, her bare toes squishing in yesterday’s sweat, the heavy boots still not dried from her husband’s previous day’s toil in the forest. She took a few steps towards the door and realized the boots were a mistake, she could barely lift her feet to walk. Committed to the task at hand, she headed out the hardwood front door, quietly closing it, and the screen door, behind her, careful not to alert the intruders of her presence.

Raising her weapon (32 caliber semi-automatic Ruger with silver engraving and a 10-bullet clip) as she crept, she slowly made her way down the 2 stone steps and into the dirt driveway. The viscious wolves hadn’t caught her scent…yet. The seconds passed like hours as she inched toward the danger, gun held high, boob out in the cold. Frothy spit sprayed from the mouths of the enemy, hitting the air like angry sparks as they growled and barked at their trapped prey.

“Shoo!” she said, her voice squeaking a bit as she trembled in fear (and cold, her right boob was hanging out of the bathrobe after all!) Her foe did not turn away from the center of their attention. “SHOO!” This time, with more confidence and volume, however, her voice was drowned by the piercing, angry growls and barks of the enemy wolves as they continued to try to jump over the fence and strike down the caged pets.

Raising her 32 caliber semi-automatic Ruger with silver engraving and a 10-bullet clip, she knew she couldn’t kill a living creature intentionally (she did start an animal rights group in college), so she quickly decided upon a course of action. She intended to scare them away. The gun WAS loud, after all. It surely would send them running and she could go back to living peacefully.

“SHOO!” one more time for good measure, but it went unnoticed. Shuffling closer (the boots were so heavy, she could barely pick her feet up, add that to the floor-length bathrobe, shuffling was all that was possible), she rounded in an arc and came up on the side of the wolf pack. What our heroine didn’t realize was that she had been putting more and more distance between herself and the front door of the house with every step she took. She had been shuffling TOWARD danger. 32 caliber semi-automatic Ruger with silver engraving and a 10-bullet clip raised, she brought the pack into her sight. It was from this vantage point that she counted, “One, two, three…seven.” There were seven frenzied and venomous wolf-dogs, descended from a line that was not afraid of humans, and apparently thirsty for their blood, just feet away.

She turned off the safety, strategically pointed the gun and moved her finger ever so slightly, to fire the trusty rifle. Instead of shooting one of the wolves, in a split decision, she chose to shoot the driveway, spraying dirt and rocks up at the pack. It had the desired effect. Sort of. The great gray and brown beasts stopped their fence assault and, surprised, turned to see the source of the onslaught.

There was our heroine, standing alone with her gun, at least 15 feet from the door, and safety, wearing nothing but a mint green bathrobe, right boob hanging out of the black-charred hole in the garment, and a pair of shit-kicker boots. The creature in the back of the pack, now that they turned around, was in the front and quickly sized up his new foe. The hair on both of their necks raised in tension. Hunted and hunter. It only took a mili-second for her to realize he meant to come after her. Her eyes shifted toward the house and then back to the pack of wolves. Now! She ran toward the house as if her life depended upon it, because, it did. The wolves, sensing new, tastier prey dressed in a delightful shade of lime green, all moved as one, leaping into action to chase our terrified (seriously freaked out is more like it!) heroine, trying to capture her in gnashed teeth before she made it inside.

‘Chucka, chucka, chucka’ was the sound of the shit-kicker boots as her small feet attempted to lift and move them as quickly as possible toward safety. She was still carrying the 32 caliber semi-automatic Ruger with silver engraving and a 10-bullet clip, boob flapping outside the robe as she ran, screaming like a three-year-old.

Wolves nipped at her heels, so close! Her golden-blonde hair whipped in the wind, the early morning sun gleamed off the polished silver on the side of her weapon. She “chucka, chucka, chucka’d” up the two steps and, still screaming, pulled open the screen door just wide enough to slip inside. Safety! Her relief lasted only moments as the pack of hungry wolves jumped against the screen door, trying to rip it to shreds and bring her life to an end.

She shut the heavy wood door, locking it for good measure, putting strong, heavy oak between her and certain death.  Chucka, chucka to the (damned!) cordless phone and called the number for the Dog Constable that was posted on the wall. The town dispatch service answered the call. Idenfying herself and noting her address, our brave heroine decribed the situation clearly and calmly. “A PACK OF WILD DOGS IS SLAMMING UP AGAINST THE HOUSE!”

(OK, enough harlequin romance stuff.)

I was smart enough to go upstairs and put on jeans, a bra, a sweater and a pair of my own boots in preparation for the Dog Constable to arrive. From the upstairs phone, I called my office and left a message on the machine. “Hi, it’s Jenn. I’m going to be late. There’s a pack of wild dogs in between the house and the car. I’m trapped. I’ll be in when I can.”  (Seriously, that was the message.)

In the time it took me to pee (well, I had just been chased by a goddamn pack of wolves, if that doesn’t scare the piss out of you, I don’t know what will), change clothes and make that call, a lot had been happening outside.

Every truck-owning, gun-toting, hunter-with-an-orange hat redneck AND HIS BROTHER had heard the dispatch on their scanners and, guns blazing, had pulled into the driveway. (It seems that every one of them was a volunteer fireman because I think each and every truck had at woody light on the top. For those of you who don’t know what a, “woody light” is, the concept is simple. The driver gets a woody every time he gets to turn the light on.) There must have been over 10 trucks (not one was Paul’s, he didn’t have a scanner in the forest) and no wolves. The scanner-listening, woody-light-lovin’,  truck-owning, gun-toting, hunters-with-orange hat rednecks AND THEIR BROTHERS had probably scared them off.

So, that is the story. I got to work an hour late, mostly because I had to recall the story a few times, (at that time, I did not share the part about my boobless bathrobe) and the driveway had to clear out of all the trucks. Paul got home that night and had already heard, from just about everyone, that his wife had been up early that morning, deciding she’d take on the pack of wolf-dogs herself with her Christmas present gun.

He gave me a shotgun for the following birthday and I started planning the divorce shortly thereafter.

This will be a picture-less post, but I promise you, it will have the same humor throughout, I am just too damn-ass tired to get the camera and plug it in. Sorry, but read on if you care, this post has been festering in my head all day.

The garden is in. Here’s a breakdown:

Growing: Lettuce -(I plant more seed every few week) Red Salad Bowl, Drunken Woman, Bibb, Green Leaf, (I think some more, again, too tired to get my ass up and check the seed packets); Spinach; Arugula; Garlic, Red Onions, Bush Beans – 2 kinds; Snap Peas; Edamame (yippee!); Tomatoes – Reistomate (supposedly it is like little cherry tomatoes that grow together in a cluster), Sweet Baby Girl, Roma, Striped Roma, Marmande, Red Grape; Husk Cherry; Bell Pepper; Bulgarian Carrot, Indian PC151 and Tepin hot peppers.   

Herbs: Chives; Garlic Chives; Catnip; Oregano; Golden Oregano; Basil (a lot!); Cilantro (not enough!); Thyme; Italian Parsley; Dill; Rosemary.

Fruit: Strawberries; Raspberries.

Seeds just put in: Green Onions; Parsnip; Carrot (I’ll re-seed those every week), more Bush Beans, Broccoli; Beets; Cucumber – 3 varieties

Sounds great, right? Sounds like a wonderful bounty of veggie, herb and fruit goodness, doesn’t it? I can hear it now, “Oh my! Look at all the food you have canned, you’ll be eating all winter!”

So why am I so PISSED OFF? I’ll tell you why. Any self-respecting gardner should have figured it out by now. Go back, read that again. Anything missing?

I FORGOT THE GODDAMNED ZUCCHINI!!!!!!! What the hell? I should just shut the laptop, put on the fucking mucks for the last time and stomp through the gardens, putting a stop to this whole bloody experiment. FOR SHAME, Jenn, FOR SHAME (said in that whispery, condesceding voice. Can you hear it? Listen very closely, it’s there, shaking it’s head in disgust). The problem is, we didn’t plan, we just bought seeds that sounded good, and, well, shit, I forget the damned zucchini, (Oh, but I remembered Shit! Keith did anyway. He reminded me to put a pinch of the guano-in-the-white-bag in the back-fill soil when I planted the tomatoes and the guano-in-the-plastic bag in when I planted everything else.)

“So, what’s the big deal? Why not plant some, Jenn? Don’t give yourself such a hard time. It’s only Mid-May, there’s plenty of time.”  Yeah, well, shut up, annoying positive voice! We’re out of room. I had to pull the Asparagus (planted last week) to make room for the Peppers. 12 Asparagus roots are now hanging in a Valentine-heart-decorated gift bag from the basement rafters. (I told you I was a hoarder, right? Yes, I have an entire collection of gift bags, gift wrap and ribbon for every occasion.) I know that is a random place, but I won’t 1) lose them or 2) forget them if they’re there.

I even discussed zucchini and butternut squash here, in this blog and still forgot them. So, what lesson did I learn? Whatever, I’m too pissed at myself to try to make this into a lesson (the condescending voice just switched into that nasal, mocking voice).

So now what? We are out of wood to build another bed (yes, I said, ‘wood’), I don’t want to put it in our flower beds (I just re-landscaped the front of our house last year and don’t want to mess with it cuz I think it looks pretty if I do say so myself), we don’t have a truck to get more supplies to build more beds, and we can’t just plant it in the ground – beneath our grass/dandelion/ajuga lawn is a very thick layer of nothing but clay. Nothing grows in that!

I think that I have a small amount of either ADD (I am not mocking it, I really wonder!) or something, because that sentence about our clay soil structure just made that scene from Ghost flash through my head. Just for a second, but it was long enough to make me stop, ask myself how I even ALLOWED myself to have the scene from GHOST appear in the first place. That is embarrassing. I will not have chocolate tomorrow in penance.

Source: Wikipedia (Oh look, a picture!)

So, when I realized this morning that I had forgotten the zucchini, I tried to reason with myself (as insane people do sometimes, right?) telling myself, “We don’t really need zucchini. It’s overrated” and “It’ll be plentiful at the Farmers’ Market, go support your fellow farmers even though you can’t call yourself that anymore you silly little gardener” and then it hit me. It’ll be ok.

I have 13 quart-sized ziploc bags of last year’s zucchini, carefully blanched and shredded, hoarded in the basement freezer.

We’ve had cold nights as of late, but our NH news station forecasts warm days up into the 70’s and nights not dipping below mid 50’s for the next week. When days were warm recently, Keith has had to come back mid-day and put the greenhouse sides up and open the doors so we don’t bake everything.

So, we are gearing up for a big day. We’ve decided to get everything out of the greenhouse and into the garden. That is over 200 plants!

Stay tuned for before and afters. I am bright and chipper now, energized by the smell of the banana-chocolate chip mini muffins I have in the oven right now, but I expect both of us to be a little beat up by supper.

Ok…Muffins? Done. Crocs? On. Hit it.

I am so full that I had to change into sweatpants. Tonight’s dinner: Burgers with beef from Normanton Farm. Each burger had a slice of Cabot cheese and bacon from Popper (if you haven’t checked out Popper’s Sausage Kitchen, you MUST!)  Topped with some of our Arugula and lettuce and Appledore Cove’s Chipotle Lime Ketchup. Num num. Local (well sort of, Vermont isn’t within 50 miles). Oh, and the bun was from Nissen bakeries – also New England. Hey, check us out, Barbara Kingsolver!

So what the hell? It is mid-May. I know, I know, my parents always told customers to not plant anything until Mother’s Day. Well, that was last weekend and we’ve had some 34 degree nights and lost a few seedlings in the Chef’s Garden to the frost. We’ve been shmucking (shlepping + mucking) the tender plants into the basement in the evening and out to the greenhouse in the morning in order to try to protect them (yes, before and after the DJ-Day Job).

As you can see, things are getting quite big.

I left control plants of peppers, basil and a husk cherry in the greenhouse to see how they fared each night. We did well – a few ruined leaves, but the flowers hung in there. Whew. So, it hit 34 degrees again last night and everything did fine. I buttoned the house up, putting blankets in the doors where there’s an air gap and we haven’t lost one thing. As a matter of fact, we have flowers.

See the little husk cherry already forming?

Buds on a tomato plant.

The lettuce and arugula are doing well in the Chef’s Garden. The bean sprouts are pretty dead, however, and the edamame was hit by frost so badly, it looks like it was regurgitated. The onion, planted a few weeks ago, seems to not have changed a bit. I know I’m impatient.

It’s just that I am anxious to get everything planted outside. It’s strange, actually, how often I think about our little Patch during the day. I ordered business cards with our logo (Daisy in the daisies) and somehow find a reason, just about daily, to force them on someone – usually some unsuspecting non-gardener who probably couldn’t give a crap but says, “Really?” and so, sounded interested. Poor soul. Here’s our card.

This is a good place to thank my wonderful non-gardening friends for their readership and support. I am sure that reading about slugs, worms, bat shit and tomato (ooh, just pulled a “Dan Quayle” by spelling that with an “e” at the end. At least I was smart enough to delete it. The snotty-spelling-bee-kid in me was just completely disgusted with myself for that) flowers must bore them to tears, but they (thankfully!) read my posts and comment with gusto.

The Gig Girl who quit her, “full-time-full-salaried-full-benefits-with-a-big-girl-office-and-even-a-window job” to be a stay-at-home Mom and is exploring home-based income opportunities in the process (with much humor and wit!) and Gillis Marketing who jumped with both feet and no swimmies into the world of SMM (no, silly, Social Media Marketing) where she tries to educate (dare I say, ‘enlighten”) others in the process. Here’s what she says, “Join me as I learn, communicate and educate my colleagues to use these tools. Join in the discussion… Consider this your therapy, your reality check, your informational portal. I feel pain – you may feel it, too.” Both very bright women who know their stuff.

Tonight’s lesson kids? Eat local, shop local and read local. You’ll feel better about your food and possibly support your sweatpant-wearing neighbors in the process.

I entered the kitchen yesterday morning to find this posted above the compost pot (you can see my compost pot here).

If you can’t read it due to my camera-illiteracy, it says, “Save egg shells & coffee grinds.” Keith had been doing some homework.  Crushed egg shells are full of calcium which is great for plant growth and coffee grounds are high in nitrogen, tannic acids and other nutrients that acid-loving plants especially love (read: tomatoes!)  They also ward off slugs and we’ll do anything to ward off slugs. Ok, that was an OBVIOUS statement. Of course, anyone would do anything to ward off slugs. Slugs are pretty gross. (Click here for a picture.) Have you ever accidentally grabbed one with your bare fingers while weeding? Guh! The feeling of a slug getting squished in your hand will send involunatary shivers of, “Bluh! That was icky” all down your body and make you have to pee. I am NOT making this up!  (or is it just me?)

We’ve used the natural slug pellets around our plants, but that gets expensive. I’ve sprinkled them with salt, but that only takes care of the ones you can see and there is just something about the act of shaking salt directly ON the slug and watching it, in fascinated horror, foam up and disentegrate (picture, the Wicked Witch, “I’m melting, I’m melting) that, even though it is a creepy, slimy bug that eats our plants, makes me feel uncomfortable.  We’ve done the “Bury a cup of beer in the ground” trick, but quite honestly, I don’t want to spare the beer – beer belongs in one of 3 places, the fridge, the cooler or the belly.  NOT in the ground. Beer is better used for husband-bait (“Honey, it’s hot. Let’s go in for a beer”) than for slug bait. 

Last year, the little slimeballs ate sections of potatoes, took chunks out of the strawberries and munched  holes through my hostas and sweet peas.

I have written a slug haiku

Oh slugs, I hate you

You will eat my strawberries

Crawl on salt and die

So, it Keith’s espresso habit will ward off slugs and help us do this organically, then I say, “Don’t worry about the  jitters honey, they’ll wear off. Drink up! It’s for the garden.”

It feels warm. It feels like SPRING. We are anxious to get the 250+ plants in the ground. Folks, these are not seedlings, these pots range in size from 4inches to 1 gallon and our tallest tomato plant is already 3.5 feet tall, tied to bamboo stakes.

We moved them all outside into the greenhouse. With typical New England Spring moodiness, Mother Nature has given us 73 and 48 degree days, back to back. So, greenhouse sides have been up and down more often than that guy and that dog on the YouTube video.

So, now we’re debating. Things look very GREEN outside, but we’re expecting 38 degree nights early next week. Do we plant or keep them in the greenhouse for another week? I think we’ll keep them in the house. The problem is, they’re tipping over and many of them need to be repotted. Grumble. I was hoping to avoid that.

 At least the big ole grow light in the basement is off. I mean, it was on a timer, but that baby had been going since February. I went outside and watched the electricity meter turn as flashes of that scene in Christmas Vacation went through my head. It was slow, but there it was – spinning up the bill. So much for going off the grid. Hopefully we’ll figure out this greenhouse thing and be able to start plants in there next winter. You know, use Mother Nature and all…

Dinner tonight…beef shanks, herbed wild rice with our garlic chives and parsley and a yummy little salad with feta cheese and lettuce/arugula seedlings I thinned from the Chef’s Garden. Yum.

Oh, by the way, this video (click here) just made me cry. I am such a sap.

We love this recipe. They’re fresh and tasty and, depending upon the time of the season, we can fill them with lots of fresh-from-the-garden veggies. Here’s what I usually make…

  • 4 Blue Dragon Vietnamese Spring Roll Wrappers. These are white/clear round wrappers available in the ethnic food aisle of most grocery stores
  • Maifun Rice Sticks
  • 4 Lettuce Leaves
  • 1 carrot, peeled and julienned
  • 1 shiitake mushroom sliced into thin strips
  • 1/2 cucumber, peeled and julienned
  • Sushi vinegar
  • 4 basil leaves
  • 8 stems cilantro

Soak the rice sticks in hot water for 10 minutes. Drain well and sprinkle with sushi vinegar.

I use this julienne cutter to cut the carrots and cucumber into matchsticks.


Fill a shallow baking tray with hot water and place a spring roll wrapper in the water until soft and pliable, (about 10-15 seconds). Remove the wrapper and lay it on a wet tea towel and blot with a paper towel until it is slightly sticky. Place the leaves from 2 cilantro stems horizontally across the middle of the wrapper. Place a  lettuce leaf on top.

The trick is to have everything going horizontally in the middle of the wrapper, leaving an edge all the way around.

Put the 1/4 of the carrots, 1/4 of the cucumber and 1/4 of the mushroom on top. Then, grab a pinch of the rice sticks, letting any liquid drip off, and place in the middle. Put a basil leaf on top.

Now, fold the bottom of the wrapper up over the filling, fold in the sides totally covering the filling and making sure the sides stick to the folded-up bottom of the wrapper, like an envelope. Then, starting at the bottom, roll the wrapper upward to form a neat roll shape.

Put it under a wet paper towel while you make the other three.

Serve with dipping sauces:

  • Soy
  • Chunky Peanut Butter mixed with Soy Sauce
  • Hoisin