June 2010



My tomato haiku…ahem

O tomatoes why

Have you grown out of control?

Must be the bat shit.

It’s a jungle out there. I thought I gave everything plenty of room when I planted, but apparently I (more than apparently, really) planted everything too close together. WAAAAY too close together. Like, get-out-the-machete-and-start-hacking close together. (Anyone else picturing Michael Douglas in Romancing the Stone besides me?)

I was trying to conserve room. I do that all the time. Put too many cookies on the cookie pan, only to have them grow all together when they bake. Carry too many grocery bags so I only have to make one trip, dropping stuff all the way from the car to the house. Put too many clothes in the washer only to have everything come out still looking a bit dirty, or, worse, having the load go off balance resulting in six trillion trips to the basement to fix the load.

I have no idea why I do that. None. Trying to save time? Just plain nutty? Probably a bit of both. Either way, it is obvious I don’t think ahead. Grumble. I hate lessons. Hopefully this one turns into a lesson on top of spaghetti (all covered with cheese) and in salads, not in the compost heap.

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My mosquito haiku…ahem

Dreaded mosquitos

I beg you, stop biting me

It makes me itchy

First topic: Garlic Scapes.  I was quite disappointed to see Scapes at the Farmers’ Market. We didn’t have any. Waah. Garlic Scapes were one of the things, besides Husk Cherries, that we discovered when members of the CSA a few years ago. Nummy. So, when I weeded the Chef’s Garden and didn’t see any Scapes, I was bummed, to say the least. Great. What kind of Garlic did we buy cuz I didn’t want to buy it again. I want scapes (in my best Veruca  impression, “But I want an Oompaloompa now!) 

The next day, what to my wondering eyes should appear? Garlic Scapes. Lots of them.  Whoopee!

Now what? I didn’t like the Garlic Scape pesto recipe I used last year.

Topic #2. I weeded. What? What are you saying, Mr. Dandelion? You’re telling me that if you weed a little bit each day, it is an easier task than waiting until 2 months into the season? Kiss my ass and then rot in the compost heap. On a good note, I found carrot, parsnip and cucumber seedlings. Hooray. I also found some husk cherry and a few tomato seedlings. That’s kind of cool. We’ve had that happen before – a tomato would fall from the vine and leave a seed in the ground, only to make it through the Winter and start growing in the Spring. I had to pull the tomatoes. This was the same garden bed that had the tomatoes last year and we were hit by the late season blight. After doing some reading (thank you Google and several gardening blogs I have decided to follow), I read that you need to not plant tomatoes in the same bed for three years, so I figured I wouldn’t risk it. I pulled that baby and gave it a little heave into the “pile” on top of the twigs, sticks and icky, decomposed things.

On a bad (good?) note, I think I weeded anything that might have been a beet.

Topic #3. Surprise. Our Green Beans are beaning. Greening? Green Beaning? Sporting Beanage? (sniggle).  We ate tonight’s harvest for dinner tonight!

 Yes, Mom, I’m eating my veggies! All 5 of them. Ooh, so full. (This is the type of veggie serving where you really hoped Mom would say, “You can’t eat any dessert until you eat all your green beans.” “Done. No, I didn’t spit them in my napkin. No, I didn’t feed them to the dog. I really ate them, see?” as you wave your napkin to show it is empty & waggle your tongue to show there are no green beans hidden underneath.)

Funny how I used to HATE green beans as a kid. Hate. Gag, actually. I really did. I couldn’t wash them down with milk either because I hated milk. Guh. I don’t care how much chocolate syrup you put in milk, I just can not handle the stuff. (I just realized I’m making this frowny-wrinkled-frown-‘ick’-face as I type this. I suppose that in normal, literary descriptive terms it would be, ‘She wrinkled her nose,’ but I’ve got this whole mouth-turned-down-eyebrows-and-nose-squinched-face on like I just smelled something awful.) Back to green beans. I’ll have to ask my Mom, but I think the beans we ate as kids were canned. My sister and I usually helped prepare dinner and I don’t recall washing any fresh beans. That’ll probably ‘splain it. (Come on, all together now…’Luuuuucyyy…’)

Topic 4: Li’l Bastard. This guy was in the back yard.  I asked Keith, “Did you find that picture on the net to just show me what he looked like?” Uh, no.

Walter Whistlepig is a resident of the Patch. Damn. That guy’s kind of cute, but a have-a-heart eviction notice is now set because we haven’t invested in a fence yet. Wook at that wittle face. BuhBye. You gotta go.

Topic #5. I haven't posted a picture of the buddies in a while.


I woke up early yesterday morning. I’d like to say it was the rays of a new day on a bright, sunshiny dawn peeking through the curtains and warming my face that did it, but, the truth is, I had to pee.  It was kind of drizzly and grey out actually – not a good hair day. After the bathroom, I put a bathrobe on, slipped on a pair of flip flops and went to the Chef’s Garden to pick some strawberries.

I have been hitting traffic every morning and so have been leaving earlier and earlier each day – taking away my favorite garden time. I’ve also been working late each night, so, alas, poor garden has been neglected by me. It is overgrown with weeds (or are they beets, carrots and parsnips? See here for more on that) and I figured there were a few strawberries I could pick before heading to work.

I guess there were a few strawberries! There were  over 100! Some did have slugs on them, but the DE we’ve been using really seemed to do the trick, I think, because last year, every one of them would have been munched on by a slug when I picked it. These are beautiful, right? Then why am I like, “Shit!” instead of “Hooray?”  Well, lately, we’ve discovered that Keith has an allergy to strawberries. He gets a rash if he touches them. That means that these strawberries are not going to magically turn into jam some day while my back is turned (he does that, I’ll pick up ingredients and then come home late from work to a freeking masterpiece that he just “made up!”) My sister is coming over to visit this afternoon and she’s staying until tomorrow. I’ll wash them up and I guess we’ll just pick at them as snacks while I kick her ass in a game of WAR.

The parsley has gone to flower already. Not a big deal, we don’t use parsley that much, I still have an entire ziploc bag of dried, crushed parsley from last season. (If you do not know about my hoarding habit, you must start at the beginning of this blog and catch up, I have quite a penchant for stocking up.) After picking the strawberries and bringing them in the house (still in a nightgown, bathrobe and flipflops I might add), I went back out with a pair of scissors to cut the parsley flower stems and found this creepy crawly visitor. That is about actual size.

 Oh, and 6 of his brothers, all hanging out on different stems of the parsley. I don’t know what it is, but I can bet they were eating the plant. Great. We have another problem, I don’t squish bugs. I don’t. It’s gross (insert involuntary shudder here). It goes back to my childhood days in New Jersey where we had these fat, black crickets, (not those skinny green ones, these were very fat). They would get into the house and chirp and chirp and chirp. Well, one day, I squished one with my bare foot. I didn’t mean to, but it was in my shoe. There was white bug goo mixed with black bug legs and uck in between my toes. (Insert involuntary GAG right here and throw in an involuntary sphincter clench for good measure, that is how fresh and how gross the memory of this is with me.)

So, needless to say, I do not squish bugs. That is a problem. If you don’t kill them, they’ll come back. So, what did I do with these 7 caterpillers? I cut the branch of the plant off, carefully carried the branch with said bug still hanging on, over the the compost pile and threw them down the hill into the pile. I then looked the other way and did that 6 more times.

Ok, all you gardener followers are shaking your head at me, while my non-gardener followers, especially those of you with a low creepy-thing-tolerance are thinking that sounds like a good plan. Well, I am not naive.  I know these things will 1) come back and 2) lay eggs which means 3) make more. Guh. I started looking through the “Insectipedia” to figure out what it was and how to kill it organically, but the site is listed alphabetically by name of bug, so I had to open the link to each bug to see if it was the right one. Yah, that isn’t happening, ewww. So, if I see another, I’m going to drown it in something. Or, maybe I’ll put it on a rock and then, from a distance so I don’t hear the squish, I’ll throw big rocks at it until I think I got it. Gross, I am so skeeved right now, I have to change the subject. If anyone knows how to kill it without a squish, please do let me know. Moving on…

After moving said buggies into their new home to happily munch away on my discarded food scraps (THAT’s the solution, keep feeding them, Jenn! Shut up.) I decided to head out back to check on the tomatoes and husk cherries. Keith had mentioned that some husk cherries had ripened (almost a month early, thanks to starting them indoors early! Look at us!) and he had eaten a few, so I wanted to see how far along things had progressed back there. As I head down the side hill toward the back yard, something moved in the distance. (It’s a small yard, it wasn’t too distant, it was basically at the back of our property, but I’m building suspense, work with me here.) Just beyond the trees something very large was definitely moving. Thankfully, it was moving away from me. Now, remember, my wildlife interactions usually happen when I am poorly dressed and today was no different. How am I going to outrun a vicious coyote or a rabid raccoon in flip flops I ask you? I wrapped by bathrobe tighter, and crept in closer with a strong predatory instinct, playing with danger because that’s the kind of girl I am – brave, bold, MIGHTY! (It was still a bathrobe, but it may as well have been a cape, really. I think I will knit myself one. My friend bought me a kit for superhero goggles, perhaps I will make those up and have them at the ready next time.)

The beast still rustled through the woods. It was large, I could tell it was as tall as my waist. It made no noise except for the sound of the earth and twigs being crushed under it’s weight. I just couldn’t see what it was. The hair on the back of my neck raised up in tense alert. Danger was only feet away. (Where’s my gun? (Read here) Oh right…)

Then I heard it, “BABE!”  The good neighbor was walking through from his yard calling for Babe, his pig who had gotten out of the barn. It was Babe the pig, cute Babe, the piggie I had fed kitchen scraps and scratched behind the ears. Babe was in the backyard. Of course. “He’s over here, I yelled.” Making sure the bathrobe was cinched (greeting a neighbor is not the time to have wardrobe malfunctions), I met him at the back of our property and pointed to where I had last seen Babe. “Do you have a rope? How are you going to get him home?” I asked, memories of using Daisy’s leash as a lasso the last time Babe got out. (My niece and I chased this same pig, much smaller a few years ago, across the street and up the hill, trying to keep him from getting onto the main street. We finally caught up to him and looped Daisy’s leash around his neck and kind of led/trotted him back to his barn.)  “Food,” he answered, holding up something from a take-out box.

I told you he wasn’t a small pig! We tried to gently convince the Good Neighbor, when Babe was still young, to have our friend Popper (www.poppers-sausage-kitchen.com) take care of him when it came time. He looked at us in horror, Babe had already become a pet. I understand, he is all cute and cuddly in that, “Please don’t step on my toe or you’ll crush it” sort of way.

Anyway, who knows how far Babe might have gotten without my keen senses and predatory instinct. Now, if only I could be that brave around bugs.


While I may still be figuring out how to grow vegetables, I will take a moment to brag about our flowers….

Giant Allium (these are larger than grapefruit!)

"Black" Iris

Oriental Poppies

Allium with Clematis in the background


My strawberry haiku…ahem…

Oh sweet strawberry

Luscious red, your hidden fruit

That sounded dirty

First of the Season!

 Our first strawberries of the season ripened just in time for Memorial Day weekend. The strawberry patch is in a little square in the middle of the Chef’s Garden on the side of our house. You can see they’re just spilling out into the path. I like how they start out white and, with a little time in the sun, they turn red (like me, I guess.) Most of them end up hidden underneath the leaves, taking their own sweet time to ripen.

They smell so good. You know, I haven’t tried one yet. You’d think I’d taste-test just one, but I’m trying to gather enough to put in my breakfast yogurt. I expect they’ll be delicious. They’ve been through a lot. Someone else loved these strawberry plants before me.  When we bought the house, I had to move them, then we had to move them again, then they sat in pots getting knocked over by pigs (the neighbor’s pig got loose a few times) for a year while we built our deck. Now they’re happily blooming in their second year in the little garden next to the house. The garden Keith built for us. With love.
So it got me thinking.  These little strawberries-that-could have been shoved around, knocked over, ignored, eaten by slugs, snuffled by a pig…basically lived a hard-luck life. Now they’ve finally gotten into their groove, moved to a place that feels good and made themselves at home. They’re getting some love and you can tell they’re happy. Like me.
They’re not fruit, they’re soul food.

Last year, not having ever grown carrots from seed, I inadvertently weeded many of the carrot seedlings. What can I say? They looked like little strands of grass.

Now that we have new varieties of things I’ve never grown from seed before – Cucumbers, Beets, Broccoli, and Parsnip, I’m afraid to weed anything. Needless to say, the garden beds look pretty messy.

 Carrot? Weed?

Meanwhile, the tomatoes in the backyard look great. I must say, we haven’t seen a slug yet. I’ll credit Keith’s eggshell-coffee side dressing. We’re also using  Diatomaceous Earth on the beds. If you are a gardener and haven’t discovered this product yet, here’s the deal-e-o.

Diatomaceous Earth, the fossilized remains of a single-celled algae, works the same way as salt on slugs. It basically dehydrates them. (Die sluggers, die! See here for my comments in The War on Slugs.)

So, the season is off to a good start. We’re trying our best to grow organically. Everything looks lush. I just hope lush equals food and we can soon stop playing this game of  “Is it a Weed, or is it What’s for Dinner?”