August 2010

The downside of overcrowding your plants? It drastically reduces the size of your favorite little veggie. And? When you pick them, since they’re so small and overcrowded? They’re super hard to pick. Yeah. So, below, please find my little visual of a backyard Husk Cherry (left) versus a front yard Husk Cherry(right) that self-sowed itself by the road. (I have taken the liberty of including a bright, shiny new quarter for ease of comparison. Isn’t that nice? You’re welcome.)

Yes, you read that right. The ones we tended to with loving care all Winter in the basement and in the greenhouse then planted in the garden, side-dressed with guano and egg shells aren’t doing as well as the one that grew all by itself thanks to a bird or critter stealing the fruit from our garden last year and leaving the seed behind in the pile of crappy sand left from the Winter road sanding to fend for itself. Fascinating (and irritating as hell. Damn Murphy’s Law!)

We did make Husk Cherry/Lemon jam. It’s great on Ritz (What isn’t great on Ritz? You could spread cat vomit on Ritz and it would be delightful. Ritz rock!) Anyway, it’s pretty good. Keith has made jam before, I have not, this was my first.  It’s a little on the watery side, so I’ve decided to call it a Chutney.  Same yellow sweet stuff, now you have different expectations.  Words are powerful.  Maybe I’ll call it Side of the Road Sauce. No, that gives visions of road kill. I’ll come up with something.

It’s been sort of lackluster in regard to color this year. I didn’t start or buy any annuals, instead concentrating on the vegetables. I plan to start some next year because I do miss them. Thankfully, some of our perennials and shrubs are flowering right now, which adds a bit of flair to the mostly green yard. (Ah, flair. Office Space – one of the best movies. ‘You do want to express yourself, don’t you? Well, fifteen is the minimum. Now, it’s up to you whether you want to do just the bare minimum.”)

Perennial Phlox

Endless Summer Hydrangea

Rose of Sharon (birthday gift from my parents)

Rose of Sharon in memory of Whitey the cat

And even this Moon Flower which was growing up the Phlox

If you haven’t noticed, I will point out the obvious. We don’t have any daisies. What the hell? FOUL! False advertising!! That’s right. The Daisy Patch doesn’t have any daisies. Daisy Mae’s picture WAS taken the daisy patch a few years ago, but we relocated them to put in the Chef’s Garden and they didn’t come back. I have a lot of flowers in that category. Cardinal Flower, Perennial Blue Lobelia, Wild Columbine, Wild Lupine, perennial Chrysanthemums, Fiber Optic Grass, Asiatic Lilies. The last one really steams me. I loved our lilies. I picked out some unique ones and they were chewed up by these red beetles called, “Asiatic Lily Beetle.” Imagine that! We don’t like to use sprays and, as I’ve mentioned before, I don’t like to squish bugs. I started doing it anyway (uck) to try to control them, but them kept coming back. Last year, I swear there was a small orgy on the StarGazer lilies. They start by devouring the flower buds and then keep going, leaving only a stem. Each year, the plants would come back shorter and smaller. This year, they emerged, turned yellow and died. Bummer. Even though I grew up around perennials, I don’t have the garden to the point where we always have something blooming, hence the need for annuals.

When we were buying the house, it was Winter and thus, we couldn’t see much of what the property had for plants. We moved in to the house in April and started discovering all the perennials. There were a lot of iris and peonies. I went and bought 30 different hosta and planted them all over the property. I gotta say, we were pretty happy with all the flowers that we discovered with said new home.

Except the Yucca. We hated the Yucca. Once that NASTY tall flower stem lost it’s flowers, the leaves (blades) got all stringy and scrappy looking. They were UG. LEE. So, after dealing with them for a few years, I came home one day and Keith had dug them all up. Hooray. Problem. If you leave just a little tiny bit of root, it’ll send up a new plant. So, if you break the roots into parts digging up the plants, it sends up MANY new plants. This was 5 years ago and even though we had everything dug up with the new septic system last year, we’re still getting little yucca plants. We use the f-word to describe them. Fucking Yucca. Yeah. We hate them that much. I cursed. In writing. On the internet. We hated them. We still have one F’ing Yucca growing up in the compost pile. Bastard. Why won’t you die? Funny, my Mom used to say that one person’s weed is another person’s flower. Someone put these horrible plant monstrosities on the property ON PURPOSE. Why someone would do that, I have no idea. Ok, like, planting big yellow Marigolds? Ugly. Geraniums? Smelly. Zinnias? Boring. Fuschia? Messy. Others? Please share.

No one ever said I wasn’t opinionated.

Please have a bright, sunshiny day and thanks for visiting the Patch.  Come again.

Courtesy of Wikipedia.

First, if you have not seen the South Park episode I am quoting in the title, it is One.Of.The.Funniest. The question is asked, “What does a bunny have to do with Easter?” Hilarious. Look it up on Hulu.

Keith is a home brewer and was a professional brewer for close to 10 years. He bought 2 Hop plants (Humulus) a few years ago and I put them on the side of the house to grow up a 5-foot trellis. I didn’t realize that Hops grow really tall. Really Tall. They didn’t too too well. They didn’t die, but they didn’t flourish.

We had to relocate them when we replaced our leaching field and installed the french drain last year. I didn’t have another spot and so just moved them to the back of the house against the new deck in what I thought was temporary housing. I set up another trellis and forgot about them.

They love it and, for the first time since we’ve had them, have flowered.

You can see how tall they had to get (2 stories, spilling over the deck railing) in order to flower. Keith said, “Guess I’m going to have to make beer.” I want to call it “Home Brew.”  Get it? Home? Brew. Home Brew?  We’re growing it at home. Too boring? Any recommendations?

It is a gorgeous day outside – 75, Sunny, breezy. I am sitting inside reading my new Garden & Gun magazine. Thanks, honey!

My Roma Tomato Haiku…ahem

Roma Tomatoes

They’re bringing back memories

Of our famous sauce

Last Summer and Fall, when Keith and I were making spaghetti sauce, I shared with him something I thought I had already told him. When I was a child, my family would make spaghetti sauce every year. We called it, “The Sauce.” He knew that part. Here’s the part he didn’t know…

Me: Yeah, we used to make, I guess, somewhere around 220, 230 quarts each year.

Him: You mean pints.

Me: No, quarts.

Him: No you didn’t.

Me: (indignant) Yes, we did.

Him: 220 quarts?! C’mon!

Me: You want me to call Mom and Dad? I know, I’ll call my sister. (Dials) Hi, Doreen? Tell me, how many quarts, roughly, did we make of sauce every year? Wait, do you mind telling Keith? Ok, hold on, here he is. Ok? Cool. Thanks, love you. (Turning to Keith) SEE!?!?!?!?

My Dad commissioned Mr. C, the farmer across the road from us to grow the tomatoes, onions and peppers for our sauce every year. Then, we’d set aside a weekend, get all the bushels of veggies and make sauce all weekend. When I was smaller, I was responsible for washing the veggies. My Dad always did the squishing – it was a manual process. The kitchen was filled with bushels and bushels of veggies. We bought dried herbs to mix in. My sister’s responsibility was to wipe the jars down, put the just-boiled lids on the jars and then screw the bands on.

Then, at the very end of the day (usually 12 hours later, at least), with aching feet and sore backs, we’d sit at the kitchen and listen to the jars pop. If you’ve never canned (jarred), this is the sound of the lid creating the suction seal. It’s like a, “Peenk” sound. We announced every one until someone shut us (me) up. “There’s one.” “There’s another!” “There they all go” Peenk Peenk Peenk.

So, last year, when we made sauce, I didn’t call Dad to get “The Sauce” recipe, but I tried to make my own version. Onions, green peppers, garlic powder, onions, (secret ingredients). It came out “okay.” I’m not good without recipes. Keith made a sauce that was a bit on the spicy side. We labeled them with our names and taste tested (can you tell we’re a bit competitive? Makes things fun! We’re currently in a FourSquare war over the mayorship of a coffee shop down the road.) His was better than mine. (Grumble)

So, you saw the picture in the last post of all those cherry and grape tomatoes? He made them into a sauce last weekend. We bought a hand-crank “Sauce Master” last season that works pretty well. He kept the sauce on a low-simmer overnight and it is nice and thick. I think we’ll jar it up this weekend.

I got home from the DJ today, grabbed a basket and went outside in the 91 degree heat and heavy humidity to pick the veggies that I could see were ready.

I grabbed a bigger basket than last week.

Those are husk cherries on the top of the basket. This basket didn’t work too well. Cherry tomatoes and husk cherries kept falling out of the holes. I should have gotten on the scale with it. This was not light. And it was hot. Damn hot. Africa hot. I struggled to get it inside and on the counter. Everything has been sorted and washed and are now sitting on the counter, waiting for whatever we have planned for it this weekend.

We started some unique varieties of ‘maters. One is Reistomate. I just ripped up the renewal notice to the Martha Stewart Living magazine. I just can’t keep up with all the magazines, and he reminded me that he read about the Reistomate in one of the issues. I guess I will renew. I mean, she is the Queen.

~Small aside ~

I called Martha Stewart Living radio last year. I didn’t get to speak with Her Highness, but I did weigh in. Reenactment below..

Kim from MS Morning Living: Hi, who’s this and where are you from?

Me: Jennifer from New Hampshire

Kim: So, what rice varieties do YOU think Martha has in her pantry? (Of course, IF one were dirty minded, one COULD take that sentence the wrong way and snigger a little bit at what OTHER things Martha has in her pantry, but I didn’t, for me,  I was concentrating on rice.)

Me: Well, I’m sure she has White, Wild, Jasmine, and Basmati.

Kim: Right. There’s one more, can you think of it?

Me: Um…

Kim: It starts with an, “A”

Me: Oh, I can’t think of it.

Kim: Arborio

Me: Riiiight. Arborio. Of course.

Kim: (trying to make sure I didn’t start to cry for not thinking of Arborio) Basmati is so good, isn’t it?

Me: I know, I think it tastes like popcorn.

Kim: It does, doesn’t it? Well, thanks, Jennifer. Bye. (I am disconnected.) What other items do you think are staples in Martha’s pantry?

Cool, huh? My brush with the Queen (well, one of her minions). I follow her on Twitter too. Yes, I do. I am not ashamed.


So, aren’t these funky? They’re like grape tomatoes that have grown together into a tomato blob.  We haven’t tried them yet (I’m eating a cob of corn right now, don’t feel like having a tomato). Apparently, you can just sort of pick a little blob off the mega-blob and eat the little one. I read that they’re sorta sour. We shall see. Don’t the ones on the right look like those little decorative pumpkins?

We also grew some Striped Roma tomatoes. These are weird too.

Striped Romas

I like the color variation. The little nipple they have hanging off the end is a bit, well, unique to say the least. That’s a good place to close this post. Tomato nipples. Ponder it.