Side Garden



Here, I mentioned that Keith accidentally purchased 2 acorn squash seedlings. I had never had it before. I guess I never will. Read on.

Here, I braggingly showed you a picture of our little acorn squash doing quite nicely. (The other seedling never really took off.)

I need to let you know that it died. Gone forever. Kaput. Compost. (Com-pissed is more like it. I mean, what the hell?) Some fungus, powdery mildew took over the leaves and stems and so the stem with the squash broke off completely. Look at this picture. Gross.

 

And so, a lament for our dearly departed Acorn Squash, having perished too early in the twilight of his life (Team Edward!)

Acorn Squash, 4 mos.
Former DaisyPatch Farm resident, Acorn Squash, 4 mos., died September 22, 2011 in his garden bed. No service will be held.Mr. Squash was born May. 10, 2011 to Comstock, Ferre and was moved across the country, living in an Agway for a short period of time before being adopted by the owners of DaisyPatch Farm.
 
Acorn could accomplish anything he set his mind to do. At a very early age, he grew one leaf, then another, and continued to grow leaves, despite the loss of his infant brother and his cousin, Butternut in a freak dry spell.
 
Acorn served in the United States Squash Force during operation Zucchini. Mr. Squash spent more than 3 months in New Hampshire. He never married. He is survived by distant cousins, the Giant Pumpkins.
 
Condolences may posted here under comments.
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My pumpin haiku…ahem…

Crazy big pumpkins

Can our garden contain you?

You’re freaking me out.

We’ve never grown pumpkins before. We’ve grown zucchini, however. I always need sugar pumpkins for my Thanksgiving pies and end up wanting more, so have to go out searching. Well, it’s less “wanting” more because I usually only need 2 pumpkins for my pies. I usually need more. One year, I left them outside and they froze. I didn’t want to use them after that, the texture was weird. The next year, I didn’t want them to freeze, so I kept them inside on the windowsill and they rotted. We decided that, this year, we’re going to grow our own and bought some organic, heirloom seeds (gotta start out right!)

I was a bit late in planting the seedlings and they were root-bound and not-so-great-looking. Same with the cucumbers. Keith picked up some more pumpkin and cuke seedlings for me at the garden center, you know, just in case (so thoughtful!) He also picked up 2 acorn squash by accident. We’ve never had that.

So, everything is doing great. More than great. The plants are large. Feed-me-Seymour-large. Shall we analyze the hows and whys? Yes, lets. Because Mr. DaisyPatch has access to the internet and he knows how to use it. He’s been reading up on the best fertilizers for each phase of the life of our plants (that sort of sounded parent-ish, like our garden will be fed Gerber Graduates or something. Now is not the time for psychoanalysis, thank God! Moving on…). We have all sorts of organic fertilizers that have numbers and pictures of veggies all over them.

Needless to say, the shit seems to be working (oh, and we did, of course, use guano, aka bat shit, when we planted, so that shit is working too). The thing about it is, um, how to word this, I think we’re sort of screwed. He also bought giant pumpkins in that little trip. Yeah. I guess the plants are giant too. There are three very long branches, (tendrils? stalks?) and, so far, at last count, over 20 flowers. Yipes.

These are just the giant pumpkins. I’ll save pictures of the cukes, etc. for the next freak-show-post. OH, small DaisyPatch update. The Edamame is dead. I repeat. The Edamame is dead. I’m pissed. I shouldn’t be. I knew it was going to happen. But still, I’m pissed. That is all.


It has been too long, so…without further ado, my too much snow haiku…ahem… (OH MY GOD! That rhymed! Yeah, baby, this post is startin’ off good.)

We have too much snow

Just way too much goddamned snow

Dreaming of the beach

(As my intelligent and devoted readers know, I am pretty hard on myself. It is time to admit that haiku sucked. I know I gave you a good beginning what with the rhyme and everything, but then let you down with that sham of a poem. Dispicable (please go back, read that sentence again, and say, “Dispicable” in your spittiest Daffy Duck. I will wait. Did you do it? Did you get the lisp in the ‘s’ as spitty as possible? Ok, then. Moving on. This way please.))

Today, I am finally getting to the much anticipated theoretical discussion of, “What defines Edible?” As you may recall (you forgot, didn’t you?) a few posts ago, I mentioned that I was going to discuss this topic because I was starting to question what “Edible” really meant. No, I am not talking about chopping up corrugated cardboard to sprinkle on your salad, I’m talking about the lettuce greens I had picked from underneath the frost blankets outside.

You see, at that time (before Mother Nature decided to dump large amounts of snow on us every weekend and every Tuesday for a month now and cause roof collapses all around New England and the topic of discussions to shift dramatically from the normal, “How’s your snowplow?” to “We’ve got ice dams”) I was picking lots of baby greens from underneath those frost blankets I purchased from Gardener’s Supply.

They were doing really well. They were. Salad every night with little dressing made of grew-it-myself pride. Then, it started to get colder. And colder. They were supposed to provide cold protection to 24 degrees. We had some 15 degree nights for a while there, and one or two nights in the negative numbers. Yet, they still survived. Sort of.

You see, when a piece of lettuce freezes, it isn’t pretty. You’ve all done it, somehow, it gets too cold in the fridge crisper and you take out a little bag of, well, what can only be desscribed as brown snot sort of clinging to a translucent and very wimpy piece of lettuce.

And, here begins the debate.

Before, when I bought it from the grocery store and just put it in the fridge, only to be frozen or forgotten or both, I would throw it away when I found it. Yeah. Cuz that’s what you do with food that has gone bad, right? Well, we all know about my hoarding tendencies. I knew the end was near. Not in the Chicken Little sense, just that, pretty soon, we weren’t going to be able to get to the garden (in case you’re wondering, the end is NOW. The gardens are buried under, what looks like, 4 feet of snow and there is no way in God’s white earth that I am trying to dig them out to get 6 lettuce leaves). So, I picked a lot of lettuce each time I went out. A big ole bag full of baby lettuce.

But, as it got colder,  they sort of got paler and uglier and a bit more frost-bitten. I definitely noted that the leaves toward the end of the beds were worse off than the ones in the center, under the peak of the domes basically. But I still picked them. And washed them. And served them. And ate them.

Why? Purchased lettuce would have hit the pail without even a moment’s thought. (Actually, we do compost, so they would have hit the compost pail – you gotta follow that link if you haven’t read that post, it is one of my funnier ones if I do say so myself.) (I did say so myself, it’s just me and Peber here in the kitchen, unsuspecting little bugger doesn’t know he’s getting shots today. Anyhoo…) Why? Could it be I don’t want to waste? Could it be that, since I grew the lettuce, I trusted the lettuce? How bad could a little cold burn taste? Could it be that I’m regressing into the dark depths of a hoarding tendency that is just so twisted and demented, that I will serve spoiled food to myself and my husband? (Well, NO! Of course not, but that one episode of Hoarders where that lady had like, fridges of spoiled, contaminated food, sort of came to mind. I am not that bad, honest. It was just a few pieces of ugly lettuce!)

See, not so bad.  A little yellow, perhaps a little spotty, but overall, not bad for eating fresh greens from the garden in January in New Hampshire. I think that eating this lettuce is like, wearing that sweater you knit, even though the left arm is a bit too long. Or, enjoying the picnic table you made, even though it wobbles. Sort of that “I made it myself” stubbornness. (Stubbornosity? Stubbornity? Stubborn Identity?)

So, now it is all gone, the gardens are buried and we’re back to buying greens at Hannaford. We do still have tomato sauce, lotsa garlic, dried herbs, frozen carrots, frozen onion and celery from last year. Oh, and the zucchini from 2 years ago that I still have carefully hoarded in the basement freezer for a rainy day.

Sigh.

Next post…who the hell knows. You can probably just view it on A&E on Mondays at 10, 9 central as some gentle-voiced, slim lady who looks good without makeup asks me how I FEEL when someone throws away the zucchini in the freezer.


My November gardening haiku…ahem…

Useful frost blankets

Thanks for keeping the ground warm

So veggies can grow

It is almost Thanksgiving and I snipped baby greens and pulled some carrots last night for dinner. How cool is that? Technically, 27f cool.  That has been our lowest nighttime temp and there’s no sign of distress. I have the carrots tucked into salt marsh hay (god that shit is like velcro. I got it over 1 month ago and continue to pick the strands from my trunk. Lesson? Line the ENTIRE trunk with plastic next time, do not just lay down one piece and expect the trunk to be sparkling clean after bringing home a bale of salt marsh hay).

Tonight’s dinner: Crispy Chicken with Soba Noodle salad (containing our carrots!) Tomorrow we will be having roasted root vegetables with a Shiitake mushroom risotto. Yum.

Let’s go for a Winter walk in the Kitchen Garden..

Mixed greens in the foreground. Varietals in the back.

 

Golden Oregano

Catnip

I had some Dusty Miller in a pot with Dracaena in the strawberry patch. I like how the grey/silver looks against the red strawberry leaves.

Kind of a neat variety of carrot (my way of saying, I don't remember...)

Garlic Chive seeds just hanging out in the dead flowers.

Daisy Mae (a.k.a. PooperDoopers) hanging out under my feet as I blog at the breakfast bar.


My end of season haiku…ahem…

Yesterday was it

The gardens have been torn down

Choking a sniffle

I wonder why I’m so emotional about wrapping up the back gardens. Methinks several reasons. When the beds are so buried in snow that you would never have known they were even there, will I have a purpose? I mean, sure, my life has purpose, but I’ve had such focus for the last several months that it has become routine and, routine is well, comfortable. I actually liked coming in sore in the afternoons – that means I worked – toward something. Why is it so different than any other year? We’ve had gardens for years, what’s the difference? Well, they are bigger this year, that’s for sure. We also had a goal in mind with them – to produce as much food for the two of us for the present and to store for the Winter. Is that it? Now that we have done what we can to reach that goal and there’s nothing else we can do, I’m at a bit of a loss. I know I can plan for next year, we’re definitely going to make a lot of changes in what we plant, where and when.  I guess I just need to redirect my focus toward another goal. I’ll work on that.

 Meanwhile, technically, we didn’t tear down all the gardens, just the back gardens next to the greenhouse. We have a small surprise happening in the Kitchen Garden. You see, it’s all about zagging. Huh? Follow me on this…We had a small snafoo with the greenhouse. We ran out of greenhouse plastic when putting it on, so used cheap-ass plastic and it ended up getting sort of crispy in the sun this Summer. So, the good plastic goes over the top, we have fiberglass weatherproof board and a door on the back of the greenhouse and, well, nothing on the front. It was that cheap-ass plastic which has since ripped off/been torn down. Since we don’t have a truck to get more fiberglass, we’re waiting until BFF Roy can spare a day to come help (guy works a lot, bless him. If you need a Harley, we can put you in touch with him!) Meanwhile, it is mid-October and I should have the greenhouse plants planted by now. But, with no front to the greenhouse, that wasn’t going to happen. So, instead of zigging, we had to zag. (Did I mention learning lessons this Summer?)

I ordered some items from Gardener’s Supply (again, they’re not sponsoring me!) and have planned some low tunnels for the Kitchen Garden. The boxes arrived and sat in the kitchen for several days. Once Keith discovered my master plan, he took it upon himself and put it all together for me.

Mesclun mix (before)

Hoops are in.

With the frost cover

 

1 1 /2 beds done!

Hooray! So, since we weren’t able to plant Winter greens in the greenhouse, we’re going to try them like this. Technically, the Frost Blankets make it to 28 degrees, so I’m being realistic, but I bet we’ll b e able to extend the season a little bit anyway. But, we’ll mostly just be harvesting, there won’t be much weeding or planting. So, back to my purpose for the Winter…It needs to be something challenging, realistic and gives me the feeling of accomplishment. Maybe I’ll knit my first sweater.

Yesterday, I was out in the Chef’s Garden pulling weeds and thinning carrots when Keith came out to join me. Here’s what transpired.

Me: Hey, whatcha doin?

K: Helping weed

Me: Cool

Him: That your weed bucket? (points to bucket)

Me: (Weeding) Yup

Him: (Weeding)

Me: (Weeding)

Him: (Weeding. Puts weeds in bucket)

Me: (Weeding. Put weeds in bucket)

Him: (Weeding)

Me: (Watching him weeding)

Him: (Weeding)

Me: I will cherish this moment forever

Him: What?

Me: I will cherish this moment forever

Him: Why?

Me: Here we are, silent, side by side, working together toward a common goal like true partners. It’s special. I will cherish this moment forever.

Him: You’re queer


I had a small problem yesterday. I let Keith know that I was going outside to harvest some of the veggies. He said, “Bring a big basket.” You know how you hear something, but don’t really HEAR it? I sort of heard him say that, but it didn’t register. (If you ask him, he will say that is a constant problem of mine. I say it is because I am so intelligent that I’m constantly thinking…all the time, thinking, and sometimes, something new just doesn’t have room to enter at that exact moment. I think he would say it is because I’m not paying attention.)

Outside I go with our little basket. Green beans, peas, husk cherries, tomatoes, green peppers, cucumbers, red onions, shallots, scallions…It took me three trips inside with the small basket to harvest what was ready.

If this is one day of harvest, we’ve got our hands full. I haven’t picked the basil yet, but it looks like I have about 12 cups. Dreams of pesto fill my brain. (Did I mention that I have 5 freezer bags full of pesto in the freezer from last season? Um, yeah…)

The good neighbor, his daughter and some of her friends were walking by as I was picking. They sampled some husk cherries, green beans and sugar snap peas, fresh from the basket. Doesn’t that just warm the heart? Neighbors, standing by the garden fence, chatting about the weather, taste-testing crispy, fresh-picked sweet peas. An idyllic picture of countryside life. (We had to stop mid-sentence as a motorcycle hit the bottom of the hill and revved it’s engine to pick up speed for the straightaway. Jerk! C’mon, it’s a residential neighborhood. Did you do that on purpose when you saw the 5 of us standing there? I hope you get crotch-rot in your leather chaps on a humid 90-degree day!) I smile as I look back on yesterday – a lovely Summer day on the homestead.

Keith is making blueberry pancakes for breakfast with local blueberries (if you see a farmstand, stop and get blueberries and corn – it’ll be worth it!), King Arthur flour (I love that brand) and our maple syrup. Doesn’t it sound so delish? I can’t wait. I asked him to save 5 blueberries from the container to decoratively arrange on top of the pancakes when he serves them. Martha taught me right, it’s all about the presentation! (That’s true love, he just puts up with little requests like that.)

While he works at the griddle (we love our Jenn-Air – hey look, two N’s! It’s one of the reasons we bought this house – not the N’s – the grille) I look up recipes for using green beans. You can only steam them and serve with butter for so many meals before it gets a bit boring. I bought 2 varieties. One is called Tavara. They are slim and skinny – ones I would call French. The other are Burpee Provider. They’re fat and almost fuzzy. I like the Tavara better, but the Burpee Provider is really that – they are prolific!

*****Small aside*****

Dear Future Jenn:

While you are having fun ordering seeds, please remember that more is not always better. Unless you became a vegetarian again or plan on supplying local restaurants with your harvest, might I suggest you cut back on the number of each variety you put in the ground in 2011 and try more varieties in general? While 24 green bean plants sounded good in 2010, please remember that harvesting a gallon bag of green beans each day did cause you to spend the entire July weekend in front of a pot of boiling water blanching green beans for the freezer instead of floating in the pool. Just sayin’.

*****End of letter*****

Something about the idea of that Green Bean Casserole from our childhoods makes me skeevy. Canned soup, french fried onions from a can and greenbeans, slimed up and cooked. I am making a “that sounds yucky” face. So, here I am with Rachael Ray’s 30-Minute Meals GetTogethers trying to get inspired. Page 167 – Green Beans with lemon and toasted almonds. This sounds good. We’ll have it tonight with the buttermilk fried chicken K has been soaking in batter since last night.

2 oz sliced almonds

1 pound green beans, trimmed

1 tbsp butter

juice of 1/2 lemon

salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste.

In a medium pan, toast almonds over medium heat. Remove from pan and add 1/2 inch water to the pan. Bring water to a boil, add the beans and cover the pan. Reduce heat. Cook beans 4-5 minutes until just tender, yet still green. Drain beans and set aside. Return pan to stovetop and melt butter over moderate heat. Add lemon juice to butter (juice lemon half right-side up to keep seeds in lemon rather than in your beans). Add beans to lemon butter and coat evenly. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Transfer green beans to dinner plates or serving plate and top with almonds.

Thanks, Rachael. I’ll let you know how it is.

Another recipe is mine. This one rocks. It takes an entire day to prepare, but I’ll tell you where you can take a shortcut.

Smoky chicken pesto salad

Smoke a whole chicken in your smoker (shorcut: Don’t smoke the chicken) Cool and cut meat (white and dark) into chunks.

Boil a box of pasta (I like the bowties, use whatever you like). Rinse with cool water and drain, making sure all the water has dripped out.

Make pesto. I eyeball it – but be sure to toast the pine nuts before you put them in the food processer. I will take you it makes a TON of difference. Save some of the pine nuts aside (again, all about presentation!)

Mix the pesto into the cool pasta in a big bowl. Add grape tomatoes or halved cherry tomatoes. Add fresh mozzarella, cut in chunks – you know the stuff that is soft and spongy and is found by the olives in the grocery store floating in a liquid? (Or better yet, make your own! Making cheese isn’t difficult! More on that in a later post!) That stuff.

Pour into your serving dish, sprinkle with some baby basil leaves (keep them whole, they bruise when they’re cut), a few more tomato chunks and then the toasted pine nuts. Dust lightly with coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper. Nummy!

WHILE i STRUGGLE with Caps-Lock thanks to Peber, I will say this post is finished just in time for blueberry pancakes. It’s a good life.

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