Friday, May 22, 2015

Tater Friends

Potatoes like it cool. It has been cool, mostly, this spring and our potatoes are just gorgeous. This scares me. What if they are beautiful up top but forming no spuds? I am a fearful woman.

Our potatoes are from three sources; four varieties. 2015 is the year of the potato experiment. First, I ordered seed potatoes from Territorial Seed Company. German butterballs and Norland Reds because they are supposed to be good keepers. (I have a problem with the keeping of potatoes.) Then I panicked and bought a $5.00 bag of Yukon Gold seed potatoes from Walmart because it was March and I still hadn't gotten my order from TSC. I also planted my own chitted seed tubers from last year. If they all make, I will be seeking tater friends. I am a hopeful.

I harvested garlic this week. It is so fragrant! Much better than the store bought stuff I'd had to fall back on for the last month. I will make more garlic salt this year so I won't have to buy next spring.

It has been warm enough this week to dry herbs in the car. Below is a picture of car cured oregano. Folks. Oregano is a weed here in southeastern NC. I need oregano friends...

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Garden Theories

Yes, they go together, seasonally speaking. 

I have garden theories:
1. Weeding makes holes for water to be better absorbed.
2. It is best to mulch after a good soaking rain.
3. If there is a fire ant out there it will find me and bite me while I happily gardening. Which is why I am inside, typing, nursing my wounds.

All things are coming together in our garden. Seasons are overlapping. Here's a list, barring the zombie apocalypse, of what we have going for us. Lettuce, asparagus, carrots and pea are amazing. Garlic, onions, peas, potatoes, broccoli, turnips and cabbage are chugging right along. French beans (yellow) are about to bloom. All herbs are brilliant! Shallots, my special project this (fall, winter, spring) are lookin' good. I planted them from seed in the fall and they survived being stepped on and this cold, wet winter. Right now, they need rain.

Tomatoes. A moment of prayer for the tomatoes, please. Grown from seed, planted early, some are starting to form fruit! Varieties out and doing A, OK, are Juliet (a small Roma type), Mountain Magic, Clementine and a Patio in a pot.

Everblooming strawberries look good.

For the record, the beets look like shit. What? They do!

And can I just give James Joyce a shout out here for making run on sentences with poor punctuation acceptable

A moment of silence for Joseph Mitchell whose writer's block was epic. Joe Gould's Secret made it acceptable.

And a gold star for Harper Lee who made race a topic in Southern literature but swore To Kill A Mockingbird was a love story. Girl, don't lie.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Perennial Vegetables

Ready to be eaten!
Asparagus is one of a few perennial vegetables. Annuals that are self-seeding perennials in the South include the brassica's (kale, collards, mustard, turnips) . If you let them go to seed they will reappear in a season or two which is a good thing. Just dig them up and put them where you want them or leave them be and they will chug along right where they are. Asparagus is different. Plant the crowns, wait three years, keep them weeded and watered, and for years to come they will reward you with early spring delights. We did just that a few years ago and this is the year! We didn't plant many. Some died over time, never quite strong enough to begin with. The plant count is about ten with some still not producing well. We collect the spears over a period of a week. Then, we have enough for the two of us to have a generous portion. Asparagus steamed with a light, lemon vinaigrette and a sprinkle of chive flowers is the perfect seasonal dish, I say. 
Almost ready to be cut.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Pea Shoots

A few weeks back I explained peas. We had way too many shelling pea seeds until …I realized I could plant them intensively and harvest them for shoots! Which I did. One very long row of peas spaced about two inches apart. They all sprouted, thrived and then there were too many shoots for garnishing salads. Internet to the rescue. Turns out Asians eat them sautéed with garlic and a dash of soy sauce. And that is what I did with these. Yummy.
The newest super food! 

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Food, my food.

Food. A four letter word. Sun, water, seed, soil and time with no small amount of work thrown in.
I know, really know, what it means to make food and it is a beautiful thing. A mostly satisfying endeavor. Mostly.
 There is a term floating around in the commercial local food scene here in NC. A product is called "value added" when food is processed or packaged in some way for sale. It's the difference between goats milk and goat cheese more. Say what? Code for processed in some way. Above is a picture of the value I added to my potatoes. They are of no value if I don't dig them. The value is added when I harvest them, wash them, prep them for cooking and do just that. 

Friday, March 27, 2015

Potted

Here are pictures of pots of plants I have taken over the years. Today is rainy but summer pots are just days away here in the sunny (sometimes) South. One more week and last day of frost will be o-o-ver.
Black Mountain, NC

Raleigh, NC


Grove Park Inn, Asheville, NC

Black Mountain gift shop courtyard

College of Charleston Library

T Rex in cork forest

Fairy Garden, Mine

Downtown Cheraw, SC 

Pansy pot

Brooklyn Brotanical Garden, Lettuces with Dill 

Mixed pot with basil
Goofy color combo turned out great! 

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Pea Lesson-A Letter To My Children

Shell, snow and snap…
Dear Children,

Your father grew up northwest of the Mason Dixon line. I am Southern through and through. Peas to southerns are brown, pea-nutty flavored, cooked in a broth. They were the staff of life here once, filling, hearty, protein packed and brown. Served with corn bread or biscuits a filling enough meal. I am NOT talking about blacked-eyed peas here I am talking crowder or cow peas. They were once reserved for animals and used as cover crops to lock nitrogen into the soil. Then, we had the Civil War and food was food people. My grandmother always had a pot of peas on her stove. Always. If you needed a snack, have a bowl of peas.
The peas of Dad's youth are round and bright green. As far a I know, broth is not part of the cooking method. I did not grow up eating them. My mother served them from a can occasionally and I hated them. Mushy and scanky-tasting I could only get them down whole with a big gulp of milk. This is a truth: many nights I would excuse myself to the restroom to spit them out, until she got wise.

I digress. Here's the lesson on green peas.
1. They grow in cool weather unlike field peas which like it hot, hot, hot. Plant green peas in late winter, field peas in May, then again in late July.
2. There are THREE varieties of green, cool weather peas. I know this now because Dad wigged out when I bought the wrong variety. Folks. He wigged. I do not like his wigging.
3. The three varieties are: shell, snow and snap. Do not mistake snap for shell or Dad will... wig. ( I will not go into the, "Well, if you don't like what I bought why don't you go out and buy your own damn seeds?" thoughts I was having because he was losing it and could not be rational. It happens to all of us.)
4. Shell are the prize! They are sweet, like candy. They must be eaten soon after picking and go starchy. Then they are just like canned. Yuck.
5. Snow peas are Asian varieties and are flat. They are also sweet and nice steamed or stir-fried.
6. Snap peas?  I am using them for pea shoots in salad, because garden friends I bought lots…

Creatively yours,
Mom
Closely sown snap peas for salads :)
PS They all look the same before their pods mature…The Same. Alike. Identical.