Saturday, December 17, 2011

Season's Greetings

Green Is My Garden

Our winter garden is all about the greens. Collards are BIG. Broccoli is the best ever. Wow. Sweet and crunchy steamed with a squeeze of lemon it is a gourmet treat. It's been an altogether fabulous Fall for the brassicas. I planted enough lettuce to eat every day and to share with neighbors. We are all happily eating Buttercrunch, Black Seeded Simpson, Red Sails, Romaine and Summercrisps spiced with Arugula. I am very proud of my lettuces. I grew them all from seeds and transplanted to raised beds with wire covers. Johnny's Seeds row covers are saving them every time the temps go low. Herbs are thriving in the cool weather. I had a crop failure with parsley last year but they are thriving this year in pots. Lesson learned on the parsley. Onions and garlic are up. Mustard and turnips are so-so because I planted them late.
Oh, I left out the kale and Swiss chard. All is well. And so are we.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Wild, Scenic

We made our annual pilgrimage to Princess Ann Landing. It was an absolutely lovely un-Black Friday. We were in shirt sleeves this year under a cloudless sky. No matter the weather The Lumber is a wonder. A quiet, peaceful river that's a great place to have fun.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Sliding Into Fall

Keeping plants alive has been a real challenge this summer with temperatures near 100 for weeks with no rain. Heck, the rain thing has gotten so bad I videoed it. (I miss summer thunderstorms.) I watered everything almost every day. We were rewarded with tomatoes and squash. I won the Squash Borer War but finally caved to powdery mildew this morning. All summer squash was pulled up this morning. Every summer is unique. The eggplant was a total bust. Sweet one hundreds have been more like sweet ones. Our favorite plant shop went out of business so we didn't get the plants we usually get and the ones we got weren't healthy. I planted my own tomato seeds so we have plants that are just waiting for a break in the heat to set fruit.
On the plus side, we have butternut squash developing and I've planted round two of tomatoes using rooted suckers. I planted lettuce seeds this morning and transplanted dill into bigger pots. Hope lives.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Garden update

We have peppers; jalepeno, bell and banana. Slowly, very slowly, tomatoes are ripening. Is this one of those 'watched pot' things? Squash are still alive and producing sporadically. I'm blaming the heat/drought. We are back to watering as often as we can. Sunflowers are moving on up and there was a hummingbird sighting yesterday supping on our bright red zinnias. My second round of parsley and basil are thriving. The last canteloupe was harvested today.
Winning in the fruit category are the figs again. No suprise there. What is surprising is that I caved and made Spicey Orange Fig Microwave Jam. Oo-la-la. Delicious.

Here's how:
Mix together 1 1/2 cups sugar, 3Tbs. lemon juice, 8 to 10 cut up figs, one peeled and chopped orange, 1/2 teaspoon of butter,1/4 teaspoon ground ginger, cloves and cinnamon. Toss in some orange peel. Let it sit for 30 minutes. (you will have about 3 cups of stuff) Microwave on high 6 minutes. Stir. Microwave in 2 to 3 minute intervals stirring between each time. Microwave for a total of 15 minutes or until reduced to 2 cups. That's it. Makes to 8 oz jars if you want to put up or one large jar for the fridge. I see jam in someone's Christmas stocking...

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Hand to hand combat in The Garden!

Ok. I tried the toilet paper roll and the aluminum foil and the squash borers came anyway. Which, I knew they would. So yesterday, in the blazing midday heat, in a fit of frustration, I pulled out a small paring knife and went after those bad boys. First you find where they've bored into the plant and, with surgeon-like precision, slice upward. Probe the slit much like the surgeons probed Lincoln's brain for Booth's bullets, and you will get the offending critter. Just like Lincoln, the plants are going to die no matter what. My logic follows that I should get some satisfaction. Altogether I killed six of the ugly bugs! The really cool thing is, the plants were still alive this morning and I'm still getting squash. A small victory in the garden for G-unit.

Sunday, June 26, 2011


Volunteers in the garden are a crap shoot. One year we had a fabulously funky squash that we nursed along until the bitter end. It was a combination pumpkin, patty pan squash thing, the shape of a flying saucer, that was mostly seeds. This year we have a bed full of volunteers: a tomato, cantaloupe, zinnias, and a white periwinkle. The flowers are beautiful, the tomato lush and green of a determinate variety, and the cantaloupe taking over, full of fruit. At the far end of this bed are the Swiss Chard plants I seeded way back last August still producing gigantic leaves. I etched Scott's name into this elevated melon with a kitchen knife to see if it could be done and to honor it's protected status. Scott put it on the stool to keep it safe. Way cool, the etching works! Gotta grow some personalized pumpkins next.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Garden update

Finally, I have squash plants. My first go round I used old seed. They germinated the most pathetic, sad, little miniature versions of real zucchini. This is proof that the young should produce. There's vigor in youth. So I bought new seed and ka-ching! they germinated within a week. I am so not out of the woods on this squash thing. There are squash borers out there gunnin' for my plants. I've launched a pre-emptive assault including Neem oil, toilet paper rolls and aluminum foil. It's complicated but I'm hoping to confuse them and thereby delay the inevitable.
Dare I say it? Our tomatoes are setting fruit. Tomatoes are mystical. I have no answers. The mythology that surrounds the care and keeping of them makes me act like a fool. I resisted planting tomatoes this year because of the crash and burn event of last year's crop. Scott prevailed. We have many plants now.
I germinated basil and parsley from seed, neglected them for 24 hours, and they sizzled in the heat of late May. I'm giving them another go.
Bottom line is we are potato rich which caused Katie to complain that we eat potatoes every night. True. But there is hope in the garden.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Tater Salad

That's right. With a plentiful rain, a perfect Spring, and good luck, you can call me Tater Salad! I never cease to be amazed and astonished at the produce we produce.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Gibson's Easter Pig

"Well, what can I say about this pig that hasn't already been said? I know a lot of you folks have come out to the farm and you've seen the words, and a lot of you have asked me, 'how could this have happened?'. I don't know, but it has happened... at a time when we really don't see many miraculous things. Maybe we do. Maybe they're all right there around us everyday, we just don't know where to look. There's no denying that our own little Wilbur... he's part of something that's bigger than all of us. And life on that farm's just a whole lot better with him in it. He really is some pig."
Homer Zuckerman
Charlotte's Web

This year's Happy Easter picture special delivery from Gibson, NC. Hope it gives you a smile.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Green All Over

I'm browsing the NY Times Well blog this morning with some time to read and find three articles of interest. The first a long term study that shows pesticide exposure to a pregnant mom causes IQ loss in the baby. Ouch. Second,UNC-Chapel Hill's School of Public Health is conducting a study to see if eating locally produced food yields better health. Cool. Can I be in it? Third, a New Yorker tries to make it on the 100 mile diet. That one has to be hard because I've tried it and we grow year round Down South. It gets really tough in January when it's greens, greens, greens on the plate and you know that's all there is in the fresh vegetable category.

And green it is in the garden. Everything is up and reaching critical mass. Too much lettuce not enough people, so I'm giving it away. Too much broccoli so I'll be freezing it. Too much mustard, kale and swiss chard so it's already frozen. Onions are blooming so those going in with the mixed greens.

Two cool things: The apple trees are apple-ing and, for the first time ever, the pomegranate is flowering. Lots. And just now I'm wondering if pomegranates and pyracanthas are cousins-thorns, narrow leaves, orange fruit...

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Spring at last.

An accounting is in order:
1. Broccoli is heading.
2. All manner of lettuces have been harvested and eaten.
3. Mustard reseeded, is up and is being eaten.
3. Ditto the swiss chard and kale.
4. 'Taters are up man!
5. Peas have flowers
6. Blue Lake pole beans have popped up.
7. Onions, garlic and shallots are "brilliant"!
8. And...drum roll please... the belle of the spring garden, Sage, is blooming!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Duke vs VT

So you can't win 'em all but at least they were in the game...

...which leads me to philosophise about this Winter's garden.


But I'm still in the game. I harvested exactly one mess of collards for the whole winter with some help from Scout, The Puppy, who, it turns out, is quite fond of raw brassicas. (The fortress is getting better with every assalt.) I'm contemplating a summer garden with only butternut squash because they've been the sole home grown food on our plates this winter. On a happier note, lettuces and mustards are up, kale and swiss chard survived and are rallying, and potatoes are planted. We will have onions and garlic and most of the perrenial herbs survived. Thyme, sage, parsley and chives took a hit but they're hanging on.

Game's on y'all!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Snow X 2

Two times in two weeks! Enough snow to play in is rare for us. This two-fer is the stuff of Southern dreams. The winter vegetable garden is a busted up mess and the ornamentals are taking a hit too. No matter. It is beautiful, utter magic, to my inner child.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Stop playing with your food, kids!

I would have to look through hundreds of photos to find the picture of The Squash Baby we created when Jonathan and Katie were wee ones. A gi-normous zucchini sporting a bonnet and bib from Katie's baby days the infant sized vegg was the product of Herb Ireland and Daddy's garden. They offered squash. What I did not know in accepting was that those zuccas would be the size of cord wood. There have been other squash babies over the years one, a hybrid of Mr. Potato Head parts that delighted students and teachers, was ultimately doomed to become chicken feed. Now that's zucca maxima!
Boredom drives the engine of creativity, perhaps. Happy new year to you and yours.