Garden Update. Because I Can

It got slow for a while, and now things are picking up. It’s an obsession, and I hope it lasts because, frankly, it’s the healthiest one I’ve ever had, and it leaves me feeling positive instead of guilty.

The peas are just about finished. And I am getting antsy to rip them out, because, frankly, I’m going to put in more. They were flat little pods, mostly, and I ate them that way. A couple got away from me and grew up to be full size peas. I ate them too. On father’s day, I had Andy and Charlie pick every one they could find. We ate them in a salad with some lettuce and a tomato that I had to buy. I made a yummy vinagrette which I cannot give you the recipe for, beyond this – Mix oil and vinegar in the proper proportions for a vinagrette which I really think I am spelling wrong but there’s not a single way on earth that it looks right. I forget what they are because my computer is broken at home and I’m at work. Go out to the garden. Smell all the herbs and decide what smells good. I think I used basil and oregano and mint. Add garlic. If you are me, add lots of garlic. Put it all in the food processor and eat it on above salad. A week later we had company for Sunday dinner, and there were even more peas, and I picked them clean again for another salad.

That dinner, actually, was most excellent. The company was really fun. Charlie fell madly in love with my new friend Celeste, and dragged her up to the loft to show her how to make a pyramid out of cards and play his favorite songs from Man of La Mancha for her. Also there was our friend Henry, who is both a member of Mensa, and a Republican. Things that I thought were mutually exclusive. Go figure. Anyway… Here is what we ate. Because, truly, that was the best meal I ever made.

The salad was a combination of mixed greens and black seeded simpson and maybe some baby romaine that I had growing. Also in that were a whole bunch (over 100!) of peas and about 4 teeny tiny beets and 4 jingle bell peppers, all from the garden. I had some stale rolls that I was going to try to make croutons out of. But they were too stale to cut. So forget it. THEN – and now you will be jealous – there was mmmmm a pesto that I made like this: 2.5 cups of FRESH basil off my plants, a cup I think of walnuts, but maybe a cup and a half, and a cup of parmesean cheese and a quarter cup of romano, all mashed up in the food processor with some amount of olive oil that I can’t remember. But WAIT. I put it on little shell pasta with oil cured olives and sun dried tomatoes and served it all at room temperature. And if you think it was not delicious, you are absolutely wrong. Then there was corn on the cob which I soaked in its husks in beer for a few hours and cooked on the grill. Also, salmon with a lemon mayonnaise. Grilled. Here was Scott’s contribution. Instead of regular gas grill cooking it, he spread charcoal and hickory chips on the gas grill and we cooked it that way, the salmon and the corn. And truly? Best ever. We also had chilled beer boiled shrimp with a dill dipping sauce as an appetizer. You should e-mail me for that shrimp recipe, and also the salmon, because MAN. Really. It was the best dinner ever.

This is why they say you should never blog when you’re hungry.

My point is, that, with the exception of the garlic and the tomatoes every herb, every vegetable came from my garden. And it all started with the peas. Which are the most satisfying ever.

Cauliflower? Not so satisfying. It’s very tall with nothing in the middle. I think we planted it too late or let it get too dry before planting the seedlings. I’m getting ready to rip it out to make room for other stuff, because it’s not going to flower, I don’t think. But don’t be afraid. I’m going to try a fall crop from seed. I’ll keep you posted.

The tomatoes are teasing me. There are a ton of them, and they are all green. Actually, the peppers are teasing me too, mostly. There is a ton of fruit on them. But they won’t change to the right color. And I really want them colored, even though I know I could eat them now. We have yellow bells that are a pale yellowish green. There is one red on a tiny little plant that has been eating size for a month, but just refuses to ripen. I may give up and eat it soon. There are about eleventybillion cayennes (really, more cayenne than you can ever eat. They are so hot that Scott, being all showoffy ate about a third of one. Here’s what he did after. Literally, stood bent over for ten minutes drooling on the ground. He is not so showoffy anymore about his cayenne eating prowess.) They are all green and no red and I don’t really know what I’ll do with them when they turn, because I think they might actually be weapons of mass destruction. Then there are these tiny ones called jingle bells, which you can eat red or green, but I like the red, doggone it, and they’re all green. They are very cute. But the most amazing pepper is a banana pepper plant. This plant got snapped in half by some children who will remain nameless who were playing hide and seek in my garden even after being asked not to. I wanted to either take it out, or stake it up and duct tape the bottom, but Scott said not to. and HERE’S WHAT HAPPENED!!!!! Since that time (at least 3 weeks ago) it has produced no fewer than five banana peppers, with new ones continuing to pop up.

The first planting of lettuce needs to be finished off soon, and I’ve planted another crop amidst and among the tomatoes and peppers to provide a kind of mulch. It looks yummy, but will take another couple of weeks to get big enough to eat. I also planted some in a shady spot alongside a wall that gets little sunlight. Some of those are doing well, others, not so much, and something actually seems to be nibbling on those, so we’ll see.

The strawberries. Alas and alack, the strawberries. I think probably about 15 have ripened. Here’s how many we’ve gotten to eat. About four. I watched that first one get pinker for days. On the Tuesday that Carly was leaving for Scotland I went out to water in the morning and thought, hmmm. That should be ready tonight or tomorrow morning. I was saving it for Andy, because I kept finding him out in the strawberry patch weeding. When I’d thank him he’d say, “Well, I gotta look out for the strawberries.” So, you know, you reward that. When I went out to do the evening watering that strawberry was covered with pointy little beak shaped bite marks. Okay. Thank you birds. I told Andy that to get even he ought to stand in the middle of the yard in plain sight and eat a worm. He said no. So I don’t know what I’m going to do about them. I think one has been eaten by a slug. But mostly it’s the birds, and I can run out there every ten minutes yelling “Hey, Cut that Out” the live long day, but it’s not taking care of the issue.

The root veggies are hit or miss. I planted them all too close together, and as a result sometimes they’re good and other times not. The turnips and radishes seem to be growing above the ground. The beets are doing okay in places. But they’re all too crowded. Who knows what will happen with the carrots. What I think I might do is rip them all out at the point that it’s time to grow fall ones and plant them more carefully with an eye on space this time. The onions I planted from seed got crowded out by sun sucking towering radish leaves. The scallions I planted from sets are a little slimy, but if you pick off the slimy part they chop up pretty nicely. And you just don’t tell anyone about the slime.

But here is the best part. hee hee. Scott & Andy and Andy’s friend Colin and I dug up another huge plot. And it is full of earthworms. And here is what I planted: Pumpkins (no, I do not have enough space, and yes, I am out of my mind. Thank you for asking) on one side and Zuchinni on the other (see above parenthetical. In the middle between them I planted one white potato and one sweet potato which I found under the sink. As a border I planted some more bush beans. The pumpkins and the zuchinni have made little plants, as have about half of the beans (I think on the edge that gets more sun, actually). And that sweet potato, well, it looks sweet. It’s sprouting away out of the ground and has little purplish leaves on it and I think it’s almost time for me to pile more soil around it. I mostly just want to see what they do, these tubers.

The herbs in the containers are doing okay, but a lot are going to seed. Today I picked a bunch of coriander seeds, which I’m going to dry and grind. Or maybe I’ll put them in a hand grinder. Scott agreed that I can rip up the ugly white roses from the side yard (and all you rose lovers can just SIMMER DOWN because really, those white roses have taken over and choked out all the pretty roses and when they are in bloom after the first day they look like their name should be “Used Toilet Paper Rose” and you know, really, if you have a problem, why don’t you drive on over and dig them out and put them in your yard. Because they’re fugly. I’m not even kidding). The choked out pretty roses will be transplanted, and I’m going to try to move the herbs to that bed. Am thinking of adding horseradish next year, and garlic.

Because here’s the thing about me. I really hate paying for food. I think it’s the stupidest thing to have to pay for ever. Because if you think about it and work at it a little, God will just give it to you.

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