June 27, 2014
The blackberries have peaked. You can see the last of them in the top photo, on the left. The zucchini are coming into their own – they're the most beautiful dark green (whenever I see them I think - I want to wear that as a nail polish). The herbs are rocking along, bushy, fragrant, beautiful. Our one blueberry bush has started ripening a handful of berries every few days - the perfect patio snack. The tomatoes! The tomatoes are going to be crazy - the first hefty Early Girl started to turned golden, both Juliet (Roma / grape) plants have 4-5 reddening clusters, the Black Prince has 4-5 golf-ball-sized fruits, a darker stranger green than the others. (And that's not including the five Rutgers/Roma plants Micah planted from seed in pots that are already taller than the other tomatoes, and just now flowering.)
I think the cantaloupes have given up; but the watermelon are flourishing. Micah's peppers are just starting to come into their own – they're loving the heat. His okra are tiny – but still trying to put out tiny okras. They're adorable but probably won't be delicious. His pickling cucumbers have started to climb the adorable foraged-branch-teepees he made them. I love those tightly-spiraled tendrils.
It's a strange thing. I look forward to planning our garden each winter, starting it, tending the seedlings – and then I leave for Michigan for a few weeks during it's most productive season. And the last few years, I've been spending more and more time there, and less time enjoying the fruits of my labor. But it's really affirmed something that I kind of already knew about myself – that I love taking care of things, the day-to-day upkeep – and not so much the showy end result. A Virgo thing, maybe. I'm really excited for our generous friends who have agreed to water our plants (and in turn, harvest whatever they want), while I'm in Michigan for SIX WEEKS, and Micah joins me for a week or two. I love giving the gift of that showy result to someone else, and then picking up the day-to-day tending when I return. That's kind of the real result of gardening, yes? The patience, the new-problems-to-solve-everyday, the elasticity of time as you watch things grow and ripen. That's why I love it. And that's why I keep doing it year after year.
June 16, 2014
Ah, that perfect week or two where Spring's last strawberries overlap with Summer's first blueberries at the farmer's market... so sweet and fleeting. I started with this recipe, reduced the sugar (the strawberries were gloriously teetering on overripe), and of course added a handful of our blackberries (we had starting freezing them), to make an ice cream that hopefully captured the best parts of all of them.
This ended up tasting like Red Flavor, in the best way. You know the myriad dubious candies from our collective childhoods? My favorite flavor was always red. You never really knew if it was strawberry, or cherry, or raspberry, or something else entirely - but it was always a safe bet. At least I knew I wouldn't get stuck with lime when I thought I was getting green apple, or something horrible like that. Anyway! Red flavor. Composite berry. Tri-berry. It's bright and sweet and the perfect late Spring dessert – I can see a scoop on top of rhubarb pie. And I'd be curious to see how it would compliment a scoop of peanut butter ice cream...
June 10, 2014
Above: Younger Boons. My dad found that baby photo while cleaning out the garage - isn't the hand-tinting amazing?! But not quite amazing as her fierceness on the right - taken a few years before they had me.
Today is my mom's birthday! She turns... whatever age she wants to turn. She's earned it. Right now she's up at our cabin in Michigan, probably sipping coffee on the porch and checking on her garden. In honor of her today, I've gathered my favorite mom posts (maybe for her to read while she sips that coffee - or has she already moved on to chardonnay?).
She's an amazing grandmother. And an equally amazing wedding decorator / officiant. She's so thoughtful when it comes to gift-giving (and card-writing). I love her and my dad's story. And of course, I'm just forever grateful that she's my mom, and that she dedicated so much of her time and life to raising four insane people.
Happy birthday, Mom!
June 8, 2014
June 6, 2014
It's not all berries this year – they're just so much easier to take sexy pictures of.
So, we've got a lot going on in the way of gardening this year, and we wouldn't have it any other way. First, I've got an herb garden in our fenced-in patio area (adjacent to the blackberries). Sage, thyme, parsley, sweet basil, lemon basil, Thai basil, sweet mint, spearmint, lavender, rosemary – and two Cherry Rose sunflowers for kicks. Everyone is happy and healthy. Next year, I'd like to add more varieties, as well as some decorative (or edible!) groundcover around the cement borders to soften them up. I spend most mornings and evening on the patio admiring this garden, snipping off a stem here and there to garnish a cocktail or season dinner. This is what I dreamt about when we were house-hunting, and I have yet to take it for granted for a single instant.
Next, just outside of the fenced patio, are our two main raised beds. They came with the house, but castle-ifying them was all Micah's idea. We're using them this year so we can see what kind of sun our yard gets throughout the growing season. They house zucchini, summer squash, okra, jalapenos, sweet peppers, a handful of tomato varieties (I'm most excited about Black Prince), and a few classic sunflowers, because they make Micah smile.
We got a little tomato-happy, so we also have six potted tomato plants just chillin' next to the beds. (I should note that Micah planted ALL the tomato plants, despite the fact that he doesn't like the taste of them raw. I still married him, though.)
We've also started tucking edible plants in miscellaneous corners of the yard. Micah has a few okra and watermelon seedlings in a fertile corner out back that used to house a wood pile. We have these decorative tiers at the base of the driveway (note to self: I need to cut off that black plastic trimming...), and besides the requisite bright annuals, Micah has some cantaloupe and pickling cucumbers starting to trail their way down from the top tier, and I have 3-4 sweet mint and peppermint plants sprinkled throughout. Yes, mint. I hope it spreads all over that monkey-grass-ridden hill! In fact, it's our long-term plan to have most of our property be edible or medicinal. It's definitely going to take a few years, and a careful hand. We still want it to look good, too. So we're treating this year as a huge experiment, to see what flourishes where. It's going better than expected so far.