First – a minor tragedy. Bill had noticed that one of the smaller galeux felt kind of lighter weight and hollow, so we cut it open. Half the innards were liquid. We figure one of the EVIL squash vine borers dug his grubby little way in and had a feast. Bill hacked this pumpkin to bits with a hatchet but couldn’t find the grub.
We found a grub just under the surface in another of the galeux. I let out a little shriek of disgust and Bill fed the grub to our lizard, who gobbled it up in a split second. She prefers the creamy filling of grubs to the crunch of crickets. I know. Ick. The rest of the pumpkin was fine, so after trimming away any part the icky grub had come in contact with, I roasted the rest of it.
That’s it for the sad pictures, though. The rest of the pictures are of a happier nature.
We picked our beloved galeux d’eysines the other morning. It was time. Their stalks were all dead, and the one in the bikini sling remained hanging from the fence thanks only to the help of lycra, good sewing, and a strong knot.
Remember our corn with the pink hair? Part of the 3 Sisters gardens? Yeah.
Well, we picked a couple of ears a little while ago and though they looked fully matured on the outside, the kernels were still small and flavorless.
Ah well, lesson learned.
So we waited a bit longer, and watched, happily, as more ears grew to full size.
Earlier this week, on one of our morning meanderings through the yard, Bill decided to check an ear to see if the kernels were mature enough (you know, they cleaned their rooms without being asked, didn’t roll their eyes when we said stuff, made sound financial decisions) to be harvested. He peeled back the husk and pressed against one of the kernels with his thumb nail. It was not milky yet – the innards of the kernel – so the corn wasn’t ready. Oh well, what’s another day or two?
And then he noticed this:
This is some of the squash we have
taking over growing in our garden.
Our yard actually.
We planted winter squashes in the two 4’ x 4’ raised beds. Our “Three Sisters” gardens – squash, corn and beans. Everything’s growing, so we’re happy.
The thing is, not only do we have squash plants from those two gardens, but we’ve also got countless rogue hybrid squash plants that sprouted from various spots near the compost bins and the back garden.
And in case you didn’t know it, squash plants are restless. They don’t sit still, even though they may appear to be just sitting there. They run, they roam, they invite themselves into your kitchen and pour themselves coffee. They open the cookie jar and the fridge and the cupboards, looking for snacks. They climb the stairs, use your toothbrush, and curl up in your bed.
They take over.
We have corn! And it’s got pink hair!
We were walking around the garden yesterday morning, as we are wont to do of a morning, and suddenly my eyes were distracted from all the lush greenness by this curly pink stuff on one of the corn stalks! I actually screeched something like “LOOK! LOOK!” at Bill, before carefully placing my coffee mug on home plate and racing inside for my camera. You know, in case the baby ear of corn hopped off the stalk and ran away.
Most mornings when I’m not working really early Bill and I take our coffee and walk around the yard looking at the gardens. It’s my favorite part of the day. Here’s some of what we looked at this morning.
First up – tomatillos! Yay! It’ll be a while before the fruit is big enough to pick – you can’t even feel them inside their papery lantern-like cocoons, but just seeing them makes me happy.
First, there’s kale. This one is close to the house, just inside the gate. Presumably so we don’t have to travel so far in the cold weather to harvest the leaves. When we finally have cold weather. Two hundred years from now. Or so it seems…
I took a solo walk around the gardens this morning. Bill had gone fishing, Julia was asleep and Alex was inside eating breakfast.
These are the pictures I took. (And wait til you see how the 3 sisters are doing!)
No, this slightly crooked picture has nothing to do with the garden. I’ll show you those pictures in a moment. I couldn’t decide if I wanted to put the most recent “Three Sisters” picture up first, or the one from the week prior. So, since trying to decide would have taken forever, I put up this picture instead. It’s part of the view from one corner of my kitchen after I’d rearranged those three pieces of furniture there – the pie safe (you can only see the back; the pegboard is the back of the pie safe), and two work table/island things. Before, the pie safe would have been facing you (if you are the one looking through the lens in the image above). The other day I rearranged them.
Have you ever had nime chow? Fresh Vietnamese spring rolls usually containing lettuce, thai basil, rice noodles, bean sprouts and shrimp – one of my family’s favorites when we eat out.
We’ve also made them at home, and they’re so easy, we should do it more often.
For this version, I was, frankly, inspired by the pea pods in our garden buckets.
I’ve been looking forward to these gardens since early last year when Bill and I started talking about them.
The Three Sisters are part of Native American history, story, and gardens. They are Corn – the eldest who always stands tall and straight, Squash – who covers the ground and protects her other sisters, and Beans – whose intertwining vines weave the three together. The three are inseparable, three parts of a whole, and should always be planted together.
So that’s what we’re doing.
Just tomatoes – not our cats. Or kid.
Bill repotted and divided up the tomato seedlings and brought a bunch of them in to work to hand out to some of his coworkers who garden. Look how big they are! And after today (showers and fifties), weather’s supposed to be in the 60s and 70s for the next week! And 40s and 50s at night. Yay!
March came in wildly this year. Not so much like a lion, more like a polar bear. We’ve had such a mild winter it was a bit of a shock to get hit with some ground-covering snow Tuesday night and into Wednesday. Okay, I guess technically that was still February, but the snow stuck around all through yesterday and we got another dusting over night. It’s melting today, and tomorrow we get rain, but still…never ever become complacent when it’s winter in New England.
That said, we’ve got seedlings coming up inside, particularly the butternut/futsu hybrid squash plants that Bill planted just to see if they were viable. They certainly were – and continue to thrive. Bill keeps saying “well, if they live we’ll plant them outside.”
I think they’re living.
I took one of the plants out and set it on a windowsill so the snow out front would make the background for this tough little plant.
For the banner, I played around with contrast and brightness and saturation to bring out the green in the leaves and the purple in the snow.
And look – there, in the middle, where the stalk splits.
That looks like a blossom to me, with another one up to the left a bit.
A squash blossom. At the end of February.
You grow, little squash plant!
We took a little road trip today to Wetherfield, CT to visit Comstock, Ferre & Co. to buy heirloom seeds for this year’s gardens.
We’ve wanted to go for a while now, and I’m so glad we went!
We had salad for dinner last night.
All four of us.
Salad and some leftover rice Bill had made the other night.
And everybody loved the meal.
I feel like I need to say “even the kids,” except that I don’t have that problem, for the most part. My kids like their vegetables. Most of their vegetables, anyway. Enough so that if they dislike one or two, I don’t worry about it.
I know. I’m lucky.
These are seedlings from one of the rogue squash hybrids that showed up in our yard last year. They were a blend of butternut and black futsu, and Bill wasn’t sure if the seeds would be viable.
They are! So we’ll be planting some this year, along with more butternut and perhaps a new winter squash variety.
I love this planning time of year.
I just put up a new banner for this month.
It went through several incarnations, but I knew I wanted to include images of yesterday’s harvest.
September is a big transition month, I think, garden-wise. Lots of harvesting, lots of clearing out and preparing for the winter and the following spring.
The post title is solely for my sister, with whom I had this IM conversation this morning (we were each watching the news on Irene in our respective homes):
Her: did you hear that doom and gloom Today show music? geeeeez
Me: noooooo. didn't hear it, or i just wasn't paying attention
Her: good god.
that was enough to scare anybody
Me: they are all talking like they're at a funeral
Her: i know..
i hate the term "hunker down"
i actually like it.
Me: makes me think of not having to go anywhere and being snug with plenty of food and something good to read.
Her: what does it mean?
Me: i don't know.
i think it means "don't go anywhere and be snug with plenty of food and something good to read."
along the lines of "batten down the hatches"
1. Squat or crouch down low: "he hunkered down beside her".
2. Take shelter in a defensive position: "hunker down and let it blow over".
well there you go.
but can you use the word "hunker" alone? or does it have to be with "down"
i don't know.
you should give it a try today and see if people look at you funny.
what if I hunker up?
brb, i have to cook bill some eggs
i'm back. just before i went upstairs, some reporter said "everyone is hunkering down" and i burst out laughing and everyone just looked at me.
hahaha i heard that
not you, him
Well, in terms of hunkering down, yesterday we picked up the yard and put potential flying missiles in the garage. We also picked a ton of tomatoes – red and green – because we don’t want them getting smashed by the heavy wind and rain tomorrow.
Then we did a bunch of cooking.
I prepped tomatoes and onions for a relish I’ll be canning later today.
So pretty! And we grew EVERYTHING in that bowl. Tomatoes (red, green, and white), and onions (white and red/purple).
I salted all of that, covered it with plastic and put it aside to sit overnight.
Bill worked on a HUGE batch of veggie burgers. We picked up some zucchini and yellow squash at the farmers’ market in the morning; enough for 7 batches, which will give us about 35-40 burgers to pack away.
After sauteeing everything, Bill added in some shredded cheese, eggs, and oatmeal. The whole mess is in a huge bowl in the fridge. Today he’ll shape it into patties and cook them all. Then we’ll freeze them, and we’ll have a whole bunch of future meals ready to go.
I love the fact that my kids LOVE veggie burgers – especially the ones Bill makes.
Another cool thing is that this summer their tolerance for heat has increased.
We love hot and spicy food, Bill and I. Julia likes to occasionally show how tough she is by eating something we’re eating, but only when she’s sort of competing with Alex. (Never mind sports, we compete with chili peppers here.)
But a few weeks ago Bill made a red Thai curry and both kids LOVED it. We’ve been making fresh salsa with the tomatoes, onions, and jalapenos from the garden, and both kids love that, too.
This is AWESOME.
Yesterday Bill picked some ripe tomatillos, and I made a fabulous salsa with them.
And – again – both kids LOVED it.
Oh, and we also got two huge, beautiful eggplants at the farmers’ market:
The one on the left weighed over two pounds.
I made a double batch of eggplant parmesan with them and a vat of tomato sauce I’d simmered for most of the day. The kids loved that, too.
I’ve come to the conclusion that our kids can pretty much do whatever they want in life – teach, play instruments, become professional athletes, rob banks, run for office – anything, and as long as they continue to be adventurous about eating, we’ll always be proud of them.
And that’s where we are at this moment.
The calm before the storm, in whatever form Irene takes by the time she arrives.
OH – one more thing. Yesterday I invented a term:
Hurricaniacs: The people who go crazy buying up all the water, bread and milk and batteries in preparation for a hurricane, leaving nothing behind for people who have actually and legitimately run out of something.
Gotta go now. I want to finish the laundry, just in case we lose power for more than a day.
Are you in Irene’s path? How have you fared (if you’ve already been hit), and how are you hunkering down, if you’re still, like me, waiting.
For a change, I decided to use the 10x macro lens this morning. I also used an “auto enhance” feature in my photo editing software. I told myself I’d just hit the “auto enhance” button and whatever the software decided, that’s what I would post. So here we go.
I was going to tell you what everything is…but I changed my mind. Any guesses?
Bill and I just took our morning perambulation around the gardens, and I brought my camera. Maybe it’s because of this morning’s earlier brief post, but I felt like taking pictures of any flowers currently in bloom, both on vegetable plants and on plain ol’ flowering plants.
I also took a few shots of other things…dew drops…assorted bug life (and death)…bird poop. But mostly flowers.
No more words now…just the pictures….
My sister gave us several sunflower seedlings a while back, and I think both my kids had brought home little sunflowers in plastic pots toward the end of the school year.
Bill planted them all in various spots around the yard – mainly in places where they wouldn’t shade out the important stuff – the vegetables – and we’ve been watching the sunflowers get taller and taller and taller.
I noticed this one yesterday while we were dealing with the wood pile. Must have just bloomed because you can see that some of the petals still haven’t finished unfurling. I really like this rust-colored one a lot. I’m hoping there are more around that just haven’t bloomed yet.
For the last several springs now we’ve had the fun of discovering tomato seedlings popping up in the darndest places. Sprung from seeds dropped last year, either by tomatoes that rotted off the vine or from seeds that ended up in compost, we’ve been finding yellow pear, cherry and – best of all – brandywine tomatoes.
We also get cilantro/coriander and dill showing up in unexpected spots – another bonus.
THIS year, however, we’ve got the biggest rogue ever.
Most of yesterday is a blur.
I’d had great plans to continue posting about the whole overnight pulled pork adventure, but it got harder for me to form coherent thoughts after a while, and so I gave up.
Bill got up around five thirty and made coffee, and I went downstairs to sit on the couch – just to get off my feet for a little bit – he brought me a big mug of coffee, and I fell asleep without even taking a sip.
When I asked Alex what he wanted besides ribs for his birthday dinner, he asked for curly french fries (I bought them frozen and then totally forgot to bake them that night. Ah well – we had them at lunch the next day.) and some cole slaw “so you and Daddy have something that you won’t have to share.” He’s not a fan of slaw – particularly any mayo-based versions. But that’s okay – it was his birthday. I wasn’t about to force anything on him. And I knew his main focus would be the ribs anyway.
So I decided to make a slaw using whatever we could to pull from the garden.
Years ago I used to watch CBS Sunday Morning with Charles Kuralt. (He wasn’t at my house watching it – he was the host.) I loved the show for its varied stories – long pieces, compared to sound bites on news programs. The show was always interesting, informative, sometimes fun, sometimes sad. There were reviews, done by that guy whose name I can’t think of at the moment – I loved his way with words, though…and then, for the last few minutes of the program, there was silence.
Well, an absence of human voices, which is about the same thing, in my opinion.
The camera would pan across a vast prairie, for instance, and all you would hear would be the rush of the wind…distant birds…the ssshhhhhhhhhh of leaves. Such a lovely, peaceful way to close a program.
I don’t have audio, so there are no sounds of nature for you…but here are some pictures from my gardens…and I’ll shut up now, too.
Baby Bella Mushrooms stuffed with Ricotta, Fresh Herbs, and More Mushrooms.
I love being able to throw together dishes like these. I have no real recipes for any of them; no measurements, quantities or times. I just had a garden, a recent trip to the Farmers market, some homemade cheeses, and a few other ingredients – mostly local. And a hungry family.
Those (above) are blossoms on one of our potato plants. I’m very excited about our potatoes this year – several varieties and they’re growing well.
I’m posting the pictures I took this morning as Bill and I walked around the yard and looked at what’s growing. We do this on weekend mornings right now, and once school lets out, it will become part of our nearly-daily morning routine.
I think these have become my favorite flower.
Irises used to be my favorites, and I still love them…but these peonies have climbed a little higher over the years.
These peonies in particular. We’ve got these, and we’ve got dark pink ones that have slightly smaller blossoms. Both had grown in Bill’s mom’s yard, and when she passed away, they were among the plants we brought to our gardens.