Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Green Up Your Act

I am such a slacker.

I know, you don't believe me. You may even think I'm some kind of food preservation superhero, running on pickle fumes all summer long. But I'm not.

Really, I would far rather go straight home at the end of the day and curl up in a sunny patch of grass with a book, especially if someone would hand my dinner to me. But my life isn't like that, so I'm muddling through the best I can, trying to cram everything into an already full schedule.

That's why I still haven't geared myself up for twice-weekly garden visits. I'll plan a garden visit for a certain day, plug it into my calendar, and then whine internally all day about being too tired and isn't it supposed to rain and I really ought to get home and oh, fine, I'll go.

And I set out after work, mumbling to myself about all the work I need to get done and dragging my feet along the paths.

But today, with the sunshine and the mid-70-degree (very mild!) breezes buoying me along the way, I had a quick little (and much-needed) attitude adjustment. It was a beautiful afternoon, and I had nothing else scheduled -- so why not enjoy a leisurely walk, sit down and have a drink of water when I arrived, take my time weeding and picking and enjoying the beauty of the earth, and then stroll home? Not only do I remember why I garden, but I also remember how to relax.

Well, all right, then. I can do that!

So I arrived at the garden ready to appreciate all the greenery...

Everything is still growing like mad, but today I actually looked at it as an oasis of serenity and hope. Even as I weeded, I recognized that I didn't need to rush through the work. I sat down in the lush grass to pluck tender leaves off the last of the mizuna and the pac choi (both of which I pulled because they've gotten too big and mostly ill-flavored).

Among the highlights of today's visit:

One of the tomatoes escaped from its cage and has sprawled all over the carrots. I definitely need to tie it up a little better, but that will have to wait until later this week, perhaps when My Dear Papa can help. (It's already a big bruiser of a plant.) In order to rescue the carrots, I started picking a few of those, thinning out the row, and ended up with a handful of very small and slender Nantes carrots.

The Hopi red amaranth now mostly stands about waist-high, but I still found some smaller seedlings to pick so that I can add the tender leaves to salads. (I cleaned out the rest of the lettuce, too, filling a couple of containers with the last leaves.) I also picked a third round of the kai lan planted in front of the amaranth.

The Tiger Eye beans are blossoming nicely, so I hope I'll see some pod development there soon. There's still not much movement on the cannellini and garbanzo patches, I'm afraid, but I did pick almost all the rest of the fava pods because I just can't resist such yummy beans. It looks like there are more flowers on the fava stalks -- perhaps I'll get a second crop?

After about an hour in the garden, I had cleaned up most of the weeds, cleared a few rows of the early greens, and had picked enough produce to rival my weekly CSA pickup!

Top, left to right: mizuna, pac choi, lettuce with nasturtium leaves in box
Middle, left to right: carrots, purslane, fava beans, scallions
Bottom, left to right: kai lan, amaranth

I walked home slowly, taking my sweet time on the hills, and pondered both future meals and preservation from the day's harvest as well as upcoming blog posts. (I know, I think about food way too much, probably...)

I had already planned to make a local quiche for dinner, with local butter and spelt flour in the crust I baked this morning and local broccoli, eggs, and cheddar -- as well as a few tiny scallions from the garden -- in the filling. But I then added a salad made almost entirely (save for the red leaf lettuce from last week's CSA) from today's pickings: the last lettuce, some mizuna, a few amaranth leaves, and a few nasturtium leaves, with chopped cucumber (CSA) and tiny carrots (my garden) on top. A heavenly reward for all my work!

I might be whiny again the next time I need to head to the garden, but maybe today's relaxing experience will make it easier.

I can hope!

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At 7/02/2008 9:49 AM, Blogger Alyssa said...

I'm glad I'm not the only person that dreads weeding. Our garden is ridiculous with chest high weeds in some places (non food beds, I know where my priorities are). I was just reading yesterday about using newspaper to help dampen the weeds. Some of mine are so ridiculous I'm getting afraid to get in there. But the good news is my plants are drawing tons of beneficials. I saw 3 different types of butterflies yesterday and we have tons of bumble bees (although DH is worried about this b/c he fears we might have a nest).

At 7/02/2008 10:30 AM, Blogger The Baklava Queen said...

At least I had the sense to wear gloves yesterday for all that work, Alyssa! Sometimes I don't even have that. I've used newspaper in the past (mostly before or after crops) and had mixed results, though it will help beat down the current weeds to a certain extent and protect the soil.

Great news, though, about your pollinators showing up! I confess that's one of my concerns about the garden... I'm hoping enough bees show up to get my bean plants going. I'll be excited to hear how your garden harvest turns out!

At 7/02/2008 6:24 PM, Blogger Alyssa said...

I'm excited too, something seems to be eating the heck out of my cabbage, not sure what, tomatoes are doing great and I've already put up a couple of batches of pesto and I've been drying lavender and thyme and rosemary. I'm digging up my first garlic tonight before it rains again.

At 7/02/2008 11:36 PM, Anonymous Janet said...

You are a preservation superhero! And you must live somewhere that doesn't know what a chigger is. Sitting in the grass, indeed. :)

At 7/03/2008 7:09 AM, Blogger The Baklava Queen said...

Sounds like you are having a great harvest already, Alyssa, with more to come. I really need to dry some of my herbs, but it's been so wet lately I haven't dared pick any.

Oh, we've got plenty of bugs wandering in the grass here, Janet, but I guess I wouldn't know a chigger if it bit me. Or maybe I mean, UNTIL it bit me. ;-) (And stop making me blush!!!)


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