31 May 2010

is it summer yet?

peas are poppin' off the vine, and into happy little bellies.

sour cherries are red on the trees, and delicious in pies.

june berries turned purple, one day early (may 31).

mulberries stain the roads, and make a lovely jam.

cosmo and i dropped everything and ran four blocks to the park, as soon as we heard the jingle of the ice cream truck.

i think it might be summer now.

justin recently gave us this nikki mclure book: mama, is it summer yet? which so perfectly fit the moment--the season where spring glides into summer, and carl and i drag cosmo through the neighborhood to forage for fruit.

canning season is ON at our house. we processed 10 jars of mulberry jam, made simpler with the fabulous victorio strainer that carl's parents passed onto us this year (a product very similar to the one we have, was recently featured here, and since our happy homestead sponsored one of my favorite bloggers, i'd suggest going there first, IF you are in the market for one of these awesome, hand powered machines).

sour cherries are my absolute favorite fruit (until red raspberry season), there's nothing like the flavor, and they hang so perfectly on the branch, blemish free. sweet cherries may be better, for eating-out-of-hand, but the sweet varieties that grow around here seem to struggle with all sorts of diseases and molds, so that by the time they are ripe enough to pick, most are not fit to eat. plus, there is no better pie than a sour cherry pie, and you know how i love to make pie. i attempted a lattice top for the first time, and was pleased with the results. one pie went to a community orchard work party, for inspiration. the other, i brought to a cookout.
the june berries (also known as serviceberries, pictured below) will probably end up in jelly.

welcome summer fruits! welcome summer!

tips for local folks: the cherry tree can be found at walnut and dodds. june/serviceberry trees line the parking lot at the mall, behind macy's, and are also in the parking lot near von lee, on kirkwood and indiana, downtown. as for mulberries? well, find the stains in the road, and look up. they are everywhere!

21 May 2010

garlic scapes!

it has been too wet to work in the garden. for days and days and days it has been too wet to work in the garden. but, in spite of my absence (or, possibly because of it?) the plants just keep on growing and doin' what they do. one of the most exciting things right now is the garlic sending up scapes.

these funny looking things want to be the seed heads for the garlic plant, but i pull them off as soon as i see them, so that the garlic bulbs underground will grow plump and wonderful. when i see the scapes, i know the garlic harvest is getting ever closer. this makes me giddy. plus, you can cook with them. last year, i made garlic soup. this year, i think i will try roasting them with some other vegetables. we have also harvested the first pea pods. or, i should say, cosmo has. carl and i have to be quick, and vigilant to get any of those precious gems.

anything interesting popping up in your garden?

09 May 2010

mother's day joy

cosmo's pre-school class had a special mother's day program on friday. this is the first such event i have experienced as a mom, and, not surprisingly, i sobbed through a good portion of it.

the kids had made several adorable pieces of artwork for us, including a portrait of mom. mine had bright pink hair, and was the most detailed figure cosmo has made, so far. he's not one for representational drawing just yet. of course, i was touched by the portrait, and the caption "i love my mom because she goes to the store with me." we enjoyed some punch and muffins, and the kids performed a few songs for us:

when it was time to go, there were tears and pleas from the children. i finally wrested myself away, and since i was on my bike, i didn't have a good way to transport the artwork. i was about to leave it in cosmo's cubby when our friends offered to drop it by our house. i accepted, but when they arrived, the portrait of me (the one with the pink hair) was missing. i sped back to the school, to make sure it was still there, and hadn't blown away outside, or something. it was nowhere to be seen. i looked around outside, called my friends for more information. when they didn't answer, i went to their house. they searched the car again, told me where they had parked, and said they'd go back to look. it was a very windy day.

i hurried back downtown, and combed the intersection, trying to imagine all the places the wind could have taken an eight and a half by eleven sheet of construction paper, with a drawing of a mom with pink hair on it. i was unreasonably distraught at the thought of losing this precious memento. i couldn't believe i had turned it over to someone else. i was getting close to giving up, when i got a call from carl, saying that our friends had just dropped the drawing off at our house. they had found it somewhere near where they had parked, on kirkwood. i never saw them down there, but didn't care. the drawing was found, that's all that mattered.
i'd photograph it, but some of the lines are too light to show up. trust me, it is heartbreakingly adorable.

happy mother's day!

08 May 2010

a hoodie-wearing day.

today, it got cold. it's not going to freeze tonight or anything, but it's not a good gardening day. we had a big thunderstorm last night, and the ground is too wet to work, which is what i need to do next. but still, i managed to get in a bit of garden action anyway. i made a quick tent for my tomatoes, which i probably should not have planted yet. but i did. and since it will get below 50 degrees tonight, i wanted to give them a chance to warm up today. i doubt it did any good, but it was all i could think of. not sure if it is the cold front or what, but i have been in a foul mood all day (thus, the uncharacteristic pessimism), and i can't seem to shake it. happens sometimes.

i bartered with my former landlord for some mulch. i spread the mulch at our old place (across the street), in exchange for a pile dumped in our driveway. it worked out to about an hour's worth of work-- not bad! ya can never have too much mulch.

meanwhile, the garden is busy doing its very ordinary and miraculous work. just looking at these gorgeous plants is enough to lift anyone's spirits. so, shall we?

these pea plants are now setting pods. is there a prettier edible plant than a pea?

an action shot of the mulch in a perennial bed, and, have i mentioned that i'm a sucker for lily of the valley? looks like a chandelier for fairies, and smells like old lady perfume.

two new additions to the perennial border: st. john's wort (which deserves it's own post), and a few fall bearing red raspberry bushes, courtesy of our dear neighbor, jack. he claims they'll bear fruit this year. i do hope he is correct.

cosmo brought home some bean plants he started at pre-school. we planted them together, and i fashioned an up-cycled plant marker that we had seen in family fun.

cosmo was probably more interested in the marker than the plants, but that's okay. he's learning so much about the garden this year. he can name almost everything we are growing, plus a bunch of the weeds. he loves pulling radishes from the ground, though he doesn't care to eat them. i, on the other hand, have developed a strong taste for them.

i finally tore the row cover off of the brassica bed. besides being an eye-sore, plants were getting cramped, and it seemed a bit too warm under there, too (especially for these cool loving plants). i figure they are all strong enough now to withstand an attack of cabbage moth/caterpillars. the broccoli already produced a few florets, and the cabbages are forming heads.

the kale is ready for harvesting, and so is the lone chard. we've been enjoying lettuce and arugula at every meal.

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there. i feel better already. more and more i come to realize what a perfect therapy the garden is for me.