14 July 2010

high summer

it's still july, right? geez, this summer is flying by. i wanted to post about the fourth of july, but that was ages ago, right? well, it was a lovely weekend. we had some family in town, we cooked from the garden and many hands of UNO (cosmo's current favorite game) were played by all. oh, and there was a parade, some cook-outs and a trip to the lake.

the lake was my favorite part. it's a relatively secluded spot (in fact, for a while, we were the only ones there, on the actual day of the 4th!) we had a picnic, did some swimming, and went mushroom hunting in the woods. it's chanterelle season here, and this spot is notoriously thick with those unmistakable, salmon colored beauties. we collectively gathered over 2 pounds.

at home we made a fantastic dish involving butter, white wine, cream and some onions from the garden. hard to go wrong with that list of ingredients. we dried some, and throughout the week used them fresh, in a mushroom beet curry, a garden stir-fry, and pa jun (that korean scallion pancake i'm always raving about).

they have a distinctive, yet mellow flavor, are easy to cook with, and impart a sort of meaty-ness to a vegetarian meal. i love how easy they are to find. not at all like those perfectly camoflaged, rare and elusive morels. these guys are plentiful and their bright color makes them stand out on the forest floor. i say we went mushroom hunting, but it was more like the woods were saying, "here, have a basket of chanterelles!" this is the first time we have gathered them, but it won't be the last.

the garden, by the way, is blowing my mind. the tomatoes are just beginning to ripen. we've enjoyed a few cherry tomatoes, but one of the big guys is a soft shade of orange, so it won't be long. i noticed some spotted lower leaves, on a few of the plants (signs of disease), so i pruned all of the lower leaves, and yesterday i sprayed them with a seaweed/fish fertilizer, just to give them a little boost. now our garden smells like a fish cannery. yum.

many of the branches are so laden with giant tomatoes, they are completely bent over. but, they're hanging on, and seem fine.

i had to pull out the evil third step sister from the three sisters garden. she was severely diseased and pest ridden, and i feared she would contaminate the nearby cucumbers. so, no more pumpkin. we're down to two sisters, but they are doing wonderfully. the corn is towering over my head, at over 8 feet tall! the ears are forming, complete with lush corn silks.

this is a completely new experience for me, i've never grown corn. it is very satisfying so far. and the beans are dutifully climbing the stalks, and starting to flower.

a couple of times i had to untangle the bean vines, which were pulling the corn stalks towards one another. and bending them. but other than that, they seem to make great companions.

the okra is setting pods now. we pickled a few, and they are delicious! the okra flower is so pretty! it looks like a hibiscus or a rose of sharon, and in fact, is sometimes known as african hibiscus. the plants cut a dashing figure in the garden.

the cucumbers, though probably also diseased (those damn cucurbits!) are producing plenty of fruit!

they are the pickling kind, so we made our first batch of fridge pickles and found them scrumptious. i used a recipe from organic gardening, on a whim (i am so susceptible to images in magazines!) and next time i will try one that does not include sugar.

i cut the sugar down to less than a quarter of what it called for, but it was still too much. i want my dill pickles savory, not sweet. but they were still crisp and yummy--looking forward to more of that! using our own fresh dill was a treat.

oh, and then there's the cabbage! we have lots of it, and it is astounding. i picked the biggest one, and made some kim chi. also used some of our carrots, but this was not the tastiest crop of carrots i have grown. i just planted another row, for a fall crop.

the garlic is out of the ground, and hanging in the wood shop to cure. harvesting garlic may be my favorite garden task. the fragrance is intoxicating! it was a beautiful harvest, and this year, i will save some for next year's seed. last year, they were so small, i didn't want to plant them, so i just bought more. this year's look as good as i could get from johnney's.

in it's place is a buckwheat cover crop. i'll be planting fall crops in there, probably today.

the morning glories are not as lush as i had imagined they'd be, but they are climbing the twine, and they have glorious blooms every morning, so, i can't complain. this year, i planted president tyler, and heavenly blue.

the leeks are taking their own sweet time, as are the brussel sprouts, but they are starting to show the tiniest of brussel buds...aren't they? they taste better after a frost anyway.

here's hoping you have the chance to take your own sweet time in a garden this summer, too.


Heather said...

What a great update - everything is so gorgeous! I have serious mushroom envy... Also: that shot of the garlic drying could be our garage, it looks so similar, both the garlic and the garage! What kinds did you plant this year? So glad your garden grows so well.



mep said...

All of the chanterrelle dishes sound just wonderful. I feel like I make the same comment over and over, but I am so completely impressed and inspired by your garden. If it's blowing your mind, it's exploding mine and I haven't even seen it!

Anonymous said...

Your garden (and photography) are AMAZING!!! You're so cute with your veggie harvest. :) We just made tsukemono tonight and I thought of you. :)

Anonymous said...

What fun! I just spent time perusing your site. Cosmo is growing so quickly, and you are doing such excellent and beautiful work in the world. The mushrooms! the corn! the tomato! the garlic! the cabbage! the pickles! the lovely dishes. I love them all. I love you. XO, Marcia