19 June 2011

no excuses

oh, i had hoped to at least post once per month, but alas! two months have passed, with nothing.
that is all i have to say: we moved.
shortly before we moved, i worked on a draft of a garden update:

June 19, 2011
in just a couple of weeks we we will no longer live in the midst of the best garden in the world. i'm excited about our new place, and exploring a different neighborhood, but leaving this garden is a challenging adjustment for me. i have planted a mostly full garden here, even though i knew we'd be moving in the middle of the season. our landlord says we can still come by to tend and harvest our crops. i hope he means that.

it has been a great year for brassicas so far.

this cabbage is an early jersey wakefield, and has a conical rather than spherical shape. okra barely germinated, even after two plantings. couldn't get a basil seed to germinate to save my life. i have no idea why. sweet corn looks fabulous.

pea harvest has been spectacular, and some cucumbers are ready and waiting to take their place on the fence/trellis. carrots and beets look lovely, as do the onions.

bush beans and edamame everywhere, plus a lot more flowers than i usually plant. since the landlords plan to put the place on the market, i figure the prettier it looks out there, the more likely the garden will be left alone. we've been eating fresh lettuce since late february and still have some coming on. we enjoyed a few radishes before they bolted in the heat, and the garlic has been "scaped."

this year i made a garlic scape pesto, but found it to be a tiny bit too garlicy, even though i sauteed them first.

the tomatoes and ground cherries are off to an optimistic start, in spite of being super tiny when i put them into the ground. i ended up buying two larger plants from the farmer's market, just to be on the safe side. the exciting new thing i am trying this year is sweet potatoes! they are beautiful plants, and i'm curious to see how they do.

of course i have leeks again, and have tried some eggplant, currently under cover, to prevent flea beetle attack. the soil in the lasagna bed i started a year and a half ago is gorgeous--all dark and crumbly, and (unfortunately) full of tomato seed and violets.

in the new place i hope to do a bit of terracing, plant a small fall garden, get some garlic in, and prepare beds for the spring (using the lasagna method). the new neighborhood has plenty of experienced gardeners to consult and commiserate with. i will work on letting go, and moving on.

* * *

by now we have been in our new place for a full month. we've had to say good bye to excellent soil, wonderful neighbors and the croquet court.

but the new place has nice neighbors, too, plus it came with a cheese hanging hook (over the sink!), and nice colors on the walls.

i struggle to keep a couple of small seed beds moist enough to germinate the fall crops i planted. i have been harvesting from our old place, and attempting to keep up with weeds. we're experiencing a bit of a drought, and record high temperatures for days on end. surprisingly, the old garden is doing well with very little attention.

i've harvested tons of green beans, cabbages, beets, carrots, onions, kale, cucumbers, ground cherries, tomatoes, herbs...even flowers! last weekend we had the first of the sweet corn!

it is wonderful. the edamame is nearly ready, and the sweet potatoes are out of control! i am very curious to see what's under all that gorgeous foliage.

we love our new place, and have had a nice summer, in spite of the brutal relocation. cosmo has been busy with soccer camp, swim classes and montessori art camp.

we all rode our bikes in the july 4th parade, with our dear friends ann and alan. it was just what we needed after days of schlepping, and one of the reasons i so love bloomington. 5 people can hop on their bikes and become an official entry in the independence day parade! cosmo loved getting to ride around, in all directions, in the middle of the street downtown.

we are off to colorado to visit carl's parents, and cosmo will start kindergarten (at montessori) by the middle of the month! the summer has flown by, as usual. thanks to they might be giants (here comes science), cosmo's current passion revolves around the periodic table of the elements. our friend diane gave him a poster of it, which he has been studying carefully, and even chose it as a bed time story a few nights ago! he is also into optical illusions, and successfully pulled off his first magic trick (making a coin disappear).

carl and i have been busy canning, and preserving, and teaching others how to as well. through my job at mother hubbard's cupboard, carl has assisted me in 3 canning demonstrations at the farmer's market.

i discovered the best pickled carrots recipe--ever! i was looking for something that would closely mimic the spicy condiment i used to find in taquerias in houston. found it. these are probably the best thing i have ever pickled, and i can't stop eating them. they taste great with tortilla chips.

here's the recipe (it comes from the TexasBBQRub forum):

pickled carrots taqueria-style.

It sounds like a large recipe, and it is. trust me, though, you'll be glad you made the whole thing.


• 2 lbs large carrots, peeled and sliced into 1/4 inch thick pieces
• 1/2 head of garlic peeled and smashed
• 1/2 large, sweet or yellow onion, roughly 1-inch dice
• 1 1/2 cups white vinegar
• 1 1/2 cups water
• 10 bay leaves, whole
• 1 tablespoon peppercorns (can vary to taste)
• 1 tablespoon Mexican oregano
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 6-8 oz. fresh jalapenos, sliced (and seeded to taste)

Add garlic and peppercorns to oil in a large saucepan, heat to medium heat, and saute until fragrant (just a couple or few minutes or so, depending on your stove). Add in carrots and saute for 2-3 minutes. Carefully add in vinegar, peppercorns, salt, and bay leaves. Bring to a simmer for 5 minutes and then add water and jalapenos and bring to a simmer again for another 10 minutes.

Transfer everything two quart-sized mason jars or other covered container(s) and refrigerate overnight. If you find you need more liquid to cover, boil more water and vinegar (equal amounts of each) to top off.

Keep refrigerated. Store the carrots in the liquid and use a fork or slotted spoon to serve them. You may leave the bay leaves in the liquid to add to the flavor, but do not eat them. Always remove the bay leaves before you eat the carrots. You can soften the carrots more with longer cooking times, but you want to keep them firm and with a bit of crunch, or it's just not right.