• Tag Archives greens
  • Extra Work Raises Grade

    Lughnasa                                 Waxing Artemis Moon

    Up early and out in the garden.  This is the way I like it, working in the garden before and during sunrise, a coolness, some damp lingering from the night, stillness carrying only the softest of sounds, the earth friable and eager, weeds willing to come up and the garden’s purpose easy to discern.

    Kate worked on in the orchard, going back over intensive weeding of a week ago and pulling up sprouts and rhizomes, making the place just that more inhospitable for the weedy plants.  With a second load of mulch we’ll have this place looking ship-shape heading into fall.

    A few grasses have begun to turn brown and there’s a slight hint of autumn in the morning air, a certain clarity and crispness.

    After inspecting the garden again yesterday, I’m moving my grade from a B- to a B+.  Why?  I did three plantings of beets, greens, carrots and beans.  Now the second planting has come to maturity after many other plants finished their summer and gave up their yield.  We have a good crop of young beets, a lot of juicy carrots, plenty of greens and enough beans for a couple more freezer bags at least.  This planting weekly or so for a while, creates a series of gardens, all in the same place.  We even have a number of Cherokee Purple tomato plants which I did not plant.  They are volunteers from last year’s tomatoes.

    Add to these the onions, garlic, greens, beans, beets and various fruits already harvested we have a good gardening year, not a great one, but a good one.

    Plus those potatoes are still in the ground, the raspberries have begun to fruit and the fennel and leeks look good.  All in all, not bad.  I said at the beginning of the growing season that I saw this as a consolidation year, a year when we make sure we can care for what we have.  A week ago I would have said we hadn’t even met that mark, but now I believe we have.  Caring for the orchard, the vegetable garden and the new plantings from last year in there, managing the bees and getting ready for the honey harvest, plus pruning out and restoration in the perennial flower beds.

    This advance is mostly thanks to Kate’s back surgery and her hip surgery.  She can now care for the garden, too, as she has in the past and it requires the both of us, what we have now.  Getting back to normal speed.

  • Making Jam, Eating Greens

    Summer                                     Full Strawberry Moon

    Global warming, how fast can it happen?  I don’t know, but my lilies have begun to open 2-3 weeks ahead of time.  That’s a remarkable fact.  The garden overall seems about 206-28-10_earlylilies weeks ahead, at least that stuff that I got in the ground at temperature, but not date, appropriate times.  I know, this is weather and that’s climate, still, one measure of the advance of global warming is earlier springs, which bring earlier plant blooming cycles.  Of course, one year is not a trend.

    Kate and I  made 10 jars of scarlet currant jam, putting them in a hot water bath for 5 minutes to decrease the air pressure inside and get that satisfying ping when the atmosphere, barometric pressure 29.57 right now, presses the lid tight and seals.

    We had a mixed green salad with onions, all from the garden, plus a wonderful spicy peanut jasmine brown rice dish right off the brown rice package.  With the bees, the planting, the harvesting, the jelly making and the dinner this was a very local food type day.

  • Harvest and Preservation

    Lughnasa                      Waning Harvest Moon

    It changed.  The game.  After half-time most of the time, I expected to see showed up.  How about that 64 yard run by Peterson?  Wow.  Still, it concerned me that we didn’t get more pressure on Brady Quinn.  I’m looking forward to the analysis.

    Kate has made grape juice, a lot, from the grapes I picked this morning.  Next is jelly.  I have a role in the preservation process this week.  We discovered last year that gazpacho is a perfect canned soup.  When chilled, it tastes like it was made that day.  A great treat in the middle of winter, a summer vegetable soup.

    We also several Guatemalan blue squash.  They run about a foot and a half long and 7-8 inches wide.  Heavy, too.  Taste good.   We still have parsnips (next year), turnips, carrots and potatoes in the ground, probably a beet or two hanging around, too.  Above ground we have lettuce, beans, greens and some more tomatoes.  Kate’s put up 36 quarts of tomatoes so far.

    Kate also made use of our dehydrator.  Cucumber chips.  I know, but they taste wonderful.

    There’s a lot of room for improvement in next year’s garden, but we feel good about the production this year.  Next year we should get more fruit from our orchard.

  • They Nourish Us Five Times

    Summer                     New Moon

    A.T. cleaned turnips and beets, cut their greens off and prepared them for boiling.  He also prepared kale and collard greens, first washing them, then cutting their rib out and storing them for Kate who will boil and freeze them.

    An old folk saying suggests fire wood warms you five times: when you cut it, when you move it, when you split it, when you stack it and when you burn it.  There is a parallel in the seeding, tending, harvesting, preparing and eating of vegetables and fruits.  Each of these plants grew from a tiny seed placed either in soil or in soil block.  They were thinned and mulched.  The soil over and around them has been built up over the years.  When they grew to maturity, the same hands that planted them, took them from the plant and washed them.

    When Kate and I eat them, they will have nourished us five times.  As we care for the seedling, we participate again in the miracle of vegetative reproduction.  While we tend them, we pay attention with love to the soil in which they grow, checking them for disease and creating a nurturing place for them.  When we harvest them, we enter into the oldest covenant of humankind, one that even preceded the neolithic revolution, the covenant between humans and domesticated or at least cultivated plants.  When we prepare them for food, we touch not strangers, but friends, allies in the ongoing wonder of nature’s intertwined parts.  As we eat them, we become the plant and the plant becomes us.

  • In the Garden

    Summer                        New Moon

    A.T. used the chainsaw this morning.  He cut out a mulberry tree growing in an unwanted (eastern) location.  A.T. feels manly after he uses the chainsaw.

    Kate and A.T. harvested peas, greens, beets and turnips, too.  A.T. planted beans as a cover crop among the onions, where the garlic came out.  A.T. plans a much larger garlic crop for next year.  He has 9 or so large bulbs set aside for planting and set in an order for several new varieties.  At the SSE (Seed Saver’s Exchange) conference over the weekend a speaker suggested planting the garlic earlier, even in August.  A.T. asked SSE if he could get his garlic earlier than the September 7-9 ship date.  Nope.  Not to  worry, he’ll plant his own in mid-August and check the crops against each other next June.

    This whole gardening process now begins to blur the line between horticulture and agriculture.  With crops meant for immediate consumption, but others for storage:  potatoes, turnips, carrots, squash, beans, garlic, onions, greens and peas, plus the eventual fruit yields, our garden has become a substantial part of our lives.  Substantial in the transubstantiation notion loved by Catholics.  We eat of the body of our garden and our orchard and in our bodies it becomes use, transfigured from plant to human.  A sacred event.  Substantial in the way it requires the use of our bodies to realize its harvest.  Substantial in the political sense since it cuts down trips by car, makes our place better than we found it and keeps us close to our mother.

    The bees have added another dimension.  An interdependent, co-creative collaborative effort.

  • A Cool Night.

    Beltane                    Full Flower Moon

    This is the kind of weather that can scare a Minnesota gardener.  Right now the temperature is 42.  It could, will, go lower, though the prediction says no lower than 40.  If I thought it were going to get down to freezing, I’d have to cover my new peas and turnips.  They have just poked above the soil and would suffer and most would die.

    My baby plants from inside are now adolescents; they stayed outside six hours today.  Tomorrow, I’ll put them outside by the beds where they’ll be planted and give them one more day in the peat pots before digging them in to their permanent homes.

    I cut up the potatoes today, readying them for planting, too.  They may be a little late, so we’ll see what we get.  A lot of new plants in this year’s garden: leeks, parsnips, turnips, greens, brocolli, cauliflower, plants I may not understand too well.  Again, we’ll have to see what we get.

    That kind of experimentation is one of the joys of gardening, eating something fresh that you’ve only ever had from a produce section of a supermarket.  This year marks a large expansion in our vegetable and fruit crop.  That means a lot of uncertainty, a steep learning curve with some plants.  All part of the deal.