Sorry I missed last week folks. I’ve just been so busy. I ordered a bunch of potato sets ans worked on the girls fairy garden trying to get it straightened out so that I can share it with the fairies. I did check with them and they said ok. So, I worked for 2 days pulling weeds and digging up weed bulb or seed…whatever it is that makes them keep coming up. Then, I had to relay the stone. That is where I ran into trouble. I have never laid stone. I have a pretty good understanding of how it should be done, but it turns out I lack one important piece of the puzzle…..the ability to pick up and move stone large enough to do what needs to be done. Henry saw my handiwork and asked if I would like help. Of course! He had to take out 90% of my work and he worked on it on and off all week. Bottom line….no potato bed, still.
The garden is changing on a daily basis now. I got three squash mid-week and cooked them with onions. They were very good, but three squash is not much. Yesterday I picked 5 and I may get one or two more today. That will be enough for a good mess. I also have radishes coming out of my ears. I found a recipe for braised radishes in Mark Bitman’s cookbook and will try those tonight as well.
My one big problem with the garden right now is cucumber beetles. Now, don’t be fooled by the name. They eat squash, cucumbers, melons…any cucurbit. I have used and organic repellant of essential oils and insecticidal soap. Neither of these worked and I feel they may like it. I am going to make some hot pepper spray today and see if that works. I am trying not to use neem oil as it will kill beneficial bugs as well as the bad guys. I bought a book called Good Bug, Bad Bug and she suggests using beneficial bugs to fight off pests. The only problem is I am afraid I’m to late for that. Nevertheless, I am getting produce….it just looks like I may have to share it with the bad guys this year!
Well, the garden is growing by leaps and bounds. I am a week late in staking the tomatoes and like always…I regret it! Good grief, they have taken on a life of their own and I am waiting for one of them to stand up and say “FEED ME.” I started making tepees for the tomatoes and cutting them back, but only got through five or so. I went ahead and put the tepees in, but have not yet trimmed and tied up the rest. I was too busy finally unfurling my espalier fruit trees. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Espalier We have five apples, a crab apple and two pears. We have not been able to allow them to be completely untied because we had not finished the permanent support system for them. Today Henry finished the work (with a little help from my dad) and we were able to remove all temporary support and attach them to their new home. I am so thrilled. They look stunning and I found a couple of pears growing and a lot of crab apples. I was hoping for fruit this year, but not counting on it due to transplant shock. I think we will get a little, but not much. Next year should be great, though.
In totally unrelated news, I finished the skirt I have been working on for about six weeks. I sew on the bus and any time I am waiting in line or for the girls. This skirt is from Natalie Chanin’s first book, Alabama Stitch Book. http://www.amazon.com/Alabama-Stitch-Book-Celebrating-Contemporary/dp/B004KAB3FC/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1337567159&sr=8-3 As you can see on her site, you can purchase a hand made skirt from her and would not have to do the work. http://alabamachanin.com/store/collection However, I am a little too stingy and a lot too interested in making to actually by one. She shows all fo her techniques and even gives the patterns in her books. I had the good fortune to meet her one time when I took a workshop with her and I must say…she is very genuine and warm. I love her business model, her dedication to sustainability and her love of her home. AND>>>>>>I LOVE MY SKIRT!
I have to say…I am feeling a little lost without my skirt at my side, calling out to me to do a little stitching. I have to decide what to start on next. I really want to make a couple of tops from her newest book. I wonder if I can get it done before our vacation???
I have decided to TRY to record the garden changes here. I am curious to see how the garden changes from week to week. It’s funny, I always have some sort of garden amnesia at the end of the season. I don’t even remember the time when it was puny and did not look like it was going to make. Also, I hope that I will be able to look back on it in years to come to bolster my spirits when the garden is at it’s beginning in the spring, when I am sure I can squeeze one more tomato plant in that bed or maybe I need to plant a few extra zucchini “just in case.”
So here is the garden one week after the last set of photos.
Hello to all of my three readers! I thought I would stop by and fill you in. I have been:
Planning and planting
Enjoying the girls’ May Faire
Sorry for the picture heavy post and I will try to elaborate on some of the things later…but let me say…it’s been a busy spring and only promises to be a busier summer!
Irony of ironies….I’ve spent the weekend cooking and this evening knitting. Of course, this is not unusual for me. The weekends around here include all things home….cleaning, cooking, spending time with the girls, hanging out, knitting…ect. None of this could be considered ironic or even odd, except that I’ve been thinking about my sis in France over the last few days, a lot. I was getting ready to post my photos of dinner tonight and my new knitting project, when I just realized that my new favorite cookbook is named Around My French Table and the pattern I just started, Wrenna, is from a book called French Girls Knits. Oh, and I forgot…I made French Onion soup for dinner yesterady!! The recipe for the Onion soup was in the same cookbook.
I also took a photo of the left over scones I made Saturday morning. Some friend of ours moved from here to Decatur, GA this summer. Thier youngest was best buds with our oldest. So, we had them over Saturday and invited the girls from Grey’s class. I made three batches of scones for us to nibble on and made a fourth batch to take to our new neighbors about five houses down. Henry and I have appointed ourselves the unofficial welcoming committee on our street. We may branch out into the neighborhood…just depends on my baking keeping up with the moving! Anyway, out new neighbors are actual a family from our girls school.. We are so excited to have them. The number of children in our neighborhood seems to be growing. I am very excited for the girls.
Here’s a photo of the dinner and a photo of the knitting.
By the way…notice all of those pears?! My Aunt Nancy brought them to us. There is about 3 gallons of them. I plan on making a pear and port compote to can. It sounds like autumn so much, I can’t resist. I am imagining serving the compote with turkey this Thanksgiving. Becca, I wish you were going to be here. Maybe I can ship a jar of compote.
I am not going to do knitting for the K post because that is too predictable, especially from me. So, I cheated a bit and I am going to do canning for K since at least the first letter sounds like a K. It’s my blog and I reserve the right to do as I please ;-). Anyway, I have been canning all weekend…by that I mean 12 hours a day on Saturday and Sunday. This is my first real go at canning. I am starting this year because for a while Henry and I have really been interested in where our food is coming from and what goes in it. In early spring we decided that we were going to take down a few trees, build a retaining wall and have a really big garden. It is not finished as it was a bigger undertaking than I first thought, but it will be ready for next year. I decided to stick my feet in the canning pool this year using vegetables that someone else grew. We have a really good farmers market in Nashville, so I made a trip last Friday and stocked up on some in season favorites and supplemented with some items that were regional like peaches, as well as some things that are a little further afield…lemons. My mom let me borrow my grandmother’s water bath canner and a bunch of canning books. I also bought a pressure canner because I knew some things we would want were not acidic enough to be safe in the water bath canner.
I made lemon curd, peach salsa, peach and almond jam with thyme, red pepper jelly, tomatoes and preserved lemons (salt preservation, no canning for it). I have to say that while it was not the easiest thing I have ever done, it was not the hardest either. I do think it is going to prove enjoyable and very, very satisfying and will get easier as I develop a system. The only real issue I had was something called “siphoning.” This happens when the contents of a canned item migrates from the jar into the pressure canner. This happens when the pressure changes too rapidly….the pressure changed too rapidly in my case because I failed to read the part that suggests leaving the items in the canner for five minutes after the pressure returns to zero and after you have removed the vent weight. Live and learn…I had to reprocess the lemon curd. now, the taste did not change, but the color changed significantly. The lemon curd was a beautiful sunny yellow until the second run through the pressure canner…now it is a muddy brown. I have photographic proof of all of this activity below….even the mud brown lemon curd. We have already been into everything and found it to be well worth the effort. I know it will be doubly worth it this winter when we can relive the glory days of summer through food.