A New Garden and an Unexpected Guest

It has been a very strange week or two weather-wise.  The constant threat of rain from hurricanes stalled our water pipe project.  After everything was trenched and the pipe laid, the asphalt company (apparently there is only one in Tucson) refused to make asphalt because of the threat of rain.  The hurricane ended up being much ado about nothing, but yesterday, in stunning end-of-season monsoon fashion we got an inch of rain in about twenty minutes.  The unasphalted trenches siphoned all the water from our cul-de-sac onto our property–there was a little lake in front and a river in the back.  It took some time, but the water all eventually got redirected (David did some retrenching) and absorbed.

Unfortunately, we picked yesterday morning (before any sign of rain) to plant our new garden.  We waited weeks for just the right time (i.e. not too hot), and here’s how it looked with our plants happily situated in the space:

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We decided to give ourselves a break and buy the plants this time, but I still started a bunch of seeds in the greenhouse.  They’re coming along nicely but aren’t ready for prime time yet:

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In the garden we planted lots of leafy greens, some peppers, eggplant, cauliflower and herbs.

This morning, after the deluge, we reraked around the plants;  they looked a little shell-shocked but after a day of sun and some gentler watering they are perking up.  They must have heard about the BIG CARDINALS WIN against the San Francisco Forty-Niners today!!  (Just had to work that into the post).  So it’s exciting to have all these veggies planted and we’re optimistic that they will do well here.

Now, for our unexpected guest.  As I’ve mentioned before, the torrential rains bring out all sort of critters, but nothing could have prepared me for this guy, who was not out of, but in our house!!!

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That’s a desert tortoise that walked himself into a corner of our entryway and didn’t know how to put himself in reverse.  He must have gotten in yesterday when I had the front door open when I was checking out the monsoon damage.  I was sitting in the kitchen, knitting away, when I heard a groaning sort of sound.  I couldn’t imagine what made the sound.  So I followed the noise and … YIKES!!  I handled it the way any level-headed person would–I hightailed it out of the house to find David .  He dutifully dropped what he was doing to begin operation “get the turtle out of the house”.  It was actually a pretty simple “operation”.

Step one:

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Step two:

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Both the tortoise and I were much happier when he went on his way.

In general, I’m very grateful for all the rain that comes our way.  It’s great for the environment and makes everything beautiful and green.  Plus there’s always the promise of wildflowers.  But right now I’m very ready for the months and months of cloudless Arizona skies that are on their way.

 

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Easier Said Than Done

Starting a garden in Tucson is not an easy proposition.  The ground is hard-baked from the sun, loaded with rocks and roots, and wholly nutrient deficient.

Instead of dealing with this reality in the spring and summer we used pots in the greenhouse and created one raised bed into which we added soil and compost.  I wrote many blog posts about the ups and downs of our first gardening experience.  I will be forever grateful to Audrey 2 for providing us with big, healthy, delicious zucchini.  It was our first bonafide success.

One thing we decided to do for the fall planting season was create a larger in-ground garden, so we are dealing with the challenges of preparing a plot for the first time.  After a season of trial and error, we found a wonderful nursery  (Mesquite Nursery in Tucson) that has everything we need for our garden as well as helpful master desert gardeners.  We left the other day with packets of seeds, potting soil (for the seedlings in the greenhouse), bags of soil and soil conditioner and lots of good advice.  And let’s not forget this:

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Low tech but great info.  We were relieved to learn that we have about two weeks before we put any seeds directly into the garden.  This is good news because it will likely take us every bit of those two weeks to turn this:

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into an appropriate place to plant seeds.  And I use the word “we” very liberally here because loosening the soil with “our” tiller (taking a rest in the heat) and the subsequent digging down into this 25 x 7′ plot became David’s job very quickly.  After gamely hanging in with him in the 100 degree heat, shoveling away loosened dirt and picking out stones, I got the vapors and had to retire.  He hung in there, loosening the dirt:

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Digging up the tree roots:

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And yanking them out:

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Oh man.  This is some job.  The goal is to dig down about eighteen inches and then add the soil and soil conditioner that we bought.  The good news is that this phase only happens once.  Eventually, David also got the vapors and we both jumped in the pool.   Heaven.

Since I am pretty useless with the heavy lifting, my job is to start the seeds in the greenhouse.  Hard not to get excited about these:

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These are the varieties that we can start in the greenhouse.  The root vegetables like carrots, onions, radishes and beets need to go directly in the garden.  It makes sense that you wouldn’t want to transplant those!   Our handy cheat sheet also tells us about the time from sowing to harvest:

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Who knew that it would take more than 100 days for celery to be ready to harvest?!  I think not.   Bring on the carrots and bok choy!  We also learned about sequencing the planting, especially with the root vegetables.  Each time you pull a root vegetable, it’s gone, done.  The other vegetable plants continue to provide even after cutting off leaves (lettuces) or fruit (broccoli).   In order to keep a steady flow of root vegetables you have to keep sowing new seeds after the initial planting.  So we’ll plan for all of that.

I’m very excited about our garden and I’m sure I’ll continue my role as garden archivist in order to bring all the updates to the blogosphere.

And one last shout out to my ridiculously can-do husband for contributing all the grit and muscle.  Love you honey.

 

When the Cameras Aren’t Rolling

It’s been days since I posted.  A change from the every-other-day pace that I had settled into.  We spent a long weekend up in Prescott on a mini family getaway (so cool and piney) and I “forgot” my camera.  And my knitting.  I think I was needing to just be present in my weekend without documenting it all.   Consequently I have little to “report”.  In addition, I didn’t have too many projects in the pipeline so most everything right now is a work in progress.  And that’s okay, except that I was in touch with feeling like I really wanted to be done with something so that I could present it–you know, “voila!”  All wrapped up.

Let’s face it–blogging gives us the opportunity to neaten it up, tidy it up and present ourselves in whatever light we choose.  I’m not on Facebook but blogging has plenty to do with image management no matter how “real” we profess to be.  And I have hundreds of discarded photographs to prove it.   In general I don’t struggle with the fact of this much, but today, I’d like to formally honor “the process” and the time before and after the tidy wrap-up.  In no particular order…

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This is the shawl-in-progress occupying a place of honor on my chair in the kitchen.  The dimensions of this shawl are really big so it will likely remain in this spot for weeks.

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This is my skirt-in-progress plopped on my messy sewing table awaiting waistband and hem finishing.  I’m resisting the urge to post a completed “tada” photo from another version of this skirt I made a while ago.  I say “no” today to image management!!

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This is a photo of my next Kumihimo project.  I’m just in the contemplation (i.e. I haven’t gotten the materials yet) stage, but I’m wanting to make a double strand necklace using variegated fiber.

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This is Audrey 2 still doing her thing.  There’s one zucchini left on the plant and the bed needs to get cleaned up and prepped for the fall planting.  And speaking of the garden:

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Yeah, we’re done here.  Ready for the new seedlings (which we haven’t bought yet).  And then there’s this:

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The site of our new beds.  Our plans are ambitious but we probably won’t get to this until next weekend.

And on the food front, after a flurry of cooking and baking, we are starting to break into all the goodies we froze.  Today we are snacking on this:

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Yummy banana bread that’s as good the second time around.

And after the debacle with the flies (there were more of them out there this morning), the weather here has been doing its summer rainy thing and our usual breathtaking views are just, well, so-so:

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So there you have it.  Life moving as it does between the ooh and aah moments.  I know that accompanying photos of me in my “not ready for primetime” attire might be an appropriate ending for this post.  You know, the anti-voila! moment.  But we all have our limits.

Ratatouille- Ooh La La!

So it’s official. The most expedient way to use those delicious, yet endless summer garden veggies is to make ratatouille.

Once again we were sitting on bags of eggplants and two huge zucchini (I think that may actually be the end of them) so I went online and searched for what looked like a good recipe.  We knew we wanted a rustic, slow-cooking version rather than the “slice and roast” type with the veggies thinly sliced and artfully arranged like in the “Ratatouille” movie. I found this, a recipe created by Alice Waters of Chez Panisse fame.  It looked simple enough so off I went to Whole Foods to rustle up the rest of the ingredients.  Here’s what went into the dish:

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Except for some salting of the eggplant to coax out the bitterness and lots of slicing and dicing the prep was pretty easy.  Sous-chef David was available yesterday so as I got busy sautéing the eggplant (step 1):

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he prepped the rest of the ingredients (and artfully arranged them and took a picture):

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We doubled this recipe which worked out fine but it made the cook time much longer because so many more veggies needed to cook down.  Plus we needed to add more salt and chili flakes for flavor. Here are these veggies (minus the addition of the eggplant) at the beginning of cooking:

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This recipe calls for using a “basil bouquet”  (you can see it prepped above).  It’s just a bunch of basil tied with kitchen twine and left to infuse into the dish.  When the vegetables are soft and the dish is ready you give the bouquet a final squeeze and remove it.  More fresh basil is chopped and added to the dish just before serving.  After lots of patient simmering and stirring here’s our ratatouille:

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This was so good.  The vegetables, even after all that cooking retained their shape and texture.  The piles of onions added wonderful sweetness and the chili flakes just a hint of heat.  We went through plenty of this at dinner and still have lots left to enjoy this week.  A little melted fresh mozzarella on top would work for me!  This recipe is a keeper.

The Hundred-Food Journey

On another note, David and I went to see “The Hundred-Foot Journey” the other night.   From the preview, the movie looked to be a sweet story with lots of food porn and Helen Mirren doing her thing.  What could be bad?  We thoroughly enjoyed it because it was a sweet story (rated PG) with lots of food porn and Helen Mirren doing her thing.  I’m all for a grown up fairy tale with characters who are not created on a computer.  As a nice change from the endless summer “blockbusters” and sequels I recommend it.

Enjoy your Sunday everyone!

 

 

Is Bigger Better?

OK, let’s face it.  Anyone who has grown zucchini has, at some point, gone a little bit off-color.  After all, look at this:

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Our zucchini plant (singular) has had a pretty impressive late season surge.  Once we pulled out all the dead-for-the-season other plants this one just took over, slowly spreading over our entire raised bed.  Check it out:

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And our happy plant has produced some pretty large zucchini.  Luckily there are many recipes out there (some of which I’ve already blogged about) for playing around with it.  Last night for dinner this:

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became this:

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This stunningly simple sauté has just three ingredients–matchstick-cut zucchini, slivered almonds and olive oil.  After a sprinkling of salt and pepper on the warmed-through dish you’ve got a great side for any protein.  It’s simply delicious. We matched ours with pork tenderloin and some quinoa salad.  The recipe is an oldie but goodie from Smitten Kitchen and you can read all about it here.

Today I used Mr. Sumo Zucchini (from the photo up top) for two  zucchini breads.  They just came out of the oven:

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I used this recipe and added pecans and raisins because that was what I had on hand.  I also subbed in my usual gluten-free Cup 4 Cup.  I’m dying to cut myself a slice, but I’d better let them cool down first.  If they taste half as good as my kitchen smells right now we’ve got a winner.

So is bigger better?  Who knows.  I’m pretty sure they’re both delicious, but then again it really does depend on what you’re in the mood for 🙂

Friends With Benefits

No, not those benefits. These benefits:

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Our friends, Carol and Dave, are experienced gardeners, and they had such a bountiful harvest this year that they offered to give us some of their veggies.  Yes, and thank you! You can bet that we spent part of our evening out to dinner with them last weekend taking mental notes about how they did it.  Wow. We were so impressed and very grateful, and we were determined to use each and every vegetable.

I thought it would be fun to document how we made good use of all this. So this will be a longish post that covers several days and cooking sessions.  We had a big head of kale, two small butternut squash, seven eggplants, and a huge bunch of basil.  Plus there was a fun Santorini zucchini which was completely new to me.  Here’s a better shot of that:

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So here’s what we made…

 Caprese Salad – Dish #1

Jeff  joined us for dinner last Saturday night, and we had planned on making a Caprese salad using the gorgeous heirloom tomatoes that are in the stores right now.  We figured we could use some of the wonderfully aromatic basil to top the dish. Here it is all assembled and ready for dinner:

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This  salad is simply heirloom tomatoes sliced and topped with fresh mozzarella, our C & D basil (chiffonade), salt, fresh ground pepper and a drizzle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar.  I’m not actually a tomato fan but these heirlooms are visually hard to resist. Check out the colors and shapes underneath the cheese:

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So good.  And no leftovers.

Butternut Squash Soup -Dish #2

David knew what he wanted to do with the butternut squash because this soup is a favorite recipe of his.  And since we were going to Dave and Carol’s for nosh and a movie last Sunday night it was a good time to whip it up.  I did neither the cooking nor photography for this one since I was on the treadmill working off Saturday night’s blueberry pie.  I think David did a great job standing in. Here’s the lovely squash all peeled and chopped and ready for the pot:

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After sautéing some onion and garlic in a saucepan,  David added the squash, chopped apple, vegetable broth, and dried thyme.  Here’s the  pot simmering away:

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As everything softened up he add some chopped jalapeño (no seeds), cinnamon and a pinch of salt.  After some heavy pulverization in our Vitamix, voila!

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Silky smooth squash soup with a little bit of sweet and a little bit of heat.  It’s delicious and Carol and Dave loved it too.  Next time, though, a sprinkle of parsley or some pine nuts on top?

Summer Squash Gratin with Salsa Verde- Dish #3

For this dish we used the Santorini zucchini, a yellow squash and this zucchini from our garden:

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It was such a coincidence that Smitten Kitchen posted the perfect recipe just as I was trying to figure out what to do with the zucchini.  I considered a zucchini bread but really wanted to showcase the veggies.  Her recipe for Summer Squash Gratin with Salsa Verde is here and I followed it pretty much as written.  I did substitute a mild red onion for the shallots because Whole Foods didn’t have any shallots and I can only schlep around so much in the Tucson summer heat.

This recipe is all about adding flavor, flavor, flavor to the delicate (i.e. kind of flavorless) squash.  That is done by mixing in a salsa verde along with grated gruyere cheese, shallots/onion and brown butter coated bread crumbs.  It was my first time making salsa verde which is a combination of fresh herbs, anchovies, capers, garlic, lemon juice and olive oil that are chopped up together in the food processor.  The vibrant green color is beautiful.  Here’s a look at my leftover salsa verde:

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And here’s a look at the assembled dish before baking…

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and after:

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Ooh, this was good.  I think the breadcrumb to zucchini ratio was a little off because I had a hard time cutting and slicing the Santorini zucchini.  I used some of it but probably not as much as the recipe needed.  Luckily brown butter breadcrumbs are one of those “can’t have too much of ” items.  An excellent place to park all that summer squash.

And last but not least we made:

Eggplant Parmigiana – Dish #4

While there are lots of light and healthy eggplant recipes out there, we knew we wanted to go with a classic eggplant parmigiana, and my usual sources weren’t any help.  Luckily we found a recipe by Alex Guarnaschelli of Food Network online which came with nothing but rave reviews.  Check out the recipe here.   A bit labor intensive but I had my sous-chef/husband ready to assist.  This recipe uses a from-scratch sauce which is worth it.  I tracked down those San Marzano canned plum tomatoes at Whole Foods and it made a difference.  Plus gobs of softened onion and garlic.  Really, how bad can it be? Here’s  a look:

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David cut up all seven of our little eggplants, dipped, coated (gluten free breadcrumbs) and fried them.  And here they are in their golden loveliness awaiting entry into the casserole:

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Admittedly we did a bit of “tasting” of the eggplant with a little tomato sauce dip.  Couldn’t resist!

The layering included the usual mozzarella:

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And along with the grated parmesan and torn basil, this recipe uses lots of grated provolone :

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In our excitement to get this dish in the oven, I forgot to take a “before”shot of the dish but here’s the after:

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Oh my.  It was as decadent and flavorful as it looks.

Wow!  We did it.  And I think we did our friends proud.  We used most of the veggies and tried out some terrific recipes along the way.  The kale, by the way, went with David to work for lunch everyday.  We ended up throwing away some of the basil because we couldn’t use it up fast enough.  Next time we’ll make some pesto and freeze it.

Even if you don’t have any friends with benefits/bumper crops I recommend checking out the farmers markets this summer and using what’s fresh and available to try out some new recipes, eat well and have a lot of fun.  David and I are determined to expand and improve our garden this fall and if we are so lucky to have more than we can eat ourselves we’ll be sure to let you know.

 

Garden Surprises (Of Course)

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So after eighteen days away and the start of the monsoon season in Tucson it would make sense that we would see some changes to our garden.   But we were not entirely prepared for what we saw.  First, get a load of the Audrey 2 clone (i.e. our zucchini plant shown in the photo above) that now has the proportions of a bonafide bush!  That leaf in the front is probably a foot long.  And the kicker is that here is our one and only actual zucchini:

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Well, okay, it’s a nice size zucchini but one might have expected a bit more production from such a behemoth.  I’m not sure whether to consider this a pleasant or unpleasant surprise.  Clearly the plant to zucchini ratio can use some improvement.

Next, after the first seeds got planted back in January we finally have the start of a pepper:

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Here’s a close-up:

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This is exciting.  But again, I’m not sure what it means for our next round of growing. Peppers must like the heat.

For the most part though everything in the greenhouse except tomatoes needed to be pulled up.  In terms of our growing season it was probably time anyway, but our biggest surprise came when we discovered that the plastic sheeting that enclosed our greenhouse had literally begun to tear away and disintegrate!  Clearly the material couldn’t handle the stress of the summer heat.  I didn’t take photos of that because we were too busy pulling the tattered sheeting off and the dead plants out before we got pelted again with monsoon rain.

But here’s the skeleton of our greenhouse as it looks now:

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David’s done some research and we have a better grade of sheeting on order.  Luckily the frame is completely sturdy and intact.  And I don’t think the tomatoes mind the extra sun and rain. We haven’t seen the last of the summer tomatoes 🙂

As I’ve documented on this blog, our first six months of gardening has been a real mixed bag. We are very encouraged by how we (well, actually our veggies) fared but there is so much more to know and lots of room for improvement.  For the next month, before the fall planting season we’re hoping to learn more, build some more raised beds, repair the greenhouse and get excited all over again.

I will keep you posted and welcome any and all suggestions from green-thumbed readers…

 

 

 

 

It’s a Jungle in There

OK, hyperbole got the better of me there, but thanks to some very happy tomato plants

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a big-leafed zucchini plant,

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and an enthusiastically climbing cucumber plant (which I mistakenly thought was going to give us green beans!)

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our greenhouse is a fun place to be these days.

As far as actual vegetable production goes, we’re still not sure the degree to which a healthy plant will produce veggies.  Clearly we are not ready to bring our bounty over to the community food bank or start jarring and canning, and we’re lucky if something makes it into David’s lunch salad.  Happily this was today’s addition:

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Yes, that photo is intense.   I got a bit carried away with my close-up of our very first cherry tomatoes, which I thought were supposed to be a regular sized variety.  I’ve started to realize that not all tomato plants look the same and that’s one way to distinguish the cherries from different varieties . I’m sure more fastidious gardeners make note of which are which but I was so sure that my little transplanted seedlings weren’t going to survive that I got careless.  Here’s a look at the younger plants.  I’m thinking we’ll have a few varieties:

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I’m pretty sure that our zucchini plant will continue to provide:

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But the cucumber plant has me pretty confused:

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That’s got a long way to go!  Or perhaps it never got fertilized?  These are actually knowable things-a quick google search should do the trick-but I’m not feeling like researching right now.  I think I’ll just wait.  I have a feeling that by the time we return from Montana all will be known.

These plants clearly like the very warm weather, and our greenhouse helps keep things pretty tropical.  At the same time it seems that the radishes, carrots, arugula, cilantro and kale can’t handle this heat.  They all have pretty much let us know they are done for the summer.

As we think about the fall planting season which begins in August, our goal will be to fine tune our scattershot approach and consider things like temperature fluctuations, soil nutrition, compatible plants and proper spacing and thinning.  There’s so much more to know but we experienced just enough success over these past six months that the idea of sourcing all of our vegetables from our own garden (over time of course) doesn’t seem so unlikely.

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As I’m writing this post I am reminded of a book I read by a fellow Tucsonian and favorite author, Barbara Kingsolver, who spent a year on her family’s farm in Southern Appalachia eating only locally-sourced/grown food.  I read her book entitled “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle” long before I ever considered growing anything, and while I don’t remember the details of the book (except there were lots of ways to eat zucchini!) I was completely drawn to her family’s story.  If you’re interested in becoming more self-sustaining or are just looking for a good read you can learn more here.

 

 

 

Green Green Everywhere

A Sweater for Anne  Me

Oh my!  I returned a few days ago from a week-long trip to New Jersey to see family and friends.  I had a few days to myself before David joined me and I planned to blog during the trip.  It was a great trip with so much to write about but in the end the words wouldn’t come.  So, rather than push it, I decided to let it go.  I am home now, back in my space where creating just seems to happen.  So remember this?

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This was the yarn that Anne selected for the sweater that I was knitting for her.  Well, it’s a good thing I like green. In fact, it’s my favorite color.  Because this sweater turned out to be my size (barely), not hers.  I had warned Anne, as I was halfway through the project, that it was looking a little skimpier than I had anticipated.  This was disappointing because one of the reasons we chose this pattern was because I had already knitted it up in a short sleeve version that fit Anne perfectly.  Sorry honey.

The thing about knitting is that if you change the weight of the yarn even a little bit the gauge can be off.  Gauge refers to the number of stitches per inch, both horizontally and vertically that you need to have in order to achieve the finished measurements.  A way to “make the gauge” is to change up needle sizes.  This also helps knitters adjust for how loosely or tightly they knit.  So before a project really gets going there’s a bit of tinkering that goes on.

In this case, the yarn Anne chose was slightly lighter in weight than the one I had used previously and even after upping the needle sizes the gauge was a little bit small.  And I learned that a little bit small adds up to a whole size small when all is said and done.  So without further ado, here’s my new sweater:

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And up close, here’s the lace pattern:

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And the trim:

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If you’re thinking, “wow, those stitches are soooo even”, so am I!  As a relatively new knitter it’s been a real challenge to knit with even tension.  There are a couple of reasons why this project was so technically successful (the gauge issue notwithstanding).  First, the entire sweater is knit “in the round” using these:

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Knitting in the round means that the entire body of the sweater is knitted at once eliminating the need for pesky seaming which I’m not great at.  In addition, the smooth “stockinette stitch” which makes up the non-lace part of the body is achieved by knitting all the rows.  If a project requires turning the work after each row the stockinette stitch is created by knitting a row and purling a row.  For me those purl rows are a bear;  the motion is not as natural for me and this inevitably shows up as uneven tension from row to row.  And that brings me to:

Blocking

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Years ago when I first tried (and failed) at knitting I complained about uneven stitches, and my mother always said “oh, you can block that out”.  I didn’t even get that far back then, but now I get it.  Blocking is essentially wetting the sweater, either by submerging or spraying it, pushing and pulling it into the proper shape and dimensions, pinning it down and letting it dry completely.  Wetting the yarn literally causes it to relax and the stitches almost reorganize themselves into a more even configuration.  Plus any lace patterns or cables will become more prominent. My “pinned into submission” sweater is shown above.  I blocked it yesterday and it was fully dry this morning.  Blocking hides a multitude of sins and in this case, helped me make a too-small sweater fit.

As it turns out, Anne is in the middle of mild Chicago summer weather, and David and I are headed to Montana in ten days to explore Glacier National Park.  So maybe this turned out the way it was meant to.  I will be rocking this look, “apres-hike” in Montana:

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And while we’re on the subject of green, look what else we came home to:

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This honking zucchini is our first full-size veggie from the garden.  Shocking to see it really!  Well this guy is slated for some zucchini, quinoa and parmesan fritters.  Details to follow 🙂

Something’s Happening

Ever since we put the first seeds in our garden David and I have enjoyed a ritual of walking out to the garden and greenhouse together in the morning before he goes to work.  Part of what makes this so much fun is that the plants seem to experience a great deal of growth overnight, so each morning the landscape is noticeably different.  Admittedly, there were days when the growth of the mushrooms was outpacing the growth of our plants (truly stunning how quickly those crop up!) but I still feel excited each time I take that initial look around in the morning.  Today was particularly wonderful, and there was hardly a mushroom to be found.

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I have to start with the most thrilling.  That my friends is our very first green bean!!!  Check that, I impulsively yanked the very first one off the vine and ate it so this is technically our very second green bean.  What made this so surprising was that the plant really has not been thriving AT ALL.  These pole beans are supposed to grow upwards of two feet (this guy is maybe seven inches tall).  The bean plant in the greenhouse is developing in a more predictable way (I think) and it looks like this:

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The plants in the bed had literally been stalled for months.  Yesterday David noticed some new leaf growth and today, voila! It was delicious too.

Next David pointed out this cucumber plant:

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These too were virtually non-existent and I was sure there would be no cucumbers this time around.  I’m not sure if we just didn’t notice it because it’s in the shadow of the mammoth zucchini or if it just appeared that quickly.

And while we’re talking zucchini:

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I’m pretty sure there was only one of these there yesterday.  Wow!

And the greenhouse plants are also thriving.  The tomato plants are all bearing fruit:

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and I think I see the slightest tinge of red.  Plus the seedlings I recently transplanted are also very happy:

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Finally, I was pretty sure the arugula was done for the season (don’t ask me why I would say that; really I have no idea!) but here it is growing away:

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You know, it’s not hard to associate these happy plants with what has to be perfect growing weather–warm enough overnight and tons of sun during the day.  And our gardening friends have emphasized over and over that patience is key and some plants take forever.  I thought I was being patient–ok, pretty patient, but I am definitely adjusting my sense of what a reasonable time frame for growth might look like no matter what the seed packet or internet says.

“Watching” Things Grow

The daily drama of the plant growth in our garden reminds me of an Oprah Super Soul Sunday episode featuring the amazing photography of Louie Schwartzberg.  He has made a career of using photography (time lapse, slow motion, etc) to illustrate the magnificence of the natural world that is beyond what our eyes can see.  If this is something that fascinates you the way it does me check out his website.  His work is a wonderful reminder of the interconnectedness of all life forms.  In fact his current work is all about the amazing world of mushrooms!  I will definitely be checking that out in order to increase my own appreciation for the mushrooms are so very happy in our garden.

As we become more familiar with gardening and have an opportunity to experience a full year of the ebbs and flows of plant life cycles I expect that the changes we see from one day to the next will become less shocking.  It is my hope, however that we never lose the delight we feel as we “watch” nature do its thing.