Come Into My Garden: 3.1

I say it every year:

This time, I’ll keep a notebook all the way through the last harvest.

I’m not going to say that right now. I’ll just begin, because even though it’s snowing today, the work has begun.


For several Springs, we’ve hesitated on a tree order. It’s a big commitment. It means that we expect to stay here a while, or that we’ll do grand things to transform this land, and may not be around when the fruits of our labor one day appear. But, we’re in this for more than just our personal rewards. Every year, we have made the tiniest of baby steps in transforming the eroding, muddy hillsides of our wee plot into what we hope will be a flourishing food forest someday. This year, it feels already as though we’ve taken a great leap.

We transplanted berries that had been suffering, and gave them more sun and some new friends to hang out with. We planted cranberries (!!!!!!) and willows in the wettest of the wetlands, and a pie cherry tree in the most perfect place ever (in ten years). Lavender, tarragon, oh and dahlias into the place where the Jerusalem artichokes were literally choking out everything else. Now, the latter have their own bed.

All this on a gorgeous sunny weekend, and tonight it will be 25 degrees.


It still felt safe to sow peas, though, if not any other seeds, and when I started to prepare the bed, the scuffle hoe caught on something. It turned out the entire bed was filled with forgotten parsnips! Our first harvest of the year! If you’re wondering how I could forget about an entire bed of parsnips, I have this to say in my defense: we had a tremendous deer problem last summer. They came through and ate all the tops from the parsnips when they were young, down to the ground, along with almost everything else in that section of the garden. I gave them up because I figured they wouldn’t be much bigger than fingers, if they had a chance to grow at all, since the tops had only barely begun to re-sprout when winter came. And now, I have a five-gallon bucket’s worth of root candy.


Oh, the sweetness of over-wintered roots! Unbelievable.

It gives me such hope for the growing season to come.

Here’s a quick and lovely thing to do with parsnips:

  1. Peel and slice whatever quantity suits your needs, and put the sliced parsnips in a wide skillet
  2. Add about a tablespoon of butter per cup of sliced parsnips, and water to cover
  3. Simmer, uncovered for 15 minutes, or until the parsnips are tender
  4. Add salt and pepper to taste, some minced swiss chard and parsley, and simmer another 5 minutes, or until your greens are wilted. If your parsnips aren’t candy-sweet, you can add a bit of honey with the water and butter, and it will caramelize to fantastic effect.
  5. Enjoy!

Oh, and there’s this:


And, when the mist departs mid-morning, the forest is aglow with red budding maples.



Mind Games

It’s hanging on by a mere thread, at this point, but my world is pretty well stuck in a drab color palette until Winter finally lets go.


Color is my work, but I’m feeling the need to push the issue. I’m going for full mind/body injection of rich color. Waking Up kind of color. I play with dye all day, but it’s not enough. I want to taste color. I want it to stain my skin and brighten my cold-dampened spirit. I want it to help me see past the icy muck, the bare trees, and the grey sky.

Oh, turmeric, you dreamboat.


Also, the annual, most precious care package of golden, California sunshine in the shape of meyer lemons arrived from the homeland, and after performing my usual First Ferment of the Year, this happened:


If you love lemon curd, I have to tell you that David Lebovitz’s recipe is absolute perfection. The lemons are the stars, rather than sugar; just tart enough to create a happy buzz on your tongue. We used our duck eggs and, yes, 12 tablespoons of butter, and a delicious dessert of some sort will become of most of it this weekend for the extended celebration of my son’s 10th birthday. There, I just wrote that out loud. TEN.


He requested salmon for his birthday dinner, and it was the perfect dish in which to stick 10 candles!


Did I mention there were TEN candles?


Anyway, there were blood oranges in the salad because: COLOR. So far, it’s a pretty decent trick I’m playing on myself. I feel rather sunshine-y from the inside out.


Deciding that flowers are in the grocery budget even though they’re not is a pretty good one to keep up my sleeve, as well.

What do you do to keep yourself from going insane when Spring is reluctant??!?

ps: Maybe finally changing my header will help, too. Bah!


And March, it came in…

…with bird song, duck eggs (for the first time in months), and tiny, glittering snowflakes. I didn’t even mind that last bit, because they were backlit by a rising sun.

I’ll be honest; I was starting to feel a bit like this knitting project:


Tired. Broken. And with only the potential to be a warm thing.

It’s still not warm, by any stretch, but there’s something about the way the word March sounds coming out of my mouth, and the way it feels like hope. It stokes an inner fire I thought I’d let go out.


We lost too many of our girls to bitter cold temps this winter, and will be collecting some eggs to hatch. Looking out at this thick blanket of snow, I can hardly imagine duckling feet padding around, but the thought makes me smile. With ducklings will be soil and seeds and digging and barn-raising and all the goodness of warm, bright days ahead. Bring it.

In the meantime, audio books and neon knitting are keeping me sane.


Happy March!

Come Into My Garden :: 5


So, I don’t know if it’s the lack of a farm cat (RIP Kitzman), or just a surge in the chipmunk population, but all three rounds of the winter squash seeds we’ve planted have been dug up and cached by those jerks. Oh, and three packets worth of sunflowers. I’m starting both in flats now, and hope the squash will have enough time.


We live about 1/3 mile up a dirt road and exist in an entirely different zone than our neighbors at the bottom of the hill. Only just this week did our peas require anything to climb on. This past weekend, I visited a friend just a wee south and east of us, and she served fresh-picked peas in our lunch-date soup. This has me experiencing some pretty intense zone envy, but I know we’ll catch up soon.


Okay, so here’s a thing. These are my radishes. Four weeks in. No bulb. No…radish. The greens are a treat for the goats and all, but I really did want some radishes to pickle. I guess it’s time for a soil test. And yes, weeding is on my to-do list for the week whole summer.


Blue Hubbard squash (three times) eaten
Sunflowers eaten
Delicata squash


Gilbertie tomatoes x 14
Blue cherry toms x 8
Various Heirloom slicing toms x 8
Red Celery
Basil in ludicrous quantity


same as last check-in, minus the dandelions
thinnings from the beet patch

Plans for this week include planting out the peppers and cabbages, and crossing our fingers that our CSA has winter squash starts.

What’s happening in your garden?

One Shot :: 13 and This Week In My Kitchen :: Blog Hop


Chop Chives, Carry Lemonade

I shared some kitchen excitement earlier this week when I gloated over our morel harvest, but there were a few other shiny moments, as well, like when I finally took a few minutes to thin the beet patch. I had been annoyed, a few weeks ago, when C had seeded so heavily. This afternoon, though, the result was a colander full of plucked beet sprouts that stretched the handful of lettuce I had on hand into a full blown dinner salad:


If this is the only way to get my kid to eat beets, I’m okay with that.

What’s going on in your kitchen this week? Hop on over to Heather’s place to join in.

One Shot :: 7 and This Week in My Kitchen :: Blog Hop



One shot. Every day. No editing. Join in!

Still struggling with putting some feelings into words, but in the meanwhile, I’m going to use today’s One Shot as a way of joining Heather’s This Week in My Kitchen :: Blog Hop.

My rhubarb is almost ready to harvest, but I have two bunches of stalks procured from the two previous weekend’s farmer’s markets that have been waiting ever-so-patiently to be dealt with. I thought they were waiting for me to finally dig out the last gallon of frozen strawberries from last summer. I thought about a Pie Thing or a Jam Thing but decided, instead, to make a gallon of fermented rhubarb soda.

Then, they started waiting for the woman to come home from vacation with whom I should chat about using the community extractor for our very dead, but very full-of-honey beehive.

Today, the rhubarb and I are done waiting and we’re just going to use some damn sugar.

Come Into My Garden :: 4

It seemed a fitting way to return.




And it’s Springtime.


We began much earlier than we expected and are weeks ahead of our normal planting schedule. Perhaps, we shall grow a melon larger than a baseball and with edible flesh inside?


Here is the upper garden. Now in it’s fourth year, the soil is really starting to liven up. This year we didn’t have to order any additional soil, and are working with only our own compost as an amendment. Alliums are up, and we had enough garlic at the end of last year to hold back for seed. Baby steps towards our goal of reducing the initial investment into each year’s garden.


Part of this year’s expansion includes several more beds, including a terraced winter squash hill. That pile of rocks behind the beds? That’s what needs to come OUT of our soil before we can put anything INTO it when we venture into new territory. Vermont pebbles, we call them.


Here’s Peep. You should know about him because he’s our main man and border patrol. He has two broody wives so we are anticipating the arrival of fresh, downy babies in addition to our most recent births:


of four baby goats. The sweetness is nearing unbearable, but we manage.


This is Hyssop, proud, goofy mama of the above-pictured Granola.


Always the first to be harvested. Somehow, we never tire of oregano-in-everything.

I’ll do my best to keep up with a weekly recap:


Lettuces, all kinds
Peas, all kinds


Okra (eh, we’ll see if these hold…it’s been chilly)
Onions (from sets)
Lemon Marigold


Green Garlic
Chocolate Mint (someone wishes I hadn’t planted it so close to the garden)
Dandelions (for fritters, wine, and syrup…posts to come!)


What’s happening in your garden?