All posts filed under: Garden

Harvest Cornbread

Summer is more so an emotion than a season. Annually it arrives, heat and hazy sunlight, a shimmering mirage of memories forgotten and ghosts of summers past, of childhood and yesteryears. And each summer has its own personality. Some come particularly hot and lazy, sprawling languid and driving anyone within reach to naps and slow eyed ruminations. Others come cool and soft, all lush greens and gentle breezes. But the best days are the rainy summer days.       Awake and ready to face the morning’s tasks, I wasn’t what you could call saddened at the sight of rain coming down the a.m. A cup of coffee and front porch sitting in the cool air came as much needed comfort. I frequently forget to pause lately and those not so subtle reminders are less pesky than welcome. Gardening is in full swing with necessary tasks compiled daily. Weed, water, harvest, prune, keep vigil for pests, fertilize, repeat. In that way, the art of gardening is imitating life lately. A series of tasks toward a higher goal eating …

Heirloom: Weissbehaarte Tomato

In much a similar way to parents being shunned from having a favorite among their children, it feels wrong to say I have a favorite section of my garden. But I do. The cornstalks are shiny and stately rustling in the plains wind, the deep jewel green leaves of the squash plants are mysterious and exotic, the bright rows of herbs and lettuces are as lovely as any flower garden. But there is another section, a haven, a quiet sort of oasis of sweetly sharp scented leaves and jeweled toned heirlooms in every shade of purple, red, brown, white, yellow, pink, and orange: the tomato section. From the first of their unique scent at the end of winter when early tomatoes are peering brightly up at grow lights to the last days of harvest in fall when the last fruits are small and more useful for seed than culinary purposes, tomatoes will always be my favorite plant to grow.        Thus every year the heirloom features here will no doubt include a tomato type, this year being no …

Heirloom: Golden Zucchini

It’s strange, the difference a year can make. Looking back at how different one June can be from the last is nearly dizzying. Sometimes the comparison is heartbreaking. Other times it is a welcome reminder. In the garden, the difference between any two seasons is palpable and as one toils it isn’t difficult for the mind to wander between comparisons of this and last season’s gardens to this and last season’s daily challenges or successes. While the daily life of this summer has been more challenging than most, the season’s garden has been for the most part a dream. Especially the squash.         Two seasons ago, all my squash were attacked and rapidly killed by squash vine borers. By rapidly, I mean my plants were done for before I even realized what was happening as I had never encountered vine borers prior to that season. They also summarily destroyed my gourds and melons. Devils. Last season came torrential rains, blighting most of the garden and smearing the rest with powder mildew. When the rains finally broke, …

Seed starting and the novice.

Outside the garden has been expanded by about twenty feet in two directions and the fence reset, the ground has been tilled, and the overgrowth project continues in the woods, clearing, cutting, and stacking. Spring bulbs and early blooming shrubs are beginning their show and the early cool season’s veggies are hardening off while inside the early and mid-summer season vegetables are sprouting in rapid succession. All the prep for the growing season is moving rapidly toward fruition. Inspired by all this new growth of early spring and the sight of tables full of seeds starting, a quick guide to seed starting rooted in experience seems in order. Starting your veggies indoors gives you not only the advantage of a stronger harvest by besting your local climate but also of not spending a ridiculous amount of money on transplants and giving you a seemingly endless variety from which to choose. Besides, the satisfaction of nurturing your plants from start to finish cannot be understated. But if you’ve ever failed with seeds you know exactly how frustrating the process can be …

Heirloom: Red Kuri Squash

I found out on one of our trips to back to Tennessee this year that my husband had no idea what kudzu is. On occasion those tiny nuances that are engrained in my being and completely alien to him arise and remind me that I married a non-Southerner. And such a strange feeling to live in a place so near home and yet cut from completely different cloth, a state that borders the South and yet might as well be another planet. But I digress. As I drove the winding back highway to mom’s, I pointed out the kudzu eating the landscape, swallowing barns and other myriad amorphous shapes of things long forgotten under those eerie emerald leaves. He was dumbfounded at the sight of it and the botanical characteristics that make it such a nuisance. It must seem strange to someone who’s never seen kudzu, like some plant from science fiction come to eat the rural South, and yet the very sight of it to me is comforting, decided proof I lived in Mississippi too long.      …

Heirloom: Black Vernissage Tomato

This has been a year of lamentations on the mass drowning of mine and everyone I knows’ gardens. A few plants, although stunted, have managed to put on but by no means in the quantities of a more typical season. As with every summer though, a standout has shown through, this one particularly impressive for not only putting on in mass quantities but for doing so under the strenuous conditions of down pours and unseasonable cool turning immediately into drought and heat. As a planned segment of Crescent in the Pines is to highlight prized heirloom varieties and other garden selections of note, this beaut seems an obvious choice for the first feature of the Heirloom series.     That standout is Black Vernissage, a saladette sized tomato ironically sent to as a free gift with my spring seed order but one I will grow every year hereafter, not only for its deliciousness but for if prolific nature and its ability to make one of the best sauces I’ve ever gotten from any tomato. Black Vernissage features everything great about both paste tomatoes …

Summer Tomato Salad

Post downpours, this year’s garden is not as productive as those of the past. So for today, Thursday, a throwback, a post from last year and one of my favorite recipes during abundant tomato years for pure simplicity: July has arrived all heat and humidity, blinding bright sunshine, and the urge to do little more than lay by the waterside. While I tend to wilt in the heat, the cucumbers and okra are putting on and my peppers and tomatoes are in heaven, producing in abundance. Inspired by the bumper crop of tomatoes this year I decided to share a simple recipe for tomato salad, a personal favorite and perfect treat on a hot day or a beautiful (yet easy) side for your next gathering. SUMMER TOMATO SALAD 4 large tomatoes of your choice, sliced 1 medium red onion, sliced 1 cup feta cheese, crumbled 1 cup of fresh basil, chopped ¼ cup fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped ¼ cup quality extra virgin olive oil Sea salt and fresh cracked pepper For a decorative party approach as …