All posts tagged: gardening

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, …

Spring Green Salad with Gorgonzola Vinaigrette

This is the strange time of year when change is exaggerated, when I look at photos of the garden from only a few weeks ago and the rate of growth borders on preternatural. Seeds just budding last month are mature plants now, in the process of producing. And a garden tilled not long ago all dirt and rows marked by hay and mulch has gone from shades of clay and dirt to shimmering bold greens of every tone.          The world seems greener this year than any years in recent past. Nature shivers emerald, all gossamer leaves on the rainiest days and bright forest tones in the sunshine. Most days are rainy, albeit not like last year. And warm. So warm already that the early greens and cooler tempered plants are bolting while the squashes and tomatoes are sprawling in their takeover for the season. With all the cool natured plants in a race to bolt, recipes center around making the fullest use of their produce. And so, a simple salad. Quick to make but as fresh …

Spring Pasta with Roasted Garlic Sauce

The words “purple is royal” have been uttered more than once in the last few weeks and as the garden fleshes out in emerald and lavender, ultraviolet and splashes of pearl, I wonder if I wasn’t feeling a bit royal when planting. Or perhaps I have more of my mother’s blood than realized (purple is her all time favorite). Or maybe it was a surprise for E (purple is also her favorite). Maybe all of the above.       Either way, the irises are blooming along the fence line, honeysuckle has just begun to perfume the air, and somehow an accidental very purple theme for the first round of blooms has been managed all over the property. It will change as the other flowers come in, pinks, scarlets, and heavenly blues. But for these few weeks, spring has come in royal, all velvet purples and soft lilacs against a deep shimmering green backdrop while indoors the season has come when fresh flowers are always on display straight from the garden.  The vegetable garden is also flush with green as all the first …

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.      …