All posts tagged: sustainability

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, …

Natural hues.

The fertility rites of spring are in full force, trees budding and blooming, seedlings sprouted and growing voraciously, birds nesting, rabbits stirring. There is a soft beauty in the gentle themes of the Easter celebration, the stunning examples of years of adaption of the symbols of equinox rituals into the imagery of the Christian church, all bundled and prettily packaged in the palest tones of mother nature. And outdoors the velvety golds, pale yellows, baby pinks, dusty roses, bright lilacs, deep violets, and soft lavenders of the flora are particularly splendid in the early warmth of this precocious spring, the garden and flowerbeds are coruscant with luminescent young green, and the sky is the clearest blue nearly every day. Inspired by all the lambent colors of youthful nature, this year’s Easter (which came early for us as necessitated by our shared family) involved not only a garden themed Easter basket delivery from an early Easter bunny but also a game of playing botanist, chemist, and artist in the kitchen. This time not for a recipe, …

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: 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 …

Rainy days and container concepts

Early harvest time is here and every day brings more lettuce and spinach. And with the daily harvest comes nearly constant rain, storm after storm. While some storms are more nerve-wracking than others, being trapped indoors has led to a spike in productivity on a laundry list of new and old projects, a boon since recent work trips out of state have left no days to be lost. But the downside of the constant rain, among other things, is hoping all the young plants don’t drown, mildews and molds don’t take hold, and plants aren’t lost to sogginess. The first bed of potatoes is in a spot that seems to hold water especially well and they are developing what looks like early signs of rust. Next year’s rotation will be a completely different lay out, living and learning as it were. But the first corn seedlings made it up and all the beans are growing except the newly planted cowpeas which may or may not rot in the ground if this weather keeps up. Half the greenhouse yield is now transplanted and the recently …