Well friends, who likes tomatoes?
Our Garden. It is once again a little better than the year before, but not free of mistakes. We grow food and we learn. We learn that only one squash plant is necessary for a family of two. Our single black beauty zucchini squash plant has taken over by force. I think it literally ate my artichoke plant, because now it is nowhere to be found. And the harvest never ends, we’ve had zucchini for what seems like months. I do remember it being my strongest little seedling but geez! We are learning ways to hide zucchini into dishes and baked goods, and we are sharing recipes with friends.
And then there are the leafy greens. We learned they need more space. They were planted too closely together this year, and still made it, but you can just tell they should be better. Bigger and stronger. I’ve seen a kale plant with a stalk as thick as my arm and as tall as a toddler. Ours are not. But we’ve learned.
We also should have eaten more mustard greens and kale, but maybe we’ll have a second chance in the fall. The bright lights swiss chard is still vibrant and growing strong, and for what I thought was a cool weather plant, it is showing such endurance even through this heat. There is a particular bug that likes to chomp at it though…we better eat up.
And it’s not over yet. Now we wait. Tomato season is ever so steadily approaching. We check our plants morning and night to pluck a ripe little yellow cherry tomato here, an orange one there. We slice them thinly and savor each bite for now, but in a few weeks (I’m eagerly awaiting) the moment when we realize we are drowning in tomatoes from our 16 plants. I’ll “complain” that I have to can them, and find friends to come over to take some off our hands, and eat tomatoes morning, noon and night. It will be the best part of the summer yet.
Each tomato will be a celebration of another year of gardening.
Picking out seeds this year was a more focused effort. I knew I wanted heirloom seeds, lots of herbs and tomatos, and I wanted to try to grow a watermelon. We purchased all of our seeds so far at Rohrer’s Seeds in Smoketown, except for the Happy Cat Farm seeds which I snagged at the Fair Food Farmstand.
Then we purchased topsoil with a few happy helpings of plant food. We started our seeds in small containers, and placed them in the sunshine on our seed-starting bookshelf.
Planted so far:
Crimson Sweet Watermelon
Black Beauty Zucchini
Golden Calwonder Pepper
Sweet Banana Pepper
Yellow Pear Cherry Tomato
Black Zebra Tomato
Northern Lights Tomato
Heirloom Parsely (passed on to me from a co-worker)
Italian Large Leaf Basil
It’s about time to get seeds started, and this year I needed to find an efficient way to get more seeds in the sunshine without resting containers on windowsills all over our house. I thought building a shelf to set in front of a window could work – and luckily we just happened to have a bookshelf laying around for the last few years that had never been put together. I got to work (reading instructions) and Nick came in and saved me by putting it together in a half hour, rather than three. The only modification we made to the shelf was leaving the cardboard backing off so that the sun shines through.
For now we have our herbs, aloe, and potted plants sitting pretty on our window bookshelf, but soon we’ll start our tomatoes, peppers, and more.
So have you ever seen those Jonathan Adler white ceramic animals posted on hip interior design sites? Well when I found a terra cotta chicken pot in our smokehouse (an outdoor building that at one point we believed was used to smoke meats), I was inspired to DIY my new chicken into a trendy white planter.
Here is the pot before – it had a few scratches and I wanted the color to be one that popped more.
All it took was a few rounds of white spray paint and a trip to the garden center for a neon pothos, and now my chicken planter is a new favorite in the kitchen. Even the pope seems to agree.
Daniella, a friend of mine, works at Buck Hill Farm and this weekend they had a Basic Canning Class on the farm for their CSA members. As I mentioned, I have a slight obsession with canning and Daniella caught wind about what I’ve been up to and asked me to help her with her demonstration. I couldn’t have been happier – she is an amazing lady and a professional chef, so to help her with anything was quite flattering and a true pleasure.
I brought my Squeezo to show off, a few examples I’ve canned, and then helped peel tomatoes and slice lemons. Daniella nailed it as an instructor, teaching us all a thing or two and the ladies left telling us they felt inspired to try it themselves. I mostly smiled and stood off to the side, but confidently threw in a couple tips like keeping your jars in the oven after sanitized and such.
I totally felt like some cool canning expert although I did little instructing and have only canned for one summer. But a girl can dream right?
Tonight I made my first batch of pesto ever. I am ecstatic! If you’re familiar with growing arugula, you quickly realize that it grows fast and fierce. There is so much arugula in our garden I am worried it will soon be too late to use and it will go to waste. Luckily, an email came through my inbox today that mentioned sandwiches (LOVING sandwiches, I could not ignore it) and hidden among the recipes there was a mention of arugula pesto.
I spent a few minutes picking the arugula, spent about 5 minutes chopping it all up in our blender, and just like that I have my very own blend of pesto that will surely top all of my sandwiches this week. Tonight we made salmon and slathered the pesto all over the top with a drizzle of honey. With a side of our homegrown romaine (our first of the season) and some rice with chile garlic sauce we stuffed ourselves silly.
I can’t wait to share pictures from our trip to NY! We had the best time. But a post like that deserves more detail and right now there’s a kitchen to clean.
This weekend while I was working at Market, I watched a boy walk in with bouquets of flowers literally hanging off of him. He had just returned from foraging in the forest (a forest florist) – and there were bouquets filled with pine and tree branches and flowers that looked like lilacs but weren’t, and I couldn’t stop staring. I walked right over to Sweet Annie’s Produce and purchased myself an enormous bouquet.
This lovely bundle is still sitting on top of our kitchen table, like it hasn’t aged a day. The mason jar must be filled by the fountain of youth. Lovely, I tell you…just lovely.