The Vegetable I Wish We Grew

What about this: a tribe of asparagus children, but they’re self- conscious about the way their pee smells.

Asparagus. With Easter around the corner and everyone posting pictures of their crop coming in, I get a little jealous. And a little mad at myself–if only I had started last year!

You see, I love asparagus so much that I will cook it in great big batches and eat half of it out of the pot. I will share with Mike, but begrudgingly. I can have five pounds of the stuff in the fridge and still buy more.

Just looking at pictures of it makes my
mouth water and makes me consider cooking some for a late night snack.

I usually eat it steamed with hollandaise (way too easy now we have homegrown eggs!), but sometimes I just eat it plain. Sometimes grilled. Sometimes roasted with lemon juice, Parmesan cheese and lemon pepper. Sometimes freshly cut in a salad. Usually just hollandaise, though, unless I eat the potful before the hollandaise is done.

But anyway. So this delicious vegetable. I never get sick of it. Ever. I eat it like candy. I will eat it with every meal. Dare I say it? I love it more than pasta. More than cake.

Those are strong words.

People always say if you plant too much you will get sick of it. Impossible. Simply impossible. So then they, and you, tell me to go ahead and grow some.

You see, THAT is the problem. We have a plan; a five-year-plan, give or take. To save up as much as we can to buy a “real” farm, or at least more land. And I fear leaving behind too much.

You see, we already have 13 blueberry plants to leave behind, and that is one of my favorite fruits. And the four apple trees, another favorite. Not to mention the maple trees and the butternut trees and the peach trees and the raspberry canes. And the old magnolia tree I fall in love with every time it blooms.

Some of this has been here long before we got here. Some of it we put in. A lot of it is just going to stay behind. I understand that is how you grow and find new places but it still stings.

I’m not sure I can leave the asparagus behind as well! With our luck, it will start to produce as we’re moving.

Oh yeah, and the slight issue of where it will go.

In the meantime, I’ll be stalking all the local markets to see if anyone will have some for sale, and it’s time to sneak it in from the grocery store into the freezer before Mike catches me.

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Handing the Garden Over

I’m giving in. I have handed the garden over to the chickens.

These past few weeks, I haven’t been giving the garden the attention it needs, or that it deserved. I’ve put at least 1 bushel of tomatoes in the compost, likely more. I’ve let at least another half bushel or bushel go bad on the vine, all because of the simple fact that I got married. Continue reading

Update with Pictures

It’s over 90 degrees here. The bees are so hot they’re bearding across the front and sides of their hive, and reaching to the back. One hive is strong–the other I don’t think will make it to winter, let alone through winter.

I was proud of how well our garden was growing until I saw a picture of a friend’s garden. A few months ago I gave them some pepper plants that are now heavy with peppers; our own are wilting and the leaves falling from the bottoms. I’m not sure why, but some 6 of the bell pepper plants are dying, the rest struggling.

Still, life goes on and things grow. Continue reading

Birthday Chicken

A year ago today, I was scrambling around my kitchen to finish up potato salad and make cheddar/pepper venison patties for a bonfire that night. I headed out at 12 to go to wine tastings (and wine bottle tastings) with a group of friends. We rode down the road in the Jeep with the top down. I was happy, healthy, and living it up for 25 years of life. We finished up the night with said bonfire, lots of wine and beer straight out of plastic tubs, the Jeep flood lights on for light, fireworks and a styrofoam container of shrimp that the neighbors dropped off halfway through the night.

It was a good time.

This year?

Oh, I will have a great time. It is just so very different from what I did a year ago, though even then I think my mentality was veering off course for what my friends considered “normal.” Tonight will still end with a bonfire, some good food, and likely some wine and beer. I’ll still ride the Jeep to get where I’m going

But my 26th birthday will pan out a little differently. Continue reading

Why I Always Get Extra

I’ve had a lot of people look at me funny when I tell them that I have over 100 tomatoes and peppers in the ground and in pots. And then I get to, “Oh, but I have extra–would you like some?”

I could talk to you about how I’ve learned that I can grow things as long as I put a bit of effort into it, but that’s not what this post is about. No, this post is about why when I want 20 chickens I get 30 (count for losses, you know), and why when I want 100 plants, I need to start at least 200.

I’d rather have extra than not enough!

And oh boy is there extra. When I sowed over 200 cells with seeds, I was expecting 85 to maybe show up and survive long enough to be planted. I spread the plantings out over weeks until it came down to my last tray. 49 seeds lovingly sowed a bit late. 5 different tomatoes and one pepper. So small that I never even got a chance to pot them up.

Then the other day they looked so sad. So starved for water, sunlight, and attention.

So I soaked them and tossed them under the Jeep tire for the long weekend. It would provide some shade, but let them get plenty of sun without getting soaked if it rained.

When I checked them yesterday, they looked beautiful. Ready to transplant up, happy.

When I checked them today–

Oh.

That’s right.

They were still under my tire.

That’s right. This morning I was running late and walked right past the car that I could have driven, jumped in the Jeep that was out of gas, and ran right over my precious plants.

I didn’t realize my mistake until long after the damage was done. On my way home I hoped maybe the tire missed. Maybe I moved the plants. Maybe Mike moved the plants.

No such luck, but I did what I could to salvage them–I buried them deep and I buried them 2-4 a pot. They’ll get crowded if they all grow, but I’ll take that risk in hopes they’ll grow at all. These were the Peche, Livingston’s Gold Ball, Ananas Noir and Red Zebra tomato varieties.

Such is life, and such is why I like to overdo it. You never know when blind stupidity or a bad morning will mess up your plans. (In addition to forgetting that I could drive the most fuel efficient of our vehicles today and running over our plants, I left the door wide open, yet locked. Come on in!)

And here, for good measure, a few pictures of the chickens since I say I have them but never post pictures.

I look like a raccoon attacked a hobo

Today did not go according to plan. Things were going great. Corn bed was put together, newspaper down, compost filled. It was windy, so no bees, but we made it to the tasting on time and had time to come home and start potting some of these leftover plants. There are tomatoes hanging in my carport, herbs planted in the garden, and the backyard is mowed (courtesy of Mike). We even went back and got a second load (2 tons) of compost. I even took pictures of everything to document it, which is something I always want to do but never do.

Then one of our neighbors stopped by to say hello. It was about 7pm. Way past the time the dogs should eat. We were talking to our neighbor when I noticed the fur on Huck’s back going up, a growl start in his chest and then–

Him and Dixie were at it again. They used to fight all the time. Huck has bitten my arm when I’ve broken them up (in an attempt to attack Dixie) and Dixie has sunken her teeth into my leg when I lunged between her and Huck once. You know–when you stick yourself in the middle of a dog fight, you’re going to get bit. But things had been quiet for a few months. A few squabbles, but nothing BIG. Huck turned 2 back in November and so we thought–this is it. They’ve sorted themselves out.

The last few weeks, things have been getting worse again. It’s very bad when Dixie hasn’t eaten. You can’t reason with the dog when she’s hungry. But she’s ALWAYS good with people, with kids. If she’s eating, a kid can walk up and dip his hand in her food dish and walk away without a scratch.

Apparently, I can’t. Don’t worry, there are no pictures behind the cut. Continue reading

Memorial Day Weekend To-Do List

I’m trying to post and get dressed and get things done all in time to make a cake tasting at 11am.

Not much is getting done, I’ll tell you that.

I want to post about the chickens, and the garden, and the fact that holy crap, I can grow things!

But instead, until later this evening when I can update about the bees (please let there be no swarm cells!), my to-do list for this weekend will have to suffice. And it’s pretty long. List behind the cut. Continue reading

Gardening as an Adult: Part 2

Mike and I were on our second year of being together. We were considering buying a house. I was secretly living with him, and not-so-secretly changing and showering at the gym before work. We were going out to happy hour on Thursday nights, and working day jobs, and were exceptionally fit–much healthier than we are now, unfortunately.

We were still living in the suburbs but I decided I was going to try my hand at gardening again. This time, we’d do his yard.

So sometime in May (probably late May) we borrowed my dad’s tiller and tilled up part of the backyard at Mike’s house. We bought some t-posts and wire fencing, and a pile of tomato cages. We bought all started plants this time, except for the cucumbers that never did grow.

We were ready.

Tomatoes, jalapenos, sweet peppers, rosemary.

I feel like I tried to plant onion and potatoes, but I can’t be sure.

We watered. We halfheartedly weeded. We drove around looking for houses.

Sometime in July, the peppers started producing quite happily. I feel like the tomatoes must have been producing by then too, but all I really remember is a big metal bowl full of bell peppers and another full of jalapenos.

I never had the patience to wait so almost all of them were green.

What was a girl to do? Why, make mounds of stuffed peppers, of course!

And oh they were good. Peppers stuffed with meat, and cheese, and bread crumbs. Peppers stuffed with more peppers. They were a hit.

The plants had just started to kick in gear, and although you had to wade in to get the goods, it was worth it.

And then we moved.

At the heart of the season, when the peppers really started going, we moved.

We moved 50 miles away to an overgrown place with no peppers and tomatoes producing. And our lovely garden was left behind with Mike’s siblings, a nineteen-year-old boy and a twenty-year-old girl.

They never picked them, and we never went back, except for the one time when Mike visited and said it was so overgrown it wasn’t even worth walking into and risk getting bit by a snake.

Oh well.

Lessons learned: Weed your garden. Make a commitment and stick with it. Peppers stuffed with peppers taste just lovely.

Gardening as An Adult: Part 1

The first time I planted a garden was at my parents’ house. I had graduated college and was living at home and, like all good kids, I claimed a part of the yard for myself.

You see, my dad had always gardened when I was a kid. This was back before the deer in the area were little more than “wild pets.” My mom was healthy, my dad was healthy, the garden was exceptionally healthy. Irises, gladioli, azaleas (split from my grandmother’s hybrids), daffodils. A giant holly bush I suspect my dad just never wanted to get rid of. Plus, the hanging baskets all around the carport. But that doesn’t count the raspberry bushes, cherry trees, apple trees, zucchini, squash, eggplant, tomatoes, pumpkins, watermelon, beans and cucumbers. Growing up, we had a lot of fresh produce in the summer–but this was back when I said I hated flowers and couldn’t grow anything.

So when I came back home I realized I wanted a garden of my own.

I cleared out the old area where the tomatoes used to be (the only spot that could be fenced away from deer) and cleared out the beds where the cucumbers and beans could trellis. I bought my plants and I bought my seeds: tomatoes, peppers, chives, corn, beans and cucumbers.

I was ready.

At the beginning, it was going great. I weeded, albeit not too well. I made sure they were watered. I watched the cucumbers and beans, just waiting.

And then I turned back into a twenty-two year old girl who spent her time running around town with her friends and 0 time sleeping at her parents’ house.

The next thing I knew, my carefully constructed garden was overrun with weeds. Two-foot tall weeds. The corn looked sad (I only planted 2 rows) and I honestly can’t remember if I ever got a tomato off there. By the time I went to clean up the weeds and pick some of the fruit, it was too late. There was a den of baby bunnies living in the back, and by then my dad said, “Leave them be.”

So I did.

I got maybe two bowls of beans and a handful of cucumbers that year, plus glimpses of adorable baby bunnies.

Lesson learned: Weed your garden.