Friday, March 29, 2013

I Had Asparagus Last Night

Last night, there was still enough light after dinner to send the children outside to play.  After putting the baby down to bed, I had some time to play too.  I assigned the children to pulling weeds as I went about surveying the growth of the asparagus.  I found two spears tall enough to cut.  After getting the older two into bed, I set about stir frying my two lovely asparagus spears.  I remember when I first put the roots in the garden, I was questioning myself if I really wanted to plant something that would take so long to see results from.  The answer is, I am so glad I did. 

We have some new alpine strawberries scattered around the original strawberry patch.  They don't make all that much fruit, but what they do make, they spread throughout the spring, summer and fall.   I don't mind the kids picking whatever they want from the alpine strawberries.  I remember when preschooler was not yet two, he would go about the yard, saying, "zezez."  His way of saying strawberries.  It breaks a mother's heart that he now says, "strawberries."
I had the hardest time getting chives to start in my garden.  I think it took a few years before I could get any seeds to sprout, and even then the plants looked to tiny and useless.  Now they are abundant and I need to start thinning them out to make room for something else.  Unless I want to get a table at the farmer's market.  "Get your chives here folks!"

We harvested our over-wintered kale!  I steamed it, which may have not been the best way to go.  The kids didn't like it.  I forgot the soy sauce.  But we ate it up anyway.

The Swiss Chard is taking off again.  Lots of new growth.  It's going to go into my Easter quiche on Sunday.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Happy to Harvest!

What a joy to harvest an entire side dish right from my own little garden, in March!  Beets, pulled from the garden in the afternoon and roasted for the evening meal.   I planted these beets last summer and they had been sitting in the garden all winter.   Also, one shallot!
 How I roasted the beets:
I peeled them, cut off the leaves, and cut the larger ones into little chunks about the size of the smallest beets.  Then I got out a little ramekin and poured in about a Tablespoon of Colavita Balsamic Vinegar and maybe a teaspoon of canola oil.  Then a dash of salt and freshly ground pepper.  I whisked that up with a fork and then drizzled it on the beets and tossed it all together.  I had the oven preheated to 425 F and placed the seasoned beets in my little casserole dish.  I think it took about 45 minutes for them to finish.  I started checking them after about 25 minutes, poking them with a fork to know when they got tender, but it does take a while to roast beets.  Pretty yummy!

So, what drew me out to the garden yesterday?

I wasn't planning on harvesting anything.  This past weekend, I stopped in at the grocery store with preschooler for some last minute items and was lured by the June strawberry starts they had on sale.  Yes, how terrible to buy my plants at the grocery.  But I had the fleeting chance to be out among civilization and who knows the next time I could make it to the store without one baby strapped to me in a front pack and two hyper children pulling at the cart.  So, I bought the plants then and there.  Six Totem and five Hood starts.  It should have been six Hoods also but I was in such a hurry, I failed to notice that one cell was empty.  Oh well. 

So, the hyper children "helped" me hoe, spread compost and fertilizer, and finally plant the new strawberry starts.  Baby woke up from nap halfway through the process, causing me to dash out to the van for the stroller so I could strap him in and let him watch us finish our gardening before the rain started up. It was in the midst of preparing the strawberry plot that I noticed the beets, and in an effort to clear some space, I popped them out. 

Strawberries are in.  Beets are (mostly) out.  Compost bags are used up.  It's going to get busy around here. 

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Winter's End

 Our sweet little crocus flowers are in full bloom now, tucked into the edges of the back yard where the children can discover them while at play. 
 The Witch Hazel tree along the back fence is also blooming and gives us a reason to head out on these cold days, across the lawn to smell it's strange yellow flowers. 
 I love this little row of crocuses out in front of the miniature daffodils I planted a few years back.  It is such a joy as a new gardener to see these multiply a bit more each year. 
 Preschooler convinced me to photograph his favorite plants in our yard, which happen to be toadstools growing among the moss.  Actually, most of our back yard is moss at the moment.  Something that doesn't bother us in the least.  It gives the kids a cushion when they fall.  Which happens.  A lot. 

Asparagus is growing, giving me a reason to get out there with some slug bait, and soon!  The asparagus is such a magical gift.  From a little bare spot in the garden, a delicious food suddenly appears.  No inedible leaves, no extra bits.  Just pure food, rising up out of the soil.  The whole family loves it, much to my surprise.  The children will actually ask for more!

So that is today in my garden.  

I am currently contemplating buying fresh strawberry plants, maybe a June bearer so we can get in a full harvest before that terrible new fruit fly wakes up for the summer and starts ruining our berries. 

Two years ago, I planted raspberry plants and last year was our first year to harvest.  Then that terrible fruit fly spotted wing drosophila attacked ruined my dreams of fully ripe raspberries being harvested from our garden.  We had a few good pickings before we discovered the larva in the berries.  I kept the news from the kids and let them continue picking at will when they were in the yard, but I stopped picking berries for our table.   

So now I wonder, do I just cut out the raspberries and grow beans there instead?   Do I give it another try and hope our freezes a few months ago took out the population of flies enough to give us a reasonable picking?   And so, that I why I am for the first time considering June bearing strawberries.  They would ripen before the spotted wing drosophila really woke up for the summer, as they like to breed at higher temperatures than we typically get in June.  We wouldn't have the fun of such an extended harvest, but we would have a better chance at unblemished fruit (I did find a few "larva" in our late summer strawberries last summer), and we could freeze or make jam with the extras.   Whatever I decide, it is always fun to study those seed and plant catalogs when it's still below 50 outside.