the summer garden

Phew, it’s September 3rd and the garden is in full force! garden mid summer Corn is ready, fresh sweet corn   swiss chard has been prolific, swiss chard tomatoes are slowly coming along first ripe tomato beets have been the sweetest ever and the green beans were fabulous and abundant! beets and carrots beets and green beans Not sure how to cook beets? Check out this recipe for roasted beets – d-e-l-i-c-i-o-u-s !   This year, Finn and I have been able to keep up with the squash bugs, so we have lots of buttercup squash growing! Yeah! buttercup beginnings squash beginnings squash And the flower beds have done well despite the japanese beetles trying their best… front garden lilly garden spider We’ve been enjoying swiss chard in just about everything and I’ve even found a great recipe for a home made puff pastry, homemade puff pastry so I’ve made a few of my swiss chard tarts this summer too. Recipe for pastry in a future post! Oh, I can’t forget my garlic! fresh garlic garlic before cleaning opened bulb Wow. I can’t believe it has taken me so long to grow this simple and scrumptious bulb. Thank you Mim for giving me the garlic to plant and the encouragement! Store bought garlic pales in comparison to homegrown. Actually, there is no comparison. If you have space, at all, try planting garlic. While it’s not an expensive herb, it is a delicious and easy homegrown plant to try. Bonus, the scapes garlic scapes which come out in early summer… While school has begun, summer weather still abounds and there is still plenty to be harvested and enjoyed. Lettuce is growing again, spinach is planted and more beets and carrots are on their way…and some plants are also going to seed…gather, dry and save those seeds! Below are pansy seeds, which I started from store bought seeds, though this year will start from my own seeds. pansy seeds If you can’t or simply don’t garden, don’t forget to check out your local farmers markets – they are fabulous resources for fresh, organic fruits and veggies and they may cost a bit more than the supermaket, but not that much more and many accept food stamps too! What you may spend in dollars saves your health and supports your community. So do check them out! How does your garden grow? Anything exceptional this year? Anything troublesome? late august in the garden Happy gardening and eating! enjoy!

gardening in Maine, in the rain…

I’m surprised by how well my little backyard garden is doing, despite all the odds against it…

carrots

curly kale

Time constraints, a precocious three year old, fluctuating temperatures, heavy rains, Maine mosquitos (bad for me, not the garden) and the constant threat of insects (particularly slugs and snails right now)… makes gardening this year a bit of a challenge, to say the least. Granted there are always variables out of our control when growing one’s own, though this year, the wet and cooler temperatures are certainly above and beyond the ‘norm’…

borage

While Finn naps, I try to get out there – little by little more seeds are sown, weeds are pulled, additional mulch is laid and insects are picked off one by one…for me the key to having and enjoying my garden is simply getting out there, once a day, even if only for 15 minutes…to keep an eye on things and say ‘hello’. Yes, I do talk to my plants…why not?

lettuce leaves

I want to garden. I want to eat fresh organic greens. I want to pick (and then enjoy) fresh homegrown, veggies! I want super fresh, real food. My current budget won’t allow me to buy locally grown, organic tomatoes, but it does, if I grow them myself, from seed. Lucky for us, I like to garden. And I have space to garden…

one half of garden

Not only do I like to garden, I need to garden. For me, it’s innate. It always has been. I like to eat what I grow. Plus, the taste, is impossible to achieve with store bought vegetables. Nothing is more fresh than ‘just picked.’ Seriously.

freshly picked lettuce and kale

So, I garden.

I start seeds in the late winter/early spring, I compost, I save seeds, I read about companion planting and organic gardening. I teach myself and I learn as I go. Life is all about learning – it’s never ending – and for me, this years garden is teaching (and reminding me) that plants want to grow.

young corn

Every living thing wants to grow – despite set backs and challenges, we all want to and need to grow, vegetables are no different. So if you think you don’t know enough to grow a few plants, think again, they are forgiving (to a point) and they want to please you as much as you want to enjoy them…

green bean beginnings

So why not start a seed and see how it feels…you may just get hooked.

Don’t have a lot of space? Try plating vegetables/flowers in pots. A tomato doesn’t taste any better grown organically in the ground, in the country, in Maine as one grown organically, in a pot, on a fire escape in NYC…homegrown is homegrown, and that is always better than any store bought tomato…the best part of organic homegrown? Monsanto is not involved – at all.

Happy gardening – for yourself, your family and the earth!

enjoy.

vegetarian honey and vegetable winter soup

Great information. Great recipe! Enjoy…

Romancing the Bee

vegetarian winter veg soup

Reprinted from Salon.com

There’s never been a better time to be a half-assed vegetarian. Five years ago, the American Dialect Society honored the word flexitarian for its utility in describing a growing demographic—the “vegetarian who occasionally eats meat.” Now there’s evidence that going flexi is good for the environment and good for your health. A study released last October found that a plant-based diet, augmented with a small amount of dairy and meat, maximizes land-use efficiency. In January, Michael Pollan distilled the entire field of nutritional science into three rules for a healthy diet: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” According to a poll released last week, Americans seem to be listening: Thirteen percent of U.S. adults are “semivegetarian,” meaning they eat meat with fewer than half of all their meals. In comparison, true vegetarians—those who never, ever consume animal flesh—compose just 1 percent.

Yield:  10-12 servings

Ingredients

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growing and growing

The baby’s are growing up – the baby plants that is…the basil is becoming so incredibly fragrant (and big), the tomato plants have that wonderful green tomato smell which reminds me so much of summer, the parsley leaves are a good inch across, the sunflowers are getting taller, the marigolds are growing steadily, cilantro is just starting to take off and the cucumber seeds were just planted yesterday…Outside things are really taking off too – not at all like indoors, but seedlings are finally beginning to appear (I was beginning to worry…) the swiss chard is just popping it’s crimson head through the soil, the kale seedlings each have two leaves, the lettuce is really beginning to look like lettuce allowing me to know for sure, they aren’t just weeds growing, the beets are also pushing through…oh I love beets – homegrown roasted beet, goat cheese and walnut salad – YUM!

OK, I love most vegetables – roasted fennel, green beans slightly steamed and then topped with lemon butter (fennel + green beans planted when warmer), swiss chard sauteed with caramelized onions topped with ricotta on puff pastry, kale and potato soup, spinach with nearly everything, freshly picked corn on the cob, vine ripened fresh from the garden (not the stuff trucked across America) tomatoes sliced and sprinkled with just a bit of sea salt – WOW – or even better – the classic, thickly sliced just picked tomato topped with thinly sliced fresh mozzarella (not the shredded stuff) and then ribbons of basil tossed on top with a drizzle of balsamic and olive oil – divine – this is why I grow vegetables – it’s a labor of love – plant seeds, tend them, eat, be happy.

Baby basil then…

Baby basil now…

I use recycled cardboard egg cartons topped with plastic wrap (I re-use plastic wrap for additional plantings) to start the seedlings, then I transplant into plastic pots which I picked up at my local transfer station for free – recycling at its best. Even the plastic boxes holding all the individual boxes were recycled, as were the wooden crates I use to house other fledgling plants until the are ready to move outdoors…

I thoroughly wash each pot after each season and store away to use for the next season…even my garden shovel, wheelbarrow, hose and nozzle, the gate to the entrance of my garden and the posts on either side and some of my fencing have been free via my local swap shop…if you buy potted plants, give the plastic pots to someone who grows their own or try and re-use them yourself or ask the garden center when you purchase, if they recycle pots…get creative.