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Oh it’s summertime and the livin’ is easy…
How wonderful is it to lazily walk barefoot into the garden and harvest most of tonight’s dinner?
What is on the menu, you ask? How about Greek Salad?
First, let’s pick some lettuce.
The lettuce is getting just a tiny tad bitter at this time of year. You can’t eat any of the bottom leaves. Toss them under the oak tree to share with the deer! (And it really doesn’t matter in your salad, especially if you add other tasty vegetables and salad dressing.)
Now, pull up those beets!
While you’re out in the garden, don’t forget to pick the cucumbers. No whining that they don’t look like slender sophisticated cucumbers from former years! Snap them off the vine and give thanks. Remember how much it costs to buy vegetables at the grocery story. Marvel that you can make dinner from fresh ingredients outside the front door.
If you don’t particularly love the cucumbers this year, salt them for about a half hour before dinner. They moisten up and shrink up and add pizzazz to the salad. Throw them in with the torn lettuce, sliced beets, tomatoes, and purple onions. Now you’ll have to add some store-bought ingredients like feta cheese (unless you’ve made some yourself), olives and salad dressing.
In the meantime, get a large pot of water boiling. Add the fresh corn and simmer for maybe five minutes.
Oh, and there’s green beans picked fresh off the vines yesterday, and perhaps we should also eat the beet greens for nutritional punch. Are we all set? Let’s look at the garden one more time to see if there’s anything else we might like for dinner.
Nothing else? Then it’s time to gather all the food and settle down on the deck for dinner and conversation. Isn’t the corn so sweet and succulent and magnificent? The beans so crisp and tasty? The Greek salad divine? The beet greens…well, aren’t they…green?
Who wants seconds?
Late last night we heard a strange humming noise outside. Lights glowed eerily. It hovered and landed. It was obviously…the landing of a UFO. An Unidentified Flying Object. It even sported a Third Eye, as you can ascertain from the above photo.
This morning we crawled inside to take a closer look and discovered THIS on the front seat:
We ate it for dinner tonight. And we’re still alive to tell about it. We’ve been acting a little strangely since then, though. It’s almost as if everything is a…dream…
And it must be a dream, because we looked in the driveway and realized there were still at least five loads of wood to split and stack! Didn’t we already finish doing this back in July? Must we turn on the log splitter once again and spend hours operating the lever and tossing logs into another…rather odd looking vehicle?
We didn’t actually spot the Martians. They must have departed before morning. Perhaps they’re camping out in the woods and we’ll see them later on. We’re grateful for the strange-looking vegetable that tasted similar to broccoli or cauliflower, though. We’re still not certain why they left it. Didn’t they see how many vegetables we have growing in the garden?
(This blog comes to you straight from my husband’s strange sense of humor. Truly, it’s dangerous if he starts hanging ’round the computer on a night when I don’t know what to write… You all know I wouldn’t have come up with this all by myself! Right?)
P.S. Lovely sweet husband just unloaded 90% of the truck while I wrote the blog! Isn’t he the best?
P.S.S. Alcohol was NOT a factor in the writing of this blog. Just in case you wondered. 🙂
Ahem. It’s hard to talk about these things, you know.
Especially at this time of year. We’re suppose to be grateful and happy and delighted.
We shouldn’t be having feelings of…overwhelm.
But I am.
It’s Harvest Time and the garden is overloaded with vegetables to harvest. There were beans, green onions, lettuce, cucumber, kale and tomatoes to pick today. Oh, and don’t forget the broccoli.
I’m afraid I got a little stressed this afternoon. Too much to do.
One shouldn’t even be complaining this year. It’s not like the garden is on over-drive or anything after our incredibly almost record-breaking cold summer. Canning isn’t even happening yet! Freezing is only moderately happening. I’m not making zucchini relish, pickled beets or pickled beans, as in past years.
But there is still a mountain of vegetables to pick and wash and cook and eat. A never-ending supply. I spent…how many hours was it in the kitchen today? Two, three? On and off, trekking between the garden and the kitchen sink. The refrigerator is over-flowing.
The tomatoes are finally turning lovely shades of orange and red. We have picked and eaten maybe four of the luscious globes.
And I discovered the first of the zucchini poking out under all those huge leaves today. Imagine that! A month ago there were dire predictions that we would not see a single zucchini this year. But, there she is:
Here is my problem. I want to do be doing other things, rather than slaving in the garden and kitchen for hours. Here is what I wanted to be doing:
1) reading a really good book called “The Help” on the lawn chair on the deck in the lovely warm weather with a cup of tea. I tried. For five minutes. Then the 1001 other chores took precedence and the day’s relaxation was abandoned.
2) reading other people’s blogs. I am once again ‘way behind on the adventures of friends and acquaintances.
3) calling certain friends. It’s been too long since some of us have caught up.
4) oh this list could go on and on. But I was in the garden and kitchen.
Every September I feel this way. My two part-time jobs are at their busiest. And the garden is always a hard task-master, demanding you keep up every single day, whether you feel like it or not.
At the top of the list for tomorrow morning is: dehydrate wild mushrooms. That must be done, pronto. And then there’s all those tomatoes coming on which means salsa. All before I leave for Georgia in one week to visit my in-laws. (Really looking forward to outdoor adventures near Athens, Georgia!)
So, anyway, thank you for listening to this confession. I really do feel grateful for all the vegetables and mushrooms and berries. Honest. If only the harvest didn’t come all at once. But it does sure taste so wonderful…
P.S. almost forgot to tell you! It’s our anniversary today. We’ve been married…how many years now?…31 years!
This morning I was minding my own business in the garden. Weeding the carrots. Checking on the progress of the plants. Watering. You know, the usual garden chores at the beginning of July.
When suddenly it seemed like you could hear the plants murmuring, “thank you, thank you for watering us, thank you for weeding us” in some sort of plant-language that comes without words or sentences or paragraphs or exclamation points.
Of course that led to the next idea. Why not let the plants write this blog? I am going to step out of the way and attempt to let the plants utilize these typing fingers. Let’s see if this works.
Carrots: Oh! We feel so good this morning. Even though that hose water felt so icy pounding against our green tops. Water feels so good as it swims down to our roots. Even though we’re lying flattened to the ground now from the deluge, we’re pulling in that lovely moisture and pretty soon we’ll be standing straight up and growing growing growing toward that sun. It is hard to grow underneath that spruce tree though. That’s why we never get very big. The spruce sucks up the water and shades us and it’s hard to grow as big as we could. But we like our sweet little selves. We’re orange fingerlings. Thank you for the water.
Squash: You’re dreaming of late December when you gather me from your food room in basement, bring me upstairs, split me wide open, scoop out the baby-seeds and roast me in your oven, aren’t you? It’s a long long time until then. A whole lifetime. Don’t let those taste buds get too impatient. I’m gathering sunlight and moisture, ready to send out runners in all directions. Ready to ripen from tiny green nubs to light green squash and finally harden into a ready-to-eat squash in the early September harvest.
Peas: We’re racing, racing, racing toward the top of the pea fence! We’re five feet in the sky! We’re heading up! We’re blooming! We’re excited! We have so much energy we can’t contain it! We’re happy! We can’t talk any more! The sky is calling!
Brussels sprouts: Hello. I don’t know about those peas. This is a slow world. We’re moving slowly. The roots are what is important. We’re pushing fingers of roots deep into the soil. We like the moonlight. Our roots grow up and down. The upper root sprouts nubs that grow into small round balls. I know you enjoy us. We are glad. Please do not wait to pick us until it’s 35 degrees, as we do not like your impatience and frozen fingers. We do not mind frost. But we do not like bitching. Thank you.
Peppers: Hola! Que pasa, bebe? What’s happening? You like the spice and the heat of our people, si? You like the way your tongue and lips and mouth sizzle when you bite into our amigo cayenne, eh? We add the dash of flame to heaten up you northerners. You’re way too far from the equator, bebe. Come down and see us growing in Mexico and we’ll show you a good time. Ole!
Collards: Ahhhm so glad you eat collards here in the Upper Peninsula. Why don’t your neighbors like us? Why don’t most people like us here? They simply don’t know what they’re missing! We’re delectable greens, aren’t we? Don’t you just adore us with black eyed peas? Don’t we grow admirably? The folks down in the deep south looooooove us to death. Literally.
Tomatoes: Thank goodness for your husband. That’s all we can say. He cares about us. We’ve been suffering with that die-back fungus the last few years where our lower branches simply die off early. And look at all the effort he put into finding some help for us! That organic copper spray recommended by your greenhouse friend is a good try. We’re sorry the rain washed it off too soon and you couldn’t re-apply it immediately. But he keeps following the directions and spritzing us every 7-10 days. And look how diligently he waters us. (Unlike some people we know, who shall remain nameless, who would probably allow us to wilt over in the heat thoughtlessly.) I suppose it’s because he loves us so much.
We tomatoes shall share a secret. This Pico de Gallo recipe comes via Sudha. Chop the veggies as fine or chunky as you prefer. Use as many of the peppers, onions and other ingredients as you like.
Tomatoes (start with 2-3)
Green and/or red peppers
diced onion (it may seem strong at first, but it mellows in the frig)
jalapeno or chili pepper (don’t use too much. just some to “hotten” it up)
pinch of salt
Mix in advance so the flavors have time to mingle. Serve over rice and beans, or with chips, or in any Mexican recipe.
Enjoy! (Also hope you enjoyed the Veggie Speak. Maybe they should get another Guest Blog some time?)
The above photo comes to you from inside the house, before opening the door, before walking outside. If I would have cracked the basement door even an inch the spotted fawn and its mama would have leaped off into the woods. This particular fawn is a rather active jumpy fellow. It leaps on long legs and prances around mama with a particular spazziness. We glimpsed it ambling about a dozen feet away behind the garage the other day. What courage! What daring! Then it scurried back to Mama begging to stand beneath her and nurse.
Today is Day 193 of the Outdoor Commitment. Yes, another day of rain. Another day of cold in the 50’s. People are getting snarly in town. It is suppose to be July 1st, isn’t it? Isn’t this suppose to be our warm weather for the year? (I suppose it’s because we complained a week or two ago about it being too hot. We’ll try to behave for the rest of the summer if it just warms up a little.) We had to start two fires in the woodstove today. In July!
Our official rain tally: 3.9 inches since Monday. The last count measured 1.5 inches in the rain gauge. That’s a lot of rain.
We split another load of wood this afternoon. Guess what. I am suddenly really truly enjoying this wood splitting. You get in a rhythm of hoisting, pulling the lever, tossing the split logs in the truck. Honestly, it sometimes feels like a dance. Very satisfying. Remember when I was not anticipating this task? How many times do our thoughts try to convince us that we’re not going to like something? When, in actuality, we discover that we do!
The relentless rain has tossed around some flowers, toppled some garden plants and sprouted mushrooms on the lawn. Slugs crawl up the trees and on logs. I tried to photograph the mighty slug but he ended up looking fuzzy and out-of-focus at least three times. Perhaps tomorrow you’ll be entertained by slugs and mushrooms, but not today.
Everybody knows when to pick spinach and lettuce, right? Before it bolts, or flowers. Our spinach has just barely grown to an appropriate height when I noticed that it was already bolting. Shame. It seems too early. I brought the colander out in the drizzly rain and pinched the flowers off (after photographing) and then harvested a mess for a salad.
Nothing better than eating food fresh from the earth. Supermarket food rarely compares. Our taste buds explode upon munching into fresh vegetables. You can almost feel the nutrients soaring into the cells, deeply nourishing the body. If you don’t have a garden, try to find a farmer’s market. It’s worth any extra effort.
Picture this scene. It’s still fairly dark outside. You’re sleeping in bed, covered only with a sheet, due to the steamy summer night. In the distance thunder begins to rumble. And rumble. And rumble.
Closer it comes! Lightening streaks through the bedroom window. Flashes of silvery light illuminate everything. The thunder now claps resoundingly, almost urging you to get up, even though it’s barely 5:30 a.m.
Then you hear the whooosh of rain falling. All around, outside. The rain pours so hard you can imagine the wildflowers and garden lettuces shivering with the intensity. Suddenly…the dreaded sound…icy pellets of hail spitting against the house. Clink, clink, clink. You try not to think of the garden vegetables, but your husband is already groaning about the possible hail damage.
As quickly as the hail starts, it stops. The rain continues to fall outside, but you drift (almost) back toward sleep. Except you really can’t return to the depths of sleep. So instead you enjoy the lulling patters of rain and thank the Universe for the moisture.
OK, let’s now move into awake day-time mode. I checked the rain gauge and we received over 1.5 inches of rain during that early-morning excitement! Very nice.
Lots of plants lay sprawled tipped over on their sides. The garden lettuce and spinach look a little flattened, but they are perking up as the day progresses. They seem to be shimmering in the hot sun. It’s 85 degrees just past mid-day.
The kids–although should one be calling those near the age of thirty “kids”?–picked some wild strawberries last night out by the road. Christopher’s girlfriend had never seen strawberries that tiny. They are the sweetest taste, though, the wild berries growing in between the daisies and the buttercups.
I was going to put another flower photo in next, a picture of an orange hawk-weed. However, Chris just examined the photo selection and requested a viewing of the summer sky. He, perhaps, is getting bored with flower shots. I told him straight, though. How in winter all there is…is snow. Then in early summer…blooms. Later, we’ll get in the fruit & vegetable mode. Finally, we’ll get bored by autumn leaves before returning to the vigilance of snow. Everything in their season, you know. I’m sure he was impressed by the explanation. He still wanted to see the sky rather than flowers.
We’re taking the kids out to dinner up in Houghton within a few hours. We may wander along the boardwalk near Chassell once again. We shall assuredly enjoy this sultry late June evening. We will not be thinking about our long winter. And if anyone complains, “It’s too hot!” we will reminisce about the brave hardy souls who jumped into the Portage Canal for a Polar Plunge on that 4 degree afternoon in January! Click here if you want to read that story!
The Anishnabe (Ojibway) call this June moon “The Strawberry Moon”. Barry and I debated that today. Either (a) this month’s name came from Ojibway living a LOT further south or (b) they meant Strawberry Blossom Moon.
Our white strawberry blossoms smile up in full bloom. We won’t be munching juicy ripe delectable strawberries until the July moon is thinking about its encore performance. Doesn’t a quart of fresh organic sweet berries sound fantastic? Maybe the Anishnabe were dreaming of strawberries and attempted to speed up time with this month’s name.
You might call this month “Planting Flower Month”. Every year, about the first weekend in June, folks from downstate travel to the Huron Bay Tavern near Skanee (also fondly known as Billy da Finn’s, although I don’t know why) and sell baskets of flowers, tomatoes, and assorted other vegetables. We always drive over there and find at least $20 worth of flowers and plants to plant. (This is after we’ve found lots of other local vegetables which we’ve been curing in the sun and taking inside at night for a couple weeks now.)
Here’s the rule. If you plant your tomatoes and peppers and beans and zucchini before June 10th: watch out. Frost might just attack those tender plants. Barry’s birthday was yesterday and he thinks the date of planting these warmer-weather vegetables and flowers is June 6th.
So guess what we’ve been doing today? Planting!
Last night we received a little rain shower. Not a lot, but enough to wet the ground and water the plants. The dandelion puffballs looked a tad soaked in the morning, almost like they had a little shampoo.
The forest around our house looks leafy and green. Spiffed up in its summer clothes.
So we enjoyed a lovely birthday party this evening. (Barry’s band played a gig last night so the official celebration was postponed until today.) Dinner menu: tamale pie and green tossed salad. Very delicious. Barry didn’t want a cake, but kindly picked some lupines for our table. He opened cards and packages and I…oops!…forgot to sing him Happy Birthday. Hmmm, will do that the minute he walks in the door! Promise!
P.S. OH MY GOODNESS! If the quality of these photos is acceptable, I am in seventh heaven tonight. Gerry of Torch Lake Views suggested compressing these photos on WordPress to save space. She said it would also make posts load faster. You can’t IMAGINE how fast these photos loaded. Two seconds! I am so very thrilled by this new possibility. Thanks, Gerry.
We should be contemplating our gardens now, shouldn’t we? Thinking about buying seeds or possibly planting starters in our sunny windows. That’s what good gardeners do in March, don’t they? Start thinking about everything garden-related with great intensity, planning and dreaming of rows of plants fluttering in the July breeze.
Even when the snow measures deeper than a four foot ruler in places, we all know garden season waits just around the corner. Some of us actually move into action, leafing through seed catalogs or ordering Heritage or organic seeds.
We must be gardener failures, because we always end up buying our seeds at the last minute from local stores. We hurriedly grab this and that, that and this, off the racks without too much contemplation, although we’re particularly happy when we discover organic seeds.
We hurriedly pencil in a list of last year’s crop before going to the store: (let me so how many I can remember) carrots, lettuces (2-3 varieties), beets, peas, onions, beans, zuchini, radish, leek, squash (as many kinds as we can find), brocoli, kale, collards, peppers (green & hot), tomatoes, brussel sprouts, cucumber, cilantro, basil, parsley. I’m probably forgetting some of the basic ones. Which is why a list comes in handy.
We buy some seeds and some fledgling plants. During the past many years of gardening we’ve figured out what grows well and what doesn’t. Every year certain crops struggle or wither or pout because the conditions aren’t optimal for ideal growing. It can be heart-breaking to watch cucumbers shrivel on the vine. Or delightful acorn squash. Or sturdy brussels begin to topple. Such sadness ensues as one realizes the harvest might not include everything one loves!
However, there’s always enough. Except for that year (15-20 years back) when the deer ate every last thing in the garden. Every last thing. Even the bitter tomato vines. The next year we bought an electric fence and we’ve been protecting our turf like crazy. How I hated that fence when it first arrived! It reminded me of Gestapo concentration camps. I protested mightily…but enjoyed the harvest in equal proportions that following autumn. We’ve come to a reluctant true, that fence and I.
See the shovel and stakes in the garden? The shovel was utilized earlier in the winter to bury fish guts. Yes. Until my husband determined the garden couldn’t digest any more fish innards without destabilizing the soil composition.
We do use a compost bin, tossing in scraps of vegetables and fruit and other kitchen refuse. At some point the entire heap is worked into the garden, helping to enrich the soil. Let me see if there’s a compost box picture for you to view.
As spring and summer settle in, there’s always the question of garden moisture. Too much rain or not enough? Luckily, we have a hose which assists in watering. Unluckily, we do not have an abundant supply of water in our well.
That’s about enough thinking for this early in the season! We have Time. Lots of time before the sun melts away all this snow and the garden begins to look ready for its spring tilling. Those in southern climates may be anticipating planting soon, but we’re in for a long wait. Maybe I should look for Heritage seeds this year!!