This is the moment in the year I live for--when the garden spills over its edges--the winter squash running about the paths, the tomatoes leaning over their cages, heavy with fruit, the beans hiding their poles, the zucchini leaves growing to jungle size. it's also when I can begin to assess what kind of growing season it is, for as the full-summer vegetables and fruits are maturing, the fall ones are showing what kind of shape they're in and how heavily they will produce. This is a good year. The cold room is filling with pickles, jams and cordials, the freezer with certain herbs, fruits, sauces and broths, the pantry with dried herbs, peppers and tisanes. I've been to the farmers' market to buy meat for the freezer: local ducks, chickens, pork shoulders, lamb. I've been to the local orchards to pick cherries, peaches, berries, and soon apples. We'll...read full post »
Every early morning I tour the gardens to see how everything fared through the night--did a resident deer or rabbit chomp on the radicchio or the kale? Have the tomatoes ripened enough to pick for lunch? Will the filet beans be ready for dinner? What's ready to be pulled, weeded, watered... I look carefully at every plant to check for fruit, for insect damage, for new growth, admiring how quickly they mature, how showy they are. But not the root crops. They withhold much of their information--I know how to read a potato's flowers for signs of wonderful new spuds ready beneath the soil's surface; I know how to judge the thickness of a carrot's fronds, the drying of a garlic's outer leaves to tell whether it's worth pulling for lunch. But really, it isn't until I pull the entire vegetable that I know what's up in terms of health and growth and...read full post »
When I travel, I seek out farmers' markets and food shops as much as museums and historic sites, hoping for the unique and telling glimpses into a culture offered by hanging about where people buy their food. And so in Montreal this past weekend, yes, the unforgettable Jean-Paul Gauthier show at the Museum of Fine Arts was high on my list of must-do stops, as was the incredible Botanical Gardens, but the Jean-Talon and Atwater Markets as well as the Middle Eastern grocery store,...read full post »
Lately I've been meeting more and more almost-gardeners--they think about gardening and talk about gardening. Because they’re committed to a healthy lifestyle, they’re paying increasing attention to the food they bring into the house, thanks to the kind of writing Eating Well does so well. They want to slow things down and enjoy time outside working with a small plot of earth, even a few containers filled with potting soil, but they can't quite take the plunge. Yet.
I understand--it is daunting to start a garden. All that digging and planting and weeding and wondering why those bugs are crawling all over everything—who has the time? Who has the know-how? And what do you really get in return—too many zucchini? None at all?...read full post »