My sister-in-law is about to come down with a bad case of mid-summer gardening fatigue. I can sense it creeping up on her—and many others-- as it does every year right about now, just as the birds are quieting down from their early nesting hoopla, just as the sun hits its warm stride, just as vegetable gardens in New England reach their peak. In a couple of weeks she’ll vow to shrink her garden beds to more manageable size next year, but come spring, out she’ll go, merrily designing the lay-out, perhaps even an expansion, planting and transplanting as though there was no such thing as mid-July doldrums.
Her vegetable garden is stunning: bursting with the bushiest, tallest basil I have ever seen, tomato plants the height of a tall man, winter squash that meanders merrily over and through its neighbors and its neighbors’ neighbors. It’s an Eden-esque...read full post »
About this time of summer--with July 4 weekend heading our way--many gardeners feel a subtle shift in their relationship to the garden. Vegetables start pouring out of the garden and into the kitchen: cucumbers, hot peppers, peas, potatoes, favas, fennel, carrots, herbs, lettuces and greens, figs, strawberries and red currants from mine right now. It's all about keeping up with the harvest AND the weeds (if you can!). Some gardeners begin to lose interest--I know that my sister-in-law loves the seeding and early growing times and doesn't relish the idea of picking and canning and drying. I think she likes the look of the garden as much as the food it produces.
Me? I'm all about gathering as much healthy food as I can right from my own garden, and so I am always thinking about what else I can plant to extend the harvest, to keep constant the...read full post »
I grew up with a mother who gathered wildflowers and herbs on the summer solstice to dry over the year for burning the following solstice with wishes for a bountiful harvest, a healthy year to come, and harmony in the universe. I still gather the flowers and herbs. in the same way.
I also revel in the garden itself on this long, long day. Today was a gorgeous day, brilliant with sunshine and warmth, and so I spent as much of it as I could outside weeding, planting (yes, I'll be planting for weeks yet--today I planted several kinds of beans (filet and shell), chard, nasturtiums, and transplanted more basil and peppers and rosemary) and harvesting. And then we cooked up the bounty--wonderful! We picked peas and potatoes, radicchio and escarole and garlic scapes, lettuces and herbs, edible flowers and carrots and beet greens. There's much to come in...read full post »
I’m trying to break a bad gardening habit. I’m trying to resist the urge to over-plant, to stuff the vegetable beds to bursting point no matter how good it makes me feel.
You see, when visitors ask for a tour of my gardens, I do a lot of apologizing-- for the small size of the zucchini plants, for the holes chewed in the tomatillo and cucumber leaves, for the broccoli beheaded by deer, sure, but really, I’m making excuses for the dark splotches of soil marring the beds.
“Don’t look over there, “ I say and lead bewildered guests from those dreaded gaps.
It takes considerable willpower to...read full post »
So much of what I grow could star in any manner of Mediterranean meals--tomatoes, of course, and basil and oregano, naturally, and zucchini, eggplant, artichokes and cauliflower (for Sicilian dishes). But what excites me even more these days than these absolute anchors of my garden are four Italian vegetables people like to order in restaurants but often don't think to grow. I’d like to encourage everyone to find a spot in the garden for these fabulous four!
1. When people come over to take a tour of my gardens and orchards, they're plenty excited by the variety of peppers and tomatoes, the size of the artichokes, the scent of the herbs, the beauty of the eggplant.
But they ooh and ah over the favas that are now in full flower (I expect to pick them in another three weeks or so--usually they’re ready sooner, but we've had a rough, rainy...read full post »