Browsing Archives for Farmhouse & Garden

Garden 2012

April 26th, 2012

Way back during Spring Break, I started my seeds for my garden.

I potted up eggplant, bell peppers, black cherry tomatoes, San Marzano tomatoes, as well as a few other varieties of tomatoes.  I also started a few perennials from seed including poppies, dwarf hollyhocks, and an heirloom daisy.

We have had an unusually warm Spring.  It got to 95 degrees today!  So my seeds have spent most of their time on the deck instead of on the kitchen table as they have in previous years.  On the few nights that the temperature threatened to drop below freezing, I threw a blanket over them, but for the most part, they have sat here on the deck growing in the warm sunshine.

I spend a ridiculous amount of time staring at my seedlings.

You don’t even want to know.

It’s warm out here on the deck.

And there are baby plants at which to stare.

Who wouldn’t want to be here?

See!

See how mesmerizing they are?

I also planted my pole beans.

Last year’s crop was abysmal, so this year I shook some green bean inoculant into the trench when I put the seeds down.

But about half way down the trench, I ran out of inoculant, so I spiked the rest of the trench with composted cow manure.

I am interested to see if they perform differently.

I also planted a few herbs.  Lemon and lime basil, stevia, and cilantro.  I planted lemon basil last year and it was the most wonderful basil I have ever had.  It was also SO MUCH EASIER to DRY than Italian basil.  Italian basil is very hard to dry.  I tried all sorts of different things – paper bags, dark, cool closets, hanging it up, laying it out, and it always ended up with black spots on it.  The lemon basil however dried beautifully.  I just laid it in a pile on the counter for a few weeks and presto – dried basil with BONUS lemony taste!  It’s an awesome plant.  I will never plant Italian basil again.

Last year I planted a few black heirloom cherry tomatoes.

There are no words to describe how deliciously sweet a black heirloom cherry tomato is.

I can’t wait for this year’s crop to mature.

In other news…

We have several new flowers at the Garden Center where I work for sale this year including the above pictured double wave petunia known as Sweet Sunshine Compact Nostalgia.

As of today there is only one hanging basket left of these flowers.

We carried them in packs and in four inch containers and they are long gone.

Sold out in only a few short weeks.

When they first came up, I didn’t even think they were that pretty.

I thought they were kind of faded and blah.

But looking at these photographs, I think quite differently.

I think next year I am gonna have to get me some.

Our trip to Little Rock was a last minute affair. Just a few weeks before Spring break, we decided to drive to Texas to see the CD’s brother in Dallas. But the CD’s brother in Dallas, did not want to spend their last weekend of Spring break at home. They wanted to go somewhere and so we decided to meet up somewhere.  We started throwing around a few ideas about where we could meet up and eventually we decided on Little Rock.

There was one major reason for this decision.

The CD has a good old friend in Little Rock with a very large house that has a pool and a hot tub.

This good old friend is also friends with the CD’s brother as well as the CD’s brother-in-law so when all three of our families showed up on his doorstep looking for a place to crash with all of our kids for three nights, he didn’t even blink an eye. He just opened up his house and welcomed us.

It was awesome.

The CD’s friend’s house was beautiful and comfortable and located in a gorgeous old neighborhood right in the heart of Little Rock.

I took several walks around his neighborhood and took photos of his neighbor’s homes.

It was springtime. Everything was beginning to bloom. The air was warm and scented with fresh blossoms. Here are a few of my favorite houses…

The Conquistador

Flagstone Fairytale

AKA The Stone Cyclops.

Tulips with stone wall

Stony Point

Get it?

Stony?

Point?!?

How clever is that?

Lions En Garde!

Don’t worry!

They are only statues.

Jane Austen does Little Rock

Jane had the best fountain in the hood.

Of course.

Some of the other neighbors tried to have a fountain as good as Jane’s…

But they did not even come close.

I loved this striped awning.

It made me want to march in the house and demand a French pastry.

This house was so tidy you could eat a French pastry off of it.

Oh! And LOOKY! Here’s a house right next door where you can get a French pastry!
How lucky is that?!


Ooh La la!

Tres Bien!

Jenny Say Kwoh.

These fancy neighborhoods bring out the French in me.

Evidently this neighborhood in Little Rock is sometimes referred to as “The Pink Streets”, but I don’t really know that for sure.

And one of these homes may or may not belong to a branch of the Dilliards family of the Dilliards Department store.

Again, do not quote me on that.

I only write things that I hear, not things that are true.  Ha ha.

I will try and post a few photos of our host’s house in a day or two, but they all turned out kind of crappy.

Evidently I am not a professional interior design photographer.

Who knew?

I am not even kidding you.  Of all the crops I have grown or attempted to grow over the past few years in my little garden, my absolute favorite has got to be the humble carrot.

Why the carrot?

Why of all vegetables… of all fruits… of all herbs… of all the delicate perennials and annuals, shrubs, trees and grasses that I have attempted to grow, are carrots my favorite?

And why am I writing about this love in February?

I tried to grow carrots a few times before last year and I failed.  The first few times, I did not have raised beds and I did not know anything about gardening.  But this past season I had raised beds and even though I still don’t know much about gardening, raised beds seem to be particularly helpful for carrots.  Pushing that big root through the hard earth of my former garden beds is much harder than pushing it through the nice, loamy, friable soil in my raised beds.  And yet, when I sprinkled the almost microscopic carrots seeds into my raised beds early last Spring, I was pretty certain that I would get zero carrots for my efforts.  And yet LOOKY!

I grew carrots!

I grew so many carrots that I was even able to put some up for the winter months!

And that brings me to the reason that I am waxing so poetically about my carrots in February!

Because lately, I have been eating those frozen carrots that came out of my garden and THEY ARE DELICIOUS!

They are sweet and tender and plus I know exactly where they came from and who the maniac was that put them up!

ME!


Well… me and Paco.

I think the reason that carrots are so fun to grow is because you pull them out of the ground. You can’t really see what they look like until you have already committed to yanking one up and you never know what you are going to find until it is dangling from your fingers by their stringy tops.  Sometimes the results look like regular carrots, but other times they are split down the middle or they get weirdly stunted and look more oblong than they do spear like or they run into some impediment in the soil and come out with a weird twist or they go to all tops or they suffer from crowded conditions and come out pale and weak and much too thin. What that carrot is going to look like is always a mystery and I do love a good mystery. But then there’s other part about growing carrots.  The way that carrot crops show up in literature like Beatrix Potter and cartoons like Bugs Bunny.  They way that carrots always feature prominently in freshly harvested baskets of produce as if they were the ultimate symbol of a well grown garden.  Growing carrots has an added layer of strange anthropological wholesomeness for me. My carrot crop connects me to the past, to humankind’s first fumbling attempts to find food in the earth, to nurture crops, to find satisfaction in cooperating with nature to feed themselves.  It makes me feel so peasanty!

Raising a crop of carrots has a weird primitive feel to it.  Yanking a root crop from the ground, examining it’s shape and color and irregularities is positively aboriginal.  It connects me to the human legacy of gardening much more than say plucking a tomato. Digging potatoes is grunt work, and pulling beans is tiresome. Waiting for a green pepper to ripen takes forever so that when you finally do pull it, all you can think is “it’s about time!”  My herbs are so robust that sawing them down with a pair of scissors feels more like taming a wild field of weeds. But carrots? Drawing a bright orange sweet dagger from the earth, brushing off the mud and inspecting it in the warm summer sun has got to be a joyful ritual as old as… well… as old as dirt.

And the nice thing about carrots is that you can pick them as you need them, leaving the others in the ground until you need some more. And then! When you decide that it is time to pull them all, you can take them inside, shave off their rough hides, slice them into bite sized pieces, parboil them for just a minute or two and then dump them into freezer bags to use on a bitter cold winter day in a hearty soup or alongside a roast chicken or tossed at the last minute into a yummy stir-fry. I only wish I had put up three times as much!  I plan to dedicate a lot more space to carrots this coming year and I am unreasonably excited about this.

As you may have guessed, I am longing for Spring.

What are you excited about growing in your garden this year?