Welcome 2012…

While I don’t think it’s an auspicious start that any of us can now be detained as a potential terrorist,  thankfully when it comes to the garden things are both more and less complicated.   At least it’s a context that’s familiar and generally not threatening.  This year I hope to reach the bottom of one of my compost piles, hunt down those deep crabgrass roots once and for all (yeah, right), grow a few more edibles, revive my broken and wonky drip system, and catch some rainwater if it ever rains.  That and more travel to view the efforts of others.    Whatever the state or size, may your garden reach its own perfect equilibrium of imperfection in the coming year.

What's in bloom January 1, 2011

Another day at the office…

These folks didn’t brown bag their nectar and pollen, they’re lunching out.   After reading through the material on The Great Sunflower Project’s site I’ve been paying closer attention to the population in my own yard.  http://www.greatsunflower.org/four-easy-steps-participate


Romanesco me…

First documented in the 16th Century in Northern Italy Romanesco broccoli or cauliflower is an edible flower that lets just say has been around for some time.  Visually surreal with a short growing season and mild flavor look for it now at your farmer’s market.

I’ve got some growing in my front yard which to date the deer have left alone but I know where to get more should they choose to indulge.

Romanesco broccoli

More visuals and information in the LA Weekly blog,  http://blogs.laweekly.com/squidink/2011/02/farmers_market_romanesco.php

She’s a tart…

tomato tart

Scott, the husband of a friend gets within 20 feet of their kitchen and something delicious is going on.  Recently when a tomato tart appeared and was rapidly consumed I had to repeat the recipe for myself (yeah, the next day) although not with Scott’s customizations to it.  My heirloom tomato crop has been crap this year but there still seem to be plenty of cherry tomatoes which is what’s called for.  I did add some goat cheese because it was there in the fridge and skipped the nutmeg because I couldn’t find any.

The original recipe was published is Saveur, and here it is.  Thinking the addition of chanterelles would move it nicely along into Fall.  Enjoy and or invite me over for your version.

2  9″ x 11″ sheets frozen puff pastry,
thawed and chilled
1⁄2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
4 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
12 anchovy filets in oil, drained
and finely chopped
3 lbs. cherry or grape tomatoes
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper,
to taste
1⁄4 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 tbsp. finely chopped fresh chives
2 tbsp. finely chopped fresh oregano
Freshly grated nutmeg

1. Heat oven to 375°. Fit pastry sheets side by side into a parchment paper–lined 13″ x 17 3⁄4″ rimmed baking pan, pressing pastry against bottom and sides. Trim inner edges of pastry sheets so that they form a seam in center; trim pastry hanging over sides of pan. Prick bottom of pastry with a fork. Line bottom and sides of pastry with parchment paper and fill with dried beans. Bake until edges of tart are golden, 25 minutes. Remove beans and parchment paper, sprinkle Parmesan over tart shell, and bake until cheese is melted and tart shell is golden all over, 15–20 minutes. Transfer to a rack; let cool.

2. Heat oven to broil and arrange a rack 4″ from heating element. In a large bowl, mix together oil and anchovies; add tomatoes and season with salt and pepper. Toss to coat. Transfer tomato mixture to a rimmed baking sheet and broil, shaking pan once or twice, until tomatoes blister, 12–14 minutes. Let cool slightly. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the tomato mixture to the prepared tart shell; distribute tomatoes evenly.

3. Increase oven heat to 425°. In a medium bowl, combine the parsley, chives, oregano, and nutmeg; sprinkle herb mixture evenly over the tomatoes. Return tart to oven and bake until hot, about 15 minutes. Let tart cool slightly before serving.

It’s that time of year…

I’m still in theory waiting for Summer.  While in holding out mode a friend pointed out some Maple leaves that had turned, as in bright red.  I’m not ready for this, I want a few more tomatoes, cucumbers and the like and yet I found myself at The Seed Bank in Petaluma accumulating a variety of seeds to get in the ground this month.  I know the planting will drift right on into September as I still think August should mostly be about harvesting.  In the meantime there is always watering and weeding.

Seed porn for August and September

The Seed Bank is the West Coast home, literally an old bank building of Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds out of Mansfield, Missouri.  Their catalog is visually inspiring but there is something to being able to fondle  those little packets of promise.  I will be planting all of the above.

Baker Creek’s website is http://rareseeds.com/

I’ve got my eye on you…

Watermelon blossom

It’s already August and my mind is still back on our cool wet Spring weather.  This did not stop me from planting (no cold frame start) several Watermelon vines for the first time.  My expectations were minimal, perhaps just survival of the plants. It has not felt like there has been the necessary heat even though we are partially though Summer.  There are now signs of fruit which I meditate on daily.  The expectations have shifted.  Yes, I will be fertilizing with some additional compost and sliding a piece of plastic under the pencil eraser sized fruit to prevent slugs and mold.  Hopefully the extra attention will not scare off harvesting even just one Watermelon.

The first watermelon

Coop update….

Really, I was having fun

The awkward adolescents spent their first night in the so tight nothing will get into it chicken coop.   The coop is near my outside bedroom wall so I kept thinking I was hearing things, like things on the roof of the coop.  Glancing at Momo, my Akita as she was snoozing bedside without any “I hear something I’d like to eat.” look on her face confirmed that it was just my overactive imagination.

The finished coop pre straw and chicks

I brought the nesting boxes fabricated out of wood scraps with me to Garden Girl Farm in Richmond.  Once there Cassie’s “minions” as she terms it helped me out with some custom paint jobs.  Let me make it clear that when I get half of the word “chore” out of my mouth at home Henry has vanished.  With Cassie all I hear  is “What can we do now?”

The minions hard at work painting the exterior of our nesting boxes

An exterior view of the coop