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Sunday, August 09, 2009

High summer

Beloved unties and pulls back the outer leaves
of a blanched cauliflower and harvests the head.

The Annies (Ancona ducks) have begun to lay eggs. The Rosies (Rhode Island Reds) are in full swing. They cackle in a capella chorus the triumphs of their always-impending, never-arriving motherhood. We have much to answer to them for, I'm afraid.

We're in what we think of as our High Summer; the apples are almost in fructose, but not quite; some of the potatoes are still in flower, though many of the tops have died back, and we've already dug up enough for the week; we've let the basil get ahead of us and bloom, to the delight of the bees; and the first orb-weaver spiders, harbingers of the harvest moons (Ours are August, September, and October), have begun to build their intricate dew-catching nets.

Everything gardenwise is beautiful, but it's not neat and orderly, as it was a month or so ago. There's a raggedy-forlorn edge to it all. Some plants, notably the peas, have died and shriveled away, and haven't been cleared. Some, the tomatoes, and various squashes, have burst all bounds and sprawled hither and yon -- and about a bit as much yon as hither.

We've reached the stage where we stop pushing them back and just step over things, dimly aware of zukes in the corner of our eye that are reaching the zeppelin stage, and thinking, briefly, before being distracted by the burgeoning runner beans, that we should get back to that -- it's like having attention deficit disorder. We get busy out there and yet feel that not much is getting done. So we simply turn on the soaker hose, pour a switchel and go to sit in the shade, half daydreaming, half napping, and the next thing we know, we're commenting to each other on the moonrise ...

...which shows in a deep rose coloring the presence of smoke from forest fires one county over.

I'm making a small stir fry of bok choi, spinach, potatoes, leeks, zucchini, onion greens, and cherry tomatoes with cheddar slices, parsley, basil, mint, and sweet pickled beans on the side, and zuke-strawberry bread with blackberry jam.


For Independence Days,

1. Plant something - nada

2. Harvest something -
potatoes, dandelions, onions, leeks, garlic, strawberries, chicken eggs, duck eggs, tomatoes, tomatillos, plums, three kinds of beans, cauliflower, cabbage, cucumbers, apple, blackberries, yellow zucchini, green zucchini, turnips, turnip greens, chard.

3. Preserve something - Pickles, sauerkraut, blackberry jam; drying tomatoes, turnip greens, zucchini chips, green beans (pre-cut -- instead of leather breeches they are leather short-shorts).

4. Reduce waste - saving up feed sacks for under-floor insulation work.

5. Preparation and Storage - see under dried and froze, above.

6. Build Community Food Systems - selling duck eggs, giving away veggies.

7. Eat the Food - from frozen: applesauce, chicken. From the land: Apples, plums, duck and chicken eggs, bok choi, turnips, turnip greens, potatoes, zucchini, elephant garlic,
blackberries, cauliflower, onions, green beans, strawberries, mint, basil, chives, onions, leeks, cucumbers, cabbage. From storage: wheat, oats, rye, spelt, chickpeas (for hummus).


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