Friday, August 10, 2012

AUGUST VEGGIE GARDEN REPORT

Hi all, it is mid August so I thought it was time for a veggie garden report. 

Back in mid July I posted a mournful post about the Lean Years and in June I posted the first installment about our Not-So-Secret-Garden. This year, after much wringing of hands is going to be a fine year- might not be the best, but it will be good (how's that for thinking positive?).

This year we started preparing the soil at the usual time of mid-May. And again (you'd think we'd learn) it was too early- too cold and too wet. While April was crappy weather, we did have enough warm weather in late May to at least warm up the wet soil, but not enough to dry it out enough to plow/plant- this translates to frustration on our part, and lots of happy weeds.  At least this year hubby didn't 'stick' the tractor. 


We had lots of plants waiting in the greenhouse for transplanting, but it was just too cold to put them out so we watered them daily and made sure they were warm enough until we could finally put them in solid ground. I had my seeds all laid out and a garden plotted- waiting, waiting, waiting...




At the end of it all (the shaking of heads and murmuring curses- including my busted little tiller) we started planting in at the very end of May and early June. 




We have spent countless hours in the other field getting it to the point where we didn't have to spent several hours a day working it. Of course, every gardener knows this, I'm just complaining, even though I have no right to.

Once we had our rows in place it was time to set our irrigation lines. We have a well and a 1,500 gallon tank in our well house we use for irrigation. We used to have salt water intrusion, but things have cleared up and it is great for irrigating the field. 



During the week we'd do client work all day and kick off about 3 or 4 pm and spend 3-4 hours in the garden, sometimes in the muddy rainy sop, other days in the blistering (well, maybe not blistering, but hot when you're toiling away) weather, sweating and cursing the thistles.

Just a few short weeks back I would be working a row or some such thing, and I'd want to cry looking up at what there was left to do. We were sore, dirty and exhausted, but we kept plugging away.


So row by row we started again. First off, an island neighbor gave us several raspberry stalks (which originated on the island over 40 years ago). We created a bed for them at the far western end of the garden, next to our mini orchard (which contains several young apple, plum and pear trees). 



Next in line are several blueberry bushes and some tubs of strawberries- all of which won't really produce for another couple of years...long term planning. These little darlings don't look like much yet, but I am patient.



I believe that is true of the asparagus (which I think we need to read up on more) and the artichokes as well- thinking long term, which for lots of other veggies is not true. These artichokes took FOREVER to get over going from greenhouse to garden- I almost gave up, but they are looking pretty good.




In the kitchen garden (on the house side of our road) I had 3 rhubarb plants, two of which told me they weren't happy so I butchered them up and ended up with a magnificent row of 6 plants that took NO time getting established. I was sad to read however that you shouldn't harvest the first year. WAH! Rhubarb is one of my fave pies. I have to share these two photos with you- the first is when I first transplanted them about a month ago, and the second shot just last week. I don't think you can kill the stuff (thankfully).




We finally are at the point where at the end of the day, one of us heads to the house (while the other puts tools away) and grabs a bottle of wine, glasses and some nuts or cheese and crackers and sit back and smile at our handiwork- hard earned, I assure you.


 And here's why we're celebrating at the end of each day...






Last week we spread straw over all beds. The beans are starting to flower, the back row of sunflowers are happy, and the strawberries are blooming.



Here's my first harvest of potatoes and beets. Now, THAT is good food folks.



A splash of olive oil, some garlic, some sea salt and a hot oven and these babies come out roasted and sweet and delish.


 A beautiful sight indeed. And the taste? Over the top goodness!

Over and out for now...


Thursday, August 9, 2012

Summer Time Chicken Salad- GOODNESS!

OK, OK, OK, you all know I love to cook- that's no secret. So why have I never posted about food? Or cooking? Much? Heck if I know. 

Every now and again (just to keep you on your toes), I'll post something food related.

HERE ONE IS---
 
I can't imagine eating chicken salad at any other time but summer time- the two go hand in hand. Warm days, refreshing, cool chicken salad- mmmm!...here's how I make mine...

We generally grill chicken every few days here on the island (that and fish)...and we always seem to have extra cooked chicken. So I chop a bunch up of cooked chicken breast (hubby likes the thighs- me white meat- so guess who wins). Then I toss in a bunch of champagne grapes (you can use any grapes, but this time of year these little champagne babies are in season and you don't have to cut them up).


Next thing to add is Tarragon (which I cut from plants in my deck containers- it doesn't get any fresher than that). Pluck and chop (if you cut too much you can dry the rest in the oven for later, or chop, mix with olive oil and freeze in an ice cube tray).


Next are some lovely little diced shallots. Now if you don't happen to have shallots, don't cry- you can use onion of any variety. Shallots are a bit more subtle, but no worries- just add to your liking.



 The last dry ingredient I like to add in are some chopped walnuts- gives it that nice crunch...again, add to taste.


Now for the grand finale...I toss with a bit of mayo (home made is preferable)- you don't need much, and a dollop of Dijon mustard- mix together and voila! You've got a tasty lunch, or even dinner.

On this particular occasion I had some newly harvested potatoes and beets from the garden that we had grilled the night before (again, the woman with the left overs).

  
I heated them up (I could have eaten them cold too), and served for lunch with some sliced apples...


Refreshing and tasty- doesn't get much better than that folks!

Monday, August 6, 2012

SPICE SPICE SPICE

To me spice and summer go together. Grilling, rubs, etc. so when we too a recent trip to Pike Place Market in Seattle, we popped into a tiny shoppe called World Spice- immediately all the spice aroma swirls around us- not too strong, but just right. Made me think of grilling salmon and steaks and corn...mmmm! OK, officially hungry now!

They also sell teas in the lower level- that too is an experience. And don't even get me started on the books on herbs and spices, and such...

Enjoy this visual journey...and if you ever get the chance, I highly recommend a stop at World Spice.




various salts

various peppers


We walked away with our little purchases of Murray River Salt Flake (superb and mild), some Irish Tea and some steak rub...mmm!

World Spice