Thursday, July 30, 2009

The Busy Time

I haven't been gardening lately. I've been sitting in an unfinished basement (and a beautiful 100 year old home with a crazy floor plan) in the middle of Illinois.

Roommate reunion!

The good thing is that while I was gone it rained, and rained, and rained...thus the basement smores.

Things are going well here and we're heading out to Door County this weekend to meet up with my in-laws and their 'camping' group.

It's wet. It's wet. It's wet. But I don't mind really. We really needed this rain. That's me in the black licking my fingers.

Fingerling potatoes a friend gave me around July 4th are up. I attempted to hill them a bit yesterday. Bush beans are blooming. A few of my diminutive tomato plants have grown a few inches and are blooming. I'm thinking of digging up some of the others and transplanting them into the squash bed.

I swear I have the smallest squash plants in North America.

Monday, July 20, 2009

L's first photo on the blog

Wayahead. Not bad for a 4 year old.

Just getting around to it

Mulching corn and squash.

And beans. Also set up a new wire shelf tripod for the Calypso beans.

Had to stop. Ran into compost. Guess I left those leaves just a little too long.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Baking Book Review

Bread: a Baker's Book of Techniques and Recipes by Jeffrey Hamelman

I've had this one recommended to me a few times. It's for
intermediate home bakers. Those who have read Bread Baker's Apprentice or other artisan beginner books and want to move on a little. The front section is very descriptive, taking in every step in the baking process and describing what's happening on a scientific level and how that effects the product. When I borrowed this from the library I found the recipes so good that I put a copy on our Amazon list for Dean's next computer book splurge. It came today. For anyone interested in quality home baking this would be my top choice.

Flatbreads & Flavors: a Baker's Atlas by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid

I've had this one on my interlibrary loan list since I made pitas for the first time. This is a fun book to page through. The photographs are beautiful, not just of food but of markets and people from around the world. There are stories, bread recipes, and recipes for other cultural foods. I was surprised that there was not just a lot of Lebanese, Italian, and Egyptian breads here and little else. There were breads from Iran and Norway and Mexico. This will go on the Amazon list for purchase some day. It's not as intrinsic as the Hamelman book, but its very intriguing. I have yet to try anything from it.

The Art and Soul of Baking from Sur le Table

Was on the new books shelf at the library. A very straight-forward description of the foods and methods used in baking and pastry making. Nicely detailed without being overwhelming, a lot like Cookwise by Shirley Corrhir in that respect. I learned a lot about pie crust and brioche and danish sweet bread. How they work and how to best work with them. I was impressed with the description. Recommended for people interested in pastry. I probably won't buy because my interests don't lie in that direction. I'm not sure the small bread baking section would be worth the look although the Introduction on ingredients was enlightening and worth a look at your library.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

I'm unsure of where this bush comes from..

..the Serengeti Plain? Honestly we've tried to cut it down twice and it just keeps coming back.

Monday, July 6, 2009

The Living Dead, the Half Dead, and the Vibrantly Alive

We're the kind of people who pick things out of other people's trash. And we're not ashamed. We were walking the dog last month and someone had thrown out some rhubarb roots. No leaves. No stalks. Just roots. Ever the optimists we brought them home and planted them. They rose from the dead.

Actually we have an experiment going. We planted one among the ajuga--it's alive and has 4 stalks even though we can't see them in that crazy undergrowth. We planted one in normal ground with the perennials--also alive with several stalks. We planted one in the darkest parts under the cedar--still managing to live and grow a few leaves. Crazy.

The houseplants are not quite as happy to be alive. The mint got a nice reboot, the sage is holding on but dropping half its leaves, but the rosemary is staging an active protest and looks like it's in an el Greco painting.

The giant mutant spider from Mars is attacking the beans...but they like it. I swear they are twice as big as this and I only took it last week. It won't be long before they get the upper hand.

I can't keep up with the potatoes. I'm attempting to mound them so high that they have double the root-growing space. I think they're winning this race.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

The Difference Between Siblings

Tomatoes planted first, in the shaded beds. Notice the height of the lettuce and the height of the tomato plant.

Big, healthy, younger siblings on the sunny deck.

Already flowering out.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009


Making some interesting observations this year.

I did know that my bean bed was far too shaded to be a good garden. That's part of what sent me on this journey and the reason I made both the nearby raised beds.

This is my third year doing crop rotation. Every year I add some kind of bed (and some new plants). I still end up with a lot of plant overflow, especially when much loved veggies are stuck in the smaller beds.

This year the overflow is tomatoes. Last year it was potatoes. I've taken to growing extras in 5 gal containers on the deck or in the side yard.

A new observation this year. Tomatoes grown in the containers, in full sunlight, on the deck are more than twice the size of those in the raised bed. I think this photo illustrates why. Hemmed in by cedar, a roof of maple and oak boughs. This is what the sky looks like to the lowly tomato.

I'm not sure what I'm going to do at this point. Cutting down the oak is impossible (its a neighbors). The maple is beautiful. At some point I may have to give it up, if we stay here long enough and I get desperate enough.

Until then I may have to create 2 different crop rotations so the sunlovers are always in the sun. Or maybe get more 5 gal buckets.