In the garden

When you’re cooking with food as alive as this — these gorgeous and semigorgeous fruits and leaves and flesh — you’re in no danger of mistaking it for a commodity, or a fuel, or a collection of chemical nutrients.  No, in the eye of the cook or the gardener… this food reveals itself for what it is:  no mere thing but a web of relationships among a great many living beings, some of them human, some not, but each of them dependent on each other, and all of them ultimately rooted in soil and nourished by sunlight.

~ Michael Pollan, In Defense of Food:  An Eater’s Manifesto

Leaves of what was The Mystery Squash. All will be revealed soon.

I spent part of the morning out in the garden today.  It’s been a long time coming, as evidenced by the weeds partying in the asparagus bed.  I did not take photos of the asparagus bed.  It’s shameful, although the asparagus seems to be thriving in spite of my neglect.  Perhaps because of my neglect?  I’m not known for having a green thumb.  More the opposite, truth be told.

Large flower of The Mystery Squash.

While we were vacationing for two weeks in June, the critters (groundhogs and rabbits) had field days in the garden, gobbling up our broccoli, lettuces, and chards.  They also ate off the tops of the pepper plants.  We had to give up on that particular planting of broccoli, lettuces and Swiss chard.  We’ve since replanted.  I’m sure we’ll manage to get some lettuces since they grow quickly and we start picking the leaves when they’re about 4-6 inches high.  The Swiss chard is already at a picking point.  I’m not sure about the broccoli.  We’re rank amateurs when it comes to broccoli and still learning about its growing ways.  There might not be enough growing season remaining.  We’ll have to wait and see.

Ah-ha!! It’s Butternut Squash!

I was thrilled to see that our Mystery Squash is Butternut Squash.  I was afraid it might be another round of Hubbard Squash, which is not such a bad thing, but dang, they are difficult to cut. (Some websites recommend a hacksaw or a hammer and cleaver to cut them open.  I use a hacksaw.)  They’re huge, too.  The Hubbard is nice because it’s a substitute for pumpkin (canned pumpkin is often Hubbard Squash), but how much pumpkin (or Hubbard) can two people eat?  Well, you’d be surprised, but sooner or later those two people get tired of it no matter how yummy that Thai Pumpkin Soup tastes.

The wonderful thing about Butternut Squash is that it seems to have a very long shelf life.  I will not have to cut it up and freeze it.  I can store it in the basement knowing it will likely last throughout the winter.  Easy peasy, bright and squeezy.

Remember what happened to our garden shed way back in April?

As you may or may not remember, our garden shed took a big hit from the wind this past spring.  (You can see photos of it here and here.  Or, if you’d like to see the entire posts concerning the shed, you can find them here and here.)  We (meaning mostly M) have rebuilt it, turning it into a small greenhouse with a rain barrel.  How cool is that?

Inside the shed

M did an amazing job of rebuilding it.  All I did was help hold up a wall here and there once in a while.  He’s been working on it throughout the summer, and we now have lettuces growing in the big pots sitting on the bench in the greenhouse area.

As for the garden, we currently have a glut of cherry tomatoes (red and yellow).  Since we have not had much luck over the past few years with the usual Better Boy, etc., type of tomatoes, I convinced M to try some heirloom tomatoes this year.  They are really doing well, and we’ll soon have a glut of them for turning into sauces.  Right now they’re ripening at a rate that’s just enough for us to eat on sandwiches (nothin’ better than a tomato sandwich made with homegrown tomatoes!), in salads, or to pop in your mouth from right off the vine.

This is going to make a great spaghetti sauce. (Now that I look at it, I think this photo is just about to scale — on my monitor.)

The peppers are doing surprisingly well, too.  Maybe we should have the groundhogs come in and eat off the tops every year.  I’m going to have a lot of yellow and red (sweet) bell peppers, as well as plenty of the hot varieties (banana, jalapeño, and some kind of chili whose name I cannot recall at the moment).

Yellow bell pepper nestled among the leaves

We ate some the baby Swiss chard leaves yesterday for lunch.  All in all, the garden is doing much better than we expected after we came home to the devastation wrought by the groundhogs and rabbits.  The fencing has been redone and, so far, has kept the greedy little critters out.

The Old Maple (aka The Sitting Tree)

It’s very peaceful in the garden, especially in the morning.  The birds were serenading me as I pulled weeds (too bad they can’t help me pull them!).  I say I loathe weeding, but the truth is that it’s a grounding and meditative process that pays off in an assortment of ways including a harvest of excellent food to put on the table.

When I finished in the garden, I sat in the shade of the Old Maple for a while, listening to the breeze in the branches and enjoying the morning.  It’s a wonderful place to sit and meditate, to sit and write, or to just sit and be.  It was under the Old Maple that I’ve had lovely encounters with a red fox, some Eastern Bluebirds, American Goldfinches, and a large grandmother snapping turtle.  Fairy rings sometimes pop up near the Old Maple.  Best of all is its shade.  Even on the hottest of summer days, it feels cool under the branches of the Old Maple.

Lunch. The lettuce is from a local farm. Everything else came from my garden.

Imagine if we had a food system that actually produced wholesome food.  Imagine if it produced that food in a way that restored the land.  Imagine if we could eat every meal knowing these few simple things:  What it is we’re eating.  Where it came from.  How it found its way to our table.  And what it really cost.  If that was the reality, then every meal would have the potential to be a perfect meal.  We would not need to go hunting for our connection to our food and the web of life that produces it.  We would no longer need any reminding that we eat by the grace of nature, not industry, and that what we’re eating is never anything more or less than the body of the world.  I don’t want to have to forage every meal.  Most people don’t want to learn to garden or hunt.  But we can change the way we make and get our food so that it becomes food again — something that feeds our bodies and our souls.  Imagine it.  Every meal would connect us to the joy of living and the wonder of nature.  Every meal would be like saying grace.

~ Michael Pollan, The Omnivore’s Dilemma:  A Natural History of Four Meals

Dinner on the veranda

That’s it from the garden and the Bogs for today.  Thank you for stopping by.  It looks like it will be a good evening to have dinner on the porch or deck, but we’ll have to fit it in before the rains that are forecast to begin around 7:30pm.  Dinner will include lots of homegrown tomatoes and some of the best tasting, locally grown, sweet corn I’ve ever had.  You won’t need dessert after that.

Wishing you a joyful day, a wonder-filled evening, a peaceful night, and meals made with wholesome, delicious foods.


35 Comments on “In the garden”

  1. aFrankAngle says:

    Locally grown corn … yum … but even good this year? (What we’ve had so far is OK, but not up to normal standards.) Enjoy your meal. 🙂

    • Robin says:

      This stuff is amazing, Frank. (Pardon the almost pun.) I was surprised. We’ve had some that was just okay, from places where we normally get great corn. I don’t know if it’s the particular type of corn or just a fluke, but it is very good.

  2. I swear–the transformation of shed into greenhouse is brilliant, Robin! And, goodness, your tomatoes are lovely. We are getting some good ones from our garden now, as well! Happy Monday, my friend.

    • Robin says:

      Thanks, Kathy. I’ll tell M you said so (since that transformation was his idea and he did pretty much all of the work on it). I’m pretty proud of what he did, too (hence the need to brag about it on the blog).

      Happy Monday to you, too! 🙂

  3. Val says:

    Succulent images – content real and captured! How I wish I could still eat raw tomatoes, alas they make my mouth very sore (I have an intolerance to the whole of the nightshade family) so I have to eat them very well cooked. I miss tomato and cheese sandwiches – on good wholemeal bread.

  4. Your new shed looks fabulous, and so do your tomatoes and peppers and the salad that resulted from your garden! My boys would subscribe to your Michael Pollan quote, because they certainly believe what he says here. My son Adam, vegan extraordinaire, has the book you quoted from on his Kindle, in line to read soon!

  5. Kathy says:

    Wonderful vegetables in your garden. The spaghetti sauce sounds delicious. Sitting and meditating quietly sounds heavenly. This is a special time of year when the harvest fills our bellies, and we determine which of our spring-planted seeds and plants made it til August. The golden harvest…depicted beautifully by your photos.

  6. Chatter Master says:

    We JUST started our own backyard garden a few weeks ago. Very limited right now. But I was excited to see what you have done. Love the shed. And of course, the pictures. 🙂

  7. Deborah Lee says:

    Broccoli and cauliflower will stand some cold weather. I grew cauliflower here in FL one winter and even with a coating of ice on it, it survived. I have a great recipe for Pumpkin/Chocolate Chip bread that we haven’t gotten tired of yet. I freeze pumpkin each fall to use all year. This bread also makes great gifts – I think I made 10 loaves last Christmas season.

    • Robin says:

      I’m hoping that’s the case, Deborah, since we have been having some cooler nights lately. I know the lettuces and chard will appreciate the cooler weather. Pumpkin/Chocolate Chip bread sounds yummy! 🙂

  8. ladyfi says:

    An utterly delicious series!

  9. Sallyann says:

    Beautiful crop … looks like your fingers are getting greener by the minuite. 🙂

    • Robin says:

      Thanks, Sallyann. 🙂

      Nah, I still have a brown thumb. I have to give M most of the credit for the tomatoes in the garden. I help a little, but he’s the one out there babying them every evening.

  10. jane tims says:

    Hi. The lunch salad and the tomatos look delicious. I love your sitting tree…. Jane

  11. CMSmith says:

    My husband would be soooo jealous of your greenhouse. Awesome. I don’t do vegetables, but he plants a small vegetable garden every year. This year he finally put a fence around it and we’re reaping the benefits.

    Your veggies look wonderful.

    • Robin says:

      Thank you, Christine. 🙂

      I didn’t used to do veggies, either, but since I’m not working, I’ve been doing my share of helping with the veggies. I follow orders since I know M does a better job of growing things than I do.

  12. milkayphoto says:

    Hubby did an awesome job on the greenhouse! Nothin’ better than harvesting your own food! We’ve been enjoying pickling cukes, pole beans, snow peas, zucchini and tomatoes from the garden as well as balckberries that grow wild in our yard.

    I grew two new varieties of tomatoes: Black Cherry and ‘Mr. Stripey” (an heirloom var). The black cherry tomatoes are DELICIOUS and the deep, purple color is so cool. Mr. Stripey is not quite ready yet but the vines are full of fruit so it won’t be long yet!

  13. Ellen says:

    beautiful post!

  14. Marianne says:

    Very nice, Robin. It must be so wonderful to eat food straight from your own garden. Good job! 🙂

  15. I love the first shot of the tomatoes, the colors are absolutely awesome!

  16. Dana says:

    All that food from your garden looks AMAZING! I am slowly starting to emerge from Harbour season and can’t wait to put gigantic salads on my plates every day again. 🙂

    • Robin says:

      It IS amazing, Dana. The harvest this year has been incredible when you consider the lack of rain. I have to admit, though, that I’m getting a little tired of tomatoes. I’m looking forward to having some of the butternut squash. It’ll be a new taste sensation after all the peppers and tomatoes.
      Hope you have some downtime (and gigantic salads) soon. 🙂

Thank you for visiting, and for commenting. I hope you'll join me at my new blog home, Breezes at Dawn.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.