Monday, July 12, 2010


Any good garden book will tell you the same thing. When the snow flies for months of end and the wind is increasingly frigid, humans look towards the promise of green. Some hasten it any way they can, buying seeds, planning plots and dreaming dreams of fresh salads. Then the drifts finally drift away and ground is broken for the first time of the season. Hearty seeds are tucked gently in to hard earth with whispered prayers and fingers crossed against late season frosts. And after the first hits of green manage to push through the crust towards the sun, there is hope for flowers and a flurry of activity. The winter is now over and there is much to do, much to plant, and everything, everything, everything must be grown. The excitement of planting gives way to the first leaves of each crop, then the first TRUE leaves, then the long hopes for flowers. And as this growth is happening, sometimes doubling overnight, there is a fight against hungry vegetarians. There is transplanting, watering, staking, weeding, mulching, pruning, fencing and sweat. And it is all carried by the next new thing and the next. Time marches forward and thoughts move to the harvest, jars are purchased, recipes are planned and all is right with the world. Each day is one step closer to the harvest but to make it there you have to pass through mid-July.

Mid-July, when it is too hot for the plant munching beetles to fly, when it is too dry for new weeds to start, when the simple act of watering causes sweat to run down your back, and nothing new happens. Lettuces are going to seed and radishes are done and everything else is in an infantile state. Sure you can fry your green tomatoes or throw your squash flowers on a salad but that seems awful wasteful. Why garden, why grow things, why bother with all this time and money when the grocery store is air conditioned, why were you so ambitions, and why do you now have to go out into that hot sun to pull out the lettuce and replant radishes, beets, carrots and spinach? Why me? Why now? WAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH!!!

Because you want spinach for your pasta sauces and you want your own radishes and beets for thanksgiving. And because if you get really really lucky, those late tomato transplants you just put in will bust out a few green tomatoes before the first frost that you can tuck discretely away in the cool cellar until two weeks before Christmas. Just think of the goodies Santa will bring you if instead of cookies you offer a toasted tomato sandwich with home grown tomatoes now ripe in December. It could happen.

Yesterday I did a bit of harvesting practice. I pruned down my parsley and chives and I yanked a beet to see how it was doing. After crunching on the beet slices I threw the beet leaves, chives and parsley in the dehydrator ($8 at a yard sale baby) and went in to Boston to see Old Ironsides. This morning I chopped up the beet leaves and threw them in to some tuna salad. I couldn't taste it but other reports said it tasted like dill. Maybe thats because it went in the dehydrator with the chives. Either way I will do the tuna salad thing again. It adds vitamin A, some B's, C and a compliment of minerals so why the heck not.

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