Monday night dinner muse

There is a picture that hangs in my kitchen with a painting of a small farm.  Around the border of the picture, there is a quote by Charlotte Bronte:” If we had no winter, Spring would not be so pleasant.”  I don’t know that I have realized the truth of this statement more than I have this year.  While Fall and Winter will always be my favorite months, I have honestly appreciated the early part of my garden season this year.  I have thrilled in planting my seeds and picking the weeds far more than ever before.  Perhaps it’s because this year isn’t an experiment, I know what will grow in my neat plots.  Perhaps it’s because I am anxious to fill up my freezer with goodies to enjoy on a drab evening in January.  Perhaps, it’s because I have someone else to enjoy dinner at the table this year.

Every night, I put dinner on the table and Liam in his high chair.  While Matt gets Liam his bib and a spoon, I walk out to the deck and pick a salad.  I love sniping the tender leaves of kale and the sweet bib lettuce from their respective boxes.  As I pull up each delicate head of lettuce, I shake off the dirt and the memory of a friend horrified by the realization that lettuce grows in the dirt.  A quick rinse washes away the soil, but not the insult of that dinner guest, who after realizing that lettuce doesn’t just grow in neat rows, encased in cellophane, refused the salad.

Tonight, I made a quick potato, goat cheese and chive frittata.  Liam couldn’t eat it fast enough.  As he grabbed handfuls from my plate, I settled in with my kale.  Matt doesn’t really appreciate my love for this green, so I only plant one box at a time.  There’s something special about homegrown kale.  The seeds I planted yield a sweet, tender leaf that’s more open and flat than what I buy in the produce section.  I wonder if Liam will like it.  He might.  I craved it so strongly for the first 3 months of his pregnancy, I had a dream that he was born green.  He wasn’t.  As my little family sat around the table, I realized again that I have the awesome opportunity to teach my children about good food choices.  I have a friend (the same one who was repulsed by my lettuce) who thinks that family dinners lead to eating disorders and pressure to clean your plate.  I don’t agree.

I love to sit down to the table at the end of that day with my little family.  Our table sat in my great grandmother’s kitchen for years, moving only when my great grandfather gave it to me, 13 years ago.  We have napkins, lemonade and a glowing candle.  Matt and I talk about our days; me stopping the conversation to mention that Liam’s tooth finally came in today.  It makes a total of 8.  All the more to chew with!  I wonder out loud when he will be interested in salad.   Liam interjects with a loud babbled declaration and we determine to take a walk after the dishes are cleared.  I realize that it’s grocery week and I need to do a menu.  I ask Liam if there’s anything he’d like to eat.  He points to the empty plate and I go get him more frittata.  His mouth full, he babbles happily and then gives me a cheesy grin. 

 

The garden is in!!!

Six hours of hard labor yesterday resulted in two very tired adults, one of whom just didn’t have the energy to post photos of said hard labor.  I have yet to go outside today and inspect the garden plots, but I am hoping on faith that they are still ok.  The dogs were pretty annoyed that we were cramping their style what with the fencing and all.

 cabbage, eggplant, broccoli, sprouts

In the main bed, I planted broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, eggplants and 3 different types of peppers.  We had to remove something (I think it was oregano) that was taking over most of the bed, but that was the easiest bed to prep and plant.

We used leftover pavers from the kitchen walkway to make my stepping stone and I love them!

In the side bed where we had once planted potatoes, I planted beets, carrots, leeks, green beans, cantaloupe, broccoli rabe and pumpkins.  I totally forgot to plant squash, so I might try to plant some after the beans are done.  Not sure about that yet, but annoyed with my oversight.

Finally, in my kitchen garden, I put in my herbs (lemon verbena, thyme, rosemary and tarragon), 6 tomato plants and 2 roasting pepper plants.  I am really excited about those peppers!!!

And, I actually got some flowers planted this year.  I know.  Shock and awe.  I put some cosmos in at the end of the pumpkins since the soil there wasn’t too swell and I thought I’d just try something there.  I put a few sunflower seeds in off the deck since my forsythia bush has since bit the dust.  I potted a few begonias and a friend who works at a floral shop brought me some calla lilies they were going to throw away.  I put them in the bed where my rose bush is since I’ve not really done much with it.  I also moved my lemon tree outside for the summer and put some peppermint in a pot alongside my herbs.  

I’m really looking forward to my garden this year.  Liam wasn’t as into the dirt as I had hoped he would be this year, but I am certain he will learn to love all the time spent outside.  I’m grateful that we got everything done yesterday (except marking the plots) since my grandmother died this morning and I will be tied up with that for the rest of the week.  Now all I have to do is remember to water it!  

How does your garden grow?

I hope yours is doing better than mine!  Honestly.  This year has been a challenge for me and the garden.  I keep planning to get in there and work, but we have had a very wet spring.  It seems as though the only time I am free is when it’s raining!  Hopefully, things will change this weekend.  So far, it appears that Sunday is going to be gorgeous and I am planning to at least get my seeds in the ground and the fences up.  This year I will also have to contend with a curious toddler, so I am being as proactive as possible about not having seedlings crushed!  I do have my kale and some lettuce in my flower boxes, though.  

kale
 lettuce

My parsley and chives and doing well too.  I am sad to say, though, that one spring storm came with hail and took it’s vengeance out on my freshly transplanted basil.  I checked it this evening and it seems to be doing ok, but it certainly isn’t in the flourishing category.  

The weather took a toll on my lilacs this year.  I just got out to pick some from the bush last night and even though they weren’t completely in bloom, there were many who had  seen a great deal of damage.  My hydrangeas show some signs of life and I am anxious to see how they do this year given the amount of buds I see!  Speaking of buds, get a load of my peonies!  I am really looking forward to them blooming; although with the blooms come the ants.  I detest that part of these beautiful flowers.  Does any one have any suggestions about how to reduce the number of ants?  I’ve heard that peppermint oil on the doorstep deters them and also spraying the peony blooms with soapy water.  Have any of you tried these methods?

Challenge update

 Pear blossoms

I had signed up for the No Waste challenge in an attempt to get myself back on track after being so lax in my efforts.  I signed up, approached my kitchen with greater purpose and have thrown nothing away in the last 2 months.  Nothing.  I have never been so proud of myself for actually using each and every item I purchased.  This week, however, I did have to pitch some questionable food in my fridge that a relative had sent over and my husband stuck in the fridge without telling me.  I never knew it was there until the fridge smelled odd.  Last night, a bag of scary looking potatoes went to the compost as well.  There was little I could do to rescue them.  Also, I bought a few bags of Sunchips since they now have the nifty compostable bag!  I’m super excited to see how they break down!  I checked into the research that Sunchips posted on their site, so I won’t be able to actually report on the progress for a while yet, but it’s exciting to see each trip I make to our little pile.  Also, I think the compost at the bottom of the pile is ready (finally!  It only took about 2 years to get everything broken down.), so we will be adding it to the garden this spring.

Transplanted Rhubarb that seems to really be doing well!

I’ve been going over my garden plans a lot, but haven’t really settled on my official plan.  Today, I did get some herbs in, but it started storming before I was able to get my deck boxes ready for the lettuce I’m anxious to plant.   The grand plan is for Matt and I to work on the gardens/flower beds/yard over the next week (culminating with a big work day next Saturday) and then I will plant as I am able through the following weeks.  I decided not to do peas this year since we just haven’t been able to get rolling with the prep work and I’m not certain that it’s all that worth it for me to plant them when every year I wind up finding plenty at the farmer’s market.  Also, by not planting the peas, I can get down to business and try broccoli and brussel sprouts since I’ve been dying to do those but never have the room.  Also, I’m not doing potatoes.  I tried them 2 years ago and they were a total bust.  I was really frustrated since we worked so hard on them and only got a few potatoes back.  I’ve found a local farm that sells 50 pounds for 10 dollars, so I feel that it is a good choice for now. 

 Helping Mama plant Basil

Also this week, I’ve been taking Liam to the compost pile and talking about the fine art of vermicomposting.  He is mainly interested in throwing things into the pile and not so much in my lecture, but we’re still talking about it, right?  Which then brings me to my next challenge update.  I decided to participate in Abbie’s Environmental Education Week Challenge since I can actually start the environmental education with Liam now.  I’ve got a post percolating about what all we’ve done this week and some photos to share.  But I’m saving that until after tomorrow’s trip to COSI (the Center of Science and Industry) since I’m sure there will be something to talk about there as well!