Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Another Garden Report

I am three months into this journey that is simply a backyard garden for most. For me, it has turned into an obsession. After thirty years of living on concrete set turf the wonder of watching a seed take flight has been awe inspiring, and at times disappointing. Overall, it has been a lesson in nature and a humbling acquiesce to my position on this earth, and what I can and cannot control. Thunderous storms with whipping winds have rendered me helpless as I watched the nascent corn and sunflower tenuously heave and release – producing cries of horror from me and a parental need to shelter and protect. I mounded loam to re-enforce their anchorage to Mother Earth and prayed I did my best to ground them through the turbulence.
I could not be prouder of their determination and fortitude for they now tower over the garden resplendent in their maturity. The eggplant has struggled, so valiant in its commitment to get a foothold in this garden, perhaps due to the dense soil or a nitrogen deficiency of our plot, or even possibly the 12-hours of exposure it endures. After one burst of production last month, and the harvesting of a single Japanese eggplant I can count on at least five more in the coming days, and twice that in blooming stages.

The peppers from the sweet to mild to the incendiary are dangling jewels still blushed verdant but if we choose will be allowed to redden. Cabbage, cucumber, lemon grass, Mexican Mint, pineapple sage and basil are virtually carefree growths. I am most amazed how three miniscule cucumber seedlings have taken over and threaten to mow oever anything and everything in its way – I am continually training the vines around other plantings, though I will soon be at a loss as to where to send them.

As the season evolves so does my dishes as does my admiration. While I am living in my garden in the moment embracing the unfolding daily joy, I am also looking ahead. Jars of pickled green tomatoes, cucumbers and jalapenos support the back wall of the refrigerator. Lavender buds
and Mexican Mint blooms desiccate in sugar and salt. Bottles of wine, packed with woody herb stems, quietly convert to vinegar. Soon freezer bags with cut okra, niblets of corn and perfectly ripe tomatoes will take up winter residence.

Never to forget this summer of ’11 and oh, how I cannot wait to gain on the knowledge garnered today for tomorrow’s garden.

Herbed Vinegar - yields approx. 1-liter

leaves and stems of sage, thyme, oregano
2-750 ml red wine
1/2-cup raw apple cider vinegar

Stuff the herbs into a clean glass jar that is at least 3-quarts large. Pour over the wine and vinegar and secure a piece of cloth of the mouth of the jar.

Let the vinegar sit in a cool, not sunny spot for 3 months. Strain the vinegar and store in a clear jar with a tight fitting lid.

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