Posts Tagged ‘gardening’

you cannot escape the garlic

…nor should you.

While it is good for chasing the vampires away, garlic is also great for flavor to most savory recipes.    I finally discovered that it also incredibly easy to grow!  Now is a very good time to plant your garlic so it can overwinter in the ground.  I try to plant at least a dozen cloves of my garlic from a previous year, pointy side up, at the end of the garden that would otherwise get a couple of marigolds.  I should really plant more.  If you have any questions about planting or harvesting garlic, consult A Way to Garden.  Margaret, through her website, has given me much confidence on what to do in my garden, and this is where I learned the quite simple task of planting my own (hard neck) garlic.  The added bonus is that you harvest garlic scapes earlier in the spring as well as the heads of garlic in the summer.

Once you’ve finished planting next year’s garlic, head over to the 1st Annual Garlic Day at the Hudson Farmers’ Market, happening this Saturday, October 13 (9am – 1pm).  This is great for those of us who were too lazy to drive over to the festival in Saugerties earlier this year…

So what do you do with your garlic?  I’m still trying to take advantage of the bounty of our farmers’ market before we’re limited to winter squashes and potatoes (and I am NOT complaining about having to eat mashed potatoes and butternut squash soup).  (An aside – Autumn is just flying by this year – wasn’t it just Labor Day???)  So what is my favorite dish this time of year?  Ratatouille!  It’s a very forgiving dish, so if you can’t find zucchini or don’t like peppers, just add more of the other vegetables.  It’s lovely served on couscous, or with good crusty bread.  My favorite recipe is here.

Or perhaps you just need a simple, comforting bowl of garlic soup.  This recipe has always captured my imagination.

Need more garlic ideas?  Our local Chef’s Consortium did a post on garlic recipes from Chef Ric Orlando.  Mercedes at Hudson Farm Box recently sent a recipe for garlicky broccoli rabe and pasta with her weekly email.  Try all the garlic recipes in Gourmet and let me know once you’ve gotten through them…  Good grief, you’d better stock up on garlic.

And if you don’t feel like cooking, take a head of garlic, cut off the top and drizzle with olive oil.  Wrap in foil and roast in the oven until soft and lovely.  Smear on crusty bread.  Drink wine.

Doesn’t that sound better than wearing a garlic necklace?

spring gardening

I’m thinking about spring gardening waaaay ahead of schedule, and I’m not even really a gardener!  However, I have a yard and a little tiny strip of an herb/tomato garden.  I have a woodchuck.  Despite inspiration from Margaret at A Way to Garden, all I’ve been able to figure out is that I need to not plant tomatoes this year to give the ground a rest.  And if I plant parsley and lettuce I’m just feeding the woodchuck.

Spring Gardening Day, hosted by the The Master Gardener Program of Cornell Cooperative Extension of Columbia & Greene Counties, is happening Saturday, April 14, 2012.

There will be 16 classes in 3 90-minute sessions.  Some of the classes I’m thinking about are:

  • Gardening with Herbs
  • Shade Gardening with Native & non-Native plants
  • Vegetable Gardening for 2012
  • How to be a Healthy and Happy Gardener Gardening Without Aches, Pains & Injury (hello!)

Pre-paid registration is due by Tuesday, April 3 (that’s practically now!).  The fee is $25 for the day or $10 per session (per person).  You can find more information here.

  • Spring Gardening Day
  • Saturday, April 14, 2012
  • 9:00am – 2:30pm
  • Columbia-Greene Community College
  • 518.828.3346

winter cleaning

The weekend has been all about cleaning, which isn’t typically how I would like to spend a weekend but it was satisfying nonetheless.

Yesterday was the cleanup of the potential space for Acres Co-op Market, which you can read about in the Register-Star today.  I’m not sure how many people came by throughout the day, but it was clean by lunch time.  I found it very cathartic to wrench weeds out of the ground in the space out back, and my back is not punishing me too badly today.  The next community meeting is this Wednesday, November 16th at 6:30pm in the lovely clean space at 7th and Columbia.  I am sure one of the things on the agenda will be fundraising…

Today in the morning sunshine I pulled the last plants out of the garden, chopped up said plants with dried leaves and added a mulch layer, and watered it down to start the decomp process.  Next week I’ll add more leaves and newspaper, water it down again and cover with heavy plastic for the winter.   I finally planted my garlic today, which I’m sure I was supposed to do last month but it just didn’t happen.  You’re supposed to plant garlic before the first frost and we’ve already had our first snow, but since it was in the mid-60s this week I figure all bets are off.  Let’s see how the garlic does this year…  I have to re-think my (tiny) gardening strategy for next year; while my marigolds were giant, my heirloom tomatoes were awful – a sign that I need to not grow them for a year.  Now that the garlic is in the ground, I have time to think.

And to dream of pumpkin desserts.  A pumpkin pie is a requirement this time of year, but I’m also thinking that this spiced-pumpkin souffle with a bourbon molasses sauce is an excellent excuse to buy some local bourbon.

how’s your garden?


Is it me or does this tomato plant not  look so good?  So many questions, so few answers…  We were consulting with friends who live across the river and down, and they suggested (gasp), blight.   Argh.  I hope that’s not the case.

I hope this one grows up to be a big boy.

On a more hopeful note, I harvested my first garlic scapes ever!  I planted garlic last fall for the first time and sure enough, I got garlic scapes.  I love to make tons of garlic scape pesto and put it in the freezer for those mid-winter pizzas.

I’m obviously ignoring the fact that I’m freezing the pesto in plastic.  I haven’t cut out all bad habits.

The basil is looking good so far.  Will Chuck decimate it once again?  Stay tuned…

At the very least, I’ll be able to try out recipes calling for purslane – quite a nutritious weed that is rampant in my garden…

I go a little crazy when I  plant seeds and ignore all rules as to how far apart the seeds are supposed to be.  Now I’m thinning my little herblings and purslane and calling them microgreens.    Very nice on fried eggs on Sunday mornings.

Here’s hoping this is not the last missive from my backyard garden…

Are you planting organic veggies or eating cupcakes?

Too much to do and so little time…

Today is a gray day and since it’s not raining (yet) I must go outside to do plant-related things.  Word to the wise – move slowly.  I was trimming a shrub yesterday and a mama robin gave me a heart attack.  She has some very new squirmy babies in there and gives me the hairy eyeball every time I come near…

I’ve planted my little herblings, and good bug flowers from Hudson Valley Seed Library.  Today I plant the heirloom tomatoes and peppers from The Farm at Millers Crossing, and then mulch.  And mulch some more.  It’s live or die in my garden since it’s random when I can do anything so I hope this helps.

In the afternoon I hope to sit under the intoxicating lilacs.

And if I’m very good and get everything done, maybe I’ll check out one of my food “goals” this weekend: The Gardiner Cupcake Festival.    How can you resist a cupcake festival???  If only it were a little closer to home – say, the Copake Cupcake Festival…

Sunday in the Catskills

It was a day of foodie fun and I came away fat, happy and maybe a little smarter…

Sunday morning we attended the Seed and Sow Skill Share organized by the Hudson Valley Food Network (which is organized by Meghan E. Murphy).  The event happened in the greenhouses of Hodgson Farm and Garden Center in Walden.  This drew me across the river and down quite a ways – a whole new area of the Hudson Valley.

So, I’d forgotten how crazy hot greenhouses get.  I used to work in one so you’d think that would forever be burned into my brain, but no.  After about 5 minutes I’d shed all but the most basic layer, but I’d forgotten to make that last layer a tank top or little T, so I was still cooking.  My other half responded by sleeping through the first presentation – he couldn’t help it.  It wasn’t a bad way to spend a clear cold Sunday.

a shitake log and some mushrooms

The first workshop that we attended was on Mushroom Propagation, presented by Marc Eisenson of the MidHudson Mycological Association.   It was an interesting crowd of skinny jeans hipsters (the L train stops everywhere these days!) and backyard farmer types who already seemed to know a lot about growing mushrooms. But even for me, someone who just knows about eating mushrooms, the presentation was interesting and full of good information for all levels.  I have fantasies of growing shitakes and oysters in my basement, but I think there might be a little more work than I’d realized…  Perhaps I could learn foraging instead…

Growing oysters in a laundry basket

During the break between presentations, I wandered outside to lower my core temperature a bit, then visited the various booths of local food/farm businesses set up inside.  The cheese at Sprout Creek Farm continues to delight my tastebuds – I  like them all – and I love that it’s an educational farm.  I ogled the seed packets at Hudson Valley Seed Library – I’ve already bought some this year and am trying to not get out of control with seed-purchasing.  I think I will definitely have to frame the artwork.  There were yummy foods from Karma Road and Moxie Cupcakes available as well.

The next presentation was Integrated Pest Management in the Organic Garden presented by Jay Levine of the Hudson Valley Backyard Farm Company.  While I’m not a huge organic eater, I refuse to apply anything stronger than coffee grounds to my yard, whether I have food planted there or not.   However, it sucks that the Japanese beetles find my climbing roses really tasty…  Jay gave a knowledgeable presentation to a knowledgeable crowd, and came prepared with lots of good photos of examples, and lots of ideas of when to act (panic?) and when to let Mother Nature take care of things.  A little early morning obsession with knocking slow and stupid Japanese beetles into soapy water should take care of my issue.  Sadly, he had not dealt with skunks, which I have learned have recently moved into the woodchuck home under our shack.

We could not stay in the greenhouse any longer, and headed off into the cold air and lunch in Gardiner.  The most exciting part of our afternoon was soon to come.

I’ve enjoyed Hudson Whiskey from Tuthilltown Spirits for at least 3 years, maybe a bit longer, but had never visited.  I have a number of the great little bottles with just a whisper of whiskey at the bottom…  We arrived just in time to join a big group for the tour of the distillery.

A black cat met us at the top of the steps, guided us through the front door – and it only got better!  Cordell was a great tour leader.  I wanted to stay longer!  Tuthilltown is very excited about their upcoming worldwide expansion – they’re bringing in a new still (though the ceiling?) and figuring out how to produce more with their own two little hands.  I’ll be curious what their organization is like the next time I take the tour…  After breathing in alcohol at all stages of production, we moved into the tasting room.  I started with the clear corn whiskey, moved onto the Baby Bourbon (same alcohol after 3 months in the charred white oak barrel), then finished off with a taste of the Manhattan Rye.  The Baby is smooth and lovely while the Rye starts off with a kick, then smooths off as you drink more (isn’t that always the way?).

A box of bottles of deliciousness

I wish them much luck with their worldwide push, but hope they lose none of their personality in the tour or the tasting – it was really great.

fall is here; winter, almost

The Kiss of the Radishes by Ju Duoqi

My checklist as the weather quickly turns (and then this afternoon, it seems, turns back):

  • bulbs planted – check
  • Squirrelly bastids dig half of them up – check
  • leaves raked – check, for the moment
  • garlic planted – check
  • garden dug up and ready for hibernation – almost check
  • first mega batch of butternut squash soup made & frozen – check

We sat out in the sunshine for lunch –  will that hold me until spring?  I’m hoping that I’ve remembered to do all my outdoor projects  as I’m ready for the indoor ones.  I’m trying to finish a book but I really feel like baking some scandalous desserts…

anti-woodchuck recipes

This was a search term that led someone to this site.

I wish I had something to tell them.  My neighbor sprinkles cayenne pepper around all of her plants and I plant basil (which chuck doesn’t eat) around the parsley (which he mows down).  The author of The $64 Tomato goes to hilarious lengths to try to woodchuck-proof his garden – his garden buddy is named Superchuck.

The woodchuck is a powerful creature.

Dreaming of Creamed Woodchuck, Woodchuck pie...

***Update 7/24.  I was delusional.  Chuck eats everything.  Below you will see the carnage of a garden that I am left with: the twigs on the left were cilantro and parsley, the twigs in the middle were purslane that just appeared but I thought might make a nice salad, and the twigs on the right, supposedly guarding my herbs, is the basil.

I have no words.

gardening update june 2010

Slowly slowly, we’re getting there.  The crazy rains a couple of weeks ago took out many of the herb seedlings that were just starting out in life.  The wild purslane, on the other hand, finds the conditions very suitable. Lucky for me The Farm at Millers Crossing has been selling plants at $2 so I quickly restocked, also planted some more basil seeds, and should be set for the summer.

There are strange mushroomy things growing under several of my tomatoes – I take it it’s a bit too shady and moist under there.  That doesn’t bode well for the tomatoes…

I finally figured out that planting aromatics is the only way to share a yard with a woodchuck or three.  I’ve planted peppermint and spearmint in a shady corner where nothing else has grown and am hoping it spreads like gangbusters.  The basil and rosemary seem to not attract interest.  The lavender by the back door is lovely to run fingers through and also never seems to be a woodchuck snack.

I never fancied myself a gardener, but the idea of a backyard oasis has prompted new skills.  However, I am off to cheer on the Homecoming King and Queen as the two boys lead the first Hudson Pride parade, organized by a fellow baker, Trixie Starr.  Never a dull moment.



I was digging along my back fence to plant flowers (late, I know) and I dug up these:  wild baby carrots!  My OH was skeptical and not interested in eating them.  Turns out they were just weeds.

That we should all have such a sturdy foundation for life…