Thursday, July 30, 2009

Summer for Dinner

Tonight for dinner I had fresh corn on the cob, a cucumber from the garden (sliced and salted and peppered perfectly), some leftover marinated beans from lunch made with beans and radishes from the garden, and four organic plums from the farmer's market. DH and DD said it didn't look like much so I added five kalamata olives and a piece of garlic bread ROFL. The only missing thing that would have made it perfect was a ripe, garden tomato. Sigh. Oh, I HAVE tomatoes in the garden. Several. However, ripening seems to be the last thing on their mind. They sprawl, the unripe fruits weigh down the branches and I stake them yet again, but no ripening yet. I did manage to eat one red and one yellow cherry tomato. Truth be told, they weren't quite ready yet but I was desparate! Every night I go out to check for beans and feel up the corn cobs, and do the "ripen ripen ripen" chant over them as I dance around in true whacko fashion. Then I poke through the radish patch to see if any are the right size and get picked to death. All this time Ruby and Max are right with me. Ruby pokes around the garden but is largely of no consequence. She is just there for company, really. Max? Max picks beans and eats them, bites off the pea flowers, strips leaves from the corn stalks, samples the parsley, pulls and eats the leaves from the radishes (even the picky ones!) and will pull up a radish or two to play with on the patio. He doesn't try to eat them anymore though. These are really hot and quite bitter right from the garden. He ate half of one once, then came barreling over and hid behind me, foaming at the mouth and looking quite sad. What can I say, he's a goofball. Remember my loverly dirt? Well this is what it looks like now.My style of gardening is called "intensive". Using small spaces and packing things in to make best use of the space. Sure, it looks like chaos and there are no nice, clean rows nor areas of bare dirt with picturesque plants in between. But it takes best advantage of the space you have and works with the growing cycles and seasons of different things. For example, there are carrots planted in a row right between the two rows of corn. Yes, they grow slower because they are essentially shaded right now. However, once the corn is harvested (soon, actually) they will suddenly be in the sunlight, and can grow to their hearts content. I am not looking for baby spring carrots, I want bigger cooking carrots here. I plant things closer together than usually recommended, with the idea that I can eat the "thinnings" as the patch grows, making room for the plants that are left to fill that void. For example, I start picking beets here and there when they are tiny (for the leaves), then when they are ping pong ball size. Some will be left to fill those gaps and become bigger. Onions and leeks work the same. "Thin" for green onions and baby leeks, then again for slightly bigger spring onions, and so on leaving some to get mature and full sized. No waste that way as well.

Does it look like a jungle? Yes. Is it harder to weed? Sometimes, depending on your trouble weeds. Some weeds are discouraged and shaded out, others still manage to get in there. The bindweed is impossible to keep up with this year, and I see in two days it has completely taken over my clump of chives (bottom right). Bother.