Category Archives: gardening

Day Brightener

I have been hit pretty hard at work with all manner of things to deal with since I returned from a week off.  It makes me think I should never take time off, since the pay back is heavy when I return.

Today I received a delightful and refreshing phone call from out of the blue, one that brightened my day.  It was from a friend I don’t get to see much.  She is a lovely person, although a little addled at times.  She  is often out of town teaching music at some small outpost of the North Dakota plains.  Between teaching jobs she lives with her extremely difficult mother, an elderly woman in her 80’s who still substitute teaches at the high school and is probably the meanest, toughest, teacher around.  Her mother is  the leader of the local Women’s Christian Temperance Union, although she must be slowing down since I haven’t seen many letters to the editor from her lately regarding the evils of alcohol. She has a very interesting perspective on life.

My friend phoned me to ask if  I would come over to advise them on how to prepare their raspberry patch for Winter. I said I could tell her over the phone, but she said her mother wouldn’t believe anything she relayed to her unless she heard it right from me in person.  We made a date for tomorrow. I can hardly wait.  It will be an amusing end to a very long week.

What or who helps make your day?

A Hill of Beans

Husband and I returned home from Minneapolis last Sunday to find that it was time to harvest our pole beans.  We had covered the four bean towers with a tarp before we left, and hoped we could forestall the effects of a killing freeze until we returned.  The very hot weather we had in July pushed the entire garden behind schedule, and the beans needed as much time as they could get to mature. We grew Good Mother Stallard and  Petaluma Gold beans.

We first encountered shell beans when we lived in southern Indiana.  Shell beans are like dried beans  (think cannellini and pinto beans) before you dry them.  They are fat and sweet and buttery. The pods are long and bulging. Our favorite is Vermont Speckled Cranberry Beans, but there seemed to be a shortage of seed last Spring, so we grew the two other varieties.  Good Mother Stallard is the quintessential New England  heirloom bean.  Petaluma Gold was a good variety that we grew several  years ago.  People sometimes let them dry on the vine and store them in bags, but  we like to harvest them before they dry and store them in the freezer. They are terrific in soups and stews.  They are also so pretty before you cook them. The header photo is some of the Good Mother Stallard we harvested.

It got so cold here while we were gone that the bean vines died despite the huge tarp we covered them with. The pods did not freeze, however, so we spent Monday night shelling the beans and blanching and freezing them.  My thumbs hurt from shelling them.

I realize that our obsession with pole beans is sort of odd, but they are such good beans. Husband gets gout from beans, but he insists we have them in the garden every year.

What are you obsessed with? Who have you known who had obsessions?

 

Birthday Boy!

Today is the birthday of our dear leader Dale!

We’ve talked here over the years of the gift that Dale has given us by starting the blog and setting a tone that we all appreciate.  Now let’s make a list of what gifts we would like to give Dale.

Here’s a poem for Dale’s birthday – although not quite up to the standards of Poet Laureate Tyler Schuyler Wyler.

You’re honest,
decent, lovable,
and truly are first rate.
You’re charming,
unforgettable,
and clearly pretty great…

You’re dignified,
sophisticated,
gracious, sweet,
and kind.
You’ve got a lot
of talent
and a wit that’s
hard to find.

You’re cleaver, cool,
considerate,
and clean up really nice.
You’re worldly wise,
and wonderful
and full of good advice.

You’re fun
and entertaining,
not to mention
very smart.
You’re altogether awesome
and you’ve got a lot of heart!

What gift would you give Dale?

The Peach Man Cometh

Our town boasts two large grocery stores in addition to Walmart.  All three places have terrible produce, especially when it comes to summer fruit.  We waited all summer for Idaho, Colorado, and Washington peaches,  but they never arrived, leaving us with the second rate California peaches which always seem to disappoint.

Husband’s paternal grandfather was a door to door vegetable salesman in eastern Ohio from 1925 until 1968. He drove his truck up and down the roads and highways around Bridgeport, Ohio,  shouting “Vegetables!” and selling produce he grew himself or bought wholesale in Wheeling.  Husband grew up with great expectations for really nice produce, which is probably one reason we garden so much.

All summer we keep a look out for the fruit trucks that come through town, usually on the weekends. The Peach Man (who also sells Flathead Cherries) always parks in the small parking lot by the State Farm Insurance office and the Music Store.  He is a local guy who drives out to Montana and Washington, fills up his truck with peaches and cherries, and sells them here and in the little towns around us.  His produce is terrific.

We only got to the Peach Man twice this summer, and were feeling deprived when I noticed that one of his competitors, The Fruit Club truck, was in town one last time last Saturday. Off we went, and we came back with 10 pounds each of plums, peaches, and pears.  They all ripened Monday, so we are making jam and freezing pie fillings.  Sometimes  you just have to go overboard.

What do you find hard to resist?

My New Love

Today’s post comes to us from Jacque.

I am smitten. I met my new true love in July at a near by nursery.  Her name is Rosy Jane Indian Feather.

Every few years I find a new plant that entrances and seduces me. I plant it, baby it, admire it, and then buy more of them for years to come.  This year it was Rosy Jane.   It is not just an infatuation.  It is a romance, but so much more. I think it will become a commitment.

Past loves have been Indigo salvia, an annual; another annual–licorice plant, both sage color and mint green; the wave petunia. Several years ago it was the small petunias that I cannot remember the name of.  They all still show up in my pots.

And now I have added Rosy Jane. Tiny pink flowers appear at the end of a long stem that shoots out from a relatively small plant at the base.  The flowers look like they are just floating from the pot.  It is categorized as a perennial, zone 5.  I am going to attempt to winter mine over, even though we are zone 4 because winters are warmer now.  I think if I plant it close to the house it might make it.  And if it does we will live happily ever after in a state of romance, me with stars in my eyes.

What romances you?

Music To Cook By

VS’s story about making pesto reminded me of the pesto fests that Husband and I had this month as we harvested the too large basil crop  in the garden.  Husband took the leaves off the stems, which I find to be the most tedious of chores, and I whirred up the ingredients in the food processor.  We ended up with 54 jars.

Husband has gout in one of his feet, and  he needs to shift his weight from one foot to the next pretty regularly if he has to stand for any length of time.  I figure that he stripped about 110 cups of basil leaves off the stems this year over three pesto making extravaganzas.  That meant a lot of standing at the sink. He said it would be easier for him if he had some music to listen to and shift his weight to as he took care of the basil.  He thought that Celtic music would be good for the purpose.  One evening we tried something by Clannad, but that was too dreamy and new age.  We finally settled on a disc by Danu, a group we heard once at the Winnipeg Folk Festival. He shifted and danced his way through the basil stems, and it wasn’t too tedious for him at all.

I listen to music as I do paper work for my job. I typically choose classical music for work.  We have music on most of the time at our house, and choose music accordingly for what we need to get done.

What music helps you work?