chavvah: (1up)
Earlier this month, I started my tomatoes, which are finally poking their sleepy heads up through the soil. I decided to try a new variety--full-sized beefsteaks, rather than wee cherries. I have no idea whether this will work or not.

Last spring, when I planted my garden, I spent hours daydreaming about the things Jamie and I (mostly I--let's be honest) would cook with the fruits of my labour. I pictured warm late summer evenings on the balcony with a bowl of tart strawberries and sweating tumblers of rosemary peach lemonade, late-afternoon weekend lunches of fresh-baked bread topped with vine-ripened tomatoes and sweet lemony basil, and hearty winter suppers featuring my favourite sage and onion chicken and sausage bake. One of the great joys in my life is cooking for my friends and family, and I was excited to be able to actually create the food I was going to prepare, giving a new meaning to "from scratch."

All summer, I watched the miracle taking place on my balcony and felt my pride and accomplishment growing, my heart overflowing with love for the life I was building for myself, and the person I had chosen to share it with.

By the time my garden was ready to harvest, he was gone.

I was so despondent during that period that I let a lot of it get away on me. I lost the strawberries to neglect, the few straggling peas to overwatering after a heavy rainstorm. The hearty onions rotted in the ground because I couldn't be bothered to pull them up. The garden became a metaphor for the state of my heart; some parts were becoming unhealthily overgrown, while others were withering and blowing away.

By the time I came to my senses, I managed to save a handful of tomatoes, and most of the herbs. It wasn't much, but it was enough.

The fragrant sweet basil, savoury oregano, and bright rosemary have kept me company through the whole long winter, frozen in little packets and preserved in small bottles of oil. Every time I created a sauce, each time I experimented with a new variety of pizza, they were there, like old friends, allowing me to taste the fresh, tingling promise of that spring, and the warmth of the sun on my bare skin.

The garden will take some work to rebuild, after so much pain and such a long, lonely winter. But I have faith in the fertile soil and the vast nourishment provided by simple kindness, and I know that one day soon, even such tiny, tender shoots as these will begin to open their faces to the light.
chavvah: (1up)
I'm working on an activity for the spring day camp at work. One of the activities I am doing with the kids is making seed starters out of toilet paper rolls, and I've been browsing around trying to decide what kinds of seeds to buy for this activity. Of course, more often than not I find myself window shopping for my own garden.

This year, I want to try growing more herbs, since they seemed to do really well last summer. Given that I am now in a different location with different light, presumably this will affect which things grow and which don't, but I think that what was great about the herbs for me was that they didn't need a whole lot of attention, and the gratification was pretty much instant--I was cooking with them almost right away, and the more I picked, the more they grew. I still have oregano and thyme in my freezer from the summer and fall. I want to have more basil this time around, which I will use to make jars of pesto--last year I didn't have enough to make that worthwhile.

I think this year I am going to scale back on the veggies and just do one or two really well, rather than a whole lot in a half-assed manner. I liked the green onions and will definitely do those again, maybe in a larger container as they were getting a bit pot-bound in their little beer cups. I would also like to grow tomatoes again--they were the most frustrating at the time, but also the most satisfying when they finally (literally) came to fruition. This year I want to get some heirloom varieties--I'm thinking of ordering some online.

My plan is to start the tomatoes at the end of this month, and to plant them outside at the beginning of May.

I will not be growing peas this year. The ones from last summer were tasty for about five minutes before they all died, despite my efforts. I have a feeling it was just too hot for them. I can sympathize. (I will, however, be planting peas with the day camp kids, because they come up quickly and thus are very exciting to young gardeners.)

I'd also like to try some peppers this year, being inspired by [livejournal.com profile] casanovacoconut's success in that area.

So now I guess there's nothing left to do but wait for the sun to come out.
chavvah: (Default)
Thanks to [livejournal.com profile] prairieheath's awesome plant clinic, I now have several tiny tomatoes sprouting on my tomato plant. My camera is at my mum's, but I did manage to take this one photo with my phone:

tomato! )

I also have some flowers on my strawberry plant (finally!) although the poor thing got a bit sunburnt the other day and is currently in recovery.

Alas, despite all my best efforts, the heat wave proved too much for my sugar snap peas, which have gone to that great garden in the sky (although some would argue, given that I live on the eleventh floor, that they started in a great garden in the sky). I will probably try planting peas again in the late summer/early fall, since they like cooler weather, and given the speed with which they grow.

My herbs are doing very well--apparently my balcony is the ideal setting for them. I used some oregano in a sauce the other day, and it was amazing. I also used two sprigs of rosemary to make Dave Lieberman's Rosemary Peach Lemonade--or should I say Rosemary Beach lemonade, given that it proved ideal for an outdoor setting. The rosemary makes the lemonade a little bit savoury and super refreshing. If I make it again, though, I will probably ease up on the number of peaches in the jug and add more ice cubes instead--I felt the lemonade was a bit strong/sweet, especially with the addition of the rich peach nectar. More ice would have gradually melted and diluted the mixture a bit. Also, none of us ate the peaches, so I just ended up throwing them out, which made me very sad.

The leftover peach nectar made an excellent companion to 3/4 a glass of ginger ale, over ice, with a twist of lemon. I haven't tried adding alcohol to this, but I sense it would go well.

I haven't found a use for the thyme yet. I should try it soon, given that I have masses of it.
chavvah: (Default)
I haven't actually used my gardening tag since April 23! Wow! Here is an update on how my garden is going.

cut to spare those who aren't so inclined )
chavvah: (Default)
My basil came up yesterday! Only two tiny shoots, but enough to make me optimistic about the rest.

I started planting in earnest yesterday afternoon: sweet cherry tomatoes, carrots, green onions, strawberries. It was too cold to leave them out uncovered, so last night I got to sit in my living room savouring the rich, heady scent of fresh-turned soil. Before I left for work, I put them all by the window so that they could drink up every last drop of the early morning light--the only kind of light I get in my place, which faces east and is overshadowed for most of the day by another building.

I also have sugar snap peas, but I am leaving them until I can get more starter mix and a big coffee can or something to put them in, because peas are hardy and super fast, and don't need to be nurtured before I subject them to the elements.

The tomato seeds came with a special plastic "greenhouse" to start them in, which I am very excited about. Depending on how many plants I get out of the starters, I may give some to my mum, as she desperately needs something to love and nurture now that her only child is living an entire nine floors away gets mad sunshinez on her lovely open patio.

For the rest, I plan to recycle some clear plastic water bottles to keep all my babies warm and snug until the weather gets hot.

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