Tuesday, July 28, 2009

More with the Food

Lordy lordy kids, we are all about food over here right now. Cosseting it in the garden, harvesting it, trying to either put it up or eat it. Last summer was our first summer garden, and some of you may remember that I was not too hot on it. Winter gardening is mostly about growing leaves. Summer gardening is about fruit. Which need more water, more nutrients, more ideal temperatures and soils, and way more protection from pests. Last summer we ate some very fine food, but the experience left us gunning for round two. And boy, what a round this has been. This weekend we harvested the remaining fingerling potatoes (I can't recommend the potatoes in a pot thing strongly enough), the last of the garlic, three pounds of tomatillos, the usual enormous bowls of sungold tomatoes (cut them in half and oven roast them, yum), the first huge hillbilly tomato, five long japanese cucumbers, thirteen small pickling cucumbers, and a huge pile of kale and chard. As if that wasn't enough to deal with, we picked six gallons of blueberries and bought a half bushel of peaches. It's like a farmer's market in our kitchen right now. That photo down there is all food from the front yard, except for the nuts, oil, and parmesan cheese in the pesto. Yo, roasted fingerling potatoes with homemade pesto will just about kill you with the tasty. Ooph. Also the chilaquiles with salsa verde from all of those tomatillos, with eggs from the backyard. Yum.

Coming soon: a hell of a lot more tomatoes in all sizes and shapes, more basil, more cukes, more tomatillos, eggplant, and some peppers about the size of a grapefruit. We are fretting over our winter squash right now. The delicata never really took off, in part due to what was perhaps an overly short hardening off and definitely because we planted our squash way too close together. Lesson learned. Anyway, the butternut pretty much just terrorized the delicata, and this weekend I took pity on everyone and pulled the delicata. We got a few good sized squash, but I don't know if the abrupt departure from the vine will mean lousy flavor. There are about fifteen huge butternut still fattening up though so I am not too worried. Anyway, upon getting down in that mess of vines and leave we discovered what may be the grossest garden pest yet: squash vine borers (don't click that link unless you really need to know). Fucking hell. I am honestly both repulsed and fascinated by our resident pests. What we get: mexican bean beetles, cucumber beetles, aphids (all kinds, with cabbage aphids winning the award for nasty), harlequin bugs, cabbage looper worms, and now squash vine borers. This summer we have seen one or two cucumber and bean beetles and two or three harlequin bugs. I am really diligent about hand picking for the beetles, both the eggs and the adult bugs (I love harlequin bug eggs, they are really neat looking). The aphids have caused us to pull out the big guns twice this summer: they very nearly did in our cherry tree and our rhubarb; in both cases I just wasn't paying attention and the infestations were way past blowing them off with water, but usually they are a low grade presence that we mostly ignore. Cabbage loopers I just hand pick for eggs and worms. And I will be digging out squash vine borers with much greater diligence henceforth because I am going to have squash soup and butternut pie this winter if I have to camp out there with a pocket knife. This book is our kickass go-to in those oh-shit-what-the-hell-is-that moments. I need to get better about knowing our good insects; we've seen a lot more new faces since we planted a huge bed of lovely flowers, but hell if I know what they are.

Anyway. That was pretty much our weekend: picking, cooking, eating. Also some seriously so much fun music; we learned the coolest new tune that is so flipping crooked that you just have to stop thinking and play it, and I finally realized that it's more fun to play the guitar loud. Ha!

Also, Portland was fun. Our friends are married now and I did not barf while playing for their ceremony. It was just about as chaotic as I expected, with the guitar player wandering up the hill just before the ceremony trying to find someone to borrow a guitar from, thus resulting in last minute tuning and general feelings of "why oh why do I agree to do such things" but then it sounded great and we got to follow the newlyweds down a beautiful hill while playing merrily and catching a fine view of Mount Hood. Other than that, it was hot as hell, we ate a lot of seriously mediocre food (ok, except for a pretty fine meal here), marveled at All the Bikes, stayed here for a night (fun!) and I got to see an old friend from college who is brainy and neat. The end.

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