Food

Oct. 3rd, 2011 11:54 am
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So it's definitely Fall, and almost Winter actually.  Of course that means it's Harvest Time.  This year was the first year that CD and I actually got around to planting a garden.  It took some drastic measures (like planting) and a decent amount of (over-)digging.  We set up a snaking trench leading from the east portion of our yard to the west.  We're on a slight slope.  Then we planted along that trench.  While this Harvest Season is certainly not the first we're seeing of our crops it is a time when it seems we've gotten some more great dishes to come out of the garden.  A lot of the vegetables we've picked so far have ended up in stews and soups, as they've been a bit hodge-podgey with when they've been ready.  We've had the occasional huge zucchini and some yellow crook-neck squash and way too much okra (who knew it'd do so well here?).  We've been kind of hit and miss with the corn as far as picking it.  A difficult aspect of having a garden is realizing it's not the same as a grocery store.  If we don't feel like corn today but want some next week, those ears we've been eyeing will likely be too dry for much cooking (I think we're going to have a lot of cornmeal this year though). 

Along those lines though we've kept a closer eye on the egg plant and the cantaloupe.  The little seeds we planted for the melons ended up taking over quite a bit of our garden.  It looks like all of those vines might be coming from just two plants too.  The entire central portion of our garden is overtaken by cantaloupe vines, which are producing quite a bit of melons too.  Byron brought up how some folks hollow out the melons slightly from a small-ish hole in the top and then fill it with vodka.  They reseal it and let it sit for a while.  Sounds kind of yummy so maybe we'll give that a go. 

Meanwhile Sam made a delicious dish with the first eggplant we harvested along with a rather large zucchini we've had sitting in the kitchen for a while.  She stuffed some chicken breast with the zucchini (which she had marinate a bit in a sauce she came up with) and then used the zucchini to make a lasagna to go along with it.  It was amazing.  There was a bit too much zucchini for the dinner so we ended up saving it in a container (I've had a few zucchini omelets since then) but otherwise it went pretty quick, even for how many portions Sam had to make so we didn't waste the eggplant.

In a lot of ways it's pretty exciting being able to cook the occasional meal with mostly fresh out of the garden ingredients.  It certainly makes me feel good about the work I've put into it.  It also makes me feel like I'm doing something worthwhile.  An issue that I've had with being academically inclined is that there isn't really anything I can touch and say "I made that" or "I did that."  It's not the same as having a more trades type job where you can readily see, feel, touch the work that you've done.  With the garden I can pick up a cantaloupe and say "I helped this grow."  I think back on the weed clearing, the digging, the planting and all of that stuff and then get to see these edibles come up out of that work.  That probably helps make the meals taste just a little bit better too.

Garden 2011

Aug. 3rd, 2011 01:21 pm
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I haven't really talked a lot here about the garden that me and CD have been working on.  It's actually been coming along very nicely.  Of all the things we planted the Okra, Squash, Corn, Radishes, and Lettuce have certainly come out the best.  We also had a few volunteer Sunflowers which are doing great.  By volunteer I mean that we didn't plant them there, they just sort of grew.  It's been a great mix because it seems like the Sunflowers are distracting the birds from the other stuff we have growing.  With the exception of some Squash Bugs we haven't even had an issue with pests which is really really nice.  It has certainly been a long time coming to get this garden moving.  We talked about having one pretty much right after I moved to Albuquerque four and a half years ago.  We started to slowly get one set up at the older house (we moved a year and three months ago) but barely got the area prepared before we had to move.  Not a seed was planted after three years.  Here at the current residence we rushed things a bit, or rather, I rushed things a bit.  Planning always took up more time than anything else.  As soon as we would have an idea of what we were going to do CD would want to change it, thusly we never planted anything at the old house.  Once we had a plan here I rushed into getting our ditch dug and the area cleared so we could plant right away.  Initially CD wanted to wait until late June to plant so the final frost would be gone and so forth.  I wanted originally to plant in March, but compromised on May before she wanted to extend the planting period.  Finally in May we put seed in the ground and it has sprung up.  I'll add some pictures near the end of the post.

Over the last few days, while things have been wanting to swirl a bit with my own self, I have managed to find some peace and calm with the garden.  It started with a couple of nights of being on the back porch and watching it, occasionally walking through.  During the day I would go out and just look at the plants.  So many of the crops hide underneath overgrowth.  We had one Zucchini which managed to grow bigger than the store bought kind without us even knowing it was there.   The last couple of days or so Sam has been willing to sit out there with me and tour our little garden.  She's also helped a lot with taking some pictures of it.  I guess that she sees a lot of the calming sort of effect that it has, she seems to be more than happy to encourage me spending time out there.

Starting yesterday I've made more of an effort to pull weeds.  In the beginning I was more than hesitant because I didn't know what any of the plants looked like.  Since they hadn't sprung up yet I didn't want to accidentally pull up something we planted mistaking it for a weed.  Now that most everything that's going to grow has come up quite noticeably it's easier.  Since it's monsoon season as well it's easier to pick the more annoying weeds: Goat Heads.  We've always had a problem with Goat Heads at our house.  They seemed to come up out of the ground the second we got the deal to lease because when we came to look at it no one came away with a single Goat Head stuck to their shoe.  We've cleared out a lot of what was here, but there are still enough to be annoying.  Well yesterday and today I was outside pulling up the ones which have taken root with the rains.  There are still a lot out there, but I've put in at least twenty minutes each day so far.  Since I'm waking up earlier in preparation for school I figure it won't be hard to go outside while it's still cool first thing in the morning and devote daily time to ridding us of the Goat Head scourge.  Or at least making it a little more enjoyable to walk around the yard.  

All in all I'm really happy with the garden.  It has helped me with grounding and coming to appreciate some of the smaller things.  I know that I put work into this to make it happen and that I've had to learn a lot for it to work.  More than that I've also had to work together with CD for it to be cohesive.  Of course it's also wonderful to have a past time as simple as watching Corn and Sunflowers sway in the wind to help actually relax me.

Pictures... )

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