Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Garden Beds and Cookie Sheets

This morning I picked a few more tomatoes, to roast. Visiting the garden, before the sun was too high, I could see that it was time for the beds to enjoy a deep, generous soaking. Geoff and I added drip irrigation, which has been very nice help... except we are still working out some pressure issues... definitely time to install those pressure regulators.

See the sunflower in the foreground? Maria planted that seed at school, and brought it home in a paper cup, last spring. So, the two dark-centered flowers are the ones she started, and the rest we planted together, to keep hers company. I know. They're much too much close together, but I can never bear to thin plants. I get so eager and delighted with each sprout, and knowing that thinning is beneficial never makes enough sense to my emotional state of mind when I see them enduring and growing. Never mind. They look happy enough, to me.

I took some larger tomatoes inside, and started on my first venture into slow roasting.

I sliced them.

Allow me to interrupt myself, thank you. Who loves their knife sharpener? We need one, because I might have had as much luck slicing these poor dears with a spork, our knives are so dull.

As best I could, I sliced the tomatoes. Then I laid them on parchment paper, over a cookie sheet, dashed a tiny bit of flaky, kosher salt, and whole, tiny garlic cloves. On half of the tomatoes I added a scant sprinkling of Italian seasoning, and over everything I drizzled olive oil.

Allow me to interrupt myself, thank you. I need a drizzler, too. Sometimes the oil drizzled nicely, and sometimes it puddled. Hmmmm.

The whole tray went into a 350 degree oven. I did not time them. I let them go, until it smelled good. And while they slow roasted, I went out to give the garden that long cool drink I promised.

The texture of the face looks almost like velvet, and the bees are enchanted, dazzled, charmed.

We planted three varieties of sunflowers. Let's call them tall, taller, and really tall. And Maria's are a mystery variety. Crouching beneath them, Maria and I imagine Stuart Little walking in our garden, like a redwood forest for a mouse-like boy.

This bed has cucumber, and Anaheim peppers, and a fading dill.

One more question, please... if we want to collect dill seeds, should we let them dry on the flower, or pick them now, and dry them in a cool, dark place? I am pretending we are going to make pickles. Sometimes, when I pretend, real things happen.

The second bed is a mixed up situation of strawberries and volunteer tomatoes. I don't think either plant is faring particularly well in the shared company, but they manage well enough that I cannot imagine pulling anything up, starting anew.

The far bed has two hearty, mighty, thriving heirloom tomatoes, and in their shade the last of some sweet carrots. I really must plant more carrots, and cilantro. Both are so absurdly easy to grow, I should never be without.

I don't know much about dill. I like it in egg salad, and sour cream dips. I am enjoying the faded flower heads. Now, to figure out the collecting of those seeds.

Tendrils. Even the word vines and wraps it's determined self, holding firmly, gracefully. If this early growth is any indication, we may actually get to enjoy cucumbers, this year. I am sure none of us wants to recall the garden year that wasn't. It seemed like 2011 was not a great year for anyone's green thumbs. Thank goodness for new years, and keeping faith.

Time for mulch. Real heat is beginning to settle in, and our thirstier plants need all the help we can give them.

Hello, Benjamin.

He was all purr and fur, last night. Normally he sleeps downstairs, but he came to visit us, and he could not get enough love and affection. RrrrrrrrrrRrrrrrrrrRrrrrrrrrMrow

They say roasting tomatoes sweetens them. These little cherry tomatoes taste as though I've candied them. They are kind of ridiculously sweet. We are eating loads of them. Maria has a handful with every meal. Too bad they don't grow in February!

Ready for another question? This white fig tree is about two years old, and this is the first remarkable quantity of fruit we've seen, but nothing's happening. Every day I find a hard fruit, on the ground, and no hint of ripening. Alright, my first suspicion is lack of water... do you agree that more water could make a difference? I am going to redouble my efforts, and make sure this dear never goes dry.

Here is a pumpkin vine that we actually planted. We have already harvested pumpkins, from all the compost volunteers, now this lovingly tended pumpkin pie plant is spreading out and thriving. What would Stuart Little make of this?

Then, I recall... something in the oven. I dash inside. It smells really good.

It smells really, really good. And it tastes even better!

I am already thinking of our favorite bread, spread with these tomatoes, and roasted garlic... oh my.


judy in ky said...

Mmmm, those tomatoes look so delicious. Spread on bread with roasted garlic sounds perfect. Your "mini-farm" is inspirational. By the way, I like to sprinkle dill on salmon with lemon and butter. I also like it in potato salad.

Alison said...

*sigh* My garden has fizzled, petered out. I tried to water diligently during our 2-week 100-degree heat wave, but between the marauding dog and weird weather...well, let me just see if I can answer any of your questions.

For slicing tomatoes, two words: serrated knife. A decent one won't need sharpening for years. And there's a difference between sharpening and honing--even chefs would rather pay a professional to sharpen, but all you need to hone is a steel.

Dribbling olive oil: put your thumb over the opening of the bottle to control the flow (assuming you're not using a gallon jug!) I've seen Miss Chef do it so often, I can picture her right now. It'll be fun to practice, with all them 'maters.

Dill seeds: not sure, you can probably just collect them dry off the plant. Be prepared, they don't call it "dill weed" for nothing! I promise you will have dill next year, even if you don't plant it.

I got nothing for the figs, just to be careful not to overwater, as you can rot the roots of the tree. That will depend on what kind of soil you have (sandy, clay-ey, loamy); try googling your local extension office. They are an incredible resource!

Unknown said...

I don't have the heart to thin plants out too! I feel like a renegade about it, so it's good to know that I'm not alone. However, I am seeing a need to start thinning my late cabbage crop. I can't imagine the heads will develop the way they should when they're crowded.

The fig at the college I went to would do the same thing yours is doing if it was too hot for too long of time (when it was brought outside). It didn't matter if it was watered properly. If kept in the greenhouse where the temps were warm but moderated better, the fruiting went better. Hope that helps!

warren said...

Pickles are really easy if you have never made them before. So, I am jealous of your garden. Ours is still going but it is rough since we have been so dry here. It's sort of a drag. Anyhow, cool raised beds the blue!

nikkipolani said...

I will just have to live out my veggie garden fantasies through yours...

nikkipolani said...

...and if you want easy sharpening, get a sharpening stone and follow this video (just did all my knives and am so happy).

kara said...

I have a fig that does the same thing! Last year, all the fruit dropped off when it was tiny and I thought it was just a bad variety. This year, the fruit got bigger and I thought I was making progress, but nope. They are all falling off now. I'll try extra water and see if it helps. :(