Posts Tagged gardening

Garden Tour 2011

21 June 2011

When you grow, care for, cook, and eat a vegetable, you become emotionally attached to that vegetable for life.  You eat with your heart, not with your mind.

-Liz Snyder, food activist

When I got married at the young age of 21,  I did not even know how to cook.  I had to learn as I went, and in the beginning my meals were very much like a rookie’s.  A lot of boxed dinners, single courses, and not very healthy.  I gained a lot of weight that first year of marriage.  =)  Then after a while I started cooking better and we started eating better.  Then after a while, we had a baby.  Now suddenly the food we put into our mouths mattered so much.  A year and a half after his birth, Andy and I started reading the work of Michael Pollan, which changed our lives forever.  Now I’m greatly interested in food activism and I’ve become obsessed with knowing where my food comes from.  As cook of my household, I feel it’s my responsibility to feed my family the healthiest options I can, and also make them fresh and free of stuff that isn’t food.  So since we’ve now been in our house for about two years now (as opposed to the apartment where we previously lived), I’ve started growing my own food.  It has been a joy to do this, and I’ve grown to really enjoy gardening, a hobby I never would have imagined for myself.

So here’s a tour of this year’s garden in our little plot of land on busy Paramount Blvd:

Kumquats from our tree out front.  I made kumquat marmalade this year and it was really good.  It’s a fairly sour little fruit, so it’s great coupled with something sweet.  I really like it on whole grain toast with cream cheese.

Our lemon tree produces fruit year round.  This is another food source that was here when we moved in.  I really enjoy fresh squeezed lemonade and always having a fresh lemon on hand for the many recipes that call for it.

Here’s the herb garden.  I’ve got rosemary, spearmint, lemon balm, cilantro, and basil.  It’s lovely to cook with fresh herbs, and the aroma is just divine.

The artichoke plant has been fun to watch.  The stalk from the original plant seems to be dead, but another 3 have popped up.  The big one is not producing well this year and seems to be dying.  This one is the next oldest and is doing ok.  I kind of decided recently that I don’t really like whole artichokes like I thought I did.  I think this is a leftover repulsion from morning sickness.  But I enjoy watching to see what the plant does.  Right now we’ve got an artichoke starting to bloom.  I’ll be sure to post a picture of it once there is something to show.

Tried growing potatoes for the first time this year.  We shall see how they do!

fresh flowers are also nice on my table.

I have SO much chard.  It’s ridiculous.  And awesome.  I also have a lot of spinach, and some romaine lettuce.  I wish it was the lettuce that I had a lot of, but that’s okay.  Really enjoying these greens.  I grew them from seed, which is a personal accomplishment for me!

I love eggplant, so I’m excited for this one.  Last year’s eggplant took a long time to produce, so I’m trying to be patient with this one!  My favorite: not-so-healthy Eggplant Parmesana.  Loaded with cheese, but I can’t resist.  Eggplant is so yummy.  A healthier option for us is stir-fried or grilled on sourdough to make a yummy sandwich.  That is one of our favorite meat-alternatives at BBQs.

Yay strawberries!  Last year we had enough to stop buying them over the summer.  Let’s hope they do well this year too!

Heirloom tomatoes on the way!  These will be purple.  I also planted red cherry tomatoes and adorable little yellow ones.  They are as tall as me now and busting out of their cages.  I sure hope they provide me with a lot of beautiful, yummy salad! In addition, we have TONS of volunteer tomato plants that are probably last year’s roma and cherry.  I dug up a few and gave them away and then transplanted a couple more into my front yard garden.  Those seem to be holding up so far.  I hope the ones I gave away are doing equally as well.

And by the way, I just read an breathtaking article by Barry Estabrook on Gilt Taste that made me never want to eat anything but a homegrown tomato ever again, especially not one that comes from Florida.  And it has very little to do with health.  Please, check it out.

The cucumber plant is doing great.  It’s really tall, climbing up our little trellis.  But the cucumbers are tiny!  I’m fearing that the giant tomato plant is getting in its way.  I hope I get some cukes!

My favorite is the blackberries.  They grow in our front yard, and are another of our landlady’s delicious foods she left us.  They have a very short season and will be done soon.  So far I’ve made blackberry cobbler, blackberry sorbet, blackberry freezer jam, and lots of fruit salad and berries on cereal and yogurt.  They are already starting to dwindle.  I will be so sad when they’re gone!

My little harvesting helper

zucchini!  I also planted these from seed.  They look good so far.  No zucchinis yet.  I have high hopes, though.

Brussel sprout plants and weeds (please ignore the latter).  We really love brussel sprouts, so I really hope they produce.  Also grown from seed.  So far tiny and nothing.  But it’s only June.  There’s still time.

So that’s the bulk of the garden this year.  I have learned a lot and tried to make a lot of improvements from before.  Andy built me a couple of raised beds that I’m really enjoying and I’m happy to say that I caged my tomatoes much better than last year!  But they are still getting out of control.  (Any tips?)

Our little rented piece of land on the busiest street in town is giving us some wonderful food to enjoy.  We are thankful to see all God is providing for us!

Planting a Placenta Tree

6 June 2011

Well, it’s better late than never, right?

After having L’s placenta in our freezer for almost seven months, we finally got around to this important ritual of childbirth.  When you have a homebirth, you get to keep the placenta.  Or rather, you are responsible for disposing of it yourself.  The placenta is the organ that nourishes the baby inside the womb and once both are birthed, the placenta is still rich with nutrients.  It makes for a wonderful source of nourishment for plant life.  In fact, it is so nutritious that some people encapsulate it and take it as vitamins.  But we opted for the tree.  We picked out a lovely looking dwarf peach tree and a spot where it should thrive and not interfere with anything else in the yard (i.e., lawn, fence, etc.).

Here’s why we are choosing to perform this ritual instead of dumping L’s placenta in the garbage:

  1. Planting this tree marks his birth in this place.  We rent our home, so we will not always live here.  But L was born here, and nothing will ever change that.  This tree commemorates his birth on this property.  It will be here long after we are gone. (…sniff)
  2. Planting a fruit tree symbolizes our children as the fruit of our marriage.  As we were planting it, I said a prayer thanking God for our beautiful boys, and our wonderful marriage of 10 years.
  3. It represents the circle of life.  Just as his placenta nourished L while he was in my womb, now it will nourish this tree, which will produce fruit of its own and in turn, nourish us.  (hopefully in a peach cobbler.)
  4. Dust to Dust.  As I tell my oldest, everything that lives eventually stops living and is put back into the ground, and becomes food for the next thing that lives.  The time for this placenta to do its job is over.  It must return from whence it came.

So we let the thing thaw in the sun while Andy dug a big hole.  PJ played in said hole.

The umbilical cord started to glow a bright white as it thawed, which made me feel kind of emotional.  It was a sight I hadn’t seen for seven months, and the last time I saw it I was in a highly emotional state.  Finally the hole was ready.  Andy dropped it in, and I said a prayer and started to cry.

PJ and Andy threw compost on top of it and it was gone.  More dirt, more compost, then finally the peach tree.

planting the tree

There you are, little tree.  You are the same age as my baby.  May you grow and flourish in God’s grace just as my children will.  Amen.


P.S.  The funds for this tree are also special.  Years ago when my great-grandmother, my Oma, was living she used to send us $30 always for our birthdays.  She was an amazing woman, a refugee of WWII, lived to age 90, and all-around very remarkable.  She died when I was about 20 and for some reason I never had the heart to spend the last $30 cash she had sent me in the mail.  I was wanting to save it for something special.  Well, this was finally it.  I pulled it out of my jewelry box after all these years and spent it on a tree.  A tree that celebrates life.

Things on my mind lately…

21 April 2011

CLOTH DIAPERING:  baby is moving way too fast through his size smalls.  I just pulled out the size mediums and they actually fit rather well.  Many of them are thrashed because PJ wore them for about a year and a half or more.  I found a new cloth diaper store lately that I loved to pieces.  I’m so excited to to buy a couple new things.  Super cute baby bottoms are my weakness.  Oh, and we have also figured out L’s nighttime super-soaker problem.  The solution seems to be hemp inside and wool outside.  Ideally a hemp/cotton fitted diaper by Baby Beehinds, with a help insert layered inside, and a wool soaker to go around the whole thing.  He’s a bowling pin at night but he’s dry!  Wool soaker takes a lot of care in the beginning with the lanolizing and everything, but they say I won’t have to wash it for eight weeks!

LENT:  gave up sweets.  I was frustrated and sad about it until very recently.  I think I now have some spiritual clarity about the whole thing.  Very grateful.  The Lord always seems to speak to me in a new way when I give up something I love during Lent.

THESIS:  still writing.  had a couple of setbacks, but now I feel like I’m in a much better place.  All thanks to my amazing advisor who is such a wonderful guide.  She is so encouraging and yet will never let me settle for easy, always pushing me to go to the next level of intellectual thought.

BREASTFEEDING:  nothing new to report.  i’m flowing with milk and honey (and agave, but no real sugar because it’s Lent)

PRESCHOOL:  should we do it or not?  that is the question.  if we don’t decide soon we might as well just start looking at colleges.

TEETHING:  yes!  one sharp little tooth tip can be felt on L’s bottom gum!  Finally!

GARDENING:  Andy built me some raised beds and we planted seeds and plants.  I’ve got spinach, romaine, chard, cucumber, eggplant, tomatoes, herbs, strawberries, artichokes (already about 3 little ones on there) out back and in front we have sprouting some brussel sprouts, zuchini, sunflowers and watermelon (very unsure about the watermelon).  Our kumquat tree only has fruit on the high branches now but our lemon tree is going crazy!  It is lemonade heaven around here!  We are still planning to buy a tree to plant in the back with L’s placenta.  We have a spot cleared, but can’t decide on a tree.  Any suggestions?