Category Archives: Garden

Garden Salad

Arugula, Mustard Greens, Drunken Woman Lettuce, Basil,  Nasturtiums and a Radish

Arugula, Mustard Greens, Drunken Woman Lettuce, Basil, Nasturtiums and a Radish

This is why I garden. Everything in this picture was just a tiny little seed a couple months ago. There have a been a lot of lessons learned along the way and many many more to go but it’s so rewarding to see some of my efforts pay off. I’ve noticed some of the Nasturtium leaves turning yellow over the past couple days but today I came home and noticed one of the leaves looked a little different and then my heart jumped when I realized it was this-

Nasturtiums

I’ve been checking on them every day and I’m mesmerized by these little guys. First of all the seeds look like tiny brains, they have these huge lily-pad-like leaves that rain just rolls right off and then they produce these beautiful bright edible flowers! Seriously amazing. So after a couple seconds of staring at this beautiful flower, I picked it….and ate it. Yum!

I also decided to pick my first radish which was both satisfying and disappointing at the same time.Baby Radish

Considering all that green growth, I assumed it would be a lot bigger but I spaced them too closely and didn’t have the heart to pull any of them out. I’m learning. Gardening can be ruthless!

But in the end, it’s completely worth it.

Garden Salad

Advertisements

Erin’s Garden

Hi There!

It’s been a while since I’ve gotten this excited about a project but since I’ve been literally dreaming about this for months and I’ve started reading, studying, planning, and preparing journals I thought it might be time to share the great news. In just a few short weeks if all goes to plan, I will finally have my very own garden!

Garden Journal

And this isn’t just a 6′ x 2′ mini garden bed like the one we had on Montgomery Street this is a real sunny, fenced off, large chunk of land that I can fill with whatever I want! Gardening is an almost foreign concept to me. I’ve grown a few tomatoes, peppers, herbs and daisies but I’ve never had to deal with enriching soil, rotating garden beds, companion planting, watering sources, cover crops, pesky insects, etc. It can be overwhelming but last weekend I bought my first seeds and sowed them on Monday and they germinated yesterday. Every single time I pop a seed into some dirt and sprinkle them with a bit of water I think ‘this is ridiculous, there’s no way this will work’ and more often than not they pop right up!  It’s just so simple and fascinating to watch.

You can barely see but these are the first seeds beginning to pop up yesterday.

Seeds just starting to pop up on March 13

Seeds just starting to pop up on March 13

And this is how they look less than 24 hours later.

EHN_5026

Bloom bloom!

It is so cool. Simple as that. So cool that I spent the rest of my morning ordering a ton of seeds from the seed catalogs I’ve been pouring over the past few weeks.

GardenPlanning

So while I’m stuck indoors dealing with temperamental March weather, I’ve been reading books, browsing blogs, flipping through seed catalogs, sketching up some rough garden layouts, checking in on my seeds every couple hours, more or less obsessing over this future garden. I’m pretty certain I’ll take a look back in August and think how insane I am so here is a little note to myself to remind me of my current state of mind:

Future Erin-

When it’s hot, humid and sticky, when your back aches and fingernails are caked in mud and you just want to go inside and watch a movie, remember how it feels to live through those last never-ending bits of miserable weather and to ache for Spring. Think about how many years you’ve lived in apartments where you struggled with space and sun exposure and how many times you unsuccessfully managed to get lot on a community garden. Most importantly think about all the delicious food you can grow and the inventive meals you can cook up. Think of the beautiful flowers that will surround your yard and your home and the delicious herbs that will be just outside the kitchen. Think of how nice it is to hear to birds chirping and the crickets at night and feel the cool breeze rustle through the trees. Think of how lucky you are to have this opportunity. Embrace the moment and go get dirty. I know gardening will be hard work but it will be worth it.

Love,

Present Erin

Oh, and Happy Pi Day, Nerds!

Holy Tomatoes!

It feels like just a few short weeks ago that I was staring hungrily and longingly at the few small stubbornly green soon-to-be deliciously plump red juicy tomatoes, willing them to ripen. Now we have so many we don’t know what to do with them all. This is one week’s worth of tomatoes.

one weeks worth

 

I’ve made two batches of canning salsa.

Salsa!

I might end up having to make another batch. I’m terrified we’ll run out in early Spring again and we’ll have to wait 4 more months to make more. Steve and I are totally spoiled by this recipe. It originated from our friend Abow’s mom who gave the recipe to Abow and Tess who made a batch themselves from the overflow of tomatoes in their garden and then gave Steve and I a jar. We ate the whole thing in one sitting. All other brands of salsa fade in comparison. We’ve had store-bought salsa sit uneaten for months in our fridge because we’re too spoiled from the homemade kind. Once we inhaled that first jar of salsa I had to get my hands on the recipe and make my own batch. From that first batch I learned it’s much easier to make and significantly less expensive when you have your own tomatoes growing in your back yard and when you have a ladle and tongs. It’s really hard to fetch boiling hot jars out of boiling hot water without tongs. This year I treated myself to a canning kit from Kroger which made it so much easier and faster and much less dangerous.

I thought I’d share the precious recipe. It’s a little peppery so if you don’t like pepper you can reduce the amounts to your liking. You can also taste test it as you go. I’ve also substituted the cans of chopped green chili for jalapenos which turned out really great.

Canning Salsa
1 gallon tomatoes peeled and chopped
1 Tbsp black pepper
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp garlic salt
1 Tbsp cayenne pepper
7 cups diced onions
1 1/2 cups vinegar
3 Tbsp salt
1 Tbsp crushed red pepper
2 4oz. cans chopped green chili
2 bell peppers diced
 
Simmer for 15 minutes.
 

That’s it! Then all you have to do it throw it into sterilized jars and it’s all set. The thing I love about this recipe is that its salty, sweet, spicy, and a little bitter from the vinegar. It’s got it all covered.

Blanching

 

Dicing

The most time consuming part is the blanching and dicing of the tomatoes. It always takes longer than I think it will. Or want it to. But it’s totally worth it!

Now we have to figure out what else to do with all these tomatoes. We’ve eaten tons of bruschetta and put them in salads and on sandwiches. We might try to make our own pasta sauce. Until then, I’m gonna go eat some salsa.

 

 

Drinking Girl with a Quilting Problem

In light of finally finishing my enormous quilt I decided to take a trip over to School House Fabrics in Floyd county this weekend.

School House Fabrics

It reminded me of something I would be bored to tears following my mom around in Occoquan, VA. Weird. Anyways, each room has a specialty- one room has nothing but buttons, trims and sewing supplies, another room has curtains and upholstery, another room has seasonal fabrics, etc. It was awesome! I spent about 2-3 hours browsing the entire store. My favorite part were all the bored husbands pacing by the entrance. Good thing Steve stayed home.

I ended up buying some floral fabrics for my next quilt.

New Fabrics

I’m planning on copying the pattern for the quilt on my banner. I love the star pattern and I love the colorful- yet-soft country-heirloom look to it. I actually already started working on the diamonds last night.

The beginning of the next two years...

This is going to be a huge challenge. Diamonds are lot trickier to measure cut and sew than squares. Plus I have no patience so I haven’t read any directions. I’m just jumping right in. Who reads directions?! Pssshhh

 

On a side note. THE TOMATOES ARE IN!!! Wooooohooooo! I’ve been waiting eagerly for this moment since March.

Yom yom yom

I grew those! Can you believe it?! And they along with all their brothers and sisters will be processed and turned into delicious salsa this weekend to give to friends and enjoy for the rest of the year.  I’m so excited. Nothing tastes better than homemade salsa.

Our friend, Mike planted some hops this year, which then proceeded to grow like weeds and took over his yard. He brought us over a couple.

Hoppy hops

Steve and I bought some beer making ingredients yesterday. Steve’s going to attempt a “pale ale, Sierra Nevada type deal.” Even though I swore I would never drink again after this weekend, I’m excited about a new batch of home brews. It’s been about 10 months since he’s made a batch, since his last attempt resulted in a batch of non-alcoholic overly-carbonated not-good-tasting apple beer. They’re still sitting in our mud room and every once in a while one will explode. Anyways, Steve’s made more delicious beers than not so I’m pretty excited. AND we’re also planning on hosting a end of the summer fondue party this weekend. Our kitchen is going to see more action this weekend than it has all summer.

All-in-all, I’ve found my first year of gardening to be highly successful and ridiculously easy. I mean, I hate the outdoors, I hate manual labor, and I hate dirt and bugs and getting dirty and yet I managed to have a garden (and a compost). You really just need to stick them in some dirt, throw them in the sun and water them every so often and they do all the work. Easy Peesy. I can’t wait until we actually have a real garden.