Sunday, June 21, 2009

Old Friends Abusing Good Graces: This Week's Garden Report, Mid-June 2009

The Sedum Society meeting scheduled for this week has been canceled! No reason need be given!

The Arborvitae felt the wrath of the lawnmower today. Actually, they didn’t feel anything because they were already dead. The whole bunch of the filthy cowards apparently committed mass suicide. They were on the north side of the house away from the rest of the garden, even still, they had a way sweeter deal than the rest of the garden. They got plant-feeding spikes and had their own irrigation set up. Winter was too tough on them or some such tripe. Waa, Waa!!! Plants were a lot tougher when I was a kid. While I was walking thru 3 feet of snow in 100 degree heat to school, up hill, both ways, the plants back at home would be growing all by themselves. No codling needed. They didn’t need any stinking plant food. They would have spit in your eye if you so much as tried to put some mulch around ‘em. Those were the day when men were men and plants were plants and proud of it! It was satisfying to me to feel their ungrateful little stalks being ground into sawdust.

There has been a new source of strife in the garden this spring. The mutant Clematis refuses to climb it’s trellis and is draping itself all over the Azalea. This presents a big problem for all the plants involved in the shed removal project. The mutant Clematis has a special place in my heart, one of the first installations of mine almost 20 years ago. It has proved to be one of the toughest plants out there. I’ve always suspected it being half Kudzu. The Azalea, also a long time winner in the garden, is relatively defenseless from such an assault. I suspect the plants have been talking amongst themselves and are jockeying for the best positions when the relocations start. It will take some genuine diplomacy to sort this problem out.

Hammerdog has been brought in in an attempt to teach Stella to lift her leg when she pees. It’s worth a try.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Saving Squash.....and meditations on being, potato-edition

So I like Squash. I never did when I was a kid, in part because I only was ever treated to the ethnic-family-boil-it-till-its-gooey-enough-to-be-soup-cause-soup-is-how-we-had-enough-to-get-to-this-country-and-you-are-so-ungrateful variety. It was only thanks to an otherwise charmless Australian boyfriend who introduced me to pumpkin as something other than a goofy once-a-year decoration filled with tasty seeds that I came to see this entire vegetable type as potentially appetizing. Add to that a few Chinese meals during which squash was a God-send amid plate after plate of things that were staring back, still flopping, or resembled the un-potato pieces of Mr. Potato Head, and squash became ok in my book

<< Linguistic aside: are Mr. Potato head feet actually potato, since they are by definition part of him, or does attaching them cause them to undergo some sort of transubstantiation by which they become 'potato' or are they just feet? British courts recently ruled, wisely that 'A Pringle is “made from potato flour in the sense that one cannot say that it is not made from potato flour"'..perhaps this applies in the abstract to representations of potato?>>

Anyway, now that I am safely back in the land of bread and cheese, squash has slowly but surely lost its appeal. However, I am a regular recipient of it in my boxes from Washington's Green Grocer, and have as of late had a harder and harder time not just letting it turn into a research project in the veggie drawer that conveniently takes out the potatoes and lettuce, of which I am equally enamored.

Last box, however, Washington's Green Grocer Came through- they published a post on facebook with a little recipe (they, and their followers, have been doing this more and more, its really a great use of the social media space for them). I tried it out today, and it was perfect. Nothing revelatory in the ingredients, nothing shocking or unexpected, but just the perfect balance of flavors, which I often seem to get not quite right, as I am distracted by the main affair (dessert) or the secondary affair (the main) and throw together vegetables as an afterthought. With a little thoughtfulness, this becomes a nice main course. Now I am not going to go all vegan or anything any time soon, but this was pretty good!

One note, use fresh cheese, and big lumps of Buffalo Mozzarella- it makes all the difference....

From Washington's Green Grocer, who adapted it from: Food to Live By: The Earthbound Farm Organic Cookbook (Earthbound Farm Organic Cookbk)

2-3 small zucchini, cut into 1/2 inch thick slices (if zucchini are large, cut in half or fourths lengthwise, then slice)
1 T olive oil
4-6 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
pinch sea salt
2 T chopped flat parsley
2 T grated parmesan
1/4 cup grated mozzarella

With stove set to medium, heat the olive oil in a large frying pan with a lid. Add sliced garlic and saute about 1 minute, until you start to smell garlic. Add squash and stir to coat with oil, then cover and cook 4 minutes, stirring once or twice. After 4 minutes, check to see if there is a lot of liquid and whether squash is tender. Cook 1-2 more minutes, uncovered until zucchini is tender-crisp and liquid is evaporated.

Sprinkle squash with salt and chopped parsley and stir to wilt parsley. Add parmesan and stir until it melts, about 1 minute. Sprinkle mozzarella cheese over the squash, cover pan again and turn off the heat. Let sit 1-2 minutes until cheese is melted and serve hot.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Meditations on Trampling: This Week's Garden Report, Early June 2009

Significant progress has been achieved this week in the garden. Exiling the Gang of Four Burning Bushes was a stroke of genius, the treacherous bastards had more Creeping Charlie hiding out under them than I could have possibly imagined. A deal was struck with the new neighbors; they could have the bushes as long as they do not plant them close enough to each other that they could start a new conspiracy. Sod has been installed in that newly pacified corner of the yard. Hostas have been recruited to keep an eye on things along the fence. Peace reigns.

The Hostas repositioned along the southern frontier have taken to the task like a bunch of fat, drunken, middle age, Minutemen sitting along the Mexican border in lawn chairs. They seem to actually enjoy their new station in life. Their effectiveness is not yet up to their full potential yet because there are still gaps in the line. A recruiting campaign is in the works and walk-ons are welcome. Also my bank has the right kind of Hostas planted around their parking lot, a midnight dig-n-dash is being considered.

The Daylilies were trampled but not mowed to the ground. Lightnin never did learn how to work the lawnmower, he could never figure out how to hold down the dead man’s switch while he pulled the starter cord, so I’m not sure mowing them down after trampling is really what he would have wanted. I got to thinking about Lightning’s problem with daylilies. We never discussed why he took such joy in trampling them all the time. It’s funny how you can be so close to someone for so many years and never really know what’s going on in his head. We would sit around and talk for hours and never really say anything, down, sit, stay, speak, kill. The daylilies do make a neat crunchy-squishy feeling as you trample them. It might have just felt cool under his feet. Within a week the daylilies are coming back stronger than before. Maybe he knew some secret to growing daylilies that I didn’t. It's like those olive growers in Spain that go out and beat their olive trees with chains. It actually improves their growth.

A new bright spot in the future, Bill and Harriet are now to old and feeble to maintain their yard so they hired some landscapers to do it. The first thing they did was to douse it with weed and feed. That should slow down the infiltration of Charlie from that direction.

Next week the cowardly Arborvitae will be dealt with.