Monthly Archives: June 2012

Radishical Propaganda

Easter Egg Radish Bouquet

Dear Reader:

I am in love with radishes at the moment. I bought these cute little Easter Egg radishes from Johnny’s Selected Seeds and planted them in the garden box with the carrots, miniature onions, and parsnips. This idea came from a really informative and inspiring book on container gardening by Rose Marie Nichols McGee and Maggie Stuckey called THE BOUNTIFUL CONTAINER.

The book is chock full of ideas for themed container-gardens along with recipes and basic know-how. The radish/carrot/parsnip idea came from the “A Kid’s Garden” theme. In this scheme, pots are planted in the spring with pansies, radishes, and carrots. The idea is that the pansies will be pretty while the veggies grow. The radishes mature quickly and keep the soil surface loose which helps the carrots, and by the time you pull the radishes, the carrots have space to develop. The authors also say to stick in a pumpkin seed or seedling in June…

First Radish–pinky purple!

Now, I have my pumpkins growing at the ends of my tomato hay-bales, so obviously I didn’t follow the scheme to the letter. My garden box has the radishes, carrots, parnips, onions, an eggplant, and a bright pink geranium instead of a pansy.

Root Veg Box

Soon after I planted this lovely box, torrential downpours swept through the land; I was afraid the teeny-tiny seeds would be swamped, flooded, pushed too far below the surface, or rotted. For a week or so I waited, hoping against hope that my seeds had managed to survive. Amazed one morning to see those evenly spaced rows of miniature seedlings, my heart rejoiced. The radishes emerged and burst into a growing green frenzy. Soon, I spotted color beneath the green just atop the soil. A week or so later, the colored stems began to swell into the cutest little Easter Egg-colored globes of peppery goodness.

I pulled the first purple-pink radish, sliced it thinly on top of the disappointing micro-greens (too micro!) and ate my miniature salad with a degree of satisfaction far out of proportion to the portion size.

The carrots and parsnips are holding their own as I gently harvest the rapidly-ripening radishes. If you are new to gardening or want to entice children to the joys of soil and seed, try some multi-colored, quick-growing, sow-easy-to-grow radishes. You really can’t mess them up, they provide practically instantaneous (for a garden) gratification, and add a nice little spicy crunch to your dinner salad.

Radish Growing and Glowing

Easy Button Pickled Radish Recipe

I am modifying a pickled radish recipe I found on Martha Stewart’s website which has a bunch more radish recipes you might want to try. Really, it’s as hard to mess up quick pickles as it is to mess up growing radishes. These babies are the ultimate “Easy Buttons.”

1. A bunch of nice-looking, home-grown Easter Egg radishes, slice thin.
2. 1/4 red onion, slice thin.
3. Enough red-wine vinegar to cover veggies.
4. 2 teaspoons course-ground sea salt.
5. 2 tablespoons sugar (optional)

Mix everything in a bowl and let sit for 1/2 hour. Use right away or refrigerate for up to a day. Nice served with grilled turkey burgers or homemade veggie burgers and some new greens from your garden or the farmer’s market.

Eating Cold Strawberries on a Hot Summer Day

Local BerriesDear Reader:

Summer is here! Summer is here! Nature is ushering in the season with temperatures in the eighties and a haze of humidity, and I am sitting here eating my fill of cold strawberries harvested at a nearby farm and sold at our local branch of a corporate grocery chain. The juxtaposition of cool berries and hot air seems to mirror the juxtaposition of local produce sold, ironically, at a multinational chain store.

Is this ideal? Of course not. Ideal would be me rising early and biking up the road to Dole’s Orchards to pick berries grown at my neighborhood farm, paying cash to the neighbor-farmer who will reinvest in the farm and community, and biking back down the hill to my house to bake a strawberry rhubarb pie with the berries, rhubarb from my garden, and a pastry made from Maine whole wheat flour and lard from a real farm in Pennsylvania and purchased from the locally-owned, Amish-inspired store in a nearby town.

If I’ve learned one thing from my three years of blogging about localism and sustainability and community-building, it is how idealism is the beacon and how reality falls somewhere on the scale that measures between the shade of utter failure far from that beacon and the light-filled space of near-success.

Garden Boxes Summer Solstice

Take my garden boxes, for example. In my head, the ideal garden overflows with lush, green plants beginning to blossom and fruit. No pests reside here, just rich, moist garden soil, fat and happy earthworms, and the occasional bee and butterfly to pollinate and enliven the mini-ecosystem. In reality, the compost dries out much too fast because I really should have added in peat moss and vermiculite, the plants aren’t growing as fast as I wish, the eggplant and cabbages have holes in the leaves (and some leaves completely gnawed) where some tiny, marauding insect has plundered the succulent vegetation. The plants in the herb bed look yellowish. The micro greens in the greens beds are still micro-micro–too small to harvest even after a month of growth.

Peas and Zuccini

I sit outside with my coffee and contemplate the state of my garden and realize that even though it isn’t perfect, it is quite lovely and has the potential for productivity. The peas yearn upward toward the turned-on-its-side tomato cage I placed there for support. The zucchini and summer squash and cucumber plants spread wide palms to the sun. The hot-pink annuals–geranium and petunia and portulaca–burst with color in their corners next to the “black” Japanese shiso plant, the sweet potato vine, the chocolate mint in the pink & black garden box.

Wild Roses

I turn from my garden boxes and look at the wild edge. Here near a tumbled rock wall, the wild roses remind me that Nature often does a better job on her own. This year’s rosa rugosa blooms sweeten the air with their scent even as they glow against the gray backdrop of those old stones some farmer used to mark a field a hundred-fifty years ago. Earlier, there was a profusion of wild strawberries dancing at the feet of those rose princesses. Near the compost bin, a sturdy mullein thrusts out its plush, velvety leaves.

When I reach out to touch a rose, it falls apart, petals showering over my hands.

Perfection is not necessary in this world. The beauty is in the attempt, in the growth, in the trial-and-error. It is the appreciation for what is as well as the striving toward what could be.

Later this week, I will make my way to Dole’s to pick strawberries. I’ll probably drive my gas-powered automobile. Doing what is better than nothing really is better than doing nothing at all.

Hot Summer Color: Orange!

You are seeing it everywhere–in the fashion magazines, in clothing stores, in home furnishings, and in beauty products like nail polish and even lipstick. It is the color of our favorite citrus fruit, of exuberent daylilies popping up in gardens and naturalized on the sides of country roads, and of Creamsicles frozen desserts. It is the color orange, and it is just about time for it. A little research into color psychology sheds some light on this bright color and why we might be drawn to it at this particular time.

According to the Empower Yourself With Color Psychology website at http://www.empower-yourself-with-color-psychology.com/color-orange.html, orange is both optimistic and uplifting. When we are feeling down and in despair, orange with it’s combination of safe red and sunny yellow can lift us out of our feelings of doom and gloom. With wars dragging on, an economy that is sluggish at best, and what seems to be a perrenial case of the “dooms” infecting the media, who can blame us for being drawn to a color that is like an electric charge to our psyche?

Orange is said to be an extroverted and unihibited color, as well, stimulating both appetite and conversation. A social color. Perhaps we are craving orange because we are craving more open conversations with each other, less selfish “me-ism” and more “we-ism.” Perhaps it is a recongition that we will need to work together to solve the very real problems we are facing. Forget Red States and Blue States and even Purple States…how about Orange States?

In the Reiki system of thought, the color orange corresponds to the sacral chakra–the pleasure chakra. This is the energy center that, when open, allows us to fully experience and enjoy the pleasures of life. (What could be more pleasurable than a Creamsicle on a hot summer day, I ask you?)

Orange nails

In our own lives, we can maybe get a burst of creative energy and optimism when we pull on a pair of orange pants or paint our nails the color of carrots! Wearing orange takes a certain boldness, a willingness to be seen and heard. Orange also is said to help us understand and incorporate new ideas and to throw off our inhibitions. Whether you are ready to take the plunge with a new outfit or simply want to test the waters with an orange-colored pedicure this summer, give orange a try. At the very least you’ll be sporting the most fashionable color of the season.

Tea Bag Wisdom

Catch more health and beauty information when you read the Nurturing Tranquility Newsletter from Nurturing Tranquility Salon & Spa Retreat in Limington, Maine. Go to http://nurturingtranquilitysalonandspa.com/ to visit the salon & spa website and sign up for the newsletter!

Beware the Iris!

Grape Kool-Aid Iris (at least that’s what I call it!)

I love the way these irises smell…just like their color. Grape Kool-Aid.

Their blooms blossom and fade quickly, two or three to a stem, but oh the heavenly scent while they are open and beckoning to the fat bumble bees that crawl into and out of them spreading pollen from plant to plant in that glorious symbiosis of nature. Sometimes the bee’s buzzing grows alarmed, higher-pitched, as she struggles to escape the perfumed interior of the flower.

Today, I crawled out of a similar enticing trap, and I’m hopeful I will make a clean getaway. A year or so ago, in order to enter a contest, I wrote a short-short story and published it on an e-publisher. What I didn’t consider at the time was that the story was “out there” forever. Published but not doing anything. Just sitting there. I couldn’t revise it and submit it anywhere, and the thing was, I wanted to revise it. I’d grown attached to the storyline and the character. It could have been so much more!

So, today I canceled my account with the e-publisher and tried to “retire” the story. It is still coming up when I type the title and my name into a search engine…the image for it anyway. The content is unavailable.

Now the question is…am I free to revise and resubmit? I don’t know. I think I will revise it for my own pleasure, and if it is worthy, I will send it out with full disclosure of its checkered, e-pubbed past.

Lesson? Be careful when you enter contests. Sometimes a contest isn’t a contest. Sometimes it is a marketing tool to lure potential “clients” close–like the sweet smell of the iris, luring bees into her velvety, purple petals for her own purposes.