Category Archives: Gardening

Wiggling Toward A Sustainable Garden

Red worms! Red worms!

Red worms! Red worms!

When Michelle Gardner of North Waterboro ordered her first batch of red worms last July, she had no idea how quickly her interest–or her garden boxes–would grow. From a plastic baggy about the size of a cup that held 1000 dehydrated red worms cushioned in peat moss, Michelle’s worm “farm” now encompasses several large outdoor garden boxes, 18-gallon plastic tubs, and even an old canoe.

Gardner is hoping to continue to expand her army of red wigglers–which handily compost old produce, eggshells, newspaper, cardboard, and other household garbage into highly usable fertilizer–and she wants to teach others how to utilize worms in their own gardens, as well.

“They multiply very fast,” Gardner said as she walked around her Lake Arrowhead property showing visitors her various composting boxes full of worms, table scraps, and shredded newspaper and leaves. “The worms are hermaphroditic. They will lay two eggs from which hatch two to twelve babies. In less than a month, these newborns are ready to reproduce.”

According to Gardner, worms are extremely helpful for building gardening soil. They increase air flow in the soil by making tunnels. The break down organic matter into castings that act like time release capsules of nutrients into the soil. The speed up the composting process. They also add microbes and good bacteria to the soil. A study at Cornell showed that not only are worm casting good for fertilizing, but it also could help suppress plant diseases caused by pathogens. Beneficial microbes can colonize on a seed’s surface and release a substance that protects the seed from a pathogen.

Worms do not eat living plants, Gardner explains, but rather ones that are already starting to break down. She put some worms in her indoor plant pots with some compost and was amazed at the prodigious growth of the plants once the worms went to work. “I’ve become increasingly successful with them,” she said. She is hoping to start teaching classes on vermiculture, calling her venture Michelle’s Happy Worm Farm. Students will learn how to build their first tub for composting–drilling holes in simple plastic tubs, adding strips of newspaper and leaves, a little bit of soil, and the worms. Worms like coffee grounds, but Gardner warns that because of its acidity, grounds should be accompanied by some other organic matter such as fruit or veggie scraps, manure, or plant debris.

One of the most sustainable ways of using worms is to compost manure. Placing a box of worms and soil under a rabbit hutch, for example, can quickly turn something unpleasant into valuable fertilizer for your vegetable or flower gardens. Red wigglers will not outgrow their container, Gardner assures, although sometimes they seem to be crawling out of the bin. The reasons for this include too high temperatures, too much moisture, or too much acid in the mixture. Adding more air holes, opening the top of the bin, or adding ashes or lime to the soil can remediate these problems.

Getting started with red worms is as easy as creating a bin and keeping it in your cellar, adding a bit of table scraps every so often. They won’t survive freezing temperatures, but once spring comes, the worms can be added to outdoor compost bins. Vermicompost “tea,” which is worm castings steeped in liquid, is also a good liquid fertilizer for household and garden plants.

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Dinner From the Garden Boxes

Dinner From the Garden Boxes

So, late summer cooking has begun! Here is a stir-fry of summer squash and onions from my local CSA farm, Piper’s Knoll in Newfield, Maine. I added kale and herbs from my garden boxes plus some frozen shrimp (not local). Served over couscous, this made a scrumptious, 75% local meal.

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I Was Thinking

Photo by Debbie Broderick

I Was Thinking

I was thinking
about how still the air was
and the trees
and how there are
those hot, still days when you are a kid
and time is just a suggestion
and every summer day is forty hours long
and summer is forever.
Then somehow knowing better
and forgetting
and starting to mark time with the best of them.

Go out to the garden. Watch
a dragonfly stir the air
with black net wings like stockings
stretched over filament wire. Smell
bee-balm to see what draws
the bees. Draw
the bees.
Laugh.

Garden 2013–Let There Be Light!

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Dear Reader:

Here we are at the end of June, and my garden boxes are just beginning to fill in. I started late this year, missing my Memorial Day Weekend planting deadline. I picked up baby plants hither, thither, and yon–Tibbetts Family Farm for herbs and a thistle, Newfield Farmers’ & Artisans’ Market for tomatoes and a few more herbs, Snell Family Farm for veggies and flowers. Tibbetts again for truckloads of compost and compost/loam mix.

We also had 26 pine trees cut off the property–a mutually beneficial arrangement where the guys cut the trees in exchange for the lumber. Can I just say…HOORAY! What a difference this is making around my yard. Sunlight hits the garden boxes at least three more hours per day. Another area that was completely shaded from 11 a.m. until dark now gets more light than any other spot on the property, and my brain is turning and tumbling with ideas of creating a branching permaculture style garden there. First, though, there is the keyhole bed to finish, the hugelkultur garden to complete and plant, and–oh, yeah–making edging beds around the new forest perimeters so the blackberry brambles do not get a toehold.

While I have managed to plant the square-foot garden boxes, this will be the summer of garden bed preparation and transplanting of perennials, where possible. So glad I purchased a CSA share–the produce comes to me to me in large brown paper bags, all ready to eat. I’ve consumed more greens over the past month than I did all last year, I swear!

Anyway, here are the garden boxes this year, for a record.

Box One

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row 1: radishes; row 2: oregano, thyme, rosemary, thyme, oregano; row 3: garlic chives; row 4: borage, milk thistle, borage; row 5: dill inter-planted with spinach seeds.

Box Two

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row 1: tomatoes; row 2: sage, lettuces, shiso, green pepper; row 3: lettuces, chocolate mint (perennial), lemon balm (perennial)

Box Three

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row 1: petunias; row 2: sweet woodruff, basil, savory: row 3: bronze fennel, fennel, bronze fennel (radishes interplanted)

Box Four

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center: four pink salvia; corners: pickling cukes; spaces: salad greens mix

Box Five

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row 1: radishes; rows 2 & 3: kale, broccoli raabe, hot pepper; row 4: hot pepper, parsley, celery

Box 6

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row 1: calendula; row 2: fennel, celery, celery, fennel; row 3: basil, celery, celery, basil; row 4: zucchini

Box 7

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row 1: petunia, basil, petunia, pickling cuke; row 2: red pepper, fennel, curly parsley, red pepper; row 3: lettuce seeds, pickling cuke, summer squash, summer squash; row 4: spinach seeds

Box 8

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row 1: petunia, parsley, parsley, petunia; row 2: onions all across from seed; row 3: snapdragon, bachelor button, zinnia, dill from seeds; row 4: romaine lettuce and green lettuce from seed

Box 9

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First two rows: peas; Second two rows: bush beans

New Keyhole garden

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This will be the apple guild eventually. Apple tree will go in the back surrounded by borage, dandelion, comfrey, beans, and daffodils. The “arms” will be planted with various stuff. I stuck some alyssum, camomile, and butterfly weed in there, but more compost and loam is going to be added.

Hugelkultur garden

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This is a big hole where a stump used to be. The stump I tried to “rot” with lime and a plastic covering a couple years ago. When the tree guys came, they hauled it off (and took the beginnings of my hugelkultur garden with it!) I restacked the sticks and greeny stuff, started dumping on compost and old leaves, and will continue to work on it over the summer, eventually covering with a few inches of compost/loam. I wanted to plant potatoes and squash in there. Perhaps if I get my butt in gear…if not, there is next year. Maybe better to get some manure and throw it on and let it age over the winter anyway?

Various flower and perennial beds are looking fine. I have an elderberry to plant and one to transplant from its current location.

So, that is my 2013 garden so far. I am loving my plot of land now that the light is coming in. Now, I better sign off and get out there to work!

May Flowers & Other Nice Things Around the Yard

Red Hawthorn --Crateagus iracunda

Red Hawthorn –Crateagus iracunda

So I’ve become interested in learning the names of plants growing wild around me. I “blame” (in the best, most thankful way) this on a local herbalist/organic farmer, Cynthia, at Piper’s Knoll Farm just over the town line in neighboring Newfield, Maine. Cynthia has begun offering monthly foraging and identification walks, and after participating in the first one a week ago, I’ve been compulsively LOOKING.

A simple walk up the road now becomes a wild-things expedition. This week I was drawn to the white flowers on this shrub, and, looking more closely, I was captivated by the dark pink anthers clustered in five pairs of stamen on this red hawthorn. NOT that I knew it was a red hawthorn. I had to go home and look it up. Which is fabulous fun, kinda like a treasure hunt, so thank you, Cynthia!

I don’t even have to walk up the road to explore the wild things and not so wild things around me. So what else is growing around my yard right now?

Two days from Memorial Day, the garden boxes begged me to plant something even though it is risky here in Maine to jump the gun. At the Newfield Farmer’s Market this morning, I couldn’t resist purchasing the first few plants–a lavender perennial to go next to the French tarragon, three varieties of tomatoes (going into the box over the septic tank in hopes the heat will appeal to them), a green bell pepper, and a sage. Except for the lavender, they all went into that same box so I could cover them with a sheet last night. I may be impatient, but I’m not completely out of my mind.

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Neighbor Debbie was kind enough to give me a lemon balm from her garden, so I stuck that in the garden box as well, right next to the chocolate mint. That mint will be watched, of course, as we all know how they like to spread and spread.

Now for Mother Nature’s garden beds. These plants live near or beneath the beech trees in front of my house. It’s a forest in miniature!

Wild Strawberries, Fragaria virginiana

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Partridge Berry (Squaw Vine) Mitchella repens

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Lady’s Slipper, Cypripedium acaule

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Fringed Polygala, Polygala paucifolia

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Starflower, Trientalis borealis

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Canada Mayflower,Maianthemum canadense

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False Solomon’s Seal, Maianthemum racemosum

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It is so much fun to walk around the property now. I am determined to get myself a plant identification guidebook, though the internet is a great resource, as is Neighbor Debbie who has documented many of the native plants species over the past couple of years.

What do you have growing wild in your yard? When you find a minute to take off the gardening gloves and set down your trowel, drop me a line. Remember, it doesn’t get more local than your own back yard.

Spring!

spring!

spring! by localista featuring a straw hat

Dear Reader:

The snow is gently retreating from my northern lawn. The first brave shoots of daffodils have pushed up beside the front steps. And I am planning and plotting my garden–when I’m not interviewing subjects for my newspaper articles or working on my novella or making homemade granola, that is.

Granola is easy: just throw 3 cups of whole oats, some flax seeds, some chopped walnuts, some cocoa powder, some cinnamon, a dash of salt in a bowl. Mix in two tablespoons of olive oil and 1/2 cup of local maple syrup (I love the darker syrup, a little smokey-flavored from the old-fashioned wood-fired pan-reducing process. The syrup I use is made out in an open-sided shed on a wooded property overlooking the White Mountains off in the distance.Thank you Dana Masse of Shady Mountain Syrup Company in Parsonsfield, Maine!)

I put the mixture on a greased pan and bake for about 25 to 30 minutes on 350 degrees, stirring every ten minutes or so. Once cool, add seeds and dried fruits of your choice. This week’s addition of dried cherries from Cornerstone Country Market was SO good with the light cocoa flavor of the oats.I highly recommend both the cherries and Cornerstone.

Garden plans: I’ve convinced Hubby to move his horseshoe pits to a different location which will make room for up to SEVEN more boxes in a mostly-sunny spot just shy of the septic field. That would bring my count up to sixteen 4ft. square boxes. If I can ever figure out the perfect soil to put in them, I should be able to grow lots of greens, peppers, cucumbers, and herbs. Maybe even some cherry tomatoes. But I’m giving up on regular slicing or sauce tomatoes. These I will simply purchase at the farmer’s market or my CSA (reminder to self: fill out CSA form!).

We’ll see how the apple tree guild area fared over the winter. I looked at it a little bit yesterday, and the hay and compost and leaves didn’t break down as much as I’d hoped. The remedy will be to top it off with some composted manure and maybe plant some legumes this spring to turn in. I will plant the apple tree this spring, regardless. It is time for that guild. A guild is a grouping of plants that complement each other. This is a permaculture principle. In this case, an apple tree ringed with daffodils and/or garlic, some legumes, maybe some dandelions to bring up nutrients from the deeper soil, some comfrey to work as a natural mulch, etc. I found this idea in a book called Gaia’s Garden. Click HERE to see the apple guild page. I’ll be researching crab apples as I’d like to make more crab apple jelly.

Last project: hugelkultur. I pronounce this hoogle-cool-tour but I don’t know if that is correct. You could say hoogle-culture. Doesn’t matter. What matters is that you can take old logs and branches and blowdowns, pile them up, cover them with soil, and plant on it. Click the link to read more. The idea is that as the wood breaks down, it retains moisture, reducing the need to water, and contains plenty of nutrients to support plant growth. I’d like to do this behind the raised beds, where the south-facing slope of the hugulkulture bed would catch the sun nicely. I’m thinking blueberries and potatoes, but I don’t know if those two plants make good companions. Will do more research.

What are your garden plans for this growing season? Are you itching to get out there with your shovel or trowel? Remember, food doesn’t get more local than your own back yard. Even if you set up a few containers and plant lettuce and some herbs, you are giving yourself a wonderful gift of homegrown food, a fun hobby, time outside in the fresh air and sunshine, and a science experiment all rolled into one. Enjoy your week, Dear Readers.

Presto Pesto!

and Other Ways of Preserving Your Bountiful Garden

Homemade herb-drying rack made from a stick and some yarn. From left to right: thyme, French tarragon, chocolate mint, and rosemary.

Dear Reader:

This year’s garden was a great success. One giant sunflower produced fifteen or twenty blossom/seed heads and provided the early autumn garden with a showy display. The straw bale gardens gave the tomato plants a much-needed boost of sunlight along with the nitrogen fertilizer and carbon from the straw, and we had plenty of Early Girl and heirloom tomatoes to slice for sandwiches, chop for salsa, and wedge for salads.

Black-eyed Susans are still blossoming out there along with the deepening pink of Autumn Joy sedum. Even the new female Winterberry is bejeweled with deep red berries!

Bread & Butter Pickles

Cucumbers were so abundant this year I was able to make a few pickles. Pickling was surprisingly easy and amounts to nothing much more than chopping and slicing veggies and herbs, making a brine out of salt, vinegar, sugar and spices, and pouring the brine over the veggies in glass containers. These Bread & Butter Pickles came out very crisp and white where I’d always been used to softer and more yellow, but the flavor was intense and delicious.

I found my recipe in a 1980’s Betty Crocker Cookbook, but Mother Earth News Magazine has a good starter article right here online plus a heads-up about a book outlining small-batch pickle production (say THAT ten times fast).

An excess of tomatoes from my parents’ excellent garden up n’oth became hot, spicy pasta sauce. The process for the sauce is simple. Boil water in a big pot. Dump in the tomatoes and wait 30-40 seconds. Lift tomatoes out with slotted spoon and dump into cold water in the sink. After a minute or two, slip skins off tomatoes and cut into fourths. Throw into large slow cooker pot with onions, garlic, chopped veggies like zucchini, hot peppers, green pepper. Add salt, dried herbs or fresh herbs to taste. Add cooked meat if desired. Let it simmer for about seven hours. You can also add tomato paste to thicken it if you like. The sauce can be frozen in freezer bags or containers.

Calendula in the Herb Garden

Perhaps the most successful of my garden experiments this years was the herb box. Along with the sunflower mentioned above, I planted fennel (see Grand Fennel-ly ), rosemary, and basil. In the front of one perennial bed, a French tarragon comes back and grows bigger every summer, and down at the end of the driveway beneath the forsythia bushes my friend Sandi kindly divided for me, a hardly little thyme comes back year after year after year.

This year, I decided, I would preserve a bit of these herbs to see me through a winter season of cooking. The basil were huge. I grew weepy just thinking about pulling them and throwing them on the compost as I’d babied them through the first rough month of transplant shock, daily watering, and Japanese beetles. One night seemed to be threateningly cold, and so, fearing frost, I gently pulled up the basil and placed each one its own plastic grocery bag. These I crammed into the mudroom until I could figure out when and what to do with them.

Poor basil in the mudroom

Friends, let me tell you, basil fresh from the garden has a powerful odor! Neighbor Debbie stopped by and thought the mudroom smelled like old shoes. Hmmm. Hopefully the basil doesn’t taste like dear daughter’s gym sneakers. I rather thought the mudroom smelled wicked “herbal” and prayed no-one dropped over and came to a wrong conclusion about my gardening activities. All legal, I promise!

Ingredients for Presto Pesto

A week or so later, those basil plants were still sitting in my mudroom and beginning to look a little wilty. The predicted frost never materialized, and I gritted my teeth wishing I’d left my herbs in the dirt until I figured out what to do with it.

I knew I had to come up with something and fast, or else the poor plants would end up on the compost pile after all. A mid-week visit to my good friend, Donna D, prompted me to share some garden tomatoes and a large sprig of the basil. Donna D, in turn, gave me a cube of her homemade basil pesto and–bless her soul–a recipe to go with it. Voila! I had the answer to my herbal error.

The recipe calls for using a food processor and blending ingredients very slowly and deliberately. I don’t own a food processor. I do, however, own a blender. After trying with no success to puree basil leaves, garlic cloves and walnut in the blender with no liquid, I gave up and dumped in the olive oil and grated Parmesan and turned the blender on to puree for about three minutes. Presto Pesto! was born.

Pesto in ice cube trays

The trick to keeping the pesto for future use is simple: ice-cube trays. Empty your ice-cubes into a plastic container in the freezer so your family doesn’t throw a hissy-fit when they are looking to cool down their apple cider/workout water-bottle/iced coffee/red-wine-that-really- shouldn’t-be-chilled-but-whatever. Wash the ice-cube trays and dry them. Pour prepared Presto Pesto into the trays. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze. When frozen, pop out of trays and store in zippered freezer bags (or leave in the trays if you have extras for actual ice-production).

The pesto can be thawed and used later. I made four batches of Presto Pesto! with my starting-to-wilt-and-wither basil plants, and these batches filled two ice-cube trays. I think it must be fairly economical as those little jars in the grocery store are quite expensive (local big-box supermarket has a 4.5 oz jar for $3.29.) I used only a portion of a bag of walnuts and one wedge of Parmesan cheese. Pesto does take a bit of olive oil, but it is cheaper if you buy it in those big cans unless you are a stickler for extra-extra virgin fancy stuff.

Following is friend Donna D’s recipe just as she gave it to me. But to make it Presto Pesto! simply ignore the persnickety instructions about careful and slow blending at just the right moment and just dump the whole thing together in the blender and let’r go.

BASIL PESTO

1 1/2 c. basil leaves
2 cloves garlic
1/4 c. pine nuts or walnuts
3/4 c. thinly grated Parmesan cheese
3/4 c. olive oil

Puree first three ingredients in food processor until it forms a thick paste. Add the Parmesan cheese very slowly. Then add olive oil and mix until the consistency of creamed butter. Put a film of oil over top. Cover and refrigerate or freeze in ice-cube trays.

That’s it, Dear Reader! Whether you are preserving the garden by pickling, drying, canning or freezing, it is so much fun to go shopping in your own pantry during the winter months…Outside the Box.

Drop me a line and tell us about YOUR preserving projects this year. It’s always fun to hear someone else talk for a change.

Grand Fennel-y

Fennel Seed Head


Dear Reader:

September is here. It is the grand finale of summer, of the harvest. I’ve been picking tomatoes, cucumbers, red chili peppers, and the last of the lettuce and yellow summer squash. A couple of the garden boxes are looking a little thin now that the zucchini and squash plants have been pulled. My herb box, however, continues to delight. The basil is full and fragrant (time to make pesto before the frost hits!), the calendula finally blossomed, the sage and rosemary are holding their own . . . and then there is the fennel!

Rich in phytoestrogens,Fennel is often used for colic, wind, irritable bowel, kidneys, spleen, liver, lungs, suppressing appetite, breast enlargement, promoting menstruation, improving digestive system, milk flow and increasing urine flow. Fennel is also commonly used to treat amenhorrea, angina, asthma, anxiety, depression, heartburn, water retention, lower blood pressure, boost libido, respiratory congestion, coughs and has been indicated for high blood pressure and to boost sexual desire.–http://www.herbwisdom.com/herb-fennel.html

Honestly, I had no idea what a powerhouse of a plant I had growing in garden box #1! Fennel tasted like licorice, I knew that much. I wanted to grow some new-to-me herbs in that box, and the fennel looked interesting at the greenhouse. So four fennel plants found their way into the herb box.

And they grew.

And grew.

And grew until they were huge white bulbs with offshoots springing from it looking somewhat like a white heart with ventricles and arteries and veins.

See . . .

Upside-down for comparison

When it became clear to me that I should cook the bulbs before they went to seed, I pulled up three of them, brought them inside, sliced them up, and roasted them with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and sea salt until they caramelized.

The fennel petals were a bit tough…I really did leave the plants in the ground too long. Still, the roasted fennel lent a mellow, buttery-licorice taste when added to the top of a bed of greens for a late-summer salad. The remaining plant will be allowed to go to seed. I’ve been snipping off fronds here and there to use in vinaigrette, on top of roasted meat, added to soups, for cucumber pickles, whatever I can think of.

Going All To Seed

When the flower heads turn to seed and begin to dry, I will harvest them, put them into a marked envelope, and wait until next spring to try my hand at starting new plants indoors.

I’ll also be trying to find some herbal teas that include fennel to help boost my heart, lungs, and digestive system over the fall and winter. Mmmmm, a soothing cup of licorice-tasting tea while the watching the leaves turn color outside the window. I’m almost ready for summer to be over. Almost.

How about you? Are you a fennel fan? Or fennel-finicky? Cast your vote . . . Outside the Box.

Two Sunday Morning Poems

Dear Reader:

A couple months ago, I wrote a poem about sitting outside on a glorious, summer Sunday morning. I called it “Sunday Morning.”

This week while organizing my filing cabinet, I discovered an old poem I wrote around 1996. Guess what it was called? “Sunday Morning.”

I see so many similarities between these two poems, and it kinda freaks me out. Has my inner landscape changed so little in sixteen years? No wonder I still feel twenty-something!

I will share both of these poems with you this morning . . . this Sunday morning Outside the Box.

SUNDAY MORNING (2012)

Outside, the pollen drops
from the trees, and dew
sparks tiny fires in the grass.
Shadows and heat
play tug of war
on the lawn while a lone
madrigal, solitary musician,
lights the air with sharp,
clear notes. The branches
of beech trees are lines on a page
and the bird’s song rides
up and down–
earnest, imperative composition.
“Find me, please, find me;
I am here, see, I am here, here, here.”
The dog pants hot on the porch.
A hummingbird sips
from the buds of pink Salvia
in the garden box.

I write while the others sleep
tucked into upstairs bedrooms.

SUNDAY MORNING (1996)

The faint whisper of some inner voice
left over from childhood
like dislike of beets
tells me I should be, oh, somewhere
in church nodding with the pious
over a particularly strong invective
from the pulpit
or else joining in a thunderous “AMEN!”
meant to shake the devil
from my very soul; I ache

instead to plunge wrist-deep
into this potting soil;
damp, dirt smell filling my nostrils,
sliding over my skin
like a caress
or a good baptism.
I worship these newborn flowers
petals sprinkled
with earth I tamped around them
and leaves still damp
from the fecund humidity of the greenhouse.
Infant pansies not yet come to bud
and flushed-pink impatiens
the color of a baby’s mouth.
Geraniums, dianthus, basil.
Lettuce leaves frill against the tiny
white-lace blossoms I cannot name.

One of the cats stalks
among the flower pots, sniffs
from each one delicately
before settling down for a wash.
I try to clear my head
of voices that can wait
’til Monday.
This is my Sunday morning
spent with many flowers and one wish–
to write my quiet moments into existence
before moving on to other worlds.

Pumpkin Star

Pumpkin Blossom

Dear Reader:

‘Tis the season of squash–zucchini, yellow, pumpkin. The blossoms burst open every morning, surprising beneath the dark green plates of the light-gathering leaves. I stand at the window with my morning coffee and gaze out at the beautiful golden-orange stars and wonder, “Will I actually get any fruits from these flowers?”

The answer, I am happy to report is “Yes!” In spite of some weird blossom die-off and more than a couple of shriveled, aborted little summer squash that died on the vine, this morning I was pleased to pick not only one, but TWO good-sized summer squash.

They are reclining inside on my windowsill now, keeping my first heirloom Brandywine tomato company. Tonight I will slice them up and sautee them in a little bit of olive oil along with some green garlic from around the crab-apple tree and basil and oregano from the garden.

Eggplant

And look how pretty the eggplant blossoms are. I love the delicate pink-purple color and the shy way the blossoms bend their heads toward the ground, like Victorian young ladies demurely casting their eyes down and waiting for some eligible young scions from good families to ask them to dance.

Ladybug on the Dill

All is not sweetness and light in the garden today, however. I was disgusted to discover the extra-large “leavings” of some large-breed’s morning constitutional right IN MY GARDEN BOX. The stupid dog must have had to work really hard to balance just so over the corner of that box. I will spare you photo evidence, but I’m considering buying a super-soaker water gun to fill with dye. Red? Green? What do you think would be the most annoying splotch on the backside of a purebred Collie? (I’m pretty sure the neighbor’s male is the culprit).

Anyway, the star of the day is the pumpkin blossom. I’ve been reading about stuffed squash blossoms and thought I might look up a recipe or two. The favorite combination seems to be a soft cheese with herbs for the stuffing, dipping the blossom in egg and beer batter, and frying until golden brown. Click HERE for a recipe from the 99 Cent Chef blog if you also have a bunch of squash blossoms sparkling in the firmament of your summer garden. (Of course, I recommend finding a local source of chevre or some other soft cheese, local eggs, and a good local microbrew for your recipe. It’s also the perfect time of year for a nice basil pesto to go along with the stuffed blossoms.)

And that’s it for today…Outside the Box.