Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Busy week, lazy weekend

This is not my garden. 
Yes, I know, I didn't update at all last week.  All four people who read this thing are probably very cross with me for this, but I have a good excuse.  I was up at 4:30 a.m. (yes, 4:30 a.m.) for four days last week so I could get ready and get to work extra early.  It wasn't for my job--it's demanding, but it's not out of control and my boss would have my head if she found out I was coming in to get stuff done and never said I was overloaded.  (Well, she wouldn't really have my head.  She's a very sweet and nice person, which makes you want to bust your behind, but I digress. . .)

The place where I work has a community garden.  I was very fortunate to get a huge plot--it's technically two plots but no one wanted either one.  Someone had both plots a couple of years ago, but besides the fence that had been put up around it, it had been neglected since then.  Waist-high weeds, baby trees, raspberry bushes and wild mint creeping in. . .oy.  So I hoed a couple of mornings and lunch breaks (yes, I had to change into my jeans, yes, they were good and ripe by Friday, and by the way did you know that hoing actually works your calves?  Who knew??).  I got rid of a lot of the weeds, and my coworker's friend very kindly rototilled her plot and mine.  He wanted nothing in return--he would not take money.  I got him some local honey from the farm down the street from me. 
I then spent a couple of mornings and lunch breaks planting.  I might have gotten a little over enthusiastic; here's hoping the stuff a) grows and b) is not eaten by resident rabbits.  I do have a fence but you just never know.
Here's what I planted:
  • 15 tomato plants--12 romas, one big boy, and 2 brandywines.  I have two cherry tomato plants my father gave me that I'll probably plant.  I had some extra space I was going to use for zucchini, but I always get that in plentiful supply from my parents, even if they only have one plant. 
  • 6 green pepper plants
  • One red pepper plant
  • 4 eggplant plants
  • 2 cucumber plants
  • 2 rows of bush beans (seeds)
  • 15 basil plants (I have more I'll plant as well.  Look, I'm down to my last bag of pesto cubes.  CRISIS.)
  • 1 rosemary plant
  • 1 thyme plant
  • 1 oregano plant
  • 3 short rows each (seed) of parsley and cilantro
Yeah, I have a lot.  Maybe if I'm feeling really ambitious, I'll plant winter crops after this stuff goes by--things like kale and spinach and collards, before mulching it down for the winter.

I planted so many tomatoes because I wanted to make sure I didn't run out of home canned tomatoes in mid-winter, like I did this year.  Yes, I know I can get canned tomatoes at the supermarket, and they taste good.  But eating a tomato that was canned a few hours after it was picked is just a plateful of heaven.  I am not exaggerating when I say I was really sad to see that last jar of tomatoes go. 

I may try to make spicy pickled string beans and freeze the rest, but I cannot guarantee that I won't inhale thme as I harvest.  Beans, peas, and cherry or grape tomatoes never last long when I pick them.  They're gone and in my belly before I get back to the car.  I don't like canning most vegetables besides tomatoes and beans (of the non-string variety)--I prefer them frozen if I'm going to preserve them.  I will make pickles and jams, and I'll make tomato sauce or pressure can tomatoes on top of any stock that I make.  I find that leafy greens like kale and spinach taste better if frozen than if canned.  The same goes for things like carrots, string beans, and peas.  (Or they would IF THEY LASTED LONG ENOUGH TO BE FROZEN BUT OH NO I MUST EAT THEM RIGHT AWAY NOM NOM NOM NOM).

I figured I'd get a lot done around the house this weekend--I deliberately left it pretty open just for that purpose--but all I wanted to do was nap and read (Jane Austen's Emma, if you would like to know).  I finally cleaned out my second bedroom--it's mostly done--and I'll just do a general housecleaning today.  I've got today and tomorrow off (yay!) and I am very excited to just relax. 

Just because I was feeling snarky, I googled "exhausted farmer" and found this blog.  You should definitely check it out, and stop by the farm if you live outside of Pittsburg, PA.  I don't--I don't live anywhere near Pennsylvania--but it's definitely good reading.

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