26 April 2011

what a difference a (garden) year makes

Understatement of the century: gardening mellows the gardener.

Fo reals. In this second year of our "new" garden, I keep marveling at the differences between Years One and Two. Last year, I would monitor Jacky like a hawk-mother, vigilant for seedling grabs and fistfuls of gravel dumped on plants. This year, ah whatever: I'll just replant. Last year, I had detailed planting maps worked out, and worked hard to stick to them. Everything in its place. This year, I seriously wing it: if there's an open spot, I pick some seed packets and get planting (I can also recognize baby plants (versus weeds) a lot more easily).

True, my garden assistant is a year older: less grabby, entertains himself more and I can even set him loose with a hose and a "job" (water that for mommy please--he'll mostly try to do it). And, I guess I'm just sorta trusting the garden itself more. I'm not freaking out about precise watering, plants bolting (arugula always does) or the fact that the cat keeps sleeping on a pot of freshly-sown flower seeds. Whatever.

Current sampling of garden stuff that I am oh-so cool with (that used to make me crazy)...

:: Peas in the roses. Make that, anything growing anywhere I didn't want. I will admit I'm a total garden micro-manager (e.g., moving pea tendrils and helping them find the right branch to climb--you too? I know I'm not alone.) This year, I'm like... oh, so pretty! Delicate pea flowers and fat pods co-mingling with fragrant roses. Cool. So English right?

the garden, year two

:: Crazy seedlings popping up everywhere. Like even in my pristine (sorta) gravel. But, this year... hey, that's blue borage! I love blue borage. Any others? I even water them and try to keep the little dude from smooshing 'em.

the garden, year two

:: More borage seedlings and not-so-pristine gravel. The gravel "rearrangement" is courtesy of a particular shovel-wielding toddler (which I'm also shrugging off this year). But, hey, there's also Alpine Strawberry seedlings back there... I just said thank you very much and transplanted them elsewhere. Nice. We actually wanted more strawberry plants.

BTW, those seedlings are popping up everywhere (alpines are perennials that propagate like crazy via seeds, unlike regular strawberries and their runners). At some point, it might be too many.

the garden, year two

:: Chard?! In the gravel? See what happens when you sow seeds on a windy day? Seed packet must've tipped over. Last year, I would've been irritated (at what, I don't know... just irritated). This year, I'm like... huh, that's weird. Let's see what happens. Maybe I'll transplant it elsewhere. Chard seems to be super cool with being moved.

the garden, year two

Oh, and there's also the artichoke topic I've yet to broach: SIGH. If you remember last year, there were three. We had quite a few meals courtesy of those pretty plants (dang, those photos are killing me). Buuuuut... #1: lost all its leaves and just sorta gave up; #2: GOPHERS-ugh; #3: Still clinging to life sorta. I tried transplanting it to a "better" spot, whereupon it launched a drama routine of looking dead each evening and looking awesome each morning. I don't get it. Such drama. Oh well: maybe I'll rip it out and try something else.

Such is the gardening life.

24 April 2011

project 365 | 2011 | Week 16

04 16 11
04 16 11 | spring veg roast
baby artichokes, fingerling potatoes, meyer lemon
olive oil, S&P... roast.
so, so good.

04 17 11
04 17 11 | mealtimes lately
ack is all I can say.
he is so squirrelly,
it's draining, ridiculous, sometimes hilarious.

04 18 11
04 18 11 | how I cook lentils
braise super gently
with carrot, celery, ginger, dried red chiles,
italian parsley, thyme, half an onion, garlic.
after cooking, drain & toss warm with a big splash each:
sesame oil, sherry vinegar & tamari.
serve room temp -- yum!

04 19 11
04 19 11 | what's this big music-making contraption?
it's a stereo, my boy. ste-ree-oh.
track 1 (a current fave):
"we all live in ee wewwow submarine, ee wewwow submarine,
ee wewwow submarine"

04 20 11
04 20 11 | the digging is done
gin & tonic, please.

04 21 11
04 22 11 | the most delicious, least photogenic dish
not so pretty, but OH is it good.
try it now while baby artichokes abound:
|| RECIPE ||

04 22 11
04 22 11 | blueberry scone power
Toby had 11,000 lbs of gravel* to move;
the least I could do was bake him some scones.

*remember Item 1, from here?

21 April 2011

baby tree, do we need to have "the talk?"

gravenstein apple flower buds

Or is it too late.

Um, garden nerds, please rally. (Others: my apologies.) I'm not sure whether to be ELATED or worried. My two-year-old "baby"--the espaliered Gravenstein--is trying to make babies. Aaaaaahhhh!

First, look how beautiful they are! Wow. How did I miss these pretty little buds on my prized apple tree?? The mother is always the last to know.

But, really... should my baby be trying to make apples so soon? I wasn't expecting anything like this till next year.

Ohhhhh.... but aren't they pretty. I love Gravenstein apple blossoms. I'm only growing this tree because at our last house, a neighbor's neglected tree hung right over our fence, sharing with us gorgeous blossoms and delicious fruit (I wasn't shy). I love this variety. (and it's endangered, did you know?)

Really, I am kind of over the moon at the prospect of progress towards real, true apples (and pies, tarts, etc). Have any of you grown apples before? Is this normal? I may check in with the grower, since they were so helpful with my initial selections.

Maybe this is a silly plant geek rant... but such a great example of how it may look like I know what I'm doing, gardening-wise... but the truth is, I'm so very much just finding my way and hoping for the best. Like the rest of life, right?

19 April 2011

pizza | asparagus, meyer lemon & rosemary

pizza | asparagus, meyer lemon & rosemary
I think a glass of wine is a must for food prep, no?

pizza | asparagus, meyer lemon & rosemary

pizza | asparagus, meyer lemon & rosemary

pizza | asparagus, meyer lemon & rosemary

pizza | asparagus, meyer lemon & rosemary


Pizza | Asparagus, Meyer Lemon & Rosemary

+ brush dough with sliced garlic-steeped olive oil (reserve garlic)
+ sprinkle with handful of mozzarella cheese
+ 4 or so asparagus spears, bottoms snapped off, split in half lengthwise
+ 6 or so paper-thin slices meyer lemon + thin red onion slices
+ few sprigs of rosemary + red pepper flakes to taste + garlic slices
+ drizzle with olive oil + salt the crust 
+ bake + garnish with parmesan


17 April 2011

project 365 | 2011 | Week 15

04 09 11
04 09 11 | your cocktail
enjoyment guaranteed

04 10 11
04 10 11 | blue tower quest
we see this tower out our breakfast window (see here in the distance)
and one day Jacky requested a visit. why not?
it was fun to visit our blue friend, but we also discovered
the second largest park in SF besides Golden Gate (I swear, we do get out).
Lots of trails and a water dog swimming pond. Cool.

04 11 11
04 11 11 | back away from the sprayer
he may be dangerous, but he washes his own lunch

04 12 11
04 12 11 | hot day motivation
some days, I might do too convincing a job of soothing
that boy down for his nap. I'd like to crawl in, too.
cold caffeine sends me outside to dig, dig, dig.

04 13 11
04 13 11 | swaddle me!
the nurturing saga continues.
we've moved on from the nursing pillow
to his huge stack of swaddling blankets.
wrapped up in two, he looked more like
The High Priest of Cozy.

04 14 11
04 14 11 | jasmine & blackberries
one smells oh-so sweet, the other has a blood-lust for conquest.
me, i'm just hoping for jam.

04 15 11
04 15 11 | strike a pose
"we put on aprons and hats.
we do some WORK."
have work ethic, will succeed, my boy.

14 April 2011

garden update: year two!

Our little plot is in its second year. Some old friends are settling in and new faces have appeared. I'll get into more detail in a future post, but here's generally what's doing.


garden update mid-April 2011
blueberries | I moved the two plants out of containers and into the ground.
they like it, along with some coffee fertilizer.
lots more blossoms, clusters and (hopefully) fruit.
hope some of it makes it inside the house.

garden update mid-April 2011
cavolo nero | kale, I heart you.
so much so that I re-planted you twice this winter/spring.
damn you slugs.

garden update mid-April 2011
'windsor' fava beans | making baby beans

garden update mid-April 2011
'alpine' strawberries | they may be tiny but are they good.
and, unlike regular strawberries, they give fruit all year long.

garden update mid-April 2011
leafy bed | kale, 'sea of red' lettuce, rapini, chard, tiny dill seedlings

garden update mid-April 2011
'laxton's progress' peas on branches | we had to remove an old plum tree
from our yard, but I kept all the branch trimmings for exactly this.
i love this look.

garden update mid-April 2011
plum branches | thank you, old tree

garden update mid-April 2011
leafy bed | more peas, too

garden update mid-April 2011
the big bed | fava, shallots, garlic and (more) peas
garden update mid-April 2011
'ashmead's kernel' apple espalier | first tier in place
I'm going with a slightly bowed shape (palmette?)
I think it's pretty graceful.

garden update mid-April 2011
'ashmead's kernel' apple espalier | second tier starting to sprout


garden update mid-April 2011
lisbon lemon | nice and tart, like i like 'em

garden update mid-April 2011
potato box (1 of 2) | either 'yukon gold' or 'red pontiac'
i haven't labeled much this year! yikes.

garden update mid-April 2011
rustic arugula | very nutty and peppery

garden update mid-April 2011
even more peas! | I decided 3 pea plots weren't enough.
soooo... i'm testing out a new space above the patio with
some blue-podded beauties. obvs., we like peas.

garden update mid-April 2011
'wine country mesclun' | so pretty

garden update mid-April 2011
perennial herb strip | 40 or so feet of new plants:
various lavenders, thymes, mint, scented geranium, sage & curry plant.
we have really clay soil, so all 11 spaces had to be dug out (ouch)
and amended liberally. it's the year of digging.

garden update mid-April 2011
oh but aren't they pretty | digging, what digging

garden update mid-April 2011
curry plant | silvery needle leaves and they taste like... yup, curry

garden update mid-April 2011
new climbing rose | 'gloire de dijon'
i randomly saw a picture of this rose once, bookmarked it,
then finally found a grower who sells them. not easy.
to me, the petals look like gathers and folds of soft fabric... it just slays me.
smells heavenly too.
hopefully someday our back deck rail will be smothered.


garden update mid-April 2011
the big dig | since Kim asked for it, here's a 'before'
actually it's a 'during': what I dug out today.
(inspiration here)
you'll get your full 'before' soon, Kim!
it's delightfully heinous :)

13 April 2011

inspired at home

It kinda snuck up, but we've been living in our "new" house for 2 years this month. Dude. We bought the place about 7 months before moving in and had some pretty major construction/changes done (new kitchen, bathroom, earthquake retro, new deck, foundation fix, lowered ground level floor, etc etc). Then we moved in and did more ourselves (built retaining wall and garden framework, home office, garage build-out)... but there is still SO MUCH more to do. It's kind of overwhelming.

But, now my time is more flexible... and I'm kinda in that transitional time where I can knock out some nagging projects before buckling down on what's next. So, naturally, little lists are compiling in my head. Here are a couple things. And, of course, give me your ideas if you have some! Need ideas.


1. Backyard. This week, I'm digging out (or trying to) about 1/3 of our backyard. (J's nanny calls this type of thing "accidental workouts"--my favorite kind.) It's a huge weedy spot that has been forever earmarked as the "necessary" lawn (for the bambino). Never mind that we live across the street from a HUGE park, playground and open space. Tellingly, that project hasn't gotten started in two years. Then, Toby was leafing through a recent Sunset magazine (yeah, I was (pleasantly) shocked too) and he looked up and said, "why don't we just do this instead?" See below. Forget the lawn, we're making a cool gravel courtyard/patio/hangout zone. But, first, I must dig. I'm SORE already.

images: Sunset

2. Custom Woodworking. As his muscles recover from last week's big cabinetry push, Toby (thankfully) remains interested in building beautiful custom wood pieces for our home. When the new Dwell mag arrived today, we were both salivating over the below image (pardon phone pic... we're feeling lazy and I hurt: see item #1). He suggested replacing some of our current bedroom furniture with some cool custom piece. I say yes yes yes, you go husband.

3. The Dining Room. Do you use yours much? Us, sometimes but not enough to make me stop thinking there has got to be a better use of this space. True, Jacky has a cute little craft/drawing table tucked in a corner, but for months now I've been day-dreaming of a library/family drawing/reading room like Amanda's beautiful (ex-dining room) library. I just love it. Anyone else re-invented their dining or other room? I need ideas.

Beyond this, we have a 3rd/guest bedroom & bathroom to build out, my new studio space to finish, setting up the composting area, plus some other unruly garden spaces that need taming. Oh, and maybe knocking some walls down some day. All in good time, right??


11 April 2011

project 365 | 2011 | Week 14

04 02 11
04 02 11 | flower spike!
it's hugely long, and cuts across the top of the stairs outside.
but i'll happy duck around this pretty sign of Spring.

04 03 11
04 03 11 | hmm. where to begin.
Something like: The fire pole scene from The Fire Cat
meets broken hard hat, meets a layered jammie mood.

04 04 11
04 04 11 | back to bread
In my final work week, I was exhausted
and took a week off baking. Nice to be back. 

04 05 11
04 05 11 | Toby's big undertaking
18 sheets of Latvian Birch.
8 days locked away in the garage/wood shop.
(3 with my help, I might add.)
Awesomeness is imminent.

04 06 11
04 06 11 | Schoolhouse ROCKS
I'm pretty firmly in the No TV for Youngsters camp,
but I'm finding I'm so OK with the occasional video
about the Mayflower or conjunction junctions.

04 07 11
04 07 11 | new garden station
one of the smaller projects Toby's working on.
perfectly sized for my seed-starting rig.

04 08 11
04 08 11 | his breast friend
he wants to wear it, lay on it, have me wear it
have me read books to him while wearing it
cuddle with him "nursing style" while wearing it
we are nurturing central

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