Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Spring Garden 2010

I can't remember a Spring as beautiful as the one we are now experiencing.  My memory may have been shortened however by the crippling drought of the last few years.  The weather is so mild right now and we've fallen into a nice cycle of cool and clear weather, then clouds and rain, then clouds and no rain and then back to cool and clear.  I know this cannot go on forever, so I am spending lots of time outside.  We have little fuzzy, green peaches on our tree and, in speaking with the local growers, it looks like it will be a great crop this year.
My artichoke has 2 tiny artichokes almost ready to pick.  If you pick them small-about the size of a golf ball-you can eat them whole without removing the choke since it isn't fully developed.  They are tasty and tender boiled for a few minutes and then brushed with olive oil and grilled.
My sugar snap pea plants are almost up to my shoulder. 
And at this point, I don't know if I'll get any peas since I read Nisa's post on The Cooks We Are about pea shoots. The French omelet she makes is beautiful! Now I snatch the shoots off the plants every time I enter the garden and munch on them as I am planting or weeding.  In the Autumn, I am going to try to remember to plant TWO full beds of peas, so I can have some for pea shoots and some for peas! The shoots are beautiful and graceful with tendrils that wrap around anything within reach. 
The poppies began blooming yesterday.  A rich, intense burst of color in the garden.  I love the buds before they bloom.  Day by day you can watch them poke out of the foliage, bend over toward the ground and then slowly start reaching for the sky until the green outer layers of the bud fall off and the crepe paper like petals unfold.  All these years I've had poppies in the garden and they fascinate me still.
Roses began blooming this week also.  This rose bush was in the garden when I bought the ranch and I've never moved it.  It takes up an enormous space now, but I use the roses as the base for the lotion I make, so I let it go wild.
The horseradish is quite happy.  This Autumn I will dig up the root, cut off some bits to replant and process the remainder for the fridge. Yum!
We've been eating green onions for awhile.  I love it when they flower. 
The Meyer Lemon tree has been blooming for a month. The entire garden smells of its perfume. It has four small lemons on it, and too many flowers to count. It's a new addition to the garden but won't actually be planted there. We'll move it into the greenhouse before the first frost.
Pulled up the last of the beets for dinner tonite.  They are a bit gnarly looking, but after boiling them for a bit, I peeled and sliced them and poured some apple cider vinegar over for them for a quick pickling. Then I made a big salad with all the beautiful lettuces in the garden, some toasted walnuts, sliced apples and bleu cheese.  It was a great dinner and I made a vinaigrette for later in the week with the vinegar leftover from pickling the beets.  It's a wild purple color and unusual tasting vinaigrette!
We lost a chicken last week.  I don't mean that we had an attack by a predator, I mean we LOST a chicken.  One of the laying hens just never came back to the coop in the evening.  I am pretty certain that she is setting somewhere in the yard.  The mild weather and frequent rains have made the vinca almost knee high in places and so thick you can't walk through it.  This same thing happened four years ago.  We assumed some critter had snatched a chicken until I heard a noise one afternoon in the middle of a big patch of vinca and when I investigated further-moving aside the plants with my hands-the mama hen jumped up at me and the babies scattered.  As far as the recent chicken disappearance goes, since there was no sign of an attack-no feathers anywhere (or other body parts...eech!)-I am pretty sure she is hiding in the thick foliage on a pile of eggs.  At least I hope so.  I'll wait to see if she shows up with a trail of babies behind her instead of trying to hunt through the twining vines.

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