7/4: the rainy edition

It’s hard to feel festive in this prolonged downpour…  We were going to watch tonight’s fireworks with the Jrs. down at the Museum, but not…

Here’s my garden-version of fireworks…

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I love scarlet Bee balm, aka bergamot, monarda, or Oswego tea.  I’ve grown it in various gardens and always ended up ripping it out because of it will take over a space pretty quickly.  It is leggy and always falls during a rain, has a tendency to mold, but the scent is glorious and the leaves make a lovely Earl-Gray-Like tea.  Last year I planted one in a pot and it did all right, so I overwintered it.  This year…well, it has taken over the pot like ivy.  I hate that the bees and hummers can’t get to it, but I really have no place outside for it.  Today, though, I was glad it hadn’t gotten swamped…

I don’t want to talk about it, but I’m scheduled for a colonoscopy on Wednesday, so I can’t eat anything with skin or seeds.   That dietary restriction includes my lovely, First Tomato of the Season.

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I had to harvest it before it split from all the rain…  I’m afraid to even slice it up for Casey—I might accidentally have a bite…   Surely it will be even better Wednesday evening.

The garden has no complaints about the rain…

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Rainy days are a gift to a reader, so I won’t complain either!   Happy 4th, friends!

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between the rains…

The gardens are loving the rain.  Some of my plants look like they have tripled in size!

Before the deluge, however, my arugula had bolted, so I had to use it all up.  I was growing arugula before it was trendy, and feeling kinda smug about it.  Its fancy name is Eruca Sativa, but it is commonly called salad rocket, rucola, roquette, rugula, and colewort.  The Americanization of  the name is from the 1960’s, when NYT food editor Craig Claiborne called it arugula (jamaica, ooh, I wanna take ya).

The Mediterraneans have been chowing down on the annual since Roman times, and several classical authors describe it as an aphrodisiac…  The poet Virgil himself wrote:  “the rocket excites the sexual desire of drowsy people”.  woo-hoo, ya’ll, and I just thought it tasted good.

It’s easy enough to grow, but like lettuce, heat causes it to bolt and taste stronger.  It can grow up to 3 feet or so, but since I put it in late, mine only reached about 18 inches.  It can (and should) be started earlier in Spring and sown directly in the garden.   Since it stayed so cold this year, I didn’t get any mesclun ingredients sown, so settled for plants.  There was no compromise in the taste, though.   I can sow some seeds again in September when space opens up in the garden and hopefully get a second crop.

 

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Recipes abound for the leafy green, but I usually just mix it into a salad.  For blogging purposes, however, I made up a little salad that Cavatappo’s (one of my favorite haunts in NYC)  introduced to me.  I’m sorry to admit that the pictures of the plate were not as appetizing as the actual meal, so I want you to just try it for yourself.  It’s delicious.

Arugula & Goat Cheese Salad 

Mix arugula, goat cheese, and cherry tomatoes.  Use balsamic vinaigrette to taste.

Voila!  Couldn’t be easier!

There are some good balsamic vinaigrette products at the market, but I make up my own with balsamic vinegar, olive  oil, garlic and whatever fresh herbs I have on hand;  this time it was oregano, basil, and thyme.

I admit I didn’t know it was an aphrodisiac…I like it even better now..!

 

 

Photos, mostly…

That storm last Friday…whew!   I was sitting here in the Captain’s Chair, looking out the windows when the wind kicked in.  Looking to the east, it was dry as the wind pushed the rain straight forward;  to the south, my shrubs and trees were very nearly horizontal.  Then came buckets of rain…  Everything on the front porch was picked up and blown;  the plant debris was tattooed onto the siding.  If we’d had any tall trees in front, they’d have fallen…but that’s already been done, as you know.  Michael and his family were without power for 3 days, but we just picked up and cleaned up—well we’re still cleaning up limbs and such.  Since then, we’ve gotten yet another 1.25″ of rain and the temps have dropped.  Geez…

Still, I managed to get out and take some pictures on Tuesday before the rains hit…  Everything will have grown another foot by the time all this clears out…

 

Thanks to my lessons over a Blogging 101, I’m going to add some very juicy content to this blog.    Start-up is targeted for after Memorial Day, so check back…or follow me so you’ll receive notice when I post.

Till then…this is a picture of the side yard.  On the right is a  rhododendron that we took out of Michael’s front yard looking half-dead…it’s revived nicely…there’s a lesson there…

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First Post from Spring…

 

The birds are  having their usual Spring Noisemaking Competition every morning;  the yellow of forsythia is taking over from the daffodils while the magnolia waits to unfurl.  Taking its time, –and who are we to hurry her?–Spring has returned.  Think of the magic she’ll do before she gives up her reign in June!!   The rain totals are over the top, saturating the earth and toppling trees down the path.  Still, when it’s all stopped and dried, the blue sky will be vibrant and the green verdant, the air will be fresh.  And we, too, will start again planting.  Not quite yet, but soon.

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Last weekend we walked the property line, checking for signs that the perennials made it..or not.  It was a long, cold, lonely winter, little darling, and I was a little worried about some of last year’s freshman class:  blueberries (3 of 4 look fine), raspberries (all good), and dwarf crape myrtle (looking iffy).  Best of all, the asparagus is all up!!!

I moved my seedlings out to the back porch and they’re still holding on.   In fact, during the torrential rain the other night, the roof leaked very nicely into their pots…   Our average last day of frost is 4/15 and the way this year has gone, I’m expecting anything.  I’d like to get some peas in the ground, and I promised Eliza I’d grow her some carrots, so soon as the mud is dirt, I’m gonna throw out some seeds.

Maybe we can’t plant, but we can always plan and I’m going to make a lot of changes, as usual.  In the meantime, we pruned the wisteria and grapes—a much-needed clean-up for both.

Begin again…planting and sowing.

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Verry, verry close to being finished…

The weather did its best to frustrate my garden renovations, but I’ve persevered, working my way through late frosts and storms…

I am so proud of our new rainwater barrel!  We painted a plastic barrel that I saved from the trash, trimmed the gutter to fit, hooked up a faucet and voila!  Last night’s storm filled it up (and over, as we haven’t added an overflow drain) and today I felt like a hippie-earth-mother as a watered the porch plants with Real Rain Water…

We’ve gotten a trailer-load of mulch, and got about half of it out before tonight’s storms.  We may be dodging the raindrops, but the plants are eagerly catching them…

And that’s just the edible garden…

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Before the Deluge…

Spring gave us a deadline..again…  Knowing that the Rains would arrive around Thursday, we started planting…

I am pretty excited about my new lavender hedge:

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18 hidcote lavender 12inches apart around a 7×7 bed.  I didn’t feel adventurous enough to try a knot, but I think it will make a fragrant hedge for pineapple sage and whatever else ends up growing there.

The peas are doing wonderfully, so we planted a new row and decided to let the zucchini and yellow squash sink or swim…

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The tomatoes are making themselves at home—that’s 2 better boys, 1 early girl, 2 la romas, and 2 sweet cherry 100’s.  I’m still not sure where the red huskies are going to stay, so they’re still on the porch with the herbs and more tender plants that wouldn’t like the soon-to-be 40-degree temps.

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The beautiful weather kept us outside for the first part of the week, and we had it pretty much under control when the relentless clouds and cold came back carrying copious amounts of rain.

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 The cloudy rainy days have at least gotten warmer, and really the garden doesn’t mind.  I’m still anxious to get out and get at it… 

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