Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Status report

This post is mostly for my own reference. I find that several times a year I look back to the previous year's blog entries to "compare notes" on the earliness or lateness of the season, where my head was at cooking-wise, what I've accomplished in the intervening year, and so on. So in the spirit of Farmgirl's wonderful new blog, In My Kitchen Garden, I want to make a record of what we're up to.

The beehives are almost done. The s.o. has assembled the hive bodies and is now hammering away at the frames. Meanwhile, I have primed and put a first coat of paint on the bottoms, hive bodies, and covers. The color is Behr's "Coastal Mist" in exterior satin finish--basically a very pale robin's-egg blue. There's no rule that beehives have to be white, only that they be pale. In fact, it helps to have your layers of supers be different colors so you can keep track of what's what.

As a side note, I should mention that the beeswax-covered foundations in the frames smell heavenly. It's very sweet and candle-y around here.

Yesterday I planted six Heritage red raspberries and two Montmorency cherry trees. Today I put in three seedless Concord grapes. There are cages on the grapes until we can get the deer fence up. We think one or two of our old, deer-eaten grapes might still be kicking, so we've cleared the areas around them and are watching them closely.

The muscadine grapes aren't planted yet, but they're potted instead of bare-root, so they can live on the back porch for a couple more days.

Elsewhere, the very first tiny asparagus tips are starting to show, but it'll be quite a while before the stalks start coming up in earnest. My second row of greenhouse beans has germinated. Peas are starting to climb their trellises.

I am digging one garden row per day--all my back can stand. I am one row away from being able to plant our sweet corn. The plan (which we read somewhere...I forget where) is to plant the corn, wait for it to get six or eight inches tall, and then co-plant purple-hull peas with it. The idea is that the corn provides a trellis for the peas, and the peas fix nitrogen for the corn.

We are eating from the garden full-time, harvesting:

• purple sprouting broccoli
• green cabbage
• Brussels sprouts
• lacinato kale (starting to flower now; probably won't last much longer)
• collards (truly immense)
• mustard greens
• arugula
• cilantro
• chard (incredibly gorgeous...mental note to always grow it as a winter crop)
• small beets
• radishes
• lettuce

So right now my major challenge is to find 1,001 things to do with greens. I have quite a few tricks up my sleeve. My favorite way to eat greens is with some kind of starchy thing mixed in. Deborah Madison has a great recipe for greens mixed together in a sort of hash with tomatoes, potatoes, garlic, and hot pepper sauce. It's fantastic, and it gets a lot of play around here. I also like Tuscan white beans with greens, and I love greens mixed in with Parmesan and bulgur, orzo, or risotto. Obviously certain greens also go well with olive oil-y, garlicky spaghetti.

We have been using up our bacon faster than the rest of our half pig, so I thawed out the hock and have spent the last week "baconizing" it. As of this morning, it's drying out a bit. Then it'll go in the freezer. Tada! More bacon.

In dessert-related news, I have just stowed the ice cream maker's freezing cylinder in the deep freeze. I can feel ice cream season coming on. Tamasin Day-Lewis has a recipe for marmalade ice cream that I'm dying to try.

I haven't been to town much at all lately because there's just no time. Those of you in shorter-growing-season areas: This may be you in one or two months!