Incontrovertible Proof of Gardening

There goes my month-long experiment with one-word titles.

Yesterday was a beautiful day. I’m not going to bother comparing it to today, because I’m at work and my narrow view of the railroad tracks isn’t that informative. Yesterday, though, yesterday rocked.

I worked on the seed beds first. The far corner cinderblock plot had produced wonderful tomatoes last year, so this year I planted beets, lettuce, and my new favorite green, Maruba Santos.  I have been reading Gaia’s Garden, 2nd Edition: A Guide to Homescale Permaculture by Toby Hemenway on Kindle and learning quite a bit that is directly applicable to this garden. I’m employing the very basic ideas of the book, such as planting three varieties of “depth” together so that nutrients are rotated through the soil structure. Lettuce (surface), a substantial “cabbagey” green (mid-level), and beets (deep), are a standard combination. Some ideas are new to me: Mr. Hemenway mentions cardoon as a good plant for root depth as well as using its huge leaves as mulch. My season is far too short for cardoon to mature, but using it to improve soil vitality would be a good opportunity to have this interesting plant in my garden (without having to eat it).

I put out the leeks in the next bed to the left (Brussels sprouts and cabbage in 2010) and  interplanted it with more lettuce: Pablo, Majestic Red, and Tom Thumb bibb, which is a house favorite. The next bed to the left was squash last year. I’ve planted it with haricot vert and Provider bush beans (mid-level), white alyssum (surface), and daikon radish (deep). I’m probably getting ahead of schedule by planting beans; we’ll see if the row cover mitigates the temperature enough for them to progress. It was 28 F at 5:30 a.m. but predicted to be warmer overnight as we go through the week.

Up closer to the house is a large, old bed that has been peas two years running. This year it will be 3 varieties of carrots in lengths from 5″ – 8″ and heliopsis.

Tomorrow is forecast to be solid rain with 20 knot winds. Maybe sometime next week I can spray dormant oil on the fruit trees and burn last year’s brush, but there’s no telling with the Maine spring.





Yesterday morning I looked out at the bird feeder and the finches were lined up on the crossbars staring down at the dinosaur, er, turkey below. Compared to the chickadees, juncos and goldfinches that normally peck around the base of the feeders this was a brontosaurus – huge lumbering body with a long neck and a teeny-tiny head.

I haven’t seen the rest of the flock but we heard the boom-boom of a tom turkey’s courting dance this afternoon from the blueberry field next door.  Maybe next month there will be poults!

Easter eggs

Pink pickled deviled eggs are a treat any time of year, but traditional for spring. We just had an Easter supper of tabouleh, baba ganouj, pita chips, fruit salad and pickled eggs – it was wonderful and no one (least of all myself) had to stand over a hot stove on this lovely day.

Hard boil six to eight eggs. My technique is to add the eggs to cold water in a large pot, bring them to a boil with the cover on, then turn off the heat and let stand 15 minutes. Uncover, drain and rinse with cold water, allow eggs to cool enough to handle and peel. Older eggs are much easier to peel.

My original recipe for this dish begins with cooking the beets, adding spices and then making a pickling solution out of the broth. These days I buy a large jar of borscht, empty it into a large container, add 1/4 C brown sugar and two Tbs of cider vinegar and add the eggs. I swear it’s even better this way.

Allow the eggs to stand in the broth for three days, stirring occasionally, in a cool dark place.

Dip the eggs out of the jar with a slotted spoon and compost the broth. Slice them in half, scoop out the yolks and mash separately with 1/4 C mayonnaise or yogurt, 1/4 C mustard, 2 Tbs of chives and a little sea salt. I have sorrel in the garden now, and added 5 leaves chopped fine for a lemony edge. Mix and mash the ingredients until smooth and then add back to the empty “whites” with two spoons. You can use a pastry bag, but I like the less formal approach here. Joyeuses Pâques!

Bunny Cake

My mother won this Bunny CakeWilton Holiday Mold at her job in the early 70’s. I guess this is now a collectible antique, since the current Wilton Bunny is a different pose. Those ears are always problematic and the new version looks sturdier. I used the Devils Food Cake recipe in the Joy of Cooking and vanilla buttercream for the frosting. We were traditionalists this year and went for pink jellybean eyes and tinted ears and grass. Some years we’ve had a vanilla pound cake bunny with “wild rabbit” chocolate ganache, and the red jelly bean eyes give a demonic effect. I took another picture of this one later in the day to document the “evil twin”. The little blue flowers are Siberian Squill, the only flower blooming in my garden right now excepting the heath, which has been in flower on and off since February. Later in the day. . .