Category Archives: family

Wait! It’s time to start thinking about next year’s garden ALREADY?

Tuesday night I probably passed the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse on my way home from work but didn’t notice – I had two back-to-back evening meetings cancelled, leaving me with an unexpectedly free evening.  (The odds of having two meetings on the same night cancelled are so astronomical I can’t calculate them, and I probably should have purchased a lottery ticket on my way home.)  It must have been the end of the world – I had a free evening.  Perhaps the Horsemen in were in the drive-through line at Dunkin’ Donuts which is why I missed them when I drove by.

So, home then, for dinner.  While chatting with J, I flipped through the pile of mail and there it was, shining like a new penny, calling out to me like a siren’s song:  the new seed catalog.  (Cue chorus of angels singing.)

We have been loyal to Pinetree Garden Seeds since we first started growing our own vegetables.  Our first year, we ordered several different company catalogs on the advice of my father-in-law, but were most interested in Pinetree because they’re based in Maine and family owned and operated.  Their seeds are relatively inexpensive, orders are packed by hand, and they guarantee their product.  Last year we only looked at their catalog for our orders, and placed our order just after Christmas, in early January.

Now, Christmas calls to mind many things for people – decorations, tree trimming, gathering with family, celebrations – and it does for me too, but in addition, Christmas to me is the line in the sand for chosing the seeds to be ordered after the first of the year.  I distinctly remember sitting in the living room last year, admiring our decorated Christmas tree, circling types of seeds to add to our list.  And since we put up a fresh tree we cut down ourselves (that’s a whole other blog-worthy post) within two weekends of Christmas, in my head I have the seed catalog arriving in December, not before Thanksgiving.

But there it was.  And so I did what any garden enthusiast who had an unexpected free night home with her husband:  I completely ignored him and spent time paging through the catalog, pencil in hand.  I think he tried to talk to me.  I think he tried to tell me about his day.  But his train of thought must have been interrupted many times with my abrupt interjections to read him the catalog descriptions of things like lunar white carrots (“Henry VIII ate them!”) and purple trionfo violetta pole beans (“They overran the trelises and the adjacent rows of corn.  And they’re purple!”)

I did eventually put the catalog down, mostly because I needed to get up and get another glass of water.  At which point J grabbed both the catalog and my pencil……..and began circling his own selection of seeds.

It’s quite a pickle

I went to my cousin J’s house on Saturday because she was putting up some of her pickling cucumbers and I had a bunch as well.

I promised last time I would try to document how it’s done.  This time, J set me up to do my own, and now I’m more confident about the process.  Here’s what I did:

1.  Cut the cucumbers into spears.  Be observed closely by your 6-year-old cousin A, who will inform you that your spears are too long.  Discover she is right. Suggest maybe mommy could go relax with a glass of sangria and she could just teach you, which she will agree with.

2.  Add one clove of garlic (two if they are small) 1 tsp of dill seed and 1/2 tsp. of mustard seed:

3.  Pack jar with cucumber spears.  Add another teaspoon of dill seed on top:

4. Cover cucumbers with brine (2 cups of of cider vinegar, 3 cups of water & 5 tablespoons of canning salt, brought to a low boil, then kept warm.) 

5.  Cover jars with lids and bands, and seal as tightly as possible.  Put jars in the canner, and boil for 10 minutes, before removing and allowing to cool.  Do not allow hot jars to bump into each other while cooling.  Leave this part of the process to your cousin J, and head home to dinner with your husband.

6.  While canning, watch out for cousin’s smallest son, M, who will roll himself across the floor in his walker and repeatedly slam himself into your ankles, and then smile at you.

We’ll let the pickles cure for about 2 – 4 months before we open them.  I now have 7 pints and 5 quarts of these pickles.  Next week we will probably be doing bread and butter pickles.  Or maybe I’ll just pick A up and she can teach me while her mom relaxes.

And since I have lately been taking photos of other people’s gardens:

A John Deere fan also lives here

Thanks to my cousin A, who took all the photos.  After she teaches me how to make bread and butter pickles, maybe I can get her to start updating the blog.

And now for something completely different

We spent the last week in NY visiting my FIL (my MIL is in Denmark, visiting her siblings and their children) which means I’ve spent some time on someone else’s garden instead of my own.

Starting on the left, there is curly and flat leaf parsley, swiss chard and radishes.  My FIL is also growing four types of tomatoes (plum, Early Girl, cherry & sungold – I have not been denied my beloved sungolds while in NY!), pickling cucumbers, summer squash and rhubarb.  I am most fascinated by the radishes.

These radishes are ENORMOUS:

                                      That is my thumb next to the radish.  I do not have tiny fingers, either.

My FIL tells me that they are German radishes, so apparently in addition to making excellent cars, the Germans also excel at engineering radishes.  We’re going to take a few home with us, as my FIL tells me that they are very mild and add an excellent crunch to sandwiches.  (I have always been partial to potato chips, but they lack in nutritional value, so we’ll give the radishes a shot.)  I think I will be checking with the incomparable Stella Caroline for ideas on dishes that include radishes.

It wasn’t all gardening and home repair projects back in NY – two posts ago I mentioned my NY cousins.  We went to the Bronx Zoo one day with my cousin J (yes, another cousin J) her two boys S & C, and her sister, my other cousin M.  (We were at M’s wedding last month.)  The zoo is really fun with two two-year-olds:

I’m sure my FIL has some radishes are nearly the size of those boys.