Thursday, June 10, 2010


The beauty of a garden, to me, is that each and every day you can go outside and find new surprises. Nothing is constant in a garden. While upon entry, our little garden looks like a lush green jungle gone wild.

Our potatoes, truly have gone over the edge. We haven't been very good about burying these bad boys. This chore is on the top of the list for the upcoming weekend.

The zucchini plants are blossoming and the crooknecks even have a few veggies growing. Cole calls this the butter plant. Who wouldn't love to grow little sticks of butter?

These are our crazy crazy Waverex peas.  Early on in this process, I was advised to grow a green crop since this is going to be our primary bed for our winter vegetables. However, I could not stomach the idea of giving up an entire bed in prime sunshine for the entire summer. So I planted peas. A lot of peas. They will fix nitrogen into the soil and when my summer veggie in the front are done for the season, I will chop these up and mix them into the front half of the bed as well. I will keep you posted on how this works. In the meantime, it looks like we are going to have a LOT of peas.

Yes, more peas. These are shelling peas called "Green Arrows".  I had planted lettuce under the trellis which was great for the first 6 weeks, now it is impossible to reach. Bit of a bummer. Fortunately, I planted more.

The forest of carrots. You might notice the pinwheels in the background. Those lovely little pinwheels kept the chickadees and sparrows from eating all of my carrot greens. It worked immediately!

Woops! Our broccoli is already starting to sprout. We will be harvesting a lot of this tomorrow and eating broccoli this and that all weekend. Who can complain? 

This is one of the most unexpected outcomes of our garden. It is the spinach that will not go away. It comes back bigger and bigger and bigger. I am starting to just rip plants out since the quality of the leaves is degrading and I am suppose to be planting more lettuce here for summer salads.

Garden beauty. Broccoli leaves catch rain just so. We have had a lot of rain the past 3 weeks and it is wreaking a little havoc on some of the squash and cucumber plants. I have been begging for a couple of consecutive days of sunshine to dry things out a bit. So while the clouds were taunting me when I was taking pictures, I had to show a little appreciation for the rain as well.

Something new!! This is our Rainbow Chard. It is just starting to grow and I know I should thin it out, I just don't have it in me. Not yet. But I will, I promise.

These are our marigolds just begging to be seen from within the Pea Forest. Another item on the agenda for the weekend is to give them a little bit more room. I planted marigolds throughout all of my beds in hopes that they will lure those much needed bees in to pollinate all of the squash. Each blossom needs to be visited 8-10 times! Come on busy bees!

Our Seascape Strawberries are just starting to come out. Cole checks on the strawberries and the tomatoes everyday to see if he can find a red one. This makes for one happy mom.

This is Cole's "Green Tomato Baby". He is very proud of this tomato and I hope it is just perfect for him. It brings little happy skips to my heart to know that my son has a pet tomato.

 The garden jungle.

Unexpected (?) visitors. Perhaps it would be more accurate to call them unwanted. I am not sure what they are just yet but they are chewing up my radish leaves and just started in on a pumpkin plant which I will go to war over. My first thought it ants or aphids. Any ideas out there?

Involuntary volunteers. On the left is our Russian Sage. It is a garden champion in our yard. Every fall we chop it to the ground and by July it is almost six feet high and full of beautiful purple blooms. On the right, is Lemon Mint. Grrr. This was never planted by us. As a matter of fact, it was in one planter when we moved in (in '03) and we have been removing it ever since. This year, it is growing right through all of the Russian Sage in our yard. I give up and hope for great aromas to burst through on those hot summer days.

That is just about the whole crop of blueberries, but there they are! These little babies will be savored and the plant will be given more TLC next year. It was dug out of weeds about two months ago, poor thing. 

A little color courtesy of the snapdragons.

The raspberries are doing really well. These are one of the items we are particularly excited for this summer. We are a berry eating household and this crop will make for some incredible desserts and jams. YUM!

So that is this month's garden tour. We have some obstacles to overcome, but the riches are already apparent. Every time I venture out, I am so thrilled with the fruits of our labor. Literally.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Serious disappointment

My heart just broke in two.  Here I thought I was doing the right thing and it turns out I wasn't.  As I was playing with my blog and making it look pretty. My husband was downstairs reading "Cook's Illustrated".  Here is the article from their website and you will see why my heart is completely broken.

Published July 1, 2010. From Cook's Illustrated.
We often see “no nitrates or nitrites added” bacon in the grocery store. How does it differ from regular bacon?
Nitrite has long been a controversial food additive, with studies showing it forms carcinogenic compounds called nitrosamines when heated in the presence of proteins, like those in bacon. Regular bacon is cured with nitrite (NO₂) or a virtually identical chemical, nitrate (NO₃), both of which act as preservatives, though only nitrite has the potential to form potentially harmful nitrosamines. Bacon labeled “nitrate- or nitrite-free,” on the other hand, is brined with salt, a bacterial lactic acid starter culture, and celery juice (sometimes listed as “natural flavor”).

But here’s the catch: Celery juice naturally contains a high level of organic nitrate, which is converted to the problematic nitrite by the bacteria in the starter culture and also by saliva during chewing. Despite this fact, it’s technically correct to label the bacon “no nitrates or nitrites added,” since the compounds are formed during production, not added as ingredients. The question is: How do the levels of nitrite and nitrate in uncured bacon compare with those in its cured counterpart?

When we fried up strips of our favorite supermarket bacon, Farmland Hickory Smoked, along with Farmland All-Natural Uncured Bacon (“no nitrate or nitrite added”), tasters found the samples virtually identical in taste and texture. To quantify the nitrite and nitrate levels in these bacons, we sent three packages of each type to a lab for testing. For comparison, we also sent three packages of the Best Buy from our tasting of artisanal bacon, Applegate Farms Uncured Sunday Bacon (labeled “no nitrites added”). As we expected, all of the bacons contained nitrite and nitrate, and the nitrite levels were well within U.S. Department of Agriculture guidelines of no more than 120 parts per million (ppm). But to our surprise, the uncured bacons actually had higher levels of nitrite than the cured meat: Farmland Hickory Smoked Bacon registered an average of 9.7 ppm nitrite (and 48 ppm nitrate), while its All-Natural counterpart showed an average of 16.3 ppm nitrite (and 10.3 ppm nitrate). And the Applegate Farms Uncured Sunday Bacon averaged more than three times the level of the regular bacon: 35 ppm nitrite (and nearly as much nitrate, at 44.3 ppm).

The bottom line: All bacon is likely to -contain nitrite and nitrate, whether added at the outset or formed naturally during processing. If you want to avoid these compounds, you’ll have to avoid bacon—and any other processed meats containing celery juice—altogether.

No more bacon and what am I going to do with the three packages of Applegate Farms bacon that are in my freezer? I thought I could eat bacon and deli meats while I was pregnant and hereafter, turns out I am wrong. So sad that I fell into this trap. What are your thoughts?

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

When it all comes together

Yesterday I was looking for my 3 year old. I searched the yard, saw his tricycle over on it's side and the gate was open. Damn. That was all I could think.

Then I turned around the corner and I found him.
"Mommy, I am looking for baby green tomatoes." 

This is what the garden is providing for my family. My son is connected to his food and is starting to understand the process. This is my little boy who doesn't like tomatoes, but cannot wait for those green babies to turn red so he can "pull them off, slice them up and eat them".  Be still my heart.