Tag Archives: gardening

Winter’s Offerings

I read a quote in “Mother Earth News” tonight, and not an hour later it proved true—applicability is a trait this magazine does well in my life.

“In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks” -John Muir

Tonight I was given the dreaded donkey-feeding task. Whenever my parents dole out this particular responsibility, eyes will inevitably roll. So I rolled mine, a necessary start to the job, put a coat on, and walked to the barn. Our jack, Merlin, has the personality of an over-sized, persnickety dog, and of course, he just wouldn’t be pushed out of the barn without a treat first, the treat being an animal cracker—a cruel, but funny donkey dessert.

When I was finished, the night felt so refreshing that my legs carried me not back to the house, but away. Two of our dogs followed, always eager for an adventure, and I felt my tail was wagging with theirs. Enthusiasm is contagious—even when the source runs on four legs. We ended up walking through the garden, which appears deceivingly barren in winter, and I couldn’t help but imagine the life under my feet. Although it was completely quiet outside, I could sense its energy-not rushed, as life often feels, but slow and steady as a  pulse. And it is a pulse isn’t it? Without the dedicated earthworms, the microbes, the rhizomes and the roots, dirt would be dead. But instead it’s a flurry of never ending activity that almost beats like a pulse, preparing the soil for the energy-sucking plants it’ll have to sustain come spring. The constancy of it calmed me and I felt, not energized, but peaceful, when I crossed the threshold of the door, back into the hustle and bustle of my family’s life inside.

John Muir was right. Nature always provides more than we ask of it, and tonight I felt it was the exact prescription for inner quiet.

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One Week, Vegan: A Summary

*Viewer discretion is advised*

Tonight our tacos were served up Sweeney Todd style. Do you see my poor little finger?? All in the name of veganism…I’m just thankful the pepper I was chopping wasn’t spicy, and the fact that my finger is numb is more a blessing than a worry.

Also noteworthy: Saying goodbye to my beautiful Musquee de Provence pumpkins. They were the only ones that survived the demon squash bugs this past summer, but they finally succumbed to old age. I’m sad we didn’t get our new oven in time to roast them.

I just threw this picture of Molly and Woody in because it’s adorable. It does make for some good motivation though. One week into this program and I haven’t touched a single animal product. When you’re constantly surrounded by pets who do things like this, how can you feel bad about that decision?

Last night I watched “Life in a Day,” a documentary made by National Geographic. It’s a compilation of images and clips filmed by people all over the world on a single day. For one clip, they show a cow being slaughtered. It was so unexpected I didn’t even have time to look away. I think that’s something everyone should see before digging into their next hamburger.

When there’s such an enforced blindness about slaughter, the connection between life and the death served on your plate seems nearly invisible-as it is, for most. But the real truth is that every cow, pig and chicken that’s killed for our food doesn’t want to die. No living thing does. It’s a hard concept to grasp when as consumers, all we see is the plastic wrapped product for the taking. Although I began this program for health reasons, I’m understanding it’s importance for others.

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Seed Starting: Tomatoes and Basil

My post today isn’t about a recipe per se, but what we make them from instead. For the past few weeks I’ve been in preliminary gardening mode. It’s that time of year where I feel eternally optimistic about the possibilities for the summer and I decided this year to go ahead and try growing a few vegetables by seed. This actually is not something I feel eternally optimistic about having read horror stories online of buried moldy seeds and spindly sprouts with little foliage that eventually die.  However, through various Google searches I’ve found such neat varieties that I just felt compelled to try it since these are the kinds of veggies you can’t really find in most nurseries. I decided to focus on basil, tomatoes and squash/pumpkins.

My first order of business was to plant the basil. It’s my favorite herb (besides cilantro and rosemary probably) and my mom found some really beautiful, not to mention delicious, varieties last year that I saved some seeds from. Cinnamon basil and Purple Basil will now always be grown alongside the normal sweet varieties. Their flowers are pretty enough to be used in a bouquet and the purple kind looks gorgeous overtop bruschetta. I would advise against lemon basil however. It smells nearly identical to Pine-Sol―it’s actually incredible how pungent it is―and I wouldn’t personally use it in my food. So anyways, I planted an egg carton full of purple, cinnamon and sweet basil and set it outside for some sunlight only to find, in my horror, that it had been knocked over a few hours later―dirt scattered all over the grass. I suspect my cat. I had let him out for a bit of sun and he has an obsession with casually knocking breakable items off of high places and looking very pleased with himself afterward. This was especially tragic because I used all of my purple basil seeds in that batch and was therefore only able to replant the other two kinds.

Then it was the tomato seeds. I’ve turned my small college house into a make-do greenhouse and I’m not sure how my five roommates feel about it. Since we are in college and we’re trying to save money, the temperature in our house stays at about a steady 62 degrees―hardly conducive to heat loving tomato seeds. I put my heated blanket underneath the seed tray to compensate and covered the top of the tray with it as well. In effect, it’s a small hot house and I made sure there’s air circulation by putting books and paint cans and anything I could get to hold the black plastic bag open so mold can’t grow. I’m particularly excited about the “Isis Candy” (purely for the literary allusion) and “Cuore de Toro” varieties.

The squash and pumpkin seeds should arrive shortly but those I’ll actually end up sowing right into the ground. They don’t do as well with container transplants, (tomatoes actually benefit from them), and I want to have the best chances possible, especially with the Musquee de Provence pumpkins which I hear make great soups. The French are pros at pumpkin growing. So here’s to a prosperous growing season! Hopefully these seeds will produce some delicious and unique culinary inspirations!

 

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