Merlot Mudpies

Can a blog be about gardening, cancer, family, food and life all at the same time? Oh good.

Delicious January 14, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — Mary @ 11:56 pm
Tags: ,

This is my first post from the phone. Really. What on earth can’t I do on this thing?

Today was a fabulous day. It was sunny, clear, warm without being hot. Oh goodness I am SO ready for spring. To aid in abating some angst I dug in the dirt. Lots. What is it about digging that makes me feel so quiet inside? The whole process is just silent no matter what is going on around me.

And the soil. Oh, the soil. It’s delicious. Just the smell of its richness makes me imagine what is going to come out of it.

Today I started the worm bin (finally), planted Rosemary and parsley in pots, seeded three others for basil, chives and garlic chives, turned two beds with compost, manure and etc. and planted broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and Chinese cabbage.

In my front boxes I have red lettuce, romain and arugala in one and asparagus, brown and red onions in another. I have one asparagus spear peaking through and one boldmonion peering out already.

Oh I love it. I just love it.

Now we are getting ready to start seeds. I’ll share my tomato list and other starts tomorrow.

One thing I want to grow again is purslane. I wonder where I can get it! It’s really considered a weed here. Perhaps it’s worth a trip up to Ivey ranch to see if any is growing that the gardeners there are willing to part with. Perhaps.

Rambly phone post complete. Now, bed.

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Garden Update, Me Update August 9, 2008


I’ve been horribly remiss in my posting. I haven’t got much to say for myself except, “WAAA!”, total toddler style. Hectic doesn’t begin to describe the weeks we’ve had. But it’s all been good, interesting, fun…well, except the strep. And…well…except for the part where my poor brother and his wife got flooded out of their condo for the second time in as many years by their upstairs neighbors. Yeah.

There is a lot going on at Ivey Ranch and I’ll get to that when I have words for it. We’re all walking around with furrowed brows and aching hearts at the moment. I can’t start to explain it without wanting to get up from the desk and walk away…so I won’t touch it more than that for now. You just really can’t escape death and it’s touch on everything in this life.

Perhaps this leads me to a bigger thing: I have so many deep things I’ve been wanting to say of late. I don’t know where to start with them all. Some pertain to my garden and what I’m learning there, so many pertain to my mom and the new layers of loss you come to every time you get out of bed. Do you ever look at the pile of things you feel need processing and saying and just find yourself quiet in the face of it all?

Yeah. Me, too.

And so, here is a plain garden update:

Ann and Joce and I busted our collective tushes (tushi?) this afternoon. We weeded the whole area, tied up and trimmed many of my tomato plants which are, let’s face it, on their last legs at this point with the heat. We pulled up dying and dead plants (three yellow squash, two watermelons, the rest of my pumpkins, a pepper, and a tomato). He picked so many tomatoes I don’t know what any of us will ever do with them. Honest to Pete, I never thought I’d be sick of tomatoes. One of God’s graces, perhaps, is that even the best fruits and vegetables start to get a bit old before the season ends, so you’re almost happy to say goodbye until the next year…We dug in steer manure and fertilizer in preparation for the beds I’ll be planting in the next months, and eyed bunny holes that need plugging up.

Regarding my bunnies: I believe their next step in renovating my plots is installing a bunny disco ball. I really can’t think what else they need. My plot is one of the cushiest bunny hang-outs of all time. They’ve even told the squirrels to give it a whirl. I really, REALLY need to rebuild some of my fences. If not to keep them out entirely (I really think this is somewhat impossible to do entirely and still like yourself), at least to give them enough pause to like, count their blessings and say grace before they dig into my vegetables…

Tomorrow I will go back to give my tomatoes a much-needed trim down in B10 and to consider what else needs to be allowed an end so I can begin again.

Renewal. It’s an amazing thing.

I’m sort of glad that I lost what I did when I was in Oklahoma. It allowed me, in the end, to remember that my need was not to keep everything alive forever, but really, to learn the cycles of my garden and this climate to grow and produce what the seasons dictate and invite. This is a hard, but good, lesson to learn for a new gardener.

 

Living on the Edge — Support Your Local Farmers July 30, 2008


Aphids are the bane of my existence right now. I hate them. I dream about them. I take great pleasure in spraying them with a mixture of Listerine, dish soap and water…the organic gardener’s magic solution for aphids. They attacked my corn, they attacked my okra, they attacked my strawberries, they attacked even my zucchini while I was gone.

As I harvested all of my corn this week, I wore gloves and watched in fascinated horror as clumps of aphids and their farmer ants fell to the ground at my feet while I cut stalks and shucked husks into a wheel barrow. I was really surprised at the wrath I felt towards these pests, and how personally affronted I was every time I threw an infested branch or cob into the waste pile.

It got me thinking about what it must be like to really be a farmer. While I am growing this food for my family and, from a budgetary standpoint, we have begun to rely on our garden as a resource, we always have the grocery store and farmer’s market in our back pocket should things not go well. Would we have to cut someplace in our budget to compensate? Sure. But would it we devastation for our family or the end of our livelihood if a crop failed? Of course not.

But for thousands of families who farm for a living all over our country and all over the world, that is not the case. And for organic farmers and small-time family farmers, I think the burden and the tenuous balance on the edge of financial and lifestyle viability bust be very extreme. This has been highlighted for me this week as I’ve dealt with the pests, diseases and weeds in my own garden that have taken hold during my absence for a week.

And yet, small family farms and local farmer’s markets carry some of the best-tasting, beautiful produce you have ever seen — and here in California during the summer, produce is so bountiful at Farmer’s Markets that it almost seems like some of the booths are giving their things away in a joyous celebration of the plenty that our climate provides for.

I know that Farmers Markets are not as convenient as the local grocery store. I know that sometimes getting past the less-than-picture-perfect bend of a local cucumber or pitted heirloom tomato bottom can be hard when we’ve been trained to think that waxy-shined, straight-grown produce equals great taste at the grocery store. But I urge you to pick a day in the week to come, find out when and where you can get to a local farmer’s market, and support our local farmers and organic growers. Let your other senses take over, let your nose and your taste buds inform you as you choose out some of summer’s bounty at the different stalls. Enjoy the fact that your jalapenos and tomatoes from local sources are not a part of a scary national recall and that the man or woman who is helping you pick your fruits and vegetables is likely the person who grew them — not a 5th party vendor down the line from some mass-production farm with little personal investment in what they produce and sell. Do like my friend Jen and see what $20 can get you.

I doubt that you’ll be sorry, and I suspect you’ll decide to do it again.

As a bonus for those of you with kidlets? I’ve yet to visit a FM and not have my son plied with free samples of sweet fresh fruits, lots of smiles, and a chance to see from close up the source of the food on the table every night. He loves a trip to the local Farmer’s Market and I’m sure your kiddo will, too.

The San Diego County Farm Bureau offers a free online calendar for all the licensed farmers markets throughout the county if you don’t know which is closest to you and works with your schedule. Be there, or be square.

 

Fish Tacos July 29, 2008





fish_tacos

Originally uploaded by merlot

Last night we ate these fish tacos for dinner and they really were dyno-mite! The components were:

Marinated/grilled white fish
Avocado
Salsa
Salsa verde
White sauce
Tomatoes
Pickled onions
Red Cabbage

For the fish:
Brush with a mixture of garlic, paprika and olive oil and let stand for at least half an hour, but more like two if you can

For the salsa verde:
Broil tomatillos and serranos and let char
In food processor combine tomatillos, serranos, garlic, salt, lemon/lime juice, avocado, fresh cilantro

For the salsa:
In food processor combine tomatoes, serranos, garlic, salt, black pepper (i use a lot), lime juice and green chiles, and cilantro — if you want, char the peppers and some of the tomatoes ahead of time. You can also slightly char some of the garlic.

For the white sauce:
Combine equal parts sour cream and mayo with lime juice and salt to taste

I know I’m not giving quantities and that’s because I don’t measure these things at all.

Plop it all on warm corn tortillas and have at it.

Oh man. So good.

I’m having trouble wanting anything else but that again tonight.

 

The Zucchini Naming Contest July 8, 2008


All right, friends. A zucchini this size deserves a name. But I am too fried to come up with one right now. And so I leave it to you to come up with a name for what is, currently, known as “The Whale” of those of us in Ivey Ranch who grow zucchini. It was so big I yelled when Joce showed it to me while she was watering for me as I pulled some weeds.

I give you The Whale, AKA Zucchzilla, AKA “HOLY COW WOULD YOU LOOK AT THAT THING??”
Giant Zucchini

Entries will be considered with considerable bias by me and possibly my sisters-in-law because DANG are they funny…but if they make suggestions then clearly it’s just me deciding on the winner. And we all know I’m succeptible to bribes. A prize will be given. I’ll even promise a GOOD prize. But I have no idea what form that will take at the moment.

Comments with suggestions, por favor!

 

Knee-High By 4th of July, You Say? July 6, 2008


Get a load of this:
Silver Queen Corn at nearly 10 ft tall

I’m just over 6ft tall, and my arms are pretty long, which leads me to believe that my tallest corn stalk is about 10 ft tall.

Now to figure out how to know when the ears are ripe and ready for eating…

 

We Know How I Love Before and Afters June 29, 2008


So here are two.

B10 the day I got it:

B10 today:

C10 the day I got it:

C10 today:

 

 
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