Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The beginning of spring

It's wonderful to be out in the garden now. I just spent several days weeding, pulling out old, flowering winter plants, and turning compost into the soil. We still have some beets, carrots, and radishes, as well as chard and spinach.

This week, we sauteed beet greens with chard and last year's garlic. That was delicious. We've also roasted beets a few times as an appetizer, and they're wonderful. Too bad we didn't have enough for a real side dish. We've been eating lots of radishes, but I didn't plant any more than one bunch, so we'll be done with them shortly.

We've had some carrots, they were wonderful too. They smell so strongly of carrot as soon as I lifted them out of the ground. The first one I pulled was stunted and sad-looking. Uh-oh, I thought, after pining over carrots for months, we're not actually going to get enough to eat! Luckily, the next few were nice and big. After pulling off the tops of a few, and snapping a few in half with the bottom half still in the ground, I got the hang of loosening the soil around them before pulling them up. We still have some in the fridge, and some in the garden, too.

We harvested some of the leeks! They're still small, but they're very strongly flavored and delicious. Loris added some to a tomato sauce he made for our butterfish last weekend, and I sliced some up and sauteed them with anchovies to add to a big bowl of pasta, asparagus from the farmer's market, and parmesan cheese straight from Italy. I'm hoping I won't desperately need the space they're using, so I can let them mature a bit more in the ground before digging them all up!

The peas I planted right before leaving for Italy are doing well. The plants aren't huge, but they're thriving and starting to flower, which is great. I just planted about 15 green bean plants and a zucchini. We have some dill that seeded itself from last year growing among the carrots, too.

I think I'm going to move one of my stumps out of the way, dig up the overgrown parsley from last year, and extend my sauce tomato row all the way to the edge of the garden. I just need the space too badly. I have parsley in our backyard, and I'll plant a bit more in the garden, too.

The lettuce is the real problem, with the warm temperatures we're having it's growing faster than we can eat it. I pulled out four of the green heads because they're starting to bolt, but now the red lettuce is looking ready to go and we still have so much green left. It's becoming a challenge to eat it all! I did end up planting a new batch of red lettuce in pots in the backyard, where it tends to be shadier and cooler, better for our warm springs and summers.

The last thing to mention is the garlic. It's huge, again this year. And the shallots look great, too, I'm very excited to harvest all of this. I hope to braid the garlic this year. Last year I hung it all in our gear closet, but the dried leaves are breaking off and getting everywhere. We really could use a better storage method. We also have a ton left from last year - pretty soon we'll have to make roasted garlic and garlic soups just to use it up before this year's crop.

The rest of the spring veggies will be going in soon! We're having some cold weather this weekend, but I'm hoping to get stuff in early next week! Hooray!

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