Thursday, October 30, 2008


So very, very sick.

Remember how it felt like when you were a little kid and you fell on your knees while running in gravel? Little pieces of stone sunk deep into your pink kiddy flesh; the shock turned some areas of the wound dead-white, but where the rocks bit deep enough, blood started to seep out, just before your tears. Remember how you hated to tell your mom because you knew she'd clean your knees up and douse them with something germ-killing, and that whole process hurt even more than the fall? Remember grimacing and sucking in your breath and that silly huffing wail that you let out when you finally allowed her to touch your bloody knees? Remember all of that?

That is how my throat feels right now.

So I've got my hot mug of lime juice and honey.

I've gargled with hot salt water, swallowed more than my share of Vitamin C, gulped down plenty of knock-off brand Airborne, but no success yet. You got more solutions out there?

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Summer Rundown 5: Homer Fike's Yellow Oxheart


Yellow like a ripe pineapple
like the first day of vacation
like the feeling of a hot car
when your skin
rises in goosebumps
in the sun.

That is Homer Fike's yellow.

The few fruit,
like living
beating oxhearts
in my hands,
each weighed over a

Nearly seedless
these were tomatoes
to slurp down alone
or to simmer gently
with ground coriander,
red pepper,
and garlic
to make
a drinkable sunshine.

This was not my
year for tomatoes
yet your plant
still gave me six.

I'm betting next year
will be a
tomato year,
one that will leave
me swimming in
Homer Fike's good

Monday, October 20, 2008

Summer Rundown 4: Red Ruffled Pimiento

kind of
thick-fleshed fruit markets sell
achieve in a
home garden.


Thick sweet flesh
that roasts to carmelly
tongues of slippery-rich
You're not big,
but boy,
there are a lot of you.

Countours and ripples
your crunchy
dangle on your plant
like presents:
each an offering
to a salad
to a sandwich
to a stew.

Next year,
I'll grow a whole
row of
I'll roast you
and pickle you
and preserve you
to eat

I can't wait.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Summer Rundown 3: Uncle David's Dakota Dessert

The catalog description:
A buttercup squash
so sweet
it could be baked
How could I pass you up?

Not terribly productive,
but I can chalk up your few fruit
to my few years of

What few fruit
you gave me
I've already begun to eat.
I peeled off your
tough skin,
tossed chunks of your
orange flesh
with cloves of
Red Toch garlic,
plenty of salt and thyme,
and a glug of olive oil.

I roasted

will grow again in my

are the jade gift
to the winter table.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Summer Rundown 2: Rainbow Watermelon

On the surface
meet watermelon expectations:
silver and green.

a muddy history.
Unclear, uncertain,
leaving me questions
invisible answers.
What is your
The trader told me
were a
Native American heirloom.

True or not,
certainly are

crunchy coarse
rust-colored flesh,
seeds gathered up in your center,
and more
than your refined

I know no other
place to
I must save
flat black
I must keep

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Summer Rundown 1: Fish Pepper

You're just the right amount of hot,
just the right amount of sweet,
variegated foliage,
stripity-stripety fruit,
a childhood daydream chili.

Slow to grow,
but your growing
made me

In the heat
you taught me
the joys of
the good burn that makes
cool coleslaw cooler,
sexy salsas sexier,
sweaty stirfries sweatier.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Is It Trading Time Already?

In the next few days, I will post a series of odes towards several of my favorite crops from this summer. I've managed to save a few seeds of each of these varieties, a bit more than what I will need next year, so if you read about something you are interested in trying yourself, I can send several seeds your way.

In the meantime, here is my current trade list. (LQ = low quantity.)

Seeds I Have for Exchange:
Collected carefully from my garden at the old plot, 2008:
Bean, Blue Coco
Bean, Pencil Pod Black Wax (LQ)
Bean, Yardlong Black Seed (LQ)
Calendula, Pacific Beauty mix
Cilantro/Coriander, Long Standing
Fava Bean, Broad Windsor
Hot Pepper, Fish (LQ)
Love-in-a-Mist (Nigella damascena), Mrs. Jekyll
Summer Squash, Coosa
Sweet Pea, Fragrant Cloud and Cupani Mix (LQ)
Sweet Pepper, Red Ruffled
Winter Squash, Uncle David's Dakota Dessert (LQ)
Also, I'm nursing along a huge blimp of a hand-fertilized (so it wouldn't cross with the area melons) Armenian cucumber. When it ripens and I dry the seeds, I'll post them up here as well.

Seeds I Want:
Bean, Yardlong "Red Noodle"
Cleome, White
Melon, Amarillo Oro
Melon, Old Time Tennessee
Squash, Seminole
Squash, Winter Luxury
Turnip, Blanc de Croissy
I can usually be talked into exchanging for interesting heirloom peppers, tomatoes, squash, and melons. Also, I love antique poppies, sweet peas, and other old-fashioned cutting flowers. Tempt me! When it comes to intriguing seeds, my will-power is very, very weak.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Watermelon Skies

I've lost 7 pounds in the last 2 weeks without even trying. Go ahead, ask me. What's my secret?

Moving and building a new plot.

Carrying box after box, piece of furniture after other piece of furniture, and rearranging everything at least 5 times in the new place is a great workout. But even more work is tearing a plot out of the dead grass and hardpan. After cutting up the soil in a 15 foot square, I'm getting pretty good at wielding a pickax. Too bad my more tender sentiments won't let me apply those pickax skills to the gophers that are the cause of so much work. This area, on the edge of wildlands, is riddled with gophers, and this little ranchito of ours is no exception. So, I'm cutting out the dead sod, shoveling up tons of soil, laying down mesh wire to keep the buggers from the roots of my babies, and shoveling the soil with added compost back over the wire. All this for just a little plot in which to start my garden: I've got almost a quarter acre left to figure out how to protect!

I'm sore and exhausted, but you won't catch me complaining, for most of the time nowadays, I'm just grinning. I have space that is mine to plant. I have skies to grow under. I have room in which to dream.

Every day at work, I look forward to being able to come home—not because I don't like my job for (as you know) I do really, really love my job—but because I am so excited about this new home and all my free mental space goes towards putting it together. Today seemed particularly long, partly because I don't feel very well and partly because the weekend is so close; so, when I did get to come home, imagine my delight when I saw my husband out in the yard, sweating away in the 98 degree heat, pulling out an evil, poisonous oleander unfortunately growing smack-dab-in-the-middle of prime garden space.

As much as ECG likes the fact that I garden and am working more and more towards self-sufficiency, in general, the garden is not a place that draws him the way it does me. For him to choose to sweat the oleander out of her hole in this heat is further proof of his overall amazing awesomeness, as if I did not have enough evidence. This man deserved something refreshing, cold, and worthy of the occasion, so fresh squozen Watermelon Limeade it was.

I have no real recipe for this, but quickly I'll tell you how to make an overheated homo sapien happy after unpleasant manual labor. Chop up half a small watermelon into large chunks, and using your hands, squeeze the fruit over a strainer over a bowl. You will get juice on the kitchen counter, but deal with it, because the overheated homo sapien is much more important than a few spatters. With either your hands or a juicer, squeeze the juice of 4 limes and pour the lime juice in the bowl with the watermelon juice. Add simple syrup (if you haven't begun before this, now is a good time to begin keeping a jar of simple syrup—one part water to one part sugar, heated until dissolved and then cooled—in the refrigerator at all times) to taste, stir, and pour into a big glass you've kept in the freezer until just this occasion.

Pour yourself a glass too, and look up: isn't it just beautiful?