Zucchini Rainstorm

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It finally, finally rained. Our part of Massachusetts is officially in drought, and while we need more, I’ll take every drop I can get.  As I watched the grass brown and the dirt turn to dust where we weren’t watering,  I worried more and more.  When it rains, I feel like I can breathe again.

My garden is mostly faring well, although a family of hares and a groundhog made short work of most of our snap peas, the last of the lettuce and quite a few cucumber plants.  I’m hopeful that the cukes will recover, but it’s questionable.  I go out to check the garden regularly, and I find the groudhog especially bold – he just looks at me and keeps munching until I get close, then finally scampers off, to come back right when I stop looking through a hole in the fence.

I shout and scare him away, feeling part Mr. McGregor and part Beatrix Potter, because the animals are adorable and I like them here, although I wish they would do just a tiny bit less chomping.  My life is a storybook in more ways than one.

The weekends fly by here, with so much to do and not nearly enough time to do it in.  I’ve managed to keep the Potager mostly weeded, and am making inroads into the trench bed.  I took my turn picking up veggies at our CSA this week, and picked some herbs in the gardens there – basil, sage, thyme and lavender make a lovely scented bouquet and taste wonderful as well.   Yesterday I cleaned off the porch, which had collected just a little too much mess,  and began to store some clothes – with our upcoming re-engineering of spaces, some things just have to go into storage.  If I don’t miss them, they can leave permanently, but I often find when I purge too fast I end up replacing the things I let go of, so I’m more cautious about it these days.  Still, an inch at a time we get closer to where we want to be.

July is just about here.  This year is flying by.  Zucchini is ripening in abundance, and it leads me to one of my favorite simple dinners – Zucchini noodles and cherry tomatoes in pesto.  It’s simple, fast, incredibly healthy, and right about now starts being local food.  You can put chicken or salmon on top, a bit of Parmesan, and you have an amazing dinner.   My pesto recipe is here but you can always buy some.  Still, fresh is so easy, and so delicious.

You will need:

2 medium zucchini (can we please call them courgettes, like they do in Britain?)
A couple handfuls of cherry tomatoes
A pan with olive oil swirled
Some pesto
Salt and pepper to taste

Slice or spiralize the zucchini, and saute until soft.  Add the tomatoes midway, and allow them to get soft as well.  Season with salt and pepper.  Remove from heat and stir pesto into the hot pan, coating everything thoroughly.  Sprinkle with Parmesan.

No need to measure a thing, just cook to taste.

Serves 2

 

 

 

 

 

How Does My Garden Grow – Late June

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The Irises and Peonies are gone for the year, and the raspberries, who just 3 years ago were tiny sticks and now are riotously taking over the yard, are beginning to ripen.  It’s hot here.  For the last several weeks, with one exception, it’s been a dry, baking heat.  We’ve had rain once in nearly a month.  In the forecast…maybe Wednesday.  Maybe Saturday.

Despite a cold, wet spring, we are headed into drought.  It’s not yet classified as drought in Massachusetts, instead deemed ‘Extraordinarily Dry’ but the next step is the first phase of a drought.  I’ve never seen it this dry in June.

Because of the heat I water several times a day.  As much as possible,  I hand water, which, while it is slower going than using the hose, allows for much more water retention right around my plants.

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My plants are thriving, even the hungry ones, like my Rouge Vif D’Etampes pumpkin, despite the lack of rain.  Squash and zucchini blossoms abound, and it’s just about time for one of my favorite meals, sauteed zucchini noodles and cherry tomatoes in pesto.  Topped with a little parmesan and some grilled or pan-fried salmon, it’s summer simplicity at it’s best.

I’ve always said I wouldn’t live anywhere that rain doesn’t fall from the sky.  And the world is still lush and green around me, but we never go this long without precipitation, and, for someone who loves to grow things, I spend a lot of time worried, hoping for rain.   Every gardener understands the premise of a rain dance, the need to just do something, especially when it comes to something that you have no control over.

The pandemic continues, as do the Black Lives Matters protests, just outside our door and so far away.

In an effort to keep our cooling costs down, blackout curtains went up in the living room yesterday, slightly impeding my Maxfield Parrish-style view, but definitely blocking some of the  beating sun.  While there is always weeding and planting and tree removal to do here, the next few weeks are focused indoors, painting rooms, moving furniture around, adding and changing the layout of the house for our next big thing, as we prepare to welcome Teddy the Yellow Lab in August, and start the process to get us to adoption of one or two more smaller humans.   We had intended to do major renovation next spring to augment our space, but given the pandemic, that will have to wait a year or two.  In it’s place is moving rooms around to add beds and options.  It’s a good opportunity to declutter as well, and we’re slowly working our way through corners and closets.

But this is a good time to take our eyes off the garden, save for a bit of weeding here and there, because for the next couple of weeks, the garden can be left to do it’s thing, growing away in the heat and light, needing just a bit of fertilizer and care.  Our CSA started last week, and this year my neighbor and I are alternating weeks for pickup, so our first arrival comes Friday,  with Misfits Market right on top of it the next day, due to a massive lack of planning on my part.  Our preserving efforts will have to start right away.  And while more recipes are coming, here’s a great place to start, and Eli and my latest addiction in television.

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Gardening in the Time of Monsters

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Time does not freeze, not for all the wanting it to that a human can have.  The world is moving on around us, beginning to open back up, despite unchecked infection rates and over 111,000 dead in the US alone.  We lead, but not in a good way.    Cities continue to be filled with protests because of more unnecessary killings of people with dark skin. People are literally starving here in the richest country in the world.  I grieve.   I don’t understand how armed white men can storm a state house and be left alone, and blacks protest without weapons because they are tired of dying of police brutality and the police response is horrific and violent.

I don’t understand how this can happen,  and all the while the leader of the free world drives us into darkness.

“Now is the time of monsters” wrote Antonio Gramsci in 1929 from a fascist prison.  And so it is now, too, 91 years later.

But rather than join the anger and the hating, I decided it’s on me, on all of us, to create more love.  An image of white women in a line protecting black protesters with their bodies?  Love.  Those feeding the 42 million plus people out of work?  Love.

Even smaller acts of love make the world a better place.  Wearing masks, helping others start gardens, checking in on the people around us.  If we are to live in a time of monsters, we must bring out the angels of our better selves to counteract them.  We must give, yes, but we must also sustain ourselves, because this is not going to be a sprint to a better place.

A wall of richly scented white lilacs dangled over the outdoor dining table like a benediction for several weeks.  They don’t last long, lilacs – but they held long enough to have our first social distancing picnic with friends among them two weeks ago.  I typically spend a day at the ever-lovely Pickity Place with my next door neighbor for her birthday in May, but this year it wasn’t possible, so her 50 cycles around the sun that occurred a few weeks ago went unmarked by anyone other than family.   Her husband, mine and I decided to remedy that, and I took a long drive to New Hampshire to get her birthday dinner, given that take out and a quick visit to the greenhouse was an option, so lupines and violas now grow in my front yard.

Last weekend we celebrated France Day here, a completely arbitrary, made up holiday that involved us making and eating french food, playing french music, and building a 3-d Eiffel Tower puzzle.  Why?  Our plan to spend April vacation in France visiting the sites, shopping at Farmer’s Markets while channeling Julia Childs (ok, that bit is just me) and visiting some friends who happen to be brilliant enough to live there was put aside by pandemic.  And in a world where every day tends to be much like the last, making something special for us is important.

I’ve sat out the protests, not because I want to, but because we’re pretty sure I had Covid-19, I’m still fatigued a lot, and with two immune-compromised household members and still no sense of whether there’s some kind of post-virus immunity, we need to put our lives above participation.  That’s hard for me.   I’m praying for change as I plant tomatoes and cook for some friends who need a hand, and parent and work and hope that no one else gets hurt.

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The peonies began to bloom on Friday, and their scent fills the yard and house.  We are almost done planting and building the last of the garden beds.  We chose cement bricks, even though they are less beautiful than clay, they last  longer.  We have a desire to build something that will last.

My son filled a bed with cabbage, small pumpkins, Nasturtiums and seeds for a moon garden, and has been watering it with dedication, like the little boy in The Carrot Seed.  He struggles sometimes, without his schedule and friends and family.   But the garden for him, too is a place of peace.

If now is the time of monsters, we must create hope wherever we can.    My hope is in the garden.

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