How Does My Garden Grow – July 2021

It has rained with just a few days of sun, for weeks now. The days it is sunny we take advantage as best we can by weeding and mowing the lawn, and trying to be outside. It veers between gentle showers and sudden thunderstorms and wind that take down branches all over town. I generally like the rain, and last year at this time we were rolling into drought but I admit, this makes me uncomfortable. I watch the wildfires and drought in the west through sheets of rain here. Everything is green, but how long until it gets too wet to handle? I don’t know. And yet, there’s not much we can do. So I try not to worry about it. Try.

And when the weather is beautiful, I try to take advantage, like having dinner in the garden at my neighbor’s.

Melissa’s Garden

We made it through our in-home walk through (our adoption social worker being really just the absolute loveliest person, boy did we get lucky) and began to turn our attention to the last few details of readiness. Most of the de-cluttering work is done, although there are some closets still to clean and paperwork to go through. The timing of opening our doors has shifted a bit, with the idea that kids come in after my daughter is settled into middle school. But not long from now.

Garden bounty from our CSA is in full swing, with kale, cucumber, lettuces. summer squash and things like beets and turnips in abundance. I love summer salads. Last night I made my first batch of basil pesto with cuttings from our CSA. It was a bit runny, but it will be delicious this winter, so into the freezer it went. Sunflowers have begun to bloom as well, one of our favorite added benefits of the summer.

Photo by Eli 5 Stone

Our own garden is a bit behind the CSA as it always is. The tops of the garlic have started to die down, so I should be able to pick it and cure it next weekend. With the humidity, ‘store in a cool dry place’ may require getting creative. We should have enough to get us through the winter holidays and to share, and I think I’ll plant it again this year. It absorbs a whole large garden bed for a chunk of the summer, but it’s worth it for the garlic scapes and the joy of it. I may add shallots too. And it’s time to order those things – with the farmlet, summer is the time to plan for fall.

Soon enough our preserving will start in earnest – tomatoes for drying and sauce, infinite zucchini and more. But that’s in a week or two, and for now we just watch the rain and take pleasure in summer’s beauty.

Summer’s Longest Days

Probable evidence of fairies, in which the children no longer believe

The 10 days the kids are away on vacation with their father are, in fact, the longest days of the year. We madly rush to get projects done (last year we rearranged the entire house to accommodate adoption plans), work, spend quality time together and with others, pandemics permitting, and despite our busyness, still only truly light up when the kids call. Mostly they have nothing to say really – yes, they are having fun, yes, they miss us, yes they have to go bye.

As it comes to an end, our underlying maudlin takes on a new flavor – should we go out to dinner one more time, just us? Perhaps, but absolutely not anywhere the kids might potentially enjoy. We should absolutely power wash the porch but not disturb anything my daughter might disapprove of us displacing. In short, we are at the end of our ability to miss them and function normally. This does not bode well for any future college attendance or growing up that seem to occur without any authorization from us.

The weather has been weird over the last few weeks – a sweltering week-long heatwave at the beginning of June, followed by intermittent rainy periods and a day or two of sun. Our most recent stretch of rain lasted about 5 days. The weeds have been taking over, despite my best efforts. As July rolled in, the hot weather, followed by chilly rain pattern continued, and the weeds continued to be a challenge, especially benchmarked against my free time, which was nonexistent.

There’s an upside to all the rain though – despite it really being time ffor it to go out west and cool that side of the country off – even though it continues thwarting my weeding goals, it has allowed me to turn my attention indoors and to using our CSA and the first of the summer garden food.

The garlic in the garden is getting close to harvest. In order to get the plant to focus on a bigger head of garlic, you trim down the garlic scapes, which is nothing more than the flower part of a garlic plant. We had a pile from our CSA, as well as a dozen or so from the garden, so I set out to refine my recipe for Garlic Scape Pesto.

Lest you think I made this just because I had the scapes available, that was true…the first time. Now I am truly sold. 12-15 garlic scapes make a bit more than a cup of pesto, which will get you a couple of meals worth, plus what’s left in the blender or food processor is usually enough to slather on top of some salmon and toss on the grill.

Garlic Scape Pesto has a bit of a bite to it, so it’s good with pasta and fish and a light salad. It’s also really great as a spread on bread, maybe topped with a sliced tomato and some mozzerella. The salt is critical.

The ingredients are simple – scapes, parmesan, a bit of basil, olive oil, lemon, walnuts and salt. The key to the recipe is to modify it to your taste.

Garlic Scape Pesto

12-15 garlic scapes, roughly chopped
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1/2 cup walnuts
1/2-2/3 cup olive oil
Juice of one lemon (ish)
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup basil leaves

Whir. Taste. Add oil, salt, parmesan or lemon to taste. Slather on anything from bread to fish to chicken to pototoes…need I go on? It’s just good.

When the rain abated we turned our attention to the last few bits of readiness for our adoption social worker visit – one of the last gates we have to pass to be ready – later this week. The porch had become the detritus-collection spot of choice during Covid (which, let me just mention, is not over so please go get vaccinated for all of our sakes), so we cleaned it. A table one of the Moms found at her church’s thrift shop has been our mail-and-stuff location, but was looking pretty run down. Eli crafted a new drawer plate and painted it after even with a coat of color the existing one still looked a little cruddy. Have a mentioned my husband is amazing? If I haven’t, let me do so now. Total cost of the table rehab – $11.98 in spray paint and a pile of cleverness.

The porch looks nice, the piles of mail are dealt with, and the tops of the garlic plants are starting to die down, which means harvest soon, and to be replaced by fall broccoli and lettuce.

And at least for now, the sun is out.