Thursday, July 14, 2011


In the old days, we used to hold up big fish we would catch... now I guess I'm holding up garlic. Still... look at the size of those things -- I seem to have, as they say, caught my limit!

This garlic has been a long time coming. I planted it in November. All spring -- before anything else in my yard (not to mention the garden) was growing -- these things came up. There was a brief scare when their "garlic scapes" didn't come up. But apparently some garlic doesn't grow scapes, so I finally just pulled the stuff. It is currently hanging in the shed to dry out. Then we braid it and hang it in the cellar.

Then... it's garlic time!

I have always been a big fan of cooking with -- and eating -- garlic. A couple years ago I discovered some locally grown garlic at a farmers market; it was eons better than store-bought (which I already liked). And mine seems right along those lines, except I know exactly where, how, and with what, it was grown. (Note: I have become quite food-phobic lately... in other words, if I don't know exactly how a food is made or where it came from, I don't trust it.)

I formerly used a garlic press to crush and cut up garlic cloves, but now I don't because I like chunks of garlic in my food. Then a few years ago, I began reading about the health benefits of garlic: as long as you let it breathe for 10 minutes before cooking it, garlic has all sorts of allyl sulfide compounds that can cut one's risk of prostate cancer in half -- and they reduce the risk of stomach, colon, and breast cancers. Well, I've never been a big fan of prostate cancer, so this fits right with my personal platform.

Excellent -- so it tastes great... and it's good for you too!

Monday, July 11, 2011


My distaste for weeding is well-documented, but here is the problem: I just don't like looking at a messy garden. Do you see the tension, then, that accompanies my life as a gardener? Which is worse -- having to weed? Or having a garden that looks like my sister's hair in the morning?

Bottom line: I spent several hours in the garden this weekend. In addition to the slight sunburn (despite wearing my new "head umbrella," which I won at a recent Canada Day party because I answered all the hockey questions correctly on the Canada trivia quiz) on my neck, I also contracted an affliction I have named "Weeder's Finger." Weeder's Finger is a pain that starts between the thumb and forefinger and shoots across the palm to the base of the pinky. You don't understand; our garden was (and still is) really weedy, and I pulled zillions of them. (See "before" and "after" shots above -- of just one row of our garden.)

Something has to give here. I can't be weeding like this all summer. Yes, we have lettuce coming out our eyeballs, and yes, the peas are as sweet as can be. But I just don't like looking at a garden that looks like a rat's nest. And my Weeder's Finger can't handle pulling too many more.

I'm just about at my breaking point.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Morning Fog

I look out the window every morning when I wake. In theory, a quick glance should tell me about the day to come, how to dress, and what to expect. In reality, however, my early morning data from the window is generally misinformation.

Because we live yards from the Winooski River in a corridor of farm fields and flood plains, a morning mist hangs over us regardless of season. Walking the dogs in the morning is always a grey (but not gloomy) activity -- grey in the sense that low clouds block whatever "real" weather exists beyond.

I've learned to predict by feel. Although every morning looks grey and cloudy, I can feel whether it's going to be a rainy day or whether the sun will burn off the fog in an hour or two. On a sunny summer day, you can often see a bluish tint to the mist above. On days when you leave the house, you'll drive through the clouds, turn away from the river, and -- suddenly -- a blinding sun greets you. Looking back, you can see a ribbon of low clouds smothering the river valley that winds among the hills.

I like our misty mornings. I don't need to see the sun to know it's coming. And when it does finally make its appearance and the clouds begins to burn away, I appreciate it all the more.