You Mean the Stuff Inside Fig Newtons?

Growing figs is a tradition in my family. My parents have close to a dozen edit: half-dozen re-edit: dozen(!) trees of various varieties, originally obtained from “the fig man” on Long Island. All of their trees are planted in large pots so they can be brought into a protected, but cool, place (aka the garage) to go dormant for the winter. So, when Tim and I got our first fig tree (as a honeymoon souvenir from Jefferson’s Monticello), we continued in the same tradition of bringing it in every winter. I probably shouldn’t mention that it died in our apartment kitchen one winter when we were living in our apartment.


a few tiny figs we were able to pick last summer before the squirrels got them…

However, over the years, we’ve seen several examples of figs thriving outdoors year-round — especially in more urban areas. So we decided to try it with the two trees we now have (both splits from my parents’ trees). We were fairly confident that our trees would survive the winter, but took several steps to make that success even more certain.

First, we planted them in the sunniest spot in the yard, which because of the fence, is also fairly sheltered from winds…



Then we rigged up a big cage out of two tomato cages, inside which we hung burlap. Said burlap was attached with twist ties and held down at the bottom by bricks…


Next, we filled the cavity with oh… about a kajillion leaves…


and lastly, we covered the top with more burlap. Fancy, right?


Then this guy came by to wish us good luck with his last dying breath.
Well, not really, but it makes for a more dramatic story, doesn’t it?

And then winter happened.

And happened some more.

And happened even more,

until we could hardly stand it anymore!!!

Finally spring arrived (sigh), and we decided it was safe to open up the cage and let the little figgies out…


aaaand we have buds, people!

We may have to prune a bit off the top of one of the trees, but overall, it seems to have been a successful over-wintering!
Now, if we could just keep the squirrels away…

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STAY TUNED FOR MY NEXT POST:
Kitchen Runner (on the Cheap)!
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Our Radishes


Last week, I picked the rest of the radishes left in our little patch. Not only were the radishes full-grown and ready, but the carrots we planted in the same space were begging for more room to stretch out.

Look at all those beautiful greens! I always feel bad about throwing them out (composting, actually). So whenever possible, we wash and save our greens. And tonight, I cooked them in some olive oil with garlic, crushed red pepper, and Gimme Lean (veggie) sausage. Mixed into some thin spaghetti and topped with pecorino romano and black pepper, we all (including Moxie and Moo) gave it a thumbs up!

An Experiment in Growing and Eating


a mix of radish, carrots and mesclun (mainly arugula, kale, and leaf lettuce)

Tim read somewhere that carrots and radishes can be planted together because radishes are quick to mature and should be ready to pick by the time the carrots need more space. When he was planting them, I suggested that we also scatter some mesclun seeds over the same space. My logic was that radishes and carrots mainly grow down and lettuce grows up, so there wouldn’t be too much competition. So, at one end of a raised bed, we have a commingled patch of carrots, radishes, and mesclun. Not sure how it’ll work out. It’s an experiment. But so far, it seems okay.

Earlier this week, I thinned out some of the radishes that were growing too close together and cut some mesclun for our first garden salad of the year. I served it along side grilled veggie burgers topped with Swiss cheese, roasted red peppers and sautéed radish greens (in olive oil with some diced onions). I’d never tried sautéing radish greens before, but I figured they were young and tender enough that it just might work. Tim really liked it. But then again, he likes almost anything… :)

Oh, and I can’t forget the sweet potato fries. Did I ever mention that I love sweet potato fries??? No? Okay, here goes: I loooove sweet potato fries!

How about you? Have you tried anything new in your garden or kitchen lately?

What’s Coming Up

Here’s a quick peek at what’s coming up in our vegetable garden so far…


Seedlings: cucumber, butternut squash, watermelon (not pictured), kale (not pictured), cabbage, Brussels sprouts & broccoli…

Thirty or so heads of garlic at one end of a raised bed…


Asparagus (which we gladly inherited from our home’s previous owners)…

Our first harvest of the year (a full two weeks ahead of last year’s)!

You Decide.

Last weekend we made a leisurely “window shopping” visit to IKEA. At the end of the store, I quickly perused the seasonal furniture (our recent yard work has put me in that mode). I noticed a new outdoor dining chair that had yet to appear on the website, but I quickly passed it by as I rushed to join Tim in the checkout line. Now don’t get excited, all we bought was a pack of little felt pads for under chair-legs (whoopee!).

So anyway. Later, I was trying to find some information about a particular chair produced by Thonet in the fifties. During my search, I happened upon an image of a different Thonet chair that immediately brought to mind the one I’d seen at IKEA the day before. The s 40F, designed by Dutch architect and designer Mart Stam, originally appeared in the 1935 Thonet catalog. As a side note, according to Thonet Germany, Stam designed the first cantilevered chair in furniture history (the s 33, in 1926) predating Marcel Breuer and Mies van der Rohe by several years. But apparently, this was a contended issue, with Breuer and Stam actually going to German court in a patent lawsuit, to settle the issue of who was the legal inventor of the basic cantilever chair design principle.

Either way, there’s no arguing that the Thonet s 40F came way before the IKEA Vinö. But just humor me here, and take a look at the two chairs:

s 40F by Mart Stam for Thonet, 1935

Description according to Thonet Germany website: “In all of his furniture designs Mart Stam relied on straightforward forms, an aesthetic economy of means in the construction and the benefit of improved sitting comfort.” The chair is “clear and reserved in form, with ideal sitting comfort and high quality with respect to materials and processing.”
Wood:
In it’s current incarnation, the wooden strips are made of solid Iroko, a weather resistant, high-density African wood that has been Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified. It is similar to teak in appearance and has a smooth, even surface. All wooden parts are oiled for protection.
Metal Frame:
weather-resistant tubular brushed stainless steel
Price:
609,00€ ($820.00) from http://www.dieter-horn-designfurniture.com in Germany

Vinö by Niels Gammelgaard for IKEA, 2010

Description according to the IKEA website: “A comfortable chair that gives. Body-contoured back for great comfort. Stackable. Saves space when not in use.”
Wood:
Solid acacia, a durable hardwood, highly suitable for outdoor use. Pre-treated with oil. Not certified as responsibly managed, but IKEA claims they are working towards that goal.
Metal Frame:
Steel with silver powder coating
Price:
$59.99

The influence is obvious. Not that I’m surprised. IKEA often riffs off more famous designs. When I first saw the Vinö, I thought it was okay, but now that I’ve seen what it’s supposed to look like, it seems a bit…how should I say…lacking. But then again, fourteen IKEA versions can be bought for the price of one Thonet chair. Does the IKEA Vinö’s lack of grace, awkward armrest supports, and almost-certain lack of comfort (earth to IKEA: people do NOT have flat butts!) make it one-fourteenth the chair? Or does it’s affordability make up for it’s shortcomings? Most people wouldn’t have the luxury of choosing between the two, so does it even matter?

That’s something only you, your wallet, and your buttocks can decide.
Talk amongst yourselves.


photo via Thonet Germany