Starts of Spring

It was a long, hard winter here, but now there’s no denying it — it’s finally spring (finally!).

This will be our second year growing garlic. In the fall of 2009, we started by planting several heads of organic garlic we got from a grocery store. From that planting, we got a harvest of about thirty full heads (enough to get us through the year without purchasing any garlic from a store). We also had enough surplus, that last fall we were able to propagate the next crop with it. Isn’t that cool??? Okay, I realize there are very few people who will find that even remotely “cool”…

We selected the largest heads, divided them into separate cloves, and planted them approximately 2″ deep and 6″ apart (experts suggest planting between 4″ and 8″ apart — Each clove will grow into a complete head of  garlic, so a smaller space will limit the size of each new head).

As for other veggies we’re growing this year… So far, in our raised beds, Tim has direct-seeded spinach, broccoli rabe, carrots, radishes, and mesclun (with kale, and arugula to come). I don’t have any images of them — just picture cute, tiny little sprouts. :)

Garlic (left) & Brassica Starts (right)

We also have a plot in a community garden (located in an otherwise unused corner of a nearby cemetery), which we hope to have access to soon. For that, Tim has started several brassicas: broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, and brussels sprouts (one of my favorites!), as well as cucumbers. I think he’s also trying to do watermelon and butternut squash, but the old seeds don’t seem to be germinating (yet). Once the community plot is plowed, we’ll put in string beans, potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, basil, and other various herbs, most of which we’ll get as starts from Greesnsgrow.

Broccoli (left) & Brussels Sprouts (right)Cucumber Sprouts

Our goal is to be able to be able to get through most of the year without having to buy much produce from the grocery store. I’m pretty sure we’re gonna need a chest freezer…

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April is for Azalea

This is the time of year when our front yard looks it’s best. Everything is filling out, and the new growth is bright and fresh. We have two azalea bushes flanking our walk, and they are finally full of white blooms.

Hopefully the flowers can hold on for at least a week without getting washed away by the forecasted rains.

Our little Moxie-girl

I should be posting more pictures of the perennials in our front yard once I remind myself of the names of all of them.

Poached Eggs & A Simple Spring Meal

Last weekend we visited Tim’s parents and came home with a couple dozen eggs freshly laid by their small flock of chickens. So, tonight I tried making poached eggs for the first time. Since I’d heard that poaching could be a bit tricky, I decided to try the process that appeared to be the most fool-proof:

Using this process, my first egg came out pretty well, but the second one’s yolk was a bit overcooked. It was still wet inside, though, so it was good enough.

For our simple dinner, I tossed some asparagus (picked from our garden) with a bit of olive oil, salt, and pepper, and roasted it at 400ºF for about 12 minutes.

Then I buttered and toasted a hamburger bun (the only bread we had in the house), topped it with the roasted asparagus, poached egg, and finally, some shaved Pecorino Romano.

Tim digs in. I gave him the better egg.

Our meal was rounded out by a tangy salad of fresh dandelion greens (picked from our yard*) tossed with balsamic vinaigrette.

Tim really enjoyed the meal, so I’m sure I’ll be getting more practice poaching eggs in the near future.

Have you ever made poached eggs?
If so, how do you like to prepare and serve them?

*pesticide and herbicide-free. Why else would it be full of dandelions?

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)!

Summer Wind, Shifting Sails

It’s funny how once the weather warms up, my focus so quickly gets diverted from all of our unfinished indoor projects, to all of our unfinished outdoor projects.

One of our recent indoor priorities was to get the kitchen ceiling finished, so we can finally, after almost three years, put in a proper light fixture (we still have a trash-picked floor lamp in the corner of the room). The ceiling is now 80% done… But more on that later! Now, I’d rather think about the back yard!

Lately, I’ve been window-shopping fire pits. I love the feel and smell of a wood-burning fireplace. But since I don’t have one inside the house, gosh darn it, I’ll have one outside the house!

I love the look of a simple concrete bowl…


Solus Hemi natural gas-burning fire bowl

…but these are priced waaaaaay out of our range (at $3500-$4200, whose range is it within?!). I’ve thought about purchasing a bowl-shaped concrete planter or even making our own concrete bowl, but the concrete bowl planters I’ve found online are at least 500 lbs (and are still way too expensive anyway). And I don’t think anything we’d make ourselves would be safely fireproof. Not to mention the mess we’d make.

So, here are the few examples of fire pits on the lower end of the price spectrum…that I actually like…(listed from most to least expensive):

CB2 Sparky

Fire Sense Square

Fire Sense Grilltech Terrace

Fire Sense Urban 650
Fire Sense Urban 650

Landmann Halo
Landmann Halo

I like the idea of a round shape, since we have so many straight lines going on in the space…but with the exception of the CB2 Sparky (which is actually a tad more than I’d like to spend), the round ones are a bit flying saucer-esque with their tripod legs…and Tim just cringed when I showed him the Grilltech Terrace, so I guess that one’s out. :) I am drawn to the square one, though, with its clearly modern design which distinguishes it from the masses. I am taking suggestions…

And of course, after we decide on a fire pit, we’ll just have to flank it with a couple of butterfly chairs that I’ve been eyeing for so long…right???

Dining Alfresco

All of a sudden it’s summer (or so the weather is telling leading us to believe)! So, this weekend we took the grill out of storage and have been eating our meals outside.

Our first outdoor meal of the season:

Veggie burgers with shoestring sweet potato fries and freshly picked dandelion salad – yum!

Here’s to many more alfresco meals to come!

Eat Your Asparagus-Picking Heart Out

Today, I, like Martha Stewart, braved the rains to harvest asparagus before the tops had a chance to loosen… But let’s be serious folks, the similarities pretty much end there. I didn’t wear cute little wellies, carry a pastel umbrella, or collect the spears in a woven basket. Also unlike Martha, who planted several hundred plants at her Bedford home, we have only three. Therefore, we never get much asparagus at a time. However, it is usually enough for the two of us. Tonight, it served to top off a sweet potato and egg frittata. And it was good, dagnabit! Martha, eat your heart out.

The Shadow of Things to Come

Yesterday’s weather was pretty much perfect…a nice break after several days of rain and gray. It makes me look forward to the many meals we will eat outside in the coming months.We were beginning to think that perhaps our asparagus plants had given up the ghost. But alas, we finally noticed a few stalks popping up. Spring has finally sprung!