Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Mixed Plate: July Gardenwatch

It's been over a month since I last posted about Le Jardin de Wasabi and I'm glad to say I'm able to gather more than a few handfuls of herbs. I can gather a handful of sugar peas, along with those herbs now! Woo hoo!!

Behold, my Green Pea-ness - Photos by Wasabi Prime

I've been regularly visiting the little forest of sugar snap pea plants, nabbing handfuls of green pea-ness (yes, say that out loud, in a crowded room, I dare you!), as well as snipping herbs, mostly to keep the plants from going totally out of control. I'm fairly certain the lemon balm and mint plants I have are plotting towards world domination, so I make sure to keep them on opposite sides of the yard and I harvest literal handfuls every week to keep their global anarchy at bay. But the sugar peas are kindly and amiable, as they continue to provide just enough to keep me supplied in weekly stir frys and salads. I tend to pick them when they're small, mostly because I like them tender, and it keeps them from sitting too long and becoming tempting targets for bugs. Cracking open a sugar pea and finding a big fat caterpillar in it is not a good way to get a meal going.

At the risk of personal health and provoking the ire of trained foragers, I've been gathering little red berries on this random bush that grows out of a dead stump in our yard. They're really tiny berries, super tart and it probably takes me over a week or two of steady picking to yield maybe a small jar's worth of jam. Mr. Wasabi calls them bilberries, I've heard them called currants, and when I look online I only find articles that heavily advise me to keep poison control on speed dial. But so far, we're not hallucinating or seeing spirit horses galloping in the sky, so I think we're good on our backyard foraging. With the exception of Miss Indy eating some "magic" mushrooms that grew in our marshy lawn and completely tripping-out, we've been very fortunate in nature's bounty.

Mystery Berries - delcious and non-hallucinogenic! - Photos by Wasabi Prime

But on to safer harvests -- I have to say our garden will most likely not yield any impressive veggie harvests due to our funky summer weather and regular raids by woodland creatures. I'm constantly sowing carrots because the ones that start growing just get eaten up, which has not happened in previous years, so clearly we have a new fuzzy neighbor that is most unwelcome. The chard I had growing got om-nommed by leaf miners, so I'm cutting bait and pulling the rows to put in something else. I still have seeds left and will likely replant for the fall, but in containers on the patio that are tougher for the bugs to get to. I've been a fan of onions and garlic as creatures great and small seem to steer clear of them -- I have scallions, shallots and have been planting our garlic that sprouts. I snip the greens from all those, which are great in soups, stir frys and a flavorful garnish, since the parsley I've planted is too young to snip. I've been trying to grow everything from seed, so it's slow going for some items, but I did pick up some basil plants at the farmers market -- had to transplant a couple of them into different pots, as two were nearly mutilated beyond recognition by slugs. Boo!!!

Herbal remedies from Jardin de Wasabi - note the wily mint and lemon balm! - Photos by Wasabi Prime

But as I've said before, hope springs eternal and gardening is the realm for optimism. I've got eggplant sprouts getting big and strong in the laundry room, set for an outdoor move, along with Walla Walla onion and broccoli rabe sprouts that are sprouting both indoors and out. The photos of the peat pots on this post are a little old, as the sprouts are probably over two inches high and at the risk of a serious jinx, I have to say, so far, so good. I moved several summer squash sprouts outdoors and nearly half of the sprouts got wiped out from insects, but there's seven or eight troopers that seem to be holding the line. I salute their Red Dawn surivorship and hope they get big, strong and squashy.

So wish the garden good luck and I look forward to posting regular updates as well as kitchen experiments with some of the harvested goods!

Keeping fingers crossed for the new kids on the gardening block! - Photos by Wasabi Prime

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  1. I loved this post, Denise. I too am enjoying peas, but while I was traveling, my husband didn't harvest, so we're going to the other end - harvesting them as mature peas. I chose a variety you could eat either way - as pods or as peas. Even with the heat, they're still producing - just enough for us each week. Lettuces have been my crowning glory this year. They're giving way to beets now. It's fun to choose what to grow. Unfortunately, this year we don't have any tomatoes! I doubt I'll see a pumpkin with this late start, but faith springs eternal, no?

  2. Beautiful garden! It looks fresh and healthy.. I'm jealous of your wide variety of veggies! Just gorgeous..

  3. So envious that you have such a nice garden! I totally wish I could step out back and have my own farm-fresh picked veggies. Looking forward to seeing what you make with all this stuff!

  4. Lovely! But what do you do with your wily lemon balm? Mine is gradually taking over all of Ballard.

  5. Regarding the lemon balm question, one word: PESTO! Stay tuned, I've got a post coming up showing a lemon balm and mint pesto, as they are wily, pernicious leafy beasts and pestos make quick work of overgrown herbs!


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