The Weekly Bean – on Friday

Hey – I actually took three whole days off last weekend! I read my book (yes, that paper thing you hold in your hand), visited my in-laws, did some gardening and drank up the sun. The tomatoes and basil are in the ground and the window boxes are up and ready. My beans are continuing to grow, as beans will do if you treat them properly. Now they have new neighbors, that’s all.

I also harvested a few heads of the lettuce and spinach and have put together a multitude of salads with them. Can’t wait for them tomaters!

The hubby took my picture next to my long postage stamp of a vegetable garden. I’ll send it off to my family as soon as they get their new computer.

And That's A Margy Growing Right There
And That’s A Margy Growing Right There

Summer Colors

August 1. My parents’ anniversary and the height of summer (sorry, buddies in Oz!). My basil is lush and full and my tomatoes are ripening on the vine. I spent several hot hours weeding and trimming, then watering. If the gods are with me, I’ll sleep well tonight.

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The evening gave me a nice view as well.

Evening Sky
Evening Sky

That’s not bad, even with the power lines.

Night, all!

Never Too HotĀ ForĀ Dinner

At least when you're having salad. I spent the day escaping from air conditioned retreat to air conditioned retreat (I know, Aussie friends, this is beyond reckoning at this point in your calendar!), ending up in my noisy, air conditioned office and then a blissfully quiet air conditioned public library. Afterward, I decided to brave the heat long enough to visit the farmers market in town and bring home some choice samples for a cool, salad-based dinner:

I decided to let these guys freshen up in a pan of water, so they'll be nice and crisp.

Basil? Pesto!

This fresh garlic came from a farmer who lived near my relatives in Bellingham, MA. We went there for the Fourth of July and enjoyed a lovely potluck and fireworks over the lake. I can't wait to try this garlic in a recipe.

Stay cool, all your northern hemisphere types! To folks in southern lands, stay dry – love ya!

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All Present and Accounted For

I put in another round of veggies, the last for at least the time being. The front yard is coming into bloom and looking prettier every day. I still have to lay mulch, but the bulk of it is done. I transplanted some mint to a larger pot and it'll be much happier now. Watered everything down, probably just in time for the next rain storm.

Here's the whole front yard in its greening glory!

The pansies are extremely colorful this time of year.

I wish I knew what this was. The foliage is rose-like, including thorns, but I don't recognize the flower.

Here's another picture of the flower. Any ideas? Is this some kind of rose?

Here are some veggie pictures now:

My transplanted mint, looking a little peaked. I'll perk up now that it's got more room!

Put in two tomato plants. One's an early producer, the other one isn't.

Can you see my shadow on the left? The plants will enjoy all that sun!

I planted a bunch of basil this year. It's still in the baby stage, but we'll be pesto city in a few months. Not to mention basil and tomatoes. Get some fresh mozzarella and drizzle olive oil over it…yeah!

Before then, though, we'll have plenty of strawberries. I'll bake up some shortcake and serve it with the berries and whipped cream.

Last but not least, here's my spinach. Give it a month or so and we'll have plenty of the healthy, dark green veggies on our table. I like it best raw, in salads, or mixed into a stew or soup.

More later. Let me know if you can identify the red flower!

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Harvest Time

I just made up another batch of pesto with the basil I have growing in such abundance. The )!@*$)@) tomato horn worms keep coming back. We've killed three so far and expect to be shortening the lives of others before too long. Man, they're persistent bugs, I'll grant them that. They won't let go of that tomato vine for love or money!

I also started making infused oils, starting with the basil. It's easy: take 1 part pesto to 2 parts oil and steep for 4 – 5 days. Strain and decant into a clean jar and voila! I save them for Christmas presents. Since there's basil in there, I freeze the oil just to be on the safe side if I'm going to store it for any length of time.

Here's a really nice, really easy, pesto recipe from The Moosewood Cookbook Cooks at Home:

3 cups loosely packed fresh basil leaves
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1/3 cup pine nuts
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2 cup olive oil (I use extra virgin oil)
Salt and pepper to taste

Combine the basil, garlic, pine nuts and cheese in a food processor. While blade is spinning, add olive oil in a slow stream. Taste and add salt/pepper as desired or necessary.

This is the recipe I've used for years and it makes one heck of a good pesto! It's great on pasta, of course, but also tops chicken very nicely. I love it in green beans and with tomatoes, too. It's really amazing stuff.

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Garden Update

I found another horn worm this morning, a much smaller one. It was also covered with wasp larvae, which means it was destined to become lunch for hungry baby wasps. I snipped the branch it was clinging it to and gave it the brick treatment that Aram used on a much bigger and healthier one. That little mother's dead and I hope the larvae all go the same route, to the great tomato plant in the sky.

The garden is looking pretty good, though, at least some of it. I've given up on the front yard. All the rain has caused it to become grown over with grass and weeds. Given my current back condition, I'm certainly not going to be weeding and turning soil anytime soon. There are still nice plants in there, but everything's overgrown.

The peony is not doing well and hasn't been for a while. I don't know if it's the location or the weather or the soil, but it's dying off. I'll leave it until next year and see if it does any better. The snaps are still fine and blooming away. I think the season may be over for the day lillies, though. They're turning into gray stalks, although one plant still seems to be sending up blooms.

The window boxes are fair to middling. Again, I think the rain has clobbered them. Some are okay and some are not. I'm continuing to water them, on the days they need it, and hoping they make it through the season intact. If not, I'll upend them in the back yard and try it again next year.

I never got around to replanting the mint, so it's gone, too. I'm being philosophical about it. I can only do so much, so am keeping attention focused on the tomatoes and the herbs. It would have been nice to have mint, too, but between a crazy work schedule and then a back injury almost immediately after that ended, there just hasn't been the chance to do everything I wanted to do.

I've got thyme and basil a'plenty, though. They're both looking bushy and healthy:

I've got some big, green tomatoes, too. I'm surprised I've gotten any at all, given the weather and the latest blight of horn worms. They seem to be coming in, though, and for that I'm happy:

Overall, can't complain.

Finally, Rosie's Iris are hanging in there, tough as can be. My husband accidentally went over them with the lawn mower and they're still going, albeit looking a bit cut down. Hearty little guys!

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