Saturday, May 30, 2009

Why There Can Never Be Too Many Peppers

We've had an intensely rainy spring--Ireland's got nothing on WNC in May for sheer screaming greenness. But it's meant that gardening is happening on a different schedule than it did last season.

Plus--there are groundhogs.

For years I have worked with intention, fencing and strategic urination (don't ask) to repel the whistlepigs that populate the hillside below my garden. But this year there must be a cleverer than usual one because my spring garden was ravaged by their monstrous appetites. Just as the romaine was ready for a first harvest, it was devoured, nibbled to a nubbin.

In my grief, I decided to plant lots of things that groundhogs don't like. Okra, tomatoes, peppers.

Lots of peppers. In fact, tomorrow morning I am hopeful I will plant the last of the six varieties of peppers that I bought. That's a lot of peppers, so it's a good thing we like 'em.

There are a few more tomatoes to plant, too. I'm all-heirloom this year--Cherokee Purples, Orange Russian, Little Mama, Grape Sprite and Mama Roma. There are a couple others that my boss gave me but I can't recall the names. Doesn't that sound like a rainbow of tomatoes?

The plant on the right above is the young woad. She flowered, went to seed and is now covered with tiny golden seed pods.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Sunny, with slightly singed basil

We are having an old-fashioned Appalachian spring. Rain, rain and more rain, cool temperatures, the occasional frost warning. We did have some almost-freezing weather a couple of nights ago, but I didn't worry much about what's planted since it's mostly the tough stuff.

Going out the back door this morning, though, I noticed a big pot of basil that I'd just planted last week. It has a little black around the edges of a couple of leaves but is otherwise alright.

The last frost date in any gardening zone is likely to be a guess, not a firm appointment with summer.

I have gone off sugar (again!) and feel mah-velous. I periodically quit cold-turkey but find it sneaking up on me again. So I am creating nourishing and wholesome meals to distract me. Lots of fresh veg and especially greens--sometimes wilted with olive oil.

Maybe I'll have some for lunch right now.

Please excuse me.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

First, Dirt. Then, Veggies.

Last summer, I grew tomatoes for the first time ever. Crazy, I know, especially for someone who grew up in a family where we grew tons of vegetables and fruits every year, even renting additional garden space when we didn't have enough at home.

My tomatoes did very well in their sandy soil and sunny patches amid the flowers. I just picked up 9 little Big Boy plants, and one yellow cherry tomato plant at Loews. I also have plenty of organic lettuce and watercress seeds to plant in a nice 6-foot long wooden window box I found in the trash. But even more exciting, I got a big bag for organic garden soil for less than half price! It was broken open and rebagged and marked down for quick sale.

Soil is the key to growing good food and pretty flowers. My yard is mostly full of clay and rocks, with one sandy area by the driveway that I purged of crabgrass, and where I grew huge tomatoes last year (when everyone else in the neighborhood was unable to harvest theirs because of too much rain). I've amended the flower beds with manure, peat moss, compost and more soil for the last three years. There is a patch in the back yard where the previous owner grew vegetables: there was rich, dark soil and wooden fence posts buried to make beds. I planted some lettuce, carrots, fennel and pumpkins there last year, but only half-heartedly (see photo). One crop of lettuce was nice, but I didn't thin the carrots, and the fennel just didn't grow very big. And the pumpkins, well let's just say the vines took over and no pumpkins ever appeared. So the soil was willing, but the flesh was weak.

I am ready for more controlled experiments in growing this year, even planning a second planting of lettuces so I can have a ate summer/fall crop. And I'm using containers! Much more user-friendly. I'll post pictures when I have some.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Breaking the Fast

As a Southerner, I have a natural addiction to corn bread. I made a cake (we also call them "pones") of corn bread yesterday and had some for lunch. Then my friend Dio gave me a dozen eggs from her hens last night.

The stage was set.

For breakfast, I fried two of those eggs in butter and set them on a bed of roughly-sliced corn bread, which had been lightly drizzled with a little olive oil. I ground fresh black pepper over the top and added a dollop of spinach/artichoke hummus from the deli.

Served with hot black tea.

Very filling, flavorful and golden.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Mmmmmm...Pagan Foodies

Friends, we are Pagans who love to eat, to cook, to complain about the quality of store-bought tomatoes. I am grateful to Peg for jumping on this idea and creating a dynamic place to discuss and share and have a little greasy, home-made, delicious fun. Welcome!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


We invite any and all to share their thoughts, recipes, likes and dislikes. We're pagan, we love food, we love Mother Earth, and we believe in being closely connected to the seasons and the foods we eat. We garden, we choose organic and local foods, we support small farms and companies, and we cook because we enjoy it!