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Friday, May 24, 2013

Great Expectations

I have never had a vegetable garden.  I dreamed of being the kind of woman who trips out just before dinner to see what’s ripe, and tailors her menu accordingly.  Before this year though, our property failed to deliver a spot with enough direct sun to ensure success.  To appease myself, each year I plant window boxes with herbs and a few containers of tomatoes.  If it’s a dry summer, my herbs do fine, but during a damp season, the basil and parsley rot.  As the summer wanes, I’m forced to lug the tomato containers around the yard chasing the relocating sun.  Desperate for light, the tomato vines crawl thin and high.  They do bear fruit, but by late August, my bushes, if you can call them that, weaken into a tangled, yellowing mess, powdered with mildew.

This year however, hope sprang up in March.  As we cleaned up from our early winter wind calamity, I grasped that the loss of fourteen trees on our property at the end of January (five via natural circumstances and the rest as a preventative measure) meant a whole lot more sun.  Once again I contemplated strolling out to my garden to pick fresh tomatoes, maybe a cucumber, some lettuce, and zucchini.  In the spirit of making lemonade out of bitter fruit, I etched lines in the dirt plotting the brightest locale where towering pines used to block the sun.  I Googled gardening supply companies and rubbing my hands together, investigated zucchini recipes that will disguise the ingredient my husband abhors. 
Then May came and the foliage leafed out and I learned I’d been…optimistic. 
A few hours of direct sunlight do warm the part of our yard once harboring dense shade, but the key word is “few.” When the shadows darkened my coveted spot after less than three hours, I whined a bituntil  I noticed one small patch on the other side of the house, far away from the tree disaster, now bathes in direct sunlight. So what if my husband has visions of those twisted, yellowing vines I grow in pots each year advertising themselves to the neighbors.  So what that he’s afraid I won’t weed, and everyone driving by will see an overgrown jumble.  He loves me.  Together, we pulled up an 8’ by 4’ rectangle of grass he’d seeded and reseeded over the last 21 years.  Then he built me a raised garden bed.

No more lugging heavy plants.  No more paying a fortune for cardboard produce at the supermarket when it is in season and should be delicious and cheap.  No more replanting basil that has turned fuzzy with mold. No more running outside to pick up pots of tomato plants the wind has blown over.  By the end of July, I hope to be a tomato growing, lettuce picking, cucumber vining dynamo.
I will not discuss the fact that since I planted the garden last week, we’ve had about one ounce of sunlight in total.

It’s all about positive thinking here.  In that vein, does anyone know a recipe to magically transform zucchini?

Wishing you all a wonderful Memorial Day weekend, and offer my gratitude for those who have given of themselves in honor of our country.


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Glad you finally have a place to grow a garden. We haven't had a lot of sunshine this week either. Don't worry, it will come!

Manzanita said...

Although I dearly love trees, they can become a huge liability. I had land with many trees and over half died because of lack of rain and pine beetles. It is very expensive to have trees cut down.
Good luck with your raised beds.

mshatch said...

I know how you're feeling regarding the distinct lack of sunlight this week. I know we needed some rain but I have no had enough, thank you very much.

And what a nice hubby you have to build you a raised bed. I'd love to have one of those :)

Su said...

I throw zucchini into stir-fries or shred it into lasagne and spaghetti sauce and that sort of thing. But I really like zucchini so I rarely have to transform it.

One of my aunts makes zucchini bread-- I think she uses the exact same recipe as banana bread but substitues zucchini. Not sure how she prepares the zucchini, though-- maybe shredded?

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

I wish you sunshine and happy veges!
I happen to be a fan of steamed zucchini served with fresh cheese sauce. I also have a casserole recipe that really makes zucchini luscious.
4 c diced summer squash
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 c grated sharp cheese
1 c Bisquick or something similiar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp oregano
3 large eggs, whisked
1/2 c oil
Mix together everything but the oil and eggs and spread in a greased casserole dish. Mix the eggs and oil together and pour over the rest. Bake 350 degrees for 40-50 minutes. Can be frozen and reheated.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I plant only a few things each year. I actually use one of the flower beds around my pool for tomato and pepper plants.

Johanna Garth said...

It's still early. I bet your garden will turn out beautifully!

Tonja said...

I live in the burbs but have a vegetable garden in my back yard.

Maybe you could grow cold weather vegetables like greens - chard, kale, spinach, lettuce? I haven't had much success with them in containers.

But my strawberries and raspberries are happy in containers.

I don't do measurements... but here's my recipe. Fresh spinach. Shredded zucchini. Garlic. Maybe onion powder and pepper. A little bit of chicken broth or maybe a white cooking wine. Throw it all in a sauce pan and throw on the lid. Cook it a few minutes until it smells done - it only takes a few minutes. Maybe put parm. cheese on it. I think mushrooms would be good in it too, but I haven't tried it. The zucchini absorbs the taste of the other stuff. (I never make the same thing twice - drives my husband nuts.)

Mimi said...

zuccini flowers are delicious stuffed with goat cheese and deep fried.
Stuffed zuccini are nice, with grated cheese on top.
And I think Nigella Lawson has a recipe for zuccini cake, like carrot cake.
Google will be your friend!

Robin said...

I have faith in you and your garden. I have been visiting family. My brother just put his garden in this week, too. So, cross your fingers and count on those seeds to do what they want to do naturally! Keep us posted on the outcome:)

Arlee Bird said...

I wish you well with your gardening adventures this summer. I hope you have a bountiful harvest with much good eating. I tried a garden one year, but it didn't amount to much other than some rather scrawny cucumbers and an assortment of hot peppers that were more than we could eat. My yard seems to do okay with hot peppers, but that's about it.

Have a great holiday weekend!

Wrote By Rote
An A to Z Co-host blog

Jan Morrison said...

We're in our new (old) place and even tho the plan is to only be here a year we decided to plant a garden. I grew tomatoes under grow lights for about six weeks til they were tall and ready to be planted. Since I planted them it has done NOTHING BUT RAIN. Yep for three weeks it has rained. I'll be having BLB's instead of BLT's (bacon lettuce and blight!) Oh well - I like to start gardens no matter what so good luck with your bit of sunshine!

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

Good for you! I hope you and your hubby get to enjoy a bunch of fresh-off-the-vine 'mater sandwiches this summer. (Is there anything better?)

A.L. Sonnichsen said...

Congratulations on the new raised bed and the positive thinking! :) And you can't go wrong with chocolate zucchini bread. Not really healthy at all, but delicious! :D

Amy xo

Carol Kilgore said...

Good luck on your garden. Zucchini grows fast and is usually plentiful once it takes off. I love nothing better than fresh tomatoes. Wishing you lots of sun and warm temps!

'Yellow Rose' Jasmine said...

I wish you the best of luck with your new garden spot. Having seen some of your other projects, I can't help but believe it will all come out beautifully.
And remember to share some seedlings with neighbors... I did that and it showed me that if I had a sunnier spot then my seeds certainly would have done what they should have. I ended up with tons of produce from grateful friends who were happy to get some of my seedlings!