Tuesday, April 26, 2011

April Continues to Blow Me Away

The front walk this week
Who knew that columbines could become borderline invasive.  That's what all the purple is on both sides of the pathway, the result of scattering seeds willy nilly fall after fall.  We do have lots of nice hybrid colors, dark purple, blue, pale lavender, plum.  But too many of all of them, so this season we'll be removing some plants after they finish blooming and won't be scattering seeds.

It's been a spectacular April.  Lots of rain making things lush and happy, enough warm weather to get things blooming, but no so much to make them finish too quick.  I continue to revel in the glory of it and am eternally grateful to live in such a fabulous place.
A typical days harvest from the asparagus patch
Needless to say they are daily on the plate.  Favorite combos; asparagus and eggs and/or muenster cheese and/or mushrooms. I've been eating piles of them blanched in salads and the skinny ones get munched raw in the garden the moment they are picked.
Illini Warrior, the first peony to bloom
I've waxed poetic in these posts many times on the glories of the peony, my favorite flower, queen of the garden.  The next two weeks should be peony filled, I'll try to be better about posting. We planted a lot of new varieties a couple of years ago and they are finally large enough that they should put on a very good show this year.  This Illini is so red it looks superimposed in this photo!
Radishes just say spring don't they?
Especially these Easter egg radishes in their fancy colors.  Lots of these have been going into the salads along side the asparagus.  I'm also fond of slicing them thin and layering them onto home baked crusty white bread spread with fresh butter and sprinkled with salt...
The lilac is in full bloom
It's funny how small this bush looks in this picture.  The scent it casts is anything but, you can smell it all over the yard and inside the house. At night the fragrance wafts over and into the windows by our bed, making for sweet dreams.  That chair right there in the photo, that is where I want to be sitting as often as possible, surrounded by the glorious soft scent of lilac.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

The Endless Work of Spring

 Traveler red bud,and Prairie Fire crab apple, bright even on a dreary day

Spring has taken over my life!  Partly too much work associated with my job,  I've been recruiting and enrolling and orienting new families at the community gardens and we are now up to 35 families with 77 kids gardening at 2 locations, I only have 3 garden plots left to fill.   Between work and having a thousand chores to do here at home, I seem to be paralyzed sometimes, I just want to wander around the yard and soak up the beauty of it all, but that doesn't get work done.  Add to that the fact that I haven't been sleeping well, (I think it is a combination of stress and menopause), I am waking up all too many nights at 2:30 and cannot seem to get back to sleep.  Sorry, but 3 to 4 hours of sleep just doesn't cut it, too many mights in a row like that and I get a bit crabby, not to mention exhausted.

I did manage to sleep last night and to achieve my one goal for today which was to get my little tomatoes stepped up into larger pots. I now have 46 tomato plants, about 12 varieties.  I will start to harden them off by moving them outside during the day and back in at night to prepare for setting out in the garden in about 2 weeks.  This is about twice what we need, but I always start too many.

Tonight we had our first batch of asparagus, cooked up with three large spring onions and a half pound of shrimp, simple and sweet, so yummy served over rice.  We also had our first spring greens, baby lettuce, arugula, spinach and red Russian kale, all mixed up into a tender and delicious salad to go along side the main dish.

In my not spare time I have been doing things like culturing cream with buttermilk.  The yield from 3 quarts of cream; 1 and a half quarts of buttermilk, a cup of creme fraiche and a pound and a half of the best butter I've ever tasted.  Tonight we had an appetizer of butter spread on our homemade white bread, topped with thin sliced french breakfast radishes, sprinkled with salt and pepper. Yeah.
So many textures and colors
The dogwoods are in full bloom now, spectacular against the blue, blue sky

These are the images of scenes that stop me in my tracks as I am crossing the yard with another wheelbarrow of mulch, or a shrub to find a place for, we just can't seem to stop bringing plants home even though we are running out of room. Oh the conflicts of springtime, so many plants, so little time...