I’ve been keeping a garden diary in a little black and red notebook.
I find it amusing that the notebook is from Poland, and that its calendar is going to run out after this year. I also think it’s funny that I find it easiest to keep this record in pen-and-paper form. I spend my entire day in front of a computer. I share my life with the world via a computer. And yet, every week on Sunday night, I sit in the passenger’s seat of our car and scribble away as we head south, back to the city.
And that might be the reason I like it so much; it’s the antithesis of the 50-odd hours I spend chained to my desk at work each week. Anytime I stay there past 7pm, which is everyday, I have to sign-out in a log book. I’m often shocked at how hard I find writing after a long day of typing and conference calls. I grab the pen and my brain pauses. My hand feels weird curved around the pen. And then it all comes back and the letters flow with the ink, in a halting, inelegant script.
Things are really speeding up in the garden, and the last two weeks have required two or more pages each to record all the developments. By the end of those two measly pages, my hand is always cramped up and sore. I can remember back in my high school days being able to write and write and write for hours on end. I filled up notebook after notebook with my musings and stories and poems and rants.
My notebook scribblings are a little less torrid these days:
Two of the Thomas Jefferson lettuces (Brown Dutch and Paris White Cos) just aren’t doing anything. The Spotted Aleppo started in March, however, are about cutting size now. In fact, took out four or five heads for dinner last night. Made a salad with them, the radishes, some dill from the porch, a few leftover cukes and pine nuts. Served with grilled chicken marinated in lemon thyme, variegated thyme, sage and garlic chives, olive oil, sherry pepper [from Bermuda], lemon juice and rice wine vinegar. Also made orecchiete with grilled eggplant, parsley, garlic chives and sheep’s ricotta from Dancing Ewe. Utterly delicious!
Certainly not going to win any literary prizes, but I figured, of anything to share, that was it, because we need to talk about that pasta I so briefly alluded to in the penultimate sentence.
Pasta with eggplant, herbs and ricotta is a classic, a little bland, but a classic nonetheless. But pasta with herbs, ricotta and eggplant grilled over real charcoal is another thing entirely. The smokiness adds a sophisticated note that elevates the whole dish. This is five ingredient cooking I can get behind.
And as you can imagine, a lot of ink has been spilled in my notebook about future food. I have devoted just over two entire pages to deciding what tomatoes I want to grow. Tomatoes are my favorite vegetable in the entire world, and perusing the catalog from Silver Heights, trying to winnow down the list of more than 300 varieties to say 10 or so, is a bit like Sophie’s Choice. But it’s necessary. The list is there to keep me in check.
I made a chart, dividing the tomatoes into sizes and colors, early and late, tall and short, determinate and indeterminate, in an effort to get a nice mix, but in the end I think I’m just going to make my decision much as I decide which horse to bet on at the races; by going with the names I like best.
I have a hard time resisting plants called Big White Pink, Cream Sausage, Green Gage, Rose de Berne and Opalka. I also have a hard time resisting tomatoes that promise to keep me in sundried tomatoes through the winter (Principe Borghese, which I bought yesterday and can’t wait to plant).
Last night Isaac and I went for a walk through Central Park at twilight. The park at night, much like the park in the morning, is a completely different park. As the sun sets and the lights come on, the sounds soften, the tourist groups disappear, the park empties out and only the locals are left. We strolled and marveled, and yes, discussed tomatoes.
So tell me. How do you decide on the tomatoes you’re going to grow? Or if eggplant is more your thing, or pumpkins or dahlias or basil… What’s your method? How many is too many?