Like Herding Ducks

29 May

I fried some tomatoes last weekend.

Unfortunately, not in a culinary sense.  There was a frost warning Sunday and Monday nights, so my mom told me to put up-turned terra cotta pots over the two tomatoes I had planted.

But what turned out to be even worse than the frost was the two days of 90°+ heat on Wednesday and Thursday.  My poor helpless tomatoes fried in their own little pizza ovens.  By the time we woke up on Saturday morning they were shriveled and dead, dead, dead.

And then there were the beans.  Also dead (not sure if the frost or the heat got them), except for the ones that survived and are infested with aphids.  Where are all those ladybugs that lived in our house with us all winter long when I need them?

It’s kind of a relief though.  I knew something had to go wrong in the garden eventually, so I guess I’m hoping that this will be the extent of it.  For all my cranky, curmudgeonly complaints, I’m still a wide eyed optimist.

And how could I help but feeling optimistic when all the seeds I planted way back in the frosty, grey days of March are thriving?  We’re eating some beautiful lettuces and the peas are about to flower and the China rose winter radishes are nearly full size (with huge greens for steaming).  All planted in mid-March on a whim.  Zany.

Which leads me to a bit of a denouement.  I think the garden grunt-work is done, or very nearly.  We went to the Troy farmer’s market on Saturday to buy some plants, and I picked up a final order Wednesday at the greenmarket and then ordered a few extra arugula and broccoli raab seeds because my first experiences with both were so successful.

But all the beds are now dug, and the fences are up and the plant decisions are made.  From here on out, it’s just maintenance (not that I’m anticipating the maintenance to be easy by any means, but it just has to be easier than hours and hours of back-breaking labor, right?).

I’m sure I’ll find some way to occupy my time.  Maybe I’ll actually cook again… . Or maybe we’ll just go to more parties, like the one we went to on Sunday night that featured a demonstration of duck herding.  Yep, you heard that right.  Duck herding, which might just possibly be the best way on the face of the earth to spend a half an hour while sitting in the grass and sipping really tasty, locally-brewed beer.

Another good way to spend a half an hour is to have a supper of perfectly grilled steak, asparagus, mushrooms, salt potatoes (all accompanied by a wedge of really good blue cheese) and a salad of parsley and radishes plucked straight from the garden, like we did on Saturday night.

Or, you could thinly sliced some asparagus and the first slender stalks of broccoli raab from your garden and toss them with a garlic and pepper flake-laced oil, whole wheat linguini and sharp slivers of Parmigano Reggiano, like we did on Monday night.

Or, you could sit on your back porch with a glass of sun tea, or a beer, or a fizzy vermouth cocktail and watch the sun move across the grass and listen to the bees buzzing in the blackberries and maybe, just maybe catch a glimpse of a hummingbird enjoying your much loved lantanas.

5 Responses to “Like Herding Ducks”

  1. Lisa (Homesick Texan) May 29, 2009 at 7:07 am #

    Oh, Ann, you’re giving me a serious case of house and land envy. What a life! I want to pick my own radishes and learn how to herd ducks, too!

  2. Robin May 29, 2009 at 7:32 am #

    Gorgeous photos, Ann. I’m still so overjoyed for you and your house!

    But if I hear one more person mention blue cheese and steak I may keel over—I want it so badly (and it’s only 9:30 AM!)

    Have you gotten cheese from Bobolink Dairy farm yet?

  3. Christina May 29, 2009 at 7:04 pm #

    All good meals and good ways to spend one’s time.

    I’m so sorry to hear about the fried tomatoes. Argh! That just means you’ll have to replace with others you want. All is not lost . . ..

  4. ann June 1, 2009 at 6:53 am #

    Lisa — You might not know this, but I’m very open to bribery. Dr. Pepper Ribs for a weekend in the country sounds about fair ;-)

    Robin — Thanks! I’m usually not a fan of blue cheese on steak, it just seems like gilding the lily, but this cut needed a little extra fat :-) And yeah, I love Bobolink too. SO GOOD.

    Christina — Thanks! The replacement went well this weekend, I hope. Fingers crossed!

  5. Toni June 3, 2009 at 12:29 pm #

    I spent Memorial Day weekend doing maintenance in my garden in New Mexico. You want to talk about back breaking??? At the end of each day I was exhausted, but happy. The beautiful thing about gardening is that when you are finished, you can actually see the progress you’ve made. Love it!

    And love any meal that includes fresh veggies from the garden.

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