Monday, April 16, 2012

On gardening: Shadbush, soap, and save-the-date notes

I drove out to Bob's Trees in West Galway (NY) and finally bought the shadbush (AKA, serviceberry, shadblowI've been wanting to add to our northern garden. The tree nursery is an impressive operation and the very knowledgeable young man who helped me was a terrific resource. If you live anywhere near Saratoga County and need any trees or shrubs, check out Bob's Trees. They have a lot of locally grown stuff, acres and acres of it, and much of it is quite large. They also carry some smaller commercially grown shrubs and trees. For a fair fee, they will deliver and plant what you buy.

I have never been able to garden with gloves on. I find it's just too hard to pick out weeds and trim in tight spots unless I use my bare hands. Thus, my hands get filthy and scratched up when I work outside. I have come to love this fancy soap indulgence: Crabtree & Evelyn's Gardeners Hand Scrub with pumice. It ain't cheap but it really does the job. Sometimes I can find it on sale in the off season. But since I don't spend a lot of money on makeup and girly products, I don't feel too guilty about buying something that works and helps to keep my hands looking civilized.

Some dates to save:

June 9, Saturday: Soroptimist International of Schenectady Garden Tour, 10 am to 4 pm. Tour nine gardens in Schenectady County. Call 885-9710 for more info.

July 8, Sunday:  Soroptimist International of Saratoga, Secret Gardens Tour, 11am - 5pm. Click here for more details.

And check out The Garden Conservancy's Open Days Directory to find information about gardens you can visit throughout America. You can purchase a copy of the directory or click on the "Open Days" link for a schedule here. You can also find information about public gardens in your area or near where you may be travelling. My sister gave me a copy of the directory again this year as a birthday gift. I very much enjoyed the Vermont gardens I was able to visit through this program last year.

Happy Gardening!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Easter Sunday: A yellow afternoon.

On this Easter afternoon, a warm spring sun lures me outside.
 Daffodils are at their best.
My sister Mary recently told me that she wishes she could be like Miss Rumphius, but would plant daffodils everywhere instead of lupine. I think it's a good plan.
Forsythia brightens a shady corner.

 A dandelion and...

 ... coltsfoot volunteer to do their part.

Yellow, yellow, yellow.

Happy Easter!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Easter Saturday

Checking out the winter market of the Saratoga Farmers Market was my goal for this Saturday morning.

After a breakfast of some homemade bread toast from yesterday's baking (yum!)  I headed to the Division Street School.
The Swiss chard tempted me. Gotta think what to cook it with and buy some next weekend. Beautiful colors.
There were root vegetables in abundance. I bought parsnips, which I have come to appreciate in recent years.
 Mmmm, buttermilk. I like to use this for baking. Maybe next week for this, too.
Ramps! I don't know what to do with ramps. Anybody know any good recipes? I know that ramps are a wild onion or leek, available only for a short time in early spring. At least, that's what one farmer told me. Lots of folks were selling them today. I guess a Google search could help me find a recipe.
Good music at the market today, the toe-tapping kind.
This afternoon, the Handsome Husband and I took a walk down our road to see how spring is progressing.
One neighbor has lovely daffodils...
while across the road from them, the foals are beginning to arrive. Mama was worried about me getting too close so I moved on. 

In one paddock, these yearlings, below, were curious about everything. Another paddock held several pregnant mares looking uncomfortable as they stood quietly, waiting for their time to come. I chose not to bother them for a photo.

Below, the shadblow is blooming. Also called serviceberry and shadbush, it's a small native tree that I associate with upstate New York and the Hudson Valley. I want to plant one in our yard. They are hard to find commercially, but I just noticed an ad today for a local dealer, Bob's Trees in Galway, that says they sell them. Gonna check that out.

A little further down the road, the young beef cattle have arrived. I assume these are Herefords. I like that there are still pockets of farming in our rapidly growing town.
My husband just informed me that the Mets won their game today. They are 2 and 0, he says happily. 

Yup, it's early spring in upstate New York. Come next fall, I give the Mets about the same chances I give these Herefords.

Friday, April 6, 2012

A simple supper for Good Friday

Today was a quiet day of puttering around the house, trying to get back into the swing of things after a month away from home. 

Because it is Good Friday and because my Handsome Husband had to work tonight, I wanted to plan a simple meatless supper for the two of us.

I started this morning by mixing up some dough for a multi grain bread that I baked in a Dutch oven, which I have written about here before. As you can see from the first photo, it came out really well, round and crusty, just like artisan bread from a bakery, only better.

Next, I made a curried lentil soup, inspired by one I'd read about on another blog. The recipe starts with a bit of fresh ginger and some garlic - oh, those two scents are mahvolous together. Here below, the soup is just ready to come to a boil. Then it simmered for about 30 minutes.
 My eldest son, John, the restaurateur, and his lovely wife, Kristin, are both wonderful soup makers. I am indebted to them for telling me about immersion blenders. I bought one like this for about twenty bucks a couple of years ago and I do love it when I want to puree (or just blend slightly) a hot soup.

Here below is our simple supper: fresh, homemade, healthy, economical, and quite tasty.

Cook's note: My version of this soup had a bit of bite to it, with more garlic, fresh ginger, and curry than the recipe called for. You can make a milder version by sticking to the original recipe. It still fills the house with lovely exotic cooking scents and has a good flavor.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

When it comes to gardening, ya gotta have faith.

 I just returned to upstate New York from a month in Tennessee. When I left there, the peonies were about to bloom, for Pete's sake. That doesn't usually happen around here until mid-June. I say "usually" because who knows what will happen after this no-real-winter of a year.

This will be a year of two springs for me. After watching the warm weather roll in across northern Tennessee, I get to watch spring arrive all over again here at home. Right now, the forsythia is in its glory against the still leafless woods.

Late last spring, I discovered a large bag of sad-looking daffodil bulbs in the garage. I'd purchased them the fall before and then forgotten to plant them. Still in their brown paper bag from the store, some had tried to send up shoots, while others just looked dried out or rotten.

I stood there looking at that sad mess and berated myself for being so wasteful and careless. I almost chucked them onto the compost heap but then I thought, what the heck, let's give it a try.

So at exactly the wrong time of year, I planted thirty sickly daffodil bulbs around a low wall near the road.

Yesterday, I did a tour of the garden and guess what? I counted twenty-nine daffodil plants putting up leaves, all from that ignored and mishandled bag of bulbs. Not all of them have buds, but several of them do. I'm hoping that the others may gain enough oomph through this growing season to actually put out some blooms next year.

In gardening, as in so many things in life, sometimes you just have to have a little faith.

Happy Easter!