March 16, 2011

Gardening Dreams...

I have dreams of having the most magnificent garden, full of vegetables and berries. I should probably tell you that I am unlikely to realize my dream, because I am yearning for my Grandmother's garden. She is a very, very tough act to follow. (She ironed bed sheets!) Growing up, I spent time every summer with my Grandmother, who lived in New England. Her garden was truly magnificent. It was probably 30' x 40' and had tidy rows of cucumbers, tomatoes, chives, and innumerable other vegetables and flowers. The cucumbers were not very large, and we ate them sliced up in a bath of vinegar with a pinch of salt. We still sometimes eat them this way in my family, it is truly delicious! The most exciting part of my Grandmother's garden was the outer column of raspberry bushes. At the far right of the neat garden square, there was an entire side of raspberries. We would pick them, eat them raw, she'd make them into pies with elaborate melt in your mouth pastry lattice tops, she'd make jam- I still to this day associate raspberries with my Grandmother. Growing wild on the rock wall behind the raspberry patch were blackberries, so sweet and juicy, I'd eat them right off the vine. Her grass was also littered with wild strawberries, which also didn't make it inside and were eaten right there. My Grandmother is quite a gardening, culinary and homekeeping idol to me, I even have painted every kitchen I have had light blue to match her kitchen! In my mind, it's the only color for a kitchen.

So where does this leave me with my gardening dreams? I haven't given up. Last year, I started all my seeds too late, and then went to New Orleans for a weekend, during a heat advisory and came home to all my tiny plants completely fried. Given that I have to contend with Southern weather, I probably can't achieve an identical garden to my Grandmother's, but I'm still optimistic! I salvaged from last year's very hot summer a few plants that I've nursed indoors this winter, a lychee plant and three chile plants. I have a habanero, an anaheim, and a pasilla bajio plant. I've also just started to germinate (indoors) fava beans, sugar snap peas, cherokee purple tomatoes (native to Tennessee with a purplish-red exterior), and san marzano tomatoes. The fava beans and sugar snap peas I'm soaking in water for 24 hours before I plant them and the others I'm sprouting in moist paper towels in ziplock bags.

I have dreams of growing some of my own vegetables and maybe this summer I'll be able to use my own tomatoes, chiles, fava beans and peas. And if the heat kills them all again, well, there's always next year :)

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