In the Graden
The last day of the year 2017. After a week of rain the sun finally showed its face this morning; the birds running riot in the yard. In addition to the usual feeder visitors (chickadees, sparrows, finches, juncos), we had a flock of robins in search of the final cotoneaster berries. They pulled a few cedar waxwings along with them too. The more unusual sight was the small gang of Steller’s jays. Given their size, I find it comical how timid they are, like a bunch of nervous gunslingers. Gulls, cormorants and crows on the wing completed the picture. I’ll take them all as good omens !
The photographer has taken the camera and fled to the wilderness, so you have to imagine the scene. The garden is in all its fall glory, which is to say it is a mess of almost spent plants accompanied by an understory of weeds going to seed (but oh so beautiful). I could claim a case of tendentious as a weed excuse, but truthfully past falls have been similar. A small flock of Chipping Sparrows came yesterday to glean those weed seeds. They seemed particularly fond of the crab grass. A few Goldfinches, dressed now in duller tones, kept lookout from drying spikes of wild Evening Primrose. I took their presence as a blessing on my wild gardening ways.
I read this line today:
I think I’ve managed that with our little piece of urban land. And now, each footfall will be a long good-bye. This coming summer we will be moving back to the west coast and the place that has always felt like home. We’re excited, and sad, and hopeful. We’ll walk paths long remembered but transformed in our absence. Hopefully, both old and new will be muses for my feet to love.
It’s still hot – and DRY ! I feel like I’ve spent all Summer watering the garden. It will be cold soon enough though, and we’ll be glad of the “stored heat” in all the things gathered and squirrelled away. I dug horseradish root on the weekend and added that to the already harvested cayenne, garlic and onions as a base for fire cider. Fresh ginger and turmeric made it in too, along with a few herbs that called out to me: rosemary, wild bergamot, calendula and echinacea. Heat to melt Winter’s cold !
Lamb’s Quarters (chenopodium album) is considered an edible weed. But go ahead and grow it on purpose. Put it with the kale and the lettuce; civilized like. Pampered, it’s much more tender, and cooked it is much tastier than spinach. Throw some radish greens into the mix. They’re prickly, but cooking sees to that. Oh, and add turnip tops; the bottoms do better in the fall anyway.
Heck, it is the heat (and the humidity). That’s southern Ontario for you; one week there’s frost warnings and the next, it’s a steam bath ! The garden has been taking up more of my time and things are coming along pretty good. The garlic is looking lovely ,
and our chums (cross between a cherry and a plum) blossomed profusely the last two weeks.
They’ve proved to be exceptionally hardy ! The other stone fruit trees didn’t fare so well. It was a hard winter on trees; we had a number of freeze thaw cycles. Then to top it all off, there were two ice storms in late winter/early spring. So, no blooms on the peach, apricot, plum or plumcot. They’ve all leafed out well except the peach which is limping along. Hopefully it will hang in there.
But hey, it is rhubarb season so time to celebrate! This year I decided to try rhubarb syrup. It makes a spectacularly pink elixir that was a welcomed treat with water and ice today. I thought it deserved a pretty name and came up with “Rhuby Slipper”. Not original alas, a quick google search showed others had similar thoughts. A refreshing local sub for lemonade !
Simmer 4 cups of chopped rhubarb with 1 cup of sugar and 1 cup of water for ~20 to 30 minutes.
Strain and keep the syrup refrigerated. The leftover cooked rhubarb is great on toast.
Add 2 to 4 tablespoons of syrup to 8 – 10 oz of water (sparkling would be nice).
Serve with ice.
Put a Ukelele tune on (Wild Child)
Try to keep cool !
While we’re on the topic of cold drinks …
Dorothy’s Green Dream
In a blender that can handle ice:
Blend 4 cups of water, 2 lemons (peeled and seeded), 2 strips of lemon zest, 1/4 to 1/2 cup sugar, 1/2 cup fresh french tarragon and 2 cups ice cubes.
Later in the season basil is good in place of the tarragon. Some day I’ll try mint.