Monthly Archives: July 2021

CLOTHE THE GROUND

Something Good for the Soil

Soil has been called “the skin of the earth.” That “skin” nourishes much of life here, so let’s take care of it. Which is one reason for cover crops, that is, plants grown not directly for us, but specifically to maintain or improve soil health. Typical cover crops include rye, oats, buckwheat, clovers, and other mostly grains or legumes.
The most obvious benefit of a cover crop is the protection it affords the soil from wind and rain, either of which can carry away the most fertile surface layer. Also protection from temperature extremes. Another benefit is that cover crops can suppress weeds. Less obvious is cover crop plants’ ability to grab onto and bring back up to the surface layers nutrients that rain might otherwise wash beyond roots into the groundwater.

Buckwheat cover crop at Chanticleer

Some effects are even more subtle. Substances oozing from plant …

Read the complete post…

SENSUAL THINGS, AND WATER

Heady Nights

It’s difficult to work outside in the garden these days, especially in early evening. No, not because of the heat. Not because of mosquitos either. The difficulty comes from the intoxicating aroma that wafts into the air each evening from the row of lilies just outside the east side of my vegetable garden.

These aren’t daylilies, which are mildly and pleasantly fragrant. Wild, orange daylilies are common along roadways and yellow and hybrid daylilies, often yellow, are common in mall parking lots. (That’s not at all a dis’; the plants are tough and beautiful, and I’ve planted them also.) They’re also not tiger lilies, which lack aroma and sport downward turned, dark red speckled orange flowers with recurved petals. 

My fragrant lilies are so-called oriental hybrid lilies, which are notable for their large flowers and strong fragrance. My favorite among those I grow is Casa Blanca. The flowers are large and …

Read the complete post…

PERMACULTURE(?) HERE ON THE FARMDEN

True Accusation?

Accusations of my being a permaculturalist, that is, a practitioner of permaculture, are true, but only partially so. Yes, I grow peppers in a flower garden and persimmon as much for its beauty (see Landscaping with Fruit) as for its delicious fruits, also integrating other edibles right into the landscape. And, like permaculturalists, I do try to maximize use of the 3-dimensional space in my farmden with, for example, shade-loving black currants growing beneath my pawpaw trees.

I am also a permaculturalistic in maintaining the integrity of my soil by not tilling it or otherwise disrupting the structure that builds up naturally in undisturbed soils. New ground is prepared for planting by merely smothering existing mowed or stomped down vegetation. I mulch with compost, leaves, wood chips and other organic materials to keep bare ground from ever showing. 

And like permaculturalists, I try to grow plants adapted to the setting so …

Read the complete post…

FRUITS IN THE KITCHEN AND FRUITS ON THE TREE

Call for Recipes

About 30 years ago I wrote a book about fruits that were uncommon yet were uncommonly delicious and uncommonly easy to grow. That book has since gone out of print. It will soon be back in print, updated with additional “uncommon” fruits and, this time around, recipes.

The fruits I wrote about are all excellent eaten fresh. I am quite good at growing fruits; not so for doing anything else with them beyond transporting them from hand to mouth.

I am eliciting recipes from chefs and amateurs who have access to any of these fruits and can conjure up delicious jams, soups, tarts, salads, desserts, etc. — savory or sweet — that truly highlights their unique flavors. (I’ve read too many recipes that take a smidgen of fruit and stir it up with plenty of flour, sugar, butter, cream, whatever; to me that’s not really highlighting a fruit’s unique flavor …

Read the complete post…