Thursday, April 21, 2011

invitations, tomatoes, and how do you prepare fava beans?

This blog post has been a few weeks coming. I've been taking lots and lots of pictures of the general goings on around here, but you know.

Ok. First I was really busy putting these in the mail. (Thank you to all who helped! It was really a group effort!)

Then I got sick with a cold that had me sneezing for 4 days straight. It left me with the I-just-blew-my-nose-for-four-days-straight-mustache look. Cute.

And between the grand mailing-of-the-invitations and the catching a cold, I've been working a lot (at my job and in the garden) and taking lots of pictures.

A couple of posts ago I alluded to a newspaper pot tutorial that I was going to put up here. Well, someday I'll get around to telling you all about how to make newspaper pots. But even if my tutorial never makes it up onto the internet, no one will ever go for want of knowing how to make a pot out of newspaper because there are a zillion other people who have put up tutorials on their blogs showing how it's done. So for now just google it.

In the meantime, I'll show you some photos of the tomato plants that have grown up out of our newspaper pots. I'm very pleased. They're almost the same size now as the starter tomatoes you can buy at the store. 

Cherry Tomato, mid-March. Just potted it.

Three Brandywine Tomatoes, mid-March. Note: They are in newspaper pots (circa January) in a box of homemade compost that my dad brought down for me as my compost pile is not yet...well...composted. 

Cherry Tomato. The last photo made me think he wasn't going to make it. This looks more promising. mid-April.

Brandywine has taken off!

Brandywines mid-April
Cherry Tomato today. No longer being supported by the toothpick!

Brandywine today. They've grown a lot in the past couple of weeks!

These photos are especially for you, Dad. I hope you're reading! And I hope your tomatoes are growing!

So that's been fun, watching the tomato plants grow. Hopefully we get some delish fruit off of them. Homegrown tomatoes are the best.

I didn't bring my camera with me, but the bean plants at the community garden plot got tomato cages placed around them, too. Wait you didn't know about the bean plants?? Oh right, I haven't told you yet. I planted a zilllion beans at the minifarm. In counting the ones that have sprouted, I think the tally is 16 black eyed pea plants, (hope we like black eyed peas...), something around 8 green bean plants, 2 "royalty purple pod beans" (sounds exotic) and 1 golden wax bean. The directions for the beans said to place structures for them to climb around on before planting them, but I was eager to get my seeds in the ground. Now that they've sprouted, I'm short on time (and creative energy) and thus chose the easiest bean jungle gym I could imagine constructing - tomato cages. Hopefully beans like tomato cages and my experiment doesn't turn into a disaster ha.

And while we're on the subject of beans, the fava beans are coming into their glory and I picked a gorgeous harvest today.

Maybe someday I'll post a tutorial on how I made this little veggie bag. Suffice it to say it was easy. 

There are some peas in the mix as well. This is by far the biggest harvest I've had of homegrown goodies.

By the way, growing my own vegetables is getting to be addicting.

Now...does anyone have any good fava bean recipes?

Sunday, April 3, 2011

a sort of essay about the beauty I witnessed this morning.

If ever I doubt that beauty can exist in Los Angeles, I stand corrected. Watching a morning unfold as I did today was astoundingly graceful and I can only hope to describe it true to form.

I awoke this morning at 5:15 feeling rested and ready to start the day. This is probably due to the fact that I lumbered into bed at 9:30 last night, the weight of the last four days of constant going finally coming down on me. I slept like a log. It really was no surprise to me that at 5:15 I felt ready to go. I was hungry, but I ignored the grumbling in favor of a cozy bed and a library book and savored this extra time to do as I pleased. I'm currently reading "Prodigal Summer" by Barbara Kingsolver, the beginning of which is riddled with poetic descriptions of springtime beauty. As she described the different types of birdsong to be found in Appalachia, I realized that a symphony of chirping was beginning out my own window.

I decided to arise when the light through my window had brightened from little blue lines between the blinds to something warmer. It was 7:15. Two hours of relaxed reading bliss? Excellent. I walked to the second bedroom and peered through the curtains. I'm not sure what I expected to find as that window looks straight at my neighbor's stucco wall, but daylight was there, fresh and crisp, and in the sky there was a blanket of white and gray clouds. Fresh. Cozy.

I opened my front door and stood, looking through the screen. Birdsong now amplified, uninhibited by the sound barrier of the door. Washing over me. Beautiful. I opened my back door and stood on the landing. The morning is cool, fresh, alive. Still in my fuzzy robe and slippers, I padded out to check the seedlings. Tomatos: thriving. Lettuces: now have three leaves instead of two. Chard: far surpassing any of the chard I attempted to plant at the community garden. Hope that I have done something better the second time around? I walk a little farther, off of the cement and onto the little path I made with brick squares. I examined the buckwheat I planted, now sprouting everywhere, hoping it will improve the soil in my little dirt yard.

I'm startled by the sprinklers when they turn on; almost laugh out loud when I jump backwards in attempt to avoid getting wet. They interrupt my thoughts and they interrupt the peaceful sounds of the morning: the birdsong, the quiet hum of the highway, the occasional car. I realize that the sprinklers come on in sections, starting at the top of the yard, I am at the bottom. I think to myself that I've never actually watched them run before, and so this is good. Good to make sure they're all working, since at some point I'd like to plant vegetables in the dirt and it's nice to know that everything would be watered evenly. The buckwheat sprouts stand in contrast to the darkening ground, looking proud and green and prolific.

I turn my attention to my seedlings once more, leaky hose nozzle making me wonder if as much water is spilling onto the cement as is going into my watering can as I fill it. I water my seedlings, and as the buckwheat did they stand out against the darkened soil.

I head inside and turn my attention to breakfast, pulling leftover pancakes out of the refrigerator and heat them in the microwave. I remember that the blueberries I put in the pancakes were not so good, but I asked too much of them: I made blueberry lemonade with them twice and then not wanting to throw them away cooked them in pancake batter yesterday. They tasted mealy. I searched the cupboard for some homemade jam: I know there must be some in here somewhere, a Christmas gift from my aunt and uncle in New York. Aha! Behind the canned beans. Strawberry Jam, 2010. I find half of an avocado in the refrigerator and sprinkle some salt on it. I heat up water and make hot chocolate. I spread butter and jam on my pancakes.

Where to sit? I'm not through enjoying this morning, I decide. Besides, the kitchen table is covered with half-finished wedding invitations and the back door has a beautiful beam of light coming through it. The doorway it is. I really must invest in an outdoor table, as I've taken to eating more and more meals on my back step in the sunshine. I sit. I savor my breakfast (picking out the blueberries, apologizing to my taste buds and the berries that I tried to make their flavor last longer than it could), sip my cocoa, watch, and listen.

From my doorstep I can see the balconies of my neighbors. Not a one has stirred. I can see the top of the tree that grows in front of their house. It is in bloom. It is the same kind of tree that grows outside the kitchen of my parent's house, and the yellow blossoms have an intoxicatingly sweet smell. Something like jasmine or honeysuckle. A woodpecker drums away. A large black bird flies determined across the cloudy sky. A swallow alights from the sweet-smelling tree. An ant climbs among the fibers of my fuzzy blue bathrobe. The cool air bathes my face with the most gentle of breezes, almost like the morning is inhaling and exhaling around me. I get the feeling that I'm camping, except I'm here, eating breakfast on my back step, in a suburb of Los Angeles, and the freeway is within walking distance.

The morning has blossomed before me. I am glad I took the time to experience it.