Yep, like just about every year, the new growing season starts here with fall garlic planting. Miserable, damp day, though not so cold. Andrea M (close) and Rochelle (far) are working on different sections to hedge bets on which areas of the field dry out first in case of a disastrously wet spring. Crafty! The little metal pails, paint pails that happen to be from…Home Depot, turn out to be perfect for this job (they’re useful all over the place). Handy!
The season’s weekly rain watch begins. Weeks start on Monday. The big 25 on the rain gauge is the magic 25mm/1″ mark, the rule-of-thumb ideal for a week—an inch of slow and steady rain over a few hours, and of course all the rest, sunshine, that’s just…beautiful. A 1/2″ is an OK minimum for a bit. More than an inch a week ongoing for a while can be troublesome, depending on the crop and stage its—disease, small seed washed out, bigger seed rotting, whatnot, it is all possible :)—and it does occasionally happen. So far this week, 18mm here and 20mm total, so, doing fine!
Yep, the garlic is growing steady, unfazed by 25°C/77°F days tumbling to sub-freezing nights, still apparently unappetizing to deer in spite of their almost unnaturally healthy green standout glow against the hay and straw mulch. Very nice! The difference between larger cloves, planted in the middle bed, and the smaller ones on either side, set up by Tracy and Jesse, is still quite noticeable. We’ll see how they catch up.
The garlic really pushed up in the freakishly summery end-of-winter days, already around 6″ high. Don’t recall exactly how far ahead they are—there may be pics on the blog from this time in past years, I haven’t checked—but this is pretty big early growth. I’ve been wondering about deer tucking in as they are about the greenest thing around at the moment, but it seems they’re not to the deer’s taste. And they’ve done fine through a couple of -5°C/23°F nights, and a bit of snow. So it’s so far looking good for the first crop up this season!
It’s a wet December! After only a couple of days of rain, the ground is pretty well waterlogged, to the point where I can’t move the Kubota compact tractor without leaving deep furrows that’ll be totally compacted and eventually dry like concrete. So, before being rained out entirely three-quarters of the way through the job, it was slogging on 100′ round trips through boot-sucking muck, one forkload of hay at a time, to mulch garlic—not a big deal, there’s only a 100′ bed and a half to cover, but the EASIER plan was to use the tractor to push the big round bale to the garlic bed. Guess not. Lesson: Um, don’t wait! :)
Another in my series of possibly-not-so-appetizing photos of oh-so-delicious food. Local food. Ingredients either grown by me or gotten from those who did. I still find knowing where your food comes from endlessly satisfying, it doesn’t get old. Anyhow, without further ado, on to the one-pot, no-culinary-skills-required Beef and Eggplant Stew. Continue reading Beef and eggplant stew!
In the end, this is all about food and eating. Tonight, back to basics: heat applied to simple, locally grown ingredients, no culinary art or even a favorite recipe, just some mellow cooking. In the pot: grass-fed beef from a few miles down the road, plus, from our harvest, onions, carrots, potatoes, garlic, and green beans, well water, and a little store-bought salt and pepper. Simmered, covered for a while, for a couple of hours. The Yukon Gold potatoes, medium starchy, added thickness without melting away to mush. The beans, teaming up with the carrots, contributed a little veg lightness to the…stew. Dinner! (Fall must be in the air…)