Tag Archives: spinach

The Fulfillment of the Promise


What is one to say about June, the time of perfect young summer, the fulfillment of the promise of the earlier months, and with as yet no sign to remind one that its fresh young beauty will ever fade. ~Gertrude Jekyll

It has been a beautiful spring so far in Southeastern Wisconsin. Yes, we have had some chilly air here and there. But overall things are right about where they should be. I find some comfort in that. After enduring winter’s bone-chilling cold and colorless landscape, it’s feels so good to know that once again Spring has arrived and the promise of another season of growth and life is now here.

The spiritual message of all this Spring wonder is not lost on me. I’m reminded of life eternal each year, and that only through death can we truly gain life. I don’t want to forget that, even in the giddy excitement of planning and planting the garden and observing the world as it comes back to life.

Here is some photographic evidence that the month of June is here at my house in all her glory. I’m sure the story is similar in countless backyards everywhere. By the way, you don’t have to have a garden to enjoy the sight of wild asparagus on the side of the highway or gorgeous green leaves upon the trees. Go find your own evidence, pretty much anywhere you look right now. And enjoy! It only comes once a year.

A boy with a frog. Love these critters in the garden where they eat slugs and other bugs I don't want hanging around.

A boy with a frog. Love these critters in the garden where they eat slugs and other bugs I don’t want hanging around.

Found this photo on my camera. My kids picked these radishes and then photographed them. Wonder where they would get such an idea?

Found this photo on my camera. My kids picked these radishes and then photographed them. Wonder where they would get such an idea?

A peek at the red orach which reseeded itself from last year's planting. The color is outstanding.

A peek at the red orach which seeded itself from last year’s planting. The color is outstanding.

Giant stalks of rhubarb awaiting some yummy recipes.

Giant stalks of rhubarb awaiting some yummy recipes.

Strawberries setting fruit.

Strawberries setting fruit.

What a beautiful crop of spinach we are enjoying this year. The best ever.

What a beautiful crop of spinach we are enjoying this year. The best ever.

Chive flowers are now open and attracting something new this year--honey bees! I wonder if a neighbor has a hive?

Chive flowers are now open and attracting something new this year–honey bees! I wonder if a neighbor has a hive?

This year's tomatoes freshly potted. Here's hoping for a good tomato year.

This year’s tomatoes freshly potted. Here’s hoping for a good tomato year.

Patio with herb garden. Perennial herbs are now up and getting leafy. I should be able to start enjoying all of them soon.

Patio with herb garden. Perennial herbs are now up and getting leafy. I should be able to start enjoying all of them soon.

This raised bed will be featuring the following this year: garlic, onions, borage, spinach, arugula (already done), red orach, kale, Swiss chard, eggplant, marigolds, dill, and one volunteer head of lettuce.

This raised bed will be featuring the following this year: garlic, onions, borage, spinach, arugula (already done), red orach, kale, Swiss chard, eggplant, marigolds, dill, and one volunteer head of lettuce.

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Christmas Leeks


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Just because it’s December doesn’t mean gardening season is completely shut down.  At this very moment there are leeks in my garden awaiting their most honorable duty of becoming part of our annual ravioli tradition.

When we started a family six years ago, my husband and I wanted to establish some traditions of our own.  He had the great idea of making homemade ravioli on Christmas Eve.  I took the idea and ran with it!  I had never made pasta before, so this seemed like a great challenge.  I’m happy to say that in six years I’ve become a competent pasta maker, and we’ve successfully established this tradition in our home.  It’s something we all look forward to each year.

I’ve found that Lidia Bastianich’s recipe works well for us, so that has become our “official” Christmas Eve recipe.  It’s a basic fresh egg pasta dough with a leek-spinach-ricotta filling.  This fits the bill, because the days that follow Christmas Eve are filled with indulgent foods.  The Christmas Eve ravioli feels light and appropriate just before a major feasting season.

Planning for the ravioli begins in March when I plant leek seeds.  It’s at this time that I choose a location for them, some place they can take root and hang out for  nearly 10 months.  As the season rolls along, I harvest the smaller leeks leaving the best for Christmas.  When the weather is mild, they can stay in all the way until the day I make the filling.  This year they’ve made it the whole year!

Leeks started back in March are ready for their Christmas harvest.  We've had a mild November and December so they've stayed green and happy.

Leeks started back in March are ready for their Christmas harvest. We’ve had a mild November and December so they’ve stayed green and happy.

In September I also plant spinach with the intention of using it in the ravioli as well.  This year it has worked out.  I may supplement with some store-bought spinach as well, but the garden will provide at least some of the required amount.

My daughter watering our spinach on December 15th.  We are still harvesting a few things even this late in the season.

My daughter watering our spinach on December 15th. We are still harvesting a few things even this late in the season.

The tomato sauce for our Christmas ravioli will also feature rosemary from my potted plant.  When temperatures are warm and the sun is out, I take my rosemary outside to sunbathe.  When the “weather outside is frightful” the rosemary huddles near the window in the house.  We may not have a real Christmas tree, but we can enjoy the scent of our rosemary plant during these darker months.

How rewarding to sit down to Christmas Eve dinner and see the fruits (or veggies and herbs?) of my labor before me.  There is so much to be thankful for, but at mealtime I’m most thankful for the abundance which God provides in so many ways.  Our table is always full.

This Christmas I’m thanking God for the many blessings He’s provided through our garden, but also through my husband’s job, our friends and family, and the many other channels He uses.  I’m continually amazed at how our needs our met, and thankful.  Praise God for earthly and heavenly blessings this holiday!  And praise God for leeks, planted in March which grace our December table.

Gathering Greens & A Few Other Things


Washed, bagged salad greens are perhaps one of the greatest inventions of our modern times.  Sort of.  It’s completely convenient and easy to dump them into a bowl and dress them for a salad, or into a skillet to saute for dinner.  They are clean and crisp, and relatively inexpensive.  But when I think of the gross amount of water and energy used to bring those greens to my table, I cringe a little bit.

Somewhere out in California or Mexico, depending on the season, those greens were grown, washed, bagged, loaded on a refrigerated truck, driven to Wisconsin, kept cold by refrigeration until they made their way to my house and ultimately my mouth.

It seems ridiculous because it’s so easy to just plant a few seeds out in my yard and eat fresh(er) greens anytime I want (as the season permits) using virtually a fraction of a fraction of the amount of energy used to bring me those bagged, washed grocery store varieties.

Don’t get me wrong: I do occasionally treat myself to box or bag of grocery store salad in the dead of winter.  I’m not a purist by any stretch of the imagination.

But I am thoughtful about my greens, and thankful I can grow ’em myself 7 months out of the year.

I like to grow spinach, arugula, head lettuce, leaf lettuce, swiss chard and will be adding kale to the lineup this year.  In addition we also eat the tops of our radishes and beets.

When I’m ready to make a salad or saute something green, I head outside.  Using a kitchen scissors I make quick work of gathering what I need.  As I cut, I put everything directly into my salad spinner.

I take the salad spinner insert outside to harvest greens.

Arugula fresh from the garden, prior to washing.

Once inside I use the salad spinner to bathe the greens in very cold water… this perks them right up and brings them to the perfect temperature for serving.  At the same time they are getting nice and clean without the use of machinery or bleach or anything else those big salad growers out West are using.

I spin them dry in the spinner and we are ready to use them.

When I want to prep the greens in advance of using them or I just have more than I can eat at one time, I store them in a plastic bag with a paper towel in it.  This seems to keep them crisp and they usually last at least a week in the refrigerator, sometimes longer.

Bagged arugula is ready for the refrigerator.

If I discover a more earth-friendly way to do this that doesn’t involve plastic or paper towels I’ll be happy.  But for now this works marvelously for me.

Now on to a few other items.  This time of year tomato plants are growing very quickly and putting new leaves, branches and blossoms every day.  I am in the habit and pinching off the “suckers” that grow between the stem and branches.  It helps to develop a stronger plant.

"Suckers" grow at the point where the stem meets the branch. At this size they are easy to pinch off.

We’ve also had some excellent bird viewing around the garden these last few days.  Our robins have been carefully guarding their eggs.  I’ve noticed that they take turns, one of them tends to sit on the nest most of the time and when it’s the second one’s turn to be on guard duty he prefers to sit on the edge of the nest or in a nearby location.  The fence that hides our air conditioner seems to be a favorite location.

This nest is so sweet. It's getting more difficult to see and photograph it as the honeysuckle has filled in.

Mr. Robin on his favorite perch at night. He's noticed me taking his picture.

Here is Mr. Robin in the background and the trellis where the nest sits in the foreground. He never lets the nest out of his sight and is quick to run other birds such as cardinals out of the yard.

Mrs. Robin dutifully sits. I wonder if these lights surprised her the first night they came on.

A yellow finch stopped by for a drink at the honeysuckle. I've also spotted hummingbirds here.

And finally, I’ve been very busy putting all the starts and seeds into the garden beds this last week.  I’m happy to report that (for now) everything is in!  There will be some successive planting and late season planting later on, but the big spring dig is done and I’m very pleased with how it’s come together so far.

Herb bed and trellis with honeysuckle.

Vegetable bed with the grid still in place. I've planted using a square foot approach this year.

Photos from the second week of May.


Peas keep coming up. Looking forward to eating these fresh out of the garden.

60 gladioli for $4, not a bad deal! Love how these add color in otherwise drab spots of my yard.

Started the process of hardening off seedlings this week.

Baby spinach ready for harvesting. Enjoyed some on my Mother's Day panini.

Beet seedlings emerge. I love how they are red, just like the beets.

A purple hyacinth, so pretty especially close-up.

A lovely tulip bouquet from the garden.

Photos from the fourth week of April


Yellow tulips finally opened today!

 

Here comes the rhubarb.

 

These chives were clipped last night for dinner... fresh oniony flavor.

 

Arugula is tiny, but growing.

 

A row of radishes.

 

Peas!

 

Spinach starts are now outside and doing well... should be able to harvest baby spinach soon.

 

Oregano leaves are plentiful. This is now a three-year-old plant.

 

Here's something to enjoy tomorrow.