Dear 2020 Garden Nici:
Less kale, chard and parsley. Your onions need more sun. Brassicas love you so much. Don’t grow potatoes (you’ve proven many times that you’re pretty bad at it). It’ll be painful but your soil needs a break from tomatoes. Let’s give the mosaic virus a chance to die a legit death. Make pesto more often. Cut back the rhubarb religiously and get harvests into fall.
Require your daughters be in the garden more often, especially when they don’t wait to. It’s always good for everyone and everyone always agrees on that.
Spray pyrethrins on the brussels sprouts way before little baby aphids even exist. Grow more basil and cucumbers. Plant your cutting flower seeds as soon as you’re able.
Don’t sweat the weeks you neglect all the things — surprise and life getting in the “way” is fun. You love growing food and a celebration of the successes is a better use of your time than a bemoaning of the failures.
In February you’ll struggle to remember sun-warmed skin, non-depressing carrots and dinner plucked from the earth. You should plan a vacation in February. And know an awakened, ready plot awaits your return.
I wrote this a few weeks back, when we hurried to collect all the things, attempting to outwit the bananas early first frost. And that hungry bear that ate ALL my plums. It was September 28.
Today marks one month later:
I still have brussels sprouts and beets to contend with but, otherwise, that’s a wrap. Well, and pears and apples and peaches and garlic. But, it’s a wrap with the active growing and yielding. Now, it’s about harvest, storage and tucking in.
As I made my kids’ lunch this morning, chopping and adding kale as I do every day, to every meal since the Forest of Kale grew into our lives, Ruby announced she “is over kale.” And then Margot backed her up and they formed a unified front against kale until 2020.
Last night I minced the kale so fine it looked like tender parsley. I added it to the rice and lentils, just for Andy and me. One look and my love said, “I feel like this year’s kale is aggressive. How about kale chips for the rest of the harvest?”
I get it. But I will still sneak it into your smoothies and soups, my loves.
Also, hey: I made a little garden tuck-in checklist for you. Click here to download.
We just had our annual camping trip in a valleys few hours east of our home. We go every October with a pile of Andy’s childhood friends and their families. It’s always cold and dirty and the greatest, most heartening display of life when there are no screens and no wifi and just friends who have known you since before you remember.
We are the last tent hold-out. Everyone else has graduated to campers. And when we woke to 27ºF on the first morning I’ll admit I wished for a little elevated house with a heater instead of a frost-crusted tent. But we were warm, wrapped up in our bags and each other. As soon as that sun blazed over the mountains and through every wall of our fabric abode, I felt so grateful.
We drove home and I felt excited for 1) a HOT shower 2) cooking food without a headlamp 3) washing all our summer-funky camp gear 4) my bed
I made soup, natch. It’s that time of year when produce crowds every inch of our kitchen. Margot said of the soup, “Mom can you please make this at least once a week?”
I even remembered to write down what was in it so I get to share with you. Here ya go. Bonus: a great way to use up all that canned applesauce. Want to learn how to can?
Squash Sage Apple Soup
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 5 pounds winter squash (anything like buttercup, hubbard, butternut, acorn / you'll need about 5 cups cooked and mashed)
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 leeks, sliced
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 pint sugarfree applesauce
- 1 teaspoon sage
- 1 teaspoon parsley
- ½ teaspoon ground rosemary
- ½ cup plain whole milk yogurt
Cook Yer Squash
- Preheat oven to 375ºF
- Grease baking sheet with cooking oil
- Halve your squash(es) and remove seeds and pulp
- Place face down on baking sheet
- Bake for 45 minutes or until soft
- Remove from oven, flip over (concave side up) and let cool
- While squash is cooking in oven, add butter, onion, leek and garlic to a large stock pot and cook over high heat for a few minutes until gloriously fragrant.
- Add 5 cups water and applesauce to pot. Reduce to a simmer and cover.
- Scoop golden flesh out of the squash skins (don't burn yourself!) and add to pot.
- After all the squash has been added, puree the mess with an immersion blender or regular ol' blender.
- Stir in yogurt.
- Add salt and pepp to taste.
I hope you enjoy the heck outta it, buddies.