Thus begins this year’s review of The Garden. And what a year it was – the Year of the Volunteer Plants, the Year of Mud, the Year of Mosquitoes, the Year of ‘Hey – Stuff Actually Grows Here,’ all of which boils down to this one designation: 2010: The Year of Rain. Lots of it.
While I haven’t much spoken about the unceasing bounty of this year’s garden, it’s because I was reporting on other, shinier things. Behind the scenes, I’ve actually been quite busy picking and washing and canning and pickling and jamming. Most of that inevitably happened in the hour or two preceding a big weekend trip out of town. For at least three weeks in a row, this scene played out in a relentless loop, leaving me breathless and exhausted and quite pickled-out, with no energy left to photograph or blog about any of it, and even less energy to properly preserve any garden thing that came after.
And now I’ve arrived in that season where the over-ripe tomato hits the fan, so to speak. It’s the time of year when there are so many balls up in the air to be juggled that a few inevitably crash to the ground, some making a bigger, smellier mess than others. I’ve just now decided to pull my head out of the sand to assess the damage and while I’m at it, dispel a persistent myth. As we speak, a kettle of tomatoes sits atop my kitchen counter emitting a steady stream of noxious, rotting gasses. I’d feel better if I could tell you it was the first batch of the season to suffer such neglect, but, well… Isadora just had a birthday, complete with a party! We just painted the living room! Four coats of paint! I just got a spinning wheel, which didn’t shop for itself! Said living room needed to be redecorated! Completely! Did I tell you we got another batch of chicks? Yes, we did! Did you see I participated in KCWC? Yes! And on, and on and on. Can you see, (quite clearly) can you smell, even, just how vividly I don’t even come close to ‘doing it all?’ Can you see that all of the triumphs that I report about here are the result of choosing how to spend my time, leaving some key tasks to fall to the wayside? Sigh. I get accused of ‘doing it all’ all. the. time. Here I shall set about swiftly debunking this grievous myth.
There are tomatoes rotting on my kitchen counter. My family was unreasonably challenged in finding clean clothing to wear this morning, yesterday, the day before, etc. Yeah, I bake all of our bread and make all of our yogurt, but I only just made a batch of dough a few days ago, after going without for quite some time. It’s been at least three days since I’ve served a vegetable with an otherwise protein-laden supper. (gasp!) File these tidbits away, please, for the future when I post some magically-lit, beautifully-enlarged photo of something wonderful that I just made and you are tempted to beat your head against the wall for not having the time or the idea to do or make whatever you think you should be doing or making if only you had more time. It’s funny (and kind of sad) how blogging, which is really just holding up a magnifying glass to a tiny aspect of what is actually Real Life, tends to portray the bloggers as super-human. I find myself feeling the same way, usually when reading about some wonderful approach to parenting that someone is generously sharing, which I take as finite proof that I’m not nearly as good a mother. I’d really like to be done with that. You?
In that spirit, I shall resume my Garden Recap, serving it up with a healthy dose of grace and self-forgiveness. Deep breath. Come wintertime, we will be light on stewed tomatoes, but still enjoying the many quarts Grandma so generously canned up last year for us. We will, however, enjoy some new additions to the pantry: a few quarts of the perfect marinara, a delicious riff on Soule Mama’s Tomato Soup, and roasted red peppers. Our delicious homemade bread will be enlivened by the Strawberry/Raspberry jam I finally got around to making, but I fear we’d enjoy it lots more if I weren’t so skimpy on the honey to sweeten it. Noted for next year. In the height of my preserving burst of energy, I put up legions of Grandma’s World-Famous Dill pickles, which I’m delighted to say I grew entirely from the bountiful Pickle Bed of my garden. It was my first time growing them myself and the soaring high I gleaned from harvesting the cukes, garlic, and dill all from the same garden bed was elating enough to propel me through all of those quarts of canning in such little time before rushing out the door for the weekend. The squash are starting to take shape, there are sweet potatoes, popcorn, beets and cabbage all a bit small to harvest. An abundance of swiss chard and kale is making me frantically rummage through back issues of Eating Well magazine for all of those recipes I remember seeing that prompted me to plant all those leafy greens in the first place. The onions are still laughing at me, having disappeared from existence before producing a single bulb. And it’s about time to plant the garlic for next year. I didn’t get to all of the fall seed planting and cold-frame-building that I was dreaming about when I kept compulsively buying seeds mid-summer, but I suspect they’ll keep till next spring. Oh, and there’s TOBACCO. But that’s a story for another day. Next week, perhaps? I also plan on showing you our awesome new living room, so cleverly put together from all kinds of repurposed things. If, on that day, seeing those pictures makes you feel like your own living room is a failure, and that surely the water out here is infused with some kind of genius, just remember that I probably still have that same pot of rotting tomatoes on my kitchen counter.