Earth & Ink: A new blog post series

Gardening and writing. Writing and gardening. It’s what I do and what I have done for most of my life. I’ve had many other pastimes and a couple other careers, but the common thread has been growing things and making words fit my thoughts. 

Have you ever heard authors say they don’t understand their books until at least the first draft is complete? The same is true about understanding ourselves, I think. The first draft of my self was written a long while ago and I’ve been undertaking extensive revisions since. Looking back at the process, my attachment to gardening and writing reveals something deeper about me, as any decent theme should. I’m on a quest for two things: patience and humility. Ask anyone who knows me and they’ll agree I still have a ways to go. Okay, so I’m a work-in-progress!

That’s the scaffolding for these new posts. In truth, I will be light on philosophy and heavy on news from my vegetable garden, orchard and berry patch and how I’m using the bounty in my kitchen. We will talk FOOD. Beautiful food. 

Nov 6 Yoerg 1.jpg

And miracles. I know, that’s a big word. But tell me something, what else would you call it when you start with this…

Nov 6 Yoerg 2.jpg

(The seed. The object in the middle. I would like to grow money, but alas, I’m not that clever. If you are wondering about the rubber chicken, well, it’s the world’s smallest rubber chicken! It speaks for itself. Well, not literally. That would be a teensy bit worrisome. Even as the world’s smallest mute rubber chicken, it blows my mind every time I see it. Just to be clear, I am also not growing rubber chickens.)

…becomes this?

That’s a kohrabi, by the way. Normally green, I grow the purple variety. I’m all about eating all the purple things but perhaps we’ll talk about that more another time. I know you are still wondering about the world’s smallest rubber chicken and quite possibly are overwhelmed. I know I am and I’ve had it for years.

Until next time, then. Grow yourself. Eat well. Use your words and use them like the miracles they are.

Last Picks

My Mothers' Day garden is closing down for the winter. *Sniff* What a year we have had! The freezer is full of tomatoes, tomatillos and pesto. I've got pickled peppers in the fridge and the memory of enough wonderful garden-supplied meals to last until it's time to start again. Here's what it looks like now.

It's bare all right, but the gnome is standing proud on his pole. We've got a saying at our house: "Don't be such a gnome pole." The meaning is abundantly clear.

There is still a stalwart stand of chard, a few lettuces that survived the frost and the deer, and a clump of radishes that might yet make it into a salad. But the last pick of the season is behind us. Look!

I don't fry much (I'd only have to run that much further every day), so those green tomatoes were earmarked for chutney. We all love Indian cuisine, so chutney is a staple. I hardly ever have ketchup in my fridge, but we go through a dozen pints of chutney a year. 

This year I used this recipe. I'll let you know how it is later, because chutney needs to sit in a jar and meditate in the dark for a few months. I'm certain that's what it does. Pickles need time, too, but who knows what pickles get up to when no one's looking. Let's move on, okay? Oh, I left out the hot chili in the recipe. The chutney is supposed to be an antidote to viciously hot curries, not add fuel to the fire.

Chutney's not difficult to make; you just throw it all together and cook it a while. The tedious part is sterilizing the jars, waiting a year for 60 gallons of water to boil, and, finally, boiling each batch pints for 15 minutes. But, good things take time, unless it's a quickie or a really good knock-knock joke, and this is worth it.

Aren't they fabulous? The '09 vintage was superb, and the '12 vintage was a close second, but I have high hopes for these babies because of the crystallized ginger. But we must wait. The chutney must meditate. 

And meanwhile we can hope. We think of spring as a time of hope, but I'd argue it's fall. I mean, by springtime you don't need hope; you're already in the money. The days are long. The world is replete with asparagus, strawberries, daffodils and peeps. You've got mud instead of snow. It's progress. But here in November, with winter standing like a snowdrift between now and the beginning of the next Mothers' Day garden, hope is what we've got. And lots and lots of frozen tomatoes.