Friday, July 9, 2010

City Gardeners: How is it Going?

Hello Foodies and Gardeners.  Just to repeat, I am hoping that this blog can serve as a venue for urban Locavores, seasonal Foodies, Gardeners, and Farmers' Markets regulars, to share resources, challenges, recipes, questions - you know, all of the areas and issues that those of us who live in the city and want to be more self sufficient, green, and healthy have in common.  Today I am concentrating on the gardening side - and I know that many urban Foodies garden.  Also I couldn't resist adding a shot of our "Patio Princess" tomatoes - they are from Burpee and they are a wonderful cross between a cherry tomato and a full sized one.  Created for containers, very meaty and very good for "uncooked" pasta sauces.

So, a bit of rain today  here in Philly had me all excited!  How about the rest of you city/urban/container gardeners?  How are you and your gardens faring during this time of extremely hot weather and very little rainfall?   Are you finding yourself, as I have been, obsessed with watering?  Do you find yourself "testing" the soil constantly - you know, the "finger test" - down in - is it dry?  Should I let it be dry?  Why is it dry so quickly?  And then there is that laundry list of maladies that can attack your precious growing things - due precisely to the heat and the lack of rainfall.  More about one of those later.

This year, we are growing a list of the usual "back yard" produce - well, certainly "usual" for South Philly neighborhoods:  4 kinds of tomatoes (yes, we have an addiction problem); a couple different kinds of peppers; carrots; swiss chard; and tons of herbs - lots of basil (4 types) to go with all of those tomatoes, and for pesto; and a couple kinds of oregano, and summer savory, chives, sage, rosemary, etc. We also have a couple of small cutting garden areas and gorgeous flowering things and ferns in the "real dirt" areas of our backyard city plot.  There's also a bit of lavendar here and there which we have just harvested and hung to dry. We also inherited a lovely well established grapevine (concords) which provides cover for our dining table and lots of snax for the local birds and furry friends and us.  The grapevine is a breeze - if you have them you know - it's really just a matter of clipping and tucking and then harvesting when the time comes - a piece of cake.  Hopefully, now that I have said that, the vine won't develop some strange and usual disease!

It's mostly the edibles that are taking up most of my gardening time.  As of today, one of our tomato plants is exhibiting signs of "blossom end rot" - which may or may not be caused by "inconsistent watering".  Huh??  I am obsessed with watering! - the right time, the right amount, the aforementioned constant checking . . . hmm, maybe I should just step back a bit.  Anybody have experience with this particular rot?  It is NOT getting my Patio Princess - that's all I can say!

On a lighter note:  what are you cooking this weekend?  It is, without a doubt, the most glorious time of year - and we should enjoy some things early and sadly, quickly too.  The weather is playing hell with local farmers' crops of corn, tomatoes,  . . . frankly everything.  We are in danger of having very slim pickings very soon - and the poor farmers will not be having the kinds of summers they count on to survive.

And yes, I know that you can get corn and tomatoes and other produce from "other" growing areas - but trying to be locavores - AND having fully functioning taste buds - we ain't going for the 1000 mile produce!

Please!  Get out to your Farmers' Markets this weekend!!  You will probably do as we do and buy too much and then need to figure out how to use it all, but that's part of the fun isn't it?  And please share what you did with your bounty here at the Philly Foodist.

We are currently trying to figure out what we want to do with lots of fab sour cherries - something immediate and something for the dark days of winter, I suppose.  We also have Gooseberries - interesting and delicious - any ideas for them?

I guess this weekend it's going to be more corn, more tomatoes - reds and greens, some squash  (a friend is promising a delivery soon, as well!), those wonderful onions and fava beans if we can still score some, and of course, some of the fruits that are showing up at the Markets.  And need I even mention, our local eggs and butter- for me, that's an entire separate conversation! Who can eat supermarket, caged hen eggs after you buy eggs directly from the farmer?  "Egglands Best"????  Are you kidding me?  Those farm fresh,  "neon" egg yolks make my day when I crack one!  And wow do they make a beautiful homemade pasta!

So, how's the gardening? What are you eating and cooking?  What Markets are you shopping?  Have a happy, happy weekend and join the conversation!

Thought for the Day:  "The greatest single act of independence and rebellion is to maintain a garden" (Wendell Berry)

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