Monica E. Smith

Monica E. Smith

Friday, July 18, 2014

Be Fruitful!

It has been an amazing summer growing season! The weather here in Ohio, while a bit uncomfortable for a period of time because of rain and high humidity, has been absolutely perfect for our garden. I'm finding we may have put a bit too many tomato plants in the small area we designated for our garden this year, for they are overtaking the entire garden. Live and learn.

Still, they are in a good, sunny location and are providing a great amount of tomatoes. I see new baby tomatoes and new flowers each day. Among the varieties (six plants) are several heirlooms (including Cherokee Purple and a striped orange variety), a  Better Boy, Goliath Hybrid and an Early Girl--from what I remember. Unfortunately, the foliage is so thick I can't see the little name tags I placed by each plant, and don't remember all the varieties this late into the season! I am truly salivating at the thought of my first tomato and mayo sandwich (on soft Italian bread, of course) of the season.
For the first time this year, we planted garlic! One of my favorite accomplishments in the 25+ years we have lived on this tiny farm. I am one of those people who cannot cook without garlic, and it would be a disaster indeed if I were ever out of it. My husband planted 13 little cloves this past October. Every one of those little cloves grew and survived during the extremely harsh Ohio winter of 2014, which included mounds of snow and days--even weeks of sub-zero temperatures. They not only survived, they flourished; and so, today, we are rewarded with 13 heads of garlic which we harvested this morning. And the extent of our work was to put them in the ground and then forget about them. Each of those little heads of garlic contains about 13 to 15 individual perfect little cloves! And so, today my husband gathered them up, I braided them and we hung them in the barn for a month or so to dry. I am most proud of this endeavor. I will bring them into the kitchen when they are dried, to hang there, to use and share with family and to decorate my humble little farm kitchen--and to keep the vampires away, of course :).
This year's weather has also been perfect for our Greek Columnar Basil and Italian Flat Leaf Parsley. I love parsley as much as I do garlic, and must always have the flat leaf variety around for cooking and salads. I think it is much more flavorful than the curly kind. I am expanding my horizons. I used to think one could only cook with parsley or use it as a garnish, and not usually eat it right out of the garden. It took a magical Christmastime visit to London, England in 2012 to change my mind about that. The night before we left for home, we had dinner at Rules Restaurant in Covent Garden. Rules is the oldest and most famous restaurant in London, and one which none other than Charles Dickens himself frequented. We were truly blessed to have secured a reservation there the day before, as most often reservations require weeks in advance to obtain. We ordered two  salads for the table to share with our meal, and one of them was strictly an herb salad, with flat leaf parsley being the main ingredient. No salad has ever been paired more perfectly with the roasted game entrĂ©es we enjoyed that evening. Since then, I have also been making parsley salads for our dinners at home, as well as cooking with it as always.
The basil is also quite nice. I don't like a very strong, harsh basil flavor, and this Greek Columnar Basil really fills the bill. It is a delicate basil flavor and has smaller leaves. I love it. I cannot wait for my own tomatoes to ripen so that I can make a wonderful caprese salad! It has started growing fast, faster than I can use it fresh; so I am drying a few stems of it so that I can harvest it before it flowers, and not waste a leaf.
We normally grow only bell peppers. I'm not a fan of the more bitter green ones, but love the sweet red, yellow and orange varieties. This year we have added a Carmen red sweet pepper and pimiento. They are all doing well. Do you remember that wonderful pinkish pimiento cheese spread in a jar from when you were a kid? I do. It was one of my sister's, brother's and my favorite snack on crackers. I cannot wait to make a homemade pimiento-cream cheese spread from my own peppers.

It doesn't take a lot to grow a garden. And the rewards are so sweet--and savory. It's such a creative endeavor, and always reinforces my belief that we (should) work hand-in-hand with God to create, to share the yield, to be fruitful, to make good of the gifts we have been given. How can a world go hungry, when even the smallest garden space is so fruitful and multiplies to such an enormous yield? I don't think I could enjoy nourishing myself with food I had helped to grow if I did not share it: " is not only from eating, but in the breaking of bread with another that we receive our comfort and satisfaction in the gift of food." (From Thy Bounty by Monica E. Smith). There simply is no greater feeling than to be aware we have been creative and fruitful at base level. Enjoy your summer.


Italian Flat Leaf Parsley / Greek Columnar Basil
                                                       Carmen Sweet Pepper / Orange Bell / Pimiento

Drying Basil (above); Garlic Braided and Hanging to Dry in the Barn (below)

 Monica and Daughter, Veronica Browsing the Amazing Menu at Rules / Parsley Salad

My Husband, Scott and Son, Jeremy Anticipating Our Meal at Rules with Great Delight

No comments:

Post a Comment