Wednesday, May 31, 2006


That is what is happening. In my yard, day after day, it is pure unadulterated combat. The vegetables are under constant attack by the crabgrass and its cohorts. I've spent a pretty good amount of time in the garden pulling, picking, or going after the weeds with a hoe this year. Today it was 88 degrees and the humidity was at about 50 percent. I was hot, and I did not enjoy working in the heat, but ambushing the weeds was uplifting. I did finish weeding the potato and vegetable garden. I even managed to cultivate the dug portions of the potato bed and replant our “2nd cut”. Most folks probably won’t know what I’m talking about so I’ll explain the 2nd cut. If you have ever been around hay you know what 2nd cut means. Second cut refers to the 2nd cut you get off a hay field in the same season. Kate and I don’t really have any hay fields here in NC, but the 2nd cut of our vegetables from our garden is the only type of 2nd cut we'll see for awhile.

Kate worked out and performed her neighborhood duties while I worked in the yard. We did go to The Rockford for dinner. Kate enjoyed a tomato sandwich while I munched on a somewhat dry Prosciutto chicken sandwich. For the venue, the P-chicken sandwich is my all time favorite. The fact that the sandwich is always very dry is surprising, since it is my fav. I’m not sure if it is by design or by mistake, and i wouldn’t dream of asking for fear of being rude, so I’ll just say it was meant to be and continue enjoying my fav sandwich. Getting late here, good nite…

P.S. We have tomatoes!

Saturday, May 27, 2006

just a note

Last night we went out here in Raleigh after grilling dinner on our patio. We had made plans earlier in the day to head over to Horniblows Tavern so we were ahead of the curve. I find that after a few drinks at the house it gets harder and harder to decide which of the Raleigh bars to hit. Horniblows is the only bar in town that has the right feel to it. The place is great, there is no smoking in the bar room. Its not the prettiest of bars, but with free pool, darts, and ping pong, how can you go wrong? After awhile of playing darts and drinking beer we headed back to the house and crashed out. The beer is phenomenal, all made right there next to the bar.

I woke up Saturday morning around 6 with a touch of a hangover (why, oh why didn’t I drink that glass of water before bed). After some biscuits with katemade mulberry/strawberry jam, I was off to Home Depot for materials to make tomato cages… Because you can only buy 100ft rolls of the wire I would liked to have used for the sum of 109 bucks, I decided to go the less expensive route and buy pre-made cages. It was a difficult thing to find large tomato cages. I drove all over north Raleigh and Knightdale stopping at 4 different places, with no luck. I had almost given up when I finally did find them at the 5th place. The rest of the day was spent working on the garden’s irrigation system, and mounting a new vice in my workshop. Kate and I did dig a bunch of taters too!!!! All in all, today has been a great day!

What's growing on

Alright, alright, bad title. But I couldn't resist. Get it? Marvin Gaye, "what's goin' on"?

To the right is a picture of one of our vegetable gardens. This garden is in the backyard and measures 15' x 30'. In it we have planted 18 tomato plants (14 varieties), 9 pepper plants (5 varieties), about 100 black bean plants, 5 broccoli plants, and a bunch of canteloupe, cucumbers, patty pan squash, and zuchini. We had a nasty hail storm a few weeks ago and the garden got really chewed up. Fortunately, everything seems to have recovered nicely.

We get our tomatoes and peppers from a local guy who calls himself the tomato man. He and his wife grow 100s of heirloom variety plants and sell them at our state farmer's market for $2 each. It's an incredible deal--the plants are strong, you can buy a single plant instead of six and it's a great way to taste all different kinds of tomatoes. This year we are growing the following:

Paul Robeson
Cherokee Purple

Neves Azorean Red
Andrew Rahart’s Jumbo
San Marzano Paste
Martino’s Roma


Green Giant

Sweetgold cherry
Lillian’s Yellow Heirloom


Toma Verde Tomatillo

I have discovered that potatoes are one of my favorite things to grow. The whole concept is novel to me. You order "seed potatoes" which are not seeds at all, but rather potatoes that you cut up into pieces and bury deep in the ground. The potatoes grow under the surface, so knowing when to harvest, exactly where to dig, and how much you will get is a big guessing game. It's so fun to flip the plants over and scratch at the soil to see what's there. I found myself saying "wow" over and over again each time we found a potato. It was kind of silly after the first few plants.

Another bonus is that the plants themselves are beautiful with delicate flowers. Here is a photo of potatoes in our flower beds. I ran out of room in the potato bed, so I planted these amidst some climbing jasmine and yarrow.

We order organic seed potatoes from Wood Prairie Farm in Maine. The last time I grew potatoes was in Florida, so I called the farm for advice. They helped me choose several varieties which performed well in our area and would bear from early to late in the season so that we wouldn't have a glut of potatoes. We ordered one pound each of Butte, which is a russet baking type; Caribe, which is a bright purple new potato type; Reddale, a red new potato type; and Yukon gold. Our potato garden is 30' x 6'.

Here is a picture of our first potatoes harvested. These are Caribe and Reddale. The flavor is so good you can eat them raw. Last night we had some friends over and I made roasted carrots and potatoes. I love cooking with my own harvest.

A typical harvest yields 5 - 10 lbs of potatoes for each pound planted. Our Caribe harvest yielded 23 lbs of potatoes. Our Reddale harvest yielded 9 lbs. As our friend Sandy quips each time she walks by the potato garden, we are all set for the next potato famine.

Happy Memorial Day ya'll. Eat potatoes.


Friday, May 26, 2006

The Burb


This is our dog Tucker wearing a silly hat. He says "hi". Take a look around!

New Beginnings

Who we are
On May 13, 2006, Jon and I got hitched at the local Unitarian Universalist church. Here is a photo of us taken from Jon's cell phone on the way from the church to the reception. Our getaway vehicle? A 1988 Chevy Suburban, rust and all. So now what? Well, I guess we just keep doing what we were doing before the wedding. A lot of yardwork and gardening, especially now that summer is approaching.

Where we are
We live and garden on 2/3 of an acre located about one mile from the capital of Raleigh, NC. We are really lucky to have found the combination of downtown living with a huge lot that allows us to have multiple gardens filled with flowers, vegetables, fruit trees, grains, and berries.

Here is a picture of our mulberry tree in fruit.
This year I made mulberry-strawberry jam. Okay, well maybe it actually turned out to be syrup, seeing as how I am new to this and didn't realize that sugar plays a starring role in the jelling process.

The Grotto
Just under the mulberry tree is a space that we carved out of our backyard by clearing a 15 - 20 foot corridor of thick brush and poison ivy. It took over a year to do this and once complete, we had a beautiful secret spot that is virtually invisible from the house, yard, or street. We set out chairs and a table, and hung a hammock and buddhist prayer flags back there.

A few weeks ago, the space was elevated to a new level. As a wedding gift, my friend Betsy from Gainesville, FL collected a bunch of antique blue bottles and brought them with her to Raleigh. She and our friend Marianne hung the bottles from the mulberry tree and dubbed the space "the grotto". So with any luck, Jon and I will be spending a lot of time in the grotto this summer.