By LYNNE IRONS
This marks my first anniversary as the writer of the garden column. I’m following in the footsteps of Jean Wexler, who wrote the column for many years. Great job, Jean, how did you do it? For me, the column has been challenging at best. Hopefully, one can forgive me my shortcomings, especially repeating subjects and waxing political.
I have been chaining myself to the desk this week, sorting through receipts for my annual visit to the taxman. Since I do a profit-and-loss from a small farm, it is a good opportunity to see exactly what I did with the property. I bought a tremendous amount of seed, plugs and bare-rooted perennials.
The perennials that did not sell went into my old chicken yard in rows. They followed the potato crop I was fortunate to harvest from that site in the fall. We have been doing some serious potato eating. I still have over a bushel left. Any potluck I attend will be getting a big pot of them.
I had quite a few phlox and daylilies left over. Naturally, they are the absolute favorite of my nemesis, the white-tailed deer. Before spring, I need to think about putting up deer fencing. Otherwise, I am just asking for disappointment and frustration.
Speaking of taxes, I am always amazed at the people who complain the loudest about paying taxes, or insist that the politicians pledge to lower them. These same people always are wanting services from the government. I need to remind us all about the point of taxation: roads, bridges, care for the elderly, grants for research, schools, and, oh, let’s not forget pointless and misguided war. I guess we need not worry about paying for the war . . . we have China as our national loan shark. Rue the day they decide to collect.
My friend Sharlee is a genius. She shared her tomato preservation method with me this summer. I grew 10 each Roma and San Marzano plants. When they ripened all at once — late because I was remiss getting them into the ground in a timely fashion — I cut the core-end off, bagged and tossed them into the freezer with a moderate amount of skepticism.
I just spent 10 minutes putting each one under hot water for a nanosecond, slipped the skins, and have them simmering away in the crock pot with some garlic and onions. I used a touch of chicken stock to keep them from sticking. I added my homegrown pork, Allen Farm Black Angus ground beef and their hot Italian lamb sausage. I also had some frozen basil leaves which I pounded into a powder, still frozen in a Ziploc bag.
Let me tell you, there is nothing quite like stress-relieving spaghetti and meat sauce. My brother, Doug, makes a killer meat sauce. We enjoyed some while I was home in western Pennsylvania at Christmas at our hunting camp. He adds sliced pepperoni. Yummy!
I have been so happy, of late, eating the fruits of my summer labor. I enjoy the short days allowing more cooking time before summer. In the summer, I am so busy, out and about, I am lucky to grab a slice somewhere.
I received a seed order from The Cook’s Garden. I am anxious to start some things in the greenhouse. I hauled some frozen-solid bags of manure compost and placed them on the propagating mat at 40 degrees so I could pry it apart and plant. I have several varieties of winter lettuce, ie., Black-Seeded Simpson, Royal Oak Leaf, Winter Marvel Butterhead, Winter Density Romaine, and a mix of several types of kale to eat as baby greens. It will take a while to germinate with the night temperatures so low, but every day the light is getting stronger.
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I have a serious pet peeve. Doesn’t anyone use tissues anymore? Do we have to resort to the No Spitting on the Sidewalk signs common in the Old West?