While still teaching English to Spanish-speaking employees at UNM, I have spent the past six months mostly in my yard, gardening up a storm. I've always been a gardener, any place I have lived; as the child of two ardent gardeners, it's been in my blood forever. But the model I followed until now was that of my mother's gardening loves: perennials and herbs. Though I'll never abandon those loves, this growing season I embarked on my father's path, growing things we can eat. My father, a career military man, established a big vegetable garden in in the yard of any place we ever lived, whether military quarters, rented homes in towns or country, or ultimately the home where we settled, near Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, his last posting.
Transitioning to vegetarianism, living in a place with terrific farmers' markets, getting into Slow Food, and growing many of our vegetables - these things seem to have emerged organically in a slow simultaneity. In the spring I planted radishes, mesclun and lettuces, which with a lengthy cool spring, lasted well into June and provided us with über healthy daily salad eating. I have quite a few herbs growing here, things I planted as soon as we moved in, plus those I've added in the past four summers. The tomatoes, peppers and squash were slow to mature and ripen, due to that same long cool spring, but the basil that I grew with the tomatoes supplied material for many a pesto for us and our friends. For some reason, the cucumbers developed a bad case of failure to thrive, and were a total bust. It's a challenging place to garden, my backyard and New Mexico in general. The cool cloudy spring included lots of wind, and was followed by very hot dry summer months, without any monsoon rains to speak of. Much of my growing was done in containers, as my hardpacked clay soil most resembles adobe, and takes long and backbreaking work to make ready to nurture any growth.
Well, time for the evening walk, then dinner, which is the second go-round for the results of a recipe I found on Deborah Madison's blog: Cabbage and Potato Gratin with Sage. This, with a salad of greens, avocado and tomatoes, has proved a most satisfying and delicious meal. So, having made this fresh start at picking back up the art of blogging, I hope to be back with more very soon.