Monday, July 30, 2018

Glass half...?

For the days when you are upright and stringing together entire sentences, fragrant cardamom and Thai basil leaves are fantastic in a gin and tonic - reason enough to grow both (the cardamom overwinters indoors). I sip this while potting up perennials. I am ungardening. Unplanting. Pulling up roots. Today I did the deadly ones. Wolf's bane. Doll's eyes. I turned my eyes skywards and breathed deeply. Then washed my hands really well.

Sometimes you make like a grass and bend in the wind. And sometimes you lie flat with the covers over your head and howl.

Gradually, in-ground plants are being dug up and potted, fed, watered, and allowed to settle, ahead of our move. Plastic pots of all sizes have been donated by Michele, my friend who owns the wonderful Gowanus Nursery. She has also given me recycled soil, saving me a packet. We fetched the soil late on Sunday, after a day spent in the upstate woods. 

Sometime this month, probably in the last week, the plant party will happen. 

No, we don't have a move date (but the cut-off is the end of September) and no, we have not found the right space, yet. It will be a magical combination of the rent we can afford, the space we need, a neighborhood we like, and enough light that we don't want to slit our wrists. 

The Nicotiana (scented N. alata and pretty mutabilis) are in their second flush; I cut down their first flowering stalks about four weeks ago, and they sent more up. Don't let yours languish when those first flowers are spent: be brave, mow them down, and they will do it all over again. And again. The tall white cleome are transplants from the pots at our front door, on the opposite side of the house. They are much happier here in the back garden, with less heat. They are very thirsty plants, and I have to water them every day.

It may seem crazy to tend a garden that is being undone. It may be crazy to have planted the arugula, purslane, amaranth, and fenugreek seeds that are now coming up. But I am a gardener. I grow things. Neglect and indifference are symptoms of an inner death. 

And I am very much alive. 


Friday, July 27, 2018

Purslane - summer succulence

Just a reminder that it is purslane season in this part of the world. And that it is more fun to eat than popping an omega-3 capsule. It is loaded with nutrients.

Find a recipe for purslane gazpacho and a flurry of other ideas in my piece about ways to eat purslane for Gardenista.

And in a fit of craziness (we move within two months) I sowed some more 'Golden' purslane just a week ago.


Saturday, July 21, 2018

Les Animaux

The June-July garden is very popular with the local animals. Free black raspberries!

Free chaises longues!

Free spa!

Free black raspberries! (Uh....)

Free pea trellis!!

Free black raspberries!


Monday, July 16, 2018


Buy the peaches. Drink the prosecco.

Hold the good ones close.


Order Forage Harvest Feast

Monday, July 9, 2018

Harriman State Park - a taste

Thanks to a post on the New York Mycological Society's page I became aware of Harriman State Park, a large and enigmatic green blob on Google Maps, and just an hour north of the city. Over the weekend, restless because of the ecstatic chanterelle posts I have been seeing on social media (and they are the Frenchman's favourite mushroom - as a child he foraged for them in Provence, with his family), we headed out in Ntiniwe the beloved VW, and discovered the most gorgeous green space. We had no idea. It was pristine. No trash, and also very, very few invasive plants, quite breathtaking for the botanist in me.

What we did see was acres of blueberries. That's them, above - lowbush shrubs. For our whole four-mile ramble, we were surrounded by them, growing close-packed as far as we could see. I thought about bears, a bit. Bluebearies.

It is early in wild blueberry season but there were enough fruit to snack on, and to bring some home. This slowed my progress. Their flavor was a revelation. Blueberries have always seemed highly overrated, to me. Bland, undemanding. But these small fruit burst with a a tart blueberry intensity I have never tasted.

Occasionally we passed a highbush shrub, which dwarfed us. 

We stopped for lunch above a lake, where the water was clear enough to see the fish near the surface. At one end there were waterlilies. On the hot rocks where we sat we kept our eyes peeled for the timber rattlers that we had been warned about, but not a snake did we see, nor rattle did we hear. We were more worried about ticks.

No ticks, either. Paradise!

For dessert I picked huckleberries, my first. Unlike blueberries, they have crunchy seeds.

Did we find the chanterelles we were hoping for? No, it was on the dry side, and there were few mushrooms. But early in our walk we spotted a flock of what I think is Cantharellus minor, a tiny member of the chanterelle family. That is the tip of my pinky finger. They were so small I did not bring them home, and I seldom do when I am not sure of ID.

And the first American burnweed of the season. Erechites hieraciifolius is an indigenous plant, behaving a lot like what we like to call weeds, and it is powerful in flavor - like cilantro meeting Vietnamese cilantro (Persicaria odorata). I think it is wonderful (recipes for it in Forage, Harvest, Feast). If you like the flavors of Southeast Asia or Mexico (whiplash in terms of regional cooking, yet strange similarities, too), you will love it. If you like white food and hate spice, you will not.

The evening's reward, back in Brooklyn: a handful of the wild blueberries crushed, then shaken up with lots of ice, lemon juice, Grand Marnier, and Tequila reposado.

We will be back.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Daylily curry

If you would like the recipe for this delicious daylily curry (vegan, as it happens), born for high summer's young zucchini, head on over next door to 66 Square Feet (the Food). This is one that is not in Forage, Harvest, Feast (cos, well, I just made it yesterday) - although there are plenty of other daylily recipes in its pages...