AUTHOR: Julia TITLE: Garden Updates and Sage Sagas DATE: 5/28/2008 05:48:00 PM ----- BODY:
Glorious, hot sun followed by torrential downpours. Welcome to Spring in New England. As I peered out the window yesterday afternoon, streams of rainwater rushed across the fledgling zucchini plants. I wondered if they would be washed away…

Much to my delight, this morning the garden is doing well. The Brandywine tomatoes have already started to flower. This provides great relief since I tempted the weather gods by planting tomatoes in late April, even though New England can have frost as late as Memorial Day. And the brussel sprouts, though nowhere near sprouting, have big full leaves: another good sign. The zucchini plants still seem rooted in their original location

The arugula was in full force last week. I’ve been cutting salads every night, dressed simply with lemon juice and olive oil, or with a few drops of reduced balsamic vinegar. Arugula does not like the heat, though. And at the first sign of summer, like we had on Sunday, the plants start to bolt. The stalks shoot up ready to flower and then go to seed. Try as I might to cut them back and stave off the process, the plants grow leggier every day. The downside is that the plants produce less leaves, the upside is that the salad gets spicier with each warm day. Photo of bolting arugula comes courtesy of Ed Bruske. If you visit his blog and read about a pig matanza and a turkey matanza... these are at my friend Brett's farm (aka Tales from the Farm). Though I was not with Ed during these adventures, I have had the same adventures on the same farm.

The sage continues to proliferate. Even after several whacks – an indulgent meal of pasta with sage brown-butter, several gifts to friends, I still have *gasp* too much. It seems that if I don’t consume it, I befall the same fate as all the other wasted food. Perhaps not as drastic, it seems if I grow it, I should eat it. Or let someone else eat it.

One solution: deep fry the leaves in plain oil until just translucent. After they drain on a paper towel, I season them with salt. The leaves seem thinner and melt in my mouth. They’re addictive like potato chips… light and crispy and salty.

A little on-line research revealed that sage has many medicinal qualities, including: reduces bad breath, reduces perspiration, reduces the symptoms of menopause and premenstrual cramps, increases brain concentration, and reduces blood sugar in people with diabetes. Be cautioned, if you are pregnant, you should not consume this wonder herb in great quantity.

And, of course, burning sage leaves can cleanse a home of negative energy.


----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) DATE:5/28/2008 10:41:00 PM Thanks for the garden update. I like the redesign, too. ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger Todd DATE:6/12/2008 09:16:00 PM Hi Julia,

I just boust a house in Roslindale last fall and have started my first vege garden. I have planted several (12) tomato plantas as well as lots of basil, a few other herbs and a some cukes, zukes, broccoli, brussels, califlower, swiss chard, spinach (which is not happy) and of course Arugala! As you mentioned the hot weather has caused most of my plants to begin to bolt. I had not picked any till tonight when I noted the pods were starting to form. After doing some webe searching, I figured out that I should pick it NOW. So I picked most of the leaves off the flowering plants, but left the buds and a few leaves on each. What will happen? will they stop flowering? More arugala? or should I just pull them up and start over? Let me know what you would do. Thanks! Todd ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger Todd DATE:6/12/2008 09:18:00 PM I should have spell checked my message before I posted. Sorry! :) ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger Julia DATE:6/13/2008 11:45:00 AM Hi Todd,

Your garden sounds great! Arugula and Spinach (and most leafy greens0 are really cool weather plants -- best in the spring and fall. The heat makes them bitter and go to seed quickly. Once the bolting starts, it's not really possible to stop (unlike basil). You can cut it back and it will continue to regrow. Also, you can do successive plantings through the summer so you can at least get the first cutting.

Good luck and let me know how it goes! ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger Todd DATE:6/13/2008 08:28:00 PM Thanks Julia!

I am a total newbie when it comes to gardening, so I've spent a lot of time on the web doing research. I am VERY gald I found your Blog, as it seems you have the same tastes as I do, and live in the same area. I always buy local when possible and have been a memebr of the Stillmans Farm CSA for produce (and now meat) for several years. Your posts have been very thoughtful and helful, so THANKS!

Question: I cut back the Arugala, but left the flowering stalks and some leaves. Would I be better off cutting the flowers (and or stalks), cutting back everything (leaving stubs), or just pulling it up and replant in the late summer. What do you think?

Todd ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger Julia DATE:6/14/2008 07:11:00 AM I faced the same dilemma this week. Yesterday, I just pulled up everything... it was the law of diminishing returns. The leaves were getting smaller and growing less quickly. ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger Todd DATE:6/14/2008 11:19:00 PM Thanks Julia!

I think I will let it flower (as its already started) and see if I can harvet the seeds to plant later. I'll let you know what happens. Good luck to you!

Todd ----- --------