Thursday, May 29, 2014

Beach Farm Holiday

At first glance the garlic plot is a tangle of healthy growth, probably near its peak before June's dry down begins. Shade caused by the tight row spacing keeps most weeds down, although plenty clover, lamb's quarters, and ragweed were found.

Navigating the rows is a minor challenge, mostly because I do not want to step on any stems or leaves, possibly tripping me up to fall squarely on the plants. This may have been the last weeding, but there will be a scape walk coming in the next few weeks.

As hard as I tried to give the under cultivated edge a boost, the Rocambole to the right still outperforms the Rocambole to the left by several inches in height and half an inch in girth. The edge garlic, here, looks healthy but small. The Marbled Purple Stripe "Siberian" on the opposite edge has been boosted by the amendments, but will never be as healthy as the others.

In fact the stems of the Rocambole "Killarney Red"are sizing up quite well. Beefy stems in May tend to indicate larger bulbs at harvest.

In the new plot, any remaining garlic has a chance to bulk up. Meanwhile, a curious hipster drops her shades. Speaking of Tilden's rampant visitors, the Fed has installed an eight-foot tall chain link defence along the edge of the dune zone. Instead of heeding the fence and heading to Jacob Reis Beach hardly a football field to the east, they hike westward, en masse to some unseen breach in the Fed's dune defenses. Around six pm they head back toward the bridge, but not without queuing outside the two toilet restroom beside the garden, waiting for what must seem like eons in bikinis and towels, wraps and oversized, colored frame sunglasses. Meanwhile, the restrooms at Riis, designed for the hoards that rarely materialize, sit vacant.

It was mostly hard luck in the new plot this season, but fortune has it that most of the Silverskin "Nootka Rose" and "Silverwhite" have held on, many doing better than their counterparts in the two previous seasons. These are the latest to harvest, so it may serve them to fertilize with fish at the end of the month and once again in mid June.

The French Grey Shallots looked weak a month ago, but have since come into their own, looking much more like their 2012 season counterparts. Warmer temperatures, copious blood meal, some potassium, calcium, magnesium, and a dosing of composted manure may have something to do with the brighter outlook.

We harvested lettuce and although it wasn't as large as can be, why not? We need fresh lettuce and no matter where you buy, the garden variety is freshest.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The Rose By A Nose

I went out, quick, to do a small round of errands after a day of organizing and cleaning. Two things: fully unexpected, but instantaneous, allergic coughing and sneezing and my grandmother's rose so full of blooms. Its scent competes only with the iris, which is also blooming now, but in the side yard. I clipped some to bring inside and get away from whatever allergen is floating about on this darkened day.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Meat Run

On Saturday, hours before the torrents that afflicted us later in the day, we went upstate to pick up a new order of pork, beef, and eggs at the Lowland Farm. I would have picked up some chicken too had I thought there would be room in our freezer. Rib steaks, London Broil, ground beef, hot dogs, and beef shins for us as well as more pork hocks, ground pork, boneless shoulder, tenderloin, bacon, and cured cheek. I love the cheek, I put it in anything. At first we thought the bacon was too salty, but that was only because we weren't eating bacon at all. Now we eat bacon once a week. The hocks make a wonderful, if unconventional osso buco. And to try, I added a cured ham steak (eegads!) and cured hock. We've already eaten the London Broil and rib steaks, both with flavors unknown to me until now -sweet and mellow.

My decision to eat only humanely-raised meat has been good for me and my diet. The expense had led me to believe I would eat less, but so far I have not seen that happen. Buying a lot of meat at once not only saves us money, it alleviates some of the sticker shock of individual cuts of local meat at the farmers' market. My eating habits have changed since late January and there have been improvements in the way I feel and some weight loss. We've been eating many more salads for lunch, so I'm glad that our lettuce is coming into its own now at the beach farm. Most improvements I have felt stem from cutting out the crap I would eat for lunch or dinner because I didn't plan properly for eating lunch or dinner! At school this means no more chicken and rice from the cart right outside the front door. For dinner this means no more take out chinese/pizza/something else. I've also reduced my pasta intake -understand how difficult this is for an Italian American! When my ridiculous supply of dried pasta is gone (and it soon will be), I will only purchase high quality local pasta to eat occasionally. Of course, I've cut out soda (except tonic) and hardly touch beer. I avoid juice too, but we have yogurt and frozen fruit smoothies on many summer mornings. My goal is to lose twenty pounds by August, a goal somewhat set by my surgeon who refused to fix a hernia I happen to find myself with until I lose at least twenty pounds. I have not been weighed, but based on the pant waist scale, I've already lost about ten. The ultimate goal, a goal which will require much more than I have already done in terms of exercise and eating, is to lose forty pounds.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Green Shift

I do not have any pictures to bolster my observations, and long have I been aware of trees' change from bright, yellow green leaf coloration to the more deep, blue green of summer. It has happened, rather over night, and I think it was two nights ago when we had a three aye em thunderstorm that it tilted in favor of the summer coloration. Just a few days ago Greenwood's trees were still full of spring brilliance, but today they are fully summer green. I have nothing in the way of scientific observation, and I hardly think it requires a storm to push the trees to this state, but did it, can it?

I've gone on about the affect of thunderstorms on plant growth on these pages before, and so it is that the garden plant growth has also skyrocketed since Thursday's early morning storm. Right now, as a storm slowly moves to the southeast, I think again of the benefits of nitrogen fixing lightning, the boost the plants appear to gain. The garlic, given that both storms have traveled over the beach farm, should also look deep green, taller, and more turgid when I visit on Monday.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Finding Time For The Garden

Now that the spring semester is over, we've been able to make some time for the garden -pulling weed sprouts, moving some volunteers to bare spots, and soaking up the good weather. The front garden has changed fast with the growth of the Zelkova trees. Our garden was a full sun planting but now it is ninety five percent shade. The lilies, the phlox, almost everything is stretching for what little sun passes between the trees. Since we are unsure of our future here it is hard to make the decision to replant. It is also interesting to watch plants on the move. The phlox have moved eighteen inches to the east, doing a number on the asters which I wouldn't have previously thought possible (the asters are pretty tough). The climbing 'New Dawn' can tolerate some shade, but it also will need to move by next season. 

The carpenter bees are spring active, and deliriously hug the bleeding hearts, poking holes in the tops to extract something sweet. Below the telltale marking of the male between the eyes.

These geraniums are in the new shady zone, and will need a new home by next season.

Johnson's Blue geranium is on the corner, in a spot that gets the most sun, maybe four to five hours at this time of the year.

The iris, too, gets some sun under the yew tree at the back of the side yard.

The mayapple, Podophyllum peltatum, with bloom under it's green umbrella, below the yew tree, surviving and moving ever so slowly to the corner's minute of sunlight.

Tradescantia, or spiderwort, blooms in the front yard's pocket of sun, but also made its way to the side yard, growing confidently between the paving slate.

And this hitchhiker, the star of Bethlehem, Ornithogalum umbellatum, finding a pocket of sun between the ever enlarging Dicentra eximia and another geranium in the side yard.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Garlic And Lettuce

As you can see, the garlic is getting quite tall now, the blood meal finally kicking in.

But I lamented not adding compost last fall, and so picked up twelve bags of composted cow manure to spread over two plots on Friday, before the heavy weekend rains, and probably too late to do any real good.

My main target was the garlic weakly growing on the edges, in the under cultivated soil, although I do find the yellowing leaf tips of the Asiatic strains a curiosity and wonder what, if any, effect it may have.

In the row blanks, where garlic simply didn't make it (this spot, southwest corner of the plot, was bad last year too), I plant lettuce.

Looking forward to it, we're eating a lot of salads these days.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Farmers' Market Prospects

Entirely strange way to enter Prospect Park, and having done so felt its soft transgress.

Above, I spied a white redbud. I wasn't aware of this expression.

Departing the carriage road for the market, so many bins of vegetable scraps. I wish I was making my own compost and I do miss the city's free stuff (to which this does not contribute).

There were nettles (and hops), and many things free should you take the time to hunt and pick them.

Like ramps, which I grabbed, for spring's pasta with all things green. 

And quite a deal on lilac bunches at ten dollars for nearly as many branches; so one for us and one for grandma's Mothers' Day visit.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

The Good Plot

The good plot. 

The good garlic.

Theory of edges. Same variety, one on the edge, one in a formerly cultivated zone. Edges are less cultivated, so edges are less productive.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Caught In The Crabapple

On may way to photograph the park for possible, future paintings I got caught up in the spectacle of the park circle crabs, something I usually miss but not in this ever so unusual year where you may see forsythia, daffodil, tulip, dogwood, crabapple and cherry blooms all at once.

While photographing, I encountered a voice. Wha? Where?  Up, fool.

A woman, high up in a crab tree, remarked on the serious appearance of my point and shoot as she read among the flowering branches. She descended, I showed her this shot, and we moved on.

In the park late blooming maples.

Phragmite reflections.

Sunning turtles.

The lesser of the celandines becoming rather morer in the wake of fallen timber,

Giant woodland 'field' garlic, so much larger than those of the field.

And big earthworms drowned in heavy rain-swamped lawns.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Cultivating Unlikely

Crossing Broadway, a couple of days ago, on my way to work. 

I have a job running an architectural modeling facility in an architecture and interior design department of a global college. The pay is minimum, the health benefits are decent and, as for many in academia, there is extra time to do your own thing. But as one grows older, one feels time very differently, and what felt like a lot of time before is starting to collapse as my perception of the days and weeks travel faster. Nearly seven years ago I began this blog, feeling the need and having the interest, spending countless hours constructing posts useful and otherwise, learning to edit my writing, to shop images, thinking about landscape, parks, and gardens. These days are no longer. 

My wife and I are very close to leaving this city, leaving 'NYC' garden, a blog, out of place. When we move I do not know if or how I should continue my blogging presence. It seems that, outside of the joys of telling one's story somewhat anonymously, without a professional interest in publishing or marketing, blogging is time away from less soluble pursuits. 

Leaving this city, as an artist, is a hard pill to swallow, harder still because it doesn't so much speak of my failure to succeed as much as a failure to try. So now, before that future move takes shape (although many phantom moves have shown their dark shadows), I am making every effort to pursue what can be pursued within the confines of the job and short days. This means going to art openings, spending time in Chelsea on days off, thinking and writing more about art, and generally having the confidence to participate in the discourse and social arena that makes up the New York, so-called art world.

I am confident in my capability as a painter, the depth of my experience with the land, and have more to learn and say about this in the coming months. Garden, farm, park and painting are distinctions that people want to make, but in truth are the flow of one spring only seen in different light. A gardening blog may be an unlikely venue to discuss why I paint, what I paint, or to present the art that I see, but that is okay with me.

Monday, May 5, 2014

In The Yard

The mayapples are up, and spreading. We cheer for them.

The carpenter bees are bumbling into windows and walls.

The heuchera is giant.

The irises that returned are readying their flowers.

And lilies rocket.

Angelique triumphant.

And I wish I had one of these in the yard.