Soon to be renowned!

Friday, July 28, 2017

Sharing The Harvest

Are you swimming in summer squash? Inundated in tomatoes? Are you shoving green beans into your face as fast as you possibly can but they just keep coming? Maybe your eyes were bigger than your stomach when you decided to fill your trunk with roadside blackberries. Or are you completely stumped by all that kohlrabi you planted in Spring. What on Earth does one do with kohlrabi?

One gives it away.

This time of year I like to remind folks to consider donating their surplus harvest to local food banks, who (in my experience anyway) are always beyond delighted to accept whatever you don't want or can't use. There are lots of great organizations committed to ending hunger in local communities; here in the North King County area, Hopelink operates several branches where they accept fresh produce from home gardens. If you have lots of tree fruit that you don't have time to harvest or use, consider contacting an organization like City Fruit, which does great work in the Seattle area collecting and distributing fruit that would otherwise go to waste.

Fresh, home-grown produce is one of the purest, most profound joys in life. I believe everyone should have access to the nutrition, flavor, and satisfaction of eating food straight from the ground, regardless of whether or not they have a garden of their own.

And come on ... how many zucchini do you really need?

Friday, July 21, 2017

The Huntress

A girl and her catch.

Is this image shocking to you? Why? Is it a shudder at the violence inherent in my daughter holding by the neck two freshly slain young summer squashes? Is it the chilling reminder that such violence is implicit in all the food we eat, whether or not we bear witness to it?

(Or is it just the cluttered and ever-so-ungardenly wasteland behind her? Yes, I agree, it's not Fencebroke's best face.)

Now what if I told you she hunted and killed these squash with her own bare hands? Does your blood run cold? Are you spewing outrage at your screen and vowing to never again offer your tacit approval of such acts by reading this blog? Are you wondering where I, the ostensibly responsible parent, was during this wanton slaughter? Am I too busy watering the garden to notice my children running amok with vegetable blood on their hands? Well ... clearly not, I took this picture after all. And frankly, it makes me proud. 

That's right. I feel there is a great deal of personal empowerment that comes from slaughtering one's own produce. And while it may be controversial (though what part of garden blogging isn't, am I right?), I wholeheartedly support and encourage my children's natural desire to hunt and kill whatever squash, carrot, apple, or rutabaga happens to cross their path (provided, of course, they make every effort to butcher and consume their prey in a humane, timely, and responsible manner—hey, I'm not a monster). 

And if you're still not convinced (not that I especially care), please bear in mind the delicate ecological balance of the garden. Summer squash and zucchini, in particular, are prone to wild population explosions this time of year. It is up to the gardener and his family to provide a top-down control on such rampant overgrowth, lest the entire garden be consumed by a locust-like wave of crooknecks and patty-pans. So please, after you're done shuddering, please make your best effort to withhold judgement of this very natural and necessary part of our circle of life. Thank you.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a lesson to give in field dressing golden squash. This could get messy.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Zero-Alarm Fire

"Not a real emergency, sir." 

I called the Fire Department again. Thought the beans were on fire (one can never be too careful during the dry season). Turns out they're (still) just scarlet runner beans and that fiery red-orange blaze is just their thing. Just their flowers. Totally normal.

Turns out I already knew that and just wanted to show off how awesome Fencebroke's "Scenic Gateway To Beans" (revisit this post for context) looks with these scarlet runner beans blooming. It also turns out the local Fire Department is not an appropriate audience for such showmanship. Apparently, they do not spend their down-time between calls cultivating a sufficiently deep appreciation of local, small-scale urban agriculture to overlook my gross civic irresponsibility for some (admittedly lovely) beans.

That's okay. I bear no lingering grudge for these local heroes, even if they did blast every bean in sight with fire-retardant foam (though I do suspect this action was motivated more by a desire to teach me a lesson than by any real fear of leguminous fire spreading to nearby structures). What are you going to do? They have a stressful job.

So who can I show my beans to? The pizza place won't deliver to me anymore. The mailman refuses to come to the backyard. I told the ice cream truck driver there was a whole flock of kids out back with money to burn; he didn't believe me. Isn't there anyone I can trick into a token compliment for all my hard work in the garden?


Friday, July 7, 2017

The Beach

My daughter now calls this area "The Beach". Yeah, she takes her toys and dolls to vacation here, builds dusty "sandcastles" here, gamely avoids the broken glass and old nails disinterred here—really sells the vision. And, while I prefer the official Fencebroke land-use press release title of "Handsome And Well-Lain Patio To Be Completed When Children Grow Old Enough To Keep Themselves Alive And Occupied Without Supervision For 15 Minutes", I do appreciate her making the best of what has become an admittedly desolate corner of the yard.

Still, I can't help but think she might be egging us on with a bone-dry wit she's somehow adopted at the age of three-and-a-half. Am I overreacting? Be honest with me girl! Have you been watching British Comedy!? The nerve of kids these days.

Or, maybe it's nothing more than the burgeoning imagination of a child. You know, the sort of sheer force of creative will that lets the innocent turn war zones into wonderlands, tenements into treasure maps, abandoned lots into playgrounds, and—

—Good god, what is wrong with our yard!?

We live ten minutes from the shores of Puget Sound, if I take you there, will you stop coronating your princesses in this ant-ridden patch of parched earth we call a "patio"!? No! There are no crabs here! That's an old bottle cap! I don't know why—because the people who lived here before us didn't have a garbage can. Go wash your hands.


Maybe I could at least harness some of that youthful and euphemistic gusto and use it to re-brand our other unsightly garden features. The rock pile could become The Mystic Mountain, the water meter a Buried Treasure Chest, and Fencebroke's namesake fence would be transformed into the sturdy parapet of some Enchanted Castle! I mean, I'm onto something, right?

Meh, I don't know, it feels so forced when I do it. Dang kids and their ... whimsy.