Posted in Bloomington, Gardens, tagged 2008 election, art museums, autumn, Bloomington, campus, election, fall, Indiana, indiana university, limestone, presidential election, trees on November 4, 2008| 1 Comment »
Recently we inherited a community garden plot at the Hilltop Nature Center in Bloomington, IN. The previous owner had apparently abandoned it. (Though an Asian woman informed us that she saw him just a few weeks ago, and that he is Russian. Combine that with the fact that the plot was weedy, but tomatoes appeared to have been harvested… I just hope the Russian mafia doesn’t come raid our garden in revenge, now that we’ve planted for the fall/winter season…)
We are growing tomatoes, eggplants, mint, catnip, dill, carrots, beets, kohlrabi, radishes, broccoli, kale and cabbage. I’m not confident in the kohlrabi or beets though… neither seem to be doing well. They were planted only a week or so after the ones in planters at our house, which are ten times as big.
Since we just ‘plundered’ our garden, I’m posting a few pics here of the rest of Hilltop, which has a great botanical garden with endless basil, peppers, banana trees, date trees, tomatoes, corn, pumpkins, and more. (Also, this is an excuse to post more pics that I took with my new camera, a Canon Digital Rebel XTi !! (Got it for my birthday from my mom and siblings!)
I should have listened when people told me their stories of enormous piles of zucchini, of eating zucchini day in, day out all summer, wild tales of “drop and run” actions by neighbors who can’t get rid of their zucchini either, and so on. But I did not.
I had two zucchini plants last year, both in a pot. They grew a few little zucchini, most of which turned yellow at the end and rotted away. My yield was minimal, enough for one dinner of my mother-in-law’s famous and delicious ‘zucchini patties’. So this year I planted five zucchini plants, in the ground, with extra miracle grow and on the irrigation system. Oh yeah, people warned me… but did I listen? No.
The first few weeks things went slowly… the leaves grew, but the zucchini remained small and once again a number turned yellow and rotted before getting more than four inches long. Then the first big zucchini came (it had been hiding under a leaf and was a surprise). Then another, and more…
Zucchini soup, zucchini patties, zucchini stuffed with lamb, zucchini meatloaf.
And then today, only four days after harvesting all the big zucchini, with nothing over 4 or 5 inches left on the plant before the weekend, I went to check again. See the picture below for the results of four days worth of growth. That is a full size dinner knife next to it for comparison. And there are a number more just slightly smaller than the smallest in this picture.
*sigh* what am I going to with them now? “Drop and run?” Friends? Neighbors? The homeless? And with a lot more on the way, we’re leaving for Indiana in ten days, so we can’t harvest anymore after that… I think we’re having a zucchini vegetable stir fry tonight, with meat stuffed zucchini, and zucchini patties for the ‘carbs’.
We recently moved my grandmother into assisted living. Never an easy move, but her new two bedroom apartment is almost as large as the old house where she had lived since she got married in her 20’s. She has high ceilings, windows in three directions, and lots of light. She’s also made some new friends and really seems to be doing well. However, the old house is still full of junk so my mother flew in from The Netherlands to help us sort through old boxes, photographs, and so on.
Together we went through endless dusty basement boxes with doll clothes, photo albums, ancient sleeping bags, and seemingly endless rows of empty canning jars. Each type I pulled an old cardboard box or plastic bag out of a dark corner under the stairs, I was afraid I might open it up to discover dead animals, raccoons, or pet cats that disappeared before I was even born. Fortunately we suffered nothing but some hilarious discoveries of old 1950’s/60’s cookbooks, food with expiration dates going back as far as 1988 (!!), and most notably: A box of “Sparkles”. Apparently my grandparents used to arrange dances for friends in their basement (my mom says she and her sister were never allowed to attend), so they would spread these shimmering flaky ‘sparkles’ across the floors to make them smooth. I’ll try to get a picture of them if they’re still there next weekend. At least the sparkles are prove they were indeed dances that they were keeping my mom and aunt out of, and not some secret Lutheran cult celebrations of self-denial.
Many hours and torn up embarassing family photos later, we finally called it a day. We loaded up the cookbooks, photos, a working refrigerator from the 50’s and the collectibles that I was taking, and picked out some of my grandmother’s dozens of garden hoses and shovels to use in our own garden. (God knows why an elderly woman needs 18 garden hoses, 11 shovels, 5 hoes, and 3 wheelbarrows; it was like one of those “historical museums” full of donated farm crap. Monetary value: zero. Emotional/cultural value: Oh, wait… also zero.)
Just as we were about to get back in our car, my mom mentioned that the cherries were ripe. Never one to pass up cherries, I rushed out to the back to find the tree completely covered in perfect, luscious sweet cherries of the Royal Anne variety. Nearly every single cherry was ripe and untouched by insects. We picked everything we could get our hands on, and filled our mouths and bowls. My husband even climbed into the tree to get more. Finally, after filling some bowls and eating plenty more, we decided it was time to head home. We’re going up there again next weekend, and I can only hope that the cherries will still be good. And if we’re really lucky, the numerous figs on my grandma’s tree will also be ready for picking. They may need a little more time.