Thursday, January 11, 2007

.04 acres and a monkey

I'm feeling some pressure to provide more homegrown nourishment for my family, simply because it is getting bigger. Our monkey is growing up, way fast. "I'm HUNGRY dadda, maybe we can have some more lunch!" I've been thinking of her energy conversion powers as a wonder of nature. It makes me think: we need to find a way to run the planet off of kids. Yeah, that's the ticket! And no, I'm not talking child-labor, I'm talking about somehow harnessing the energy bursts some describe as screaming, or maybe rigging little magnets on them and having them slide repeatedly down a copper-coil tube (okay that would be child-labor) Focus now: or how about that dream of turning this untapped source of audible energy to work for us parents, who are usually the focal point for receiving such a release. I'm gonna need to provide more calories in the future to keep up with the energy absorption/emission curve.

We have limited garden space, on the north side of the house and in a yard that is only 15 feet deep. It contains a thick, black, expansive clay, that when we first started working it, contained tons of glass and gravel, with the occasional rusty nail and old toy. Two months ago we performed our largest "amendment" to the yard, but this does not make up for the fact that it only receives direct light for an hour in the morning and a few more in the afternoon. We do what we can with a few wine barrels placed out front that have served various functions over the past few years (including a staging area for things to be transplanted). We have them out front, facing south, where they get good light from sun-up till about mid-afternoon. So today the monkey and I took action and built a small planter box, to help expand out acreage if you can call such small increments. We brought it out back and rewarded ourselves with some pretty cheesecake for a job well (no, more like halfway) done. We'll get to that cheesecake later.

We filled the box with soil, and then began transplanting some of the spinach we had purchased from Berkeley Hort. While we were at it, we transplanted the beets seen here into the sunniest spot in the back yard, with hopes of at least beet pasta come late spring. The spinach would fill most of the new box, but we needed something else. Maybe with a streak of color, hardy, and certainly edible. "Hey let's go look out," I turned around and there they were:

The "Pot of Gold" container chard from last spring. I had planted it amongst the tomatoes last year, trying to fill in areas wherever I could with various seeds to see what worked. Turns out that in my yard, container chard stays a tiny little thing when it gets shaded out by tomatoes. But it is also hardy, for when I finally had the gumption to rip out the dying tomatoes, it was still its tiny little self, all four inches high and in about 8 or 9 places. I left it there, and a few weeks later it was twice as big. Well, this is certainly worthy of attention, so I took them out of the ground before the previously mentioned amendment by putting them in a container and in the sunniest spot in the backyard. Now they are thriving, and starting to really crowd their container. They needed thinning and would be a nice compliment to the spinach. I placed two plants at either end of our new planter and gave it a little pat-down. Now for the hard part: getting it upstairs and outside the window for living on the roof in the most direct light available.

Now our view of the elementary school across the street includes some greens for braising and salads. It is a small purchase of space, but we're hoping the rewards are great. Last year our attempts in the garden yielded a few tasty things, namely some peas and tomatoes, but really it had plenty of room for improvement. This year I have made a pledge to use our little bit of space in a fashion more befitting of its capabilites. We need more variety, more fecundity, out of our little space. With more use of our sunny roof, perhaps we can achieve such things.

Back to fecundity. And that bigger family remark. We are about halfway toward harvesting our "potato" crop. As with all tubers and subterranean veggies, this one will depend on the moon and other environmental factors as to the exact date it first sees the light. We're just hoping the arrival will go as smoothly as ours in late Nov, 2003. As seen by the in-utero headshot of "Pablo" (as the monkey calls her sibling), our potato has eyes, nose, lips and chin. Just as they should. Let us do the rain dance and pray for good spring weather. So far it's promising to be a bumper crop!

Oh yeah, and that cheesecake thing. You see, the one pictured at top, that we pre-emptively rewarded ourselves with, had some chevre in it, comprising about a third of the cream cheese component. I've been dying to try some goaty-goodness in a cheesecake for at least a year now, so this was a focus for this version. It had the typical (these days) sweet potato for body, color, and flavor, but I did go out on a new crusty limb and used ginger-zing granola and animal crackers for the bottom. It was tasty, but a little too goaty. I'm thinking, in the future, keep the goat on the savory side of the cheese.

And the reason all of these things spilled out of my mind, only to be put together in my dweeby little blog?



Callipygia said...

Congrats on the new Pablo-monkey. I think the chard looks so beautiful and good enough to eat already. Also about the goat cheese cheesecake, Claudia Fleming has a bunch of cheesecakes with chevre. You may want to check it out.

Anonymous said...

I my gosh, Pablo looks just like me!!!!
I am going to have the chard this weekend.
Love ya,
Yo sistah :)

Lis said...

What a great post.. love the pictures =) And congrats on the new baby! :D