Bean Harvest

'We can't eat another bean', Heidi said so the entire harvest was mine to take home. The Purple beans are prolific and its a pretty plant with pretty flowers, it will definitely be re employed next season. The Blue Lake beans, planted a little later are just getting going. I have to get my bean recipes lined up. I did poke around the interwebs to see if there was any way of keeping the purple color from reverting to green and, no, it's not possible unless you keep them raw. This weeks haul also included some tomatoes- a couple of Black Krims, a large head of chinese greens and lots of herbs.

Lush Window

I wanted to try something different on my front windowsill. I've had an assortment of terracota pots there before. This time I wanted something more lush, like an indoor courtyard in a tropical hotel. So I got deep square patio pots about 18 inches on all sides and I crammed whatever I had into 2 of the 3 pots. The middle one is still empty as I wanted to see what would happen - if the plants given that much more soil would get really big. They have. Both the Chaya and the Pulmoneria have hit the ceiling. The branches of the Chaya are somewhat gangly so I've trained the purpleheart up them. The pulmoneria clambers over the dogwood branches I had in spring.

The window is to my right as I work on the computer most of the day. In the morning, the light is strong, almost too strong, reflecting off my computer screen. So now there is more of a dappled effect. I like it, it's calming. I just have to plant the middle one and do a fancy wooden box cover/wrap around it. The ambition is to paint it black and paint some gold oriental lacqeur looking decorations, but that might take a while.

Frozen Green Tomatoes

A while ago I came across this Mark Bittman video for smoothies. It was life changing. I figured out what to do with all the extra bananas that inevitably spoil before I can eat them - freeze them. Then I discover - processing one frozen banana in my food processor with half a cup of kefir produced not a smoothie but a sort of soft serve frozen kefir that you eat with a spoon. That base could then be modified with the addition of any kind of frozen berries- raspberries, strawberries. I ate more kefir, bought berries from the market towards the end of the season and froze them. Healthiest, delicious most fun good for you food ever.

So I decide to do a food experiment with the two small green tomatoes I found knocked off the plant the other week. I cut and freeze them. One of my all time favorite sorbets is a lime and basil one that's on the menu of a friend's restaurant in Noho, a visit there always ends up with a glass of sorbet on the house. You can see where I'm going with this right? Some Basil leaves from the windowsill, frozen banana, frozen green tomatoes, kefir and some basil. Whirr. Not bad. Next time I would add lime- it needs a bite. My next green tomato food experiment will be another NYTimes recipes- green tomato marmalade.

+ OccasionalOasis:North Coast

Cool Reds

The temperatures have soared into the nineties which makes the indoors a cool air conditioned sanctuary. Not a bad thing as, I'm additionally confined indoors with a huge workload. Surprisingly, a color that I normally associate with heat has in fact been a cooling diversion. Ice cold cherries and chilled slices of red and striped beets. I blanked out my usual concerns about local produce to buy two incredibly cheap luscious pounds of cherries in Chinatown. The beets are from the garden. I ate the greens and even used the red liquid they cooked in to tint an old t shirt to right that wrong.

Early August Harvest

I decided to run up to Mamaroneck yesterday. I knew the tomatoes and the cucumber would be unruly and I was worried about the potato plants- they looked a little unwell last time I saw them and I didn't want that to affect anything else. So they were the first thing on list. Ripped them all up except one that looked quite different and healthy. There were a handful of tiny potatoes. I dug up the peas but didn't have time to plant anything else. I came home with a few tomatoes, don't know which kind, but dear god the couple I had were good as were the cucumbers. Purple Beans, huge carrots, quite a few Beets (and their greens), Chinese Greens, and herbs galore. Bliss.

Ashes of Roses

I've barely been outside, never mind gardening due to work deadlines and my new foster dog who's just settling in- so into the photo archives we go and here's a rose that I've been intrigued by that I've seen in a couple of places, Rosa Glauca. The photos were taken at different times at the NYBG, early on when it was in flower and then more recently when it had these amazing chocolate colored hips.

I've never read the book Ashes of Roses but for some reason the title sticks and when this Rosa Glauca caught my eye, those were the words that popped into my head. Perhaps because the shrub has an eerie gray cast even in bright sunshine, a cold color tone that explains it's recurring description as blue or 'pewter blue'. I think this description fits best for me- purplish gray. In any case, it's complex, as described here: bluish gray in full sun (with shimmering overtones of burgundy and mauve), or with an icing of silvery gray-green in part shade

For me, this shrub is intriguing not because of it's colors in their own own right but what it does with other colors- the hips look so interesting against the variegated grass it was growing next to. In central park, a clematis clambers all over the shrub there and the color combination with a mauve flower is striking. The photos which make it look a little livery don't really capture the real thing and its interesting to see how difficult it is too get a mental image of it from the descriptions in articles and catalogues.

Kitchen Window

My kitchen window is looking pretty lush and dare I say it, not been assaulted by the local squirrels. I am now cutting a chilli pepper here and there, Mint, Oregano, Thyme and Basil. There's a couple more young chilli plants that have grown from seed from chillis I bought in Chinatown. There's a celery too that I've just been harvesting the young leaves. And that's just half the space utilized as I didn't want to go through the heartbreak of growing more and attracting those durn squirrels. I might extend this in the next week and see if I can't add some salad greens and a few more herbs.

I recently read about the National Trust in the UK starting a vertical vegetable campaign to encourage growing vegetables in window boxes. The logic being that it could represent 600 acres of urban farming land. I have four large windows, maybe I might be hesitant to use the front two that are exposed to traffic fumes but it's interesting to think of the possibilities. I also came across these images of interesting enclosed window gardening spaces. As all the emerging ideas for vertical gardens, green roofs and window farms begin to populate the public conciousness, just imagine what an urban city could look like and what it could mean for apartment dwellers.

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