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    Posted July 9, 2012 by
    cattroiano
    Assignment
    Assignment
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    From garden to table

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    Herbs and Veggies and ... Groundhogs? Oh My! (Part 2)

     

    As I contemplate the progress of my culinary gardening endeavors, the results thus far yield a mixed bag. There may never be glorious photographs depicting a victorious home gardener proudly displaying her bounty from this poster. There can be, however, a shot depicting the vivacious verdure of this season’s herbs that are destined for a short sprint from the deck to the kitchen’s food preparation counter. There are no vegetables to be seen as of yet.

     

    The tomato plants are growing ever so slowly. I can perhaps point the blaming finger at the weather patterns that comprised the month of June’s meteorology. Cooler than normal temperatures for the first half of the month then gave way to two record breaking heat waves to usher out the remaining days. I observe that they have now awakened at last as they stretch to achieve greater heights. The first week of July has also plagued residents and crops alike throughout our nation with record-breaking temperatures yet again.

     

    The guiltiest culprit of all for squashing most vegetable efforts is that of our own furry garden pet, uh, I mean, pest. As I had suspected, our annual summer guest has returned, and he is more ravenous than ever before. Already the eggplant section has been devoured down to pitiful stems. After the first heat wave, these poor victims tried so hard to regenerate their foliage. As soon as notable success was evident, the groundhog promptly helped himself to yet another feast. I see little possibility for recovery at this point. The same scenario of devastation has afflicted half of the peppers. Why not the other half? I suppose he is saving those for some weekend holiday binge. His uncanny ability to present himself as simultaneously cute and bad has been his only saving grace, but this gardener’s patience is waning.

     

    Where I have reaped the benefits of success comes from the herb plantings. Most have doubled in size and have already played starring roles in our dinner menus. Rosemary has been paired with lemon for a Tuscan grilled chicken, and with garlic for a savory lamb chop seasoning. Oregano has featured prominently in tomato salads. The garden also boasts mint, thyme and sage. The herbs that I prize the most are the basil and parsley, which are very frequently combined in the food processor with olive oil, Romano cheese, salt, garlic and toasted pignoli nuts to transform into one of my favorite Italian condiments, pesto. I use pesto for just about everything, from a sauce tossed with pasta to smearing it over a filet of Chilean sea bass destined for the roasting pan. My husband recently topped grilled beefsteak tomato halves with the emerald-hued gem from Genoa.

     

    As the above photograph illustrates, the oregano has sprouted quite high indeed – Jack’s beanstalk had nothing on my oregano plants! Our insatiable appetite and quest for incorporating fresh herbs into our epicurean projects will prove to be the one line of defense against any likelihood of coming face to face with giant ogres in the sky. Simply put, we will consume it before it amasses such monumental proportions.

     

    Yes, the herbs have done well, evidently shunned by the groundhog’s nutrition consultant. In turn we have happily shunned fresh herbs from our supermarket shopping lists. No longer forced to purchase quantities that exceed our needs, resulting in wasteful disposal of rotting herbs, for the next four to five months we can simply step outside and snip herbs as our recipes call for them.

     

    I will be touching base again next month to share the progress of, or lack thereof, the vegetable plots. That installment will either showcase some harvested produce or be relegated entirely to our sneaky snacker. So far, the odds appear to be in his favor. For now, I am off to our friendly local neighborhood farm stand for some zucchini, eggplant and peppers!

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