Back path 790 xxx
photos by george billard

8.2.12 No Place Like Home

As much as I love to travel the world, the journey home will always be my favorite. I spent several long hours in the Atlanta airport yesterday, waiting for my delayed flight back to Newark, surrounded by squalling babies, lurid fluorescent lighting, enormously fat people talking much too loudly on their cell phones and a general air of fetid unhealthiness. When it became clear that a real dinner was not in my future, I sidled hopefully up to the nearest Wolfgang Puck Express where I was met with the world's saddest array. Dessicated "baby" carrots, the desperate orange of Guantánamo jumpsuits, huddled in fogged plastic containers alongside clammy cubes of cheese and a few shriveled grapes. Spago it was not. I ultimately gnashed my way through a heap of watery romaine with a lumpy feta vinaigrette and longed for the green, green grass of home. Once aboard the plane, there was a moment of glory: as lightning shot repeatedly through a layer of meringue clouds, we soared high above into a crystalline night sky illuminated by an enormous silver moon. And then the pregnant lady in front of me farted. 

When I arrived home past two in the morning and emerged from the frigid yet stale air of the town car, I inhaled the cool country sweetness and was instantly restored. The wild honeysuckle brushed lovingly against me as I made my way up the front path. Moths slam-danced into the yellow porch light. I crawled into my bed between two biscuit-warm bodies and fell asleep to the rhythmic buzz of the night creatures.
Tagged — raised beds
Eldred house 790 xxx
eldred, new york

7.11.11 Garden Update: Slow & Steady

It's about time I gave you a peek at the garden. Things got off to a slow start what with a certain person getting into a spot of trouble in Indonesia, and a certain other person having to rush over there for 2 weeks, but eventually tiny plants were purchased and placed in the soil. And then it rained. And then it got incredibly hot for a few days, and then it got really cold. And then it rained some more. A lot. A ton. Each year brings its own particular set of weather patterns, and the resulting garden is a clear reflection of that. Compared to last July's splendor, we are behind. The lushness is just starting to creep into the vegetable garden after a few solid days of sunshine. My herb garden is bedraggled, the parsley battered. The native plants that we put in last year, though, are, for the most part, doing quite well. Our stone paths are flanked with honeysuckle and fragrant sumac, and the wild raspberry has gone, well, wild. Just now it's beset by Japanese beetles, which chew the leaves into lacy patterns and can strip a plant in the short time it takes you to go inside and down a glass of icy lemonade. Every day I pluck off dozens and drown them without remorse in a cup of soapy water. It's a jungle out here.
Tagged — raised beds
Sage and lavender 790 xxx
photos by gluttonforlife

6.20.11 Garden Update: June Bloom

I've been so busy with my hands in the dirt, I haven't had a chance to share with you everything that's coming to life in the garden. After a ton of rain, a couple of sweltering days and lots more rain, we've had a few temperate days with a decent amount of sun that have finally given the plants just what they need to flourish. G is still crabbing around the yard with lightning speed and a ferocious determination to do more than his fair share. He is a sight to behold. And so is the garden. Without further ado, my friends, here are a few highlights of what's busting out in June. (Above is an incredibly happy tangle of sage and lavender, both of them highly fragrant and sprouting little purple flowers.)
Tagged — raised beds
Garden2 790 xxx
photos by george billard

9.16.10 Garden Update: Last Gasp

Fall is encroaching on our garden. Though we'll still be getting kale, chard, broccoli and collards for weeks to come (inshallah), the basil suddenly turned punky and the last tomatoes are hanging heavy on the vine. It was a banner year here in Eldred, and G's photos tell the story...
Garden21 790 xxx

Tagged — raised beds
Front in progress 790 xxx
photos by george billard

6.25.10 Garden Update: Plantation

By some miracle, I think all our landscaping will be complete by the time guests arrive for our annual 4th of July bash! A lot of planning and hard work went into a series of new stone paths that divide up our little property into new beds for planting. We also added a second, fenced-in raised bed for more vegetables; it encloses my medicinal herbs as well (angelica, lady's mantle, borage, bee balm, catnip, anise hyssop, rosemary, lavender) which were rabbit fodder last year. We are so happy to have found Mike D. from Catskill Native Nursery in Kerhonkson to oversee the design and installation of a gorgeous selection of native plants that have already brought us more bees, butterflies and birds. Some highlights: a berry patch with raspberries, blueberries, elderberries, gooseberries and red and black currants; honeysuckle; aromatic sumac; native grasses; a bed of sunflowers; wild roses. As things settle in and spread out, I'll get G to take more photos, but just wanted you to see the work in progress.
Front paths 790 xxx
new front paths
Front plantings 790 xxx
front plantings
Planting 790 xxx
Mike D. surveying his handiwork
Back garden before 790 xxx
getting started on the back (note just one raised bed)
Back garden overhead 790 xxx
new paths in back
2nd raised bed 790 xxx
second raised bed
Tomatoes 790 xxx
G's tomatoes staked in new raised bed

Tagged — raised beds
Ouch 790 xxx
all photos by george billard

5.9.10 The Sky Is Falling

That's sure what it sounded like some time after midnight last night, when this tree came crashing down onto our little barn. We were just drifting off to sleep when we heard a few strange squeaks that we thought might be some new sort of nocturnal visitor. (In retrospect, I think it was the straining of the wood before it split.) It was windy last night, powerful gusts blowing in the rogue snow showers predicted for early this morning. Suddenly there was a loud wrenching thud, the sound of damage. G went racing out with the night-vision goggles and reported back that a major tree was down. In the morning we were greeted with this grim aftermath...
Tagged — raised beds
Winterrye 790 xxx
photos by george billard

4.23.10 How Does Your Garden Grow?

I wanted to give you a quick gander at what's happening in our garden, before things really start taking shape. That way you'll get the whole before/after perspective. We're making some changes, putting in several meandering stone paths, a meadow in the front, maybe even a shade garden in back, and a new raised bed for more vegetables. G got it together to plant this winter rye in our existing raised beds, sometime in early December I think, and as the weather warmed he plowed it under. It's a cover crop, sometimes called "green compost" because it feeds and enriches the soil. I'm getting excited thinking about what to plant—kale, lovage, cucumbers, lettuces, carrots. And more medicinal herbs; my bee balm and hyssop and lady's mantle are all coming back, and even the lavender made it through the winter. G will be babying his tomatoes again, I'm sure, and praying that last year's horrendous blight won't be returning. Any ideas from you, gentle reader, on what we should sow?
Raisedbed 790 xxx

Tagged — raised beds