Thursday, April 7, 2011

Beet It!

OK, sorry about the dumb reference to a Michael Jackson song, I just couldn't help it!  Anyhoo... the other day I really hit the gardening jackpot!  I was out watering and checking on things as I REALLY need to get the summer garden going but I still have winter garden stuff going strong.  I decided to pull a beet or two, just to see how they were doing and you know what?  They were doing FINE!  So I pulled a big ol' bunch of them!
Just look at that beautiful red!  To die for!  I washed them up and trimmed off the greens, which I'll be serving for dinner soon.  Can I just say that I LOVE beets and turnips for this very reason!  You can eat the leaves AND the roots.  Super.  Food.  Awesome.
I popped them into a pot of boiling water for about 30 min. (40 for some of the bigger ones).  Then as I rinsed them in cold water, the skins just came right off and I was left with beautiful burgundy beets!  So I let 'em cool off so I could slice 'em and then EAT 'em!
And oh HELL YEAH, they were awesome!  I have been nibbling on them periodically or serving them on every salad I eat!  They have a nice bite and the texture puts those icky canned ones to shame!  Now I'm on the lookout for the perfect beet salad!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Our First Cecropia!

Last year I was good and remembered that my bug dealer has a much better selection in the fall, so I called him up and got all sorts of new critters for this year.  As you saw earlier, the two polyphemus moths emerged the same evening and they were stunning, big moths, but today, the Granddaddy (or in this case Grandmama) of all moths emerged!  Meet Hyalaphora cecropia, the largest North American moth...
Had I managed to get the ruler straight, this moth would have almost a 6-inch wingspan!  Impressive girl!  This one has shown a very mild temperament, she didn't seem to be scared or mind being handled.  The Monkey Man is completely in awe over her!  And honestly, so am I!  Here she is in all of her grandeur hanging out on the boy's knee.
The wing pattern is really striking.  But it's her body that I am amazed by.  She is fuzzy beyond belief and her abdomen has such amazing color.  The next photo isn't optimal, but it's REALLY hard to get a photo in focus when the moth is "shivering" (making rapid wing movements when agitated).
The striped pattern is so cool.  And was I kidding about the fuzziness?!?!  The underneath portion of the wings are beautiful, but again, the body has such incredible color and patterns!  She's all polka-dotty!
And what about the face?  Is it the face only a mother could love?  Nope, this moth is just about the sweetest looking creature I have ever seen!  Just look at those big, black eyes and the feathery antennae!  And the fuzzy orange legs!!  Beyond cute!  Click on photo to see EXTREME close-up!
We are holding on to this little lovely until well after dark.  We need to release her when the birds are asleep and the bats are less active.  And as always, I am humbled by the beauty of this little animal.  I wish her the best of luck and I hope her pheromones attract a big handsome boy and they make lots of baby cecropias!  We need all the beauty we can get in this world!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Garden Gone Wild!

I really need to be planting my summer garden this week.  Technically it should have been planted two weeks ago, but what can you do when your beds still look like this?

Who knew that collard greens had such beautiful flowers?  I have the happiest bees right now and THAT makes me happy!

The beets and kohlrabi are thriving!  Although I think the beets may be close to harvest, I saw one beet that had about a 2-3" diameter yesterday!  YUMMY!
Lettuce and spinach?  Why yes, I have just a little bit!

 Luckily my nursery people say I can plant tomatoes amongst the lettuce and spinach and still probably get yield for another month before pulling it!  Hooray!

I give up on this one!  I think I will just keep this bed for herbs this summer.  The onions are going strong, the cilantro is out of control (it's the big bush on the left), parsley is making a comeback (and I have to have lots of it for my parsley worms) and I am finally getting chives!  So I figure I'll work basil in there somehow and life will be good!
You can't complain when your garden looks this good and is producing this much (I swear I could feed four families out of my garden) but I really wish I had a little more space so I could be planting the next season's crops.  What's a girl to do?!?