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tomatoes

I thought that sungolds were indeterminate, but they all seem to be coming at once. I also bagged eight big cucumbers–sheesh!

Andrea & I toasted each others birthdays at the Publican over the weekend. If you haven’t heard of the place, give it a look–it’s pretty darn good.

preserved_lemons

In lieu of our trip to Morocco in a few weeks,my sister sent me a very thoughtful present: a Moroccan cookbook and a jar of homemade preserved lemons. I guess it worked, since I’ve made some Moroccanish stuff the last couple days. Yesterday we had lamb meatballs using lamb from our market that were quite yummy. According to the book, Algerians put eggs on top of their lambĀ meatballs, which sounded great, but I was feeling a little pudgy from last week’s Gordon conference. Instead I made some cold, minted peas which was fitting considering it was 95 F outside. With the big haul from the garden today, I decided to make a couscous salad with cukes, tomatoes, herbs (tons of parsley, mint, basil, and lavender) with a green olive/preserved lemon dressing. Omomomo…it was pretty great. The olives were stuffed with garlic so the whole thing ended up being wonderfully briny and smooth. I really haven’t worked with preserved lemons before, so I rinsed out about half a lemon and emulsed it with a lot of olive oil. It was like an exotic, savory curd afterward. Anyway, here’s the evidence.

couscous_salad

I also found some pictures from a little adventure the other day. Rather than dragging the dusty weber out, I grilled some squid using some tinfoil, a cooling rack, and my most powerful burner. It worked suprisingly well. I then used said grilled squid in a pa jun with some pickled radish and green onions. So good.

pajun

As requested, here are a few photos from my 3 [!] plots that I’m working on at Argonne. Everything this year was grown from seeds that I bought from this place.

First up: I grew a bunch of sugar snap peas this spring. Here they are about a yard tall in mid-May., but they eventually got well over six feet tall in June before going to seed. I’ll definitely be planting a lot more of them for a fall harvest. The beets and lettuce (leopard oak shown) were also happy with our extended, wet spring. (The lettuce has since gone feral, growing long stalks like a milkweed)
snappeas beets_and_lettuce

I planted a bunch of napa cabbages for kimchee-making. (I just sowed another row in my new plot) I like how they just squeeze together.

cabbages

My peppers and eggplant have been slow-going, waiting for the hot weather to show up, but they’re growing pretty quickly now. I just noticed some flowers on them for the first time today too.

eggplants peppers

I devoted much of one plot for tomatoes. In May, they looked so scrawny compared to other people’s greenhouse plants. Now, they’re out of control.

may_tomatoes july_tomatoes

Last year, after dabbling with a bunch of different types of ‘maters, I decided to focus on three varieties: sungolds [cherry tomatoes], sweetheart [grape toamtoes], and striped romas. While most of the tomatoes are still flowers, there are a lot of little green guys out there now. Check them out:

sungolds sweethearts striped_romas

Since my peas were long gone, I tore out their trellis and strung up my longer-than-expected cucumbers. The bees have been all over these guys.

cuke_trellis2 cukes2

I recently got a third plot, already double-dug, from Julie Cross. She also gave me some Italian swiss chard seeds. It’s early, but I like this cute little plot.

plot3

After all this, I got hungry so I took some of that wild summer lettuce and tamed it into a beef salad with a Vietnamese-y dressing.

dinner

And since there are no x-rays tonight, I think I’m going to make some vanilla ice cream to go with some berries from the market. (Yes, I finally got an ice cream maker!)

Whew. I’m finally done with beamruns for a little while. I signed on to four different experiments, with about a week of x-rays apiece, which essentially erased my July. And now the book chapter’s deadline is looming, there are papers to write, and we’re moving…so I had to mess around in the garden this morning to decompress a little. At this point, I’m kind of giving up the battle with the weeds and am just trying to keep things from falling over. The beans and tomatoes are definitely trying to escape their stakes, cages, and trellises. I only had string on me today, so part of the garden now looks like it’s barely held together. The building maintenance folks mowed the lawn between the plots over the weekend, sawing off parts of my cantaloupes that were trying to make friends with the watermelons in the next plot over. I was a little peeved, but then I realized that the people who did the mowing were the same ones who started these plots in the first place. That and I now have something like 10 melons going right now (I think five or six are in that picture).

Ok, now I gotta work on designs for our next environmental chamber. Here’s a sneak peak.

Found two melons in my cantaloupe orgy on Monday. Okra’s really doing well in the hot weather too now. Here are some more pictures if you interested.

Just finished experiment 2 of 4 yesterday–on to #3 (night shift this time–blegh!). Also got a new apartment–but more on that later…

As promised, here are my [over-exposed] garden pictures.

From the top:courtyard A in the chemistry building…our plot is the second one…the string beans that I planted last week are growing very quickly…the sungold tomato plant is huge and already producing….neat rows of peppers, herbs, and other vegetables…the zucchini have really taken off and are showing some small blossoms…Andrea’s rows of lettuce look pretty tasty already.

My first (of three) weeklong experiments starts on Wednesday. This is one that I’m in charge of since I was silly enough to write its proposal. Plus deadlines for 4-5 conferences and the next cycle of APS proposals is fast approaching. Being a worrywort, my mind has been darting around lot…so it’s wonderful that I have a ‘little’ 14×8 plot in a courtyard of the chemistry building at Argonne. It’s kind of a nice location since it’s sheltered from the throngs of wildlife at Argonne (it’s built on a nature preserve), gets tons of sun, and has access to a hose. This morning I spent over an hour in our burgeoning jungle, putting in the last plants and weeding like a mofo. It’s really peaceful to go in there really early and weed, and I love watching everything get bigger each visit. In case you’re wondering here’s what Andrea and I have planted:

  • Tomatoes: Sungold (cherry), amish paste, green zebra, big boy, sugarsweet (cherry), brandywine, Andrea’s mystery farmer’s market tomatoes
  • Peppers: Yellow bell, cayenne, pimento, habenero, marconi, chocolate beauty
  • Eggplant: Japanese, black beauty, white
  • Herbs: Thyme, rosemary, oregano, basil, mint
  • Melons: superstar, cantaloupe, watermelon
  • Rest: Broccoli, okra, swiss chard, mixed lettuce, carrots, sweet potatoes, zucchini, cauliflower, pickling cucumbers

I’m really looking forward to digging into that produce, but it will likely all ripen over three wonderful days in August. I’ll try to take a picture of it tomorrow so you can see what all the fuss is about.