Thursday, May 19, 2011

updates: garden and guanciale

I've done everything possible to kill all the plants I had growing for recipes for this project. And, I had a degree of success.

It wasn't all my fault. I set up the boxes in what I felt was the place that would get the most sun, because I've heard that can be quite important in growing things. That was in the front courtyard of our house. But the sun wasn't great there.

Then a tornado hit our neighborhood. It didn't do any damage to our house, or even knock over my planters, but it rained pine debris all over, and damaged a lot of the plants.

So I moved the boxes to a different spot, and put them up on racks that I made of pvc. I glued them together and everything. But one of them collapsed. Surprisingly little damage was done to the actual plants, but I had to replant several of the boxes.

Then I moved them to their current location, which seems to get a ton of sun. And I elevated them on a system of pavers and 2x12s. And I added a drip irrigation system.

Things started looking up at that point. The greens I'm growing -- escarole and dandelions -- have taken off. In fact, here is a photo of the escarole in the planter:

And here it is in the pan, with some roasted shallot:

This dish was a contorni, and I served it with a steak. I don't love bitter greens, so this wasn't my favorite. But, um, I grew it. Pretty freaking cool.

(Technically, for the rest of the book, I need exactly three escarole leaves. Anyone want some escarole?)

The tomatoes are doing pretty well. I have two kinds going, sungold and yellow teardrop. I started out with about a dozen of each kind, and I have them whittled down to six of each in EarthBoxes. The rest either withered or are in other parts of the yard, and some of those are doing fine, too.

But so far there are tomatoes on the vines of almost all the sungolds (as pictured at the top), so I hope to get some of those soon. And the teardrops are all blooming, so still holding out hope for them.

Speaking of hope, remember this photo?

Yeah, well, that was a sweet pea, back in March, and I was growing them for two dishes I'm looking forward to. The week before we left for vacation, they looked like this:

There were probably some actual peas in there. But no where near the 12 ounces I needed for one dish, or a pound for the other. So I set up an automatic drip system and left confident that the peas would go crazy while I was gone.

This is what I came home to find:

I know I started them too late, but I figured it was worth a try. I'm going to give it another shot in late fall, maybe. Sigh.

I also have a box of herbs, and they aren't doing great. My basil, in particular, looks bad. And I never had trouble with basil before. Weird.

I've also been curing my Mangalitsa jowl for guanciale, and I think it's ready. Here's what it looks like now:

Before I use it in recipes (I think there are two or three in the book that call for it), I'll probably try it by itself this week. But it looks pretty good so far, I think.

Up next: A Sunday dinner


coal seam gas australia said...

Irrigation system really helps in growing the plants perfectly. This will help them get the right amount of water and nutrients they need to properly grow. By the way, the vegetables look delicious.

Stephen Hansen said...

I'm also terrible at growing vegetables. These look delicious.