Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Planting Tomatoes

Before we get to the tomatoes, I’d like to assure you that although I haven’t posted a recipe here in months, I have been eating as well as ever. This is what I mean by living with a cook better that oneself: wild turkey twice in one month, the breasts stuffed on one occasion with Serrano ham and membrillo, on the other with Serrano ham and dried figs stuffed with roasted almonds; frog’s legs coated in panko, fried, and served with fresh horseradish (from the garden) sauce; seared sea scallops in a butter sauce topped with shavings of truffle chocolate; pitch-perfect cucumber, tomato, cilantro salad; Greek sausage and lobster frittata; fiddlehead and ramp soup; venison (from our woods)…you get the idea. Don’t worry, I will start documenting these meals and sharing them with you.
Now on to the tomatoes. The expression “as above, so below” applies to, well, almost everything, but to tomatoes also and that’s what we’re talking about. For a tomato plant to be healthy and happy above ground it needs to be healthy and happy below ground. That means it needs a robust root system and the teeny, tiny ball of roots that come out of a start pack just isn’t enough.
So what to do? The solution is to plant the tomato start so that it is parallel to the ground, burying the lower portion of the plant. The portion of stalk below ground will root, giving the tomato plant the support it needs to grow and produce to its full potential. Then it can spend its energy on making delicious tomatoes for your salad bowl or sauce pot not on struggling to survive. We’re so used to plants growing perpendicular to the ground that it seems strange, even wrong, to plant one lying down. It really is for the best, though, and within a few hours or a day the tomato plant will point itself up toward the sky, appreciative of the extra care you gave it.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Bauer is Back

Taking a cue from the garlic and asparagus, the tat soi and the soldier beans, I am finally reemerging after a long winter. A long winter that was not without its struggles, but over the course of which I moved to the mountaintop to live with my wonderful Y., learned that the only thing better than being a good cook is living with a better one, learned to ski, learned to make a fire, learned that hauling water and dishes and personal effects up and down a mountainside on a daily basis isn’t really that bad and a small price to pay to live in paradise—in short became a healthier, happier version of myself.
My geographical relocation means a number of things, but most pertinent to this post is the change in my proximity to the garden. I am now, instead of 20 miles, 20 feet from the garden, which makes keeping on top of the weeds so much easier. I can also check the progress of my seedlings daily (not weekly) and putter before breakfast while the kettle boils for tea.
There are two main things about gardening that will never cease to amaze me. The first is the miracle of putting a hard, dry, seemingly lifeless seed in the ground and several days or weeks later finding two tiny, green leaves in the same spot. You just put them in the ground and food comes up—simple. Simply amazing.
The other is they way time passes when you have your hands in the dirt. There are times when I intend to spend an entire morning in the garden, but the time to shower and go to work still seems to come too soon. There are others when I think I’ll just do a couple things and when I go back inside I find two hours have passed without my noticing. It's kind of like the way time melts away when eating and drinking in good company. So, hello again, I am glad to be rejoining yours.