Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Cicadas - The Andrew Jackson Edition

The Hermitage

My cousin flew in for the weekend and with the great weather, we tried to fit in as many of the outdoor excursions as the city offers as possible.  I've never been to The Hermitage, Andrew Jackson's home, before and it is beautiful!!!  The landscaping is gorgeous and they've got a wonderful tour explaining the grounds and the gardens.  And with the weather as awesome as it has been the last few days, it was the perfect way to spend the morning.  

I mentioned a week or so ago about the cicada invasion Nashville is currently suffering through... no big deal, right? Nothing we can't handle?  We were walking around the grounds and found this one tree that was a cicada MAGNET....

WHAT IS THIS!?!?  I know this particular tree was an exception, but it was just covered with molts.  How strange.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Garden Update - Last Week of May

The garden blew up to a rain forest!

 Doing the weekend maintenance on the veggie garden out back, so humor me with a few pictures of what's coming in...

Beautiful peas!
They get eaten up almost as soon as they're grown

Squash blossoms

Can you see the start of some of the squash...

We picked most of the beets recently,
but left a few in the ground to see if they'd bulk up some.
Looking large, very large

Poppies... Finally some flowers coming in
With any luck, a soon to be blooming zinnia

Mmm... growing roma tomatoes!

Friday, May 20, 2011

First Harvest (from Bells Bend)

While I was out of town this week, Bill (that lucky bugger) got to go up to the farm for our first pickup from Bell's Bend. I hated being away while Bill went up, only because we'd been talking about our potential produce since November, signed up since February, and chomping at the bit every warm day since... and finally the first pick up was here... while I was out of town... boo.  

But he did go ahead and spread everything out over the counter and take a picture and sent it to me so I could share the moment with him, even while our in the far corner of Tennessee.  

The First Haul of the CSA Season
Let's see... what do we have here... from left to right
  • Arugula
  • Kale
  • Strawberries
  • Green Onions
  • Green Garlic
  • Red Butterhead Lettuce
  • Mint
  • Garlic Scapes

After a long drive home the next day, I stopped by Bill's house to discover the sweet boy cooking dinner from  the haul.  Salmon baked and season with chopped green garlic along with soy, lemon, and salt & pepper, and a huge salad with the arugala and lettuce greens and strawberries and green onions with some added veggies and blue cheese vinegar dressing.   Yum yum!  

(I'll try and remember a different camera than my phone)

Not pictured is my attempt at a fun appetizer of "kale chips". Like potato chips, but made of leafy greens tossed with olive oil and seasoning, baked into the oven until crispy like a delicious potato thin.  They were horrible.  Maybe I baked them too long, but half were soggy and the other half were nearly dissolved into a powdery kale dust.   Fail.  Luckily Bill's cooking skills prevailed (INCREDIBLE dinner) and we didn't starve trying to eat kale powder.  Bill added the mint to his bourbon.  The only thing we didn't sample were the garlic scapes... have to save those for something else!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Garden Update

Oh goodness, these photos for the garden update are already a week old.  But better late than never, right?  The warm weather and longer days have let us live more of our life outside lately!  In the Warner Parks, soccer fields, backyard, community garden, patios... just not as much time in front of the computer.  So here is a week-belated update on the condition of our crops...

Peas shooting up like weeds!
They trellised themselves! They're so smart!

Large leafy sorrel in front of sweetpeas

roma tomatoes in the back corner, straight onion shoots,
UFO squash (with blooms) towards the right
and beets - almost harvest ready - on the left

CARROTS!!!  They're so beautiful, but we never thinned them.
Could be bad news

Squash on the top right, and all our pepper plants.
The two squares just below the squash have the seeds from our coworker

Tomatoes on the left, squash top right, peppers and onions in the middle

Drum roll please....
 And now ladies and gentlemen... 
for the good stuff!
The above are the first tiny green tomatoes from the Roma plant we purchased from Home Depot in March and then babied through the subsequent cold snaps.  Maybe they'll blush up before too long!

 Unlike our root crops, where we harvested the whole batch ceremoniously, the first of our peas arrived on it's lonesome.  When we were inspecting the rest of the plot we spotted it and promptly sampled it!
Rawr!  Peas!
 And continued weeding and trellising the crops...
Trellising the tomatoes

Monday, May 16, 2011


What's the big deal with cicadas?  Just the name of the sweet little bug evokes thoughts of falling asleep on a screen porch in the middle of the rainforest with the cicadas chirping and singing me lullabies.  Sounds lovely, right?  

But then it sounded a little less Tarzan of the Jungle and a little more like creatures emerging from the crypt, sprouting to life once every 13 years... Here's more from Discovery Magazine and Missouri Department of Conservation.  And this clip and article here from a Belmont University professor discussing the emergence and life cycle of the cicadas

While they're mostly harmless,and from what I've read, we don't need to be too worried about them getting into our garden.   Some of the reading mentions that they'll do damage to younger trees.  Does this include our newly planted gardenias?  And while I'm sure the mass emergence of a new food group has the local birds jumping for joy, hopefully their improved diet won't lead to any additional scrubbing of our cars and lawn furniture.  
the molted exoskeleton
and the emerged cidada drying off

newly emerged cicada drying off
I don't think I'd mind the cicadas so much, just the mass invasion of these guys has me a little grossed out.  We witnessed one insect molt while we were out in the yard last weekend, and just 4 days later, every surface of tree, chair, deck, etc was bedazzled with empty molts.
Sunday morning - 1 exoskeleton

Thursday afternoon - droves of exoskeletons
The quantity of bugs out Thursday (even after a huge downpour) gave me the willies!  The good news?  You can fish with them. And if you're really into it, I found a site that'll sell you some cicada merch for the season