Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Still time to Purchase Flowers and Garden Plants at Farmers Market

         A beautiful Memorial Day weekend brought the best crowd to date at the Zanesville Farmers Market.  Another nice day is predicted for this Saturday, so if you haven’t made it out to the market yet, please stop by the Muskingum County Fairgrounds from 9 am to Noon on Saturday.
        Each week there are more and more vendors who join the market.  There are still good deals to be had on flower and vegetable plants if you have not yet finished planting your garden.  In addition to plants, the farmers’ tables get a little fuller each week as more and more fresh produce is ready to be harvested from the garden.  The earliest veggies such as green onions, asparagus, radishes, and rhubarb, are now being joined by things such as leaf lettuce and other spring greens.  There were even some of the first strawberries of the season available last week. 
            Now that most of the garden is planted, it is time to work on the next step of maintaining a garden—dealing with weeds.  Right after the soil is tilled and the plants are put in and seeds sown, the garden looks so nice and pristine.  It doesn’t take long however, for things to get out of control. 
            I am often guilty of “rubbernecking” as I pass people’s gardens while driving.  I am a bit envious of small home gardens.  Usually, everything looks so neat and orderly and weed free.  Most of the time, I start off with great intentions in my own garden, but more often than not, things get ahead of me and the weeds set in. 
Cultivating between the rows of plants while the weeds are still tiny is the best way to keep ahead of the problem.  This can be done with a hoe, rototiller, cultivator, or any combination thereof, depending on the scale of the garden.  Using a cultivator that hitches to the back of the tractor is probably the fastest way I could accomplish this task.  However, due to a combination of my crooked rows and my crooked driving, when I try to use this machine I tend to rip out more plants than weeds as I go along. 
So, my current method of choice is to cultivate by hand using an old fashioned tool that has a large wheel in front with prongs behind that dig into the dirt and two handles with which to push it forward.  I have heard many names for it such as a “high wheel cultivator” and a “push plow/cultivator.” 
Just today, though, my friend, Dale Clapper, stopped by today and gave me a new name for this machine; he called it a “Missouri Mule.”  I think that is such a cute name that I’m going to refer to it that way from now on.  It sounds just like something out of an old country song.  Perhaps I’ll utilize my time spent pushing it to write my own song.
Here is a good recipe to get some fresh spinach into your kids’ diet.  Try putting it in something they already enjoy.  I don’t know too many kids that don’t like Mac N Cheese.  This recipe came from MarthaStewart.com.  

Spinach Mac N Cheese
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup minced yellow onion
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 cups whole milk, room temperature
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • About 1 ¾ pounds spinach, trimmed, washed, and cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick strips
  • 5 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated (2 cups)
  • 3/4 pound elbow macaroni, cooked according to package instructions
    In a large saucepan, melt butter over medium. Add onion and cook until translucent, 6 minutes. Whisk in flour and cook, stirring frequently, until mixture is pale golden and has a slightly nutty aroma, about 2 minutes. Whisking constantly, add 2 cups milk. Add remaining 2 cups milk, raise heat to medium-high, and whisk until smooth; season with salt and pepper. Cook, whisking constantly, until sauce comes to a boil, 8 to 10 minutes. Reduce heat to low and simmer gently, stirring occasionally, until sauce thickens, 13 to 15 minutes. Add spinach and cook, stirring constantly, until wilted, about 3 minutes. Add cheese and stir until melted, about 2 minutes. Add cooked macaroni and stir to combine. Serve immediately.

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My dad took a few pictures of me using the "Missouri Mule" early one morning a couple of weeks ago.  I didn't know he was taking pictures.

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 Can't you just hear me singing a Gillian Welch tune as I push my "Missouri Mule". . .  

"There was a camp town man, used to plow and sing
And he loved that mule and the mule loved him
When the day got long as it does about now
I'd hear him singing to his muley-cow
Calling, "Come on my sweet old girl, and I'd bet the whole damn world
That we're gonna make it yet to the end of the row"

Singing "hard times ain't gonna rule my mind
Hard times ain't gonna rule my mind, Bessie
Hard times ain't gonna rule my mind no more"

And here is a photo taken last September by my friend Lindsay after I had clearly given up using this tool and let the weeds take over.

Perhaps this year I can keep ahead of the weeds.  Somehow I doubt it!

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