Tuesday, May 19, 2009

A Return to the Koloa Market

Every Monday at precisely Noon, a whistle blows and the waiting crowd surges in, crowding, elbowing, hustling to be the first at the booths were local bounty awaits.
I had almost forgotten the thrill of the Koloa Farmers' market!
My usual pattern was to pounce on the anthryriums, the glossy red elephant ears with yellow dangling pistols. Then I grapped a spray of purple and white orchids, wrapped in maidenhair fern.
The produce! Foot-long green beans, heirloom tomatoes -- that's new here --, pale green cucumbers with warts, baby bok choy, avocadoes in perfect ripe condition, rose-bloomed mangos the size of a grapefruit. I'm in heaven.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Finding the Right Southern Gentleman -- Sex in the Garden

Maryland Beauty is a real babe of a winterberry -- nicely curvaceous outline with bright red accents. I had my eye on her for sometime as I made my way around town. Bertholdi Garden down the street has a real specimen of it. So when I bought one for my rehabed front garden last year, I never considered that she needed a mate.

Last fall she flowered -- demure, tiny little buds and blooms. But without any male companionship, she failed to conceive. This happened quietly and I never noticed until winter came. She shed her foliage, but had set no bright red berries. I remembered then that hollies needed both male and female plants to produce berries; hadn't realized that winterberries shared this heterosexuality.

A weekend visit to friends in Chesapeake City, MD last week took me by Priapi Nurseries, where I had bought the Maryland Beauty. One of the gardeners found a male winterberry tucked in the back shadehouse. His name -- Southern Gentleman.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Gardener's focus

What's more important -- the President or new spinach?
Yesterday I posted on Facebook that I was about to take the foreign journalists from the University of Maryland to the White House Press Briefing. But I also announced I had harvested from my garden the first spinach and chard of the season. My nephew Nick -- the man who never writes a postcard -- responded on my wall that he was jealous. "Mine are just sprouts," he said of his Montana garden spinach. My pal Sal from Minneapolis also chimed in about spinach envy. "And, oh the White House is nice, too" she added.

So I share a recipe I've used from the New York Times for almost two decades -- works well on spinach year-around, but is particularly good on spring greens:
Brown garlic slivers in olive oil; add pine nuts to toast as well. Throw in the tender new spinach for only a short time. Add a few raisins or currants.