• Good people, it is 73 degrees today! I've opened almost all of the windows in the house and am spotting daffodils triumphantly ready to unfurl all over the knob our house sits on. @glennbenglish served this reuben with @chopshopbutchers pork pastrami, homemade Russian dressing, Swiss cheese, and sauerkraut for lunch as a strong breeze swept thru the house and shook things up. YESSSSSS!
  • Clowning around. || Huxley tried out Tiny Tots Circus Playtime at Toy Boat Art Collective today and really enjoyed it!
  • Chatting about existentialism, and contradicting ourselves, and winter over on small measure today. || Into the woods behind our house.
  • Players gonna play. Huxley and his buddy Bay, doing their little guy thing today at the perennially lovely @thencarboretum.
  • The garden got blanketed with what I'm hoping was winter's last gasp this past week. I'm ready for those snow-covered strawberry beds in the foreground to start putting out juicy fruits, for Huxley to dig in his sandbox again, for cocktails at sunset on the pergola, and for conversing with soil and seeds once more. Spring is coming. Really started to feel it this weekend.
  • Scotch eggs of supreme deliciousness can be had on the regular at @kingjamesavl. @glennbenglish and I savored these beauties today alongside dirty rice fritters, gumbo with poutine, and @sunbursttrout smoked trout dip, all wonderful. There was also a pint of Appalachian Brewery porter that I have to have more of. Oh, and old school White Stripes on rotation. Great food, great atmosphere.
  • Confession: until last night, I had never had honest to goodness snow cream. @glennbenglish whipped up a tasty batch with vanilla and nutmeg, and we enjoyed it alongside @oldworldlevain's heavenly frangipane tartlettes with fresh cranberries, orange peel, and cinnamon. Snow-pretty AND tasty.
  • Scattered, smothered, and covered. Snowy day in the cove!
  • We three Englishes do so very much love snow. Forecast to receive between 3-6 inches tonight! @glennbenglish captured Huxley and I taking in the view on his way back to the house after locking up the chickens.
  • Woke up to overnight snowfall, always a treat. Then heard from my neighbor Lynn, a licensed massage & bodywork therapist, that the snow was preventing her from getting in to her clients in town and, as a result, she had an opening in her schedule and could give me a massage. Whenever she travels, I pet-sit her cat Sophie, and in exchange she trades me a massage. Not only is she a seriously stellar masseuse, she also is an aromatherapist, a Jin Shin Jyutsu practitioner (a kind of Japanese acupressure technique), and is certified in neuromuscular therapy. So when I get a massage from her, I receive this healing trifecta involving scent, body, and spirit. Plus, in all honesty, I feel like this woman is actually imbuing my body with love when she works on me. I left her house feeling light and bright, and nourished. She has offices in Asheville and Johnson City, TN (the home massages are reserved for family and neighbors!). If you're looking for a rich, wonderful, deeply healing massage, please consider Lynn. You can find her information at || I passed our bamboo grove and its tiny creek on my walk over to Lynn and Steve's; it somehow spoke to me of good things in store.
  • Woke up to this view. Some kind of wonderful!
  • Spotted Quench in the wild today.Always a thrill to see my books out in the big world, and rubbing elbows with friends @thejoyofcooking, no less!
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Dirty Work

These days of mid-spring, they are so very magical, aren’t they? Everything is out of the ground, growing up so quickly and giving so much sensory stimulation. We’ve been out moving and digging and building and watering and planting and so. much. more in the garden, each and every day. I thought I’d show you a bit of what we’ve been up to.

1) The pea trellis (first and second photos) is going like gang busters. I adore peas, so here’s hoping we have a massive crop to eat fresh and freeze for later use.
2) Hubs built these risers to keep the tiny Englishman off of the pots, as he was sort of leap-frogging from one to the next across the garden. These 12 contain our sweet peppers (there are a mess of hot peppers planted in the raised beds; since Hubs would put hot sauce on top of a jalapeno, we can never have too many hot peppers for making hot sauce).
3) We added on to the pea trellis, making a long bed for trellising pickling cucumbers beside it. There’s 15 cukes planted there, and another 6 in a raised bed. In a few months, I plan to be swimming in cucumbers, and up to my elbows in vinegar and pickling spices.
4) The raised lettuce beds we made by appropriating plastic bins left by the previous owners (our property used to house an organic flower and herb farm when Hubs purchased it back in 2005, two years before we met). We drilled some extra drainage holes in them so that water wouldn’t pool inside when we have serious drenching storms. Having them raised also keeps both slugs and the tiny Englishan from easy access (see #2).
5) We’re excited about this sorrel bed. We figured we’d give it it’s own space, for perennial purposes. Can’t wait to make some sorrel and potato soup and enjoy all that lemony-flavored, nutrient-dense green goodness.

There’s also been some tomato trellising going on, which I’ll share with you soon. And, currently in the works (as in, right this very minute, as he’s out there with drill and wood screws and wood planks in hand), Hubs is putting a raised platform and pergola beside Huxley’s sandbox. The plan is to put our wrought-iron cafe table and chairs there and grow some native vine-ing edible something or other up the posts, creating an edible shade on top. If you’ve got any suggestions for something  that grows fast, produces prolifically, looks good, and tastes delicious, I welcome your feedback. And I’ll post some images as soon as it’s photo-worthy.

So much work. So much fun. Soon the dog days of summer will be upon us and we’ll be ready to just sit out there, watch the chickens peck, the dogs pant, the baby play, and the plants grow. It’ll all be worth the dirty work incurred to get it to that place.

19 Responses to Dirty Work

  • Meesh says:

    Nice work! Looks like good times. Pergola suggestion: hops! Then make your own home brew… yum!

  • Oh my–so beautiful!

  • So beautiful! I have a teeny tiny version of your container garden on my teeny tiny inner city lot, but it's still early spring here.

    What about pole beans on your trellis? I grow scarlet runners, Kentucky Blue Lake and a purple Italian one. Lots of busy bees, hummingbirds if you're lucky…

  • aubree says:

    how about runner beans–so many different varieties (we're growing sunset and painted lady runners this year) with such sweet little flowers and yummy harvest to boot!

  • Casey says:

    So beautiful!

    Just picked up Home Dairy from our library and feeling incredibly inspired.

  • Anonymous says:

    Such nice garden design ideas, and so tidily executed! You have a gift.

  • Indio says:

    Hops are indeed fast growers, if you keep the caterpillars off of them. I just put in kiwi vine. I'm not sure if it's fast growing, but it should be tasty. I'm thinking of adding goji berry and pawpaw to the food producing yard.

  • Kira says:

    Hops! Make beer!

  • Ruth Dixon says:

    Beautiful pictures. I love container and raised bed gardens…

  • ecogrrl says:

    your very own 'salad bar'…diggin' it…hope your mom is doing okay….

  • Kim Peck says:

    wow…your garden is so gorgeous!!! oh i just love it!!!

  • spike says:

    How about Passion Flower vine? I don't have any myself but a neighbor grows them. They grow very fast, have BEAUTIFUL flowers, smell like passion and the small fruits are yummy! I can't even imagine all of the wonderful things you would cook up with them.

  • Anonymous says:

    hardy kiwi vine for the pergola! you need to make sure to get a male and female plant for fruit production.

  • Apseed says:

    So much inspiration! And those raised lettuce beds look simply beautiful and genius.

  • Courtney says:

    OOooh it's already been said, but I was going to suggest hops. My husband is rather obsessed with the idea of growing them (apparently there's some kind of 'hops shortage' in the world right now?).

  • BlackStar says:

    Love your garden pics! (I made my way over here from Wayward Spark.)
    I can't think of any native vining plants,so I think you should plant pole Lima beans. They grow like crazy and will make a lot of shade during the summer. I didn't know that I liked them until I grew them one year. Now, they're a staple. There are so many varieties to choose from. And maybe throw in a Moonflower seed or two.
    Looking forward to watching your gardens grow.

  • amanda says:

    no helpful suggestion here regarding a wonderful vining something-or-other…. but I'd love to know what your favorite pea varieties are~ I try new ones each year and haven't settled on one yet.

  • amanda-the peas shown in the photos above are “mammoth melting sugar peas” from local seed supplier sow true. i love them!

  • Sarah says:

    I'm impressed with your setup…. I've only got a few dug raised beds going. Your cove seems to get more sun than my little corner (2 acres not quite in Fairview).
    What do you do about rabbits & deer? While I love living back up against 200 acres of woods, and having bear swim in our pond, a few moments of deer browsing demolishes 2 months of lettuce planning. Pie tins? Getting husband to 'mark' the garden after homebrew? Or do I have to fence?