Ingredients, all from the backyard garden; peas, chard greens, thyme, garlic, grey shallots, broth and purple shiso. Cooked, pureed, then strained with some lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper. The shiso herb as garnish.
I have bad news.. the peach tree died. I’m not giving up though and now I’ve already planted peach tree #4. I’ve had the most success with this last one, though this past winter was too harsh for it. It set a few sprouts this spring, but then kaput. I’ve had it for about 6 years.
The wood is still relatively fresh and uncured, so it’s fragrant. When split, it smells like a peach pit, but woodsier with a definite amaretto-like sweetness. The smoke smells of a delicious campfire.
This is my new wood for the smoker. The twigs are debris for edible mushrooms. Nothing is wasted.
Shallots and Garlic
Just harvested yesterday and now they are drying and curing for storage. The garlic is the Oregon Blue variety, the shallots are French Grey, Allium oschaninii, the real deal. The shallots are truly special; pungent, onion like but more like a wild leek flavor.
Now that space is free for planting fall crops; peas, kale, spinach and radishes.
I’m kinda likin’ that lichen growing in my moss pot that appeared on its own.
On second thought though, it is more likely a liverwort or a baby fern prothallus. So, I guess uh, never mind.. any way it’s fine by me.
Seafood and Squid Ink Pasta
Clams, shrimp, squid, young fennel shoots, shallot, garlic, olive oil and wine, tossed with black squid ink pasta. Topped with chopped parsley, fennel fronds and Parmesan cheese, with a side of sauteed snap peas and fava beans.
The herbs and vegetables save for the garlic and shallot came from our backyard.
The wild oyster mushrooms are fruiting again..
Sticky Rice Balls
Sushi and Sweet Sticky Rices, stuffed with marinated vegetables, avocado, and cucumber. A tasty side to go with grilled beef satay skewers.
The Lawn Mushroom, The Cracked Cap Agrocybe, Agrocybe praecox
There is a stately group of tan-brown spored mushrooms growing at the edge of the lawn. They came up so randomly, and I wanted to know what they are. So out came the books and keys, and after some leafing through pages and back and forth, they ID’ed out to Agrocybe praecox. With some additional references, I’ve found that it is possible they could be A. molesta. The difference is that A. praecox grows mostly in wood debris or tree roots, while A. molesta grows in lawns, where mine was discovered, though it was near decomposing wood mulch. So who knows, and really, it doesn’t matter that much. A. praecox is considered a complex of very similarly related mushrooms with subtle differences.
Going through dichotomous keys are a lot like a choose your own adventure book. When you don’t like where one path leads, you go back to the fork in the road and wander in a different direction until you’re satisfied with the answer.
Galerina marginata, the Deadly Galerina
The morel hunt was a bust. Though we didn’t go away empty handed as we found a few Pheasant Back and a cluster of Velvet Foot. After finding the Velvets, nearby was the Deadly Galerina, which has the same toxin as Death Angel Amanita mushrooms. I was sure of my ID of the Velvets, as it had all the right characters, habit and white spores. And then to see the Velvet’s deadly lookalike nearby was too perfect for me to compare. Seeing both side by side was really comforting to see as a mushroom forager. They truly are different once you are familiar.
Hiking in nature really is like walking though a laboratory.
Peaches have a reputation for being difficult. Truth is, they are easy, but only if they aren’t pestered by all sorts of outside influences. Fungal problems like black knot can be a problem, as with insects, like borers that burrow through the bark, or worms in the fruit. Birds may be a nuisance, especially once the fruit begins to ripen. Other animals, notably rodents can cause a lot of damage; rabbits will gnaw at the trunk and girdle the tree, especially through difficult winters where deep snow blankets the ground. Sometimes it’s even during other seasons. Peach trees #1 and #2 died this way. Also, if there is a heavy population of squirrels around, they will climb the tree and then bend and break branches. That much is relatively harmless, until they steal away the small, hard, green, still-forming fruit that are many weeks from ripeness. Being squirrels, they probably think they are some small nut. In any case, they snatch them all, and the whole crop lost for the season. What else.. Cold. Particularly lengthy cold winters can take their toll but what’s worse is that they are sensitive to late freezes and frosts. Be sure to get a cold hardy variety if you live in colder areas. Get the right type for your zone. Plant in average to good fertile soil. Pruning the tree heavily promotes proper growth for fruit, also creating airflow and sun exposure for the branches. As follows, site in full sun. Hopefully you will then have larger, richer and sweeter fruit of good quality.
I would say my secret with peaches is to be vigilant and observe, pick off any problems as they arise, literally and figuratively, and prevent other issues before they even have a chance. You may lose a crop, or even have a tree die on you. With gardening, you can never get discouraged by anything. It is one big experiment where you figure out what works and what doesn’t. When things go right, you may be awarded by your success. To me, that is part of what gardening is about.