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Summer in the garden

Here’s a garden update as of this year’s summer solstice. Presently on my mind are the apricots: not as many as last year, although not as paltry as 2006. However small the crop, they shall be imminently pickable.

For the botanically inclined, I submit vegetable porn involving burgundy and green filet beans. Basically haricots verts / violet, but Californian. 😉 Bush beans of the Maxibel and Royal Burgundy varieties, if ya wanna get technical.

Royal Burgundy bush beansRoyal Burgundy bush beans.

Oddly enough, after cooking the purple filet beans, they turn a green color to match the haricots verts.

I obtained some Texas tomato cages in hopes to control the tomatoes. The rectangular folding cages used in the past often buckled and nearly collapsed halfway through the season. This year we planted Stupice, Big Rainbow and Early Girl. I learned after several seasons that the best Early Girl fruits come from the indeterminate variety, instead of the bush-style or determinate variety. For some odd reason, the more compact Early Girls lack the flavor and vigor of the crazily sprawling one. In any case, I see many flowers on the three plants, and a few green fruits, so I imagine the tomatoes will ripen by next month or so.

On an impulse, I decided to plant some green and red shiso. Copious amounts of leaves! I wonder how I’ll use them. Shiso’s aroma is a combination of mint, anise and pepper, which is sharp when fresh, but becomes more subtle when fried. They’re okay in Vietnamese salad rolls, but I prefer their flavor in deep-fried dishes, which we typically order at Japanese restos. But we very rarely deep fry food at home… Hmm, anyone want some? Or have some good recipes?

Then there are the birds, which sometimes I now address as “damn birds.” First, there was the Crow Incident, involving a neighborhood cat nearly capturing a young crow in the backyard. (The feline leapt nearly a meter into the air, but failed to capture anyone.) Corvids, charmingly clever beasts in general, seem to be particularly protective of their young. So as this young one cried (insert loud, desperate cawing), many, many crows arrived into our yard, to yell at the cat and us —even though we chased off the cat. (Reminds me of the crows in Miyazaki’s Kiki’s Delivery Service, where they cried “Egg stealer!” (conveniently and ironically translated by Jiji, the black cat familiar) at Kiki as she accidentally fell into their nesting tree.) The young one survived, thankfully. But for good measure, it (or one of its vigilant parents) visited the backyard for a couple weeks to yell and dive (fortunately not close enough for contact) at me. Things seem to have mellowed out now, either due to the young crow growing up and out of the neighborhood, or because of the typically non-elephantine memories of avians.

young crowThe young crow escaped into a neighbor’s plum tree, then beyond.

And secondly, those brash Mockingbirds. They ended up nesting some place other than the honeysuckle bush. But now they’re performing their summertime relationship-affirming concerts, which involves touring the neighborhood, they shall have you know, especially localities containing aromatic flowers and fruiting trees. This production begins before dawn, tapers off around midday, then picks up again around dusk. The “before dawn” aspect interferes with the human sleeping habits. (Silly humans, so little appreciation for outdoor music at high volume and high places.) I do admit, however, that the songs remain enchanting. I just wish I were more of a morning person.

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