Grit Blogs > Cowlick Cottage Farm

Meet a Few of My Buds!

A photo of Carolyn BinderIt is definitely an early spring at Cowlick Cottage Farm. This morning, I harvested the shallots that I planted last fall … a full month early. Those beautiful, pink orbs are taking a sunbath right now, drying out a bit.  Harvesting them is fun. Just take a trusty trowel and insert it deep under the entire shallot bunch. Then pop them out. Be careful not to damage the beautiful shallots! I’m going to make a shallot and lemon thyme vinaigrette to celebrate the harvest tonight. I love shallots, and the homegrown ones are ever so much more flavorful than what is available at the market (if you can even find them). 

Shallot harvest 
A spectacular shallot harvest! 

Before the shallot harvest, I took my customary morning stroll through the garden, camera and coffee in hand. Everything is coming up roses!  Take a look at some of my buds.

Baby Sungold nectarine  
Baby Sungold Nectarine 

This is our one-and-only nectarine from our brand new tree. I treasure it and check on it every day. We planted lots of fruit trees this year – a whole little grove, including Sungold nectarine, Satsuma, Ponderosa lemon, Meyer lemon, Key lime, and Pummelo. We already have Shinseiki pear, Alma and Celeste figs, and Flordahome peach trees in their second year. I am not expecting too much fruit from them this year. They are an investment in the future.  As the saying goes, the best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago. The next best time is today!

First tomato
The first tomato! 

We have planted several varieties of tomatoes, mostly heirlooms. This is a little hybrid tomato called Totem. It is already loaded with fruit and will definitely be the first of the tomato harvest this year. I’ll probably dress it simply with Balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and sea salt. And a bit of fresh goat cheese and herbs. Can’t wait! We are also growing Black Cherry, Purple Cherokee, San Marzano, Homestead, and a few others. Tomatoes are like shoes…you cannot have too many!

Squash blossom
Squash blossom 

We also planted many varieties of squash…more than ever this year. There is butternut squash from our own saved seed, several varieties of heirloom pattypans, old-fashioned sugar pumpkins, and an heirloom lemon squash. We love them all.

Baby Huey and Ginger 

Our chickens, the Spice Girls, are always nosy and curious about what we are doing. We get beautiful eggs from them every day, and we reciprocate with fresh treats from the garden. They devour everything from cabbage to strawberries and herbs. 

  Spice Girl eggs
Spice Girl Eggs - Fresh Daily! 

We had an abundance of eggs this week, so I used the gorgeous, rich yolks to make vanilla custard ice cream. With real vanilla bean and organic cream. Topped with barely whipped, rum-scented heavy cream. Because I’m just a little naughty!

Yolks for Vanilla Custard Ice Cream 

And if that is not decadent enough for you, I am also harvesting strawberries, and it’s been a fantastic season for them. Deep red, large, and juicy, they are Jacob’s favorite. I’m preserving some today by making old-fashioned strawberry sauce…to crown the homemade ice cream. Ta-da! 

Camarosa Strawberries 

On the ornamental side of things, the roses are amazing this year. Their color is incredibly vibrant. In my almost-wild side border, heaven-scented honeysuckle is clambering through the pink roses. Their sultry scents are heady and intoxicating. 

Rose and honeysuckle
Rose and Honeysuckle 

Coral geraniums are planted in our huge patio pots, along with sweet potato vine and ornamental red grasses. They should be gorgeous in a month or two!

Coral geranium
Coral Geranium 

  And a big pot of petunias with sweet potato vine and euphorbia greets family and friends at the back door.

Petunia and euphorbia  

Petunia and Euphorbia 

Gardening is rewarding in so many ways. It feeds our senses, reconnects us to nature, and makes our spirits sing!  Gardens give us hope. Are you experiencing an early spring this year? What do you dream of growing?

carolyn binder
4/17/2011 3:50:21 PM

Hi Cindy and Dave: We are definitely ahead of most of the rest of the country as far as weather is concerned. We are well into spring in north Florida and have been enjoying a really gorgeous spring, perfect for gardening. I hope ya'll get to enjoy the same soon! By the time you are harvesting, I will be hiding inside from the torturous head and jealous of you. Cindy, here's the link to my vinaigrette recipe: It's on my site at Enjoy!

cindy murphy
4/17/2011 8:15:20 AM

Hi, Carolyn. I’d love that shallot and lemon thyme recipe if you’re willing to give it up! This is the first year I planted shallots – a whim planting. I got them in the ground last week, along with my onions (I harvest them as green onions), spinach, lettuce, and arugula. My flower boxes will get Euphorbia ‘Diamond Frost’ too – in about a month or more, when it’s “safe” to plant annuals. It’s one of my favorite annuals; a great ‘no fuss, no muss, loads of flowers all summer, forget to water and it doesn’t mind at all’ plants. The first one I ever planted – probably four years ago – is still producing those loads of flowers as a houseplant. As far as what’s blooming here….very little. Spring has been slow to start; we are about three weeks behind typical weather for this time of year. In my yard, it’s only the cute, little chionodoxa (Glory of the Snow), and a few of the many varieties of daffodils I’ve got throughout the gardens. Your photos are a nice preview of what’s to come…with patience! Enjoy the day.

nebraska dave
4/17/2011 8:03:23 AM

Carolyn, are you for real? I can't even think about planting tomatoes for another month and you already are thinking about how you will eat your first tomato. I am totally envious. Exactly when did you plant that tomato with the big green tomato on it? We here are still getting temperatures in the 30s on occasion at night. The days range for 50s to 70s so that's redeeming for sure. I have the cold weather stuff planted so now I have to be satisfied with working on outside projects for the summer. Have a great garden day.