Tuesday, June 28, 2011

A Day Outdoors

Whew.  There's a lot to do in the garden right now.  With the rain and sun we've had, conditions have been great for plant growth.  Every shrub in our yard is (was) overgrown, and the grass was tall enough to lose a dog in, in some spots.  While mowing, edging, and sweeping are not my favorite garden tasks, they're necessary, so I did them today.  Strangely, I like pruning.  Half of the shrubs are now done, and the other half are for later.  I save my favorite things for last.

The tomatoes have had an attack of early blight and septoria leaf spot; fortunately, organic practices allow for the use of copper fungicides, so all is not lost.  I sprayed them yesterday, and though it's probably my imagination, they look better today.  These two diseases can be nasty, because they can defoliate the plant if left untreated.  But the worst is late blight, which wiped out tomato crops in the Northeast a few years ago. It spreads unbelievably quickly, so I'm keeping a vigilant eye out.  I'm fairly sure my heart would break if I lost all the tomato plants.

The peppers are threatening to actually do something this year!  I am a notoriously poor pepper grower, but this year I vowed to be better.  I planted them out under row covers, and kept them there for quite some time so they'd be warm and cozy.  The Jimmy Nardello and Carmen peppers are already fruiting, which is the earliest I've ever seen them go.  The one lone bell pepper...well, it's still only the end of June.

I picked our peas today; they didn't do well in the raised bed I had them in, so we only got about a cup and a half when shelled.  But they were tasty mixed into our salad tonight, so I definitely don't count them a loss.  I'll plant them again toward the end of August, so we can (hopefully) have a fall crop.  The bed they're in is going to be overhauled when I pull them out, but I'm not sure what's going in there next.  Beets and turnips, maybe?  The anticipation is half of the fun.

At the end of the day, there was sadly no one around to cook for us, so I decided to grill some pizzas.  I'd defrosted some pizza dough overnight, which made the process really easy.  I had about a pound of dough, so I quartered it, rolled it out, and threw it on the grill with some braised leeks (another Smitten Kitchen-by-way-of-Orangette recipe), prosciutto, parmigiano, and arugula.  A drizzle of olive oil over the top, and we had dinner (and lunch tomorrow!).

If you're interested in grilling pizza, just take your favorite dough, cut it into individual-serving blobs, roll out to the desired thickness (I usually do thin crust--it cooks quicker!), and let sit, covered, while you get the grill ready.  The grill should be at its highest heat, and the grates should be really, really clean.  Just before throwing the dough on, swipe the grates with a high-heat oil like canola.  Place the individual pizzas, no toppings, on the grates, close the lid, and grill for about 3 minutes.  Don't walk away from the grill, though, and keep an eye on them.  They go from done to charcoal pretty quickly.  Pull them off the grill, flip them uncooked side down on a platter, and put on your toppings.  Use a light hand, though, because toppings slide down between the grill grates pretty easily.  Ahem.  Put the pizzas back on the grill and close the lid.  Cook for another 3 or so minutes, and dinner is done!

We were going to grill pizzas a few weeks ago when we had company, but we ran out of propane it was so hot out (how embarrassing when company is over!) we decided to do them in the oven, instead.  Or it was decided for us, as it were.  Equally tasty, so no complaints.

Happy growing and eating!

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