** Weds. July 17 4:30 PM** Congratulations to our giveaway winner, "Anonymous" (mandn@wisper) ! **
My guest today was recently honored with the Romantic Times Career Achievment Award and in her twenty years of writing professionally, has published more than 200 books. While she admits she still finds that rather unbelievable, you can bet that her readers find it completely wonderful--and clamor for more. Please wave your wooden spoons and join me in an enthusiastic Authors' Galley welcome for Melody Carlson!
My Garden of Eatin’
By Melody Carlson
An excerpt from: A Home at Trail’s End
For the past couple of weeks,
had capitalized on the good weather by sprouting seeds. As a result she now had
dozens of tiny delicate plants—apples, peaches, pears, plums and berries that
were ready to be planted in soil. Although JT was helping his uncle today, Elizabeth ’s young
daughter Ruth was on hand to help with the task of planting. But first they
needed to finish up the stick fence they’d been building to protect the plants
from foraging critters. Elizabeth
was well aware of the damage deer and rabbits could do to young plants. “I plan
to put tall poles every few feet,” she explained to Ruth. “I’ll string wire
about this tall.” She held her hand up as high as she could reach. “And then
I’ll tie colorful rags that will flutter in the wind. Hopefully it will
dissuade the deer from jumping the fence.” Elizabeth
While writing my Homeward on the Oregon Trail trilogy, I was challenged by the can-do spirit of my pioneer characters. Okay, I don’t really care to walk ten miles a day in ninety degree weather, or cook my supper over a campfire of smoldering buffalo dung, but I do love the idea of growing my own food in my own garden. Of course, where I live (in an
mountain region) this can be a challenge at best. Between unexpected frosts in late
June and foraging critters year round, raising a vegetable garden is not for
the weak at heart. Still I thought perhaps with a greenhouse and tall sturdy
fence...it might be possible. To that end, I began to design a large garden
area in a previously unused and open space of our otherwise timbered property
(think desert in the summertime). I imagined, not simply a vegetable garden,
but an inviting green paradise with some tables and chairs and a water feature
and strings of garden lights for evening gatherings.
So last autumn, thanks to my industrious husband Chris and our sons Luke and Gabe, the work was begun. Tall hand-peeled juniper fence posts were placed eight feet apart, and roomy raised concrete garden beds were painstakingly built. As weather turned wet, the area turned into a mucky muddy mess. Then, as snowflakes started to fall I started to dream of summer. I envisioned lovely heritage tomatoes, leafy lettuce, green peppers, hearty kale, various kinds of squash and pumpkins...and an herb garden with lots of basil. I adore basil!
Naturally, the construction work stalled in winter, but when spring came it started up again...at what felt like a snail’s pace. Because we’d decided to recycle old windows and doors for the greenhouse, everything took longer than expected. But during this time my nine-year-old granddaughter Anika and I started planting seeds. Anika, who was studying Iroquois Indians, insisted on planting beans, corn, and squash (the “three sisters” staples of this tribe). And even though I knew the likelihood of harvesting corn was slim in our climate, I told her it would be a good experiment.
It wasn’t long before the sprouts grew into plants (which threatened to outgrow their little pots and my laundry room which served as a temporary greenhouse) and my patience with the garden construction progress grew thin. But eventually it all came together and I spent several unusually hot June days “enhancing” the soil and planting all the desperate seedlings. By the time I finished—exhausted from the heat and hard work—my previous romanticized dream of growing my own vegetables felt tarnished and slightly delusional. What had I been thinking???
But time passed and the weather returned to normal temperatures, and our garden began to flourish. Everything was happily growing—including my numerous basil plants. I still remember the first time I picked some of my basil in mid June. With friends coming to dinner, I’d decided to make pesto pasta. Nothing smells sweeter than the aroma that’s released while chopping fresh-picked basil—and I used a liberal amount. To this I added some garlic cloves and good olive oil. Then as the spaghetti cooked (I’ve switched to brown rice pasta) I ran the basil mixture through my mini blender until it turned a nice bright green. Yum! Finally I added pine nuts and parmesan cheese and tossed the whole works together over the hot spaghetti. Presto—pesto pasta! Fresh from my Garden of Eatin’. Now I want to get chickens!
I love everything about this post, Melody! I can so relate to the desire to bring food from the garden to the table. And, yes, fresh (summer-warm) basil is heavenly. One of my favorite scents.
Great photo of you with your "garden of eatin'" inside your very own "stick fence!." Don't tell my HOA, but I sometimes dream of having a few of my own garden chickens . . .
And now, for some extra fun, the ever-fabulous Wynn-Wynn Media is offering this great giveaway: A copy of A Home at Trail's End, a fun fold up tote from Pier 1 AND a twenty-dollar gift card from Lowe's. (Great garden department there!)
For a chance at the giveaway, leave a comment below that includes your e-mail address. US entries only, please. I'll select the winner via Random.Org on Weds. July 17th and contact that person via e-mail. Remember, you must leave an e-mail address for a chance to win.
Meanwhile, happy reading . . . and Bon appetit!