Thursday, July 11, 2013

A Garden of Eatin' : Guest Author Melody Carlson (with giveaway)

** 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, Elizabeth 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.”


***

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 Oregon 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! 

29 comments:

MaryAnn said...

Glad you got your garden going. Ours didn't make it this year. We had our final snow the beginning of May and never got it tilled and planted. I have to admit, my hubby does most of the work with it.

MaryAnn said...

Forgot to include my email in the above post, it is maryannfrerichs@yahoo.com

Beth Gillihan said...

I love your greenhouse! Hopefully next year we will start a garden! We have a short growing season here in Montana! Looking forward to reading this book. Thanks for the chance to win!

Beth Gillihan said...

forgot my e-mail address. It is rbgillihan@gmail.com

Connie Brown said...

Loved the post about your garden. I like the pic. I wish I could get a garden going in my yard. Of course it's too late now and the 100 degree temps in Southeast Texas have pretty much stopped plant growth. Like your books too. Would love to have one.
Connie Brown
imabrassy1@yahoo.com

Ann Street said...

Sounds like a great book. I enjoy reading your books, Melody.

streetcrew@comcast.net

karenk said...

Loved this posting...very much! Thanks for the chance to read this fabulous story.

karenk
kmkuka at yahoo dot com

bonton said...

Enjoyed the post & would love to read the book - thanks for the neat giveaway opportunity!

bonnieroof60(at)yahoo(dot)com

Patty said...

Sounds like quite the project Melody! Now most of the hard work is done and you can reap the rewards=)

pattymh2000(at)yahoo(dot)com

Harley's Mom said...

Love Melody's books. We've had too much rain here in NC this summer. Our gardens are ruined.
jbshuck@gmail.com

Michelle Morgan said...

My garden did not do to good this year. Great artical and love the green house. inspiremichelle@yahoo.com

bonnie massicotte said...

I am so glad your garden is doing well. here in Minnesota we had a very late start to spring and I dealing with a sick hubby had no chance to even buy tomatoes in a pot to put on deck!. I love and have read several of your books and really enjoy them. Bonnieboo29@hotmail.com

Unknown said...

The book sounds great, and I shop at Lowes a lot. I am glad to see authors getting back to the kind of books that don't give me nightmares. Lol

The Not So Perfect Housewife said...

I've read a few of Melody's books and this one sounds like another great one.

Sheila Allen said...

I enjoyed "meeting" your guest author, Melody Carlson. I love fresh vegetables. Unfortunately, I do not have a place for a garden, but I do enjoy going to our local farmer's market!

My e-mail address is: sheilaallen1978@gmail.com

Candace, I just love your blog with your recipes and guest authors!

Karen Stevens said...

Your garden looks great!!! We have had a lot of rain here in Ohio, but getting better. Thanks for a chance to win your book! My email is tomandkaren84@gmail.com

Anonymous said...

Love my herb tubs ( old stock tanks & pots) It's so soothing to go snip fresh goodness for my cooking. Love your's glad it's doing well.

mandn@wisper-wireless.com

CandaceCalvert said...

Mary Ann and Beth: It was fun reading about Melody's great garden. Mine looks so small in comparison! Thank you both for stopping by.

CandaceCalvert said...

Hi Connie! Glad to see you here. Texas heat is rugged indeed. The last year we lived there there was a stretch of 60 days over 100 degrees--I thought I'd melt. It was reading (with the AC) time, not gardening time!

CandaceCalvert said...

Ann, Karen: thanks for stopping by to welcome Melody--and good luck on the giveaway!
Bonnie and Patty: great to see you here!

CandaceCalvert said...

Harley's Mom: So much weird weather this year, indeed.
Michelle: Melody's greenhouse is great, isn't it?
Bonnie: So sorry about your hubby. Good to hear you've enjoyed Melody's books.

Janny said...

Melody, that garden is amazing!

Since we had to leave our other home behind, I left behind an herb garden, too...so my daughter bought a bunch of herbs to pot for an herb garden for Mom. Well, it hasn't taken long for those herbs to outgrow the pots, so this past weekend she's been planting them in actual ground (!) right off our miniature deck.

Honestly, though, I should always make a mental note to buy tons more basil plants than anything else. We love caprese salad, and so those basil plants can't keep up with me...!

We hope to get back in a place of our own after we get back on our financial feet again, but in the meantime, I still have fresh herbs. I'm a happy woman. :-)

Janny
jbutler824@aol.com

EC75 said...

I am a country girl, born and bred, have grown up working in gardens. Unfortunately I don't have room for one at this time, but am enjoying my neighbor's, and my sister's! I have several of Melody's books, and look forward to reading this one!
Also looking forward to Candace's books in the works! I have all the others!!
Edie
creelcamping@yahoo.com

Janny said...

Melody, that garden is amazing!

Since we had to leave our other home behind, I left behind an herb garden, too...so my daughter bought a bunch of herbs to pot for an herb garden for Mom. Well, it hasn't taken long for those herbs to outgrow the pots, so this past weekend she's been planting them in actual ground (!) right off our miniature deck.

Honestly, though, I should always make a mental note to buy tons more basil plants than anything else. We love caprese salad, and so those basil plants can't keep up with me...!

We hope to get back in a place of our own after we get back on our financial feet again, but in the meantime, I still have fresh herbs. I'm a happy woman. :-)

Janny
jbutler824@aol.com

KatrinaE said...

Melody, loved hearing abt your garden. I love mine. Ours is small in comparison to those around me. I love picking green beans early of the morning and fixing them. Usually in Feb. I start craving fresh out of the garden tomatoes and cucumbers. Look forward to reading your book.
eppersonkatrina@yahoo.com

Library Lady said...

I don't garden as my thumb is not green but I do love my veggies.
Thanks for entering me in the giveaway.
Janet E.
von1janet(at)gmail(dot)com

Jen said...

I think one of the most interesting flower gardens had a lot of herbs mixed in. I was surprised how nice it looked mixed in. I love your greenhouse - def. worth the work!
Jen
jking23(at)kent(dot)edu

CandaceCalvert said...

Congratulations to our winner, "Anonymous" (mandn). And thanks to ALL of you for stopping by to make Melody feel so welcome!

Anonymous said...

Great interview. Loved seeing and reading about Melodys green thumb and the delicious enjoyment of the fruits of her labors! (Sadly I have a black thumb instead of a green one!)
marypopmom (at) yahoo (dot) com
Merry