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catch of the day

June 21, 2012

To celebrate summer solstice, I’m slaying fierce vegetal beasts and eating their heads raw.

Col’s celebrating by going on a complete drawing bender, churning out stacks of fanciful illustrations, which quickly become the papery carpet of our living room floor. And I’m like, ack the trees! but also, praise the creativity! 

He made this sign to warn himself as he was cleaning up spills from his previous watercoloring project.

Rose has fallen in love with Leo, this bunny we’re babysitting. This morning I woke up to find Rose slicing a carrot with a sharp knife! “Leo was hungry,” she told me as fierce as any new mom charged with keeping her baby alive.

(Note to my Dad: the knife situation is under control: carrot sticks pre-sliced in fridge for early morning bunny breakfast)

We’re also babysitting 2 rats, for whom Col spent 2 hours yesterday building various mazes and houses. Col, in his devotion-to-all-animals, has been breaking pieces off of our pricey organic cheese and sneaking them to the rats. Egads!

This morning I found a note Dan left before leaving for work: put (stinky) bunny and rats in sunroom? Dan is not such a fan of caged, freeloading animals. However, bunny poop is the bomb in the garden!

Pt II: the garden.

The blue larkspur (whose seeds I pilfered from Carrie Byrd’s garden 12 years ago before I knew her!)

The garden is at a gawky adolescent stage. The lettuce and spinach are gangling up lanky and seedy and rough-edged. The broccoli leaves are growing as fast as a 15-year old’s feet. The beets are a bunch of pre-teen girls, all clumped together, wishing for more curves.

Tween Crucifera

It’s like junior high in the garden, everyone trying to figure out where they belong. The lettuces that were once stars of the popular crowd are turning bitter from the heat. I’m yanking the tall, seeding arugula to create sun for the incoming class of winter squash, which are still so painfully small and exposed. I remember feeling like that.

Young squash upstart bowing to Elder Grasshopper lettuce.

Gratuitous salad pix:

 Add ins: lamb’s quarters, red clover blossoms, dill, cilantro, green onions and mint.

These lettuces remind me of something you’d find in Rose’s dress up box.

Col and Rose are like hungry magpies, plucking each strawberry, pea pod or cherry tomato about 3 seconds after they’re officially ripe, which is exactly what I hoped they would do.

Rose: “I wonder if bunnies like strawberries?” Me: “cough, sputter, ack!”

Pt III: Garden advice

Friends have been lamenting to me how slowly their garden is growing and I’ve been remembering how June is like that here in the Southwest. All hot wilty dry during the day and then 10 degrees above freezing at night. Here’s a few tips for the early season garden:

* Water deeply. If you water deeply every 2-3 days, this encourages plants to develop deep roots which can draw on deeper reservoirs of water, helping them thrive when the soil surface dries out.

* Shade your transplants. It’s a shock to go from a protected greenhouse into the outside world. We cover our transplants with plastic gallon jugs with the bottoms cut out for 3-5 days.

* Mulch the soil (with straw, leaves, newspaper, cardboard) to help the soil retain moisture.

* Plant cool weather-loving greens in the shade of taller plants (sunflowers, tomatoes, broccoli, cosmos, peas, beans).

* Fertilize. Cover your ears if you’re squeamish. We’re experimenting with fertilizing with urine. Human urine contains a similar balance of NPK (nitrogen = for green growth, phosphorus = for roots, potassium = for blooms) as commercial fertilizers. It leaves the body virtually sterile and it’s so much more convenient than going to the store to pick up fertilizer. We’re diluting it with water about 1: 8 and not using it on anything whose leaves we’re going to eat. For some more street cred, here’s what Scientific American has to say about it.

Pea tendrils: proof that plants are sentient beings?

And were you wondering about what Dan’s been up to? Yesterday as I was raising the temperature of our house atomically by cooking dinner, while managing my 2 kids, their 2 friends, an escaped rat, and the bunny pooping under our clothes drying rack, I thought about Dan, 6 feet deep in his cool hole engaged in the straight-forward, singular task of digging a shovel deep into the earth, alone to ruminate on his own thoughts and further develop the hardrock landscape of his biceps. (Can you say: Man Cave?) Lets not feel too sorry for Mr. 200 Wheelbarrow Loads.

Pt III: Mamalode

I’ve got a piece on Mamalode today, sharing the story of how Col and I ended up in the ER last Saturday night, and how seeing his small body in the large hospital bed brought back crazy NICU memories and also how being captive in a hospital room with your child can end up counting as quality one-on-one time. (And, if you remember, Mamalode is that site where you get paid based on number of unique views,  so share on your Facebook page or your twitter chain-letter or with your homies down at the park, or however you like to get the word out).

Also, (locals) have you seen the summer issue of Edible yet?

Found at DNF, Steamworks, Natures O, Library, Steaming Bean, Durango Joes, Vitamin Cottage, Native Roots, my house, and more!

You guys are the best; it’s a pleasure to write for you.



26 Comments leave one →
  1. abozza permalink
    June 21, 2012 7:07 am

    Loving all parts of this post! Looks like fun, busy, productive times in your home! Beautiful garden, happy, healthy, creative kids, and happy parents! Thanks, as always, for sharing with us, Rachel!

  2. June 21, 2012 8:14 am

    Egads. I love anyone who uses that word. Also anyone who sends hollyhock seeds to all and sundry; thank you for those.

  3. Jamie permalink
    June 21, 2012 9:43 am

    O.k., I am a little jealous. I put my broccoli out quiet a while ago and I keep hoping to see a head any day now…. instead I am just seeing a bunch of flea beetles and aphids. Poo. As for my peas? Well, I am a newbie and I messed up most of my planting in the beginning, but I had a few survivors. They grew into a lovely bunch, but now they are all dying. My research is telling me it could be from the heat we have been having lately. I hope so. This whole gardening thing is such a mystery to me.
    Oh, and my strawberries are done for the season as well. I know how you feel about Rose suggesting feeding some to the bunny as my DOG helped herself to more than half of my little harvest. To say I was angry is an understatement – and also, who knew?

    • Rachel Turiel permalink*
      June 23, 2012 3:54 pm


      Peas don’t like the heat. I think the only reason our peas are producing is because it gets so cold at night. Gardening is hard; celebrate the small successes.

      xo Rachel

  4. ellen884 permalink
    June 21, 2012 9:53 am

    Beautiful kids and vegies. Your house and your world is just teeming with life!

  5. ike permalink
    June 21, 2012 9:53 am

    Love the pictures of garden and kids. Looks like “June is busting out all over” in durango.
    It might be hard to wrest bunny and rats from kids-looks like they are getting attached.

  6. June 21, 2012 10:38 am

    i love the urine tip! funny to admit it, but i’ll give it a try.

    the tween metaphor for the garden = SO TRUE. but fresh salad is probably my #1 fave perk of gardening.

    the “slipre” sign had me laughing out loud and also sending lots of love to that boy of yours (ER? eek! i’ll read that in a bit). and tell him i will gladly troop around looking for scat with him, anytime. also, rose is a girl after my own heart…aw, bunny mama. xo

    • June 21, 2012 11:50 am

      p.s. i made your ginger carrots on tuesday, and here they are, thursday morning, bubbling away! amazing! sf has seemed to be a l.b. desert, with anything i try taking approximately 10,000 years to ferment. what’s the deal with the carrots? natural sweetness? the ginger? extra special rachel magic? thanks so much!!!

      • Rachel Turiel permalink*
        June 23, 2012 3:55 pm

        So excited for your bubbling carrots!

  7. Melissa H permalink
    June 21, 2012 2:35 pm

    Tell Rosie that bunnies LOVE strawberries, but they shouldn’t eat too much fruit (or carrots for that matter). I will eat the strawberry and leave a bit attached the the green cap and give that to my bunny as a little treat. I wish I could put my bunny’s poop on the garden, but my dog really likes to eat the poop (maybe cause its strawberry flavored???) and it gives him a tummy ache.

    • Rachel Turiel permalink*
      June 21, 2012 3:15 pm

      Leo the bunny says, thanks for the carrot tip.

  8. June 21, 2012 4:56 pm

    Love this post! I am convinced, after seeing so many of your gorgeous vegetable photos, that the key to growing good stuff is good soil (well, and an early start in the solarium or cold frame is helpful too). I’m learning so much from this year’s failures. This fall and next spring, my soil is getting a makeover!!! By “mulching” the soil, do you mean stirring in those things, like tilling in some straw, etc? Thanks for the entertaining reading. I love Col’s drawing of the “slippery” floor. And, I think Rose needs a bunny! (:

    • Rachel Turiel permalink*
      June 22, 2012 2:46 pm

      Yes, good soil is at least half of growing success. I mean mulch as in straw laid on top of the soil, protecting the soil from the intensity of the sun.

  9. Emmanuelle permalink
    June 21, 2012 9:41 pm

    My my, this is a sexy salad for sure :o)

    • Emmanuelle permalink
      June 21, 2012 9:45 pm

      Gorgeous smile, too !


  10. June 22, 2012 9:13 am

    Incredibly fun photos. Love making mazes out of books.

    The broccoli looks like a cool mandala. :)

  11. June 22, 2012 2:26 pm

    You’re kids do it right, I tell ya. I love how your photos capture their creativity in play, their love in their days.
    Your piece on Mamalode is beautiful and reading it, I couldn’t help but think about how you’re such a good mama. Love your heart.
    And the ‘slippery’ sign?! Perfect.

  12. June 22, 2012 8:08 pm

    I have garden envy. Seeing as I don’t have any green space outside my house (well, one that belongs to me anyway), I’m drooling at your junior high produce.

  13. June 22, 2012 11:56 pm

    Hey, I showed the urine fertilizer idea to my husband and he said, “Yeah, I know about that. Why do you think I’ve been peeing in our yard?”

    • Rachel Turiel permalink*
      June 23, 2012 3:59 pm

      Ha! Love it. One of our renters downstairs heard about the pee thing and was like, “sweet, let me at that garden.” I directed him to the compost pile.

  14. June 23, 2012 8:59 am

    Visiting from Justine’s. Love this post! tHe garden, the kids and the wonderful way they’re looking after the pets! :) We try rabbit poop for the garden, pretty good too! :)

  15. July 2, 2012 1:30 am

    What a lovely post!
    Peeing on the compost heap is a well-known trick here for accelerating the composting process, but I confess, we haven’t quite braved it yet (late night daylight in our neck of the woods meaning there is no discreet time for my husband to go take a wee at the back of the garden in our row of terraced houses! feeble excuse I know…)

  16. July 17, 2012 3:12 pm

    yay for pee!!! i’m all about returning everything to the garden from whence it came. catching up a little but had to give you a shout out on the urine, i know it’s not a popular topic, but if they’re here, they must know you write about roadkill so they must figure anything goes. :)

    • Rachel Turiel permalink*
      July 18, 2012 2:52 pm


      so glad you are with me on the pee! (somehow I’m not surprised).

      xo, Rachel


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