August 2015
The Herb Farm

Garden Art

This blue hydrangea has an intense blue color.  

When you look at your garden in the wintertime, what do you see? Dreams of fruits, vegetables and flowers probably come to mind. Dreams of what will be in just a few short months. But when you look at your garden in mid-summer … you can see all of the beauty you helped Mother Nature produce.

This time of year, when I’m pumping water almost daily to keep up with dry times on the farm, I like to stop and admire all of that "eye-candy" here. And I mean looking past that next ripe tomato or watermelon I’m about to pick. I mean studying the beauty of all of the colors and textures that make the whole project works of art.

Some days, when the sun is beating down on me so hard that I have to take frequent water breaks and sit down, I like to keep a folding chair and a jug of ice water flavored with lemon, lime, cucumber or watermelon rind with me and enjoy the respite and view. Of course, there’s a camera with me at all times.

   The castor bean plant (Ricinus communis) has a fun texture to its seed pods.

A few weeks ago, a good friend of mine stopped by and joined me on a weeding expedition in a flower bed. We took a few breaks to rehydrate ourselves while we sat on low chairs and chatted about all of the beauty surrounding us.

"You know, HT? This is art here," he said.

I agreed.

"This is the stuff that artists paint and you are giving them work," he added.

I laughed and said, "But, nobody comes here to paint."

It was at that point I realized the reason I bought the camera in the first place was to capture things I like to see and hang on my wall. I also collect art that hangs everywhere.

Horsetail (Equisetum) is one of the oldest plants on earth, dating back nearly 500 million years from the late Paleozoic era.  

My mind was suddenly set in motion by all of the flowers whose colors began to jump out at me and become categorized in a bizarre spectral order.

Over the next few days, I found myself organizing my edible garden bounties according to color gradation. I started cutting fresh flowers and organizing them according to color relationships for the folks I sometimes visit (elderly and otherwise shut-ins).

It has been fun and exciting finding new ways to enjoy the produce: veggies and flowers and all.

I have always said, if you’re going to prepare a meal for yourself and certainly for other folks, you should make it visually appealing as well as delicious.

While I’m on that subject, let me expound a little about dining alone. I have heard a lot of folks say that they’d rather eat out than cook for just one person. What? That’s nonsense! Is it less trouble to cook for two? No. You just have a little extra leftover for another meal or to share with a neighbor.

Making an excuse like that is like abbreviating a four-letter word such as in. instead of inch. If you are going to enjoy a glass of wine, you wouldn’t pour it into a Solo cup. No. Use the good stemware.

When I cook breakfast, everything is placed neatly on the plate and the presentation is better than most restaurants offer. Even if it’s just me, I pour my milk into a proper glass instead of a plastic cup.

  Wasps. They are truly beneficial insects that come in a variety of colors, shapes and sizes.

You’re special, so make every meal special. Even if it’s just wine and cheese with crackers and a gherkin, make it presentable on a plate and enjoy the art of the meal.

Now, back to the garden art. The next time you wander around in your garden take notice of all of the color gradations. Look at all of the different textures and patterns every plant has. You will be amazed at the art you find in your own yard.

Then, take a trip to the closest art museum and study how artists used textures and colors, shadows and patterns to create their art. It’ll change the way you see your garden. It’ll change your life. It did mine.

All that talk about food made me hungry, so I cooked up something new (accidental). I had about a pound of sirloin I had ground up a couple of days ago, so it needed to be cooked.

I’ve had more pasta lately than I should have, so I decided to search for another recipe idea.

There was a half of a white onion, four small Ichiban eggplants and some pink-eye peas in the fridge. So I placed the beef in the mixing bowl along with the eggplants (peeled and diced), chopped onion, three sweet banana peppers (chopped), an egg, two minced garlic cloves, some crumbled saltines (about 10 pieces), a squirt of tomato ketchup and black pepper.

I made four baseball-size rounds. Then I took a pound of bacon (16 one-ounce slices) and wrapped each ball with four slices, completely covering the beef mixture. Then I basted them with a sweet barbecue sauce and cooked them in an iron skillet on 350 degrees for about 50 minutes. The temperature inside the meatballs was 170 degrees when I pulled them from the oven.

Barbecued Bacon Balls? That’s what I’m calling them for now.  

The entrée was served with pink-eye peas, corn on the cob and sliced tomatoes. Guess what I’m having for lunch tomorrow? (And it won’t be eaten from the storage container either. Presentation!)

I hope you enjoy the pictures this month. It was a pleasure putting them all together. Maybe I’ll take an art class this winter and learn to paint my veggies.

Next month, it’s Boom Days in Fort Payne! I hope to see you there!

Until next time, remember to watch your salt and sugar, drink plenty of pure water, and breathe in and out!

Thanks for reading!

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