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Henry’s Sandbox

July 16, 2011

Some of you may remember this place from last year. An otherworldly outpost way up in Vernonia where our friends Rachel and Bill live with their 2-year-old tyke, Henry, their dog, Sadie, and a whole lot of heritage turkeys. We call it “Narnia”, but they prefer to call their spot on earth “Henry’s Sandbox”.

Just when I think I’m doing ‘OK’  at this gardening thing, I pay Rachel a visit in Narnia and learn humility… fast. In Narnia, instead of weeds, they are plagued with gorgeous oriental poppies. Where I battle grasses, thistles and pigweed at the Dirtbox, Rachel grumbles about the rogue KALE plants popping up between their potatoes and broccoli. There is a forest of berry vines taller than I am that borders one side of the garden in neat rows, and their orchard floor is lush with Canterbury Bells and happily swarming honey bees. Perennial flowers are planted just about anywhere you look, so it gives the effect of looking into a kaleidoscope when you squint your eyes a little.  Add to the picture a two year old, blonde-haired, blue-eyed charmer stuffing his face full of kale as fast as he can in between flirty little smiles, and it really does feel like you’ve landed on another planet.

I’m telling you this because when Rachel calls me up and says things like, “We have a lot of greens”, I hang up immediately and get in my car.

So, you Saturday folks are in for a treat tomorrow. Now, I know you’ve all been eating lots and lots of leafy green stuff lately. But this is SPECIAL. Where “Henry’s Sandbox” lies in the coastal hills of Vernonia, they don’t see these dry warm days that we’ve been getting this month. It’s a cooler area, and every time I go there it’s either drizzling or misting or flat out raining. Rachel thinks this is tragic. But what it does to their greens is nothing short of magical. When our greens start to get tough and bitter as the weather gets warmer, their stuff is at it’s peak. This chard and kale is so tender, I recommend eating it raw like Henry and I did today in the garden. Use it as your salad greens this week.

When we go through this awkward transition of the warm weather crops not being quite ready yet, but the spring crops starting to fade, “Henry’s Sandbox” comes to the rescue every time. If it’s the last thing I do, I’m going to get them to start a CSA of their own. Are you listening Bill and Rachel? You need to share your talents with the rest of the world.

Stay tuned for some recipe ideas from Mari this week. She told me that between exploding eggs and pickling liquid, she’s come up with something fabulous to share with you all… in my mind, her kitchen looks like it belongs to a mad scientist. Can’t wait, Mari!

One Comment leave one →
  1. Rachel permalink
    July 17, 2011 5:42 am

    You are too kind, Nadine. Henry must have been doing some pretty effective flirting with his favorite farmer girlfriend if you didn’t notice our weeds. I SWOON at your gardens! We’ve been enjoying the greens, as you suggested, in salad. Throw in a few toasted nuts, some dried tart cherries, goat cheese, and a little vinaigrette. Mmm.

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