Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Gardening Project 2012

I was walking home from my friend's house in Lower Queen Anne and I happened by a parking structure on the corner of 3rd and Roy.  There was a large sign on the corner of the lot akin to those "proposed land use action" signs you see when the local municipalities are trying to inform the general public about proposed projects within their neighborhoods.

This sign was different, however.  It caught my eye because it was from Seattle City's "neighborhood" division, and furthermore, from the community gardens or "p-patch" subgroup.  I had looked into joining a p-patch before but the wait for a plot was over two years long.  I thought that if I had the opportunity to get involved in a new, hopefully waitlist-free p-patch and potentially earn a plot, this was it.

Fast forward a few weeks:  I've sent the requisite e-mails, received the pertinent information, and signed up for the p-patch's website.  Those involved dubbed it "Upgarden," for the fact that it's on the top (fourth) level of the parking structure.  Plots are chosen in order based on volunteer hours, so on May 26th, Margo and I made our way to the Upgarden and eventually found ourselves being apprentices to Mark, the carpenter.  We logged eight hours between the two of us and, with the addition of a few shorter days in the weeks following, logged ten hours in total.  We landed in 46th place on the list of plot order, which was conducted June 16th.  Our plot is approximately 100ft.² and the plot it sits next to is eventually going to be a sitting/picnic area, which gives me 360° access to my plot and a place to lean on my hoe and meditate over the garden (something I'm supposed to do, according to the author of a book I bought on gardening west of the Cascades).

During the week of June 18, I planted starter plants that I bought at Swanson's Nursery. According to memory, they are as follows:

Tomatoes (San Marzano, Berkeley Tie-Dye and cherry tomatoes whose name I can't recall)
Peppers (Anaheim, jalapeƱo, ancho)
Cippolini onions
Bunching onions

My friend Andrew Cross (chef, Canon; Seattle, WA) loaned me seeds and along with a few other packets that I bought, I sowed:

Dragon's Tongue beans
Broccoli (hybrid blend: Belstar, Everest, Southern Comet, Express)
Cucumbers (Fountain Hybrid; slicing)
Radish (blend)
Carrots (Dragon)
Beets (Rainbow)
Swiss Chard (Bright Lights)
Kale (Fizz)
Arugula (roquette)
Spinach (Bordeaux)
Basil (Queenette)
Parsley (Italian)

I'd like to find some heirloom garlic and plant that as well.  I have yet to come across anything interesting.

It is truly an experimentation, as I have never undertaken, from start to finish, the cultivation of a garden on my own.  Because of the mild winters on this side of the Cascade mountain range, one is able to garden nine months out of the year.  I was worried about the late start (I'm used to the Mother's Day adage) but we'll see what I can get, as you've got to start somewhere.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

I scream, you scream, we all scream for... ranch dressing?

To those of you who don't know, I work in a restaurant. Lately, and more so than usual, I've noticed this influx of ranch dressing-dependent diners. I've heard of dipping French fries in ranch, and even pizza. Hell, I've partaken in both of those events. But recently I've been noticing a slightly disturbing trend. Let me explain.

I take orders for take-out at my particular place of employ. Recently, the conversations have been going like this:

"OK, I'd like a turkey sandwich with fries, and a side of ranch."


"Next, I'd like the tuna sandwich with fries, and a side of ranch."


"Third, a steak sandwich with fries, and a side of ranch."


"Next, a pepperoni pizza with a side of ranch."


"And a barbecue chicken pizza with a side of ranch, extra ranch."

Or take this experience: Next door to my restaurant is an authentic Italian pizzeria. So authentic, in fact, that there is an official Italian association that seeks to "preserve the identity and integrity of Napoletana pizza." Apparently, this association has only approved a small number of pizzerias to make this particular kind of authentic Italian pizza, and the one next door is only the 16th in the country. So, one day, a woman comes in and says,

"Uh, yeah, I'm having lunch next door at that pizza place, and, like, they don't have any ranch dressing!"

"They don't?"

"Yeah! Can you believe it?!"

"Wow. Uh, I..."

"Do you have some ranch dressing that I can have so I can take it next door and dip my pizza in it?"

Yes, she specifically walked out of the restaurant to the one next door and procured some ranch dressing from me so she could appropriately enjoy her pizza. Lady, there's a reason they don't have ranch dressing. Just like there's a reason they don't slice your pizza. It's supposed to be an authentic Italian pizza dining experience. Like the New York pizza place in town that has a sign that says, "we will gladly add pineapple to your pizza. $100.00." I gave her ample ranch regardless.

What is the deal? Everyone knows that ranch dressing is essentially mayonaise and sour cream, yeah? Is it strictly a Utah phenomena? Like fry sauce or Jell-O consumption? Is it limited to salad, French fries and pizza? Check this out:

"I'd like the calamari."

"Sounds good. I'll have it right out."

"Oh, but instead of aioli and cocktail sauce, can you just bring me some ranch?"

Ugh. Commence coronary.