The Ignored Garden

One reason that I hesitated to have a horse in my life again is the amount of time that that animal takes up. Rding is only part of it. Grooming, equipment care, and simply walking all the way out to the paddock and back, can consume hours. A 45 minute ride can easily use up most of your afternoon. But that’s not all. Yesterday was a stunningly beautiful, perfect spring day. It’s the sort of day that last year I would have spent in the garden. This year I spent it with Tonka. He’d had his second round of yearly vaccines in the morning, so I didn’t ride, but still went to the stable in the afternoon and hung out with him. I shampooed the winter grime out of Tonka’s tail. I hand grazed him – meaning I put him on a lead rope, led him to some good grass and stood around while he ate. There went the afternoon. It made me ridiculously happy.

Tonka grazing


But, the good thing about springtime is daylight stretches into evening.  When I got home, I did go out to the garden. The other good thing is that I’ve been tending this garden for eleven years. Some plants come up even if I’ve ignored them. Asparagus is a perennial and is harvested well before anything else is ready, which is right about now. My asparagus bed is tucked behind the big barn. I’ve glanced at it over the last couple of weeks, but saw little other than dirt and weeds. Asparagus is a really weird crop. A patch of ground, with what seems like nothing useful in it at all, suddenly sprouts spears. It’s only after harvest that the main plant emerges. Even better, after the harvest, you let the fronds grow up and die. You’re supposed to let it be. (I did weed after taking this photograph.)

ignored garden


It’s early days yet for asparagus, but I harvested enough for dinner. The first handful is so very, very delicious that all I do is wash, break off the tough ends, and steam. I don’t even put any dressing on the spears.

cut asparagus


Later on, I’ll use the recipe from my Farmstead Egg Guide and Cookbook for Asparagus with Poached Eggs and Smoked Salmon. A photo of this is on the cover,

FEGC cover

and I’ll also make Goat Cheese and Asparagus Custards (the recipe for that is in this article.)

I’m going back to the stable today, but I’ll find the time to get into the garden as well. The rhubarb is up and it needs to have compost tucked around it. I am so looking forward to rhubarb pie!


  1. Just bought my first asparagus from a local farmer’s market. I like to roast mine a touch with olive oil and a dash of parmesan.

    LBJ’s (little brown jobs/sparrows) are freeloading from your chicken feeders inside the coop. Judging by how comfortable they are (Phoebe just bolted inside and they barely blinked), I’d say this isn’t their first trip inside. :D

    • Just took a look at the boys. Has Pip rubbed a bald spot on his tummy? A chunk of him looked very pink on the cam.

      • Yes, Pip is looking rather like a shaved pig. His skin is clear, so I’m hoping it’s just excess rubbing, but if he doesn’t look better by next week I’ll have the vet out to do a skin scraping and see if she can find an underlying cause.

  2. And when you grow them yourself you know what — and what is NOT — on them!

    • Yes. Lately I’ve noticed that the romaine from the supermarket smells funny. I wonder what the leaves are being treated with.

  3. My garden looks worse off then yours! This winter was brutal on my garden, and some of my raised bed boards are starting to rot out. Looks like I need to replace a few boards before I start planting! :)

  4. What a great way to spend the afternoon. And then finish it off with fresh asparagus, what could be better? Bliss. We’re harvesting the first handfuls from our asparagus beds too. Steamed, a little butter, salt, and pepper, tastes like springtime.

  5. That asparagus looks so good. Didn’t see any at Debra’s yesterday. I’ll have to go see if Verrill has theirs yet. But I am having my first fiddleheads tonight.

    Hope Pip is ok.

  6. My husband says I do a lot less gardening since we have had chickens so I can just imagine how much more time a horse takes up. I have made our garden as low maintenance as possible to free my time for the girls but of course the veg plot always need a little attention. The endless pleasure our animals give more than makes up for a little neglect in the garden I think and it always seems to be okay anyway.

  7. Speaking of gardens, before my husband goes in with the roto-tiller, we till parts of the garden by hand. If they see me head toward the garden, they can’t get there quick enough. You can imagine all the fun the girls have following me around. My question is, Can hens eat too many worms?

    • Hens can eat too much protein if it’s put in front of them in the form of dried meal worms and such. But, if they have to work for their supper, and dig and run, no, they should be fine, especially if they’ve already had their fill of pellets before going out to “help” in the garden.

      • Diana my hens are allowed to follow me into my garden when I’m preparing it. Like yours when I open that gate to the garden it’s a stampede.
        I have a ton of worms (black Missouri bottom soil). My hens will eventually stop eating them but they hang around and wait for the occasional grub I uncover. They “covet” those the most.

  8. We’ve got rhubarb already. Last night I made your rhubarb bundt cake (in an angel food pan — not as pretty, but it worked). My husband ate almost half of it for breakfast this morning. It’s really moist and delicious. The recipe is in the 1000 Low Fat Recipes cookbook, and it is low fat, but not low calorie in the quantities we’ve been eating!

    • Oh, I forgot about that recipe. I’ll have to pull it out. BTW, it’s perfect for breakfast – dairy, carb and fruit. Healthy, even in large quantities :) I like it with yogurt for breakfast.

  9. Hi Terry! It’s been a while since we last talked and since I met you at the HLAA convention in Milwaukee… just bought your book… congratulations and I am happy to support you! I loved your chocolate tart recipe and I look forward to experimenting with the others :)

  10. The best part of Spring is the Asparagus bed coming to life!! Ours started popping up the end of April and a couple of spears got snapped back with a late heavy frost. I have probably over a pound in my green bag in the fridge. The smaller spears, I’ve been chopping and giving to the girls, they love it too. Today we went to the Green Grocer and I picked up a couple of batches of Curly Kale, a lovely zucchini, a bunch of spring onions and a really nice Hass avacado. The asparagus looked nice too, but I like my home grown best! I’ll be eating salad for the rest of the week. I love Springtime.

  11. Hi Terry. Your asparagus looks great and yummy. We didn’t get to havest any this year, but we did plant twenty-five more plants along with our eight we planted last year. I don’t blame you for spending time with Tonka, he is a darling. I loved the voting pictures where he was coming down the small hill to the parking lot. His ears were perked up like he was really enjoying the outing and couldn’t wait to see the places you were taking him. I love following horse racing and this time of year for me, it’s all about horses. I think we might have a triple crown winner this year. I’m hoping. I still think horses are God’s perfect creatures. There is something different about them than any other animal. Maybe it has something to do with a “kind eye.” Maybe it’s because they are a thing of beauty when running at a full gallop. I don’t know, can’t explain it. Hope all have a great day tomorrow at Little Pond. The girls are looking great as usual. :o) I’ve hinted several times to my daughter about your cookbook, but haven’t got it for Mother’s Day yet, so I’ll be ordering soon.

  12. Hi Terry, I have often wondered how you fit everything in. There seems always so much to do, i.e. work, animals, looking after a home, garden etc. There seems never to be enough time (weekends pass in a flash). You seem to manage it all beautifully considering you have dogs, goats, chickens and lovely Tonka to look after, not to mention family,your home and your cooking etc. If you have a secret, please share!!! Meanwhile, it’s lovely to read about your life and share your days – you are an inspiration.

    • No secret – not everything gets done (hence that weedy asparagus patch!) But, if I have any advice, break down each task into small, doable pieces, and each one, when done, feels like an accomplishment!