Sunday, December 4, 2011

Bob-Cat


Meet "Bob" (a.k.a Bob-Cat), the newest member of our family.  Bob's main job is giggle-maker, and kid-cuddler, but he got 'in' based on his reputation for keeping small rodents at bay.  C'mon Bob, the 2012 garden is now in your capable paws- (well, not yet officially......we will let him settle in before sending him out to intimidate the chipmunks).   Do you think word is out on the street and the chipmunks are trembling in their burrows?
What about now?

  Barn cats eat mice, right? 

My dogs are scared.  Well, 2 out of 3 are.  The one left standing wants Bob for lunch so things have been a little hairy around here.  

Right now Bob is in the dishwasher, this kitten thing is new for me.   Wish me luck as I am off to peruse the seed catalogs.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Yup, Its October.

Brrrrr, was it cold today in New England.  There was some frost had, and most people awoke to find the heat on this morning.  This weather had me craving something warm and spicy, so I am belly up to the Mac with a steaming bowl of chili out of the slow-cooker, and a bottle of pumkin ale.  Autumn does bring good things.

Speaking of good things, I would like to say that Steve Jobs was such a special guy.  I am a relatively new Apple user, but now that I have gone Mac, I will never go back.  I appreciate my laptop and iPod every day for their friendliness, convenience, and the pleasure that they bring.  Thank you Mr. Jobs for your dedication, and vision of our future.

Lastly, the garden is such a disappointment.  EVERYTHING is being eaten by rodents.  Greens, winter squash, root vegetables, tomatoes.  Everything.  Everything but the hot peppers.  We are seriously considering getting a cat folks, it is that bad.  I essentially do not have a garden to harvest, and so have not many pleasantries to post.

I have been sneaking in some blog reading here and there, and I see you are all having better luck than I, lol, - thank goodness!  Stay warm and happy gardening.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Seasonal Cooking

I went to a couple of farm stands today to supplement what I have coming in from the garden.  We picked up some raw milk, corn, fennel, a head of lettuce, and watermelon.  I was thumbing through cookbooks this afternoon trying to decide what to cook up, but I just couldn't find what I was after.  So I just winged it.  I find myself cooking like this more and more often- using meals had elsewhere or a recipe as a springboard for a new off-the-hip dish.  Today this what went in the pan (the pictures are nothing fancy, just shot straight from the cooking vessel before my battery died):

Carrots, fingerling potatoes, fennel, and sweet onion with 4 oz diced raw bacon, all tossed in olive oil, salt, and pepper, the roasted at 400 degrees .  Topped with fennel fronds and dill:


Corn (3 ears, grilled), 4 oz diced bacon (cooked), 1/2 sweet onion (sauteed in bacon fat), a handful of halved cherry tomatoes, raw cream, basil, salt and pepper......kind of a creamed corn/succotash inspired dish:


Obviously I was in the mood for bacon.  :)

Raspberries, pea greens, green beans, peppers, and potatoes are about all I have coming in from the garden these days.   No complaints there!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Power is ON!

I had been preparing to be out power for another 3-4 days, but were graced with an earlier 'on' time over night.  I am thankful to have it back, but am thinking of the thousands of people on wells who are still waiting.  It will be a long week for many.

We had never gone longer than 1/2 a day without power since living in this house, so 3 days was a learning experience.  It was not so bad since we were well prepared and had generator to run the fridge & chest freezer on as to not lose all the meat and perishables.  Yesterday I did need to go out and refill our water jugs for flushing & washing; I also brought some dirty dishes to a friend's house to wash.

It is good to be back.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Still off grid....

We have been without power (and running water) since yesterday morning.   I am sitting in my favorite book store's parking lot taking advantage of their wi-fi.  The winds were not as bad as expected, so nothing more than limbs and leaves down in the yard.  I did however have to rip out the tomatoes in order to take down the cages in the afternoon, the winds were just too strong.

On a sad note, our favorite town beach area was hit hard, the road that runs along the beach is destroyed.  I don't know that it will ever be a town beach again.  This ocean front area extends into an Audubon sanctuary where we are able to walk on one end (no sun bathing/swimming allowed), and on the opposite end of the beach were small lots full of trailers and campers during the summer.  Below is what used to be the road running along the beach:



Lobster traps (and lobster) litter the beach along with washed up sea stars, mussels, clams, crabs, and exhausted, tattered birds.......there was lots of debris, including a section of walkway 
which had to have traveled quite a distance to end up where it did. 





All in all we fared well in the storm, but seeing the wreckage left behind this morning, and all the washed up sea creatures made us all a bit teary eyed.  We cherish this beautiful place and it's inhabitants so much, it is hard to see the destruction Mother Nature leaves in her wake.

Friday, August 26, 2011

C'mon Irene!

Seriously.   This waiting and watching hyped weather forecasts gets old quick.  We might get a hurricane, or maybe a tropical storm.  Maybe a tornado.  Either way the threat of rain and high winds = power outage in my tree-heavy region.  And that also means no well pump.

BUT- I get better equipped every hurricane season and thankfully we have never gone more than a day without power.  If we happen to get hit with lots of downed trees we will be fine for a few days.  This storm is different though.  Down here flashlights and D batteries don't disappear until the last minute in a typical hurricane watch.  This time however, they were cleaned out yesterday morning.  Shelves are wiped clean already, things will be grim for those waiting until tomorrow to stock up.

My thoughts are going out to all of those down south who will bear the brunt of Irene's fury.  Also to those boaters and coastal dwellers that are facing massive loss with the forecasted storm surge.  My mind keeps thinking of the erosion about to occur to so many beloved beaches.  Stay safe everyone, and lets hope this turns into another 'miss' for the Atlantic coast.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Wow, I can not believe how long it has been since I last posted.  Yes, the garden is still growing.  Recently the potatoes were harvested, but I did not bother weighing them.  I am happy with my stash in the pantry......some of the fingerlings were nibbled by rodents, but all in all there was little loss.  The sweet potatoes are looking decent, I yanked one the other day just to check on how they were doing.

The Fairytale eggplant I agonized over- so pleased with the variety
 even though I don't like who owns the patent.

The cooler temps are a welcome change, some pea greens and lettuces are germinating and I am really looking forward to home grown greens again.  There are a few pumpkins and squash to look forward to as well.
Summer salad with peppers, tomatoes, and herbs from the garden.

We have been busy here, busy but well.  Hard to believe summer is just about over, we did not get enough beach days in this year.  Blogging has been on hold but I know I will become a regular again when our new fall routine settles in.  Yesterday morning I watched a chipmunk clime up a tomato cage, drop a perfectly ripe juliet to the ground, scamper down to retrieve it, and then bound across the lawn with gusto.  Now I know why my tomatoes seem to have petered out.  No petering, they are just being harvested by chipmunks.

A garden wonder - a true 'cherry tomato!

HAPPY GARDENING!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Beginnings of Summer in the Garden

How appropriate, that just after the solstice, the first cherry tomato and squash of the year are ripe for the picking.  (Also, only 3 robins remain in the nest, they have begun to fledge!  This is making me nervous with the dogs and all, I will need to be vigilant over the next week or so.)

Today's Harvest:


The bottom leaves are getting quite yellow on my Sungold plant, so I gave the bed a sprinkle of slow release organic fertilizer, and the yellowing plant a shot of fish emulsion.  Hopefully that will supply enough nutrients to correct the problem and keep the plants healthy as they put on their new growth.

HAPPY GARDENING, SUMMER STYLE!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

This just in....more trouble ahead for small farms.

NOFA/MASS ACTION ALERT
SAY NO TO THE NLGMA
kale 
SHUT DOWN THE    
"National Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement" (NLGMA) 
BEFORE IT SHUTS DOWN SMALL/MEDIUM FARMS

Remember the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) that passed last year? We won a hard fought battle, securing appropriate food safety rules for small-to-midsized farms and processors producing fresh and healthy food for local and regional markets.  This law will be implemented by one of the agencies with food safety authority - the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Now, USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service, an agency with no food safety expertise or authority, is proposing to establish a set of food safety regulations for leafy greens (spinach, lettuce, and cabbage) growers and handlers who sell into the wholesale market, called the National Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement (NLGMA).

The most powerful "Big Ag" players in the leafy green industry are pushing the National Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement (NLGMA).   The sellers, processors, or distributors that sign on to the rule will require that the farmers they purchase from comply with its standards. The rule adds a second and conflicting layer of food safety standards and audits on top of FDA food safety rules.
HOW TO COMMENT:

USDA is seeking written comments from the public on the NLGMA proposal by July 28th.   Write USDA today to urge them to reject this proposal.  
  

Here are some suggested points to make: 

  • I oppose the creation of a National Leafy Green Marketing Agreement, which I believe to be the wrong approach to address food safety concerns.
  • The Agricultural Marketing Service is not a food safety agency.   It is bad public policy to create food safety regulations in order to address the "marketing" goal of increasing consumer confidence in the safety of leafy greens.    Food safety policies should be driven by science, not by marketing problems.
  • The NLGMA, as proposed, would give the large conventional produce industry the ability to use its own world view to dictate farming practices.   Small scale and organic farmers would have a very small voice in the standard-setting process.
  • The NLGMA is modeled on state food safety agreements in California and Arizona.   In those examples, the conventional produce industry has pushed through food safety regulations that are biased against organic and small-scale farmers, have led to the destruction of wildlife habitat and discouraged good conservation practices on farms.  
  • Diversified farming operations with complex rotations have been shown to be beneficial to the environment.    Yet crop-by-crop food safety regulations, such as the NLGMA, are an economic disaster for diversified farming operations, and are biased toward large mono-cultural operations.   For a farmer with 40 crops on 100 acres to comply with 40 different food safety regulations is prohibitively burdensome.  Crop specific food safety regulations, such as NLGMA, will drive farmers out of environmentally sensitive diversified crop production, and toward chemical-intensive mono-cultural operations.  This is counter to the goals of food safety and more environmentally sound agriculture.
  • The Food and Drug Administration is currently writing regulations to establish food safety standards for produce.   Why is AMS proposing to establish standards that conflict with or duplicate the FDA standards, with the conventional leafy greens handlers in the drivers' seat?
The NLGMA is a disaster waiting to happen, for farmers, consumers, the environment, and ultimately for food safety.  
Also see the Action and Alert Comment Form from theNational Sustainable Agriculture Coalition - (NSAC)

For more information on this action alert, or about NOFA/Mass Policy and Social Action, please contact Jack Kittredge, Policy Director - 978-355-2853, or jack@nofamass.org.  

Monday, June 20, 2011

Still here....

Whew, has life been moving by in a flash these last couple of weeks.  The weather has much improved, and the garden is growing taller and greener by the day.  I am still trying to catch up with the weeding!  I have a few friends looking over my shoulder while I am out there with hose and weed bucket:



There is no vacancy in that robin's nest!  I found an egg in my garden under a tall oak tree a number of weeks ago, and I relocated it to the eggs in the nest pictured above in hopes it would be viable.  It felt warm and heavy so I was hopeful.  (I know birds sometimes kick out an egg on purpose, and that is what I figured Mama Robin would do if the one I added was dud.)  I checked under the magnolia tree that holds this nest daily for any 'discards' and never saw any.   There are 5 babes in that nest so I have a feeling the egg transfer was a success.  Baby birds are just so darn cute, and I must say that these chicks are much quieter than the house wrens in the bird house out back.  What a racket they make!

I have been terrible about posting updates on the garden.  The tomatoes are full of fruit and are stretching towards the sun (pictured below).  Cucumbers and zucchini are growing on the vines, while the winter squash, beans, and eggplant are just beginning to flower.  (A varietal note - Magda are winning the squash race and almost ready to harvest, with Partenon not far behind.  Black Beauty is slow to go compared to it's squash mates.)  I was surprised to see a few small peppers on the bushes while watering today, the last time I noticed them they were just setting fruit.


My potato onions have fallen and are dying back quickly, so early compared to a standard variety onion.  Some of the garlic is coming close to maturity as well, I am anxious to harvest and gain some bed space for fall greens.

The fruit season is progressing nicely as well.  The apples are sizing up, blueberries & currants are starting to turn,  and brambles are flowering and setting fruit, though strawberries are of coarse the current stars.  We went picking on Father's Day and there is some jam cooling on the counter, and about 20 more pounds of berries waiting for me in the fridge.  Yikes!


Off to finish putting together the potato salad for dinner, 
can't wait for those new potatoes to start coming in.  
Happy gardening everyone!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Dreaded Bolt.

The wide swings and temperature have arrived in New England.  These swings along with the accompanying heat wave cause much stress to the vegetable garden.  The tomatoes in bloom this week will likely not set, and the lettuce and greens will likely bolt.  Not so great news all around.

This year I have two beds under shade cloth, and I have been watering the lettuce daily.  So far there are no flower/seed stalks going up, but I have not been able to sample the lettuce to see if the bitterness has increased.  Brassicas and cilantro have however bolted under the cloth.

The 'Slobolt' lettuce seed I ordered has offered zero germination so I can't count on that one getting me through the summer.  I do have other supposed heat tolerant mixes to sow for summer and fall cutting as soon as I make some room.  It seems as though starting the seedlings under fewer hours of light may lengthen the number of days until bolting occurs.  (Just how does one accomplish this without grow lights in the basement though?)  Maybe sow them in trays or lettuce boxes on a shady porch?

Interestingly enough I have noticed another benefit from using shade cloth this year, it seems to be keeping the little green worms of my asian greens and mesclun mix.  From now on I will keep shade cloth over those greens even in cooler weather.

So here is my question for all of you, what varieties of lettuce and or greens do find to be tolerant of longer days, higher temperatures, and large fluctuations?  Do you have any tricks that seem to help prolong your harvest season?

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Kitchen Garden Webinar

I have very little experience with Renee's Garden , though what little I do have has been good.  I  am intrigued by this company due to the abundance of information on their website, and the gorgeous and informative seed packets.  I of course have no connection to this company, I just wanted to share a link to a horticulture webinar I watched recently done by Renee Shepherd:


I have only grown out lettuce seeds from Renee's so far this year, but the rate and speed at which they germinated impressed me.  I ordered some seeds for next year's garden after watching the webinar.  I learned of a few new varieties I am eager to try, and also I appreciate that she mixes varieties within one seed packet for things like beans and peppers, color coating the seeds so you know which is which.  That means fewer leftover seeds for a small kitchen gardener like myself.  There is no paper catalog, and the selections offered are catered to the home gardener.  If you have some time to spare watch the linked video, I hope that you my enjoy it as much as I did.

Happy Gardening!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Pantry Shelving, Loss of 'Wisdom', Ticks, and Figs.

Things have been a little wild and whacky around here.  My birthday brought the removal of my remaining wisdom teeth (what a gift!), so I have been out of commission and relying on hubby to water the garden.  The weeds are taking over, and some of the lettuce is bolting.  It is killing me to not be out there tinkering every day as I normally do, and enjoying the last of the greens before they succumb to the heat of June.  I discovered garlic scapes and peas that needed harvesting over the weekend, more stuff I can't eat.   At least the ripening strawberries have been juicy and sweet, mmm-mmm.  We threw up some netting around the beans and peas last minute before my surgery last week as the rodents were mowing them down.  Seems that when we lost our dog Travis (aka 'The Hunter'), word got around quick in the critter community that the yard and gardens are now safe turf.    The only things that get hunted around here now are veggies, here is one canine caught in the act, stealing pea greens from the bunny:

She had a mouthful, but sucked them down as I grabbed the camera.  I try to give everyone their cup of greens daily so there is no need to beg, fight, and steal over it all.

Now on to those ticks.  More mice, rabbits, and chipmunks mean more ticks being dropped, and the vegetable garden is loaded with them right now.  Gross.  We laid down insecticide between the raised beds today.  Normally we just treat the lawn as Lyme Disease is prevalent in this area and is no joke, but since we have been picking up ticks in the garden we had to spread the poison in there too.  We also purchased some Tick Tubes which will hopefully help cut the population way back in the future.  These are cardboard tubes filled with permethrin coated cotton balls.  The idea is that mice take the cotton for nesting material, and thereby kill the nymphs that spread the Lyme.  We are hoping so anyway.

In other garden news I received a new fig tree from my Fairy Garden Father.  Me and figs have bad, bad  juju, and I have not been able to keep a tree alive yet.  This will be my third, and if this one dies I will swear them off forever.  Fingers crossed, I need some witchy-voo-doo good vibes sent to my fig.  Seriously.


In non-gardening related news we went to Erin's favorite store to pick up some pantry shelving.  Really we needed better wine storage, and the stuff at Ikea fit the bill so we went for the whole darn thing.  I was able to fit so much more into a smaller space thanks to the functional shelving.  I also picked up some recycle bins and a trash can for bulk storage, check it out:

We won't starve or be forced to stay sober in the event of a natural disaster, lol.
Not space wasted here, LOVE IT!
I buy flour and sugar in 25 lb. bags, so this large can is just perfect for holding the large sacks.  Yes that is Bud Light stashed back there- I use it for beer bread, not drinking.  I promise.
These recycle bins make for stackable bulk storage in the corner.
Snacks....
.......and T.P..

So 'Erin-Ikea-Shelving-Goddess', how did we do?  ;)

Sunday, May 29, 2011

There are lots of tomato babies in tomato alley.  Ella's Pink Plum, Juliet, and Sungold are fruiting.  The Amazon Chocolate is loaded with blossoms, this strain (new seed source) is MUCH better than than the plant I had last year as far as blossom quantity, I just hope it tastes as magnificent.


Now that we are seeing some sunshine I gave most of the garden a fish drench yesterday.  Something is stripping the foliage off my blueberries, but there was not a beetle or caterpillar to be found.  Hmm.  Ideas anyone?  The largest of the strawberries are just starting to blush.   We are all anticipating the harvest (strawberries were soooooo gooooood last year).


Hubby and I recently celebrated our anniversary over some of our favorite things- charcuterie, wine, and cheese.   We are very lucky to have a couple of cheese shops close by in Rhode Island.  This selection came from Milk and Honey in Tiverton......we had some butter from Parma, a stick of salami, and four different cheeses that pair well with a fruity red.  A baguette, fig spread, and some mild crackers are our usual accompaniments to this fair.  My mouth is watering just thinking about this meal:

Some close-ups of the top 3 of the evening.....

This is my new favorite salami.  Uncured and amazing!
A nice Wisconsin blue. 
A soft, creamy French.  Luscious and addicting.

This beat any meal we could have had in a fancy restaurant, aside from the dirty little hands coming in to pilfer the creamy cheese and salami.  The two cheese selections my son tried and wanted in the cheese store became un-paletable once he got a taste of the creamy bit.  But who could blame him?  

MUST.  HAVE.  MORE.  SOON.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Guest post authored by Ryan Halston

Numerous Benefits Stemming from Home Gardening
A worldwide growing trend, the commitment to a simpler life and an eco-friendly lifestyle is spreading in popularity. The interest in making choices that benefit on a personal and environmental level have led many to make a change in their normal lifestyles. One of the most popular methods to start a more simple and sustainable life is the choice to begin growing your own fruits and vegetables. The rise in popularity can be attributed to the copious amount of benefits that come from home growth.
The practical economic ramifications are most likely the most popular reason for engaging in a project like growing a home garden. Buying packages of seeds is often much cheaper than purchasing individual products from a grocer. Many fruits and vegetables grow in multiples and a pack of seeds generally equates to the price of two or three of the vegetable. When considering the production longevity of many of the plants, the seeds are certainly more valuable. The home growth of crops assuredly contains a positive financial implication.
Health benefits stemming from home crop development is frequently overlooked due to the financial significance of the choice. When growing foods at home control over all potential influences from chemicals and toxins is assured. Problems associated with pesticidesBisphenol Aissues stemming from asbestos exposure, and melamine have all been documented in the past. The decision to grow your own food prevents the risk of this, and ensures you have control over your food production.
Potentially the biggest positive to home growth is the taste, and the freshness of home grown fruits and veggies. Home crop production removes the middle men, grocers and distribution teams, from the equation. Growing these products in your home makes them readily available and guarantees the freshest crops possible. A choice can be made to cater to your own personal level of taste, and freshness.
It is a smart idea to take some few easy steps toward home growing as opposed to making an all-out adjustment as there can be some bumps in the road. Beginning by growing a small berry plant or fruit tree is an excellent way to get started on the path to home growing, as they provide produce throughout a long life-cycle. With more and more people embracing home gardening, there is a wealth of resources to learn from, and popularity should continue to spread.
***

Ryan contacted me and asked if I would be willing to do a guest post on my blog, and I figured- hey, why not?  I think most of us already know what Ryan had to say to be true.  But  now here is a question for you.....what do you feel is the most important reason to garden, and grow edibles?  Is it food security, chemical avoidance, hobby/relaxation, an effort to lower the grocery bill, or unmatched taste as Ryan mentioned?  Maybe some combination of 'everything above'?

Did any of you start vegetable & fruit gardening for one reason, but now find that you continue it for another altogether?  As always, happy gardening.

~Kelly

Monday, May 23, 2011

I Broke My Own Rule

So I had those new asparagus crowns that needed a bed as soon as possible, and I had really been struggling to find a spot for them.  Then my husband suggested putting them where my fingerlings were planted, which was in a deep 4' x 4' raised bed.  Of coarse I never even considered this (there were potatoes growing there after all), so I quickly rejected his thought.  And then just as quickly, I decided he was a genius.  But where to put the potatoes?  I had 2 grow bags left over, but that was not enough square footage.  And we have 2 old tires.  Bingo.  I REALLY didn't want to plant inside a tire, I feel the potential for chemical seepage must be quite high and there is certainly nothing 'organic' about that!  Carbon and sulfur are known to leach, though unless the tire is new or extremely worn, in theory that should be all.  Still, I just don't like it.  Okay for pansies, but not for potatoes.  But I did it anyway because I had potatoes with little green shoots and lots of roots laying in the lawn.  Time was of the essence.  And so here we are, I broke my own rule.  Next year the tire will be gone and I will find a new planting space for my fingerlings.  I promise.
This corner is now so unsightly, I can't even bear to look.  The asparagus now resides in the raised bed in the corner.

Next, we put together the bird net supports using the little rubber doohickeys from Lee Valley and babmboo.  They rock!  Didn't quite finish the job though seeing as the netting is still in the shed.  :)


Oooh, and here comes an exciting one......another new planting space (YEAH!).  I needed a home for my new teepees (more rubber doohickeys and bamboo), but the garden beds are all full.  So we made one:
Pole beans and Jack Be Little pumpkins were sown here.

I also planted the sweet potato slips (forgot to take a picture, and now it is raining), and some of the Garden Bon Bons my sister gave me for Christmas.  (The Bon Bon post can be found here.)  The bon-bons went in the metal wash-tub.  The tomato and cuke supports were finished off as well.  All in all a very productive weekend considering we had a family birthday party for the kids on Saturday afternoon, and took Ella out for celebrations on her actual birthday, which was Sunday.




...........And almost the entire garden from above: 
(conveniently all but that unsightly corner with the tire in it. ☺)


HAPPY GARDENING!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Tomato Cages

Yesterday I pulled the row cover off the tomatoes and put in the bottom half of the new tomato cages.  Evening temps should hover in the 50's in the short term, so they no longer need their baby blanket.  In the past I have run trellis between stakes, which has worked fairly well.  I spied 'Texas Tomato Cages' last year and decided to order some this spring.  They are impressive!  Very heavy in weight, and I LOVE that they fold flat for storage.  That was a big selling point for us.  The nice part is that now I can split my tomatoes up into multiple beds in the future for rotation purposes.  I purchased only 6 cages this year as they are an investment, so a couple of cages were set between two plants.  The true test will be to see if they can support them both.


This is just the bottom half of the cage seen above, as the plants gain height there is an additional piece that goes on top to bring the height to six feet.  I think I ordered the 20 inch diameter cages.....if it wasn't raining cats and dogs I would go measure and take more pictures, but this is all I have at the moment, lol.

I could not get the tines in the soil as deep as I would have liked thanks to all the rocks in my yard, but they all went down the depth of the raised bed at a minimum, and will hopefully hold as the season progresses.  They even make 2 foot extensions to bring the cages up to eight crazy feet- but I don't see my maters ever needing all that head room.  :)

The Sungold plant I have been growing for my Mom went home with her yesterday, and it had a cluster of fruit growing!  My plants only have flowers, funny how the one guy hanging out in a pot being exposed to the elements made fruit.  Hopefully mine are not far behind.

In other news the sweet potato slips arrived yesterday (Georgia Jet and Vardaman), but with days of rain in the forecast (and things already drenched) I decided to hold off on planting them.  I had intentions of potting them today before the T-storms hit, but I did not make it.  For now they are heeled in the tomato bed with an upside down nursery pot giving them some protection from rain and wind.  Notice I could not add sun to that equation.  Hmph.  The 10 day forecast is calling for 3 partly cloudy days, and 7 with showers and/or thunderstorms.  This weather is bad news for all the fruit in this region.  Anything blooming right now is not being pollinated.  I may not be getting any apples this year after all, and that just plain sucks.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Busting at the Seems

Before I go into detail as to why there is seem busting,  I wanted to go into a little more detail on the pea greens.  I sow a specific variety just for cutting tendrils.  One needs LOTS of peas to thickly sow them in this manner.  Last year I bought three or four standard packets of the Dwarf Gray Peas.  This barely got me anything for cutting.  Then I smartened up and bought the big bag I posted yesterday.  Now I can sow lots of thick rows for cutting.  I also sow peas for peas, two separate things in my garden.  Harvesting young growth results in a sweeter, more tender green, and the Dwarf Gray is said to be the best variety for greens.



The rows shown above are on there third cutting or so, and they are getting a bit unruly.  As a matter of fact the kids complained last night the greens didn't taste good anymore, so it is time to rip them out and sow a fresh batch.  The best part about sowing peas for greens is that in a couple of weeks you are harvesting what you sowed (if you soak those peas before planting), it is practically immediate gratification in the garden.  This year I put them anywhere there was bare dirt.  Some of them are there just for their nitrogen fixing abilities.   Some I yank and toss in the compost pile, some I just turn into the soil.

Okay, now on to the rest......a few years ago I planted a beach plum.  I had never tried (or seen) a beach plum, or tasted the jelly that is made from the fruit, but I love any edible that remains small in size so I went for it.  I was told it did not require a pollinator.  This information was not correct, and so this year I ordered two bare root plants through mail order......you see, this winter I tasted Beach Plum Jelly.  I was immediately hooked and now I must get my tree to bear fruit!   The newbies arrived recently and are just sticks.  Here is the larger of the two pictured below, it is just starting to leaf out:


This wee thing is not going to get me plums is it?  No.  So yesterday in a moment of delayed genius, (note the sarcasm), I called a local nursery rumored to carry the plants.  Sure enough, in stock and flowering, so off I went to buy one.  I am afraid it may be too late however.  My plum began flowering over a week ago, and now we are in this lousy rainy weather pattern, so I don't see the rate of pollination being very high, if anything at all.  But check out the blooms on my new little beauty:

Gorgeous.

If only there were bees buzzing about.  Sigh.  If you have been following along with me you now realize this is my fourth beach plum.  Not sure where to put it.......but the good news is that it won't be picky about it's sight.  And some day if all goes as planned I will have enough tiny plums to make delicious jelly.

Stay with me now, the troublesome part is coming folks.  My little guy was insisting on walking around the nursery while we were waiting for our plum to be brought up.  We went to the closest greenhouse, and what was it filled with?  Low bush blueberries.  It was a sign from the heavens.  We just HAD to bring some home.  The thing about low bush blueberries is that I am a little obsessed.  I have fantasies of landscaping the entire yard with neat little blueberry hedges.  They are so pretty, and of coarse tasty.  They stay nice and compact.  We picked out as many as we could carry, and here they are waiting for a home along with the new plum, and the old plum behind it (most of it's blooms now gone).


There is more.

Wait for it...........










Yuppers, I have officially gone mad.  Where oh where am I going to put these new crowns?  I only bought five.  Just five.  But still, must now find/create/steal them a home.  But more asparagus is never a bad thing right?  These are the Purple Passion crowns.  At least they are suppose to be.  The farm carried two different varieties and these were in the purple box, but the bunch was not specifically labeled as many others were.  Again- in my delayed thinking I now realize I should have pulled five crowns from a bunch that was labeled to insure somebody did not pick up a clump of Jerseys and put it down in the Purple Passion box.   Now I am paranoid and worrying over the variety of crowns I hold.  I kill me.

My husband commented that we are running out of room.  Yes we are.  But my goal is to have lots of stuff to eat growing at home, and by golly I am achieving it!  Personally, I think we ran out of room some time ago, and now I am just plain pushing it.  Wouldn't it be so freakin' cool if I really had no front lawn some day?  Just edibles?  There are people out there who have done it.  And I like it.  (Honey if you are reading this avert your eyes. )

Monday, May 16, 2011

Whats Cookin'

Last year I mentioned wanting to focus on greens in the garden this year.  At first I was feeling as though I fell short, but now that the season is picking up a bit I think I made a good effort.  We are eating a sizable salad or using greens in other ways daily.  Buying the giant bag of pea seeds (5#'s) was the best thing I did.  Wilted pea greens in our mashed potatoes, a couple of handfuls thrown in a stir-fry, spring rolls with peanut sauce, salads, bunny food, the list goes on.  We -L-O-V-E- our pea greens.


Claytonia, arugula, baby kale, baby chard, mache, and spinach add interest to standard lettuce and mesclun mixes.  The variety of greens growing is greater than anything we have had in the past, it is exciting to have fresh ingredients after a long cold winter.  (Isn't the little lilly pad leaf with flowers enough to make you smile?  Simple pleasures, like claytonia in my salad thrill me.  What a garden geek I have become.)


Today I made garlic-chive pesto pasta with last year's dried tomatoes and canellini beans.  Also,  some quiche with an herbed crumb crust instead of the standard pie crust fare.  Garden asparagus, dried tomatoes, and onions comprised the filling.  Yum.  Garden eating is good, and green tastes great!!


Herbed Multigrain Crust (for quiche):

1/3 C prepared bread crumbs, seasoned is fine
1/3 C AP flour
1/3 C whole wheat flour
1/3 C cornmeal
1/3 C butter, melted
1/2 tsp salt
dried herbs to taste
 (I use a good quality Italian Seasoning blend)

Mix ingredients with a fork and press into pie plate.  If your bread crumbs are un-seasoned consider adding a sprinkling of onion or garlic powder to the mix.  Prepare quiche as usual.  This crust comes together in a pinch if don't want to make pie crust, or don't have any pre-made on hand.  It is savory and crumbly-crunchy.   You will either think it is great, or swear to never make quiche that way again.  Just thought I would share.

HAPPY GARDENING!