Saturday, June 19, 2010

A Great Season is Upon Us.


The season of friends coming along to pick berries. We are all looking forward to some trips to the blueberry farm again this year, but to jump start things off, Michael and I have been sharing our cherries and gooseberries.

We had some company over on Thursday morning to pick.

I'm thinking the gooseberry bushes are on the decline, so I really need to take cuttings this winter so I can propagate new bushes for next year. Though it doesn't take too many bushes to satisfy us, it's so nice to have them to share.

Then we went down and picked cherries and had pit spit contests. Here was the undisputed champion at probably near 20 feet. I could not even get close.

Yay, cherries!

Then Michael's friend stayed, as we would all join up later.

And another stayed and got sucked into an eggplant project. We chatted, we dipped and fried, and we ate.

Later that night, we got to enjoy these delicious round scones, complete with cherries. So moist and delicious!

Some of the girls enjoying chatting.

Examining a new machine.

And when the guys came back we said goodbye. Imagine the Walton's, and one can kind of see how our goodbye's go, as we all try to remember who we already hugged. I snapped the backwards shot as I was heading out the door, following some others.

Today is Shabbat, and we can sure use it. We are plumb tuckered out. The only adventure I want to have today is a nap, a swim, some slow meanders around the fields, and maybe seeing if I can turn a delicious pound cake I made yesterday into some form of Biscotti.

Happy Shabbat!



Thursday, June 17, 2010

I Have A New Television Hit Show


What do you get when you cross a cooking show competition with surprise ingredients with a show about gardening?

You have my new hit, "Garden Chef Smack Down".

You have chefs enter the simple home gardens of commoners, such as I. They must create a scrumptious feast out of all the ingredients that are ripe that day. And you can't make condiments from them. They must actually be combined into a meal, using all the produce and leaving nothing out.

They can use any herbs they like, if they cannot find them in the garden there.

We can have all kinds of fun with this one. We can surprise them with a live chicken to butcher. How about 40 pounds of cukes, all at once? Hopefully they won't ""smack any gardeners down for planting 20 zucchini bushes.

Yesterday was my first attempt to succeed at yard sailing. I sailed over to one yard that was advertised as a "huge" yard sale, open all week, with piano, organ, keyboard, laptop, and years of household items!!!!

We got there early. 7:30 am and parked at the side of the road. Great opportunity to do schoolwork. The weather was pretty nice compared to lately.

But the promised trucks of stuff never showed, and we sat there for 2 hours, waiting for her to open up.

Turns out, no piano or keyboard for sale, the laptop was way too much money for way too little, and I ended up spending 80 cents on a couple of clothing items. I am still clueless as to this phenomenon.

However, it was great to get school work done early yesterday. It felt like old times - up early and school done by lunch! WoooHOOOO!

Michael celebrated by throwing some knives.

We have been behind on keeping the barnyard cleared, so on the way down to pick up some t-posts for today's project, we brought the mower and the weed sprayer to take care of the V.V. - Vast Vegetation.

Whoops! Our wire that holds the trailer to the hitch since we lost the pin broke as I was driving.

Aha! A bolt! Why didn't I do this before...?

The horses have been doing much better after the Endure and Freedom products, so I'm really glad for them that we got it.

Having collected up the t-posts and post driver and dropping them off at the lettuce row, we began working inside. Michael handled unrolling the 50' clothesline coil we bought for 4 dollars, so he could cut it in half.

And I began sewing this stuff. The least expensive landscaping fabric WM had; a 3 by 50 foot for $9.99.

I cut it to about 23' feet in length, and sewed two pocket hems along both edges to slide the covered wire through.

And here you can see several views of how we tied the wires to the posts, creating a shaded area for the lettuce bed. Fortunately, the bed faces exactly south, so directing the fabric could not have been easier. We can access the bed from the north side and the sun will not touch the lettuce except for the early morning and late evening time.

I do not expect this to last more than one season, but to replace what will rot will only cost 5 dollars a year. We did consider a more traditional hoop setup, but I was trying to go cheaper. We'll see how it works out.

Here's the baby lettuces. Shade growing here is an experiment, and I'm hoping to succeed in getting lettuce year 'round by the time I'm done.

We did not run the whole length of the bed, as the clothesline was only a 50' foot length, so it's 23' foot, with another 10 feet maybe to use otherwise.

And here's a good view after the the sun made an appearance. I am concerned about wind and rain. We clipped the fabric to the wire, but a good strong wind may overcome it. Rain may possible weigh it all down. We'll have to keep and eye on it. I'm wishing I'd set that more horizontally.

Yesterday's harvest: Eggplant, peppers and tomatoes.

Speaking of which, I'm not really happy with the tomatoes progress. Still, I guess they can do more growing.

Swiss chard.

I washed all of this up and Michael offered to put up a cucumber trellis.

Great job! Now if we can only get them to grow...

All I can say is that I guess the ground is not yet fertile enough. However, I hope that if we can continue mulching, we'll get a good bit of earthworms in here and the soil will improve steadily.

I'm pleased with the leeks. I hope they do well wintering over in the beds, so I can have leek soup all winter.

And it's been a wonderful year, comparatively, for the Brussels sprouts and eggplant.

The peas are done. We did not get many, what with the very warm spring temperatures.

He loves his swimming time.

We had wonderful fellowship time with friends at Bible study again last night, before we headed off for office cleaning. We are almost through Romans and I'm really glad the group has decided to do a Torah study I've done in the past. That begins in a couple of weeks.

I hear shouting.... Oh, that's the cherries and gooseberries calling.



Tuesday, June 15, 2010



I've been promising some cherry bush cuttings for friends, and I finally got down there today to get some.

Good thing, I've just about missed the time once again. But hopefully I got them just under the wire.

I have been wanting a mulberry tree for years. Whining about them this way and that way, I call it, 'Having Mulberry Whine". The thing is, they are so tricky to get what you want. Not only are there three different basic cultivars, but each one has so many variations that it's hard to know what you are going to get.

Up until last month, I'd never even seen one, or tasted any fruit. So I was really excited to do that at my friends' home then. I had debated about taking cuttings, but hadn't done anything about it yet.

I went down to take Nanking Cherry bush cuttings - don't they look luscious? They'll stay ripe on the branch for a couple of weeks, and they are soooo good!

But I was hot. Pout, pout. Even with my umbrella to shade me. We have had this weed tree in the corner of the fruit area for years. The neighbor whacked it off once, but a new shoot came back up on our side of the fence. Though it's always been in the way, it's been out of reach of the mower, so it continued to grow.

I finally noticed that it was producing quite a bit of shade. So I parked underneath it to mess with the cuttings.

Kind of a nice shape...

As I left, I realized that it looked vaguely familiar, like I'd been discussing this tree lately. I went back, expecting to see dingly balls, like Sweet Gum trees have, only it didn't.

It had mulberries!!!

Tasty ones, too! I ate the ripe ones. Here are a few green.

Michael climbed up to retrieve a few ripe ones for sending to a friend.

We continued on cutting slips to mail off. Kiwi, gooseberry, cranberry, blackberry, as well.

I'm no expert on cuttings as yet and don't expect them to make it, but I thought it was worth a try.

We need to have someone come out and harvest gooseberries. We've still got some in the freezer from last year.

Blackberry canes, filled with promise of tasty things to come.

Evil Maniacal Laughter Goes here.



And that's pretty much the story of our lives here at home for the last half a week. We've been working in the vineyard, for the most part.

It has been stinkin' hot and muggy. Whew! We have been putting in as many hours in the morning as possible, and doing school in the afternoons and evenings instead.

We took a trip to the Ag Extension last week with our leaf, whereupon it was determined to be either downy or powdery mildew, in addition to the black rot of which we were already aware. Demons, demons, everywhere!

No problem, she says. Just scoot on down to the Co-op and buy some CAPTAN and some Immunox. The CAPTAN will get rid of all evil molds, fungi, and mildews, and the Immunox will boost the plants' health, thereby making it fit as a top notch heavy-weight to battle disease and grow big and strong. Insert whistling and skipping here.

Unfortunately, the smallest CAPTAN is 5 pounds and over $30 dollars. The Immunox was a different story. The guy at the Co-op didn't even TELL me the price, he instead made a phone call to find out if there was a generic brand for me. There was! It was much cheaper! - only $80 dollars for the smallest package....

I said skip that, thanks.

By the way. Did you hear that the price of food is expected to rise 40% over the next decade? That's why we're peddling so hard now!

I did make one purchase that I did not expect. They have apparently come out with a Sevin XLR or something like that, and the co-op recommended I get it. It has a duration of 2 weeks, even through hard rains. As it is right now, we have to run out every time it sprinkles and respray with regular Sevin. This ought to save money in the end, as well as time.

I also asked if I could mix the CAPTAN with the Sevin, and the Ag Ext office said 'Yes". That's good. Now I don't have to juggle spraying, and I am hoping the CAPTAN will last longer, mixed in with the XLR as well.

I am so far from my hopes and dreams of organic food any more. But this is war!!!

Did you know, that if you put on 3-D glasses in preparation to watch "Meet the Robinsons" on TV, and discover that it is not going to be shown in 3-D and you leave the glasses on for about 15 minutes anyway, your mind eventually adjusts your vision to begin to balance the two different colors?

Furthermore, did you know that when you take OFF those glasses, after wearing them for about 15 minutes, then you alternately close your left and right eyes, you will see more red in the eye that had the blue lens, and more blue in the eye that had the red lens?

Not that I did that or anything. I'm just sayin'...

Here is our 2/3 of the way done point in the vineyard. Each one of these rows took an hour, and there are fourteen of them.

WooHoooooo! All done! Again. Until next time....

Still shopping for disease resistant grapes!





Yup. I think the season is past.

They REALLY look like Red Sails now.

How about these Jerusalem artichokes? I dug one up and gave it to my dad a month ago. Back then there was no tuber to be found. I wonder if they have them by now?

I was disappointed in the self-sown marigolds this year. Can't wait to plant a big ol' huge bed of packaged seed next spring!

I have actual lavender this year! I'm really excited about this! Provence Lavender.

And English Lavender, I believe.

And feverfew has some floral similarities to chamomile, I've found.

And that's a very short tour of some of the sorely neglected herb garden. Good thing it's not too demanding. We are lucky that it only needs a bit of work. Hopefully we'll find the time soon.